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Athens is the capital city of Greece with a metropolitan population of 3.7 million inhabitants. It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization.
Special architecture in Athens
There is a piece of famous architecture in Athens, and it is named The Parthenon. The Parthenon sits at the top of the Acropolis, a very important hill in Athens, which now serves as the city center. The Parthenon was built to honour the goddess Athena/ Athene, patron of Athens and goddess of war, wisdom and crafts. She is a maiden goddess.
The climate of Athens falls within the subtropical Mediterranean classification and has hot, dry summers and mild, moderately rainy winters. In general, spring and late autumn are the most pleasant times of year and the best tourist seasons. If you travel to Athens in the summer, watch out for the occasional heat wave, prefer the cooler evening hours for outings, and have a cool room to retreat to each day. If you tour Athens during wintertime, the city will be in its slow season, but at least it will be less crowded. You will also have to bear with, or schedule around, some days that are cold, rainy or even see snowfall.
Athens airport is a major hub in the Aegean, Balkan and East Mediterranean regions. Air Canada, US Airways and Delta maintain non-stop flights from North America, while a large number of European carriers fly directly into Athens.
The new Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport 27 km (17 miles) east of the city center, near the suburb of Spáta, opened in 2001 as part of the infrastructure improvements in preparation for the Olympics when it became one of the more attractive and efficient major European airports, though it is now in need of renovation. The airport has excellent public transit connections to the city (see below) and the usual array of food stands, duty-free shops, and other airport services.
From the airport you can reach the city:
By suburban railway to Larissis Railway Station for € 10 via change at Ano Liossia Station. Suburban trains are not as fast as the metro trains. Change at Ano Liossia to Line 2 of the subway that takes you to:
the downtown Omónia and Syntagma stations.
Public transport in Athens has improved by leaps and bounds in the last ten years. Workers at the public transport are lately often on strike, causing major troubles on traffic of Athens. Make sure that you are informed before your arrival because there is a strong possibility that you reach the airport and have no means to go downtown, or vice versa.
Athens offers some of the best and worst urban walking in Europe.
You can now visit the Acropolis, walk along the picturesque streets of Plaka or the hills around the Acropolis at your own pace, with i Pod Pocket tours audioguides. It’s informative and fun! They are available for rent at Athens Hilton Hotel, Sofitel Athens Airport, King George Palace and Baby Grand Hotel.
While Greek is the main language used in Athens, most Athenians speak English and those in the tourist industry are likely to speak French and German too. Notices, menus and road signs are written in both English and Greek.
At first glance, Athens seems entirely to be composed of nasty, four- to six-story concrete buildings, lacking character and badly in need of a paint, but if you look beyond that, you will find little gems tucked in amongst the grey. The areas at the foot of the Acropolis, Anafiotika, Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio are home to many wonderful Neoclassical buildings, trendy and traditional cafes and shops, narrow winding streets, and incredible views of the Acropolis. Little Greek Orthodox churches are tucked in amongst the concrete, often in the most unexpected places.
What to do in Athens
Athens is a city that offers the tourist a great variety of activities to take part in, many of them quite unique and memorable. While it would be nearly impossible to make a full list of things to do in Athens, we offer below a look at eight of the most popular options:
Attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, which runs from May to October (all summer long) and includes a wide array of events. There will be many musical, drama, and cultural activities, and you should not miss seeing a performance in the ancient theater located in Epidaurus.
Relax on the more than 20 beaches of Attica. Most of them are located to the south of town, such as Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Cape Sounnion, and Legrena; but some also lie to the northeast, including Schinias and Marathon Beach.
Watch a Greek basketball game. There are two teams in Athens, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, that rank among the elite basketball teams in all of Europe. You can buy tickets to either of their stadiums right in town and get a taste of how basketball is played in modern Greece.
See the National Garden, a public park that covers 38 acres in central Athens, just behind the Greek Parliament Building. Not only is there abundant and diverse greenery and a relaxing environment, but the garden also contains ancient ruins, busts of famous Greek politicians and poets, a duck pond, a botanical museum, a cafe and a children's area.
Volunteer at the Sea Turtle Rescue Society Archelon in Glyfada, not far from Athens. You will have to work for free and at your own costs, but if you want a chance to see and take care of injured sea turtles, this is an opportunity to do so.
Take a helicopter tour of Athens to get a panoramic view of such sights as the Stadium, the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Port of Piraeus. The tour can last from a half hour to an hour, and you will see Athens in a unique way "from a bird's eye point of view."
Take off from Athens on a ferry cruise of the Greek islands. You will visit sandy beaches, sheltered coves, and whitewashed island houses on such Aegean isles as Syros, Santorini, and Mykonos.