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Dynamic Athens combines a high-octane dose of history with the fast pace of a modern-day metropolis. Temples, theaters and countless sacred sites share the landscape with modern museums. Government buildings look serious alongside charming tavernas; stylish shops are sprinkled amidst traditional markets. The city begs to be wandered and explored.

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Overview

Raise your eyes nearly anywhere in Athens and you're likely to be stopped in your tracks by the sight of the Acropolis, where Pericles rose to the heights of power and creative achievement with the construction of the Parthenon and Propylaea. After a trip back to the golden age of Greece, explore modern Athens's patchwork of neighborhoods to get a sense of the history of this gregarious city, its people, and what lies beyond the ubiquitous modern concrete facades. Take in a twilight view from Athenians' favorite aerie, Mt. Lycabettus, and drink in the twinkling lights of the metropolis that is home to more than 4 million souls, still growing and still counting.

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Planner

Except for August and major holidays, when many Athenians migrate to their ancestral villages outside the city, the streets are crowded. The best times to visit the city are late fall and spring, when you can avoid the oppressive heat and the hordes at major archaeological sites; you can also enjoy the bustling nightlife in the center, because after June many restaurants and clubs shut down or relocate to the seaside. Holy Week of the Orthodox Easter, usually in April or May, is a chance to observe Greece's most sacred holiday, including mournful Good Friday processions and the candlelit Easter midnight service.

If you must come in summer, visit the sights in the early morning; then—as the Greeks do—take a nap or eat a leisurely lunch before continuing your explorations after 5 pm when several museums and sites are still open.

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Top Experiences

  • History Lessons : You don't have to look far in Athens to encounter perfection. Towering above all—both physically and spiritually—is the Acropolis, the remains of one of the greatest civilizations the West has ever produced.

  • Perfection on a Plate : You may have a hard time finding some old-fashioned dishes, as many chefs are eager to tweak Aegean-inspired cuisine into new forms. Try the cutting-edge cuisine, but remember that traditional Greek food can be sensational.

  • Café Culture : On any street corner, at any time of day, you will see Athenians practicing the art of hanging out—sipping their coffees, debating the latest political debacle, or just watching the world go by.

  • Athens After Dark : First-time visitors might want to check out a musical taverna, an institution as old as Greece itself. The entertainment, often featuring men (and occasionally women) dancing the extraordinary zeimbekiko, is a treat.

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Content provided by Fodor's Travel. Copyright © Fodor’s Travel, a division of Internet Brands, Inc. All rights reserved. Fodor’s is a registered trademarked of Internet Brands, Inc.

Transfers

Region: Athens
Transfer Company: Travel Center
Telephone: From USA and Canada 011-30-6943-291-449; within Greece 6943-291- 449.

Instructions: While in Europe, or in case of a flight delay or change of plans while traveling, please contact the appropriate local representative.

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