Many of the holidays we offer to the smaller Greek islands involve a change of plane in Athens and this presents an ideal opportunity to combine a relaxing island break with a short stay in Greece's fascinating capital. In fact, the idea of a stop-over in Athens may appeal even if you are travelling to one of our Greek destinations that is served by direct flights from the UK, such as Crete, and we'd be more than happy to tailor a two-centre package for you.

The city's most obvious draw is its plethora of historic treasures but there is also much to discover about the modern day city in many of the attractive and lively districts in the central area, each with its own distinctive character. Much of the centre of the city can now be explored in on foot via an extensive network of pedestrianised streets. A little further afield the old port of Piraeus and the wealthy coastal resort of Glyfada are also easily accessible via the excellent metro system.

The main attraction for first time visitors is the Acropolis, with its ancient buildings, especially the famous Parthenon. It is definitely best visited early in the morning before the crowds descend and can then be followed by a visit to the new Acropolis Museum. Just a short walk from the foot of the hill, the cleverly designed contemporary building sympathetically displays a multitude of important ancient artefacts. Another favourite is a visit to Mount Lycabettus, accessed by a funicular railway, which will reward you with a spectacular overview of the city, especially magical at sunset. A less obvious place to visit is the Benaki Museum with its fascinatingly eclectic collection of both ancient and modern objects offering a comprehensive window into Greek culture. There are far too many impressive sites and museums to explore in one short stay so some detailed planning with the help of a good guidebook to tailor your visit to your own tastes is recommended, although you may find yourself distracted by the intriguing and unexpected things you discover along your way.

If exploring the local food scene is high on the agenda, Athens has a wide variety of options , whether it be simple local eateries, tavernas by the sea offering freshly-landed fish or renowned cutting edge establishments that have to be booked well in advance. The best food is always to be found where the locals are eating and being brave enough to stray slightly from the tourist trail will reward you with the freshest food, usually simply but expertly prepared and with the added bonus of a reasonable bill.

Avid shoppers will also not be disappointed as whether it be browsing the luxury boutiques of the affluent Kolonaki district, the quirky tourist shops in Plaka or Monastiraki or the street markets offering artisan creations and antiques, there is often a bargain to be had. Many of the shopping areas are pedestrianised and paved so can be enjoyed in a comfortable and leisurely way.

Like most European cities, the Athens of the 21st century is a complex mix of architectural styles and cultural diversity but despite the density of the population and the number of tourists it attracts there are plenty of green spaces to offer respite and relaxation amidst the general hubbub.



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Accommodation in Athens:

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