A trip to Athens wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory and well worthwhile visit to the awe inspiring Acropolis. Prepare yourself for the long walk up and you will be richly rewarded with the stunning views. It is without doubt an unforgettable experience and the temples on the ancient rock should be enjoyed if for no other reason than they are considered the most important monuments in western civilisation, but there’s an awful lot more to Athens than the plethora of archaeological sites.
If diligently following your guide book for all the historical attractions isn’t for you then take advantage of the fact that there’s an amazing array of modern attractions waiting to be explored.
Athens is an incredibly vibrant, bustling city bursting with energy. It has much to offer its visitors, from fantastic places to shop to wonderful bars and eateries. The labyrinthine streets of Plaka, which sits at the foot of the Acropolis are a must-see during your stay in Athens. This is the most historical neighbourhood of Athens where most of the ancient monuments are located and its pedestrianized streets are crammed with shops and restaurants. Places to eat range from low cost takeaway places and the like to expensive restaurants where you can enjoy the best of local Greek dishes while soaking up the atmosphere.
Historically Plaka was the area of the working class and holds a special place in the heart of older Athenians. Many Greek films of the 50 s and 60 s were filmed there, prior to the rejuvenation of the houses and the gentrification of the area. Plaka is home to many museums including the children’s museum on Kydathineon street. This museum is aimed mainly at children up to 12 years of age but can be enjoyed by anyone who has any interest either academic or otherwise in child development. On Diogenous street you will find the museum of Greek folk instruments which is spread over three floors. If art is more to your liking why not visit the Frissiras Museum on Asterious Street which is home to a collection of more than 3000 paintings, drawings and sculptures of European artists as well as temporary exhibitions.
If you fancy a bit of tourist shopping and want to pick up a gift for friends or family there are plenty of tourist shops in Plaka. Although many of them sell the same kind of items there are some that have a more eclectic offering, selling antiques, wood carvings and paintings.
Just up on the hill above Plaka is the tiny village of Anafiotika, so named because the original inhabitants were stone masons from the island of Anafi who were encouraged by King Otto to come and build Athens into a modern metropolis. They called it Anafiotika “little Anafi” after their island and built the neighbourhood in the manner of Cycladic architecture with its white-washed walls and brightly painted doors. It is a quiet little oasis compared to the hustle and bustle of the Plaka below and it’s wonderful to just wander around the narrow cobblestone streets which are very reminiscent of a Greek island but in the middle of a busy city.
Ideally Athens is best explored on foot and the historic neighbourhoods at the base of the Acropolis are all within walking distance. Should you wish to explore further afield then the all day travel pass can be used on all modes of public transport. However you choose to explore this wonderful city you will not be disappointed by its unique offerings and breathtaking sights.
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