STORIES FROM THE C I T Y, STORIE S FROM THE SEA
A trip to Athens is your gateway to unparalleled historical magnificence, bold modern culture and easy access to a variety of Greece’s celebrated islands
F rom most standpoints in Athens, the cit y’s histor ica l stature is str i k ingly clear. A ncient r uins decorate the ref reshingly low-r ise sk yline and tease over wa l ls and rooftops, i l luminating the cit y as they reflect the golden Med iterranean sun. Intermingled among the majestic architecture, however, is a hip urban cu lture ser v ing up a steady stream of memorable entertainment. A s you wander the streets in search of a contemporar y ta ke on moussak a, you may find yourself in the audience of an open-air theatre performance or music set, or face to face w ith a powerfu l piece of the street art Athens has become renow ned for. Greece’s capita l is a year-round cit y-brea k destination where histor y, cu lture, gastronomy and modern art are found in abundance. It’s best ex plored by fol low ing your instincts, and using the sights that beckon from afar as your g uide. History and culture In Athens, you’ l l find something of histor ica l sig nificance around a lmost ever y corner of the cit y centre. A s the most important ancient site in the Wester n world, the Acropolis is a bucket-list-worthy attraction, and nearby you’ l l find many other astonishing archaeolog ica l sites, includ ing Hadr ian’s Librar y and Gate, the Temple of Oly mpian Zeus and the Panathenaic Stad ium. To rea l ly ta ke in the enormit y of Athens’ histor ica l sig nificance, ma ke your way up Mount Lyk av ittos, the ta l lest hi l l in the cit y, offer ing a panoramic v iew of the entire basin, includ ing the mountains that r ing the Saronic Gu lf. Such histor ica l r iches are bound to come w ith a wea lth of museums. T he Byzantine and Christian Museum, National Museum of Contemporar y A rt, Benak i Museum, Museum of Islamic A rt, Acropolis Museum and A rchaeological Museum of Marathon are ha lf a dozen to consider. Athens a lso has a lively arts scene and a ca lendar packed w ith colourfu l events. One of the big gest on the bi l l – and one of the most famous festiva ls in Greece – is the annua l Athens and Epidaurus Festiva l, which promises mag ica l summer nights fi l led w ith music, theatre and dance in var ious venues and locations across the cit y. Food and drink T hank s to Greece’s Med iterranean climate, you can look for ward to savour ing high-qua lit y loca l ing red ients at the count less restaurants, cafés and markets in Athens throughout your tr ip. Yemista (stuffed peppers and tomatoes), souvla k i (a lamb, pork or chicken skewer w rapped in a pitta), sagana k i (fr ied cheese) and fava (a hummus-li ke d ip made w ith fava beans) are just a few celebrated Greek d ishes you won’t reg ret order ing. For brea k fast, join the loca ls in seek ing out one of the many ba ker ies for a tiropita or spana kopita (feta and spinach pies), or kou lour i (a r ing of dough decorated w ith sesame seeds). Whatever your budget, you won’t strug gle to eat wel l in Athens. T he Attica reg ion is the birthplace of Greece’s renow ned retsina w ine, and fine v ineyards and w iner ies can be found around Athens. Ta ke a tour of the grapev ines and sample both renow ned classics and new labels in a w ine cel lar. Athens a lso has a long-stand ing reputation for a ver y lively level of night-time activ it y, and is gaining recog nition as a hot spot for impressive cocktai ls. Baba Au Rum is an excel lent cocktai l bar that ta kes its umbrel la dr ink s ser iously, whi le T he Clumsies is often cited for world-class bartenders. Beaches and sea A nother of Athens' defining charms is its proximit y to the sea and the access it offers to severa l picturesque Greek islands. Just a 30-minute dr ive f rom the cit y lies an ar ray of inv iting beaches, whi le dai ly ferr ies run from Athens’ Piraeus Harbour to the Saronic and Cyclades islands. T he Greek capita l forms part of the Attica peninsu la, whose shoreline is beautified by sandy beaches, hidden coves and cr ysta l-clear waters. Vou la, Vou liag meni, K avour i and Lagonissi are the best k now n Attican beaches, whi le at Cape Sounion you can enjoy exquisite sunsets and the temples of Athena and Poseidon.