Athens Travel Guide

Athens’s second most famous rock, this limestone cliff is 908 feet above sea level; imagine the view.

The road from central Athens to the sea is lined with open-air clubs that rage all night long to the strains of Euro pop. This glitzy option, where most of the action takes place around a pool above the beach, looks like the backyard of a drug kingpin’s Miami mansion.

Athens is full of jewelry stores whose creations range from whimsical to wow. Lalaounis is one of the most serious (you get buzzed in at the door) and famous.

The shores south of Athens are known as the Athenian Riviera, with beaches spanning roughly 25 miles. One of the nicest of these belongs to the Astir Palace resort, on its private peninsula south of Athens.

Not all of the art in Athens is ancient; this stunningly renovated Neoclassical mansion holds the world’s third largest collection of graphic M. C. Escher prints and a permanent exhibit of the work of Op Art pioneer Victor Vasarely.

Arguably the prettiest shop in Plaka, the city’s tourist hotbed, this store and gallery forgoes kitschy souvenirs for ceramic plates from the island of Rhodes and intricately carved wooden frames and trays from Epiros.

Perched on the edge of a cliff, this 444 B.C. temple with 15 still-standing Doric columns was dedicated to the god of the sea (a sort of consolation prize for not having the Parthenon named for him).

This is one of Athens’s oldest venues for rembetika, the “Greek blues,” born out of the misery surrounding the population exchange of the 1920s (when hundreds of thousands of Greek Christians were forcibly resettled here from Turkey), the German occupation, the dictatorship, and other da

If seeing them in the hands of every old man sitting in the kafenion (coffee shop) has made you want your very own worry beads to click rhythmically against each other as you sip your coffee (or you’ve realized they’re the perfect gift for the man who has everything), find your kombo

Natural hot springs continually fill this saltwater/mineral-water lake from below, keeping the brilliantly blue waters at a temperature of around 75 degrees year-round. A hydrotherapy center ($12 entry fee) offers treatments, and underground caves attract the occasional diver.

This art and history museum is taking over Athens, with a large modern art and architecture annex on Pireos Street near Gazi; a complex of Neoclassical mansions near Kerameikos Cemetery housing a world-class collection of Islamic art (as well as part of the ancient city walls of Athens); the Koul

An entire floor of the eight-story flagship bookstore of the publishing giant Eleftheroudakis is devoted to travel books on Greece; another one is exclusively for crime fiction (in Greek, English, Spanish, and Italian)—just the thing for beach reading.

If touring ancient sites all day drives you to drink, bypass the touts luring you into Plaka’s mediocre restaurants and slip into this narrow, 100-year-old hideaway, allegedly the second oldest bar in Europe.

Seeing an ancient Greek tragedy—or Swan Lake, The Magic Flute, or anything, really—performed at the A.D. 160 Herodeon (Odeon of Herodes Atticus theater), with the Acropolis looming behind, may be the highlight of your visit to Athens.

Athens’s New Acropolis Museum opened in 2009 with at least two missions: to display Acropolis artifacts in a modern setting and to regain the missing Parthenon Marbles, removed from the ancient building in the early 1800s by Lord Elgin and sold to the British Museum in England shortly after.