Athens

Athens Travel Guide

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.

Rows of beach chairs and umbrellas line this hip, family-friendly, shallow-water beach east of Vouliagmeni. It’s privately owned, which means it has an entry fee ($8) but is also pristine and has a multitude of facilities, such as a beach bar, showers, waterslides, and water sports.

Perhaps the second most important venue for diligent tourists (after the Acropolis), the recently renovated mammoth museum has the amazing Greek collection you’d expect, from Neolithic clay figurines to the treasures unearthed at Mycenae to the crowd-pleasing prehistoric antelope fresco from Sant

The nouveaux riches of Athens love anything foreign—cars, TV shows, even coffee (some of Kolonaki’s snootier cafés refuse to serve café frappés, opting for the chic Italian import, cappuccino freddo).

One of the great pleasures of the Athenian summer is enjoying a movie (and a souvlaki and a beer) alfresco at one of the open-air cinemas. The swankest is the Aegli, in the leafy Zappeio Gardens near Syntagma Square, which often plays Hollywood blockbusters with Greek subtitles.

You can’t come to Athens and not visit the sacred rock. The world’s most famous acropolis (which means “edge of the city”) stands 230 feet high, with a 484,000-square-foot flat plateau; atop it is the Parthenon, designed by Pericles in the fifth century B.C.