Redolent with history and mythology, Athens is an affable city enlivened by bustling outdoor cafes, pedestrian streets that wind through the city's ancient sites and its fair share of urban eccentrics. If you get into the Athenian mindset, you'll enjoy one of the most laid-back and quirky European cities.
The city may look like a concrete jungle and still suffers from bouts of the dreaded nefos (smog), but beyond its noisy and chaotic veneer is an undeniable charm. The historic centre, major sites and dining and entertainment precincts are all close together making Athens a great walking city.
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Hotel Grande Bretagne offers an unrivaled perspective of Athens' mythical history, and is close to exclusive shopping areas, museums, and the business district.
What To See
Modern tourists have the ancient Athenians to thank for the ease of getting to major landmarks around the city. Old Athens was miniscule compared to today's sprawling metropolis, which means that all the must-sees are conveniently huddled together in a fairly easy-to-manage rectangle.
The Acropolis is the most important ancient site in the Western world. Crowned by the Parthenon, it stands sentinel over Athens, visible from almost everywhere within the city. Its monuments of Pentelic marble gleam white in the midday sun and gradually take on a honey hue as the sun sinks, while at night they stand brilliantly illuminated above the city. A glimpse of this magnificent sight cannot fail to exalt your spirit.
National Archaeological Museum
One of the world’s most important museums, the National Archaeological Museum houses the finest collection of Greek antiquities. Treasures include exquisite sculptures, pottery, jewellery, frescoes and artefacts found throughout Greece, dating from the neolithic era to classical periods.
Housed in an imposing 19th-century neoclassical building, the museum has been totally overhauled since it was damaged in the 1999 earthquake. The final galleries opened in 2009, bringing to light previously unseen collections. The exhibits are displayed largely thematically and are beautifully presented.
There are plenty of temptations for shopaholics, from wonderful handicrafts, designer clothes and exquisite shoes and jewellery, to cheap ancient-motif souvenirs and Acropolis lamps.
Athens has enough venues to satisfy most entertainment needs although most clubs don't crank up until after midnight. On offer are Greek disco, tsifteteli (belly-dance tunes), bouzoukia (crooner joints), laika (popular music), rebetika (blues) and eclectic entekna ('artistic' music).