Athens Holidays

A modern capital with an old soul

While it’s renowned as the birthplace of Western democracy, the capital of Greece is also so much more than its ancient past. Athens holidays have a lot to offer, as there are world-famous museums, pulsating nightclubs, bustling flea markets, fantastic restaurants and much more.

Crumbling, sun-bleached ruins mingle with 1960s high rises, neoclassical houses and Byzantine-style churches – and, in recent years, the city has really evolved, opening new museums, restaurants and hotels, with an influx of young artists making this city a newly hip spot.

The main tourist sites are congregated in the city centre, but travellers will be rewarded for going off the beaten path. Athens is a city of neighbourhoods. Head to the punk-y area of Exarcheia to drink coffee with an artistic crowd and marvel at giant street murals. The well-heeled congregate in Kolonaki, the hilly shopping district with fabulous Greek and international designers, plus fantastic museums. In the shadow of the Acropolis, you’ll find the laid-back hipster neighbourhood of Koukaki, while Pangrati is an up-and-coming district with great local tavernas. When you need some sea and sun, head to the city’s southern coast or, better yet, hop on a ferry from the port of Pireaus – holidays to Athens are an amazing gateway to exploring the Greek islands.

All resorts in Athens

Three tips for a top trip

Go more metro

Athens has three metro lines that together cover the whole city. It’s cheap, efficient and, best of all, several metro stations moonlight as archaeological sites.

Chill your coffee

One of the best coffee experiences in Greece is a freddo espresso – a perfectly blended iced espresso. It’s a local favourite, especially in the summer.

Sample the Riviera

Athens’ answer to the south of France is this coastal string of beach suburbs, with clear waters, fancy hotels and fun beach bars.

Best attractions to see in Athens

The Parthenon

Parthenon is the most-visited site in Athens, for good reason – perched atop the Acropolis rock, this temple has passed the test of time for over 2,000 years.

Athens Central Market

For the most authentic food market in the city, head to the Athens Central Market, where you’ll find locals shopping for the best herbs, vegetables, meat and more.

Changing of the guards

Every hour on the hour, the fabulously dressed guards in front of Parliament perform an elaborate changing – even in the wee small hours of the morning.

Your Athens questions, answered

As a Mediterranean city, Athens is blessed with year-long sunny weather – the temperature only slightly dips in the winter, while the summers are gloriously hot.
Though it’s a cosmopolitan city, most of the food in Athens is staunchly Greek – think fresh meat and fish mains, and honey-drenched desserts. You’ll find modern twists at upscale eateries.
Athens gets really hot in the summer, so to enjoy it comfortably you should go in April and May or October. July and August will see the most tourists, but the local population also have their holidays in August so, in some ways, it will be quieter. November to March will be cooler and likely wet, and sometimes there'll be snow. The winter months are a good time for cultural sightseeing, but island ferries will be reduced to the minimum routes. June to September are great months for the Athens Coast since the sea is warm and great for swimming.
Athens Coast has 48 kilometres of sandy beaches, 16 of them with Blue Flag status. Closest to the city is Edem beach, which you can reach by tram. It's popular for swimming and for its long promenade, which leads to two smaller nearby beaches. There's a paying beach resort at Vouliagmeni, plus Kavouri peninsula with some sandy beaches and a swimmable lake. Around the corner at Varkiza is an activity park with water sports, and at Sounion you can admire the Temple of Poseidon from its beach. You'll also find a selection of good beaches on the Euboean Gulf coast.
If you want to be centrally located, your best bet is to stay in Syntagma Square, the heart of Athens, which has some of the city’s best hotels at all price points.
If you're staying on the Athens Coast, then you should spend at least a week there to enjoy the sun and sea. Make that two weeks if you want to take in the city sights as well as having time to relax. If you're staying in Athens City itself, then a week is optimal for seeing the sights at an easy pace. You can fit in time for shopping and for a day at the beach, and not end up footsore. If you extend your trip to two weeks, you'll have time for some day trips to Delphi or Epidauros.
While credit cards and cashless transactions are possible in most supermarkets and big stores, cash is still commonly used in markets and smaller venues. You'll find plenty of ATMs, but keep your cash well guarded, especially on the Metro. Public transport is best in Athens City, and there's a good Metro service and trams. Tipping is optional, but polite if you like the service. Be ready to eat a lot of olive oil, as most of the food is cooked with it. Make sure you try the fresh local food. And don't forget your sunscreen.
Athens welcomes families, whether it's at a beach resort on Athens Coast or at child-friendly environments around the city. On the coast, you can go sailing, teach the kids to swim and surf or visit an aqua park. Family walking tours are offered around Athens City that include some of the best-known sights. One thing kids of all ages love is the guards at Parliament House in Syntagma Square, where you'll see the tallest young men in Greece. As unmoving as the guards at Buckingham Palace, they change every hour with a high kicking stride of their pompom slippers.
One of Europe's oldest cities, Athens has been inhabited for over 4,000 years. It's regarded as the birthplace of democracy and the philosophers Socrates and Plato. It's famous for the Acropolis, the Parthenon, its ancient temples and theatres, including the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. The marathon running event commemorates an ancient Greek soldier, who ran from a battlefield at Marathon in 490 BC to Athens to report their victory. You'll see a statue, a hotel and a street named after the English poet Lord Byron, who fought for the Greeks in their War of Independence.