Summer is now gone but the transformation of Athens as a central European hub for fun, openness and innovation remains in full swing in the fall. The weather is still giving a helping hand for walking and the city’s sun guarantees that your photos will not need to be filtered so as to be uploaded in your social media accounts!
Athens, as a whole, is a city culturally on the rise after having sustained years of recession. But which are the neighborhoods that carry this transformation on their shoulders? What are the new areas in the Greek capital that have become seed beds for this positive change?
Unlike the other Aegean islands, with their harsh, forbidding terrain, Aegina is much more hiking-friendly. The island’s small size and particular shape, combined with its relatively mild slopes – its tallest peak, Ellanion Oros, is only 532 meters high – and the many villages which are spread around, make the place ideal for hiking.
So, you want to come to Greece in the summer but you have heard a bunch of stories that revive scenes out of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in your mind: you are being baked by the scorching sun, in a barren archeological site, dying of thirst, seeing mirages of oases and ice-cream-offering Karyatides girls, holding iced beer kegs on their heads…
There aren’t many places which showcase so perfectly the multi-layered mix of cultures which we call Greek civilization, like Monastiraki square. It is situated north of Plaka, the traditional neighborhood under the Acropolis, and right next to the busy junction of two central streets, Ermou and Athinas.
Of all the little islands in the Saronic gulf, this one is kept off the tourist map as an Athenian’s little secret; a small island just 35 kilometers from Piraeus, covered easily with a 40-minute Flying Dolphin (hydrofoil) ride or a 75-minute trip with a ferry. Such a short trip means it is “no big deal” for Athenians to get there, while the island itself is so beautiful that it had the Huffington Post declare it “the most beautiful Greek island that you haven’t heard of”. Being so near the Greek capital, it is ideal for a day-trip but, at the same time, it is an interesting place where you can easily spend a couple of weeks.
It sits under the sun, a bit less than 70 kilometers south of Athens, like a rock thrown in the middle of the Argosaronic gulf; popular among Athenians for the perfect romantic getaway, or a calm, relaxing weekend in a soothing place of such beauty. Hydra is a place bursting with architectural character, history and – most interestingly – devoid of cars. Yes, it sounds strange but motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island. Two small garbage trucks and some fire-fighting units are the only motorized vehicles allowed on the island. A host of ever-posing Greek donkeys – their modeling careers challenged only by the island’s hundreds of well-fed cats – is responsible for most transport services. Water taxis can take you around the island to – otherwise inaccessible – beaches or to the coast of the Peloponnese.
If you enjoy performing arts, and especially theater, this is an opportunity like no other. Visiting Athens and central Greece offers the unique opportunity to experience a theatrical performance at the birthplace of this art-form. Watch gods and humans struggle against their passions and fate, as the warm Mediterranean night covers a two-thousand-years-old stone-made theater or a modern dance show at a contemporary open-air plaza.
Athens with kids & no nagging?
Totally doable! You get them walking like an infantry soldier from archaeological sites to “must see” places and countless museum halls. Places they don’t understand or simply don’t consider “cool”. So at some point your kid’s patience might run out and the nagging is inevitably going to start. To make your life a lot easier we gathered a handful of ideas, for things you can put in your visit and sightseeing program to avoid underage mutinies during your vacations.
Three must-see places in walking distance from Acropolis and the city’s center.
A few years back, it was a quiet neighborhood with cheap, old apartments rented by students in the nearby Panteion Social Studies University and small local businesses. Koukaki was named after George Koukakis, a business man that in the old days opened his shop, dealing in metal beds, there. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, once full of neoclassical houses – with some of them still standing – it used to be called “little Paris” in the past. The place always maintained a rhythm of its own as it was kept hidden from the speeding world by Filopapou hill and the buzzing noise of Syngrou Avenue but at the same time alive, thanks to the students of the nearby University. Being such a cheap and quiet area near the center, it attracted artists who set up their studios and workshops, next to the commercial center of the town, until the economy folded.
It stands in the middle of the city, bearing the same name since the age of Pericles. Lycabettus – in Greek “Lykavitos” – means “the path of the wolves” or “where the wolves go”, indicating it was populated by wild beasts in the distant past. It is the highest hill within Athens and it’s the ideal observation point. You can’t miss it, if you lift your head up, while walking around the city’s center. And, yes, there have been no wolves up there for a long time now…
by Athens Insiders
So you threw your dart on the map and it hit Greece, but you only have a weekend to spend in Athens? It is not a rare scenario, as Athens is the gateway city for nearly 16 million people visiting Greece’s countless tourist destinations every year. But the burning questions are “what to see?” and “how to maximize” your Athens experience?
You can come to Athens and not spend a single hour indoors. But these are the top 5 reasons you should not:
Built to fulfill the need for a space that can accommodate all the great exhibits that were found on and around the Acropolis rock, it is not named “New Acropolis Museum” by accident. Delivered in the summer of 2009, it is the third museum built for this purpose as the first two –much smaller ones- got full pretty quickly. Soon after the liberation from the Turks, Greeks started to excavate, salvage, collect and restore whatever Acropolis antiquities had not been destroyed – or carried away – during the Ottoman rule.