As Europe’s oldest capital city, Athens is experiencing a Renaissance and easily ranks as one of the most exciting cities in the world to visit right now. While some make the foolish mistake of passing it by for more time spent sunbathing on Greek island beaches, take some guidance from the gods and stay awhile. The birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and western civilization promises to dazzle with eclectic offerings that stretch from ancient to modern times.
Athens’s crown jewel — the Parthenon — sits atop the Acropolis and no visit to the city is complete without a look. Walk in the footsteps of Pericles, gaze up at the Caryatids, and catch a show at the Theatre of Herodes Atticus if the opportunity presents. Other top stops for a glimpse into Athens’s ancient past include visiting the Roman Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Panathenaic Stadium.
From antiquity to modernity, the museum scene in Athens is almost infinite. Your first stop must be the Acropolis Museum, which will take you on a deep dive into Athens’s most famous landmark. You can also get a first-hand look at the ruins of an ancient Athenian neighborhood under the museum. Venerate all your favorite gods and goddesses at the National Archaeological Museum, which boasts some of the most significant artifacts from all over the country and beyond. The Museum of Cycladic Art is one of the most singular spots in all of Greece, showcasing one of the best collections of ancient Greek and Cypriot art along with a rotating contemporary exhibits from time to time. And get a more edited glimpse into Greece from its prehistoric roots to modern times at the Benaki Museum.
End your day watching the sun kiss the horizon in a few epic spots. Mount Lycabettus is perched on a hill overlooking the city and the Acropolis and is a prime spot for sunset watchers. Steak out a spot early and bring a bottle of wine or canned cocktail to enhance your viewing experience. You can also book a table at Orizontes Lycabettus on their patio for panoramic views and expertly prepared seafood. Pay homage to God of the sea Poseidon at his coastal temple at Sounion a short ride south of the city center. Or simply head to the tony rooftop of the Electra Metropolis Hotel and sip a spritz as you gaze out at the falling orange and red hues over the Acropolis.
No doubt all the sightseeing will work up an appetite, and Athens is the perfect city to eat your way though. Leave the traditional taverna fare for the islands and opt for more contemporary takes on Greek dishes at Dopios, Linou Soumpasis k sia, and the Zillers. Nolan bends the boundaries of Greek cooking further to fuse the chef Sotiris Kontizas’s Greek and Japanese heritages. New on the scene Delta offers a meticulously crafted tasting menu that combines Scandinavian concepts with Greek ingredients at the top of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center — an architectural marvel in itself. And no trip to the city is complete without streetfood. Get your souvlaki fix at O Thanasis, gyro cravings cured at Hoocut. Dabble in honey laden doughnuts at Lukumades. And sweet or savory filled pie fix at Bougatsadiko Psirri.
Athens offers a dynamic cocktail culture and fueling it are the small batch makers in Greece who are distilling some of the most interesting spirits in the world. Find them expertly woven into cocktails around the city. Baba au Rum’s menu focuses on avant garde creations and rum-centric potions, while the Clumsies fuels you all day long with a creative approach to cocktails that always land them on international “best of” lists. Newly lauded Line Athens from the same owners at Clumsies is cocktail anarchy at its best.
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