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 One of Europe's Ancient capitals, Athens has undergone significant change in recent years. A modern metropolis with an old town feel, this is where antiquity meets futurism, and ancient monuments fuse with a trendy, cosmopolitan scene. Plaka neighbourhood is the heart of its historical centre, with labyrinthine streets leading to all manner of ancient wonders.

currency

1 € (Euro) = 100 cent

phone

Police: 100
Fire & Rescue: 199
Ambulance: 166

newspaper

Ekathimerini – www.ekathimerini.com
Euronews – www.euronews.com/tag/athens
Greek City Times – greekcitytimes.com/

hours

Shops are generally open Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays 9am–3pm; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are siesta days: 9 am–2 pm / 5:30pm–9pm. Most shops are closed on Sundays.

Department stores have more regular opening hours: Monday–Saturday 10am–9pm.

population

3.15 million (2021)

info

Tourist Information Center Athens
Dionysiou Areopagitou 18, Athens
+30 210 331 0392

www.thisisathens.org
+30 210 331 2001
info@thisisathens.org

Acropoli Hills, Athens Nick Pavlakis/Shutterstock.com

The City

Athens’ heyday was around 400 years BC, that’s when most of the classical monuments were built. During the Byzantine and Turkish periods the city decayed into just an insignificant little village, only to become the capital of the newly-liberated Greece in 1833. Ahead of the 2004 Olympics, almost the entire infrastructure was transformed: the Metro, trams, new ring roads and viaducts have eased the pressure of heavy traffic.

Athens is still a rather messy and chaotic place — it wouldn’t be Athens otherwise — and despite all the improvements still retains a great deal of its oriental charm. The whole coastal stretch from Piraeus to the old Hellenikon airport has been improved with new plantings, viaducts and paths for walking. The Plaka district is becoming more and more popular and it is on the way to catching up with Psyrri, Gazi and Rouf when it comes to restaurants and cafes. Discover the beauties of the Anafiotika district, at the feet of the Acropolis, and visit the ancient village still housed in the midst of the city. In Exarchia, there is a somewhat in-your-face anarchic atmosphere around the Technical University. Meanwhile, Kolonaki is becoming more and more gentrified.

Traditional houses in Plaka area under Acropolis,Athens Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com

Do & See

Athens' unrivalled history and world-famous landmarks are just some of what this city has to offer. The difficult years inflicted by the economic crisis have only deepened the city's artistic soul and not a day goes by that Athens does not amaze its visitors.

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The Acropolis and Its Surroundings

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Roman Agora

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The Acropolis Museum

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Plaka Neighbourhood

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The Panathenaic Stadium

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National Archaeological Museum

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Benaki Museum of Greek Culture

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Glyfada and the seaside

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Mount Lycabettus

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Philopappos Hill

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The Temple of Hephaestus

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The Erechtheion

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Museum of Cycladic Art

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Megaron Concert Hall

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Temple of Athena Nike

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Monastiraki Neighbourhood

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Old Monastery of Daphni

Public Domain

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

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Hellenic Motor Museum

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Byzantine And Christian Museum

Public Domain

Athens War Museum

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Psyrri Neighbourhood

Public Domain

The Dora Stratou Dance Theatre

Famous Acropolis with Greek salad in Athens, Greece Samot/Shutterstock.com

Dining

Food is at the centre of all activities in Greece and it is easy to understand why. The Greek cuisine, Mediterranean at heart and influenced by their Turkish neighbours, is fresh, honest, filling and absolutely delicious. Whether you are in for a tour of the best Greek Tavernas in town, looking for the tastiest gyros or want to try the new Greek cuisine, you might adjust to the local rhythm and spend a lot of time around the table.

In Athens and in Greece in general you can eat at any time of the day and late at night. Tavernas and Ouzerias (where you can drink local cocktails and usually hear traditional music) are also a key place for social life.

Here are some of the absolute best restaurants in Athens:

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The Old Tavern of Psaras

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To Kati Allo

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Spondi

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Gostijo Kosher Restaurant

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Oroscopo

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Vezené

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Piazza Duomo

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CTC Urban Gastronomy

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Cinque

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Lithos

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Jaipur Palace

A cup of coffee on table with old street at the background, Southern Europe Kite_rin/Shutterstock.com

Cafes

Drinking coffee in Greece is an institution, and Athens is no exception. You will find the cafes and their terraces full of people, laughter, cigarette smoke and animation everyday and all year long. Cafes here are the place to meet up with friends, relax, have long conversations about life and politics, or to play backgammon (when in Greece, call it "Tavli").

The most Greek coffee drink is without a doubt the frappé. It was invented at the 1957 Thessaloniki International Fair by Giannis Dritsas — a representative of the Nestlé company. It's basically instant coffee whipped with cold water until frothy, served on ice. If you're not an instant coffee lover, ask for the server to add some sugar and milk to your drink. It's quite a marvelous invention for hot summer days.

Or course, third wave coffee has made is to Athens as well. You can choose to sit at a trendy or alternative cafe, at a traditional kafeneio, or even at one of Greece's own coffee chains.

Here are some of the best cafes in Athens where you can chill with a cup of coffee and have lunch:

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Fresko Yogurt Bar

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The Dark Side of Chocolate

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Six d.o.g.s

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Harvest Coffee & Wine

Evening in Mikrolimano marina in Athens, Greece. Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com

Bars & Nightlife

Athens' bar scene brings is a neverending surprises. The nightlife extends way beyond the first morning lights. The Greeks know how to drink and to party, and Athens is the living and breathing image of this happy and joyful spirit.

From alternative bars to fancy clubs, pubs and traditional "ouzerias", follow the flow and experience one of the best nights of your life. Don't miss out on these fun spots in Athens:

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Palenque

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360° Cocktail bar

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Gazarte

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Brettos Plaka

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A for Athens Cocktail Bar

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Mosaiko Cocktail bar

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The Gazi District

Girl choosing souvenir at a Greek market, Athens Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock.com

Shopping

It is almost unbelievable that Athens is not yet consecrated as one of the best fashion and shopping destination of Europe. It has everything the other capitals are so proud of: international brands, luxury products and major names, designer shops, smaller and more original boutiques — all showcased in pleasant walkable streets and neighbourhoods, usually with lower prices than cities such as Paris, Milan or London. Even though years ago the city was hit hard by the crisis and many small shops had to close, it still offers plenty of shopping opportunities, in and around the centre.

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Greek products to buy

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Shopping Streets

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Athens Heart Mall Emporiko Centro

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Athinas Street — The Central Municipal Athens Market

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Notos Galleries

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Shopping with a Sea View

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The Loom

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Melissinos Art

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Aphrodite Jewellery

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Pantopolion

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Forget me Not

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Olive Tree Natural Cosmetics

The New Bridge connects the National main road from Kalamata city to Athens - Greece Kotsovolos Panagiotis/Shutterstock

Tourist Information

Passport / Visa

Greece can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.

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Best Time to Visit

Greece is a tourist destination beloved worldwide, and summer is the most crowded season of all, especially in July and August. Spring is, perhaps, the best season to travel to Greece, as the main cities such as Athens are not so crowded and the prices are quite a bit lower.

June and September are the best months to visit Athens when the beaches around the capital are full of entertainment. If you love hiking, don't miss Athens in autumn.

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Athens International Airport

Athens International Airport (ATH) is located at Spata, 33 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Athens. A taxi ride to the city-centre will cost a flat rate of €38 between 5am and 12am and €54 between 12am and 5am. The fixed fares include the basic fare, VAT, extra luggage charges and road tolls.

The Metro's Line 3 (Blue Line) Nikaia–Airport is another option to go to the centre. The journey to Syntagma takes around half an hour.

Airport buses are made available to Syntagma (X95), Pireaus port (X96), Kifissou Avenue (X93) and Elliniko (X97). The travel time to Syntagma and the other areas in town takes around 1 hour and around 1,5 hours to Pireaus port. Check the hours on: www.athensairportbus.com/en

Address: Athens International Airport, Athens

Email:

Phone: +30 210 353 0000

Website: www.aia.gr

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Public Transport

The Metro stations are well worth seeing as they are kept spotlessly clean. At the Syntagma and Acropolis stations you will find a large collection of antiquities on display.

There is a tram from the centre (Syntagma) running along the coast to Glyfada (50 minutes) and Voula (60 minutes).

Buses, trolley buses and the Metro run until around midnight. The tram runs between 5:30am and 1am (until 2:30am on Friday and Saturday). Airport buses all run 24/7. The airport bus tickets are not valid on other public transport services but only for a single journey.

Ferries out to the island leave from the harbour in Piraeus or from Rafina.

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Website: www.athenstransport.com/english

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Taxi

There are lots of taxis, but it is normal to share one with other tourists in order not to be surprised if the driver picks up additional passengers along the road who are going in the same direction. The drivers have taximeters and fixed prices.

Uber has been banned in Athens and you only have access to Uber Taxi.

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Website: www.athenstaxiquality.com

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Post

Stamps can be bought in most tobacconists and kiosks selling postcards.
Syntagma Square has a full service post office right across from the Parliament building.

Address: Greek Post (ELTA), Mitropoleos 2, Athens

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Phone: +30 210 324 5970

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Pharmacy

In case of a medical emergency you should phone 166 for an ambulance. Greek pharmacies aren’t usually open in the afternoon or at weekends.

Bacacos (or Mpakakos) pharmacy is centrally located close to Omonia Square.

Address: Φαρμακείο Μπακάκος, Agiou Konstantinou 3, Athens

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Phone: +30 210 523 2631

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Electricity

Greece uses the Type F electrical plug with two round pins, same as in many countries in Continental Europe. The standard voltage is 230 volts, but some hotels have special plugs for 110 or 120-volt shavers.

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Telephone

Country code: +30
Area code: 210

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