Of all Europe’s capitals, Athens is probably the one that has changed the most in recent years. But even though Athens has become a modern metropolis, it still retains a good deal of its old small town feel. Here antiquity meets the future, and the ancient monuments form a classical backdrop to a new and trendier Athens – and it is precisely these great contrasts that make the city such a fascinating place to explore.
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Athens News is an English-language newspaper published every Friday.
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Athens’ heyday was around 400 years BC—that’s when most of the classical monuments were built. During the Byzantine and Turkish eras, the city decayed into just an insignificant little village, only to become the capital of 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 the 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 quarter is becoming more popular and is on the way to catching up with Psyrri, Gazi and Rouf as regards restaurants. Discover the right places in the Anafiotika district, at the feet of the Acropolis, and you will find it still has a village feel in the midst of the city. In Exarchia, there is still a somewhat in-your-face anarchic atmosphere around the Technical University. Meanwhile, Kolonaki is becoming more and more chic.
Dive in perhaps the most historically rich capital of Europe and discover its secrets. Athens' past and its landmarks are worldly famous, but the city offers much more than the postcards show: it is a vivid city of culture and art, where the streets have as much to show for as the monuments and antique statues. The difficult years it has known with the economic crisis have only deepen the city's artsy soul and not a day goes by that Athens does not amaze its visitors.
National Archaeological Museum
The Acropolis and its surroundings
The Acropolis Museum
Temple of Hephaestus
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Panathenaic Stadium
Megaron Concert Hall
Temple of Athena Nike
Glyfada and the seaside
Food is at the center of all activities in Greece and you will soon find out why! The Greek cuisine, Mediterranean at heart and influenced by their Turkish neighbours (but avoid mentioning this to the Greek old lady that just served you a hearty dish - and this will most likely happen!) is fresh, honest, filling and absolutely gorgeous. Whether you are in for a tour of the best Greek Tavernas in town, looking for the most tasty Gyros or want to try the new Greek cuisine, you might take the local rhythm and spend a lot of time around the table! Good news, in Athens and in the whole country you can eat at any time of the day and late at night. Tavernas and Ouzerias (where you can drink local alcohols and usually hear traditional music) are also a key place for social life - not that you would need additional reasons to go!
The Old Tavern of Psarras (Η Παλιά Ταβέρνα του Ψαρρά)
To Kati Allo
Kωστα - Kostas
CTC - Restaurant Urban Gastronomy
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, to relax, to have long conversations about life and politics, or to play backgammon (when in Greece, call it "Tavli"). To the local Frappé and Freddo Capuccino or Espresso are added more and more coffee specialties and you can choose to sit at a trendy or alternative cafe, at a traditional kafeneio, or even at one of Greece's coffee chains.
The 7 Jokers Coffee & Cocktail Bar
Fresko Yogurt Bar
Louis Cafeteria - Λούης Καφενείο
The Dark Side of Chocolate
Athens' bar scene is a never ending surprise, and as it is custom in Greece, the nightlife extends way beyond the first morning lights. The Greeks know to drink and to party, and Athens is the living and breathing image of this happy and joyful spirit!
From alternative bars to fancy dance scenes, pubs and traditional "ouzerias", follow the flow and you are in for some of the best nights of your life!
Psyrri and Gazi
A for Athens Cocktail Bar
The Gin Joint
Baba au rum
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 - showcased in pleasant streets and neighbourhoods, usually with lower prices than cities such as Paris, Milan or London. Although 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.
Greek products to buy
Athens Heart Mall Emporiko Centro
Shopping with a sea view
Athens International Airport
Athens International Airport is located at Spata, 33 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Athens. A taxi ride to the centre will cost a flat rate of 38 euros between 5 am and midnight and 54 euros between midnight and 5 am. The fixed fares include the basic fare, VAT, extra luggage charges and road tolls.
The Metro goes to the centre. The journey to Syntagma takes around half an hour. There are airport buses to Syntagma (X95), Pireaus port (X96), Kifissou Avenue (X93) and Elliniko (X97). Travel time to Syntagma and the other areas in town takes around 1 hour, to Pireaus port around 1,5 hours. Check: www.athensairportbus.com/en
Address: Athens International Airport, Athens
Phone: +30 210 353 0000
The Metro stations are well worth seeing, and 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 5.30 am and 1 am and until 2.30 am on Friday and Saturday. Airport buses all run on a 24 hour schedule. 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.
There are lots of taxis, but it is normal to share a taxi, so do not 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.
Stamps can be bought in most tobacconists and kiosks selling postcards.
Address: Agiou Konstantinou 3, Athens
Phone: +30 21 0523 4401
Country code: +30
Area code: 210