If you’re looking for history, you should look no further than Athens. This, after all, is the birthplace of Western Civilization — it really doesn’t get all that much more historic, anywhere on earth. But of course, traveling to Athens is about much more than simply a journey into the past. This is a thriving city that some 4 million people call home. The historic attractions might grab most of the headlines, but there’s plenty to love in the Greek capital, and it’s with good reason that Athens has established itself as one of Europe’s most enchanting destinations. It’s the good life, history, scenery, and the modern world all mixed into one.
Since Athens is nestled in one of the most agreeable spots in Europe, there really isn’t a bad time to pay a visit. Even in winter, days can be warm enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts. In the summer, temperatures can regularly exceed thirty degrees, though, thanks to the breeze of the sea, it never feels quite as bad as thirty degrees in other destinations. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, however. That’s when the temperatures are at their finest, and there are fewer crowds than in the height of summer. While there, you’ll want to get around via metro, cab, or by walking. Once you’re in the neighborhood you want to explore, it’s best to walk — Athens is full of little side street gems that make exploring a joy.
What to See
There’s plenty to see and do on a Athens vacation, but there are two standout favorites that every traveler to Athens has to visit: the Acropolis, and the Ancient Agora. The Acropolis is the one that gets the most attention, due to its importance to the modern world. It stands over the city and can be seen from many points far and wide, but for the best experience, you have to go inside. The parks in Athens are excellent, too — the National Garden of Athens is a city-highlight, especially on a hot day, since the benches are shaded by the many trees. For a more strenuous outdoor experience, head to Parnitha National Park, which has plenty of natural outdoor features. And like most world-class cities, simply putting on your walking boots and exploring the neighborhoods is a good way to know the city.
Eating and Shopping
There aren’t too many places on earth that people visit just to try the food, but Athens is one of them. Greek food is a joy, and in Athens will find, unsurprisingly, some of the best interpretations of that food. Make sure you try souvlaki and a gyro; you’ll find outstanding versions on the streets and in the tavernas. If you’re in a taverna, pair it with a glass of local wine. Athens might not be renowned as a powerhouse of modern fashion, but you’ll want to leave some space in your luggage for souvenirs. Take a walk about the Plaka neighborhood, and you’ll find something that catches your eye.