Greece is ancient, classical, and modern with breathtaking scenery, sparkling seas, beautiful islands, and picturesque coastlines. The Gods chose this land as their home and Greece lures travelers from all over the world. Its history, mythology, and beauty combine to make it an experience visitors will never forget. Located at the tip of the Balkan Peninsula, Greece is divided into continental Greece and its many islands located in the Ionian Sea on the west coast or in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey.
The sea is never far away in Greece and has had a profound influence on its history and way of life. Greece is the 12th member of the EU (European Economic and Monetary Union) and is considered the origin of Western civilization, the birthplace of Democracy, and the Olympic games.
Athens is the Capital of Greece, a large modern city that dates back to the dawn of civilization. The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by mountains with the Acropolis and Lycabettus being the most prominent hills. Visitors should explore the Acropolis with its main attraction of the Parthenon, the Olympic Stadium, Temple of Zeus, as well as the ancient marketplace of the Plaka. Piraeus, the port of Athens, is where site visitors can start their exploration of the Greek islands. The most popular Greek islands are Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Corfu, and Crete.
Simple Guidance For You In Athens Travel Guide.
Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH) opened in 2001 and is 36 km (22 miles) east of the city center. A Tourist Information Centre is located in the Arrival Hall. Visitors can obtain a free copy of the city transport map and if traveling to the Greeks Islands pick up brochures on Ferry information and timetables from Piraeus and other Attica ports. A free wireless internet zone service is available within the airport’s terminal areas. The airport has excellent public transport connections to the city.
Metro is the easiest and least expensive mode of transport from the airport to the city. The Airport Metro line is an expansion of Line 3 (blue line) that takes travelers to the midtown Syntagma and also Monastiraki stations. Travelers can change trains at Monastiraki to the green line for Pireaus Harbour. [Airport trains drive away every half hour]
Suburban Railway from the Airport to Larissis Railway Station then change to Line 2 of the subway to the downtown area of Omónia and Syntagma stations. [Airport trains run every half hour]
Bus services are readily available from the Airport and operate 24 hr a day. The major routes are X95 to Syntagma Square (gets in touch with subway Lines 2 as well as 3), X96 to Piraeus (connects with metro Line 1). [Airport Buses run 24 hours a day every half hour, travel time is 45 min to 1.5 hrs]
Taxis are available outside the arrival hall. Ensure the driver uses the meter or negotiate a fixed fare. [Airport to the city takes about 30-45 mins, tariff 2 applies after midnight and is twice as expensive].
A simple integrated ticket lets you travel on any form of transport (metro, suburban trains, trams, buses) with unlimited transfers anywhere within Athens (except the metro airport line and the airport buses) for 90 minutes. There is a daily ticket valid for 24 hours or a weekly ticket.
Metro is the easiest and quickest mode of transport around Athens. Three lines are connecting the port of Piraeus, western and southern Athens, the city center, the northern suburbs, and the International Airport. Syntagma and Monastiraki stations in the center of the city are where the lines interchange. [Standard metro fare is $1 for trips between all stations except the Airport line. The standard fare to or from the Airport is $6]
Athens Tram connects the city center, Syntagma, with the southern suburbs and has connections with the metro lines. There are three tram lines and a single ticket costs €0.60.
Suburban Railway has a mainline starting from Piraeus passing through the main train station of Larissis in Athens. The train travels either west to Kiato and Corinth or east towards the Airport.
Bus services operate to most parts of Athens and there are some services through the night. [Standard bus ticket costs €1.00 for multiple trips within 90 minutes, €3.20 ticket to or from the Airport, weekly pass for €10]
Athens Explorer Bus (line 400) is a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus visiting 19 of Athens’s most famous attractions such as the National Archaeological Museum, National Gallery, Plaka, Acropolis, Olympic Zeus Temple, University, Greek Parliament and many more. The line starts and terminates at the Athens Archaeological Museum. Each bus operates at 30-minute intervals and takes 90 mins to complete the entire journey.
[One-day ticket purchased on the bus is valid for 24 hours and is valid on all other forms of public transport (except airport lines), adult €6, tickets should be validated on the first ride and be kept and shown to the bus attendant every time you board on the bus or to the inspector on the other means of public transport]
Taxis in Athens are numerous and reasonably priced. Taxis must use the meter so ensure the driver has turned it on before you move off or you will pay more.
The climate of Greece is temperate most of the year but the summer can be hot although the humidity is low. The best time to visit Greece and the Greek Islands is from April to October, although the mainland can be visited any time of the year. The climate of Athens is the Mediterranean, characterized by hot summers and mild but rainy winters. The summer months of June to August can be hot and there are approximately 300 days of sunshine each year.
English is spoken by people in the tourism business. Many staff at hotels, shops, restaurants, and museums will speak English.
The Acropolis, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is among the most significant and most visited to monuments worldwide. It was the original fortified ancient “high city” of Athens built on the Acropolis hill, a prominent rock plateau high above the city, with powerful sights and an incredible variety of old design dating back to the Classical duration of Ancient Greece.
Visit Acropolis: if you are planning a Greece vacation than a visit to Acropolis should be the first stop on your itinerary. It is the most famous and most recognized symbol of Greece. During the day you will be in a sense of awe as you watch the intricacy and majesty of the Parthenon, while at night you can watch the retelling of the Olympus legends through a light and sound presentation.
The primary buildings of the Acropolis are the Erectheion Temple, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the renowned Temple of Parthenon devoted to the Goddess Athena, guard of the ancient city of Athens. The external pillars of the Parthenon are slightly curved to offer a visual fallacy as being straight when watched from every angle.
Various other websites to see are the Kerameikos, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, and the neighboring Odeum of Herodes and Theatre of Dionysus. There is a museum behind the Parthenon preserving a number of the artifacts from the site. [Open up daily, 8 am -sunset, European students totally free, entrance to the Acropolis is off Theorias Street]
Ancient Agora is the green parkland next to Acropolis Hill with an extremely stunning view of the Parthenon. An Agora was an open place of assembly in ancient Greek times where free-born male citizens would certainly gather for armed forces responsibility or to listen to statements of the king or council. Later in Greek history, the agora served as a marketplace where merchants kept stalls or shops to sell their goods. There is the Temple of Hephaestus, the best-preserved ancient Greek holy place, the Attalos Stoa, and the museum of the old Agora.
Odeum of Herodes is a Roman theatre enhancement to the Acropolis, constructed in the city around 167 AD and situated on the side of the Acropolis hill easily seen from the front of the Parthenon. Today, shows are held here and are where the Yanni (Musician) recorded his music album ‘Yanni Live at the Acropolis’.
Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in the city at 277 m (908 feet) above water level and is a prominent vacationer location for the magnificent view of Athens, the Acropolis, the port of Piraeus and the island of Aegina. At the top is the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a dining establishment. The hill borders the Kolonaki area and can be ascended by strolling or by a funicular railway which climbs the hill from a reduced terminus at Kolonaki, Aristippou road.
Syntagma Square lies in the center of the city and is the business district of Athens. Many resorts, banks, stores, dining establishments, and airline company workplaces are located in the area. The Parliament Building overlooks the square where guests can see the Guard Change for Parliament from time to time. Many places of interest to visitors located reasonably close to Syntagma Square. The areas of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki to the west, Kolonaki to the east, and Omonia to the north.
Temple of Olympian Zeus, once the largest temple in Greece, is a Greco-Roman holy place in the center of Athens, southeast of the Acropolis. Construction started in the 6th century BC however was not completed up until the power of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd-century AD. Just ruins remain today as the temple would have been damaged by earthquakes.
Three Island Cruise is a wonderful day cruising the gorgeous islands of the Saronic Gulf. The cruise stops at Aegina (the very first capital of Ancient Greece), Poros, and Hydra. Passengers have free time for purchasing, swimming, or enjoy a beverage at one of the several foreshore tavernas. This cruise is a very popular and highly suggested introduction to the Greek Islands. [Daily departure 8 am, returns 7 pm from Piraeus Harbour, Lunch is provided on board]
Cape Sounion is the southernmost point of Attica, with white marble columns from the 5th century BC, The Temple of Poseidon stands. Visitors are taken on a breathtaking drive along the seaside roadway past the popular beaches of the Athenian Riviera, set against a backdrop of impressive sea views, offshore islands, and sturdy mountain region.
Corinth Canal is a man-made canal linking the Aegean Sea with the Ionian Sea and was an excellent technical achievement for its time. The canal cuts via the slim Isthmus of Corinth, near the old town of Corinth, and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland. The canal is 6.3 km in size and was developed between 1881 and 1893. It conserves the 400 km journey around the Peloponnesus for smaller ships, but it is too small for modern ocean freighters. Corinth is about one-hour drive southwest of Athens.
The Plaka area is the most popular with tourists – there are many bars, cafes, and restaurants.
There are many shopping areas in Athens. The official retail trading hours are M, W, Sa 9 am-3 pm and T, Th, Fr 9 am-2 pm and then 5.30-8.30pm every day. The ancient marketplace of the Plaka, a charming historic district located at the base of the Acropolis, is very popular with visitors and has many tourist shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars open every day until late at night, even on Sundays.
Kolonaki, located at the base of the Lycabettus Hill, is an area of up-market, quality shops and fashionable boutiques with clothing, children’s wear, and leather goods. Ermou Street is affordable and specializes in ladies’ fashions, shoes, gifts, homewares, and leather goods. Mitropoleos Street runs from Syntagma Square parallel to Ermou Street and is popular for clothing, jewelry, and handicrafts.
The Monastiraki Flea Market has great shopping bargains and is open every day with Sunday the busiest and most colorful day of the week.
The Mall at the Neratziotissa Metro Station is the biggest shopping mall in Athens.
Street vendors with their products laid out on the pavement can be seen around the city. The goods are mostly copies of major brands and if the vendors are unlicensed they violate Greek law.
Delphi is just one of the most preferred archaeological sites in Greece and is an incredibly prominent tourist location due to the splendor of its natural mountain setup and its historical associations as the spiritual center of the ancient world. Located 180 kilometers, or two hrs, northwest of Athens, a journey to Delphi gets on every tour plan and is one of the most prominent excursion from Athens.
On the slopes of Mt Parnassus, in a landscape of appeal and greatness, exists the ruins of old Delphi where visitors can see the Sanctuary of Apollo, Treasury of the Athenians, and the Museum including well-known Greek sculptures such as the bronze Charioteer.
The Oracle at Delphi provided the main gathering place for the exchange of intellectual ideas and details and its reputation prolonged far past the boundaries of the Hellenic World. The oracle of Delphi was a spiritual experience whereby the spirit of Apollo was requested for guidance on vital matters relating to people’s lives or affairs of the state.
Concerns were asked to the Pythia, or priestess, that ‘directed’ the spirit of the God Apollo and would pronounce her prophesies while the clergymen wrote them down and equated them to the people. Apollo’s sacred precinct in Delphi was a pan Hellenic sanctuary, where every four years athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, a precursor to the Modern Olympics.
Nearby the modern town of Delphi has spectacular views over the valley and out to the Corinthian Gulf. There are many hotels, restaurants, taverns, and bars in the town. Only a few minutes away is the picturesque mountain village of Arachova, famous for its handicrafts and splendid views of the mountains and valleys.
Mycenae is located about 90 km south-west of Athens. It is a popular tourist attraction as it is a major archaeological site of early Greek civilization built a thousand years before the monuments of Classical Greece. Visitors enter the Beehive Tomb of King Agamemnon and pass through the famous Lion Gate into the hilltop fortress town of Mycenae which was a military stronghold that dominated most of southern Greece. Behind the ancient ruins is a museum housing the major artifacts of Mycenae.
Epidaurus is a World Heritage-listed ancient site situated 60km south of the Corinth Canal or 2 hrs from Athens. According to Greek mythology, Epidaurus was the birthplace of Asclepius, the god of healing and the son of Apollo. Epidaurus was one of the most popular healing facility of the Classical world, the place where sick people entered with the hope of being cured.
The ruins of Epidaurus include the foundations of the Temple of Asclepius, a sports gymnasium, an odeon, and a bathing complex. The major attraction is the huge, unspoiled Amphitheater, constructed 2500 years ago, that has near-perfect acoustics and today hosts theatrical plays to audiences of up to 15,000 individuals.
Olympia is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, home of the Olympic Flame and one of the most popular archaeological sites to visit in Greece. Located in a valley in the western Peloponnese, the site of Ancient Olympia is where the Greeks held athletic contests every four years. The most celebrated temple was the Temple of Zeus, dedicated to the father of the gods. Next to the Temple of Zeus is a temple dedicated to Hera, the wife of Zeus.
To the east, lies the Stadium and the Hippodrome, where the Olympic contests took place. To the west was the Palaestra, or wrestling school, and the Gymnasium, where the competitors trained. Visitors should give themselves at least half a day to explore and experience ancient Olympia and view the museum exhibiting a selection of findings from the area. Olympia is 360km from Athens and can be easily reached by train and bus services from Athens.
Meteora is the site of the famous Greek Orthodox Monasteries built on spectacular natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly a few miles northwest of Kalambaka in central Greece. Meteora is home to six monasteries and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The 1981 James Bond movie, ‘For Your Eyes Only‘, was filmed on location at one of the monasteries. A trip to Meteora is very popular with tourists and is on many tour operator itineraries.
Take a helicopter tour of Athens: if you want to do something unique on your trip to Greece then you can take a helicopter tour of Athens. This trip usually takes place during daylight hours and the entire tour takes only about 30 minutes. If you take his trip not only will you be able to see the beautiful skyline of Athens, but you will also be able to see the magnificent landmarks. Since you will be able to see these sites at a vantage point don’t forget to take your camera along with you.
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