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Greece Travel & Holiday Tips

Athens & Surrounding


Capital of Greece and the country’s largest city, Athens is dominated by the flat-topped hill of the Acropolis, site of the 2400-year-old Parthenon, one of the most famous classical monuments in the world. Close by lie the Theater of Dionysus and the restored Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a superb theatre in which open-air performances of the International Athens Festival are held from June to September. The ruins of the civic, political and commercial centre of the Ancient Agora can be visited, as can the reconstructed Hellenistic Stoa of Attalos, which houses the Agora Museum. Most artifacts are displayed in the National Archaeological Museum on Patission Street. The old quarter of the town, Plaka, which spreads around the Acropolis, is picturesque with its famed flea market, small tavernas, craft shops and narrow winding alleys. The excavations of the Library of Hadrian can be observed from Pandrossou Street. The centre of modern Athens, most notably the chic area of Kolonaki, has many designer boutiques, smart restaurants and international-class hotels. The city has a thriving nightlife, with most bars and clubs staying open until at least 0300.


Piraeus, the port town of Athens, is located on a peninsula, 10 kilometres southwest of central Athens. It features a busy commercial port and a Sunday flea market in the streets near the metro station. The most picturesque part of Piraeus is the Mikrolimano fishing harbour, with its row of traditional fish restaurants. Other good places for eating fish are the numerous seafood eateries of Akti Themistokleous Street, on the peninsula's eastern coast. Traces of the area's 2,500-year old history can be found at the Piraeus Archaeological Museum. From Piraues, ferries leave regularly for the islands.

Central Greece & Euboea Island

The area surrounding Athens, known as Attica, is characterised by calm beaches, and the pinewoods and thyme-covered slopes of Mount Parnes, Hymettus and Pentelico. As one travels northwest, towards the interior, the landscape combines fertile plains planted with tobacco and cotton, and rugged mountains with unspoilt villages and winter ski resorts.

Cape Sounio

69 km (43 miles) east of Athens, crowning Cape Sounio is a towering promontory which dominates the landscape for miles around. Here stand the superb ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, built in the 4th century BC, commanding spectacular views over the sea and islands. The Apollo Coast, a highly developed tourist area stretching from Piraeus to Cape Sounio, is dotted with exclusive resorts such as Glifada (17 km/11 miles from Athens) and Vouliagmeni (24 km/15 miles from Athens), offering marinas, well-kept beaches, modern hotel complexes, seafood tavernas and luxury-class restaurants and nightclubs. North of Cape Sounio lies Rafina, Athens’ second port, with ferry connections to Euboea and some of the Greek islands.

Ossios Loukas

Northwest of Athens, close to the town of Livadia, stands the magnificent monastery of Ossios Loukas. Within the monastery complex one can visit the 11th century Church of St Luke, noted for its marvelous Byzantine mosaics, and the 13th century Church of the Virgin, built by Cistercian monks who occupied the monastery during the Middle Ages. Livadia, built into the foothills of Mount Helikon, was famous in ancient times for the Oracle of Trophonios Zeus, the Springs of Forgetfulness (Lethe) and Memory (Mnemosyne) to the north of the town.


Lying 176 km (109 miles) northwest of Athens, Delphi can be reached by road via Livadia and Arahova. This is the site of the famous Oracle, where rulers of ancient Greece came for many centuries for political and moral guidance. The complex of treasury buildings, plinths and the foundations for the 4th century BC Temple of Apollo are set on the steep rocky hillside, overlooking olive groves and the Sanctuary of Athena, known as the Marmaria (marbles). A steep uphill climb from the Temple brings one to the theatre, offering stunning views over the entire site, and further uphill still lies the ancient stadium. The Delphi Museum contains a superb collection of finds from the site.

Many visitors to Delphi stay overnight in nearby Arahova, a pretty hillside town renowned for its cheese, formaela. Alternatively, a short distance southwest of Delfi, on the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinthia, lie the seaside towns of Itea and Galaxidi, offering hotels, restaurants and beaches. A regular bus connects Athens and Itea, passing through Arahova and Delphi enroute.

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