Acropolis of Athens

If Greece is the center of philosophy, culture, mythology, architecture, and civilization, then Athens is its heart and soul. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, with recorded history dating back over 3,000 years ago. Athens, once home to great philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, can be credited with laying the foundation for modern Western Civilization. A trip to Athens is not just a trip back in time to see how the ancients lived; but also a modern city with chic shops, electrifying festivals and luxury hotels.

The first stop in any tour of Athens is the Acropolis. The Acropolis of Athens is the most widely known ancient citadel that once was the center of Greece. At the center of the Acropolis stands the temple of the Parthenon. Completed in 438 BC, the temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena. Today the temple is still largely intact, and is often a symbol of the Acropolis. Other notable structures in the Acropolis are the Temple of Athena Nike, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and Theatre of Dionysus Eluethereus.

After visiting the Acropolis, be sure to stop at the New Acropolis Museum. Here you can see many of the ancient artifacts that have been discovered on the grounds of the Acropolis. With nearly 4,000 sculptures and relics, the museum will astound and amaze you with extensive history and life size mock ups of the Acropolis buildings.

Temple of Olympian Zeus, in Athens

Not all ancient temples are found at the Acropolis, however. The Temple of Olympian Zeus took nearly 700 years to complete. Largely believed to be the biggest temple in the world, it unfortunately fell to ruins in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Many columns still exist today, in the center of the city, just a quarter mile from the Acropolis.

Temple of Poseidon at Sunset near Athens

A few miles away from Athens, at Cape Sounion, you’ll find another impressive monument of the Temple of Poseidon. The large structure still maintains 16 of the 42 original stately marble columns. The Temple of Poseidon is located along the cliffs edge in Cape Sounion. Along the way back to Athens from this area, stop and take in one of the many beaches.

Lycabettus Hill is the 910-foot center of Athens. Plan to visit the top of the hill for a truly spectacular view of the city. There are a number of ways to reach the top, walking included. There are a number of interesting sights, cafés, and resting spots should you decide to walk. The easier and quicker way, however, is taking a ride aboard the funicular. The cable car will transport you up the steep incline in style. Once atop the hill, enjoy the stunning views from the observation deck before touring the small chapel of St. George, a quaint whitewashed building built in the 19th century.

At the base of the hill is the Kolonaki district. The Kolonaki neighborhood is the stylish upscale part of town, with designer shops, fine dining, and Syntagma Square with Athens’ Parliament Building. A number of museums are located in Kolonaki, such as the Byzantine Museum, the History of Greek Costume, the Theater Museum, as well as the Benaki Museum. The Benaki Museum has 36 rooms full of numerous artifacts and antiquities from Paleolithic to Modern times.

Plaka District in Athens

The Plaka historical district is a pedestrian area of town full of cafés, bookshops, museums and the Plaka Flea Market held on Sundays. Here you’ll find a colorful array of unique treasures. Stroll leisurely through this neighborhood, as cars are not allowed on these streets. Nearby Plaka sits the Tower of Winds, an octagonal marble clock tower built in the 2nd century BC. Along each side, the winds are depicted from each direction (N, NE, E, etc.) There are also eight sundials around the tower and a water clock inside.

If you can visit during the summer, be sure to take in the Athens and Epidaurus Festival. Theatre, music, art, and dance performances often take place during the months of June and July in many venues, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus Theatre as well as the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.

One of the best places to stay in Athens is King George Palace, just outside the Acropolis. In fact, many of the suites have balcony views overlooking the Acropolis. This luxury hotel is lavishly decorated in English Tudor style. The Royal Penthouse suite includes a stunning view of the Acropolis right from its own pool.

A visit to Athens is great year round due to mild Mediterranean temperatures. Expect more crowds during the summer months, and a bit more rain late fall to early winter. To begin planning your Athenian vacation, contact the Luxe Travel team at 1-866-365-8747 or concierge@luxetravel.com.