Greek Guide

Athens Tours Day Trips Greece Athens

Athens Tours Day Trips Greece things to do and see...

Few foreigners make Athens their base for more than a night or two. The lure of the Greek islands is too strong when compared with the city's polluted and impossibly congested streets. But if you have the time and inclination to spend a few days here you'll find a wealth of fascinating places to visit.there's much more to Athens than the mighty Acropolis and with the spanking new metro now in place, getting around town is no longer the nightmare it once was.

Of course the Acropolis will be your first port of call. It's one of the great wonders of the world and no amount of tourists scrambling over its ancient surface can detract from the magnificence of these truly inspirational ruins.

Make your own way there (there's a metro station at the base) or book one of the many tours available from local agents. Tour guides offer a range of itineraries taking in the main city sights a good way to "do Athens " if you've only got a few hours to spare.

Popular half day tours usually take in a brief stop at the imposing ruins of the Temple of Zeus a once magnificent sanctuary dedicated to the greatest god of antiquity. Work on the mighty structure started in the 6th century BC and took 800 years to complete. Most tours also pass by the Panathenaic Stadium where the first international Olympic games were held in 1896. The original stadium was built in the 4th century BC, in a huge natural hollow between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos, for the athletic competitions held in honour of the goddess Athena (after whom the city is named). It's thought that the stadium had a seating capacity for 50,000 people.

A visit to the National Archaeological Museum should definitely be on your agenda. It's one of the world's finest museums housing a priceless collection of Greek antiquities. Be prepared to spend at least a few hours there and if you have the time consider making a return visit because there's simply too much to take in at first bite. Highlights include the golden mask of Agamemnon (which actually belonged to a king who died three centuries before Agamemnon!), the bronze statue of Poseidon dating back to 450 BC and the impressive collection of Minoan frescoes excavated at Akrotiri on the island of Santorini.

The Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art are also well worth a visit as they both offer outstanding collections of ancient Greek art. The Benaki museum has a stunning exhibition of gold jewellery from as far back as 3,000 BC. The National Gallery of Art has exhibits from Greek and European masters including Van Dyck, Cezanne, Rembrandt and Picasso.

Use the metro to pop along to Syntagma Square (Constitution Square) where you can enjoy the somewhat bizarre spectacle of soldiers sporting white skirts and pom poms on their shoes changing the guard outside the parliament building. Escape the frantic activity of the city in the nearby National Gardens which are a delightful oasis of sub tropical vegetation, shady walkways and ornamental duck ponds.

For shopping, the famous flea market at Monastiraki is the place to go for bargain leather goods, jewellery, embroidery and a huge range of other products from herbs and honey to tacky watches and tablecloths. The highly chic Kolonaki district offers more upmarket shops, boutiques and good quality restaurants.