From the Metaxourgeio metro station you can explore every corner of Athens. After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, walk across the street to the station to get an early start to a long and exciting day full of sight-seeing! First we begin with the city’s most famous attraction, the ancient rock of Acropolis.
Get off at Acropolis metro station and when you exit, walk half a block with the Acropolis museum to your left. Turn left on Dionysiou Areopagitou street. Save your visit for the Acropolis museum for later in the day, when its air-conditioned rooms will be a welcome relief to the afternoon heat. Once on Dionysiou Areopagitou, you will see the Acropolis entrance to your right. Follow the footpath and you will come across the Theater of Dionysus –the theater used in classical times and the Roman-era Herodus Atticus theater. From there the footpath becomes steeper until you reach the Propylaia. You have reached the top of the rock, feel free to walk around and admire one of the most iconic attractions in the world.
After exiting the Acropolis head northwest to Theonas street toward the Ancient Agora. The Agora was the heart of Ancient Athens, where people exchanged goods and ideas. Further down towards the Thission metro station you’ll find Kerameikos, the ancient cemetery of Athens. Also around Thissio feel free to visit Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Agora. By now it should be around lunch time. Plaka and Thissio are full of restaurants for you to grab a bite.
Next stop is Monastiraki, a central hub from where you can access Athens’s more ancient neighborhoods. Ifaistou Street is where the flea market is located, Themidos Street will take you to the Psirri area with its numerous restaurants and bars, Pandrossou Street leads to Plaka, Athens’s oldest neighborhood, while Areos Street leads to the Ancient Agora and the Acropolis. Of course, you could stay in Monastiraki if you get the hankering for a traditional kebab or gyros, or even head up to 360 degrees bar for some of the best views in the city.
Now it’s time for Syntagma, the center of all activity in modern-day Athens. Take the metro from Monastiraki or take the 10 minute walk through Ermou street. The square took its name following a popular uprising in 1843 when people demanded from then King Otto a constitution, a “syntagma”. It has since then become the focal point of every protest and rally, as has been famously attested over the last few years. Walk up the stairs and you’ll see the Parliament building, a neoclassical structure that used to be the palace of King Otto. Cross the street and catch the changing of the guards, the “euzones”, an hourly ritual that always attracts a large crowd of picture-taking tourists.
Still not ready to head back to the hotel yet? From Syntagma you can take a pleasant walk down Vassilissis Sofia’s street toward the National Garden, a peaceful oasis of green in the center of Athens. On the south end of the garden you’ll find the Pillars of Zeus, the ancient entrance gate to the city. Walk east and you’ll come across the Panathinaiko –or Kallimarmaro- stadium, where the very first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. Complete your sight-seeing day with a delicious meal at Aigli Zappeiou, or stroll through the National Garden to return back to Syntagma.
Just an hour drive north of the city is Mount Parnitha National Park, an ideal location for a nature walk with friends and family. Parnitha is the highest mountain in Attica, its highest peak measures at 1413 meters above sea level and with a dense forest of fir trees and pines. At the shelters of Bafi, run by the Greek Mountaineering Club and Flambouri, run by the Acharnes Mountaineering Club, you can follow various courses and outdoor activities, like trekking, climbing, biking, canoeing and orienteering, special activities for children and many more. Flambouri is open all year round on weekends except for August and Bafi is open every day throughout the year. The park is home to a variety of wild flora and fauna, such as deer, hares, foxes, badgers and birds, make the park an ideal place to discover nature. Mount Parnitha was declared a National Park in 1961 and is part of the European network of protected areas “Natura 2000”. Visitors can also see the outdoor exhibition “Park of Souls” with sculptures from trunks of burnt trees from the great fire of 2007 by Spyros Dasiotis. The “Small Parnitha Museum” close to the funicular railway hosts interesting information about the area’s history. You can also visit the Regency Casino Mont Parnes, a luxurious resort for gambling and also for fine dining.