Athens

A visit to Athens practically always starts and ends in the world-famous Acropolis and Parthenon, and it is worthwhile taking a short walk to Filopappos hill for stunning views across the city. The rocky hill of Pnyx used to be the meeting place of the Democratic Assembly in the 5th century B.C., and famous for orators such as Aristides, Demosthenes, and Pericles. Although Athens is not particularly green, the National Gardens, Zappion, and Pedion tou Areos offer peaceful refuges in the city centre. Monastikari is one of the most vivid and picturesque quarters and offers great bargains for shoppers; a myriad of shops await tourists daily while the flea market, also offering antiques, takes place on Sundays. The Temple of Zeus or the Gate of Adrios are typical monuments of the Roman period in Athens and the marble Tower of Winds or Airs, dating back to the 1st century, is an accomplishment of the Roman Market in the Plaka.

After dark

regional cultures come to life every night in the Dora Stratou garden-theatre in the area around Philopappou Hill opposite the Acropolis. 75 dancers, singers and folk musicians perform folk songs, play musical instruments and dance in authentic costumes. Performances from May through September: Tuesday to Saturday at 9.30pm; Sundays at 8.15pm.

The favourite addresses of night owls: bars around Gr. Lambraki St. in Glyfada (southern suburbs); the bar and cafe areas around Exarchia Square and towards Streffi Hill (university crowd, but also bars in neoclassical buildings); the Plaka near the square on Kydathineon Street; Psyni, the Hilton Hotel (llissia area) and Kifissia in the northern suburbs.

Foreigners mainly frequent the Glyfada, Kifissia, Plaka and llissia areas. Greek bouzouki music can be heard in the Plaka or in clubs along Syngrou and Possidonos avenues towards the south coast. Bodega is a place for music from all over the world, and they show works of art by young painters.

Environs

a group of Greek islands known as the Argosonic Islands can be reached by hydrofoil or ferry boat from the city. The shortest journey, to Salamis and Aegina, takes 30-45 minutes, and the longest journey is to Spetses which takes 2.5 hours. Salamis is famous for its beaches and the ancient ruins of the Salamis Acropolis.

While the island of Aegina is a paradise offering pistachio nuts, pottery and villages dotted among the lush green pistachio orchards and pine trees. Spetses is associated with the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the island itself boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere and from here you can take the hydrofoil to visit Nafplion in the Peloponnese and return to Athens by road. On the way back you can drop in at the town of the King of Agamemnon, Mykanea, and the ancient city of Tyrins.

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