The ultimate Athens experiences

Famous for its splendid historical sights, a buzzing and sun-drenched metropolis, and its surrounding towns and islands, Athens offers everything a traveller could ask for.

Soak up culture, history, and riviera delights in the Greek capital!

We’ve picked four ultimate experiences to get the most out of it.


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The pedestrian route around the Acropolis

The Acropolis, a symbol of the city of Athens, has been home to temples and time-worn treasures throughout history.

The word ‘acropolis’ derives from the Greek words ákro (meaning ‘highest point’) and polis (‘town’). Naturally, it is visible from many parts of the city, which adds to the feeling that the Acropolis really is the heart of Athens.

The Acropolis is a symbol of the city of Athens

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A 3.5-kilometre-long pedestrian route is located just under the Acropolis.

The street called Dionysiou Areopagitou is part of this route and is traditionally the home of wealthy lovers of antiquity who enjoy the columns of the Parthenon’s south side looming above their marble balconies.

The route leads around the Acropolis, past the Acropolis Museum, and then down to Plaka, a neighbourhood in the heart of Athens. A view of the Acropolis accompanies you every step of the way.

Experience the pedestrian route around the Acropolis

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Much of Athens’ ancient culture can still be seen at the Acropolis Museum, but set into the hillside opposite the museum are the extensive remains of the Theatre of Dionysus, which was the birthplace of dramatic and comedic art and the social heart of Athens during its golden age.

Two exquisite vases can be seen in the Acropolis Museum

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Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is a multifunctional education, arts, and recreation destination located in Palaio Faliro, an old-school district of Athens. Completed in 2016, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre has reshaped the Kallithea neighbourhood and the waterfront, giving life to a space that had been abandoned for years.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is a multifunctional destination

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The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is beloved by locals but often unknown to visitors. It’s definitely worth visiting, because it’s truly a breathtaking experience, day or night.

The public space is open to all, and its grounds house the National Library, the Greek National Opera, and Stavros Niarchos Park.

The library and opera are housed in a glass-fronted multi-purpose building on the edge of the Faliro Delta and perched above a hill that stands out from the rest of the Athenian skyline.

The design integrates lookout points from several high platforms, including a lighthouse with 360-degree views of the city.

The centre invites you to explore the hilly landscape of Athens bounded by the deep blue Aegean Sea.

Explore the Stavros Niarchos Park

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While at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, do not miss Stavros Niarchos Park. It’s a much-needed green space in Athens, a city with the least green space per capita in Europe.

Designed by the New York-based landscape firm Deborah Nevins & Associates in collaboration with Athens-based landscape artists Helli Pangalou and Associates, it’s literally a breath of fresh air, with classic Mediterranean flora such as olive trees, aromatic herbs, and flowers lining the pathways.

In fact, as you explore the gardens, you might actually walk on top of the Greek National Library and Opera, which are covered by a bioclimatic green roof.

Get to know classic Mediterranean flora in the Stavros Niarchos Park

Photo by Thomas Gravanis


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The Athens Riviera

In Athens, you might feel like you are on an endless summer holiday

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A few kilometres outside Athens, the urban landscape gives way to unique seaside resorts.

This gorgeous stretch of coastline with its green-blue water, organised beaches, and rocky coves is lined with five-star resorts, spas, esplanades, marinas, and windsurfing and sailing schools.

Combined with the perfect weather, the Athens Riviera makes you feel as if you’re on an endless summer holiday.

The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

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The Athenian coastline stretches from the city’s southern suburbs along the Saronic Gulf all the way to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, with a string of busy marinas, traditional taverns, and trendy neighbourhoods in between. Here the sun shines bright, and the laughter rings out loud all year round.

For bon viveurs, the Athens Riviera is full of exotic palm trees, designer coffee shops, and stylish eateries, making it a popular summer spot.

In fact, the Athens Riviera is the closest you can get to a Mykonos-style party while still staying on the mainland. When night falls, enjoy the coastal nightlife.

In Alimos, Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, and Varkiza the beach bars are filled with people enjoying cocktails and dancing until dawn, barefoot in the sand.

In Athen, you can experience the active coastal nightlife

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There’s no shortage of inviting Blue Flag public and private beaches lining the Athens Riviera’s 48-kilometre stretch of coastline.

With plush beach loungers, the Balux is the choice for all-day relaxation, while Limanakia is perfect for those seeking to dive off the rocks into the crystal-clear water.

To enjoy views of the Saronic Gulf, head to Mikro Kavouri, a picturesque rocky beach with a great lookout point.

If you prefer a shallow turquoise sea, Thymari Beach is a local favourite beach and should be on your bucket list.

Mikro Kavouri - a picturesque rocky beach with a great lookout point

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At the heart of the Athenian Riviera, about an hour from central Athens, you’ll find the miracle of nature that’s Lake Vouliagmeni.

This slightly salty lake at the base of a huge cliff has an underground connection to the sea and is fed by mineral-rich warm springs.

Managed as a stylish resort with luxury sunbeds, volleyball courts, and myriad dining options, the emerald waters here never fall below 21°C.

While in Athens, find time to see the miracle of nature - Lake Vouliagmeni

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The Saronic island of Aegina

Aegina is the closest of the Greek islands to Athens and is the perfect island to spend a day or two exploring, especially if you’re looking for a day trip from the capital.

There are plenty of ferries heading to Aegina, along with cruise ships that drop people off for a few hours.

Aegina is the closest of the Greek islands to Athens

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Beyond its bustling port and brightly painted fishing caiques, Aegina has a seductive, easy-going character.

Outside the picturesque town of Aegina, plan a visit to the Temple of Aphaia, an impressive ancient Greek structure dating back to around 500 BCE. Its well-preserved remains stand proudly on a pine-covered hill with far-reaching views over the Saronic Gulf.

After a visit to the impressive temple, head to Agia Marina, a long sandy beach known as one of the island’s most popular beaches.

Agia Marina sandy beach is known as one of the island’s most popular beaches

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If you want to explore more of Aegina, make a stop in the ancient town of Paleochora. This enchanting remote hillside is dotted with the remains of a Byzantine village.

More than 30 churches punctuate the rocky heights of the original citadel, and several have been refurbished.

Not far from Paleochora, Vagia on the northern coast of the island is a quiet sandy beach surrounded by pines. Here you can try local dishes in the tavernas near the seafront.

Idyllic beach day on the little island of Moni

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And if you enjoy snorkelling, don’t miss the small rocky coves with stretches of sand and pebbles.

The south of the island is a volcanic area with a more rugged landscape, barren and hilly.

If you prefer tranquillity and spending a relaxing day on the beach, hop over to the idyllic beach on the little island of Moni, where the only inhabitants are peacocks and deer.

Seafood lovers should book a table at Aeginitissa Fish Tavern

Photo by Thomas Gravanis

To end your day with breathtaking views of the sunset, book a seafront table at Aeginitissa Fish Tavern on the southwestern coast.

For decades, this has been a beloved restaurant on Aegina for fish and seafood lovers from all over the world.

Among the must-try dishes are the marinated anchovies, the risotto with scallops and sea urchin, and the lobster spaghetti with a glass of ouzo.


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Read more about Athens in Baltic Outlook.

Cover photo on Unsplash
Text by Līga Vaļko

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