Ancient history is all around you in Athens, Greece. Athens and its myriad archeological sites will dazzle anyone with an interest in early Western civilization. A tour of Athens naturally begins at the Acropolis, the focal point of the city and the locus of ancient Greece's most powerful city-state. From the Acropolis, you can walk to other historic sites via the Grand Promenade, a system of pedestrian walkways that were installed before Athens hosted the 2004 Olympic Games.
In addition to the Acropolis, other highlights in Athens' include the Agora, the Street of the Tombs, The Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Theater of Dionysus. After delving into ancient history, head to the Anafiotika neighborhood, a surprisingly quiet and picturesque district, built in the 19th century by Anafi Island stonemasons. To get a sense of the modern city and its unusual blend of old and new, head up to Lykavitos Hill, where you can get a bird's eye view of the metropolis.
While best known for its illustrious history, Athens is a very livable city with wonderful contemporary culture. For high end shopping, check out the Kolonaki district. Head to the posh Plaka neighborhood to browse through boutiques and dine in restaurants tucked within cobblestone alleyways. Although you will find a mix of food from various world cultures, enjoying traditional Greek cuisine is one of the greatest pleasures of an Athens vacation. When visiting one of Athens' tavernas, try traditional plates like olives, Greek salad, souvlaki, fried fish, octopus, grilled anchovies, roasted lamb, and fava beans.
The top sights in Athens are:
-Acropolis: The flat-topped rock in Athens' city center is home to some of the most famous Golden Age monuments from ancient Greece, including the temple of the Parthenon.
-Ancient Agora: Near the Acropolis, you can visit the market and meeting place in ancient Athens where Socrates once taught his pupils.
-Benaki Museum: The permanent collection at this fine art museum contains treasures of the ancient world, paintings by European masters, and work by 19th and 20th century Greek artists.
-Byzantine and Christian Museum: Delve into the history of Greece's Byzantine period at this well-stocked and beautiful fine art museum.
-National Archeological Museum: This impressive museum contains art and artifacts from every era in Greece's long history, with a particularly awe-inspiring collection of antiquities from Mycenae.
-Daphni Monastery: Just outside the Athens city center, this Byzantine monastery was built in the 11th century and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
Enjoy your trip to Greece with a vacation rental in a historic Athens neighborhood. If you are interested in seeing the ancient sites, book a luxury apartment in the city center, where you can easily walk between monuments. Those who will be staying in Athens for a longer vacation may wish to rent a condo in one of the city's contemporary neighborhoods like Kolonaki. Or, if you are looking for a more relaxing trip, consider an oceanfront villa in one of Athens' outlying neighborhoods.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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