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Athens, the capital city of Greece, is one of the oldest cities in the world having a three thousand year history. We have many reasons to thank the Greeks who led the way towards the civilization and the democratisation of the world. Athens was the birthplace of many ancient scholars and philosophers including Socrates, Plato, Sophocles and Euripides.
Surrounded by mountains, Athens has one of the best climates in Europe. The city is filled with magnificent classical Greek remains including the Parthenon in the Acropolis. The modern city has every kind of entertainment catering for all tastes as well as a huge variety of shops.
There are a number of beaches on the Greek mainland offering wide ranging facilities. With a long season of guaranteed sunshine it is no surprise that an Athens holiday appeals to so many people.
Athens with its magnificent remains from the glorious days of the Greek empire will more than gratify the appetite of those interested in ancient history and archaeology.
Those who enjoy walking and mountain biking will find ample opportunity in the mountains around Athens. In the forested hills there is a variety of wild life including the endangered brown bear, as well as wild cats, goats and roe deer.
With excellent restaurants, bars and clubs there is as much to do at night as there is during the day.
An Athens holiday is perfect for those with an interest in ancient history. Visitors will be over-awed by the wealth of interesting sites from temples and amphitheatres to monuments and sculptures. Couples enjoy the excitement of the city by both day and night.
Although the holiday season lasts from Easter to October, the most popular time to visit Greece is in the summer. Sightseeing in Athens at the height of the summer heat can be rather tiring so many people take an Athens City Break in early or late season.
Most visitors come to Athens to see the ancient sites around the city. Top of the list is the Acropolis and the Parthenon where the vastness of the site is most impressive. The city Beneath the Acropolis is Plaka the nineteenth century quarter with a mix of architectural styles. It is mainly pedestrianised with many tourist gift shops and pavement cafes.
The National Garden, behind the Greek Parliament, is an oasis of calm in a bustling city. It was named the Royal Garden when it was completed in 1840 but was renamed when the monarchy was abolished. It contains a small zoo and a botanical museum as well as a duck pond and a children’s playground.
With over one hundred and forty theatres in the city there are ample opportunities for enjoying a concert. The Athens Festival with a series of programmes runs from May to October. The venue is the impressive Herodes Atticus theatre with its wonderful acoustics.
There are beaches within a few kilometres of Athens for those wishing to escape the city. Many of them are private and a small entrance fee is required.
Athens is famous for the variety and the vibrancy of its nightlife. It can truly be said that it has something for everyone. There are restaurants and nightclubs, bars and discos, theatres and casinos, many of which are open until the early hours of the morning.
As a capital city Athens has a vast range of department stores, specialist shops and exclusive boutiques. The Mall Athens is close to the Olympic Stadium in Maroussi, a suburb of Athens. With over two hundred outlets it provides visitors with almost all their needs. Every Sunday there is a flea market in Monastiraki where bartering may produce a bargain. Leather goods, embroidered linens and jewellery including the evil eye set in silver make popular holiday mementoes.
Athens provides a huge variety of restaurants serving dishes to accommodate all tastes and with prices to suit all pockets.
One of the most popular Greek foods is souvlaki, minced meat burger served on pitta bread with tsatziki and salad. These can be bought quite cheaply from street vendors.
A traditional meal in Greece usually consists of a selection of small hot and cold hors'd'oeuvres, which are called mezedes and are served on individual plates in the centre of the table. Main courses of fish or lamb are usually served with rice and salad.