Ancient Treasures of Athens

History is synonymous with the Greek capital, Athens. We highlight its finest features of the past that can be toured and enjoyed today.

It may nearly be the end of autumn, but that doesn’t take away from the summer atmosphere of a city break in Athens. Sunshine and comfortably warm temperatures hovering around 20°C, along with fewer tourists, makes this season an ideal time to hire a car and explore the cultural delights of the Greek capital.

Full of ancient wonders, you’ll find plenty of attractions dotted about Athens, as well as fantastic restaurants and open air cafés to relax in after a day of sight-seeing. Whether you’re wandering through Plaka or taking a drive along the city’s stunning coastline, you’ll find a whole host of historical attractions and beautiful views to enjoy.

Cover Credit: Acropolis Hill, Parthenon – asiafoto

The Acropolis

The bustling, modern city is watched over by the Acropolis, a magnificent hilltop temple complex. The site emerges from the heart of the city, crowned with the ruins of stunning ancient structures, including the iconic 5th century BC Parthenon with its imposing Doric columns. Don’t miss the Acropolis Museum, bursting full of exquisite sculptures and art dating back thousands of years.

Plaka

Credit: Plaka, the old town of Athens – milangonda

The pretty streets of Plaka are lined with little souvenir shops and quaint tavernas framed by climbing flowers. Make time to wander through this charming area which sits at the foot of the Acropolis, and soak up the atmosphere. Or take a look the marketplace remnants of the Roman Agora and the 2nd century Library of Hadrian with its marble columns.

National Archaeological Museum

Greece’s largest museum holds an impressive collection of ancient discoveries within its Neoclassic-style walls. From Prehistoric finds to glorious Golden Age masterpieces, there’s a vast array of excavated treasure on display. Don’t miss the Antikythera Mechanism, thought to be the world’s first computer, and the debated 460 BC bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon.

Syntagma Square

Credit: The Hellenic Parliament building – saiko3p

Home to the Hellenic Parliament building, Syntagma Square’s main attraction is the changing of the guards. Clad in traditional Greek uniform, complete with pom-pom shoes and tasselled tights, the soldiers perform their ceremony every day at 11 am. As well as playing an important role in Greece’s modern history, the square still features traces of the ancient world in the form of statues.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Credit: the Odeon of Herodes Atticus – JordeAngjelovik

Originally built as a music venue in 161 by Herodes Atticus, to commemorate his wife, this renovated open-air theatre still hosts concerts today. Tucked into the southwest slope of the Acropolis, with the city as its backdrop, it’s lined with tiers of traditional-style stone benches. In addition to the annual Athens Festival, you can catch other classical performances here throughout the year.

Athens Riviera

Enjoy the last of the summer sunshine with a visit to the beautiful coast. Explore the beaches of Glyfada with its contemporary restaurants, or find picturesque coves and watersports around Vouliagmeni. Discover 4,000 years of mining history in Lavrio, with its ancient tunnels and Mineralogical Museum. Or drive further along to Cape Sounion, where the 5th century BC Temple of Poseidon is perched elegantly on a cliff.

Mount Lycabettus

Credit: Mount Lycabettus – Gelia

Make your way to the highest point in Athens for unrivalled views over the metropolis. Drive to Kolonaki and follow the hiking path to the top, or jump on the funicular instead. Mount Lycabettus is laden with mythology, and there’s a historic church and a restaurant to visit too. Go at sunset for fantastic panoramic vistas of the city and sea, all illuminated by the warm glow of the sinking sun.

Athens holds a whole treasure-trove of antiquities just waiting to be explored. During the autumn to winter months, historical sites are less crowded and you’re still likely to experience warm, sunny weather. There’s no better time to hop in your car and explore Athens, from its historic core to its enchanting edges.