No matter what you want from your holiday, Greece has it all - beautiful beaches, incredible history and plenty of sunshine. But for those looking to step back in time and explore some amazing historical sites, Athens is the best place to be.
As one of the oldest, and most interesting cities on Earth, Athens is a place that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Like an outdoor museum, the ancient city boasts incredible ruins and fascinating historical sites to gaze at everywhere you turn. It is one of those unforgettable places that will stay with you long after you have left for home.
Keeping a watchful eye over the city is the Acropolis. This range of ancient monuments rests on a large hill that can be seen from everywhere around the centre of Athens, and it is a place like no other. The spectacular Parthenon takes centre stage and is truly a beautiful piece of architecture. Dating back to 447BC, the temple was built for - and dedicated to - the goddess Athena, and although crumbling in places from the many years of exposure to the elements, it’s easy to imagine the impact it would have had back in its glory days.
There are so many other ruins on the Acropolis, so try to tear your eyes away from the grand Parthenon to explore the likes of the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum, among so many others, and learn about their interesting individual stories. The Acropolis is lit up dramatically in the evening, showing off its classic beauty even more, so make sure you step out at night to see that very special sight if you can.
For theatre lovers, the Greeks have a definite edge over most when it comes to fabulous plays, so visit the Odeon of Herodes Atticus Theatre, which is also built into a hill. It’s well worth taking a look, as it is a very moving experience - it's as if the ghosts of productions past still haunt the stage - so you may well be able to feel the history there.
It’s beautiful, and utterly lovely to see. In the summer months it acts as one of the hosts to the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, so make sure you catch a real performance if you’re there when it’s on, as it will no doubt transport you back in time. Other locations where you’ll get to see some great performances include the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the Little Theatre of Epidaurus and the Peiraios 260.
Once you’ve finished exploring the ancient ruins of the Acropolis, the charming Plaka District is a lovely place to walk around. The quaint cobblestone streets are filled with numerous bars and restaurants, and there are plenty of little shops full of trinkets to buy as souvenirs of your trip. You’ll find lots of little jewellery shops too, so if you want to treat yourself, here would be the perfect place to indulge in a little retail therapy.
With your purse a little lighter, rest your legs at one of the many outdoor cafés and nibble on some delicious baklava - honey-soaked pastries dipped in nuts - and watch the world go by. It is a really simple, but simply wonderful way to relax while out on holiday.
Exploring Athens is like wandering around a living museum, but you couldn’t possibly come to the city without experiencing a real museum, and Athens isn’t short on those. The National Archaeological Museum is ranked as one of the best in the world, so it would be a waste not to stop by and explore some of the thousands of objects it has collected over the years. You'd better set aside at least half a day to browse the collection here though, as it will take a while to see everything that catches your eye.
For the art lovers, The Benaki Museum aims to please with its established collection. There are fantastic exhibitions of Greek costumes and textiles from through the ages that come highly recommended, and when you’ve had your fill, head to the museum’s restaurant for some refreshments - it offers a great view of the Acropolis.
Why not stay at...
Dolce Attica Riviera (A270) resort, set in the picturesque village of Brauron, is the perfect base for ensuring you have an amazing holiday, as there’s something there for everyone to enjoy. It is around 19 miles away from the centre of Athens and is therefore great for day trips out, but still a perfect location for relaxing away from the crowds. The beach is only a few miles away from the resort, so you can enjoy the feel of sand between your toes, which is always a treat on holiday.
For those who want to take a break from the ancient ruins, there is a rather wild place to visit close to this resort - the zoo! Attica Zoological Park is filled with 1,800 animals and birds, including lions, Asian elephants, giraffes, monkeys, bears, penguins, dolphins and so many more exotic creatures. It really is a fun day out for all the family.
Back at Dolce Attica Riviera, the large seawater swimming pool on resort is perfect for taking a dip between relaxing sunbathing sessions and splashing around with the children. The resort also caters for those who want a more active holiday, as there are lots of sporting activities to take part in at the resort, including mini soccer and table tennis. It also boasts two outdoor floodlit tennis courts as well as basketball, volleyball and a Pétanque court, so you can challenge family and friends to a game or two. For the little ones, there is a great children’s playground and a babysitting service, if you want some time alone to indulge in some pampering in the lovely spa.
There’s also a full schedule of day and evening events and activities for those who enjoy being well-entertained on holiday, with themed entertainment, live music, shows and games. Add to that two fabulous on-site restaurants serving delicious international and Greek dishes, and two bars to choose from if you fancy rounding the evening off with a cocktail or two, and you can see Dolce Attica Riviera offers its guests a taste of la dolce vita, even if they don’t want to leave the resort.
Just along the coast in the pretty village of Mati, and only half an hour away from the centre of Athens, the Ramada Attica Riviera (A271) is another fantastic resort. Situated right on the seafront, the views are obviously stunning. If it is relaxation you’re looking for, on top of the views, the resort's spa is the perfect place to put your feet up and get pampered after a day spent exploring the Acropolis. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage, before heading to the steam room and Jacuzzi to reach a perfect state of calm before dressing for a sumptuous dinner.
The resort has two restaurants and two bars - all having incredible sea views - serving a variety of dishes and drinks from around the world. When the sun goes down you should head for the resort's own Irida Bar which hosts BBQ parties and live shows. And, for your 'morning after the night before' therapy, the resort's generous pool, surrounded by lots of sunbeds, is the place to be to lie back and soak up the sun with a good book and a 'hair of the dog' cocktail in hand.
When you’re not indulging in the finer things at the resort, make sure you get out to explore the area - or even go further afield. The Rafina Port area is within walking distance of the resort, from where you can board a ferry to take you to some of the beautiful Greek islands, such as Andros Tinos, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Ios and Santorini. Back on the mainland, there are over 20 miles of beaches, so there are plenty of opportunities to relax on the sand when you’re not busy wandering around the historical districts.
It is worth remembering that you don't have to stay in the city itself, if roaming the ruins of the Acropolis is on your holiday bucket list. There are some truly peaceful resort retreats within easy striking distance of Athens, so you can take a break from the buzz and bustle of the city hub to refresh yourself before heading off on your city adventures.
If you want to learn more about the resorts highlighted in this blog, click on the button below to visit our online Resort Directory and type in the identification numbers for those resorts, which are shown in brackets by the resort names above.
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