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Athens Top Destinations - Best Places and Tourist Attractions to Visit in Athens Greece
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Athens Vacation and Travel Guide
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities. It is a global city and one of the biggest economic centers in southeastern Europe. It has a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is both the largest passenger port in Europe, and the second largest in the world.
The Athens Urban Area today consists of 40 municipalities, 35 of which make up what is referred to as the Greater Athens municipalities, located within 4 regional units (North Athens, West Athens, Central Athens, South Athens); and a further 5, which make up the Greater Piraeus municipalities, located within the regional unit of Piraeus as mentioned above.
Greece has been a major tourist destination and attraction in Europe since antiquity, for its rich culture and history, which is reflected in large part by its 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, among the most in Europe and the world as well as for its long coastline, many islands and beaches. The Egremnoi sand beach in the Greek island of Lefkada, noted for its blue crystal waters, is a popular tourist destination. It is one of the most visited countries in Europe and the world, with its capital city Athens, as well as Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Corfu, Crete and Chalkidice being some of the country's major tourist destinations.
Tourism in Athens
Athens has been a destination for travellers since antiquity. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, it is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, and in particular the Romans.
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of Ottoman monuments.
Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the so-called "architectural trilogy of Athens", consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Academy of Athens.
Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Athens incorporates architectural styles ranging from Greco-Roman and Neoclassical to modern times. They are often to be found in the same areas, as Athens is not marked by a uniformity of architectural style. All over the city can be found several statues or busts. Apart from the neoclassicals by Leonidas Drosis at the Academy of Athens such as Plato, Socrates, Apollo, Athena, and other notable are included.
Parks like Parnitha National Park which is punctuated by well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves dotting the protected area. Hiking and mountain-biking in all four mountains are popular outdoor activities for residents of the city. The National Garden of Athens is a green refuge of 15.5 hectares in the centre of the Greek capital. It is to be found between the Parliament and Zappeion buildings, the latter of which maintains its own garden of seven hectares.
Parts of the city centre have been redeveloped under a masterplan called the Unification of Archeological Sites of Athens. The landmark Dionysiou Areopagitou Street has been pedestrianised, forming a scenic route. It starts from the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, continues under the southern slopes of the Acropolis near Plaka, and finishes just beyond the Temple of Hephaestus in Thiseio. The route in its entirety provides visitors with views of the Parthenon and the Agora (the meeting point of ancient Athenians), away from the busy city centre. The hills of Athens also provide green space. Lycabettus, Philopappos Hill and the area around it, including Pnyx and Ardettos Hill. Also is the Pedion tou Areos (Field of Mars) of 27.7 hectares, near the National Archaeological Museum.
Athens' largest zoo is the Attica Zoological Park, a 20-hectare (49-acre) private zoo located in the suburb of Spata. The zoo is home to around 2000 animals representing 400 species, and is open 365 days a year. Smaller zoos exist within public gardens or parks, such as the zoo within the National Garden of Athens.
Athens is a world centre of archaeological research, it hosts 17 Foreign Archaeological Institutes which promote and facilitate research by scholars from their home countries. Along with national institutions, such as the Athens University and the Archaeological Society, there are multiple archaeological Museums including the National Archaeological Museum, the Cycladic Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Byzantine & Christian Museum, as well as museums at the ancient Agora, Acropolis, Kerameikos, and the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum. The city is also home to the Demokritos laboratory for Archaeometry, alongside regional and national archaeological authorities that form part of the Greek Department of Culture.
Athens' most important museums include: the National Archaeological Museum, the Benaki Museum, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, one of the most important museums of Byzantine art, the Numismatic Museum, housing a major collection of ancient and modern coins, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the New Acropolis Museum, the Kerameikos Archaeological Museum and the Jewish Museum of Greece, a museum which describes the history and culture of the Greek Jewish community.
Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other city in the world, including the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus, home to the Athens Festival, which runs from May to October each year. In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens plays host to open air garden cinemas.
The city also supports music venues, including the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Moussikis), which attracts world class artists. The Athens Planetarium, located in Andrea Syngrou Avenue, is one of the largest and best equipped digital planetaria in the world. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, inaugurated in 2016, houses the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera.
If you are planning to travel to Athens, whether for business or tourism, in addition to the passport and visa, we recommend you to check the following information: International Airports, Airport security rules, Type of luggage allowed and weight limits, Most visited cities, Driving in Athens, Electricity, Time Stripes, Business Hours, National Holidays, Weights and Measures, Commercial Practices and Etiquette Rules.
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Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" (IATA: ATH, ICAO: LGAV), commonly initialized as "AIA", is the primary international airport that serves the city of Athens and the region of Attica. Located near the town of Spata, in the eastern Messoghia plain, about 22 mi east of Athens. It is Greece's busiest airport and it serves as the hub and main base of Aegean Airlines as well as other Greek airlines.
The airport is served by the Metro, the suburban rail, buses to Piraeus port, Athens' city centre and its suburbs, and also taxis. The airport accommodates 65 landings and take-offs per hour, with its 24-passenger boarding bridges, 144 check-in counters and broader 150,000 m2 (1,614,587 sq ft) main terminal; and a commercial area of 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) which includes cafés, duty-free shops, and a small museum.
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