Athens, Greece - Wontra Travels

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Welcome to Athens

Athens

Athens
Country: Greece
Population:  3,090,508 (2011)
Dialing Code: +30 21
Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
Time zone: EET (UTC+2), Summer EEST (UTC+3)
Official language: Greek

 

 

 

Athens is the largest city of Greece and is one of the world’s oldest cities. Blessed with a glorious history in the world and worshipped by gods and people alike, this magical city is one not to be missed. The city is named after Athena, goddess of wisdom who is celebrated by an ancient temple on the Acropolis.

It is widely referred to as the cradle of western civilization and the birth =place of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent and its status as the cradle of western civilization.

Modern Athens is however a large metropolis and a large part of its historic centre has been converted into a 3- kilometer pedestrian zone (the largest in Europe) leading to the major archeological sites.

Athens is situated in the prefecture of Attica and extends to the peninsula that reaches up to Central Greece. It is surrounded by mountains Ymmytos, Pendeli and Parnitha, northwards and eastwards, and the Saronic gulf southwards and westwards. The sun is shining over Athens all year round. The climate is one of the best in Europe, with mild winters and very hot summers, ideal for tourism

Information & Facts

Activities

On first look, Athens seems entirely to be composed of buildings lacking character and badly in need of paint but if you look beyond this you will find that Athens will always attract people’s attention. It is a city of different aspects but the heart of Athens lies in Syntagma square, where parliament and most of the ministries are.

The best views of Athens lie atop the Lykavittos Hill. For some beachy fun, go scuba diving in the Aegean Sea or if you are lucky enough to be in Athens for Easter weekend, you can catch hundreds of people making their candlelit way down the hill. Open top bus tours, Art galleries, fun filled parks are just some of the things that await visitors.

Apart from the historical monuments the city is famous for its nightlife. The options for entertainment satisfy all tastes. The Famous Bouzoukia are leaders in the Athenian entertainment.

Attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, which runs from May to October (all summer long) and includes a wide array of events. Attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, which runs from May to October (all summer long) and includes a wide array of events. Relax on the more than 20 beaches of Attica. Watch a Greek basketball game, take a helicopter tour of Athens or take off from Athens on a ferry cruise of the Greek islands. It’s time to have fun.

Climate

Spring and late autumn are the best times to visit Athens. Summer can be extremely hot and dry during heatwaves, but this rarely happens. Winter is definitely low season, with the occasional rainy or snowy day, but also an ideal time to save money while enjoying the city without countless other travelers and tourists. Visit in low season (November-April) to experience Athens like a local. It may be too dull and chilly for sitting out, but the cultural scene will still be thriving.

Eating Out

Athenians are world famous for their cuisine. There are few things the Greeks are more famous at thean their food. Tourists as they wander from point to point will want to refresh themselves with some delicious Greek Cuisine.

Countless eateries offer rustic décor, live music and tasty treats. While restaurants in the Syntagma area do lunch for business people and fast food places tend to stay open way past midnight. Prices range from Expensive to moderate and to the downright cheap. Prices in Greek restaurants usually include the 13-23% sales tax. However, all Greek restaurants are required by law to add a 13% service charge to the bill and it is still customary to leave the waiter an additional 10% tip on top.

Getting Around

Public transport in Athens is well developed and cheap, hence making it the preferred means of transportation. Be wary though, workers at the public transport are lately often on strike, causing major troubles on traffic of Athens

Tickets are sold at bus terminals and some street kiosks (periptera) and must be validated in orange machines located on board buses or in the metro station. One-day, three-day, five-day and monthly passes for the entire urban network are available.
Blue-and-white buses run daily, with a limited night service on major routes. The most visited parts of the city are also served by several yellow trolleybus routes.

Kids Attractions

Despite what many people may think Athens IS actually a family friendly city and to prove it we have made a list of our favourite kid friendly activities.
Karavi at Schinias is the ultimate beach destination close to Athens and is extremely popular with the young public who enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, the Museum of School Life and Education presents interesting facts on this subject, Athens Happy Train is a favorite with kids for sightseeing Athens, at Golden Hall playground kids are entertained while parents do their shopping. Kid  friendly attractions include:

• A day at the beach with the family
• Hellenic Children’s Museum
• Goulandris Natural History Museum
• The Planetarium – Eugenides Foundation
• Zappeio – National Garden
• Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre
• Attica Zoo Park
• Floisvos’ Park Playground
• Archelon – The Sea Turtle Protection Society

Language

The official language of Athenians is Greek.

Money

The official currency is the Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Credit cards and other firms of card payments are also accepted in establishments all across the city.

Negatives

While Athens is generally a very safe city, there have been reports of pickpockets on the Metro (especially at the interchanges with the line from Airport), buses and in other crowded areas, including Plaka. You will notice that natives travel with their hands on their bags and pockets and keeping their bag in front rather than on their side or back, which unfortunately is not without reason. You will probably be warned about pickpockets by hotel staff and friendly waiters, but this may be too late. Be extremely cautious and split all your documents, cards and money into different places. Street crime is rare; when it happens, it's most commonly purse-snatching from women walking away from banks and ATM machines.

Night Life

Athens is famous for its vibrant nightlife. The Athenians like to party and will do so almost every night of the week. The choices are plenty and they appeal to all tastes and lifestyles. In general, things get started pretty late: after 00:00 for bars and clubbing and after 22:00 for dinner at the city's tavernas, Athens Restaurants and bar-restaurants.

Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Exarcheia, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki. Traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka. A young group of locals have also started running a bar crawl through the most atmospheric areas in the city centre, stopping for drinks in a variety of neighborhoods combined with local ghost stories, called the Athens Ghost Crawl
Until recently at Psirri, some of Athens' hottest clubs and bars were to be spotted. During recent years Gazi has seen some tremendous change. Most of the galleries, mainstream bars, restaurants, clubs and Greek nightclubs here (featuring live Greek pop singers), are trademarked by their industrial design as many of them are housed in remodelled -- and once abandoned -- factories. Gazi is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods of Athens nightlife. You can get there by metro line 3 at Kerameikos station.

Plaka - Monastiraki are two ancient, historic and all-time classic Athenian neighborhoods popular with visitors, they do not have many big dance clubs and bars, but offer lively, traditional places to enjoy Greek culture year-round as well as several rock and jazz clubs.

Restaurants

Touristy Plaka, below the Acropolis, has countless eateries marketing themselves as classic Greek tavernas. Some have rustic decor and live music, though sadly few offer authentic Greek home cooking. The nightlife district of Gazi is the place to try modern creative cuisine, while restaurants in the Syntagma area do lunch for business people working in nearby offices. In Monastiraki, on the edge of Psirri, you’ll find plenty of interesting tavernas and snack and fast food places, many staying open well after midnight. Some Athens restaurants close for the summer break from mid-July to mid-September.

Shopping

Athens is not all about taking in the sights, while exploring ancient ruins you can also take advantage of  a wide selection of shopping opportunities. Get yourself a souvenir at Plaka or shop at the Kolonaki which is known for being the go to destination for all things shopping. There are also some bargains on ceramic, clay or bronze handicrafts and a number of good stops where you can sample Greek "luxury food."

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