Athens (map) is the capital and largest city of Greece, and is one of the world’s oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years. It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization. Athens was a powerful city-state. It was a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, and the home of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum.
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Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other city in the world. Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland and the warmest major city in Europe.
Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens (map) and the medieval Daphni Monastery (map). 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 (*Old Royal Palace, map) and the so-called “architectural trilogy of Athens”, consisting of the National Library of Greece (Vallianeio Megaron, map), the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (map) and the Academy of Athens (map).
Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum (map), featuring the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum (map), the Museum of Cycladic Art (map), the Benaki Museum (map) and the Byzantine and Christian Museum (map). Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896. >> *List of museums in Greece.
If the weather is good, head out of town on buses A2, B2 or E22 from metro station Sygrou, or the tram from Syntagma to the beaches in south Athens. Just get off wherever the sea takes your fancy.
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 tourists.