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Why Athens is More Than Just a Gateway to the Greek Islands!

Tuesday 19 February 2019

The idyllic Greek Islands are a joy to explore and a cruise is the perfect way to experience the best of Greece, allowing you to hop from one idyllic island another. The city of Athens, a popular departure port for Greek Island cruises, is fast becoming the destination of choice due to the abundance of ancient landmarks, a blossoming urban art scene and delicious food. This maddening metropolis showcases an intoxicating blend of history and innovation.

Extraordinary History

Athens is one of the world's oldest cities, meaning it has its fair share of historic landmarks and monuments. The world-famous Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Athens' absolute must-see. This ancient citadel was built in the 5th century BC and sits above Athens making it visible from almost every part of the city. The magnificent Acropolis contains several ancient buildings and temples including its crowning jewel; the Parthenon, which is supported by 46 Doric columns. The temples of the Acropolis are considered masterpieces in ancient architecture.

Another outstanding landmark is the Temple of Poseidon which is located just 70km south of Athens and makes for the perfect half-day trip. This gleaming white temple was built in 444BC and is perched high above the sea offering awe-inspiring views of the surrounding areas.

Plaka, which is nestled under the slops of the Acropolis, is Athens' oldest and most picturesque residential quarter. Plaka has maintained a quaint village atmosphere and its stone-paved, narrow streets, neoclassical mansions and elegant architecture will make you feel like you have stepped back in time.

Acropolis, Athens Street Art, Athens Caryatids of Erechtheion, Athens St Peter's Square and view over Athens Temple of Olympian Zeus View of the Acropolis

Contemporary Culture

The city of Athens buzzes with creativity and has a wonderful contemporary art scene with an array of art galleries dotted around the city, including the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Athens has also become one of Europe's most noted spots for street art. Innovative pop-up restaurants and roof-top bars blend seamlessly with the traditional taverns. The Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre which opened in 2017 offers a jam-packed calendar of cultural events including art, music, opera and dance.

Authentic Food (& Tasty Coffee)

There is more to the Greek cuisine than souvlaki and gyros, in fact, eating out in Athens is quite the culinary adventure. Whether you are grabbing a quick bite at one of the street-food stalls or dining at an elegant restaurant; the food is sure to be authentically Greek, deliciously fresh and locally sourced. The seafood is particularly exquisite and is best enjoyed with a glass of Ouzo and good company. The service in Athens is friendly and unhurried and you will always be welcomed with a warm smile. Coffee culture is rife in Athens and the city is home to many lovely cafe's and coffee shops. The delightful Cappuccino Freddo (strong iced coffee) is a firm favourite in the summer months.

Quirky Neighbourhoods

Athens is home to a number of diverse neighbourhoods which are a joy to explore. The colourful Psiri neighbourhood showcases wonderfully authentic craftsmen's stores, fascinating street art and intriguing art galleries. The neighbourhood of Monastiraki features a lively town square, vibrant murals and a bustling market which sells everything from ancient vinyl and handcrafted artefacts to jewellery and rare books.

Athens is perfect for a pre-cruise or post-cruise stay. To discover this amazing city and experience the magic of Greece, view our array of Greek Island cruises now

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