Athens is one of the most historical cities in the world, and the architecture of the city is a tell-tale sign of the centuries of history that have been lived out within its walls. Athens is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and, on the fourth side, the city extends to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The area just off of the face of the sea is Pireas, the city’s harbor. All of the city streets lead to Pireas. Besides being surrounded by mountains, there are also eight hills within the city, most notably Acropolis and Lykavittos. The city’s center , Syntagma Square, is the city’s business district, home to most of Athens ‘ hotels, restaurants, bars, and banks. The Plaka, seated at the foot of the Acropolis, is the city’s historic district with distinct remnants of the city’s Roman past. The top of the Acropolis is commonly referred to as the High City, the location of many marble temples dedicated to Athena. Another area worth mentioning is Psiri, the city’s industrial district, home of many local bars, cafes, and corner shops.
The most historical site in Athens is definitely Acropolis, home of the Parthenon, the Erectheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. However, there are many other sites in Athens that have just as much historical value, though they are tucked in amongst the grayness of the city’s modern architecture. The best way to see everything that Athens has to offer is to start in Acropolis and work your way down. A walk through the areas at the foot of the Acropolis — Anafiotika, Plaka, Monastiraki and Thiseio — will merit a wealth of historical buildings, from remnants of the Roman Era to art deco buildings from the late 20th century.
Because Athens is a city with such a long and great history, its museums are packed with artifacts and arts that no other city in the world has to offer. There are four major museums that every tourist should visit, though there are many more that are notable. The four main museums are the Acropolis Museum, the Benaki Museum, the National Archeological Museum of Athens , and the Museum of Cycladic Art.
For upscale shopping, head for Kolonaki, just outside of Syntagma Square, or, for less upscale and more original souvenirs, check out Ermou Street. Most of the city’s restaurants are clustered around Syntagma Square; however, Psiri has recently been earning a name for itself as far as dining and drinking is concerned. While the businesses in Syntagma Square are fairly tourist-oriented, the businesses around Psiri are more artsy and less expensive. The smaller shops often have the best food as well. Psiri is also a great area for nighttime drinking and socalizing; however, the club district is located on the harbor, and many of the parties move out to the beach during the summer months.