Why choose Athens as a city break and not just as a stopover.
Ohh trust me when I am saying that ….. I do not want to fool myself or you’my readers. I know that Athens is just a big capital city for you. But to me it is my hometown and I like it. That is why I am convinced Athens is a nice city break destination. So, I will try to persuade you too that it is a likable for a mind-relaxed weekend away from work.
As I told you to a previous article (Getting to Athens by airplane), Athens’s International Airport-AIA has direct flights to many European destinations within 6hours at most: Larnaka, Malta, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Geneva, Zurich, Munich, Vienna, Strasbourg, Paris, Stuttgart, Luxemburg, Frankfurt, Prague, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Moscow, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia and Tirana and also has many international direct flights to: Beirut, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Bahrain, Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa and Beijing. So, it is extremely easy and quick to get in here. Take a pause from seeing this town only as a getaway heading to the islands.
Athens has a diversity on everything. On people, on architecture, on quarters-neighborhoods, on ways of having fun, on…on…on…. It combines the ancient history with the contemporary in every form. And above all, in an astonishing patchwork of colors, beliefs, languages and nationalities, sexual tastes and constructions. !!!You’re gonna love it!!!
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, according to -not only me-, but to Wikipedia also. It is full with plenty of history and culture and considers as the birthplace of Western democracy. If you choose to visit it, you can combine all your preferences. In 3-4days you can see whatever you choose. Everything or nothing or only the ones that please you specifically. Why is that? Because you can stay at the city center where everything is close within walking distance. Just choose a reformed boutique hotel to feel the experience having it like a city break base.
Are a history buff, like me? Firstly, you can visit Acropolis* or museums. A good option is to start from Acropolis museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the National Gardens, for instance. Secondly, there are many ruins, the cave of Olympios Zeus, the philosopher Socrates Prison or the Tower of the Winds. Continuing with the wandering around, you shall see the ancient agoras, temples, the Greek Parliament and the Panathenaic stadium. Of course, there are many other archaeological sites. Do you want to please your alter ego let’s say, additionally? Does your company prefer having the pleasure of fuuun!!! Then, really-trully close to the sites you can find bars-restaurants-nightclubs and Greek taverns-bouzoukia etc.. Everything is inside the city center.
On the other hand, Athens it is a pole of attraction for many fashionistas since, besides the usual big brands like Zara, H&M, Benetton, Admiral, Guess, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Prada, Dior, Calvin Klein etc., etc. which can find at Ermou street, it has many local high-end boutiques (mostly in Kolonaki) which are creating innovative pieces in fashion. If you like more hippy-yokel style, you can always shop at the rustic shops of Monastiraki’s flea market.
Inasmuch the federal legal age for drinking (or buying at a groceries store) alcohol is 18 years old, Athens is famous about the buzzing nightlife inside bars and clubs, which are close to 100 (with the lively Psirri neighborhood starring with the most of them). In addition to these, they are coming to be added the live performances bouzoukia from well-known singers and the small live music stages of Plaka & Monastiraki or the live stages for dancing Zorba’s sirtaki at Kalamaki, Petralona and Psirri hearing the Greeks to shout !!!opaaaaa!!!’a word that means hooray to show our joy for the dance. And if you are a booze lover, ouzo (our national drink-treasure) will amaze your palate. Ouzo has this really stronge distilled characteristic liquorice taste.**
Do not start about the food lovers. You will find a food paradise in Athens. Starting with breakfast-brunch and continuing with lunch and dinner, you will find many options to taste. Enjoy a cheese pie or loukoumades accompanied by the Greek traditional frape coffee or a freddo. I strongly advise you to taste the Greek cuisine. This includes many legumes, yogurt and feta cheese, fresh fish and meat. All these married to signature dishes like moussaka, tzatziki, horiatiki salad and spinach pie. Greek cuiseine has many options about vegans and vegetarians. You do not want to taste our Greek cuisine? In short, you will find Italian, Chinese, Armenian, Cantonese, Indian, Mexican and Asian restaurants to please you.
Considering all the above, I challenge you to escape from your daily routine. Try the Athenian city break to relax at hammams with spa treatments or keep yourselves busy with history and activities. The choice is yours.
Bonus: The weather in Athens is hot even in winter. Therefore, you can visit it whenever you want and save money on plane-ticket discounts and accommodation. The temperature is in the 30soC even on winter. January-March 10-17, April-May 20-25, June-August30-34, September~29, October~24, November~19 and December~15. As a result, during Mediterranean’s climate summer you can perfect your sun tan. You can choose between the roof tops or your hotel’s pool or the Athenian riviera.
Fact: Athens conquered the 48oC, which is the highest temperature that ever recorded between European countries. This happened on 10th of July 1977, as I was told, since I had not yet been born.!. Hahaa!
Depends on when you will visit Athens as a city break, you can enjoy different events.
- Though, if you decide to visit around February, you will be dazzled from the carnival costumes and carnival chariots at the many-many parades starting from Tsiknopempti. Each neighborhood has its own pomp. Surely the fun and the masquerade will captivate you in the dance as well watching all kind of themes. They are choosing from news, politics, funny scenes, strange incidents from all over the world, tricks etc..
- April or May? Happy Easter. The Paschal season begins. My advice? Choose a big church for the ceremonies of the Holly Week, if you are a people’s person.
But, if you want devoutness, choose a small one. Follow the candle custody of Christ’s epitaph on Good Friday after his crucifixion, along with the chants. Watch the dance of the chandelier-candelabrum on Good Saturday after the Holy Communion. See the traditional black&purple decorating ribbons at the chancel area changes into red&white with lilies before the resurrection. Finally, follow the Easter candle & lanterns parade around the neighborhoods with the Holy light and take the blessing from the priest or nuns with the shape of fresh red eggs after the: Christ has risen. You could also hear the afternoon services of Holly Monday to Thursday, if you like hearing the psalmody following the Passion of God’s Son.
Eating on Greek Easter
- In conclusion, eat. Break the 40-days fast by trying mageiritsa (it’s a soup of organ meats, lettuce and scallions). This happens right after midnight on Holly Saturday. In addition, there are many things to try. Easter sweet fragrant bread called Paschalino tsoureki or Easter cookies called lamprokouloura. Whole grilled lamb on a spit or wish by clink the red-dyed eggs. PS: Doyou want to participate in a more energetic way? Ask helping with the flower construction on Holly Thursday night or to dye the red eggs in the same afternoon.
- Do you call yourself a theater-realated person? Are you a theater stage director or an actor/actress? Are you a set designer and costume designer, music composer or just a play-lover? Consequently, you should definitely visit Athens. Enjoy the spectacular 2500-year-old theater of Odeon of Herodes Atticus. But besides that, there are more than 150 theaters inside the capital with many amphitheatres. These are hosting the Epidaurus festival every June, July & August with performances of plays of course (comedies, drama, musical etc), but also concerts of opera, jazz, violin and ballet dancing.
- During July, you can also participate at the regatta race. This race is taking place to our beautifully blue sea waters of Athenian Riviera. ”Grab” your sailing boat and come.
- If you are a wine lover**, then you should definitely come at the end of August to September. The wine production begins by pressing the grapes around Athens at the vineyards. Over there, you are allowed to participate at this agricultural method. Or just sitting tasting the older wines. Or taking a wine tour at the center of the city. Choose this period and you will not be dissapointed, finally. You will not only try on the fresh grapes, but many-many tasteful ΄΄summer΄΄ fruits too. Savoring juicy peaches, green or purple figs, cherries and stone cherries, apricots and nectarines. And most importantly, they are all produced in Greece. Although, if you are still feeling hot on September, you can take the tram. With the tram you could visit -only 30minutes away- one of the beach bars at Athenian riviera.
- The temperatures of October are more appropriate for you? Do you want peaceful streets to walk? Then, you will certainly enjoy exploring Acropolis* hill, since the municipality organizes music shows with lights fluttering in the sky.
- Are you a runner? In mid-November, you will have the honor to participate at the Marathon Road. This endurance race covering an official distance of 42.195 kilometers.
City break or just a stopover? I guarantee that you will find many activities to participate.