When is the best time to visit?
Despite the heat, hordes of visitors fly in to Athens in the summer. By June most restaurants and clubs have shut down or changed venue to the shore. During August, Athens belongs to the tourists, and most of the Athenians leave the city for their holiday. If you come in the summer, visit sights and attractions in the early morning, nap through the midday heat, then visit more attractions in the evening. The Athens and Epidaurus Festival is a great celebration of leading individuals and companies within theatre, music and dance, including opera, classical music, ballet, jazz and ancient theatre. This famous cultural event takes place in mid-June to mid-September, with most performances taking place on the slope of the Acropolis.
Spring and late autumn have ideal weather for visiting Athens, and the restaurants and clubs are open. This is also a good time to find cheaper flights and deals on accommodation. A National holiday in Athens and Greece, Independence Day and Evangelismos, take place in March. To commemorate the revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1821, this holiday is celebrated with dances and parades.
Winter is an interesting time to visit Athens. There are few tourists, the weather is chilly with some rain, and you will save money on hotel bills and find some cheap flights.
Apokries (Carnival), a three week celebration before the Lent fasting period starts, is celebrated with plays, street parties and parades organised all around Athens.
One of the world’s oldest cities, Athens is reputedly the birthplace of democracy and philosophy. The city was named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, and the famous Parthenon was her temple. Today, Athens flights are packed with travellers flocking to Athena’s namesake to tour the mythical and mysterious city.
Athens was the location for the first modern Olympic Games in 1859. In 2004, millions of travellers visited Athens to see the modern day city host the Summer Olympics. Thanks to the boost in tourism that accompanied the Games, the city was able to fund the construction of much-needed new roads and an upgrade to its transportation alternatives, making it easier for visitors to get around.
History lovers can soak up the origins of western civilisation. As one of the world’s premier centres of archaeological research, there are so many world-famous sights that you’re spoilt for choice. The Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Temple of Hephaestus and the Agora marketplace are all thousands of years old and open to visits.
Walk around the historic neighbourhoods of Plaka, Psyri and Thiseio to see how Athens has morphed over the centuries with every mansion, ruin, taverna, street stall and temple. There are photo opportunities that also make you appreciate everyday life here. The locals are famous for their friendly and relaxed attitudes, and you can find many soaking up the rays along the huge beaches of Paraliaki by the Aegean Sea. Come at the end of March for Independence Day when they enjoy street parades, both traditional and modern.
The mix of history and beauty is everywhere in Athens. Take a walk around the National Garden of Athens or visit the renovated Hammam Baths. Flights to Athens are worth it just to head down to the peninsula of Sounio to watch the sun go down on an ancient fortress containing temples to Athena and Poseidon – a stunning and popular sight. Afterwards, sample some of the Athens nightlife, perhaps the bars in Psyri, dance clubs in Gazi or rock and jazz dens in Plaka.