Life in the central business district revolves around Vasilissis Sofias and Kifissias Avenues. Traffic swirls around Omonia Square, while underground lies one of the city’s busiest metro stations.
Vasilissis Sofias Avenue
Nearby is University of Athens and Exarchia, a student neighbourhood overflowing with bohemian cafes and clubs, and also home to the National Museum of Archaeology.
Kolonaki district is brimming with stylish boutiques, restaurants and art galleries. The scene retains an air of sophistication; Kolonaki is where local celebrities and socialites congregate, and it is on the Tsalakof and Voukourestiou Streets-foundly known as the Rodeo ‘Drive of Athens’ – that denizens are much more likely to don designer frocks than frayed jeans.
A funicular railway rises form Kolonaki to the summit of Lykavettos Hill, whose elevated vantage point from the Church of St George offers unhindered bird’s eye view of the city.
Club in Gazi
Due to the 2004 Olympics, rundown inner city neighborhoods that have been given a makeover are still experiencing a renaissance. Gazi sports an event hipper vibe thanks to uber-cool clubs and cutting edge restaurants.
Down the road from Gazi is the futuristic Hellenic Foundation for Culture, showcasing Greek history through the ages via virtual reality, hands-on exhibits and film screenings.
The Attica coast
The capital’s rich hinterland, Attica was once nothing more than a quarry from which Athens drew its marble and precious metals. Such nondescript circumstances is soon to be a thing of the past, and modern Attica is now gaining prominence for its chic beach resorts and posh villas.
The local bourgeoisie have called the fertile region home since the late 1800s and its popularity-and price- continued to increase throughout the 20th century as inner city Athens became overcrowded.
The terrain varies widely from posh suburbs and rocky beaches, to idyllic vineyards, pine forests and architectural icons such as the 70,000 seat Olympic Stadium in Maroussi – whose arched roof is designed by famous Spainsh architect Calatrava.
The Attica coast along the eastern shore of the Saronic Gulf is especially chic. With its bevy of private yachts and edgy waterfront cafes, Vouliagmeni is the epitome of a jet-setter hangout.
The seaside town is also known for its therapeutic waters and award-winning beaches; the coast has constantly been awarded European Union Blue Flags for environmental excellence. Atticans are also known for their aquatic prowess.
Regularly seen sailing, jet skiing and windsurfing in the main bay, but many have also passed through the doors of the Nautical Club of Vouliagmeni to become one of the nation’s best water-skiers and water-polo players.
Lagonissi epitomizes new-wave hip and draws a younger, more vibrant crowd, especially during the sultry summer months when the party scene often continues after dawn. Lagonissi’s relaxed island ambiance is the main lure for many looking to escape Athens urban nature while the municipality’s proximity to the capital sees many celebrities building their luxury villas here.
Despite its modern image, the area also has its ancient attractions. Long ago, pilgrims of a much different sort flocked to the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion. One of the most photographed landmarks in Greece, the temple boasts 15 Doric columns and glittering views of the Aegean.
The Battle of Marathon between Athenians and the Persian Army played out of the plains of northern Attica in 490BC. The bloody encounter changed not only the history of Greece but also all the western civilization, preserving Athenian culture and democracy. Several monuments mark the battlefield today, including the burial mound of Athenians killed in the conflict.
The Battle of Marathon
The battle also became renowned for the 40km (25 miles) covered by Athenian soldier Fidipidis in order to bring home news of victory.
Fidipidis tenacity and subsequent death (he died from exhaustion) emphasised the soldier’s strength of charachter, and the Olympic Games’ most gruelling event-the marathon- derives its name from this occasion.
The vast, man-made Lake Marathonas near the posh suburb of Ekali, is where the Athenian wealthy make their home.
There are several interesting sights in the area, including the Yannis Spyropoulos Museum of Art and the Spathario Museum of Shadow Theatre.
The former showcases the artwork of one of the nation’s foremost 20th century artists, while the latter is dedicated to traditional Greek shadow puppetry.