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Of all Europe’s capitals, Athens is probably the one that has changed the most in recent years. But even though Athens has become a modern metropolis, it still retains a good deal of its old small town feel. Here antiquity meets the future, and the ancient monuments form a classical backdrop to a new and trendier Athens – and it is precisely these great contrasts that make the city such a fascinating place to explore.

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National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum, in Exarchia, is home to Ancient Greece’s most spectacular pieces. One room contains Schliemann’s finds from Mycenae, another has the famous frescoes from Santorini on display. There is also a fine collection of idols from the Cyclades and ceramics!

44 Patission Street, Athens
The Acropolis and its surroundings

The Parthenon, the temple of Athena, is the major attraction. There is also the Erechteion, whose columns are statues of the female Caryatids, though the original statues have been replaced by copies due to air pollution (the originals are in the new Museum or ... in London!). On the southern slopes of the Acropolis lies the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a Roman theatre with room for as many as 5.000 spectators. It is used during the annual Athens Festival for world-class ballet and music performances. The Dionysus Theatre lies beside Herodes Atticus, and almost all the tragedies and comedies of Ancient Greece were written for this theatre.

Acropolis, Athens
To Kioupi

To Kioupi is a traditional Taverna serving hearty and generous Greek specialties that you can choose directly at the kitchen in the windowed counter. The main feature here, is actually the live Greek music nights. A great occasion to spend a typical Greek night the way they do it best: with food, drinks, music and friends.

Papadiamantopoulou 128, Athens
The Old Tavern of Psarras (Η Παλιά Ταβέρνα του Ψαρρά)

The Old Tavern of Psarras (meaning, the old taverna of the fisherman) is Plaka's oldest restaurant - it exists since 1898. It serves delicious Greek food at a price befitting the area, but with the benefit of being seriously beautiful. You can choose to seat in either of the old houses that are now the restaurant, or even in the pleasant courtyard.

Erechtheos 16, Plaka, Athens
Greek products to buy

If you want to bring your loved ones, or yourself, a typically Greek souvenir here are a few suggestions: -Alcohol: look for Ouzo, Tsipouro and Raki, local alcohols that come in small bottles so you can even bring them in your carry-on! -Food: Greek pastries and loukoums are always a must. And of course, the olive oil here tastes nothing like what you can find back home so it is a great investment. -Souvenirs: typical Greek objects include the "lucky eye" meant to drive away the "bad eye" and its negative effect.

Shopping Streets

The ultimate shopping street in Athens is Ermou Street, departing from Syntagma square. There, you can find all the classic brands such as H&M and similar department stores. If you are not familiar with shopping in Greece, check out the Hondos Center - a local cosmetic chain with good prices compared to other European countries. Voukourestiou, Patriarhou Ioakim, Skoufa, Tsakalof, Kanari and the side streets around Kolonaki are other options for shopping. There are many designer clothes, more expensive boutiques and jewelers.

Ermou Street, Athens

Athens International Airport

Athens International Airport is located at Spata, 33 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Athens. A taxi ride to the centre will cost a flat rate of 38 euros between 5 am and midnight and 54 euros between midnight and 5 am. The fixed fares include the basic fare, VAT, extra luggage charges and road tolls. The Metro goes to the centre. The journey to Syntagma takes around half an hour. There are airport buses to Syntagma (X95), Pireaus port (X96), Kifissou Avenue (X93) and Elliniko (X97). Travel time to Syntagma and the other areas in town takes around 1 hour, to Pireaus port around 1,5 hours. Check: www.athensairportbus.com/en

Athens International Airport, Athens

Public Transport

The Metro stations are well worth seeing, and are kept spotlessly clean. At the Syntagma and Acropolis stations you will find a large collection of antiquities on display. There is a tram from the centre (Syntagma) running along the coast to Glyfada (50 minutes) and Voula (60 minutes). Buses, trolley buses and the Metro run until around midnight. The tram runs between 5.30 am and 1 am and until 2.30 am on Friday and Saturday. Airport buses all run on a 24 hour schedule. The airport bus tickets are not valid on other public transport services but only for a single journey. Ferries out to the island leave from the harbour in Piraeus or from Rafina.