Your guide to Athens.
Just a twenty-minute transfer from Piraeus brings you to Athens, the birthplace of ancient Greece. Fanning out from the Acropolis - on which its famous Parthenon rests - Athens is a city in a state of flux where reminders of the past harmoniously coexist with contemporary additions. A creative arts scene has breathed new life into once abandoned warehouses, while experimental chefs are offering a multicultural twist on traditional Athenian cuisine. Lose yourself in the First Cemetery of Athens, where many of the country’s most famous names are laid to rest, or seek sanctuary from the city’s frenetic pace at its grandiose National Gardens.
Though vast in size, Athens is well connected by metro and many of its most famous historical sights are within easy reach on foot. First-timers should make a beeline for the Acropolis for a chance to get up-close to the Parthenon – arguably Athens’ most famous landmark. From here it’s just a leisurely stroll to the Arch of Hadrian (built-in 2nd century AD) and Kallimarmaro Roman Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held. On the northern slopes of the Acropolis you’ll find the picturesque village of Anafiotika; a sleepy hamlet of crumbling white cottages, exuding homespun Grecian charm.
Eating and drinking.
Athens’ dining scene is varied and far-reaching, blending traditional Greek tavernas - serving a variety of hot and cold sharing dishes - with Michelin Star restaurants and hip neighborhood eateries. While tavernas are where you’ll track down old-school favorites like moussaka, gyros and souvlaki, Athens is now also home to a number of alternative restaurants offering reimagined versions of these classic Greek dishes. One neighborhood worth checking out, if you don’t mind venturing away from the historic center, is Koukaki. A stylish Athenian suburb, the area is rife with independent bars and restaurants, making it a popular dining spot for in-the-know Athens residents.
Like any great capital city, Athens has a strong retail proposition and anyone hoping to secure a travel keepsake won’t have to look far. In fact, shopping is such a popular pastime in Athens that many streets, once open to traffic, have now been fully pedestrianized – making hunting that all-important holiday souvenir all the more pleasurable. You’ll find countless shops in the city’s historic center as well as in downtown Athens. The areas of Plaka and Monastiraki are two of the best for gift items while Ermou Street (Athens' main shopping avenue) is home to a variety of international fashion and accessory brands.
The port of Piraeus, where Cunard cruises to Athens call, is a wonderful destination to explore in its own right, offering traditional Greek charm in a scenic waterside location. It’s also the main port for taking the high-speed hydrofoil to the Aegean islands of Aphaia, Hydra and Seriphos, while the town’s archaeological museum offers a fascinating array of artifacts from Mycenaean and Roman times. Piraeus is additionally known for its excellent seafood restaurants serving fresh catch from the Saronic Gulf. You’ll find the cream of these establishments lining Mikrolimano Harbour, where a frontline table rewards you with uninterrupted views out to sea.