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Plan your next trip to Athens

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Athens holidays - Where history and modernity meet

With its multitude of idyllic islands, exciting cities and ancient monuments, it's unsurprising that Greece is an all-round favourite for UK holidaymakers. And Athens, the country's capital, is often seen as the gateway to it all - and it's the perfect destination for an extended city break.

Firstly, Athens is famous for its ancient marvels, like its Acropolis that looks over the city, but there's so much more to discover here. Spend time in the city to discover its excellent food scene, buzzing nightlife and wealth of day trip opportunities.

Check out our guide for the best Athens holiday deals and for everything you need to know about visiting the Greek capital city.

Tips and advice for Athens holidays

Ready to hop on a plane to Athens? Before you book, it's a great idea to familiarise yourself with practical information about the city, especially that all-important question: when is the best time to visit Athens?

Find the answer to this - and more - below.

Athens at a glance

Flight duration (from London): 3 hours 40 minutes

Main airport: Athens International Airport

Population: 3.6 million

Language: Greek

Currency: Euro

Socket type: Type F (adapter required)

Time zone: Eastern European Time; 2 hours ahead of the UK

When is the best time to visit Athens?

Athens has a Mediterranean climate, which makes it a strong contender as a destination you can visit at any time of year. However, some seasons are more comfortable than others; here is a seasonal breakdown of Athen's weather conditions.

🌸 Spring: With milder but warm temperatures and little rainfall, spring is one of the most popular times to visit Athens. Keep in mind that Orthodox Easter is hugely popular, and accommodation and flight prices will skyrocket.

☀️ Summer: The hottest months, where temperatures can reach 40°C and above. Even though these are the months when the tourists flock to Greece, the temperatures can make sightseeing a little bit uncomfortable!

🍁 Autumn: This is another top season to visit, as prices will be cheaper and the temperature will be mild, but pleasant. The ideal conditions for outdoor sightseeing!

❄️ Winter: Yes, winter in Athens can mean a little more rainfall and, rarely, some snow too, but there are also highs of 15°C, making an Athens winter city break completely feasible - and affordable.

Getting to Athens

Most UK holidaymakers opt to fly to Athens (although Greece happens to be a very popular cruise destination), with a short flight time of 3 hours and 40 minutes from London.

British Airways and Aegean Airlines offer direct flights to Athens, as do low-cost carriers such as Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air. There are extra seasonal flights offered during the summer months, but you can generally fly direct to Athens from London, Manchester and Newcastle. You'll be able to catch indirect flights to Athens from most other UK airports.

Getting around Athens

Public transport in Athens is reliable, inexpensive and extensive. You can buy multi-day passes that offer unlimited use of all public transport options.

The Athens Metro is one of the most popular options; running from 5AM to midnight (with extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights for nightlife enthusiasts).

In addition, there are buses, trolleybuses, suburban trains and trams. A single ticket costs as little as €1.20, and this is valid for up to 90 minutes.

Find cheap flights to Athens

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As the capital city, Athens is a large destination and it may be tricky to know which area is best as the base for your holiday. And there are a lot of options too, with each neighbourhood having its own vibe and sets of pros and cons for staying there. Ultimately, where you decide to stay has much to do with what you're planning to do during your Athens city break.

Here are some of our top recommendations for the best areas to stay in Athens.

Plaka

Nestled at the base of the Acropolis, Plaka is considered the very best area to stay if you're a first-time visitor to Athens. This is especially the case if sightseeing is your biggest priority, with many of the city's most important historical and cultural attractions within walking distance. It's also a good base for exploring more of Athens, since many central neighbourhoods are so close by.

It's not just high-end hotels you'll find in Plaka; if you book far enough in advance, you can find a wide array of accommodation, even budget-friendly options. Once there, you'll find pedestrianised streets, loads of cafes and restaurants, and plenty of shops too.

Monastiraki

Another top contender for a first-timer's Athens holiday, Monastiraki is central while throwing in the additional benefit of being able to shop until you drop. Most famous for its flea markets, there's also the long, pedestrianised Ermou, which is considered to be the main shopping street of the city.

There are plenty of hotels here; if you want to splash out, opt for a hotel that has a rooftop view of the famous Acropolis. Monastiraki is also a top choice for families, thanks to its central location and general safety. After all, Athens' most famous attractions are only a few steps away.

Psyri

Located next to Monastiraki but home to a slightly different vibe, Psyri is a good neighbourhood for soaking up a more authentic Athenian experience - especially when it comes to nightlife and eating out! It's still central enough to enjoy the sights by day, but ensures that you'll also have plenty to do once the sun goes down.

Many of the older buildings here have been transformed into modern bars, hotels and galleries, but Psyri still manages to have a younger feel thanks to its wealth of colourful street art and murals.

Syntagma

Considered to be one of the most important squares in Athens - where it's even considered to be a landmark in itself - Syntagma Square is surrounded by a number of important monuments. In addition, it forms a hub for the city's public transport options, ideal for anyone who plans to explore Athens widely.

Located right next to Athens National Garden, a major green lung of the city, and Plaka, you're still centrally located. You can find some of the city's most luxurious hotels here, but you'll also find more affordable options in the area.

Kolonaki

For something a little bit different, base yourself in Kolonaki, a wealthy neighbourhood set on the slopes of Mt Lycabettus, the tallest of Athens' hills. It's right next to Syntagma, which means that you'll have access to all the public transport options you could possibly need - as well as the funicular that takes you up Mt Lycabettus.

This neighbourhood is where you'll find luxury brands for some upmarket shopping, as well as trendy cafes and restaurants, museums and galleries. If you've visited Athens before and are looking for a more luxurious experience, base yourself in opulent Kolonaki.

Piraeus

If your goal is to use the ferries for some island hopping, then Piraeus is a solid option. Known as the main port of Athens, this is where you'll catch ferries and boats to other islands and coastal locations. But there's more to this neighbourhood than its busy ferry port; there are cafes, restaurants and a handful of museums too.

Plus, if you do want to squeeze in some Athens sightseeing, the city centre is about 30 minutes away by Metro, but that shouldn't be the main priority for those basing themselves in Piraeus.

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The best things to do in Athens

  1. Climb to the top of the Acropolis

  2. Enjoy the views from the Temple of Poseidon

  3. Watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

  4. Get some fresh air in the Athens National Garden

  5. Go shopping at Monastiraki flea market

  6. Explore the Plaka neighbourhood on foot

  7. Catch a performance on the top of Mt Lycabettus

  8. Marvel at the ancient finds at the National Archaeological Museum

  9. Hit the beach at Athen's Riviera

  10. Do some island hopping by catching a ferry in Piraeus

  11. Book a food tour of Athens

  12. Experience the nightlife in Psyri

  13. Feel small among the columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus

  14. Be impressed by the exhibits at the modern Acropolis Museum

  15. Step back in time at the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea

Discover more things to do in Athens

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Athens holiday FAQs

Q: How many days should I spend in Athens?

A: There's so much to see in Athens that we'd recommend 3-4 days as a minimum. However, if you'd like to include a few day trips and tours, we'd recommend staying for a week or even longer.

Q: Is Athens safe?

A: Yes, Athens is generally considered to be a safe city. However, petty crime can happen anywhere so it's important to be vigilant in crowded areas. Some spots, like Omonia Square, should be avoided at night due to higher crime rates.

Q: Do you need a visa to visit Greece?

A: No. You can visit Greece for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa; always stay up to date with the latest entry requirements.

Q: What kind of temperatures should I expect in Athens?

A: Athens has a Mediterranean climate, which means that the city has hot, dry summers and mild winters. In summer, temperatures can reach 35°C and beyond, while, in winter, you can expect temperatures to rarely drop below 5°C.

Q: Are there any day trips that I can take from Athens?

A: Yes, some of the most popular day trips include the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Mycenae, Delphi, the Corinth Canal and the islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina

Q: Do I need to take any health precautions before visiting Athens?

A: Beyond staying up to date with routine vaccinations, no. However, if you have any particular concerns, it's best to take this up with your doctor or travel nurse.