While many sun-thirsty travellers head straight to the beautiful Greek islands to bronze themselves and spend their hard-earned cash on water sports, great food, clubbing and the odd tipple, they are overlooking a lively and enthralling city in Athens.
The Greek capital is one of the great monuments to the ancient world and still holds intellectual, social and cultural relics of its wondrous past as well as being the bustling modern European city, which admirably hosted the Olympic Games in 2004.
According to Greek mythology when Athena and Poseidon challenged each other to become protectors and deities of the city, an olive tree sprung from the ground at the touch of the former’s spear as the latter summoned forth a seawater spring, which could not overpower the might of the tree, leaving Athena the victor.
Such stirring myths as these pervade the city’s 5,000 year old walls making it a unique place to experience the wonders of the ancient world. Of course, the Acropolis and the Parthenon are the prize attractions that would greatly enhance any visitor’s holiday and their knowledge of the ancient world.
Travellers who visit Athens in the summer will be treated to the Hellenic festival which features a whole host of food and drink, so central to the Greek culture, as well as showing classical Greek works by the ancient tragic and comic writers.
The city became the capital of modern Greece in 1833 after being occupied by the Byzantines and later by the Ottoman Turks and is now bustling with cafes and bistros on pedestrian-only streets that hold a plethora of peaceful, scenic gardens.
Nightlife is far removed from the oft-criticised ‘Binge Britain’ culture we are so used to at home with many establishments not opening until the later hours of the evening, some do not welcome guests in before midnight.
The majority of restaurants are primarily outdoor-seated to take advantage of the glorious weather and often diners will be invited to step into the kitchen to choose what they would like to eat rather than selecting from a menu, owing to the prominence of seafood cuisine in the city which sprung from life on the coast of the Aegean Sea.
Athens is an ideal weekend break, owing to the vast numbers of cheap flights available, and as a great place stop over before you embark on that classic Greek holiday of sun-bathing and living it up on the islands.