Athens See And Do
Tel: 30 210 321 4172
Tel: 30 210 321 0219
The entire hill is the Acropolis; the 5th-century B.C. temple to Athena Parthenos is the Parthenon. Try to arrive early for less heat and fewer crowds; you can always return, because admission allows you back in anytime the same day. And whatever you do, don't pick up any stones (remember the tourist arrest in spring 2004?). Wear your comfiest shoes and lots of sunscreen—the climb is pretty relentless and there isn't much shade—and take your bathroom break beforehand (the facilities at the top aren't exactly up to the demand). A barely advertised elevator for wheelchair users has existed on the north face since August 2004. The approaches from the south and west sides—Apostolou Pavlou and Dionysiou Areopagitou—have been recently improved, widened, pedestrianized, and generally beautified, making the whole experience much sweeter.
Open daily 8 am to sunset, mid-April through October; open daily 8 am to 4:30 pm, November through early-April.
44 Patission Street
Tel: 30 210 821 7717
The National Archaeological Museum is newly (post-Olympics) renovated and a must-see. With 48 rooms, it's the largest museum in the land, but still way too small for everything to be on display—especially since 30,000 further objects of antiquity were unearthed during the Metro construction. See rooms and rooms of sculptures from 700 B.C. to the early Byzantine era, including (no surprise) the world's most important collection of ancient Greek works, and don't miss the curiously haunting 14th-century B.C. golden Mask of Agamemnon.
Southeast of Syntagma Square
When your lungs are dusty and you need to see green, slip inside the verdant, semi-tropical National Gardens, established in 1840. Also useful for kidsthere's a playground, a children's library with toys (and blessed AC), and a lot of ducks.
Open daily 7 am to sunset.
Athens's nicest, nearest beach is found in the pleasant resort area of Glyfada. It's accessible by tram (get off at the Paralia Glyfadas stop), and packed with lots of cafés, restaurants, and good shopping.
14 Frantzi Street
Tel: 30 210 924 2111
Modern art is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Athens, but this institution, established in 2000, aims to change that. It occupies an appropriate building: Greece's first brewery, established in 1853; it was rebuilt in 1957 by Takis Zenetos, probably Greece's foremost architect of the postwar modernist period. Now it's being transformed into a 21st-century arts palace with many exhibition spaces, shops, and restaurants, by hip Athenian architects 3SK Stylianidis. Until it's finished, the EMST (National Museum of Contemporary Art) is occupying the exhibition spaces at the Megaron (Athens Concert Hall) for its shows (1 Kokkali St.; 30-210-728-2333).
Tel: 30 210 923 8175
Following what some might call a classic Greek construction schedule, the New Acropolis Museum, originally planned to be ready for the 2004 Olympics, finally opened in June 2009. Sections of the ground floor are glass, allowing views of excavations beneath the new building. Glass is a primary design element throughout the modern structureso distinct in style from its neighbor, the Parthenonwhich replaces the old, too small Acropolis Museum (which closed in July 2007) as a repository of finds made during excavations of the Acropolis. While the new museum displays many marble and bronze artifacts, the most interesting display may prove to be the veiled plaster casts meant to represent the Elgin Marbles, a collection of decorative pieces largely from the Parthenon that since 1817 has been in the British Museumwhich, despite Greek protests, shows no interest in returning it.
Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.
100 Piraeus Street
Tel: 30 210 346 0981
In Gazi, the old gasworks next to Keramikos, is this enormous art project, established in 1999. It consists of eight buildings converted from gas containers, chimney stacks, and furnaces, and named after Greek poets (Andreas Embirikos, Angelos Sikelianos, Yannis Ritsos, etc.). At the center is The Millennium Globe, a sculpture by Nikos Yiorgos Papoutsides symbolizing world peace. The place is still very much evolving, as is the surrounding areait's often called a "factory for generating art."
Open Mondays through Fridays 10 am to 10 pm.