Visit Athens

From the antiquity of the Parthenon, to the chic shopping of Kolanaki, Greece's capital is a treasure trove for tourists


The most exclusive location in town is the penthouse suite at the Periscope Hotel (1) at 22 Haritos Street (00 30 210 729 7200; in Kolonaki. The rooftop includes a private Jacuzzi from which you can watch the sun rise or set over the city ­ with a particularly fine prospect of the Parthenon. Other guests can enjoy the view on the plasma screens in the fashionable ground-floor bar, by remotely taking control of the periscope (actually a TV camera) on the roof, and panning and zooming around the city. The rack rate for the penthouse is ¤450 (£320),excluding breakfast.


The key to enjoying the treasures of the ancient world: arrive early. Get to the Acropolis gates (2) shortly before opening time at 8am. Pay the admission fee of ¤12 (£8.60) ­ the same ticket gets you into the Agora, the Theatre of Dionysos and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Climb quickly to the ancient city on the hill; for an hour or so, you can enjoy the crowning classical Greek creation of the Parthenon (3).


The Cafe Avissinia (4) (00 30 210 321 4047; on Avissinia Square in Monastiraki is a city-centre restaurant so good and so popular amongst the locals that it closes during July and August. The signature starters ­ aubergine, taramasalata and marinated whitebait ­ should be enough for most people for lunch, though for something more robust superbly cooked meat and fish are available for lunch and dinner. Closed Mondays.


The main shopping street is Ermou. The end closest to Syntagma Square is as lively as London's Oxford Street; whereas the other end is more akin to the Kings Road. For top labels and global brand-leaders, visit the Kolonaki area. The flea and antiques market at around Avissinia Square in Monastiraki is well worth seeking out at weekends between around 8am and 3pm. Close by at 2 Agias Thaklas Street is Melissinos Art (5) (00 30 210 321 9247;, "the Poet Sandalmaker", where Stavros Melissinos has made lyrical footwear for 50 years; his son, Pantelis, is a playwright now running the family business.


At sundown, head for the rejuvenated (and largely now traffic-free area) neighbourhood of Thissio. Find a seat on the terrace outside Aisoi Seis (6) (the name is only in Greek characters, but it's the 1908 house right on the corner), from where you get a wonderful view of the Parthenon. The trendy clubbing area is now Psiri, north-west of Monastiraki Square. Lepeniotou Street has plenty of options; try Ghost (7) at number 36 (00 30 210 323 6431).

To download Simon Calder's Athens Podcast visit:, Vodafone live! or iTunes


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