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Gritty yet graceful, Athens is a surprise package. Most arrive expecting the ancient world and find a city looking forwards. A place where pop-up galleries rub against ruins, rooftop bars complement traditional tavernas and a modern street food scene rivals old-favourite souvlaki – today, a holiday in Athens is just as much about what’s happening as what has happened.
Of course, in a city with over 3,000 years of history, the past is unavoidable. Whether you’re gazing up at the iconic Acropolis, or taking in colourful centuries-old frescoes in a Byzantine church, Athens’ legendary story is everywhere. And that’s all before you’ve even visited its world-famous museums, filled with everything from ancient artefacts to contemporary art.
These days, though, some of Athens’ best art isn’t in its museums – it’s on its walls, street signs, and park benches. The city’s street art scene has exploded in the last decade, covering Athens in spectacular murals, intricate tags and politically charged graffiti. For an insight into modern Athens, take a guided tour of its street art.
Avid foodies won’t have to search too hard for a good feed, either. From cheap souvlaki in a charming neighbourhood joint and a full-on tasting menu in one of its stylish new restaurants to exciting street food festivals, Athens is easily one of the most exciting capitals in Europe for eating out.
Then, of course there are the capital’s many, many bars. Athens is a late city, so you can dance until daylight or opt for a low-key experience into the small hours of the morning. Think sipping rose on a rooftop bar or enjoying a beer on the hip, graffitied streets of Psiri.
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