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Discover the birthplace of western civilisation on holidays in Athens, where ancient temples overlook bustling shopping streets and family-friendly Greek tavernas. This European city is one of the most intriguing places to visit, with its ancient historical sites mixed in with the modern day city going about its daily business.
Athens swells outwards from the Acropolis, a flat-topped hillside that's crowned by the tall white pillars of the Parthenon. In its shadow is Plaka, a warren of music-filled streets lined with restaurants, bars and gift shops. You can stop here for an icy-cold beer, or buzz straight down to the Ancient Agora to wander among crumbling stone ruins. Modern Athens begins at Syntagma Square, with the National Gardens and the Greek Parliament both just a stone's throw away.
There are many museums in the city, including the flagship Museum of the Acropolis with its new modern building at the foot of the hill. And you can visit the ancient Olympic stadium where London received the torch in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.
Arriving at Athens Airport, a walkway connects the airport terminal with the Athens Metro system, which leads directly to central hubs like Syntagma Square. Taxis are the best option if you want to avoid rush hour on the Metro. Cars wait by the arrivals area.
For public transport, the Metro is fast and easy, serving destinations across the city. Listen out for the music piped into downtown stations. Taxis Bright-yellow taxis are a common sight across Athens, and they're easy to flag down. Just ask for the meter to be switched on before you start moving.
More than 200 inhabited islands draw millions of visitors to Greece each year, yet it's surprisingly easy to escape the crowds... if you know where to look.Read moreabout Secret Greece: How to escape the tourist trail
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