Attica means Athens: the epicentre of history and modern culture, endless beaches along the glamorous Athenian Riviera and easy access to the beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf.
Attica: Synonymous with Athens, one of the world’s most historically significant cities in Europe and a modern metropolis, buzzing with life. Attica also includes the greater Athens area: Just beyond the historic centre, begins the cosmopolitan Athens Riviera. A strip of land stretching down the Attica peninsula, as far as Sounion, filled with esplanades on the water, beach bars, marinas, five-star resorts, dozens of restaurants and nightclubs overlooking the sea.
Then there are the islands near Athens and Kythira island, which is located just south of the Peloponnese. Discover Attica: it offers a plethora of options for visitors and is the most accessible destination in Greece due to its direct connections to international locations. Begin your acquaintance with Attica in central Athens, with the iconic Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the New Acropolis Museum, Plaka and the historic centre. The entire city is an open-air museum filled with fascinating discoveries. The historical and cultural wealth of Athens combined with the modern and youthful atmosphere makes it an ideal destination for a city break. Luxury hotels, high-end restaurants, sidewalk cafes, shopping centres, and picturesque markets, galleries with contemporary art exhibitions, art shops and antique shops. Whether part of a city break or part of a longer holiday, your stay in Attica will have everything.
The beautiful beaches of Attica and the Saronic Gulf
Just a stone’s throw from the city centre is the cosmopolitan Athens Riviera: The southern coastline from Paleo Faliro to Sounion offers exceptional, fully-organised beaches with all sorts of water sports, lively beach bars and restaurants, open-air clubs right on the water, large luxury resorts, dozens of dining options including seaside tavernas serving fresh seafood and eclectic shops. Life here moves to the rhythms of summer all year long.
At Sounion you will stand awe-struck before the imposing Temple of Poseidon and the magnificent sunset. The easy-to-reach island-gems of the Saronic Gulf, with their sandy beaches and crystal-clear water, are perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. From the port of Piraeus, you’ll take a hydrofoil to Aegina, Poros, Hydra with its preserved traditional settlement or visit the stately island of Spetses. Kythira, on the other hand, will claim a few more days of your itinerary, as it requires you to travel towards the south of the Peloponnese. But this unique island is worth discovering. It has castles, sacramental caves, picturesque coves, villages and beaches for all.
Culture springs from everywhere
Athens is an open-air museum. Must-sees are the Acropolis, Parthenon, and the New Acropolis Museum, one of the best archaeological museums in the world. From the neighbourhood of Thiseion to Pnyka, the pedestrian walkway of Dionysiou Areopagitou, Plaka, Anafiotika and Monastiraki, you’ll admire archaeological sites, ancient and Byzantine monuments, churches and neoclassical buildings steeped in history.
Museums such as the National Archaeological Museum on Patission Avenue, the Museums of Greek Folk Art and Musical Instruments, the War Museum, the new Benaki Museum on Pireos street and the original Benaki Museum in Kolonaki, the Numismatic Museum, and the Museum of Cycladic Art will enrich your knowledge of Athens and its history through their collections and exhibits. As will the National Gallery, the Planetarium, the Foundation of the Hellenic World and the dozens of art galleries in the city centre. Down the coast, you’ll stand in front of the imposing Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, overlooking the archipelago and the island of Aegina, and you’ll succumb to the overwhelming energy that the monument emits.
Sea voyages in the shadow of the Acropolis
The best way to get to know the Athens Riviera coastline, and the islands of the Saronic Gulf, is by boat, just a stone’s throw from Athens. You’ll find organised marinas to dock your yacht in Zea, at Flisvos (a marina that rivals Monaco’s), at Faliro, Alimos, Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and all of the nearby islands. For all sorts of water sports, make your way to Vouliagmeni and its exclusive Astera beach, as well as the organised beaches of Varkiza and Anavyssos, ideal for wind- and kite-surfing. The warm water in Vouliagmeni Lake is known for its healing properties. The coast also boasts paved paths ideal for walking and biking.
Attica: A thousand and one gourmet options
Your choices for dining in Athens are infinite, and vary according to the neighbourhood. In Athens and the suburbs, you’ll find ouzeries and mezedopolia serving delectable small plates, you’ll also find tavernas, local restaurants offering traditional Greek cuisine often paired with live music. The city also has a number of beer halls and wine bars, and all-day cafe-restaurants to choose from. You’ll find five-star gourmet eateries and creative gastronomy that would please the most eclectic palates.
The city offers an international array of cuisines – French, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, tapas and vegetarian, as well as restaurants specialising in famous Cretan cuisine. You’ll find wine cellars stocked with varietals from all over Greece, as well as around the world. If you head towards the southern suburbs by the sea, you’ll find tavernas on the water serving freshly-caught seafood paired with ouzo and fine wine. Ιn the islands of the Saronic Gulf, there are dozens of dining options, where seafood is the speciality. Ιn Aegina, the food at the picturesque port of Perdikas, frequented by sailors and yachters, is particularly noteworthy. In Spetses, you’ll experience magical moments in the luxurious restaurants that line the Old Port.
The most popular sights and attractions in Attica
1. The Acropolis, Athens: The cornerstone of European civilisation, the Acropolis is still a marvel, a reminder of what mankind is capable. You’ll be reminded of the marvelous creations of the Golden Age, some of which are the most famous monuments in the world: the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum with its famous Caryatids. For a fuller picture of the glory of Greece, you’ll also want to visit the other important Athenian monuments: the theatres of Dionysos and Herodes Atticus, the Areopagus, the Pnyx, the Kerameikos ancient cemetery, the Ancient Agora and the Roman Forum. The list goes on.
2. The historic centre of Athens: From Syntagma Square, stroll down the famous shopping street of Ermou, until you reach Monastiraki, and there you’ll enter the old markets teeming with tourist and antique shops. Avissinias Square with its flea market is particularly picturesque. Another way to go is towards Stadiou and Panepistimiou avenues, with their iconic buildings, historic cafes, and all manner of restaurants and stores.
3. Kolonaki: This aristocratic neighbourhood of central Athens offers a wide array of choices of chic cafes, high-end restaurants and cool boutiques.
4. Plaka: The walk from Adrianou Street, through the shaded squares and streets of Plaka, to Anafiotika with its Cycladic architecture, is one of a kind.
5. Psyrri & Gazi: The neighbourhoods of Psyrri and Gazi are hip hangouts emitting a youthful energy, populated with any number of cool restaurants, cafes and bars.
6. Attica’s coastline: Walk along Attica’s coast, especially around Glyfada, the stylish southern suburb with its trendy bars, excellent restaurants and vibrant shopping scene. It’s also the last tram stop of a scenic route along the sea that begins at Syntagma.
7. Saronic Gulf islands: On these islands close to Athens, you’ll be greeted with an entirely different atmosphere. You’ll visit Hydra with its grand mansions and 18th-century captains’ homes, cosmopolitan Spetses with its picturesque Old Port, Aegina with its Capodistrian buildings and floating grocers, stately Poros and tiny, pine-studded Agistri.
8. Kythira: Further afield, and off the southern Peloponnese coastline, on Kythira, the imposing Venetian castle rises above the Hora, overlooking the pretty seaside village of Kapsali, with its twin bays. Worth visiting are the smaller Venetian castle at Mylopotamo and the cave/chapel of Agia Sophia with its stalactites and frescoes.