Athens Travel Guide
Athens is a major coastal urban area in the Mediterranean, and it is both the capital and the largest city of Greece. With its urban area's population numbering over three million, it is also the eighth largest urban area in the European Union. Athens dominates and is the capital of the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years, and its earliest human presence beginning somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennia BC. The city was named after Athena, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom.
Classical Athens was one of the most powerful city-states in ancient Greece. It was a centre for democracy, the arts, education and philosophy, and was highly influential throughout the European continent, particularly in Ancient Rome. For this reason, it is often regarded as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy in its own right independently from the rest of Greece. In modern times, Athens is a huge cosmopolitan metropolis and central to economic, financial, industrial, maritime, political and cultural life in Greece. In 2023, Athens metropolitan area and its surrounding municipalities has a population of approximately 3.8 million.
Athens is a Beta-status global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and is one of the biggest economic centers in Southeastern Europe. It also has a large financial sector, and its port Piraeus is both the 2nd busiest passenger port in Europe, and the 13th largest container port in the world. The Municipality of Athens, which constitutes a small administrative unit of the entire urban area, had a population of 698.567 within its official limits, and a land area of 38.96 km2. The Athens metropolitan area or Greater Athens extends beyond its administrative municipal city limits as well as its urban agglomeration, with a population of 3,638,281 over an area of 2,928.717 km2. Athens is also the southernmost capital on the European mainland.
The heritage of the Classical Era is still evident in the city, represented by ancient monuments, and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, considered a key landmark of early Western culture. The city also retains Roman, Byzantine and a smaller number of Ottoman monuments, while its historical urban core features elements of continuity through its millennia of history. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1834, include the Hellenic Parliament and the Architectural Trilogy of Athens, consisting of the National Library of Greece, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and the Academy of Athens. Athens is also home to several museums and cultural institutions, such as the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, the Acropolis Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum, and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics, making it one of five cities to have hosted the Summer Olympics on multiple occasions. Athens joined the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2016.
Athens sprawls across the central plain of Attica that is often referred to as the Athens Basin or the Attica Basin. The basin is bounded by four large mountains: Mount Aigaleo to the west, Mount Parnitha to the north, Mount Pentelicus to the northeast and Mount Hymettus to the east. Beyond Mount Aegaleo lies the Thriasian plain, which forms an extension of the central plain to the west. The Saronic Gulf lies to the southwest. Mount Parnitha is the tallest of the four mountains, and has been declared a national park. The Athens urban area spreads over 50 kilometres from Agios Stefanos in the north to Varkiza in the south. The city is located in the north temperate zone, 38 degrees north of the equator.
The Cephissus river, the Ilisos and the Eridanos stream are the historical rivers of Athens.
Map of Athens with accommodations
The blue markers shows the location of various accommodations in Athens. The letter in the marker describes the accommodation types: H for Hotel, A for Apartment, R for Resort, B for Bed & Breakfast and O for Other (e.g. pension, villa). Click on the blue marker for more information on the accommodation.