During your stay in Athens you can also visit areas outside the city center. Athens suburbs are perfect for walking or relaxing at a confectionery, café or bar. The suburbs of Athens are divided into four zzones: The northern suburbs, the southern suburbs; the eastern suburbs, and the western suburbs.
Whenever you find yourself in downtown Athens –day or night– you will realise that it’s a city with many different vibes across its many districts, which are always buzzing with life. Undoubtedly, Syntagma Square is the city’s financial and trade centre, always busy around the clock. At the north-west of the square you will find the historical districts of Plaka and Thiseio, as well as Makrygianni with the Acropolis. To the square’s west you will Monastiraki and its outdoor Flea Market and the district of Psyrri with all its nightclubs and entertainment hotspots brimming with youngsters and visitors. A little further on, there is the district of Gazi, a favourite hangout for the young and the young at heart with upbeat bars and good restaurants. To the north-east of Syntagma there is Athens’ historical centre, with its beautiful buildings, streets and memories of the old city (see chapter Old City of Athens). Walk northeast from Syntagma Square to find the district of Exarcheia, an old Athens neighbourhood with a distinctive bohemian flair: Definitely a meeting-point for intellectuals and students. Nearby, you will find posh Kolonaki, with its beautiful parks and attractive buildings. It’s the ideal area for shopping, where you can find the most expensive commercial shops in addition to popular cafes and luxury restaurants to enjoy before or after you go to the shops. Central District Municipalities: Athens, Galatsi, Zografou, Kessariani, Vyronas, Dafni-Immitos, Ilioupolis, Nea Halkidona and Nea Filadelfia.
Very quiet residence areas with beautiful villas, rich vegetation and wide streets, the northern suburbs were developed in the late 1920s, on the model of English garden cities. They traditionally used to be the residential area of wealthy families who opted to live close to nature and away from the bustle of the cities. While in Athens, it’s worth a visit to Kifissia, one of the city’s most elegant suburbs. Enjoy a pleasant walk and see the impressive luxury 19th century villas of Kifissia. Vibrant shopping streets and popular shopping centres, as well as beautiful cafes and restaurants, have turned the area into a hotspot. Some of the best patisseries and coffee houses in town are also here. Pay a visit to the Archaeological Collection, located in a 1930s house, as well as the Goulandris Natural History Museum. There are two open-air cinemas for hot summer nights, as well as Syggrou Forest, adjacent to Kifissia and Maroussi. Go for a walk, relax and enjoy Greek nature just a breath away from the city centre. There is also an annual Flower show, which takes place in Kifissias Grove (Alsos). In Maroussi don’t miss the chance to see the Athens Olympic Sports Center (OAKA) where the major events of Olympic Games 2004 took place. The central street that connects Athens with the aforementioned suburbs is Kifissias Avenue, which is also the main road linking the city centre to the suburbs. Northern suburbs municipalities: Papagou, Holargos, Neo Psychiko, Paleo Psychiko, Filothei, Ekali, Nea Erythrea, Kifissia, Nea Penteli, Penteli, Melissia, Maroussi, Vrilissia, Halandri, Agia Paraskevi, Nea Ionia, Iraklion, Metamorfosi, Pefki, Lykovrisi.
The southern suburbs of Athens are located on the coast of the Saronic Gulf from Piraeus to the southernmost suburb of Varkiza, forming the well-known Athens Riviera. If you relish a walk or lunch by the sea, then Athens Riviera is THE place to be. Polished hotels, a multitude of stores, boutiques, marinas, restaurants, bars, cosmopolitan clubs, major attractions and the buzz of life make up its scenery. The undoubted centre of the southern suburbs of Attica is Glyfada, the heart of trade and finance, also bringing together all the big names in Athens’ shopping, gastronomy and nightlife scenes. It’s one of the most elegant districts of Athens where the pulse of the Athens nightlife beats. You can also swim in crystal clear waters, or if you are a golf enthusiast you will be thrilled with the Glyfada Golf Club, the city’s modern 18-hole course! The southern suburbs of Paleo Faliro, Kalamaki, Alimos and Ellinikon are also on the seafront, favourite summer destinations for swimming and fun. Faliro and its marina, a mega-yacht destination, infuses a cosmopolitan flair to the area while Flisvos Park is ideal for leisurely strolls and carefree bike rides. Southern suburbs municipalities: Tavros, Moschato, Kallithea, Nea Smyrni, Paleo Faliro, Agios Dimitrios, Alimos, Ellinikon, Argyroupoli, Glyfada.
This part of metropolitan Athens has its own unique character and cultural identity. In Egaleo and Eleusis you can get to know important cultural attractions such as the Monastery of Dafni, the Museum of Eleusis, and the ruins of the Temple of Dimitra, where the Eleusinian Mysteries were held. In Peristeri, Nikaia and Korydalos you will find yourself among streets with shopping centres and squares with ample cafés and terraces, quaint taverns and charming bars. You can come closer to nature with a walk in the Dimidius Botanical Gardens in Chaidari. While in Ilion enjoy a stroll through the Antonis Tritsis Environmental Awareness Park, or explore the area’s quaint taverns and charming bars. Western suburbs municipalities: Chaidari, Agia Varvara, Egaleo, Peristeri, Petroupolis, Ilion, Agioi Anargyroi, Kamatero, Aspropyrgos, Eleusis, Mandra, Megara and Fyli.
To the eastern side of Attica, you can visit significant historic sites as well as many great beaches. Athens International Airport in Spata and two important ports of Greece, Rafina and Lavrio, can also be found in this part of Attica. Rafina is after Piraeus, the main port to the Cyclades, while Lavrio port is the closest connection to Kea (Tzia) and Kythnos. Visit Marathon, a town situated only 40 km northeast of Athens, where you can combine a visit to historic sites with a swim to several sea resorts of the east coast of Attica. Discover the tomb where the Athenians buried their soldiers after the battle of Marathon in 490 BC, which is also the start of the Olympic Marathon venue. A visit to the Lake and the Dam of Marathon is a very interesting part of the day trip. Until recently the lake was the main water supply of Athens. Nearby you can take in Nea Makri, a town that has over the last 20 years almost become a suburb of Athens due to the fact that many Athenians have slowly started to move there from the centre of the city. A few km from Spata, lies the Ancient site of Vravrona with the Sanctuary of Goddess Artemis and the Archaeological Museum of Vravrona, which presents an extensive and important collection of finds. Continue further south to Attica’s southern most point, Cape Sounion. The impressive Temple of Poseidon offers one of the most spectacular sunsets in Greece, which will weave a powerful spell over you. The coastal road continues through beautiful beaches such as Legrena and Thimari as well as marvellous tourist areas such as Anavyssos, Lagonissi, Saronida that ends up in Varkiza, Vouliagmeni and Voula, three top-level summer hotspots that you simply cannot afford to miss! Attractive beaches to swim in, relax or exercise, bustling nightlife, elegant cafés, restaurants and luxurious hotels will definitely satisfy all your needs.
Voula, Vouliagmeni, Vari, Varkiza, Dionyssos, Koropi, Lavrio, Marathonas, Markopoulo, Peania, Pallini, Rafina, Pikermi, Spata, Artemida and Oropos.
Piraeus is the main port of Athens, the biggest port in Greece, and one of the most important ports of the Mediterranean: A major shipping, industrial and transportation centre of the country. It presents all the main characteristics of a port, such as a large market and good food options. City life focuses on the three parts of the port: The central area, the Zea marina, and Mikrolimano, which stands out as having the best food, the most buzzing nightlife, and a special view over the Saronic Gulf. You can find some major attractions in downtown Piraeus such as the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus, the Archaeological Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Ancient Theater of Zea (4th – 3rd cent. BC), the churches of Agios Spyridonas and Agia Triada, Korai Square, and the majestic port of Zea. Drop by the metro station, a magnificent eclectic building with an arched dome (1929) that was greatly influenced by the European stations of that time. Just behind the bustling port of Piraeus, you’ll find the Central Food Market, where you can shop to your heart’s – and stomach’s – content. You will find the freshest fish and seafood and an amazing variety of Greek cheeses, salamis, country sausages, vegetables, and fruit and other staples of the local diet such
as fava beans, green peas, lentils, walnuts, almonds and pomegranates, herbs, spices, dried fruit and vegetables. Continue just a few steps over to Gounari Street for a delicious bougatsa, peinirli, piroski, and cheese or spinach pie. Note that every Sunday there is a market in Dragatsaniou Street and Mavromichali Street where you can find real bargains. From the Port of Piraeus you can travel to the Argosaronic Islands (also known as Attica’s islands) by hovercrafts or
hydrofoils (flying dolphins).