The city of Athens is one of the oldest in the world, holding onto its status as a cultural center for at least 3,000 years. The remainders of past civilizations still look over this crowded city -- rising up on the hills of the Acropolis, scattered along the walks of the Plaka and well preserved in scores of museums. This cradle of western civilization and historical haven for philosophers (Plato and Aristotle, for example) will give you a vacation that blends a vivid past with an exciting urban present.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
Greek (Many people speak English as well.)
14.5 hrs from L.A., 9.5 hrs from NYC
The Euro (EUR)
Bus, Metro (subway), taxi, foot, or car (traffic is super congested, so only rent a car for trips outside the city)
When To Go: Athens at its best
March to May, and October to November. Summers can get quite hot (73-89?F averages), while winters can be chilly (44-58?F averages).
March to May, and September to October
Why To Go
You can find centuries upon centuries of historical remnants just by taking a stroll through this ancient city. Climb up the famed Acropolis for an eyeful of one of the most stunning pieces of ancient architecture you'll ever see, the Parthenon; from here you can also look over the centers of both the ancient and modern city. Just beneath the Acropolis is the Plaka, Athens' oldest district. Take a look around for a glimpse of monuments from essentially every era of the past 3,000 years; then pop into a taverna
for a glass of wine and some traditional music.
The Greek are a carpe diem
kind of crowd, living it up every night of the week. (They work this into their schedule with the help of a nice afternoon nap for fortification.) The laid-back Athenians roam the Plaka until late in the evening; eat a leisurely dinner; and then spread out to dance the night away in the city's plethora of bars, lounges, and nightclubs. Join the pack, and you'll find yourself deep in one of Europe's hottest nightlife scenes.
-- Erin Walters