These are some tips which one should consider to avoid unpleasant surprises that have to do with beaches, the cost of travelling, snacks, etc.
• If you have your own private means of transport, then it is preferable to choose a more distant beach location.
• If you wish to enjoy your swim at a quiet beach, then do not favor those beaches in close proximity to Athens.
• Greeks do no visit the beaches early in the morning. Peak hours are at noon and after. If you want to avoid the crowds, venture out to the beach early on in the morning.
• Choose weekdays for your outings. The majority of people visit the beaches during the weekends.
• Wherever you choose to visit, calculate the travelling time required, the time of departure, and the traffic on the roads.
• At the organized beaches, charges for the services offered are considerable. Entrance fees range from 4-10 euro. Umbrella rental is approximately 5 euro, and 4 euro per sun chair. Parking fees may also apply.
• In close proximity to many free access public beaches, you will find snack bars and canteens.
• The canteens and refreshment stalls at organized beaches, and not only, have very often more expensive rates for their products. A bottle of water, for example, may sell for up to 2 euro. The same applies also for a coffee [3-4 euro], sandwiches [2.5 -3 euro] and for ice-cream.
• Bus and tram timetables are relatively frequent, now in summer. The ktel timetables are not as regular. Before you start out, be informed of the timetables for the routes required [ www.ktelattikis.gr , www.oasa.gr , www.tramsa.gr , www.ametro.gr ] The price for public transports costs one 1.60, while a ktel bus ticket varies according to the area.
In Athen you have two big football clubs, AEK and Panathinaikos.
And then you have Olympiakos in Piraeus which is not far either.
These are all major european teams with many stars on and really worth watching if you are in Athens when they play at home.
Be a little careful when leaving the stadium, especially if they have lost the game as a few of their fans can be a little fanatic, but in general you should be ok as long as you are not looking for trouble.
Watching a game in Athens is really interesting as the fans make a great spectacle out of the games.
Like the Acropolis, you see this hill from all around central Athens. On 25 December 2010, I decided the thing to do before breakfast would be to run to the top and back.
So off I went not long after dawn - about 7.45am. The route took me past the Temple of Zeus, the Panathenaic Stadium, the Presidential Palace and through Kolonaki Square. At that point, it started to get steep.
I followed the road rather than trying the pathways - a tight switchback road with hairpin bends. It was tough. Just when it opened out into a car park, and I thought I was at the top, I realised there were still steps leading up to the highest point - Agios Georgeos. That was the toughest part.
Absolutely worth it for the exhilarating feeling of achievement, the breeze, the spectacular views all over the city, the knowledge of having done something unusual and challenging to start the day, while everyone else is stretching and yawning...Athens “putting its feet on the floor”.
Some notable (or noteworthy) episodes along the way
- a guy fast asleep in his Porsche opposite the stadium
- the surprised guards outside the Palace (not used to seeing wacky old Jocks running at 8am)
- 4 young friends scoofing back a magnum of champagne outside Agios Georgeos
- the very surprised Palace guards as I trundled back 45 minutes later
- being chased by stray dogs outside the Temple of Zeus.
I must admit I was tempted to sneak into the Olympic Stadium and do a lap on the way back. I’m not sure if it was open, but the gates would have been easy to climb. In the end, I thought my cheap thrill would only demean the achievements of those who have run there on merit.
It took me about 65 minutes. Normally that would equate to about 10k, but it must be a lot less than that. Running up a steep hill just takes longer. Anyways, a special thing to have done. It ranks up with some of my favorite sporting moments.
Equipment: Good running shoes, and all the rest of the running kit.
You'd also need a dose of PMA.
Athens is football crazy and supply 2 of the best-supported and most successful clubs in Greece, Panathinaikos and AEK, with giants Olympiakos next door in Piraeus.
The Hellenic Football Federation, or EPO (Elliniki Podosfairiki Omospondia), oversees the league. The top division is the A Ethniki Katigoria, and there are lower divisions B and C.
Equipment: The official website is listed below in English with a link to the Greek version. See my other sports tips for more info on some teams.
It is also known as Kallimarmaro Stadium
A real highlight. Although on the face of it there is not much to see or do, I spent over an hour there.
It’s the stadium rebuilt and used for the 1896 Olympics - the first of the modern era. It recreates the original from the 4th century BC.
It is still in use today - for example it was the finish for the 2004 Games marathon. It holds 68,000.
It is beautiful. And it’s amazing to sit there and contemplate past glories which took place there. You can walk out onto the track and imagine how the athletes must have felt.
It looks so white because it is built from marble. It is a landmark in downtown Athens, but less heralded than the museums and ruins.
Only €3 for entry, and that includes a recorded tour guide.
Equipment: So far as I can see there is nothing to stop anyone from running a few laps, so try turning up in your kit....
Marathons can nowadays be run all over the world, but the annual Athens Marathon has a special appeal and significance to runners world wide because of its tradition: It commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from the Marathon battlefield to Athens in 490 B.C., to bring Athenians the news of the astounding victory of the Greeks over the Persians.
The 2010 Athens Marathon marked the 2500th (!) anniversary of that historic run, and lured 12,500 participants. Just 14 years before, in 1996, the 100th anniversary of the modern Athens Marathon, about 3,000 runners participated.
The central avenues of Athens are closed to traffic, and there is a carnival atmosphere all over the city. Runners, young and old, from all corners of the globe converge on the city. Whether you are a participant or just a spectator, this is quite a sight.
The Athens Acropolis sightseeing tour and city tour is a combination of a city tour through the Syntagma area and Plaka, the old town of Athens, and a detailed visit trip to the Acropolis of Athens.
It is inside the Syntagma Metro Station, next to the ticket validating machines, beneath the hanging clock. Please make sure that you get there at 09:15 a.m. because this tour starts at 09:30 a.m.
The cost is 36 euros for adults, and 29 euros for students.
Equipment: A good quality walking shoes, a hat, a bottle of cold water, and a cream to protect you from the sun, probably an umbrella.
Of course a video camera or a digital camera.
Duration is 3hrs. 10 minutes.
Walking time 45 minutes.
It was built in 1982, with a capacity of 70.000. It has hosted 3 european finals (1983, 1994, 2007) and one cupwinners' cup final in 1987 -in football- European and World Championships in athletics too... It is owned by the Greek Olympic Committee.
At the picture, AEK and Olympiakos (2 greek teams) are coming inside the stadium, at the final of the Greek Cup. AEK, the team which I support (see my travelogue), won 2-1, on 27/4/2002, a happy night...
During the Olympic Games of 2004, this stadium -having the new impressive roof made by Santiago Calatrava- "lived" its most glorious moments of its own history...
Dived with Aegean twice over the years and enjoyed the dives but has probably changed a little since i was there last.
Courses in Dutch,English,French,German,Greek,Italian and Spanish.
Got Ilse worried when i was only diving in a shortie in temps of 14c.
Must admit it got cool after 15 mins and i came out all different colours.
There are 5 major football teams in the Greek first division that are based out of Athens. The team I suuport is AEK Athens.
If you are in Greece anytime between September and May, you can go to see a match or two. Greek footballs is fantastic, and the games are amazing to be at as the fans are very passionate. it's a big party.
Be careful of hooligans!
Equipment: nothing, buy tickets online or at the stadium.
The General Secretariat of Sports, Panepistimiou 25 (tel: 21032 94227; www.sport.gov.gr), provides information on sport in Athens.
Golf: There is a professional (18-hole, 72-par) golf course at Glyfada. The Glyfada Golf Course, Kypros 15 Panopis, Glyfada (tel: 21089 46820; www.glyfadagolf.gr), is open Tuesday to Sunday from 07:30 until sunset and Monday from 13:00 to sunset. Membership is not required but a handicap card is requested.
Horseracing: The Faliro Ippodromo racetrack is located at the end of Syngrou (tel: 21094 26331). There is racing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 17:00 in summer and from 15:00 in winter.
Horseriding: The Attikos Riding Club (tel: 21066 26429) is based at Alopekis 5A, Kolonaki.
Running: The Athens Marathon (www.athensmarathon.com) provides the opportunity to run along the original marathon route. It takes place each year in November and details can be obtained from Seggas, Syngrou 137 (tel: 21093 59346; www.segas.gr).
Equipment: Sailing: The Greek National Tourist Organisation website (www.gnto.gr, click on Marine Tourism) has a list of over 50 charter companies offering yachts for hire. Information on races and clubs is available from the Hellenic Sailing Federation (tel: 21032 35560).
Scuba diving: The Aegean Dive Centre in Glyfada (tel: 21089 45409; www.adc.gr), organises scuba diving tuition with English-speaking instructors and one-day diving trips along the coast between Glyfada and Cape Sounion.
Swimming: The best beaches are located at Glyfada, Vouliagm?ni and Varkiza (see Excursions).
Tennis: Tennis courts are open to visitors at the Glyfada Golf Course, Kypros/15 Panopis, Glyfada (tel: 21089 46820). The Athens Tennis Club (tel: 21092 32872) also welcomes non-members 0800?1400 on weekdays.
Windsurfing: All GNTO-run beaches have windsurfing equipment for hire. The Hellenic Windsurfing Association (tel: 21032 30068) can provide more information.
As if Athens' cultural and architectural achievements are not enough, the city can also boast the modern Olympic Games and the marathon among its lasting legacies. Panhellenic athletic contests were held in Athens from the fourth century BC and reinstated as the modern Olympic Games in 1896. After the initial disappointment of seeing the millennium Olympic Games go to Sydney, Athens is ready to welcome the Games home again.
The marathon commemorates the Greek soldier Phidippides who ran 42km (26 miles) from the battlefield at Marathon to Athens to announce Greek victory over the Persians (490 BC). He delivered his one word message, 'Nenikikamen' (we have won), and then collapsed and died. The annual Athens Marathon retraces his footsteps from the battleground to the 1896 Olympic Stadium.
Although the Greek national team has not seen much success in recent years, football is by far the nation's favourite sport. In the domestic league, the local giants are Panathanaikos (www.pao.gr) and AEK (www.aek.com) in Athens and Olympiakos (www.olympiakos.gr) in Piraeus. The season runs from September to June and most major football matches are played at the Athens Olympic Stadium, Athens Olympic Sports Complex, Maroussi.
Individual venue ticket offices sell tickets for national sporting events, while Segas, Syngrou 137 (tel: 21093 59346; www.segas.gr), sells tickets to international events. The Olympic Committee (tel: 21020 04000; (www.athens2004.com/athens2004/) can provide information on the forthcoming 2004 Olympic Games.
In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to their ancient birthplace and the city of their revival. Athletes from all nations united in Greece to engage in noble competition. The Athens Olympic Games combined history, culture and peace with sports and Olympism. The people of Greece hosted these unique Games on a human scale, inspiring the world to celebrate Olympic values.
Over and above sporting exploits, Olympism is a source of multiple passions which unite the worlds of sport, art, culture and collections. Olympism is a state of mind and the Olympic flame is its symbol. Athens is where the flame was burning in the minds and hearts of millions all over the world.
Efforts for the revival of the Olympic Games in modern times reached a peak at the end of the 19th century with the instrumental contribution of the French Baron Pierre De Coubertin and the Greek Dimitrios Vikelas. The first contemporary Olympic Games took place with great glamour in 1896 in Athens, in the Panathenaic Stadium. The headquarters of the International Olympic Academy are now in Olympia.
Also in Olympia is the altar of the Olympic flame, which is transferred every four years to the city that hosts the Olympic Games. The lighting of the flame takes place at the altar of the Temple of Hera and it is done with the convergence of sunlight onto a metal reflector. This process is part of a ritual combination that includes the prayer and the hymn to Apollo. The high priestess enters the stadium holding the lit torch which she then hands over to the first runner in order for it to start its long journey to the ends of the earth.
The great historical events that took place in the passing of centuries within the Hellenic lands took their toll even on the athletic ideals of the Olympic Games resulting in the gradual fall of the moral values that was especially felt from 146 A.D when most of Greece fell under the Romans and the Eleans lost their independence.
The institution of the Olympic Games lasted for twelve continuous centuries and was abolished in 393 AD (the 293rd Olympiad) by order of Theodosios I when the functioning of all idol worshiping sanctuaries was forbidden and, during the reign of Theodosios II, the destruction of the Altian monuments followed in 427 AD.
The national, racial and spiritual unity of the Greeks was forged thanks to the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games combined the deep religious spirit along with the heroic past of the Greeks thus unifying to the highest degree body, mind and soul according to universal and philosophical values, and so projecting the individual as well as the cities, through the highest ideal of freedom.
Every visitor to Athens cannot fail to notice this huge hotel. It's right on Syntagma Square,...more
This place is wonderful. I arrived hungry and exhausted about 10pm (local) after a long and...more
This hotel's best quality is the location. It's very close to many attractions inside Athens. Near...more