Destination: Athens

ATHENS

Athens is a must-see destination on any European vacation. The capital and largest city in Greece, it’s also been the center of Greek civilization for 4,000 years. Athens may be an ancient city, but it has a contemporary atmosphere with an active restaurant, bar and nightlife scene.

The Mediterranean climate of Athens makes for hot and dry summers (with an average temperature of 92 degrees in July) and mild winters with moderate rainfall (with an average temperature of 48 degrees in January). Since it can be very hot and dry in the summer and occasionally rainy or snow in the winter, the best times of the year to visit Athens are spring and late fall. The winter, however, is the low season for tourism, so travelers may find the city to be less busy with tourists then.

Since Greece is part of the European Union, the official currency of Athens is the Euro. U.S. currency can easily be exchanged for Euros at banks, post offices, travel bureaus and foreign exchange offices in Athens. If travelers don’t want to exchange their currency, almost all hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards.

Athens is a world center for archaeological research, making it an ideal vacation destination for any history buffs. It is home to one of the most important international archaeological museums, the National Archaeological Museum. Its collection of artifacts covers a period of time of more than 5,000 years. The Acropolis, a hilltop citadel that includes ancient monuments like the Parthenon, is also located in Athens. A visit to the Ancient Agora allows visitors to enjoy a beautiful view of the Acropolis as well as the Temple of Hephaestus, the best-preserved ancient Greek temple. The Acropolis is also listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it’s the most complete collection of Ancient Greek monuments still existing. It truly is a necessary place to visit when in Athens.

Though history is big in Athens, there are other aspects to the city to appeal to other travelers. Athens has been slowly reinventing itself by turning congested downtown streets into pedestrian walkways; revamping hotels, museums and archaeological sites; building the state-of-the-art Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport; and expanding the Athens Metro system.

The city’s culinary scene is bustling and ever-evolving. Travelers can find many types of food and restaurants, from tavernas serving traditional Greek cuisine to modern and award-winning restaurants. There are many wine and cocktail bars serving wines and other beverages from all over the world.

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