If you visited Athens before they hosted the Olympics in 2004, then you'll find it a very different city now. The historic centre, with cars banished, is more stunning than ever, and the regeneration going on in the lead up to the games hasn't stopped. So it's Europe's oldest city, but with so much gentrification, it's also one of Europe's freshest.
The Acropolis and the areas surrounding it have seen some of the most dramatic changes. Removing all the cars has made it cleaner, more open and more welcoming. So that the archaeological park has become more of a cultural and social hub again.
The Agora, heart of public life in ancient times, is still a wonderful place to start your visit. Admission to the Agora means you're admitted to the whole Acropolis, so that's the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, the Erechtheion… Etc. They give you two days on your ticket.
Anafiotika is the neighbourhood on the northern slopes of the Acropolis hill, and it's worth exploring for the white washed houses and tiny 19th Century streets as you pass through to go to the old bazaar.
Pedestrianising great swathes of the city centre has helped deal with Athens' notorious pollution problem. And central areas like Gazi and Psyrri, which were clogged with cars previously, are now packed with cafes, restaurants and bars. Which suits the Athens lifestyle - one of making time to stop for coffee in outdoor cafes, and evening strolls and eating out late.
The gentrification in some areas has been led by the new galleries and leisure precincts opening up around town. Including the Benaki Museum.
If you're here on a Sunday visit the big flea market in Avissynias Square.
The public transport system also got an overhaul, as did the airport, so now it's a lot easier to get in and get around. Almost every hotel in the city got a facelift as well - dozens of shabby old drums reemerged as colourful, fun boutique hotels, which are now some of the best places to stay in Athens.
Athens is open all year round - it even has its own beaches where you can comfortably swim until the end of October. But it's at its best in autumn and spring.
For a view over the whole city venture up Mount Lycabettus. You can hike up or catch the funicular.
If you want to stay somewhere with a view of the Acropolis look no further than St. George Lycabettus. Book yourself a south facing room, or visit the rooftop pool for some really spectacular views of the whole city. Because it's in an upmarket residential area this is also one of the best places to stay in Athens with a family.
Take a look at our selection of the best places to stay in Athens and start to plan your visit.
A convenient and affordable stay, outside the bustle of the city centre. A great stopover hotel with comfortable rooms, off street parking, proximity to the airport and the ferry terminal. The sea views and beach action are a real plus!
This 4* trendy and elegant boutique is in a great location and even better value. The building is a 1930s build, but rooms possess 21st Century elegance and mod-cons. Enjoy breakfast in your room before stepping out into Athens and exploring the ancient city.
Cheap, comfortable and convenient stopover hotel in Corali for ferries to Andros and elsewhere, as well as airport transfers. Simple rooms overlook lively town square. Close to the airport, and cheap.
A charming contemporary hotel in a great location, and great value. Doubles, triples, and family rooms all modern in style with private balconies. Wonderful roof terrace and walking distance to restaurants and sights around. A great choice for families and groups of friends on a shoe string.
Athens (Kotzia sq.)
A hotel like no other. A luxury boutique filled with modern art works, individual designs, and an inventive restaurant to match. Rooms and suites range from chic to super chic, each different but equally modern. A hotel for those who like invention and creativity.
Classic luxury meets 21st-century style at this Athens Grand Dame. Dignified and charming, with great rooftop pool and contemporary rooms. Some rooms have views of the Acropolis. Not super central so good rates, and in upmarket, quiet residential area.
A smart boutique hotel with gorgeous rooms and a gourmet restaurant. Rooms and suites have shiny parquet floors, all the mod cons, lots of natural light, and private balconies. Wonderful restaurant and close to the main attractions and shopping area.
Luxury meets minimal to make a statement at this colourful boutique hotel in the centre of Athens. Spacious and stylish rooms come with all the mod-cons. Admire the sunset from the rooftop pool and open-air bar. Top notch breakfast buffet at Magenta Restaurant. Great for romantics and explorers.
A super luxury hotel in an upscale district on the edge of Athens. Boutique living areas, rooms and suites are sophisticated in style and have all the mod cons. Wonderful views of the sea, huge lounge areas and pool, easy access to the beach and into Athens. The best of both worlds!
Gorgeous boutique hotel with lots of character. Rooms and suites have around-the-world themes - from Jaipur to Paris. Each has all the mod cons, private balconies, and charming unique style. Rooftop jacuzzi and lovely terraces.
A very special hotel. Modern chic design, contemporary art works, zen spaces curated specially for relaxation and meditation, a Michelin star kitchen, and a luxury spa. Rooms, studios and suites are romantic, contemporary, and sophisticated. A unique hotel for the luxury customer.
5* designer hotel in quiet suburb of city. Eclectic interiors have eye-catching lighting features, white furnishings and quirky bathrooms, with floor to ceiling windows. Outdoor pool, spa, sauna and gym. Fusion Mediterranean cuisine in chic restaurant, buzzy bar lounge. Colourful, modern and unique.
A small contemporary hotel with wonderful views of the Parthenon. Sophisticated black and white rooms and suites with all the mod cons and private balconies. Excellent restaurant, very friendly staff. A great choice for a weekend in Athens.
Cutting edge designer-chic hotel. Bedrooms and suites full of natural light have all the mod cons, private balconies, and quirky modern furnishings. Fabulous restaurant and spa with hammam. A luxury choice for the design conscious.
A neoclassical grand dame hotel, in the historic Syntagma Square. Opulent interiors with hardwood floors, classical furnishings and stunning views of the Parthenon. Everything you would expect of five star luxury- with some contemporary twists.