Athens Flights:

Flights to Athens

image of AthensAthens is the capital and largest city of Greece and is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is recognised as being at the centre of the birth of Western Civilization.

There are no direct flights from South Africa to Athens, though you can fly from Cape Town or Johannesburg’s International Airports with a number of airlines who offer connecting flights through various cities.

Amongst your choices are: Egypt Air, Emirates, Swiss Air, Air France, South African Airways, Lufthansa, British Airways, Israel Airlines, Turkish Airlines and KLM, connecting through Cairo, Frankfurt and London Heathrow, for example.

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The Tourist Attractions of Athens:

Athens is a huge and sprawling city which, on the surface, might appear quite unattractive. However, there are some very important ancient sites here as well as attractive parts of Old Athens which should definitely not be missed.

The Acropolis is usually the top of most visitors’ lists of places to visit. This is the ancient ‘high city’ of Athens, looking down over the more modern city from one of the eight hills of Athens. The most famous and largest temple here is the Parthenon which was originally dedicated to the goddess of the city, Athena. It was built at the height of the Classical period between 447 and 438 BC and later in its life it was converted to a church, then a mosque, as civilisations in the city changed.

Other ancient buildings at the Acropolis include the Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylea – which was the ancient monumental gateway to the Acropolis and the Erectheion. Also, due to open in 2008, is the New Acropolis Museum.

At the foot of the Acropolis are three historical districts with provide a pleasant mix of restored neoclassical houses, ruins from Roman times, shops, restaurants and pedestrianised streets which are nice for strolling around.

At the centre of the modern city lies Syntagma Square (Constitution Square) and at one end of the square the former Royal Palace, which has been used as the home of the Greek Parliament since 1935. You can watch the changing of the guards here every hour on the hour, and enjoy the cafe’s and restaurants situated around the square. Or visit the National Garden which is situated behind the parliament building to enjoy some peace and quiet for an hour or two.

Nearby to the square are several other of Athens most popular monuments and historical sites. Kallimarmaro Stadium (aka Panathinaiko), for example, was the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and the stadium is built entirely of white marble. The stadium was used again for some events during the successful 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

Ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus can be found not far from here – this temple was built to honour Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods and although these are only ruins no, they are fairly extensive and are well visited. Hadrian’s Arch is also nearby, which it is thought was built to honour the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, of Hadrian’s Wall fame.

If you’d like to see something other than ancient ruins, the Athens Planetarium is considered to be one of the best in the world! Or for museums, visit the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, which is one of the city’s most popular or the National Historical Museum which is housed in the old parliament building.

When Should You Visit?:

During the summer months Athens can get unbearably hot and dry, and with the high population and traffic levels it’s not always particularly pleasant. Therefore, spring and autumn are probably the better times to visit. A visit in the winter, although cold, will allow you to appreciate the main attractions without the crowds, so is worth considering if you don’t mind the possibility of rain or snow.

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