Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Athens
By Dina Kyriakidou
ATHENS (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore Athens? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most from a short visit to the cradle of democracy.
6:00 p.m. - Start your visit from the heart of the city, Syntagma Square, just below the Greek parliament. Go down the pedestrian walkway of Ermou, the city's most popular shopping street. Browse or shop until you get to Kapnikarea - an 11th century church built on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple - and turn left toward the Plaka district, below the Acropolis.
7:00 p.m. - Plaka, the ancient city's oldest neighborhood boasts nicely renovated houses on narrow streets, a plethora of tavernas and souvenir shops. Find the Aerides Square, where overlapping layers of Greek history unfold before your eyes - the Classical Acropolis temples, the Hellenistic Tower of the Winds, the Roman Agora, Byzantine and Ottoman ruins.
8:30 p.m. - Have dinner in Plaka, either at the busy Byzantine restaurant (18 Kydathineon, +30210 3227368) on Filomouson Etairion Square, a lively spot where you can enjoy traditional Greek cooking and watch crowds go by. Or go up the steep stone steps to Psara's (16 Erehtheos, +30210 3218733) for fresh fish. Sit under the tree and experience Athens as it must have been 200 years ago, not a single modern building in sight.
9:00 a.m. - Stroll through the National Gardens, on V. Amalias avenue, toward Hadrian's Arch and the majestic ruins of the temple of Zeus, and take the main pedestrian walkway of D. Aeropagitou to the modern New Acropolis Museum, which hosts the famed Parthenon Marbles - whatever Lord Elgin left behind and replicas of the ones which are now in the British Museum in London. Make sure you look down the glass floor as you enter to view the ruins found during the construction of the museum, which also boasts some earlier finds from the Acropolis such as Archaic statues. Take a break at the museum's nice outdoor cafe before you trek up the Acropolis hill.
11:00 a.m. Walk up the pedestrian street, past the Herod Atticus Theater, which still hosts summer performances, and climb up the Acropolis hill (+30210 3214172). Make a stop to catch your breath at the top of the huge marble Propylaia steps and get your first glimpse of the Parthenon. Tour the Classical temples, stunning remnants of the Golden Age of Athens. Continued...