In the wake of its well documented rocky financial road, Athens has reinvented itself, and its indie fashion, art and food scenes are flourishing.
Young, positive artists and creatives – who decided to fight rather than flee – have joined forces, sticking to their passions and breathing new life into the city centre.
The side effects of a less-than-healthy economy have been a fresh love for vintage fashion, the proliferation of low-key but sophisticated wine bars, an uplifting camaraderie, which pervades the city’s edgy new hangouts, and, now that cars are too expensive for many to run, traffic-free streets and cleaner city air.
But there’s no denying that history is ever-present. Athen’s skyline is dominated by the Acropolis – the ancient citadel perched on a rocky outcrop.
The site consists of a number of significant buildings, the most celebrated being the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena.
Construction of the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike began in the fifth century BC.
To brush up on your ancient Greek history head to the Acropolis Museum – the soul-stirring presentation of its priceless contents has been a welcome source of pride for the natives of Athens.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art is also a must-see. Installations, photography, paintings and video bring this brand new space dedicated to contemporary talents to life.
Before you arrive in Greece, prepare your palate: Athens has a flourishing food scene.
At Six D.O.G.S live bands, inspired cocktails and a glorious little garden make this vibrant venue, fashioned from four separate bars, a favourite with folks in the know.
Vegetarian Australians no longer have to leave their hankering for healthy smoothies or fruity salads at home – the organic, local and seasonal movement has landed in Athens, and a café named Avocado is its mothership.
Shopping is also a real drawcard here. At Kilo you can buy second-hand clothes and accessories by weight. Located on what was once the poshest of shopping streets, it fits in well with the area’s new flea market-chic look and feel.
Dimitri Petrou’s elegant tailored approach to fashion-forward leather creations and romantic lace details has been luring foreign fashionistas to the city for exclusive fittings. This boutique is the perfect spot to splash out on that special-occasion dress.
Browse through the stalls of the Monastiraki flea market that leads to the bookshops and retro shops – crammed with old maps and household items.
If you want to get out and breath some fresh air take a ride on the funicular railway to Lykavittos Hill and be dazzled by the white Chapel of Agios Georgios and the spectacular views of Athens far below.
After pounding the pavements get a good pummelling on the heated marble slabs at Athens’ hammam baths, a new take on ancient baths that gives Istanbul’s finest a run for their peshtemal towels and wooden slippers.
At the end of your day in Athens The Hotel Attalos bar is the perfect place to watch the colours of the Acropolis change at dusk as you try to remember your Greek history lessons from school.
Athens has a great range of accommodation options. Check out our guide to help you choose your perfect base in this historically rich city.