Tuesday, 28 February 2017

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Sofia

Why Go




When to go

The very high temperatures and the hoards of tourists who go through Athens during the summer months can make visiting the Greek capital an overwhelming experience. A trip in June or September is ideal, as the weather is still warm, but Athens’s location also makes winter visits quite pleasant. The fewer tourists usually make for a slight drop in the service quality but also lower accommodation prices.

How to get there


BOOK A FLIGHT

By Air


The relatively new Eleftherious Venizelos International Airport is located 26 kilometres from Athens. Athens is well-connected by air to other domestic destinations – both on the islands and the mainland, as well as to some of the Balkan capitals and all the Western European capitals. There are also many direct flights to the Middle East but uninterrupted air service to Asia and North America is sparse. Because of the relative remoteness of Athens from the rest of the Balkans, flying is the fastest and most convenient way to reach it from the region.


By Rail


There are two adjacent train stations in the northwestern part of Athens’s centre. The Larissis Train Station connects Athens to the North – both to domestic destinations in Greece and to other Balkan and Western European destinations. The other train station, Peloponnisou, connects Athens to Peloponnese to the West by a narrow-gauge line. In circling the peninsula, it also stops at Pátra, the main port for ferries from Italy and Corfu.


By Road


Because of the location of Athens at the southern tip of the mainland, driving there takes a relatively long time. An additional hassle for foreign drivers may prove to be the Greeks’ driving etiquette. Having said that, the city can be reached by car from virtually anywhere in Europe. The E75 connects Athens to Thessaloniki, and to the rest of the Balkan capitals and Western Europe from there. The drive to Thessaloniki takes around 7 hours, to Sofia – 11.5 hours and to Istanbul – around 17 hours. There are regular bus services linking Athens to the other Balkan countries.


Where to stay


Athens’s accommodation venues get packed to the rim with tourists during the midsummer season, but generally speaking they offer a great variety. The bazaar area is undergoing quick gentrification, and although there are still some sketchy traces left, it is the most colourful. The nearby Thissio is cleaner and classier, while hotels in the Plaka and Syndarma are very athmospheric and offer easy access to all the main sites. All of these areas are quite noisy, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, consider booking a hotel in the Koukaki or Pangrati areas.


Where to eat


The traditional Greek eateries, tavernas, range from fancy and fashionable to very basic.

BALKAN CUISINE


Octopus's Garden

You can't help being suspicious about the Greeks if you ever see how they treat their octopuses. The scenes of violence you can witness along the 16,000 kilometres of Greek


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They serve mezedhes (hors-d’oeuvres), such as tzatziki (a yogurt dip with garlic and cucumbers), orektika (appetisers) and tis oras (fried or grilled meat and fish). Ouzeris, similar to Spanish tapas bars, serve ouzo, beer and wine with mezedhes. There are many good ouzeris along Themistkleous and Emm. Benaki in Exarhia. The Pangrati and Mets areas feature some of the best eating places, while Plaka caters more to tourists. Unlike the rest of Greece, Athens also has many international restaurants.