In the 2022 Delta Air Lines Europe, Middle East & Africa Travel Guide, the spotlight is on an array of Delta Air Lines’ gateways throughout enchanting Europe, with features that focus on exploring like a local—culinary gems, cultural finds, hipster locales and VIP accommodations.
Here, we put the focus on Athens.
As the wellspring of Western civilization, ATHENS enjoys a monopoly on ancient urban art, as we are reminded stepping into history along the Unification of Archaeological Sites Walkway—a.k.a., Grand Promenade—one of the best things to happen to the capital in recent decades. Landscaped, cobbled and some 2.5 miles long, its walkway connects the city’s fabled historical sites—the Acropolis, Ancient Agora of Athens, Theater of Dionysus, Kerameikos Archaeological Park, Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Roman Forum. For another perspective on Athenian antiquity, go underground and ride the metro through dozens of stations—standouts are Syntagma Square, Monastiraki, and Acropolis—with onsite displays of artifacts unearthed during construction. Above ground and sprawled beneath the Acropolis, is Athens’ oldest and liveliest neighborhood, Plaka. It’s a friendly madhouse of cafes and endless souvenir shops; take time to explore and find tucked away Byzantine chapels, artisan workshops, bathhouses, quirky museums or the intriguing Benizelos Mansion, a rare example of Ottoman architecture.
Drink in Acropolis views from the rooftops of traditional luxury hotels: There’s GB Roof Garden bar/restaurant atop the Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, an Athens landmark for 150+ years. Frank Sinatra was hosted by the Hilton Athens whose Galaxy rooftop bar/restaurant is still a hot hangout. Or join the Athenians on the coast at Athens’ legendary Astir Palace Hotel Athens, recently the perfect fit for Greece’s first Four Seasons. While there are no Parthenon views from here, count on three beaches, a yacht-filled marina and Aegean Sea panoramas.
Daily life in Athens still radiates around the Acropolis, whose newest addition is the New Acropolis Museum, an architectural masterpiece creatively displaying finds from the Acropolis site along a chronological journey through antiquity. Did you know that Greece has more archaeological museums than any country in the world as well as some quirky museums, such as one honoring Melina Mercouri, Greek actress, singer, socialist, activist and politician.
For some of us, two not to miss are the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture. Relatively new to the museum scene is the National Museum of Contemporary Art, set in a former brewery, and Renzo Piano’s temple to high culture, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation arts complex, set in a beautiful parkland and home to the Greek National Opera and the National Library. Enjoy the creative energy of today’s Athens in its off-center neighborhoods such as Psyri, where street art is especially exuberant on Louka Nika alley, complemented by artisan shops, restaurants and nightlife.
Past meets present in the local hotel scene. Perianth Hotel, a beautifully updated 1930s Bauhaus landmark in the historic heart of Athens, has been transformed into a 38-room design dreamhouse, filled with modern art and custom-made furniture. New to the Kolonaki neighborhood is COCO-MAT Hotel Athens, where an ecological approach to hotel keeping starts with minimalist designed rooms, lofts and suites sporting handmade mattresses—from the hotel owner’s award-winning COCO-MAT company.
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