Greece is located in south-eastern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula (Haemus peninsula); it lies at the meeting point of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. Greece borders to the North on Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.), to the Northwest on Albania, to the Northeast on Turkey; to the West it is washed by the Ionian Sea; to the South by the Mediterranean Sea and to the East by the Aegean Sea.The total area of Greece is 131,957 km2 and consists of three main geographic areas:
- a peninsular mainland (that extends from the region of Central Greece on the South to the region of Thrace on the North) being the biggest geographic feature of the country
- the Peloponnese peninsula that is separated from the mainland by the canal of the Corinth Isthmus,
- and around 6.000 islands and islets, scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, most of them grouped in clusters, that constitute the unique Greek archipelago. Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, the Dodecanese and the Cyclades are some of the famous and popular islands and island clusters in Greece.
Eighty percent of the country consists of mountains or hills, making Greece one of the most mountainous countries of Europe; furthermore, it has 16.000 kilometres of coastline of which 7500 are found around the thousands islands of the Greek archipelago, a truly unparalleled phenomenon on the European continent.
Capital of Greece : Athens
Official language: Greek
The currency : Euro (€)
Population: 11.306.183 (2010 estimate)
The country is a Presidential Parliamentary Democracy
President of the Republic: Mr. Karolos Papoulias
Prime Minister: Mr. George A. Papandreou
Calling code: The international calling code of Greece is +30
The Greek economy is based on the principles of free economy and is bound by the regulations of the world organizations that it is a member of, such as ECOFIN and WTO.
Some people say that Athens is an even more vibrant city at night. Ancient and modern Athens offers more opportunity for nightlife than any other city. There is a wide variety of options from world famous orchestras playing music ranging from Classical music to jazz in one of the most modern concert halls of Europe, to unique musical productions, and dance clubs.
The capital of Athens offers nightlife fans to opportunity for a special night out. You can start your evening out at one of the distinctive Greek tavernas featuring delicious local food, located in every neighborhood of the city. The atmosphere in Greek restaurants is relaxed and friendly and the food is excellent. You may then continue to a club featuring live Greek Ethnic bouzouki music or you may prefer to visit one of the popular, modern clubs with a variety of live music to suit any taste.
A vibrant nightlife doesn’t occur only in Athens or large cities like Thessaloniki and Patra. Certain Greek islands such as Mykonos and Santorini are internationally known as fantastic places to dance the night away. Just imagine crowded clubs full of rhythm from the best DJ’s in the world, bars with all kinds of exotic cocktails, and music that enables you to have a great time no matter what your mood. Combine this with seaside restaurants with divine food and a beautiful view of the island or the sea and you have created the trip of a lifetime.
Shopping in Athens:
Athens is a modern megalopolis, and, as such, has a multitude of shops and shopping areas. Here are some of the most famous and important shopping places.
The bargaining tradition of present day Greece certainly was influenced by four hundred years of Ottoman rule. It’s a nation with carpet-sellers, for sure, but since progress and a more European identity have been tossed into the modern day, Greek salad, some businesses just won’t haggle; they might even take offense if you tryA good rule of thumb is to finagle a deal when you’re in a very low-end store where the goods of one huckster look just like those of the next. In Plaka and Monastiraki, you might find identical purses “Handmade in Greece” in ten different locations. These shop owners have been hit very hard by the crisis and are looking to get rid of merchandise, but be reasonable. If they’re selling it five and don’t budge when you offer three, it’s not because they aren’t willing to work with you, but making three euros on a sale isn’t very interesting. Buy ten of the same five euro item and you might find that they’re more flexible.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should try getting a better price in very high end shops. Art, carpet, leather, fine jewelry and pottery vendors are always willing to listen to your offers because one sale means they’ll get a better night’s sleep.
Save your breath in museums or franchise shops, name brand stores and department stores. They won’t deal!
Plaka is the touristiest shopping area, filled with dozens of souvenir shops and some good gold and silver jewellers. The prices there are quite reasonable, as there is quite an important diversity.
Monastiraki and Pandrossou Street
Pandrossou Street gathers as well numerous touristy shops selling souvenirs like paintings or ancient statue’s imitation, as well as some jewellers and many fur and carpets shops. This street is a pedestrian one and leads from the huge Metropolis Cathedral on the Plateia Metropoleos to Monastiraki district.
Monastiraki offers a wide range of cheap shops selling all kind of stuffs such as labelled shoes, hand made leather shoes, clothes, leathers, furniture, jewellery, CDs, traditional instruments and more. Monastiraki is the area where the lovely Sunday morning flea Market offers a huge quantity of diverse items.
This street leads from Omonia Square to Monastiraki. It is an area mostly reserved for food shopping, where all the products are fresh and of very good quality. Here you will find the meat and fish Market, as well as the fruit and vegetables Market. Little shops around the two Markets sell excellent nuts, herbs, spices, olives, honey and coffee.
This is thee most famous pedestrian street leading from Syndagma square to Monastiraki. It is the biggest commercial street in Athens, therefore it attracts hundreds of clients every day. It is naturally always overcrowded, while Fridays and Saturdays are almost unbearable. On the top of the street line up luxurious famous label shops, which are, of course, really expensive. From the half of the street to the end, the shops offers some more affordable labels like Zara, Morgan, Marks&Spencer, etc…The whole street has only clothes, shoes and house furniture shops.
This is the street, leading from Syndagma square to Omonia Square, boarded famous and luxurious gold jewelleries from Greek designers such as Ilias Lalaounis, Kessaris and Bvlgaris.
This is the high class district of central Athens. The shops in this area are some of the most stylish and expensive shops in Athens. Here are to be found clothes and shoes from famous international and Greek designers. The neighbourhood is equally full of art galleries, antique and furniture shops.
This huge and incredibly long street is boarded with clothes, shoes and accessories shops. The prices are usually really affordable and the choice seems unending. It is nevertheless a noisy street and traffic can be a bit tiring.
This Athenian’s chic northern suburb is the other place, besides Kolonaki, who is mostly addressed to wealthy customers, with clothes, shoes and accessories shops of luxury and famous designers’ label. It is of course not as central as the district mentioned before.
Third classy and luxurious shopping area of Athens, Glyfada is in the south of Athens’s centre. It is a seaside neighbourhood crowded with luxurious and expensive shops of all kinds.
Athens: Do – See – Explore – Attractions & Activities – Sightseeing
Quite possibly the most famous symbol of Athens, if not all of Greece, the Acropolis crowns the city and provides a romantic focal point amidst the modern-day noise and mess.
The word "Acropolis" comes from "Acro" meaning "High" and "polis" meaning city.
2. New Acropolis Museum
The New Acropolis Museum was conceived in 1979 in an overall effort to persuade the British Museum to return the famous marbles of the Parthenon. After changing decisions on locations and architects, on top of the discovery of an ancient settlement on the winning site, the museum was completed in June 2009. It is considered one of the top ten museums of Europe and is unique in that all of its contents are specific to the site of the sacred rock of the Acropolis. How to deal with the ancient ruins underneath? Prop it up on columns and lay down a clear floor, giving visual access throughout the museum.
3. Ancient Agora
Step in to what was once the 'agora" or marketplace of ancient Athens. This wasn't only a commercial center, but also where important political, religious and administrative transactions took place side by side. The Stoa of Attalos, an impressive two-story building built from Pentelic marble and limestone was donated by Attalos II, King of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC. Of note are the Doric and Ionic colonnades. The building was reconstructed in the mid 1950s and now displays objects unearthed during excavations. The archaeological finds are housed within the Museum of the Ancient Agora. Just south of the Stoa of Attalos is the 11th century church of Agii Apostoli or the Holy Apostles, a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture. The exquisitely preserved 5th century BC Temple of Hephaistos, also know as Thission will definitely catch you eye. Continue to the Roman Agora and Tower of the Winds. The Keramikos Cemetery is a 7 minute walk south of the Ancient Agora along pedestrianized Ermou street in the direction of Gazi. Either the Monastiraki or Thissio metro stops bring you closest to the Ancient Agora's entrance.
4. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
In front of the Parliament building in Syntagma Square, the "Evzones," an elite section of of the Greek regular army, stand guard in front of a symbolic tomb representing those who died for Greece in battle.
Dressed in their red caps and fustanellas (traditional mountain costume worn by the irregular fighters in the Greek Revolution) they make an impressive sight against the marble tomb. The ceremony to change posts takes place each hour. They work with the same partner for their entire length of service to perfect their slow, choreographed movements together.
On the half hour, you can catch them in a similar "dance" while they're permitted to stretch. Beyond that, you shouldn't see them so much as swat a fly.
5. Monastiraki Flea Market
The narrow streets around Avissynias Square are filled with small shops selling a huge variety of goods. These range from vintage furniture, vinyl long-play records, secondhand clothes, bizarre earrings and hand-made rugs to sandals, antiques, books and musical instruments. Sunday mornings are especially busy here. Across Monastiraki Square is another row of shops on Pandrossou Street. These are more tourist-oriented and sell a huge variety of souvenirs, artefacts, clothes and jewels. Just a stone's throw away is Athinas Street with its stores selling all manner of inexpensive tools.
6. Lykavittos Hill
From first glance, the little white 19th century church of St. George looks like a castle from a fairytale perched atop Lykavittos, the highest point of the city. Lykavittos one of the most treasured green spaces of Athens, woven with paths used by the residents of underlying Kolonaki for jogging and dog-walking. A modern funicular provides access for those who prefer to climb up to the top without huffing and puffing, but all appreciate the dazzling cityscape of Athens spread out below and one of the best views of the Acropolis. The church is very popular for weddings, so road access could be tough on Saturdays. The funicular operates 365 days a year, 19 hours a day and costs 6 Euros round trip. It goes through the hill and lets out just under restaurant Orizontes, frequented by many tourists who have read of the extraordinary view of the dining room.
7. Odeon of Herod Atticus (Herodeion)
The Odeon of Herod Atticus is an impressive open-air steep-sloped stone amphitheater situated on the south slope of the Acropolis. It was built by the Roman ruler Herodes Atticus in 161 AD in memory of his wife. It was originally constructed with a wooden roof with a seating capacity for 5,000. Since the 1950s the theater has been hosting musical, dance and theatrical events which are part of the Athens Festival. Check the Athens Festival calendar during the months of June through September. It is well worth experiencing a performance firsthand where you can admire this site in all its glory. It is located next to Dionysos Theater the world's oldest theatre built in the 6th century BC. Accessible by metro, Acropolis station.
8. National Archaeological Museum
The National Archeological Museum is a must. If you only have time to visit one museum, this one should be it. There is a lot to see so plan at least two to three hours here. It isn't a bad idea to become acquainted with the museum's collections prior to visiting. This is the best way to explore Greece's history. After your visit to the museum, stop for lunch at Athinaikon or Ideal. Then walk up Panepistimiou street to see the National Library, the Academy of Athens, and the University of Athens. These three buildings are located right at the Panepistimio metro stop.
9. Benaki Museum
Behind a vine-covered gate, in a romantic white mansion, eight thousand years of Greek history come alive. Enjoy prehistoric works of art, rare manuscripts, Byzantine icons, historic weapons and paintings. The greatest attraction is the reconstructions of 18th and 19th century living. The museum also features a Childhood and Toy Department (with 15,000 historic games and children's items from around the world), a Chinese Art Department (with ceramics as old as 4,000 years) and a Coptic Art Department where displays include rare textiles from Egypt.
Along with the standing collection, temporary exhibitions that spotlight artwork and culture are rotated on the top level. The museum shop offers upscale treasures like hand-embroidered linens, painted porcelain, silver, and a hefty selection of premium books on Greek culture. A cafe and roof garden is located on the top level, providing an excellent place for a light snack, tea or coffee with a stunning view of the Acropolis.
10. The Agora-Athens Central Market
No matter how you feel about fish, meat and vegetables you won't find a livelier place than the Central market on Athinas Street. Whether you come early in the morning to watch the trucks unload because you are jet-lagged and suffer from insomnia or you visit between 7am and 1 pm with the majority of the Athenian shoppers, a walk through the market will probably change how you feel about shopping and may make you wish you had an apartment with a kitchen so you could join in. The restaurants in the meat market can't be beat for good food at a cheap price at any time of the day or night. And if that is not enough the Market is also the beginning of Athens Chinatown and Eolou Street, the pedestrian shopping district.