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Visiting Athens (Page 2)
Lycabettus HillThe Lycabettus Hill rises to 277m and is the highest hill in Athens (the Acropolis is only about 80m high). The 360° panoramic view of the city from here will take your breath away and on a clear day one can even see the island of Aegina which is some 20kms away. There is a church at the top of the hill which dates back to the 18th Century. Unlike the other places though, it is not so easy to get there by public transport as it is quite some distance from the Evangelismos metro station but if you can board the No. 060 bus near here tell the bus-driver that you are going to the Lycabettus Hill so he will drop you off at the bottom of a very long and steep flight of stairs that lead to the funicular station.
After your trip go down the same flight of steps and so long as you keep on going down any steps you see you will not have to worry about getting lost (you have been high up on the hill after all!) The up-and-down fare for the funicular is 7€ and it runs only half-hourly. But in case you just miss the preceding train there is a bar/restaurant just opposite where you can have a drink while waiting for the next train. The funicular runs till midnight.
Beaches near AthensIt is really easy to go to the beaches by tram from the Syntagma Square. In summer, crowds throng the numerous beaches along the coastal road all the way from Trocadero where the Flisvos Marina is, to Voula beach by tram. Near the marina at Trocadero is located the Parko Elisvos. If you have kids with you, this is THE place to take them to. The tram stops at many interesting beaches on the way such as Kalamaki or Glyfana, Platia Katraki and Paleo Demarhio further to the south until it reaches its destination at Voula.
Although the coastal beaches run for kilometers it is possible to explore many of them by hopping in and out of the tram as there is a tram every 20 minutes or so and a ticket costing 1.20 euros is valid for 90 minutes. From Voula you can take a bus near the tram terminus (it runs at 30-minute intervals though there are more frequent services in summer) to Vouliagmeni, which to many is the best among all the beaches that are within an hour from Athens.
Although Greece too has its winter it was at the Thalassea guarded beach in Voula that I came across a group of veteran swimmers who go there to swim daily throughout the year, even in winter!
The Olympic stadiumsIf you are nostalgic about the beginnings of the modern Olympic Games then you must head for the Panathenaic Stadium (also known as Kalimarmaro) which was re-constructed to host the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. And if you are an athlete, why not put on your tracksuit and see what it's like to be running there! (Yes, I have seen visitors doing just that).
More of a showpiece today, it has nevertheless been used for a few concerts and was also the venue to celebrate the homecoming of the Greek national football team upon winning the 2004 European Football Championship. The stadium is easily accessible by walking right across the National Garden which is next to the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square. After your visit to the stadium a 15-minute walk will take you to the Acropolis.
The Spiros Louis Olympic Stadium (first built in 1980–1982 but completely renovated for the 2004 Olympics) is a bit out of the city centre but is still accessible directly from the Omonia metro station (get down at the Irini stop). It's being regularly used for important football matches today. You might be interested to read this report about the other venues used for the 2004 Olympics and what they have become.
Day trips out of Athens CityA visit to an island is a must if you have the time. Among the islands nearer to Athens that you can easily explore in one day from the port of Piraeus are the Aegina, Hydra or Salamis islands.
Other day trips you can make out of Athens city are:
(2) Sounion for the Temple of Poseidon