As one of the world’s oldest cities, Athens has been impressing new arrivals since before recorded history. Few, whether ancient residents such as Plato and Socrates, or more recent visitors from Lord Byron to Jennifer Lopez, fail to fall for its myriad charms.

Though the modern capital of Greece, it’s the ancient attractions of Athens which hold much of the immediate allure. The mighty Parthenon temple has stood guard over the city for the last 2,500 years from its lofty Acropolis location, which today forms a vast 1.8 mile pedestrian zone encompassing many of the city’s most important historic structures, from the agora (marketplace) to the Ancient Theater of Dionysus, which has been performing the works of Sophocles and Aeschylus for over two millennia.

Marrying ancient and modern, the startlingly contemporary architecture of the Acropolis Museum, a mere 300 yards away, displays no fewer than 4,000 important objects covering the site’s long history and importance. It’s just one of Athen’s unmissable museums, alongside the National Archeological Museum and National Gallery.

But Athens is much more than history alone. Blessed with an unmatched Mediterranean climate, the birthplace of democracy is an ideal city to explore on foot, either independently or with a well-trained guide. To do so is to walk in the footsteps of some of the most important voices in history, by way of the excellent boutique stores of the Koukati neighborhood, lively cafes of Exarchia, or nightlife around Gazi.

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