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For most visitors the highlight of a visit to ATHENS (Athína in modern Greek) is the stunning vestiges of the ancient, Classical Greek city, most famously represented by the Acropolis and its surrounding archeological sites. Even on a brief visit, however, it is a shame to see Athens purely as the location of ancient sites and museums. Although the neighbourhoods may lack the style and monuments of most European capitals, they are worth at least some exploration. The old nineteenth-century quarter of Pláka , in particular, is a delight, with its mix of Turkish, Neoclassical and Greek-island architecture, and an array of intriguing little museums devoted to traditional arts, ceramics and music. Just to its north, the bazaar area, around Athinás and Eólou, retains an almost Middle Eastern atmosphere in its life and trade, while the National Gardens , elegant Kolonáki and the hill of Lykavitós offer respite from the maelstrom. Further afield, but still well within the limits of Greater Athens, are the monasteries of Kessarianí and Dhafní , the latter with Byzantine mosaics the equal of any in Greece.
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Underground links from the airport the whole way into town are not foreseen until 2003 at the earliest; for now, the best you can do is take the # E94 express bus (every 15min 6am-8.30pm, half-hourly 8.30pm-midnight) from outside the arrivals hall to the current last metro stop, Ethnikí Ámyna , and then continue into the centre. Otherwise there's the # E95 express bus all the way to central Syndagma square, via the Hilton (every 25min 6am-7.50pm; every 35min after 7.50pm), incidentally, your only option from midnight to 6am. There is also the #E96 express bus to Pireás port (every 20min 5am-7pm, half-hourly 7pm-8.30pm, every 40min 8.30pm-5am), going via the beach suburbs. All three services cost ?3, but for the price you automatically get a "one-day" travelcard valid on all Athens public transport. Tickets should be bought from a booth beside the stops, or, if this is closed, can be purchased on the bus: make sure you have small change.
Getting a taxi is another option, though it's not necessarily the quickest way into the city; it takes an average of one hour and fifteen minutes, depending on the traffic. The fare is ?11.50-14.40 to central Athens or Pireás, more expensive than the fare from the old airport, but a reasonable cost if split two or more ways. Before setting out in a taxi you're advised to make sure that the meter is switched on to Rate 1; overcharging of tourists can be brutal. If the driver resists or claims the meter is broken, any mention of the police should quickly change his tack. You may have fellow passengers in the cab; each drop-off will pay the full fare.
Athens Acropol Hotel Herodion Philippos Omonia Grand Athen's Center King Jason
Royal Olympic Olympic Palace Emmantina Palmyra Beach Park Hotel Astir Aphrodite
Hotel Cecil Armonia Titania LC Grande Bretagne Airotel Alexandros Golden Tulip Electra Palace
Divani Apollon Palace Grecotel Njv Athens Plaza Candida Novotel Athenes Hermes Hotel Hotel Plaza
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updated 5 Sep 2005