Athens thrums to a twanging bouzouki soundtrack, its dining tables laid with some of the richest dishes, tastiest salads and loveliest wines in the Mediterranean. The most historically significant attractions of the Greek capital are largely confined to the compact Plaka, but as you can see from the mount at the Acropolis, the modern-day city sprawls far from its antique center like a concrete wave.
Athens isn’t without green space, however; for a breath of fresh air, take a stroll through the maze of palms, ponds and arbors known as the National Gardens. And for culture and charm aside from the ancient-to-19th-century Plaka, visit three neighborhoods that provide a leafier version of Athens’ renaissance: the hip and artsy Gazi; the neoclassical Thission; and the boutique-strewn Kolonaki.
Financially, the city hasn’t had an easy road since the 2004 Olympics were held here, but prices are low for tourists and proud Athenians are happy to show it off to visitors. You can always find excitement in central Syntagma Square and peace in the ancient marketplace, the Agora; allow yourself a few days to discover Athens, and you can time travel back and forth between the ancient and modern worlds.