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Athens is the capital city of Greece and is one of the world´s oldest cities. It's well know history goes back some 3,000 years. The relics from ancient times are the main tourist attractions of the city with the Acropolis of Athens being the number one favorite. Athens also has a very vibrant nightlife, each district has its own unique atmosphere.
The city itself has almost 800,000 inhabitants, but in the entire urban area around Athens there are approximately 4 million people.
Athens lies in the southeast of the Greek mainland and is surrounded by mountains, Mount Aegaleo to the west, Mount Parintha to the east, Mount Pentelli to the northeast and the highest of all, Mount Hymettus (1453 m) to the east. Due to its sheltered location, the city frequently suffers from air pollution, which, however, has been drastically reduced because of measures taken by the government.
Athens is not only the cultural and political heart of Greece but also the majority of the economic activities are concentrated in and around the capital. Important sectors are the textile, chemical, paper and leather processing industry, there are also some machine building businesses.The port of Piraeus is also the most important in Greece, moreover the service provision sector has expanded enormously in recent years.
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games was a great stimulation for the local economy, not only by the construction of stadiums and accommodation, but also by the strong improvements of the infrastructure.
The Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport lies 27 kilometers east of the city. The airport was constructed for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, it is very modern and serves as an important hub between the Balkan and the Middle East.
The subway of Athens (of which the first lines were inaugurated in 2000) has been an important improvement for public transport in the Greek capital. The subway network is continuously being expanded, the extension of the lines is convenient for tourists as the city center (Syntagma station) is now connected to the nightlife areas Psyrri (Monastiraki station) and Gazi (Kerameikos station).
A street car line runs to the suburbs, south of the city, the line will eventually be extended to the port of Piraeus.
Furthermore there is an extensive bus network, consisting of both yellow trolley and blue regular buses. This means of transport, can however, be slow because of traffic jams in the city center.
Athens is notorious for its troubled traffic situation downtown. Regulation states that on even days the entrance to the city is restricted to cars with number plates ending with an even number, on odd days this is the case for cars with number plates ending with an odd number. Many Greek have solved this problem by purchasing a second car.
It is not recommended to drive in the city center, it is not only hard to know ones way about but also finding a parking space is a true challenge.
Athens has no lack of hotels, you can find accommodation in all categories. The Greeks have their own system for classification of hotels, from A to C with sub categories in between. This is quite confusing and is not always a good indication for price/quality relationship, it might happen that a C category hotel will be better (and cheaper) than a B category hotel.
It is strongly recommended to book your hotel well in advance, practically the entire year, but especially in the summer months.
For more information about Athens, we recommend Google and the following sources: