Athens is the capital city of Greece with a registered metropolitan population of 3.7 million inhabitants‚ but indeed there are 5 million people estimated. It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece‚ and therefore of Western civilization. The design of the city is marked by Ottoman‚ Byzantine and Roman civilizations. Today‚ greater Athens is by far the economic‚ political and cultural center of modern Greece‚ with nearly half of the country's population.
Places of interest to travelers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city centre at Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicentre is surrounded by the districts of the Plaka to the south‚ Monastiraki and Thissio to the west‚ Kolonaki to the northeast and Omonia to the northwest.
- The Acropolis — The ancient "high city" of Athens‚ crowned by marble temples sacred to the city's goddess Athena.
- Plaka‚ Monastiraki and Thissio — Charming historic districts at the foot of the Acropolis‚ with restored 19th century neoclassical homes‚ pedestrianized streets‚ shops and restaurants‚ and picturesque ruins from the city's Roman era.
- Kolonaki — Upscale residential area northeast of Syntagma with many cafes‚ boutiques and galleries.
- Metaxourgeio —The district of Metaxourgeio‚ located northwest of Psiri‚ has become a bohemian enclave as well as a haven for art and culture. As part of the area's continual transformation‚ the principal gallery of the city‚ The Municipal Gallery‚ was relocated in October 2010 to Avdi Square‚ which is the main square of the area. Avdi Square is a large‚ public space that is well suited to artistic expression of all kinds. Metaxourgeio is also the main red-light district of Athens‚ though not the only one.
- Omonia — Commercial area with a busy metro and one of the city's main hubs. Seedy in parts.
- Exarcheia — Bohemian area and home to Greece's students‚ anarchists‚ artists and intellectuals‚ as well as the celebrated National Archaeological Museum.
- Pangrati and Mets — These adjoining pleasant residential neighborhoods south of Lycabettos and east of the National Garden are rarely frequented by tourists‚ but they do include a few hotels and a number of good traditional tavernas.
- Psiri — Former industrial district located north of Monastiraki‚ now full of trendy and alternative restaurants‚ cafés‚ bars‚ small luxury hotels and shops.
- Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos) — Dominated by the old Royal Palace which serves today as the Parliament building‚ Syntagma Square is the business district of Athens‚ complete with major hotels‚ banks‚ restaurants and airline offices.
- Kifissia — Suburb at the northern terminus of Line 1 (Green)‚ known for its high-end shopping.
- Nea Smyrni — Suburb about 5 km south of downtown Athens‚ known as a modern European district.
- Piraeus — The ancient port five miles southwest of Athens city centre‚ Piraeus is known today as one of the biggest ports in Europe‚ serves most of Athens passenger connections to Crete and the Aegean Islands.
- Zografou — Suburb 5 km east of downtown Athens on the slopes of Imitos‚ known for the many university (NTUA) buildings and several quirky bars and taverns sprinkled about.
- Athens Riviera — Some call it the Copacabana of Europe‚ the coastline of Athens southeast suburbs with lots of nice beaches‚ sea promenades‚ marinas and night clubs‚ starting from the Flisvos Marina and streching all the way to the suburb of Varkiza. During the summer season it becomes the "heart" of the city's tourism and night life.