Athens is not always an easy city to love, especially in the summer, when it is often crowded, smoggy and infernally hot. But in spring and fall, the place has many charms. Kolonaki is the Greek capital’s most fashionable residential, restaurant and shopping district (Voukourestiou Street is known for its jewelry). Nearby is a remarkable small private museum, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art. Aside from the Acropolis, Athens is home to the National Archaeological Museum, holding the world’s largest collection of Greek antiquities.
The Panorama From Mount Lycabettus
From Kolonaki, a funicular rises to the 900-foot summit of Mount Lycabettus — there is also a footpath for those in need of exercise — from where a glorious panorama includes the Parthenon and the glinting waters of the Mediterranean.
The Port of Athens
I always enjoy going down to Piraeus, the port of Athens, to watch the ferries heading off to the Greek islands or to admire the glamorous superyachts. Several tavernas serve excellent fish and seafood, especially those fronting the Mikrolimano, the small port adjacent to the Kastella neighborhood.
Day Trips from Athens
Out of the high season, there are numerous worthwhile day trips from Athens. Delphi, home of the famous oracle, is a classical site surrounded by mountains, which lies two hours northwest of the city. The best-preserved classical Greek theater is located at Epidaurus (scene of the famous summer drama festival), two hours to the southwest. Perhaps my favorite excursion, however, is to go for lunch on the picturesque island of Hydra, which has one of the loveliest harbors in the Mediterranean. The hydrofoil from Piraeus takes a little over an hour, but I prefer to sit in the sunshine on the top deck of a ferry for the three-hour trip across the dark-blue water of the Saronic Gulf.