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There is a conundrum with many historically significant cities. Guidebooks tend to send you off to every site with any potential historical significance, but leave out any mention of the modern attractions of the city. In the case of
As with any
The charm of
One particularly good spot is in the Plaka neighborhood. A nineteenth century quarter, Plaka has a mix of Turkish and Greek influences. From Plaka, you can head to the shopping bazaars found throughout the city. The bazaars in Athinas and Eolou are a bit touristy, but no excessively. With a mideastern feel, you can sit down and drink tea with local shop owners while they hock their wares.
From there, the city is wide open. If you dare, grab a taxi and tell the driver you just want to see the real city. It will be the ride of your life.
Barcelona, as one of Spain’s most important and largest cities, offers the visitor an abundance of cultural things to see and do. Famous sights include the impressive Sagrada Família, the bustling Ramblas, several outstanding Gaudí buildings and a good selection of museums and galleries. Also, a rather unique characteristic of the city is the fact that it also lies on the coast and offers the rarity of sandy beaches and sunbathing; an ideal situation for those looking for culture as well as a bit of sea-side relaxation.
Of course accommodation will play a relatively large part in how much you enjoy your visit. A 3-star hotel will usually provide at least the minimum in the services and amenities expected for a comfortable and relaxing stay. Like many major cities, there is a good choice of 3 star hotels in Barcelona. They can be found all over the city, but for convenience it would probably be best to stay in a hotel in or close to the city centre, so that you can easily discover Barcelona on foot, even though the city’s public transport system is both cheap and efficient.
The centre of Barcelona is quite compact, making it viable to explore on foot. Furthermore, the centre is well connect via the city’s comprehensive metro network. In the centre you will find the Cathedral, Gaudí’s La Pedrera, the main shopping centre, some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes and many of the museums, such as the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Picasso Museum, the Maritime Museum and much more.
The following Barcelona hotels are well located in the city centre, one near Plaza Catalonia, one close to the Sagrada Família and the other directly on the Ramblas.
3-star Hotel Gran Ducat Barcelona: This hotel is a modern place to stay and run by friendly, professional staff. Located just off Plaza Catalonia, you will be close to where the Ramblas begin and where the city’s main shopping area can be found. There are 64 good-sized guest rooms in total, all en suite, air conditioned and well equipped with today’s mod cons.
A glorious and magical
The city with distinct aspects is at once appealing and exciting. A walk around the famous historic triangle of Plaka, Thission and Psyri overwhelms you, a stroll in the old neighborhoods reveal the coexistence of different eras, and the mansions of yore, some well-preserved and some worn out by time present a striking contrast to the modern. The Greek capital dates back to mythological times and as a result the place is dotted with stamps of antiquity all through its surface. The city that you see in its entire splendor is a consequence of several influences, including ancient and medieval Greek, Roman, Byzantine and the contemporary era. Do a wise thing, come to the Greek capital equipped with a rather long stay, reason? The historical attractions are one too many. Start your journey with the South Slope of Acropolis, go on to the ancient Agora, visit the temple of Olympeion Zeus, spent a few hours admiring the Hadrian’s Arch and Library, go atop the Hill of Areopagus, the Hill of Philopappou and that of the Nymphs, and see Kerameikos. Attractions like Lysicrates’ Monument, Panathenaic Stadium, Roman Agora, Temple of Hephaestus, and the Tower of the Winds is also not to be missed.
Museums and art galleries showcasing creative arts are omnipresent throughout
Athens is best known for its role in classical history and for the tourist this is still the primary appeal. Other Greek destinations have overtaken Athens in promoting the nightlife and beach holidays, but Athens still reigns supreme for its history and tradition. However, Athens is also a modern city and the capital of Greece, so it still offers plenty more than just the ancient ruins of its glorious past.
Here is a list of seven of the more popular sights and activities for tourists visiting Athens :
- The Acropolis. This has been the heart of Athens from antiquity and remains so today. The Parthenon, a massive marble temple in the center of Acropolis, is visible from almost everywhere in the city. The Acropolis actually has more than this and is a whole complex well worth exploring in detail.
- Plaka. To get a sense of the modern city, visit the Plaka district. Full of souvenir shops, small cafes, restaurants and other local attractions, this is where you should go to get a feel of modern Athens and its people.
- Psirri. This district has been fully renovated since the 2004 Olympics and is now the center of the Athens nightlife. If you want to find a party, head on down. The Gazi district is also happening, but is more popular with the gay scene.
- Anafiotika District. To get a feel for the real city and escape the tourists in Plaka, visit this district. A maze of tiny, winding streets and alleys, this is more like the real Athens and is very picturesque.
- National Archaeological Museum. This is an absolute must for those interested in Greek history and features the largest collection of ancient Greek artifacts anywhere. These come from all over Greece, not just Athens and Attica.
- The Agora. Outside of, and below, the Acropolis, this was the marketplace of ancient Athens . Some of the ancient buildings still stand and some of the newer additions are quite notable in their own right.
- Delphi. Along the same theme of ancient Greece, you can take a day trip from Athens to visit the ruins at Delphi, home of the famous Oracle. The organized tours are expensive, so consider just renting a car and going on your own.
Modern Athens is still a dynamic city in its own right, but no one denies that the primary tourist draw is the ancient ruins. For history buffs this place is wonderful while for others a brief visit will probably be satisfactory.
Athens, the capital of Greece is well connected to major international cities. The International Airport of Athens’, Eleftherios Venizelos, was inaugurated in March 2001 and was built to cater to the needs of a modern world. It is located 23 miles northeast of the city. It has 157 check-in counters and two runways that are 2.5 miles each. The airport can accommodate close to 600 flights a day. It has conference facilities, a post office, a hotel, courier service, banks, currency exchanges, ATMs and many stores and restaurants.
There are 5 international airports in Greece. They are situated in the major cities of the country namely, Athens, Corfu (Ionian), Heraklio (in Crete), Kos (Dodecanese) and Thesaloniki (near the region of Halkidiki). Some Greek islands are not directly accessible by flights. The best way to travel to these Islands is by organizing for a cab transfer from the Athens airport. The airfares to Greece between June and September and during holidays are comparatively more expensive. The weekend flights are also expensive. Of recent, many charter flights have begun operating to and from Greece. Most charter flights operate during summer.
Olympic Airways is the national airline of Greece. It operates daily flights from New York City and Boston to Athens. The approximate flight time from Athens to Los Angeles is 15 hours and from Athens to New York, 13 hours; Most European airlines connect North American cities with Greece via major European cities. Direct flights also operate from major European cities to Macedonia International Airport in Thesaloniki, Northern Greece, as well as to Corfu (Kerkira), Grete and Rhodes.
American and Canadian citizens entering Greece for a period of less than 3 months require a valid passport. There is no need to get a visa, though. Passport and visa requirements vary for tourists of different nationalities, and should be checked well in advance of the trip.