Go outdoors in Athens and you'll discover five sacred hills, several area parks, bordered by the sea and surrounded by three mountains. It's not difficult to escape the smog and crowded streets and retreat into sacred wilderness- most Athenians do. Come Summer all activities move from inside to out and even movies can be watched under the stars. Experience it yourself by taking an early evening walk through the perfectly groomed National Gardens and end at Aegli Village Cool, one of our favorite outdoor cinemas.
Caves at the foot of the Acropolis and the lush paths in Philopappou Hill are just two central examples of urban retreats into nature and therefore numbers one and two on our top ten list for outdoor lovers in Athens, though any of the ancient sites make excellent choices for outdoor activities. At the other end of Attica is the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion and accessible by a gorgeous highway following the Apollo Coast. On the way down, stop at the Glyfada golf course for a few holes or continue on to the geological wonder of Lake Vouliagmeni, a swimming hole surrounded by mystery and whose waters are reputed to have healing qualities.
The highest point of the city is also located in the neighborhood with the highest rent, Kolonaki. Coincidence? The top of Lykavittos Hill is covered in pine, cypress and juniper. If you're lucky you'll find some of the tortoise residents climbing at leisure to places only tortoises go. The little chapel of St. George at the top is a steep climb but a worthy goal for hikers and joggers- their non-active company can always make use of the funicular. Anafiotika is another prime place of residence and the city's best escape into the feel of a traditional island with whitewashed houses, blooming vines and hand-tiled paths up to the base of the Acropolis.
Speaking of the Acropolis- again- go to Pendeli Mountain to hike the original path that the ancient quarrymen extracted the marble and rolled it into the city. The mountain, still beautiful in spite of the fires of recent years, is just half an hour outside of the city. Mt. Parnitha and Mt. Hymettos, the two other mountains surrounding Athens, while not on our list, are also full of tiny Orthodox churches, natural mountain streams and well marked paths, but we do recommend booking a trail guide if you're unfamiliar with the land. Who knows what mythological beasties still hide in those woods?
If you're wondering where the famous Attica beaches are on our list of the best of outdoors around Athens, there are so many that we had to give them their own list- with the exception of one. Schinias Beach is a sandy seaside playground that is also home to the Olympic Rowing and windsurfing center, not far from the starting point of the Athens Classic Marathon and Marathon Museum, and of course, the ancient burial mound of the battle of Marathon. History, sports and sunbathing in one place? Athens has it.
Dionissiou Areopagitou. Ticket booth, small post office, and snack bar are located slightly below the Acropolis entrance
The high city of the ancient Athenians... read more
Robertou Galli Street
Strolling around the birthplace of democracy...
Corner of Aristippou & Ploutarchou Streets
Main entrance on Amalias Ave. Two other entrances from Vassilisis Sophias Ave. and Irodou Attikou Street.
Once the royal family's garden - now shared by all... read more
The Home of Saints, Nymphs, Goat-god, a Duchess, and a Thief... read more
The only golf course in Athens happens to be beautiful... read more
Prytaneiou & Erechtheos
Cape Sounion Peninsula
Romantic sunsets blessed by Poseidon... read more
Still waters and pine-shaded shores... read more