In the Heart of the Capital

Athens may not be known as green city, but it does have some lovely spots


LYCABETTUS HILL

This picturesque green refuge in the heart of Athens attracts fitness fanatics, dog walkers and pedestrian commuters taking a green shortcut across the city. The hill (300m) is densely covered with pine trees, aromatic herbs, flowers and plants (even wild asparagus in early spring). A dirt path circles the hill but there are numerous zigzag tracks for more extreme runs, while a leisurely stroll to the top takes around 30 minutes. Stop along the way to take in arresting views of the city below, the Acropolis and the port of Piraeus. At the very top you’ll find the Orizontes restaurant and the small church of St. George. Near the top is an open-air theater that hosts some great concerts in summer. Incurable romantics frequently park here to watch the sun set on the horizon as the lights of Athens gradually begin to twinkle.

TIP

Head straight for the top on the 5-minute funicular ride that starts on Aristippou Street in Kolonaki. Best street entry points for pedestrians: Marasli or Kleomenous (Kolonaki), 
Koniari or Sarandapichou (Lycabettus neighborhood) and Paliggenesias or Melinas Mercouri (closer to Ambelokipi metro station). Open 24 hours.

ARDITTOS HILL

Some of the world’s greatest athletes have competed at the 45,000-seat Panathenaic (or Kallimarmaro) Stadium, famous for hosting the first modern Olympics in 1896. Fitness enthusiasts can exercise on the adjacent pine-covered Ardittos Hill, where ancient Greek judges took their oath in the names of Zeus, Apollo and Demeter. Ardittos towers above the sparkling white stadium, offering lovely views of the city from its top. Athenian runners love going for a jog around the horseshoe-shaped track just behind the stadium.

TIP: The running track is open from 8:30-sunset.

ACROPOLIS, PLAKA & MONASTIRAKI RUNS/WALKS

Run, walk or bike along Dionysiou Areopagitou until you pass the Dionysos restaurant on your left and the coach terminal, then turn left into the cobblestone walkway that leads to the Philopappos and Pnyx hills; both are gorgeous, scenic routes. Rocky Pnyx, where ancient Greeks gathered for their popular assemblies, affords a spectacular view of the Acropolis and Mount Lycabettus. Philopappos, too, offers memorable views of the Parthenon with the Saronic Gulf in the background.

 


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