Urban Escapes: Three Green Spaces in Athens

As summer temperatures rise, these havens in Athens provide refuge from the humdrum of city life, offering peace, tranquility, and a chance to reconnect with nature.

Plato’s Academy

It has the potential to be one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, but for the time being, only a bust of Plato, some scattered ancient remains and an ambitious architectural competition now underway, hint at the untapped potential of this unique 135-acre park, located 3,5km northwest of Syntagma Square. This is where Plato᾽s Academy, one of the significant educational centers of the ancient world, stood in antiquity.

A few years from now, the opening of a new, bioclimatic archaeological museum, is set to transform this verdant, somewhat remote space into a “green” cultural hub, expected to draw tens of thousands of international visitors. For the time being, you can still enjoy its tranquility. It’s a preferred spot for families with small children, as well as groups of musicians who often hold impromptu concerts here, jamming with friends and newcomers.

Parko Eleftherias

You don᾽t have to be an architect to realize that this park was designed by one. Next to the Athens Concert Hall and the Megaro Mousikis metro station, this green expanse is notable for its tailored layout, with soft slopes and flat areas all highlighting the imposing statue of Eleftherios Venizelos, a major political figure of the 20th century.

The well-kept grass, the natural shade from the large trees and the gentle inclines with views over Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to Mt Ymittos in the distance, have made it a locals’ favorite, particularly popular among young people, who come here to picnic, to skateboard on the marble sidewalk surrounding the statue, or simply to relax.


On summer evenings, music from open-air concerts often taking place in the adjacent garden of the Athens Concert Hall ensures that every square meter of the park is occupied. Οn the west side of the park, there’s an exhibition space operated by the Municipality of Athens, as well as a bar-restaurant with a charming outdoor space.

Mt Ymittos/Kaisariani

Athens boasts a particularly privileged location; it᾽s next to the beguiling coastline of the Saronic Gulf, and surrounded by three majestic mountains. The one that᾽s easiest to reach from the city center and beloved by residents is Mt Ymittos (elev. 1026 meters), on the east edge of the Athens Basin. Getting there takes approximately 15 minutes by taxi, or 30 minutes on Bus no. 224, whose route terminates only 500 meters from the Kaisariani fire lookout tower, considered the informal entrance to the Ymittos Forest.

From here begins a small rural paradise: follow the markers for trail number 15, which is suitable even for novices and leads to the well-known Kalopoula snack bar in a little under half an hour. The Monastery of Kaisariani, an important 12th-century monument, is located just below that. At many points along the shaded trail, there are gaps in the dense vegetation that offer panoramic views of the city below. On weekends, the mountain slopes are teeming with trail runners and mountain bike riders.

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