Presentation of the destination
Sunny Egaleo is warm in more than one way, with a gorgeous Mediterranean climate and some fantastically friendly locals. The municipality of around 70,000 is located just to the west of Athens, and in fact was once considered part of the capital. Conveniently located on one of the Metro lines, Egaleo makes an excellent base for exploring the rest of Athens and further afield. Athens is often dusty and noisy, but in among the modern buildings there are some magical spots to discover, from the famous attractions such as the Acropolis to tiny tucked-away tavernas where sweet jasmine spills its scent in the evening as you tuck into fresh fish and delicious Greek delicacies. It's worth learning to read Greek letters to help you catch buses, but English is widely spoken and the Roman alphabet is used on street signs. Greece is located in the Eastern European time zone, and the currency is the euro.
Points of interests / things to see
Monastiraki is just three stops on the metro from Egaleo, and is one of the most charming parts of Athens. The metro station is located in the newly renovated square, where you can see the Tsisdarakis Mosque and the Tower of the Winds, as well as the Roman Hadrian's Library in the shadow of the towering Acropolis. Dive into the warren of tiny shady alleyways around Pandrossou Street, where you can buy anything from olive oil to honey, T-shirts with Plato on them to punk clothes. The area backs onto the most important shopping street in Athens, Ermou, where you'll find a tiny Byzantine church slap-bang in the middle of the thoroughfare, overlooked by H&M and Marks & Spencer's. Don't forget to look up as you wander, as many of the streets are lined with gorgeous 19th-century neoclassical houses all covered over with clambering plants, and there's plenty of little pavement cafes, some with refreshing water spritzers to cool hot limbs. On Sundays the main square comes alive with an incredible flea market, where locals and visitors alike haggle over antiques including furniture, clothing and musical instruments.
Some might say that the Acropolis is best viewed from a distance, and it's true that the streets of Athens offer plenty of surprise peeks of this incredible citadel, sometimes when you're least expecting them. But like a magnet, the Acropolis draws everyone to ascend through the shady olive and cypress groves to climb the rock in the end. Put simply, the Acropolis is a masterpiece of ancient sculpture, a universal symbol of civilisation, and one of the most remarkable places in the world. To stand atop this mighty rock is a hair-raising experience, and nowhere is the Golden Age of Ancient Greece felt more keenly. Enter through the mighty Propylaea gates and tour the small Temple of Athena Nike. Marvel at the beauty of the marble sculptures of six women who support the porch of the Erechtheion. Finally, stand before the Parthenon, one of the world’s greatest buildings, constructed to such high mathematical principles of harmony and grace that it has inspired buildings as far afield as the White House in Washington. Entrance is on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. Admission: €12.
The new Acropolis Museum, founded in 2003 and finally opened to the public in 2009, is a glittering marble, steel and glass building with huge sheet windows offering incompatible views of the Acropolis itself. The museum has nearly 14,000 m² of exhibits, with 4,000 objects from the Greek Bronze Age up to the Byzantine period. There was once a small museum on the Acropolis itself, built in 1874, but as successive excavations on the Acropolis uncovered more and more artefacts, the museum was swamped. The new building houses them all with ease, and also strengthens Greece’s case for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, currently kept by the British Museum in London, by providing them with a potential home. Objects were moved from the Acropolis to the new museum over the period of four months, with three huge cranes lifting these priceless artefacts down from the top of the hill. Inside you'll discover everything from pots to jewellery to statuary, all well signposted in English, an artfully curated bookshop and gift shop, and a restaurant serving stylish modern interpretations of traditional Greek dishes. Website: http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en. Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. Admission: €5.
If you fancy escaping the bustling city streets, spending some time in leafier surroundings and getting an overview of the city then a trip to Lykavittos is in order. Lykavittos is the highest hill in Athens at 277 metres, rising from among the urban sprawl in a perfect pyramid shape, and visible from miles around. The summit of the hill is mercifully free from crowds, as cars are not allowed, although there is a funicular railway, which departs every 30 minutes from Aristippou and Ploutarchou Streets. At the very peak of the hill a quaint whitewashed chapel dedicated to St Georgios wouldn't look out of place on a Greek island, and there is a large open-air theatre with a capacity of 4,000 that hosts music and theatre in the summer. But it's the view that really draws visitors here, stretching as far as the Saronic Gulf and encompassing the Acropolis, the Parliament and the Panathenaic Stadium. It's particularly stunning at night when the Parthenon glows like a guiding star above the city. Pick up a copy of the cultural magazine LIFO for details on concerts at the theatre.
Syntagma Square, conveniently located on the metro line from Egaleo, is the centre of modern Athens. As you jump off your train don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for the artefacts exhibited in the station, all found during the construction of the metro. Head upstairs into the bright sun and you'll see the salmon-pink Parliament Building, once the Royal Palace, and now housing the Hellenic Parliament. Here the costumed ‘evzone’ soldiers stand guard in their white pleated skirts and pom-pom shoes in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a marble relief copy of an ancient warrior grave stele. There is a ceremonial changing of the guard at the top of every hour that is well worth catching if you can. Behind the parliament building, the Ethnikos Kipos or National Garden is an incredibly tranquil spot considering its location right at the heart of the city. With shady pergolas overgrown with vines, a small zoo, some small ancient relics here and there and an outdoor theatre that stages open-air cinema and plays in the summer, it's an oasis in the heart of the city.
Take the bus from Athens to explore these two beautiful sites in the Peloponnese. Mycenae is a Bronze Age hilltop citadel, and one of the most haunting archaeological sites in the country. Epidauros is an ancient amphitheatre from the 4th century BC with such remarkable acoustics that you can famously hear a match struck onstage from anywhere in the stands. Find out more about bus times and prices at the tourist information office at 26 Amalias Street.
Nafplio is easily Greece’s most elegant and beautiful town, in a gorgeous setting between the ocean and the looming Palamidi Fort on its rocky crag, surrounded by olive groves. In the revolution of the 19th century it was the first capital of modern Greece, and boasts narrow alleyways, beautiful old buildings and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. It's about 2.5 hours from Athens by bus or car.
The ancient Temple of Poseidon at Sounio is visible from the top of the Acropolis on a clear day, and makes a great day trip from the capital, especially if you are there to watch the sunset. The temple stands on a dramatic promontory around 70 km from Athens, and with a bit of patience you might be able to find the engraved name of Lord Byron, whose love for classical culture didn’t stop him from leaving his mark.
The island of Aegina is a popular getaway from the capital, as it's under 90 minutes by Hellenic Seaways, Nova, or Agios Nektarios ferry. Often overlooked by foreign tourists, the island boasts peaceful villages in olive groves, lovely yellow sand beaches and a reputation for the most delicious pistachios in all of Greece. Ferry tickets will give you change from €10, and boats leave from the port of Piraeus at the end of the metro line from Egaleo.
Vacation rentals in Egaleo (Attica)
How to get there ?
Athens is the transportation hub of Greece, and in the summer thousands of tourists flood through on their way to various islands. Athens International Airport, named Eleftherios Venizelos after the charismatic early 20th-century statesman, is conveniently located on Metro Line 3, which runs to Egaleo. Be aware that although a flat rate €1.40 ticket applies to all other metro stations, you will need to buy a special airport ticket for around €8 one-way or face a hefty fine. This same metro line runs right through the heart of Athens, and there are plans to extend it as far as the port of Piraeus where many of the island ferries depart. In general the metro is by far the slickest and most efficient of Athens’ public transport systems, putting many other cities to shame. The new Athens Tram costs 60 cents for a ticket, and there is also a network of buses, although these can be hot in the summer time. Taxis are reasonably priced and usually honest, but check that the meter is on and do not be afraid to ask the driver to slow down if you feel they are speeding. Once you're in the centre of Athens walking is a pleasure, but just be sure to wear a sun hat and carry water in hot weather.
Hotels in Egaleo (Attica)