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Romance is in the heart of the beholder and even the simplest pleasures become romantic in the right frame of mind. When visiting Athens the occasions for romance are many and various. From the typical sunset at Cape Sounion to the discovery of small treasures at the Flea Market, enjoying nature at Parnitha or one of the parks, admiring the view from Lycabettus hill, feeling the remarkable energy on top of the Acropolis, enjoying a wonderful spa experience, or a day on the beach. Situated on the south coast of Attica, the impressive temple of Poseidon at Sounio, with its outstanding view of the Aegean sea is ideal for watching the sunset, the tiny 19th century church of Saint George, perched on the summit of Lycabettus hill, the highest point in Athens, is a favorite for romantic weddings, the sacred rock of the Acropolis, remains the most outstanding historic site in Athens and visitors always exclaim on the timeless beauty of this monument, at the Cultural Park visitors can learn about Greek folklore and culture or just enjoy the natural surroundings, Mount Parnitha National Park on the mountain of Parnitha is ideal for a romantic walk, enjoying nature and wildlife in the forest, at the National Garden of Athens there are many secluded romantic corners and a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere, Diomidous Botanical Garden, located in the neighborhood of Haidari, is a veritable paradise of flowers and plants, Monastiraki Flea Market is the place for discovering small treasures and mementos, a day on the beach at Galazia Akti at Schinias Marathon is remarkably exhilarating, the spa experience at Cape Sounio Elixir Spa Retreat offers the utmost body and mind relaxation.
The Cultural Park is located in the area of Mesogeia in the direction of the airport, in an expanse of 25.000 sq.m. and is a point of interest for visitors of all ages. Art workshops, a shop selling worry beads, a display of handmade jewelry and areas for childrens activities are amongst the most attractive features. Visitors can learn about Greek folklore and culture or just enjoy the natural surroundings. The Museum of Greek Ethnography is widely visited by tourists from all over the world and also by students from various universities. A special section is dedicated to old fashioned trades and the exhibits include old olive presses, placed in natural surroundings, amongst olive groves and vineyards. Tours for children include ponies and donkeys, retro bicycles and even a small train. Children love planting herbs and aromatic plants, taking care of the animals, learning to cook and hunting for treasure, in the specially planned activities.
A visit to the Monastiraki flea market in Athens is a must. Situated in a large area from Monastiraki square and metro station down to the end of Ermou street, the flea market is open every day, but on Sundays it is even more interesting to visit, as even more objects are on sale, especially on the busy Abyssinians square. The flea market actually consists of shops which are open every day and on Sundays there is the extra bonus of open air improvised stalls. Things to buy range from clothes to old books, stamps, coins, furniture, bric a brac, postcards, memorabilia, decorative objects and more. The prices can vary and bargaining is always necessary. Even just browsing the shops and vendors is great fun.
The Acropolis considered the emblem of the city of Athens is a complex of temples built on a high rock structure, symbol of the Golden Age of Pericles. The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom Athena is still considered sacred ground and a magnificent example of ancient Greek architecture and geometry. Over the ages, the Acropolis and the temples of the ancient gods had a turbulent history, some were transformed into Christian churches, the rock was used as a fortress by the Turks and in the 19th century, a large part of the Parthenon sculptures were taken to Great Britain where they still remain. Bearing a great cultural heritage, the sacred rock remains the most outstanding historic site in Athens and visitors always exclaim on the timeless beauty of this monument.
Mount Parnitha National Park on the mountain of Parnitha is ideal for a walk with friends and family, enjoying nature and wildlife in the forest. The shelters of Bafi, run by the Greek Mountaineering Club and Flambouri, run by the Acharnes Mountaineering Club, offer the possibility to follow various courses or outdoor activities. Walking, trekking, climbing, biking, canyoning and orienteering, special activities for children, just to mention a few. Both shelters have restaurants with home made food and accommodation. Flambouri is open all year round on weekends except August and Bafi every day all year round. Parnitha is the highest mountain in the region of Attica with the highest peak at 1413 mtrs. a dense forest of fir trees and pines. The rich flora and fauna, amongst which deer, hares, foxes, badgers and birds, make the park an ideal place to appreciate nature. Mount Parnitha has been declared a National Park since 1961 and is part of the European network of protected areas “Natura 2000”. The area is still recovering from the terrible fire in 2007 which destroyed a large part and influenced the climate in Attica for many years to come. Visitors can also see the outdoor exhibition “Park of Souls” with sculptures from trunks of burnt trees by Spyros Dasiotis. The “Small Parnitha Museum” close to the funicular railway hosts interesting information about the area’s history. Regency Casino Mon Parnes is a luxurious resort for gambling, with a gourmet restaurant.
Diomides Botanic Garden is located in the neighborhood of Haidari, on the road to Eleusis and covers an expanse of 1.86 hectares with more than 3.500 different species of plants from all over the world. It includes the oldest natural pine woods of Attica. In the medicinal plants section there are many herbs, well known for their pharmaceutical properties: thyme, luisa, passiflora, lavender just to mention a few. The Garden, which is the largest of its kind in Greece contains sections of great interest and beauty, like the historical plants, many of which are mentioned in ancient Greek mythology: Aphrodite’s sacred myrtle, olive tree the symbol of Athens, acanthus from which the Corithian style columns are inspired, a bamboo forest, trees from various continents. In the greenhouses cacti, other succulent plants and rainforest species which need special conditions to develop are kept. The Botanic Garden is an institute of public benefit and endowment of the Capodistrian University of Athens, it is used by the Agricultural University of Athens and Biological section of the Capodistrian University of Athens for studying plants. Ideal for a walk amongst nature for nature loving families.
The National Garden of Athens was designed in 1836 by the German architect Friedrich von Gaertner, and was initially an idea of Queen Amalia, who reigned in that period. Until 1974 it was named Royal Garden. The area which it covers, extends from Amalias Avenue to Irodou Attikou, where the Royal Palace used to be situated and from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the Zappion. Visitors to the Garden can see an interesting variety of plants and trees, some ancient remains, statues of famous poets and politicians, a sundial, ponds with ducks and fish, a small zoo and several pergolas and secluded romantic corners. Athenians love to walk in the quiet, cool Garden, which is open from sunrise to sunset, children can play in the specially designed playground with swings and seesaws, or visit the children?s library and adults can enjoy a coffee or a light lunch at the coffee shop.
The view from Lycabettus, or Lykavittos, hill is spectacular, reaching down to the sea and the closest islands. The tiny 19th century church of Saint George, perched on the summit of Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, is a favorite for romantic weddings. You can reach Lycabettus walking up the steep steps, or take the funicular railway from Aristippou street. The slopes of Lycabettus are a cool, restful place to walk amongst pine trees and shrubs. On the slope facing south, two cannons fire twenty one times at sunrise and sunset on all Greek national holidays. The parking lot close to the Lycabettus Theater, where performances and concerts are held every summer, is considered to have the most spectacular and extensive view of the city.
Blue Bay (Galazia Akti) located alongside the Marathon beach has been famous for many years. From 1868, when celebrities used to enjoy their swim here, until today, Galazia Akti has always been surprising us pleasantly. In the summer of 2014, it was renovated. Comfortable and functional facilities were added to meet every need of its visitors. The neutral shades which are prevalent, in combination with the color of the sand and the blue of the sea, create a space of unique atmosphere and sophistication, ideal for a pleasant escapade from Athens. This popular beach, located at Schinias Marathon, combines quality gastronomy and enjoyment, offering visitors an all-round entertainment experience. The renewed cuisine with an own farm approach offers unique summer tastes prepared with aromatic herbs and other secrets from their garden. For the summer season, Galazia Akti plans to offer to its visitors a private beach, where they can enjoy a meal or a drink from the summer wine and cocktail list. At the Mediterranean beach bar, original cocktails based on mastiha, ouzo and tsipouro will be served. The newly designed space can host corporate evens, wedding receptions and beach parties for every occasion. The beach, which can be reached in only 45 minutes from Athens, opens its doors on May 1st and it is also ideal for families, with a special space for kids activities.
Sounio with the temple of Poseidon, god of the sea, is on many tourist itineraries, as both the archeological site and the environment are of great beauty. Situated on the south coast of Attica at a distance of about 68 klm, the impressive temple with its outstanding view of the Aegean sea is built in Doric style and the place is ideal for watching the sunset. Further down on the slope is the temple of Athena, goddess of wisdom. In the same area is one of the most ancient and less known ancient theatres, Thoriko, dating back to the 6th century B.C, also worth visiting. Nearby Lavrio is an important port from where shops depart to the islands and the Technological and Cultural Park is an important landmark.
Where else in the world can you enjoy an open-air spa under the shadows of an ancient temple? At Cape Sounio, the luxury spa resort near Athens. The new Elixir Spa Retreat at Cape Sounio is a 350m2 complex on the resort’s most prominent location. Set in 5.000m2 of landscaped gardens and forest, the spa has amazing sea views as far as Poseidon’s Temple. Imposing plants “athanatoi” [Greek for immortal] can perhaps explain the unique feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation that permeates the surroundings. The Spa offers a range of natural therapies based on Greek herbs and flowers as well as traditional Ayurvedic treatments, performed by Indian therapists. After a pampering therapy, enjoy the Immortal’s Spa gardens whilst sipping a freshly-prepared tisane from the resort’s organic garden, or enjoy the Greek sun along with your favorite book by the quiet pool. The facilities include 3 open-air pools set among patios & lawns, Luxurious Massage Suites, Gymnasium, Changing Rooms, Open-air Relaxation area, Body & Soul Elixirs, Facial & Signature Treatments, Special Programs, Ayurvedic treatments, Yoga.