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Athens in Winter

Halycon Days

To see Athens in winter is to see this ancient city in a new light.. The crowds have gone, the locals are out enjoying their cafes and wine bars, the first shoots of green can be seen. February may even bring Alkyonides – ‘Halcyon days’ – summer-like days which regularly occur during the winter months.

It’s the ideal time to follow the pedestrian route that links many of Athens’ most iconic monuments. Constructed as part of the city’s Archaeological Unification Project, it’s a  landscaped walkway winding through several neighbourhoods.  The roughly two-hour pedestrian walk offers views of the Olympeion, Acropolis, Agora and Kerameikos Cemetery. Start at the Acropolis metro station- and even if you didn’t arrive here by metro have a look inside the station which is decorated with casts from the Parthenon.

Wish you knew a local to walk with you and fill you in as you go? Try My Athens.. a free program inaugurated in Athens in 2010.  It pairs visitors with local volunteer guides, providing daily tours of two to four hours for up to six participants.  As they greet and connect with visitors, these knowledgable Athenians take pleasure in sharing off -the-beaten-path experiences and tucked-away corners of the city they love. The website myathens.thisisathens.org profiles the volunteers, answers any questions you may have about the free service and provides a booking tool.

A small museum that will repay an  hour or two of your time is the Museum of Cycladic Art. Housed in two interconnected buildings, this museum presents ancient art from across Greece and temporary contemporary art  exhibitions. Located on Douka Neofitou, near Syntagma Square, it presents the  largest Collection of Cycladic Art in the world,  from Mycenaen, and Classical eras to modern times. Four floors of artifacts; the first floor offers an incredible display of Cycladic art— the fourth floor present the daily life of Athenians in ancient days. The Cycladic Café is an oasis of greenery and a charming place for coffee or a light meal. There’s an interesting gift shop as well. Details: www.cycladic.gr

And if shopping is your thing, it’s good to know the winter sales are on in Athens until the end of February. Check out the famous shops in pedestrianised Ermou Street and the offerings at the Attica department store at Penepistimiou 7. Boutique fashions are to be found in upmarket Kolonaki.

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