Like many European cities, Athens gives itself a month off in August and while some restaurants and boutiques shut down, travellers can still discover the city and its sites, with less traffic and crowds. Here’s a snapshot of what to do in Athens for the August city explorer.
August full moon
On the 7th August 2017, the full moon festival will see the Temple of Poseidon remain open until midnight with free admission. It’s a rare chance to capture this archaeological site under the midsummer moon which will be even more vivid at this most southern point of Attica. Here’s an easy way to find your way there and back.
Various museums around the city will stay open until midnight with free admission including the Acropolis Museum and National Archaeological Museum. Expect jazz and other musical interludes under the stars.
Restore the soul
Take your sunburn and tired feet to the city’s sanctuary of calm and serenity at the Athens Hammam Baths, where ancient rituals of wellness prevail. Restore the balance to your physical and mental health with Ali-Mama and get the full experience. Heat and steam will open your pores, followed by massage, exfoliation and relaxation. Tuesday is ladies day. Other days, co-ed. Open every day until 10:00pm
If you want to fuel the body with more goodness, spend the day at Apivita’s experiential store in Kolonaki where over four floors, you can explore their holistic Hippocratic approach to health and beauty. Enjoy organic cold-pressed juices at their Juicy Bee Bar with their signature Bee Young concoction of almond milk, banana, blackberry and honey. Bespoke skincare awaits you at the natural pharmacy and the fourth floor is relaxation central at the Beehive Spa, with a full range of face and body treatments. A very hip barber’s corner and green hair salon on the third floor.
Catch a flick beneath the Acropolis
Visiting an outdoor cinema is a tradition that flourished in Athens during the 1960’s and is a very Athenian way of enjoying summer nights. Cine Paris is hard to beat, located in the heart of Plaka with killer views of the Acropolis. Cine Thission is another that is centrally located with a Parthenon backdrop and is one of the oldest in town (est. 1935). It plays both first run studio releases and a nice mix of the golden oldies.
Summer days along the Athenian coastline
Locals head to the pristine coastline on hot August days. Why not make a day of it at one of the many beaches that are close to the city centre.
You can see more of the Athenian Riviera and hop on a catamaran for a half day sailing tour, where you will swim in secret coves and be treated to an authentic Greek lunch on board.
Major sites and museums
All of Athens’ major attractions and museums will be open this month and the Acropolis welcomes you with less line-ups. Be sure to stop by the Acropolis museum and combine the two in a day. The Presidential Guard is always on duty outside Hellenic Parliament, so head to Syntagma Square at the top of the hour for one of their famous changeovers or stick around on a Sunday at 11:00am for a ceremonious parade.
The National Archaeological Museum is a treasure trove from the ancient world, with some of the most significant pieces dating back to the Neolithic period. See the Antikythera mechanism, thought to be the world’s first computer that lived beneath the sea for 2000 years before it was discovered.
All is not lost in August, you can still fill your luggage with memories of Athens. Head down the labyrinth streets of Plaka for souvenirs, trinkets and Byzantine inspired jewellery. Back towards Syntagma, Ilias Lalaounis and Zolotas are the gold specialists with a long Athenian heritage. The Benaki Museum’s gift shop opens until 8:00pm on Thursdays and Saturdays, with the best in quality souvenirs, handmade objects and certified ancient replicas.
Cherish the air conditioning at Attica department store in Syntagma or Golden Hall shopping mall, for a good range of shoes and clothes, lucky for you, sales run through to the 31st August.
360 bar – Monastiraki square
For cocktails, views and a very local vibe, 360 bar provides a 360 degree view of the city and one of the best rooftop experiences in central Athens. Open day or night. Info here.
Panageia – 15th August
Join the holy day proceedings of ‘Assumption Day’ with morning mass at the church of Panageia Kapnikarea (church of the Virgin Mary) on Ermou Street, which was built in 1050AD with fine examples of Greek Orthodox iconography and Byzantine art. See more at the Byzantine and Christian Museum which stays open despite the national holiday.
Why Athens Tip: The Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are all open on 15th August.