A Don't Miss Trip
Greek Getaway: 24 Hours in Athens — and so many things to do
I recently returned from a 24-hour stopover in Athens. It was all too brief, and I left wanting more. I was impressed with the friendly Athenians, delicious cuisine, incredible history and culture. If you’ve never been to Athens, or haven’t been in a while here’s a nutshell sampling of the city's best:
VISIT the new Acropolis Museum & the Acropolis
This spectacular museum, which opened barely a year ago, is a must-see. The visually stunning structure is built at the foot of the Acropolis and offers a jaw-dropping view of the Parthenon. Ingeniously constructed over a recently discovered archaeological site, glass-bottom floors allow visitors a bird’s eye view of the ancient ruins.
Multimedia exhibits throughout provide an enjoyable history lesson for all ages. The museum hosts a charming café with an outside terrace, a perfect photo-op featuring you and the Parthenon. Grab a quick refreshment and you’re good to go before exploring the Acropolis.
Go early in the day during the summer months. The Acropolis Museum and Acropolis open at 8 a.m. (except for Mondays). Otherwise the sweltering Greek sun and hoards of tourists suffocate you and your vacation pictures.
STAY at the Hotel Grande Bretagne
In the heart of Athens, on Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the newly renovated Hotel Grande Bretagne is Athens’ most classically elegant hotel. Chock full of Athenian history, neoclassical style and palatial rooms, this Luxury Collection Property is also part of the Starwood Hotel chain. Bonus: We were able to book and pay for our rooms using our Starpoints.
The GB Roof Garden restaurant and bar offers delicious Mediterranean cuisine and an unparalleled view of the Parthenon and Acropolis. The vista is particularly stunning at dusk, so bring your cameras.
RELAX The Grande Bretagne Spa, indulgent indoor pool facility and award-winning thermal suite are not to be missed. The glittering mosaic pool, filled with a unique ozone/ mineral water and hydro-jet massage transports you to Nirvana. A welcome respite from a sweltering Athenian sightseeing-filled day, I felt like a Greek goddess splashing about, savoring the glamorous hamman and decadent thermal suite.
First up, the herbal steam bath uses Greek herbs to combat stress and detoxify the body. Next, head to the Ice Fountain, grab a handful of ice chips to rub over your extremities, enhancing the body’s circulation and skin tone. Now take several minutes to meditate in and relish the tranquil Amethyst Grotto experience: A relaxing den encrusted with exquisite amethyst mosaic tiles, these stones said to improve sinus trouble, headaches, colds and promote clear and healthy skin.
Certainly my favorite Thermal Suite amenity was the Lifestyle Shower — the most indulgent water experience ever — just bananas!! Inside the shower, a push-button menu controls an immense shower head and side water jets with various water treatments including tropical rain, steam, mist, splashes, and even an essential oil-infused soak- absolutely exhilarating! Use of the Thermal Suite and indoor pool is complementary for hotel guests. Should you need more Athenian sunshine, take a dip in the roof top outdoor pool and enjoy the spell-binding city views.
EXPLORE The neighborhoods surrounding the Hotel Grande Bretagne provide ample historical, shopping and cultural experiences. Check out the original Olympic Stadium, comb the fashionable boutiques in the Kolonaki district, discover the National Archaeological Museum, stroll through the Plaka, grab a refreshing iced Greek coffee, and be sure to catch the changing of the Evzones, or elite soldiers, in front of the Parliament Building on Syntagma Square.