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Map of Athens Greece

Being a Chicagoan who spends half her life in Athens means that I’ve become the defacto expert on everything Athens … friends, family, friends of friends and family of friends fill my email box with questions as they plan their Greek journeys. Their queries are many and varied, but by far the one which causes every visitor to Athens the most agony is choosing accommodations in Athens. One day, after answering the tenth email with the same query, Basil and I got to talking about how we could illustrate just how SMALL central Athens, Greece really is.

Maps weren’t much help, a quick look at central Athens on google or yahoo maps yields a dizzying, mazelike picture of streets and squares, difficult to decipher for those of us who come from well thought out, urban planned cities like Chicago, New York or LA.  When asked how many blocks it is to the Acropolis from Syntagma Square, will the questioner understand my answer?  In Chicago, 8 blocks is a mile. But in New York, I’ve learned it is 20. Yet Athens has no standard measure of blocks, each is unique in size and length, and few run in a straight path anyway.

So we turned to measuring distances and times.  Again, what we thought would be a simple comparison has its own set of problems.  While a mile is always a mile, anyone who lives in the country can tell you otherwise.  Walking a mile in suburban Chicago will be a very different experience from walking a mile down Michigan Avenue in Chicago, or Fifth Avenue in NYC.  Just as walking a mile in Athens will be very different from walking a mile in the Peloponnese.  And as we discussed Athens in relation to Chicago, Basil started measuring distances on a map.  He plotted out central Athens and clipped it from the map, creating a moveable graphic which he placed over several maps – various cities around the US and elsewhere in the world, along with various airports.  And thus, his “How small is Athens, anyway?” Map was created.

[box type=”info”] You can play with the map and check it out for yourself here. [/box]

Highlights include:

Central Athens fits INSIDE Heathrow Airport!  For those flying via London, you might be surprised to learn you will walk farther during your transfer from your Transatlantic flight to your Athens bound flight than you will if you stay at the Hilton and walk to Syntagma Square!

The Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Arch and the National Gardens fit INSIDE of Hyde Park.

Central Athens itself, from the historical center to the Old Olympic Stadium, to the Hilton and back through Kolonaki is SMALLER than the length of Central Park in New York and SMALLER than the length of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

And finally, like in London, central Athens fits INSIDE Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

So if you are planning a visit to Athens and find yourself agonizing over the perfect place to stay, stop!  Athens is an amazingly compact, small, walking friendly city with accommodations to fit everyone’s budget – all centrally located and within an easy walk of the many sites and museums the city has to offer.  I’m not sure, but I think that no where else in the world has two thousand years of history been packed so nicely into a two square mile area.  So instead of stressing over finding the choice location – spend your time breaking in a good pair of walking shoes, get a good map, and get ready to explore.

[box] PS  I suppose I would not be a very good proprietor if I didn’t at least put a little plug at the end of this post for my own Greek Vacation Rentals. Centrally located, fabulously outfitted, family friendly and fairly priced, our homes in downtown Athens continually get top ratings on the internet, and you can’t go wrong with that![/box]

By Athensguide

How does a little girl from Skokie, Illinois find herself in historical Athens, leading curious explorers through the winding streets of Plaka, down "pezodromos" to hidden ouzeries for tempting mezedhes and homemade barrel wine? The journey began more than twenty years ago, and regardless of whether the wanderlust comes from the spiritual and culture DNA flowing through my veins, or the alignment of the stars on that cold mid-December day this Sagitterian came into the world, I never seem to tire of exploring my adopted homeland of Greece. Here you'll join me as I explore Athens: be it the back streets of Psirri and Gazi, or through the National Gardens and Zappeio where a family of turtles makes their home, or down wide, treelined Imittou Street in Pagrati, which pulses with Athenian life 24 hours a day. And while Athens has stolen my heart, the rest of Greece vies for my curiousity and wanderlust. My two guys (that'd be the Greek God, Vasilis and our Greek dog, Scruffy) and I can often be found settling in for a long weekend in some charming mountain village, or a quaint fishing port on a nearby island, or learning how Greek vitners are producing wines that rival some of Napa Valley's finests productions, or celebrating a panayeri in Epirus or sharing in the festivities as a family of Cretan sheepherders come together to sheer their 1500 sheep in the spring ... And if you happen to find yourself heading to Athens, consider finding yourself a real home for your stay. Living amongst the locals, be it for 3 nights or 3 weeks, will offer you the chance to experience true Athens, beyond the Acropolis. Choose from one of our 5 beautiful penthouse and historical homes, and who knows, I may be leading you down that winding "pezodromo" to our favorite hidden ouzerie!

One thought on “Where’s the best place to stay in Athens?”
  1. For someone like me contemplating a first visit to Athens I found this overview useful to keep in mind as I plan my trip.

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