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The ancient city of Athens has plenty to offer the history tourist. The Acropolis and attached museum are the most iconic sites in the city and strolling between the thousands of artefacts on display really sets Athens in context in terms of its place in world history. Plaka is an attractive neighbourhood near the Acropolis with pavement cafes and independent shops and the Archaeological Promenade is a 2.5-mile long, pedestrianised path around the foot of the Acropolis that links all the city’s main historic sites.
With a hire car in Athens you can take advantage of the surrounding hills and villages. Drive out to Mount Lycabettus, which overlooks the city and the Attica basin, or try Dasos Kesarianis, a forest with a monastery, which is about half an hour by car.
Athens International Airport is just over half an hour from the city centre by car. You can get Metro Line 3 Aghia Marina, or the suburban rail takes you into Athens Central train station. Athens is also served by the huge passenger port of Piraeus, so many people arrive by boat.
If you are already in the city there are plenty of places to pick up a hire car. Athens’ busy Athens Syngrou Avenue is full of big name rental car brands and is well placed for the main roads exiting the city.
Alamo, Enterprise and Europcar are among the companies that can provide a rental car in Athens. Sixt and Hertz are also available.
With car hire in Athens you are well placed to explore the south of Greece. The beautiful coastal city of Kalamata (home of the delicious olives) is 150 miles from the capital and the quickest way to get there is to drive. The journey takes two and a half hours and is a simple route southwest on the E65. The drive takes you through the rugged mountains and gorges of the Peloponnese region and there are plenty of places to stop off along the way. Kalamata’s beautiful old town has a weekly market and there is a wide selection restaurants and cafes. To the north of the Peloponnese is the busy student city of Patras, which is two and a half hours, or 131 miles from Athens. With lively squares and busy shopping streets full of high street brands, this feels like a big city compared to the many villages surrounding it. There is also a medieval castle and a cobbled old town to explore.
The city of Lamia, which is two and a half hours (137 miles) from Athens, is off the beaten track in term of tourists, but it is a great stop for the Iti National Park, which is just to the south, and boasts lush forests, wildlife and hiking trails. And you can also head to the Greek islands by car and ferry. The party resort of Mykonos is five hours and 114 miles from Athens, including a ferry from Rafina. Beach bars, nightclubs and shopping are popular here but there is plenty of depth too. Head to Alefkantra for gorgeous historic buildings and a pretty hillside backdrop.
Traffic in Athens is slow, which can be a welcome change as the roads outside it are known for being fairly fast flowing. There are a number of toll roads in Greece so be prepared to stop and pay. Driving is on the right and overtaking is on the left.
To get the most from your trip to Athens and other parts of Greece use the Expedia search tool to help you find the best deals on car hire, flights and hotels, as well as researching the best attractions and activities in the area.