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The city of Athens could be described as one big outdoor museum. Most are already aware of the historical sites located here, but there is more to this city than meets the eye.

Plaka, the old quarter, is an endearing area where you can see how Athenians live today. Locals drink espressos on the steps of Plaka, resting their cups on tiny tables. Flag adorned bunting patriotically fringes the streets. Coral, white and green foliage spills over the rooftops and down the crooked, cracked walls. Lemon trees, canopies and pergolas fill in the gaps.

There are a number of strategically positioned rooftop bars in the city where you can sit above the skyline and soak in the Athens aura. Watch the yellow taxis navigate the winding streets, admire the dome-roofed buildings and the shrubbery sprouting up between them and - perhaps best of all - witness the spectacular Parthenon sitting atop the Acropolis in the distance. Sipping cocktails at sunset has got to be one of the most spellbinding ways to spend an evening in Athens.

Pittaki Street defies the Athenian stereotype of a city trapped in the past. With a rainbow of mismatched lampshades suspended across the buildings, this alleyway is a popular attraction. Hundreds of bulbs illuminate Pittaki Street at night, and this simple, unconventional makeover has transformed this once highly undesirable territory.

There are many unusual treasures within these city walls: whether you are hunting for amphitheatres, intent on tasting tzatziki and kebabs, or contentedly wandering old districts, Athens is sure to melt your heart.

Tips for hiring a car in Athens

Tip 1
Athens has a warm climate and intense sunlight. Rent a car with air conditioning and make sure to wear sun block if required.
Tip 2
There is no free parking in the central area of Athens - it's sometimes worth parking a bit further out to reduce parking costs.
Tip 3
If you're spending more than a few days in Athens, be sure to drive out to nearby cities, such as Nauplion, and soak up the culture.
Tip 4
If you're not planning on driving within Athens itself, rent a car at the airport to avoid the traffic in the centre.

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