Courtesy: Georgios Makkas

Travel the timeline of Greek history within a few blocks in this cultural neighbourhood, packed with architectural landmarks and museums for every interest.

By Diane Shugart

The Benaki Museum.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

The Byzantine Museum.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

The Presidential Mansion and the Prime Minister’s Office

The Athens Conservatory

Rizari Park

Rizari Park is the perfect spot to take a quiet moment for yourself.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

The Runner

The stunning Runner statue, right in front of the Athens Hilton.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

The National Gallery

The National Garden and Zappeion

Created in the mid-1800s as the pet project of Queen Amalia, the former Royal Garden has been a focal point of Athenian life since it was declared a public space in 1927. The 158,000-square-metre park contains an impressive collection of plants—over 500 species—most imported from as far away as China and Guatemala, and arranged for effect like the striking row of Delos palms near the Amalias Gate. These botanical riches attract birds, from parrot colonies to woodpeckers and Europe’s only wren species. Ivy-entwined, wrought-iron gazebos and secluded benches create a romantic backdrop for courting couples and picnics.

The adjacent Zappeion Park is to families what the National Garden is to lovers. Fanning out from the horseshoe-shaped hall, which is used for exhibitions and formal receptions, the grounds are abuzz with activity, from weekend-long book fairs to Art Athina, the country’s biggest art expo. You’ll usually find crowds of locals strolling in the shade, chilling at the upmarket café-restaurant, or taking in a film at the open-air cinema. There’s a sports park for kids too, with a climbing wall, trampolines, volleyball, tennis, basketball and football courts.