Close enough to the center of Athens yet just outside all the hustle and bustle, the Civitel Olympic is a first-class property in Maroussi, the heart of Athens’ northern upscale business district. The area is home to many prestigious companies, trendy shopping centers, fine private hospitals and easy access to Attiki Odos.
Located right across from the 2004 Olympic Stadium, the Civitel Olympic lies on the prestigious Kifissias Avenue which offers very quick access to Downtown Athens and to the upscale areas of Maroussi and Kifissia. The northern region also boasts many conference and exhibition centers -Helexpo Palace, Metropolitan Expo, Mediterranean Expo Center (MEC) and Expo Athens – that make the property an ideal destination for businesspeople, as well as many fine-dining restaurants, museums and attractions.
Equally important, the hotel is in walking distance to several exhibition venues and shopping malls, providing a myriad of activities to choose from. Highly recommended is the Golden Hall for luxury shopping and midday dining or coffee break, located barely within a five-minute walk. About 20 minutes away by foot or 5 minutes by car, lays Civitel Olympic’ s sister hotel, the Civitel Attik, which is located in a very quiet and green setting, providing access to a refreshing swimming pool.
Last but not least, some of Athens’ most prominent private hospitals are very close to the property, ideal for friends and families who want to be near patients, as well as for those who want to feel secure in being close to competent medical centers. Within walking distance is the Iaso General Hospital, while within less than five minutes by car are the Hygeia Diagnostic and Therapeutic Center, Medical Athens Center and the Mitera Maternity Hospital.
The most important surprises in Athens can of course be found in the downtown area. Barely 20 minutes by car from Civitel Olympic, in the very heart of the city, lies the vibrant Syntagma (Constitution Square) where the change of the guard takes place throughout the day and is worth seeing. Syntagma also boasts the main metro station of Athens where many ancient finds unearthed from this site during the metro’s construction, are on display.
The square is indeed the best place to start discovering Athens by foot, walking down Ermou, the most notable shopping street in the city named after the god Hermes. Right in the middle you will find the 1000-year-old church of Kapnikarea, an awe-inspiring byzantine treasure. A left turn will take you to the more recent yet impressive main cathedral of Athens, the Metropolis. This is where the Plaka, the oldest quarter of Athens begins, taking you on a maze of streets filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, the Acropolis Museum and renovated neoclassical houses. The top part of Plaka, known as Anafiotika, was settled by islanders from Anafi a couple of hundred years ago and still retains the island character.
After exploring Plaka, head down a few minutes to Monastiraki square where you peer down at the ancient Eridanos river that was recently rediscovered, and visit the old mosque converted into a cozy ceramics’ museum. Monastiraki is also famous for its flea market, and running parallel to it is one of the loveliest pedestrian streets in the city, called Adrianou. This street pays tribute to the Roman Emperor Hadrian while parts of his Library still lie off Monastiraki Square. After a leisurely lunch in Plaka and an iced coffee (Frappe) on Adrianou street, you can access the ancient agora, the lovely museum inside it and the temple of Thisseo which is smaller but equally impressive with the Parthenon on the Acropolis.
A walk to the Acropolis is a must of course, both for its magnificent ruins and the amazing panorama of the city. This must be combined with a visit to the modern Acropolis Museum which employs natural sunlight to unveil the best of Classical Athens. The whole Monastiraki-Plaka-Thisseio area is full of archaeological treasures, parks, museums, restaurants, coffee shops and attractions that delight the visitor. Elsewhere in the city, the National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum will also astound you.
If you like outdoor nature, head to the Lykavitos Hill overlooking the upscale suburb of Kolonaki and make your way to the Church of St. George on the hill. For more professional hiking, head to the nearby Imittos Mountain just above the University City a few minutes from the center, which harbors some byzantine ruins, monasteries, bird-watching towers and rocky yet negotiable slopes to climb.
Beyond the city center, for a seaside dining experience head to Mikrolimano in the port of Piraeus or to Athens’ southern suburbs such as Glyfada and Vouliagmeni, an area known as the Athenian Riviera. About half an hour from these suburbs is the historic temple of Cape Sounion overlooking the Aegean Sea, lying on the most southern tip of Attica, the greater Athens region. On the opposite side, also noteworthy is the chic suburb of Kifissia, just a few minutes by car from Athens’ Civitel hotels, offering the best of fashion, international dining, culture, museums and relaxed sophistication in a cooler hilly climate.
If you think Athens has a lot to do, the greater Attica region has even more surprises and day trips up its sleeve, such as a visit to the site of Eleusis where major spiritual rituals were held in antiquity, or an hour’s boat ride to the island of Aegina with charming portside cafes and sweet shops. Other enchanting islands such as Hydra and Spetses are also about an hour away, perfect for a full day trip or escape to island beaches.
If you have a car, Greece’s first capital Nafplion, located in the Peloponnese just off Attica’s borders, will amaze you with its Venetian and Ottoman architecture. Within the same region are the wineries of Nemea, the Corinth canal and the impressive ancient theater of Epidaurus. While in the Peloponnese, consider visiting Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games and a beautiful natural spot. The Civitel hotels will be delighted to arrange a guided tour to the attractions outside the city. All these special places and many more make Attica and its environs the land of the gods.