Longing for one last blast of warmth before winter sets in? Look no further than Athens.
Summer lingers in Athens (thisisathens.org), which basks in a glow of 68F (20C) as October slips into November. A wide range of flights also make it a feasible destination. British Airways (ba.com) flies in from Heathrow, Ryanair (ryanair.com) from Stansted, Aegean (aegeanair.com) from Heathrow, and Manchester, easyJet (easyjet.com) from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick and Manchester.
A five-star peering over Syntagma Square, the King George (1) has doubles for £191, room only. To the north east, St George Lycabettus (2) has fine vistas of its own from Lycabettus Hill. Doubles from £106, room only.
Syntagma Square is one of Athens’s hubs – a broad space at whose east end the Greek Parliament (3) stands. Take a stroll along Mitropoleos and you pass the Metropolitan Cathedral (4), a marble joy finished in 1862. Further westward footsteps will bring you to Monastiraki Square, where a turn south on to Areos will proffer Hadrian’s Library (5), a second-century remnant of ancient Rome.
The Acropolis (6) (odysseus.culture.gr; €20/£18) is an obvious but unmissable part of Athens, crowned by that majestic fifth-century-BC temple the Parthenon. The adjacent Acropolis Museum (7) (theacropolismuseum.gr; €5) mourns the Elgin Marbles with great replicas.
After 19 years in gestation, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (8) finally opened in November of last year. Its latest exhibition – of modernist sculpture and painting from the National Art Museum of China in Beijing – is in situ until November 14 (emst.gr; €2).
Athens shows its flair for design at Mikos (9) (mikos.gr), which revels in funky sofas and cushions on Mitropoleos. To the north east of Syntagma Square, Kolonaki is a hub of chic stores like Box Architects (10) (boxarchitects.gr) – with its cool lights and clocks.
Taf (11) (theartfoundation.metamatic.gr) is a hip watering hole in Monastiraki, with art installations in ruined rooms, and beers for €3. Meanwhile, Kolokotroni is dotted with some of the city’s best drinking venues – not least The Bank Job (12) (thebankjob.gr), which pours cocktails from €6 in, yes, a former bank.
Thissio and Psiri have the mother lode of Athenian restaurants. The former has The Sowl (13) (thesowl.com) – Latin fare such as shrimp tacos with guacamole for €5.50. The latter has Gostijo (14) (gostijo.gr), a Greek-kosher option whose stifado (beef casserole) is €15.
Off the map
Take Line 1 of the Athens Metro (stasy.gr; €1.40) south west from Monastiraki Square to the terminus at Piraeus – the port district that is intrinsic to Athens’s economy. See the flow of cruise ships from a bar such as El Chapo (elchapo.gr).