With an abundance of festivities, decorated public spaces, fun seasonal attractions, and scores of free events around town, Athens is establishing itself as a great alternative to conventional Christmas breaks. After all, how many other destinations boast easy daytrips to both excellent snow resorts and picturesque islands?
Athens enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and moderate rainfall, which usually means the weather is great for walking around town, visiting attractions and enjoying the sights. The city center is adorned with seasonal decorations, there is music in Syntagma Square from 11:00 every day, the air is filled with the sweet aroma of roasted chestnuts from street vendors, and the capital literally shimmers with fabulous light displays after sunset.
This year, an impressive 243 events – including music, theater, and dance performances, as well as various activities for children and adults – are being organized by the City of Athens alone, and with plenty more events and holiday specials around town, there’s more than enough going on to keep you happily entertained all the way through to 2016.
If you really just want to keep it simple, Athens has a plethora of world-class monuments, excellent museums, and galleries, and of course several fantastic shopping districts – in the city center, as well as in suburbs like Kifissia and Glyfada – and a wealth of amazing places to eat and drink – from gastropubs to unforgettable tavernas. Whatever your taste, this is a perfect time to discover Greek culture!
Check our tips below to start planning your perfect Christmas break.
Music? Theater? Workshops? The City of Athens has got you covered.
To make the most of the City’s festive programme, browse through the official Christmas – New Year in Athens 2015 – 2016 guide to find a performance or activity that suits your dates. All of these events are open to the public and entrance to most is free. However, there are limited places for some of the performances and workshops, so make sure to check in advance and make reservations where necessary.
Travelling with kids? The City’s programme includes plenty of events for younger family members, including children’s theater and activity workshops. On the weekend before Christmas, English-speaking little ones can visit the Children’s Library at the National Garden to enjoy stories read aloud in English (Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 December, 12:30).
Explore the Greek Christmas traditions.
From 19 December to 3 January, between 10:00 – 16:00, the Goulandris Natural History Museum is featuring a special seasonal programme titled Journey on the Christmas Ship, designed to introduce younger visitors to the country’s native Christmas traditions through theater, art, and storytelling.
Visit Santa and help out on the toy assembly line.
If you want to catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves, a visit to The Christmas Factory is just the thing. There are three themed areas to explore and dozens of music performances, plays, and puppet shows to enjoy throughout December.
Indulge that sweet tooth!
Visit the Chocolate Factory and Museum to find out everything about chocolate, from its history to current production methods. It’s educational, really, and there’s a chocolate waterfall too!
Book a tour, take in the sights, and explore Athens!
Whether this is your first trip to Athens or you’re a seasoned visitor and want to try something new, Discover Greek Culture offers a number of short tours that will allow you to sample the best of what the Greek capital has to offer, from its magnificent ancient monuments to its thriving art scene, with exclusive expert insights and treats along the way. We even have a late afternoon tour for those who want to use their mornings for shopping or need to combine pleasure with business.
Travelling with kids? Our fun Young Explorers tours, specially designed for families with children, are half-day tours, meaning they can easily be combined with seasonal attractions and festive events for a truly unforgettable day out with the family!
With so much to see and do, you might just want to take a step back and escape to the countryside. Just a stone’s throw away, the islands in the Saronic Gulf are easily accessible from Athens and make for excellent daytrips if you want to stroll along the beach and enjoy a meal at a traditional island taverna. And if you feel like snow, there are not one, but two snow-sport resorts within just hours of Athens. Weather permitting, various snow-bus services run day trips from Athens to both resorts throughout the week.