Athens is both the largest and the capital city of Greece. Located in the Attica (Attiki) periphery. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world with a recorded history of at least 3,000 years.
Today, the Greek capital is Europe's 8th largest conurbation, a bustling and cosmopolitan metropolis with an urban population of 3.3 million and a metropolitan population of about 3.8 million people. The Athens metropolitan area is the centre of economic, financial, industrial, political and cultural life in Greece. The city is also rapidly becoming a leading business centre in the European Union.
Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896 and in 2004 it welcomed the Summer Olympics back home with great success.
The city enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with the greatest amounts of precipitation mainly occurring from mid-October to mid-April; any precipitation is sparse during summer and falls generally in the form of showers and/or thunderstorms. The average summer daytime maximum temperature is 32°C.
Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other European city (including the famous ancient Herodes Atticus Theatre, home to the Athens Festival, which takes place from May to October each year). In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens features many romantic, open air garden cinemas. Athens also has a vast number of music venues including a state of the art music hall known as the "Megaron Moussikis" that attracts world-famous artists all year round. The relatively recent and rapid redevelopment of many areas in central Athens has brought the city centre back into the limelight.
The Athens Metropolitan Area is split into four suburbs. The northern and most of the southern suburbs are particularly affluent districts, resided primarily by middle-to-high and high incomers. The western suburbs are primarily resided by middle incomers with certain few areas resided by middle-to-low incomers and still others resided by middle-to-high incomers. Finally the eastern suburbs are primarily resided by middle and middle-to-high incomers.
The Athens city coastline, extending from the major commercial port of Piraeus to the southernmost suburb of Varkiza for some 30 km, is also connected to the city centre with a tram (which, although modern can be slow during rush hours) and it boasts a series of high class restaurants, cafes, exciting music venues and modern sports facilities. In addition, Athens is packed with trendy and fashionable bars and nightclubs that are literally crowded by the city's youth on a daily basis.
In the winter time, the focus of the nightlife moves up into the city centre, in Piraeus as well as across the northern suburbs. In the northern districts, the classy suburb of Kifissia hosts a vast number of expensive restaurants, bars and cafés.
The city is surrounded by four easily accessible mountains (Parnitha and Penteli to the north, Hemmettus to the southeast, and Egaleo to the west). Mount Parnitha, in particular, is the tallest of the city (1,453 m) and it has been declared a protected National Park. It has tens of well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves and you may even meet deers while exploring its dense forests. Hiking and mountain biking in all four mountains have been and still remain popular outdoor activities for many Athenians. Casinos operate on both Mount Parnitha, some 30km from downtown Athens and the nearby town of Loutraki.
The nearby islands of Salamina, Aigina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses are also sites of spectacular natural beauty and historical architecture.
Athens is served by the ultra modern Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) located, some 35km east of Athens. Athens Mass Transit System consists of a large bus fleet, a trolleybus fleet that mainly serves the downtown area, the Athens Metro, a tram line connecting the southern suburbs to the city center and the Athens Suburban Railway services.