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Christmas in Athens, Greece

Christmas in Athens, Greece: Off-season travel

Helpful Information for Winter Travel

Travel Agencies and Hotels

Hotel Attalos, AthensBecause it is low season it is not nessessary to book your hotel on the islands over Christmas. It is better to sit down with your travel agent when you arrive and plan your trip from there when you know what the weather will be like. There are days when you will be happier in Athens and there will be days when you will want to take advantage of the sunshine and go to the islands or take a day trip. But you won't know which days these are months in advance. So book your Athens hotel and then sit down with the travel agent. I recommend Fantasy Travel because they have great hotel rates, they speak English, are reliable and are right downtown a block from Syntagma Square at 8 Xenofotos. See www.fantasytravelofgreece.com

Stay as close as you can to Psiri, the Plaka or Gazi because that is where the fun will be. I stay at the Attalos Hotel on Athinas which is right onthe edge of Psiri and Monastiraki and has free wireless internet in the rooms and free use of computers in the special computer lounge which will save you a lot of money since you want have to go to an internet cafe where they charge by the hour. It also has one of the best winter bars in Athens which is great for nights that you just want to stay around the hotel and maybe even order pizza. Yes! You can get it delivered to the bar. You will get the cheapest rates available through the secure booking form on this site.

The Cecil Hotel is where I stay if the Attalos is full. It is more of a 19th century style hotel. Actually it was one of the first hotels in Athens. The Hotel Adonis is in the Plaka and that is a cozy and inexpensive hotel too though hard to find availability even in the winter. But right around the corner is the modern Hotel Central and every room has DSL though you have to pay for it. The Adams Hotel has low winter rates especially for extended stays for those who come to Athens to study. The Athens Cypria is a nice hotel  though it is a higher catagory but it has a great location on a pedestrian street in the Ermou shopping district on the edge of the Plaka. The Electra Palace and Plaza Hotel are more expensive but most all of the hotels will have extra low rates over Christmas. Even the Grande Bretagne. See www.athensguide.com/hotels.html and www.hotelsofgreece.com

Day Trips

You can do day trips to places like Delphi, The Argolis, the Saronic Gulf Islands, Sounion and even some of the further islands if the highspeed ferries are running. I suggest contacting George the Famous Taxi Driver, especially if you are two or more people since he charges by the trip and not by the person. Otherwise the travel agencies offer daily trips at reasonable rates. See www.fantasytravelofgreece.com and click on organized land tours. For longer trips like to Meteora again I recommend George's Taxi or else rent a car from Elias at Swift who will drive you to the edge of Athens and let you take over from there. See www.greektravel.com/swift

Day Trips, Overnight Destinations and other Info

www.greecetravel.com/delphi
www.greecetravel.com/meteora
www.greecetravel.com/kalavrita
www.greecetravel.com/olympia
www.athensguide.com/taxitrip.html
www.athensguide.com/attika

www.athensguide.com/sounion
www.greecetravel.com/pelion
www.greecetravel.com/nafplio
www.greektravel.com/greekislands/aegina
www.greceetravel.com/peloponessos

Cruises

There are few cruises over the Christmas holidays since most of the fleet will be in the Carribean but the Saronic Gulf Cruise that visits Aegina, Poros and Hydra goes pretty much everyday. For more information see www.greecetravel.com/cruise/saroniccruise or see www.fantasytravelofgreece.com and click on organized land tours.

You can also visit these islands on your own or with the help of a travel agent if you are going to stay the night. See www.greecetravel.com/islands for more info on these islands.

Restaurants

The best time to eat out in Athens is in the winter and over the Christmas holidays things are especially festive. Believe it or not there will be days when you have lunch outdoors and there will be restaurants that have heaters at night for outdoor dining like Byzantino in the Plaka. For restaurant reviews see www.athensguide.com/restaurants.html

Museums and Archaeolgical Sites

Though some sites are closed on Mondays and may close earlier in the afternoon then they do in the summer, it is business as usual for them and Christmas is a great time to visit places that are usually very crowded in the summer. Plus everything is green. See www.athensguide.com/museum.html

Shops

Everything is open and in January everything goes on sale. If you come before Christmas it is fun to do your Christmas shopping in Athens and buy gifts you probably would not find at home.

Skiing

Just because it is warm in Athens does not mean that there won't be snow on Mount Parnassos and in other ski areas of Greece. See www.greecetravel.com/ski You can also contact George the Famous Taxi Driver because one of my favorite drivers, Christos, is an avid skier and is happy to put the chains on the Mercedes and take people up to the ski resorts. if you go on the weekends they are very inexpensive. Contact Christos through George by e-mail

For other winter sports see www.greecetravel.com/trekking

Clothing

Bring warm clothes because it can get chilly at night. I had a waterproof parka and a sweater and a thermal undershirt. It was rare that I needed all three at once and there were days when I just wore a t-shirt. Remember that anything you need you can buy in Athens and shopping is part of the fun.

Flights and Ferries

You can find great deals on flights to Greece for Christmas and in the winter in general.
Try
www.greeceflights.com for starters.

As for getting to the islands like Crete, Rhodes and Lesvos there are flights in the winter, though not as frequent in the summer. Ferries run daily to most islands. They can be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather though. Work with a travel agency in Athens so if there are transportation problems they can deal with them. They can find bargains on hotels easier than you can too.

The Zoo

Don't miss the Athens Zoological Park, especially if you are coming with your kids.
See
www.athensguide.com/zoo

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