Athens, Greece

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Cruising to Athens (Piraeus)

The birthplace of modern civilisation

Once home to philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, Athens is both the epicentre of the ancient world and the birthplace of modern civilisation. While its history stretches back thousands of years, it's possible to get to grips with the city in a single day, which is great news for anyone passing through on a Mediterranean cruise.

The first thing you'll see when you approach the Greek capital is the famous Acropolis, which overlooks the modern city and is arguably the most important ancient site in the Western world. It's here that you'll find the Parthenon, which was original built as a temple to the Greek goddess Athena in the 5th century BC, and is something of an icon of Athenian democracy.

At the foot of the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum, which, in stark contrast to the main attraction itself, was opened as recently as 2009. Inside you'll find an amazing array of artefacts and exhibits telling the story of life in Ancient Greece, although if you still want to learn more then head straight to the National Archaeology Museum. Located near the Viktoria metro station, this amazing exhibition centre contains items dating from the Neolithic to the Classical periods, including a number of statues of gods like Zeus and Poseidon.

Of course, not everything in Athens is ancient, and by strolling around the bohemian Metazourgeio district you'll come across several contemporary art galleries, such as the Rebecca Camhi Gallery. Nearby is the Municipal Gallery of Athens, the largest attraction of its kind in the city, which was opened in 2010.

If sightseeing makes you hungry, then you'll find a wide range of cuisines on offer at restaurants across the city, although it would be a shame not to take the opportunity to sample some Greek food. Among the best places to do so is Hydra, a Michelin-starred restaurant which serves up traditional dishes with a modern twist.

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