If you’ve begun to explore the myriad of things to do in Athens, the first thing I’d ask you is, have you seen it from above? No, I don’t mean from your aeroplane window. I’m talking about experiencing the city from one of the most famed hills in Athens – Mount Lycabettus.
A visit here is an absolute must-do. Nestled right at the heart of Athens, Mount Lycabettus, also known as Lycabettos, Lykabettos or Lykavittos, stands majestically over the cityscape. At a staggering 277 meters above sea level, it is the highest point of the city that surrounds it. The hill’s name, interestingly, means “the one that is walked by wolves”. Don’t worry, though. Today, the only thing you’ll be walking with are your thoughts and your excitement.
I recall the first time I ventured to ascend Mount Lycabettus. The uphill stroll amid pine trees and the pleasant Mediterranean breeze was an exhilarating experience in itself. But let me tell you, the journey to the top can be as exciting as the destination.
You see, there’s a funicular that can whisk you up to the summit, providing a sense of adventure to your visit. The term ‘funicular ‘may seem unfamiliar, but it’s essentially a cable railway, a bit of an adrenaline-pumping ride that adds to the list of unique things to do in Athens. As it ascends, you’ll witness a breathtaking panorama of Athens unfolding right before your eyes.
And when you reach the top, what a sight it is. It’s as if the city opens itself up to you with all its stories, mysteries, and charms. At the summit, you’ll discover the Holy Church of Saint George of Lycabettus, a pure white gem against the sprawling cityscape and the azure sky. And trust me, even if you’re not usually inclined towards religious architecture, this quaint chapel has a way of winning over hearts.
But there’s more than just the chapel. Walking around, you’ll come across the whitewashed open-air theatre at the top. Named after the Greek singer George Dalaras, this amphitheatre has hosted numerous concerts featuring Greek and international artists. Imagining those vibrant performances under the starlit sky gives me goosebumps every time.
However, the most spellbinding aspect of Mount Lycabettus is not something you’ll find in a guidebook. It’s the vista of Athens that sprawls beneath you. Looking out, you’ll see the iconic Acropolis of Athens standing proud, the blue waters of the Saronic Gulf shimmering in the sunlight, and the modern city dancing around the historic heart. The view is a breathtaking illustration of how time has painted Athens with different shades.
And when you’ve soaked in the sights, there’s the Lycabettus Restaurant, where you can enjoy some of the finest Greek cuisine while revelling in the beauty of Athens from above. The delicacies served here – from the classic Greek salad to Moussaka – are nothing short of gastronomical artistry.
As the sun starts to descend, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink, the city lights begin to twinkle, transforming Athens into a canvas of glimmering stars. There’s an ethereal beauty in watching the city transition from day to night from Mount Lycabettus. It feels like the city is putting on a show just for you, whispering tales of its ancient history and modern vibrance.
So, if you’re making a list of things to do in Athens, climbing up Mount Lycabettus or taking the funicular should undoubtedly be on it. It’s a journey that connects you to the city in a truly special way. From its natural beauty to the man-made marvels that rest on its peak, everything about Lycabettus tells a fascinating story.
By now, you’ve probably sensed my fondness for this beautiful hill. But it’s not just about the views. A trip up Mount Lycabettus is a unique sensory experience. The feel of the warm sun, the soothing sound of the wind rustling through the trees, the mesmerising sight of Athens – all of these combine to form a truly unparalleled experience.
A short distance from the bustling city streets, Mount Lycabettus serves as a refreshing retreat. Whether you choose to ascend on foot or ride the funicular, whether you visit in the morning to catch the sunrise or in the evening to watch the city lights flicker on, the experience is transformative.
And as you stand there, on the highest of hills in Athens, it’s impossible not to feel a profound sense of awe and connection. Connection to the city sprawling out beneath you, to the vibrant culture and rich history it embodies, and to the generations of Athenians and travellers who have stood exactly where you are.
From my experience, a trip to Mount Lycabettus isn’t just an item to check off your itinerary. It’s a melody you’ll carry with you, a memory imprinted in your heart. It’s a love letter to Athens, written in the language of panoramic views and awe-inspiring landscapes.
Athens is a city that deserves to be cherished, and Mount Lycabettus gives you the perfect vantage point to do just that. So, while there are countless things to see and do in Athens, make sure to carve out a bit of time to ascend this enchanting hill. It’s an adventure you won’t forget and, dare I say, one that will elevate your love for Athens to new heights.
As for me, I can’t wait to go back and once again witness the city’s magic from the top of Mount Lycabettus. Because, as much as I’ve travelled, Athens always pulls me back, and Mount Lycabettus is a big part of that allure. It’s a place where you can pause, breathe in the Athenian air, and truly feel on top of the world. Mount Lycabettus is calling. What are you waiting for?