Athens in August continues to be a beautiful spectacle that enables the city to showcase its ancient, classical mystique. Devoid of most of its inhabitants who have crowded ships and highways in a mass exodus on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption, the center remains eerily quiet, making access to public transportation a breeze and allowing the tourist to experience this majestic metropolis in the shadow of its mythical Gods.
With the heavenly winds or "meltemia" of the Aegean Sea and Saronic Gulf providing cool evenings, Athens is transformed into a magical paradise, enabling one to gaze at the illuminated Acropolis and take in all its architectural perfection as it stands guard over its admirers.
During the day, a visit to the superb beach at Astir is a must where the Astir Palce Hotel (operated by Westin), with its gorgeous lounge chairs and excellent coffee bar, has been attracting an elite clientele for years. It is here, where, while taking a dip or simply basking under the bright sun, one can soak up the view of the ruins of the magnificent temple of Poseidon that remains untouched by the passing centuries.
In the evening, it's off to the adjoining neighborhood of Vouliagmeni for a traditional Greek meal featuring the freshest seafood at Lambros Restaurant, located beachside, directly across from Vouliagmeni Lake.
After dinner, a short drive to the new marina at Flisvos, with its spectacular yachts and trendy bars, provides the perfect setting for an unforgettable nightcap.
Should one decide to remain downtown, stubbornly ignoring the allure of the city's beaches, a hop on the spotless, modern subway makes for a show in itself, with its many stations doubling as art galleries, adorned with ancient artifacts unearthed during their construction.
A couple of stops away is the new Acropolis Museum, the home of the eclectic "Parthenon marbles," notwithstanding those that have been long-orphaned in the British Museum in London. The museum boasts a modern café that serves up local specialties and top-notch Greek coffee with a stunning view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
In the afternoon, a walk towards Café Aigli, in Zappeion, allows for a stroll through the lush National Gardens, adjacent to the Greek Parliament and accessible from the gates at Amalias or Vassilissis Sofia Avenues. At Aigli, with its soothing breeze, even on the hottest of days, one can enjoy delicious homemade ice cream while admiring the magnificence of the neo-classical Zappeion building with the Acropolis in the background.
The evening would not be complete without supper at Café Abyssinia in Abyssinia Square, the heart of Monastiraki. With its sensational terrace overlooking the Acropolis, one can dine on old traditional recipes blended with new flavors and choose from amongst a rich selection of Greek wines, all under the light of the Parthenon.
And what would Athens be without the mesmerizing sight of the August full moon that falls on Aug. 21 this year. On that date, the archaeological site of the Acropolis remains open all night and one can trek up the sacred hill to enjoy the splendor of architectural perfection up close, under the stars.
Athens in August, truly heavenly!