The rock of the Acropolis, crowned by the dramatic ruins of the Parthenon, is one of the archetypal images of Western culture. The first time you see it, rising above the traffic or from a distant hill, is extraordinary: foreign, and yet utterly familiar. As in other Greek cities the Acropolis itself is simply the highest point of the city, and this steep-sided, flat-topped crag of limestone, rising abruptly 100m from its surroundings, has made it the focus of Athens during every phase of its development. Easily defensible and with plentiful water, its initial attractions are obvious. Even now, with no function apart from tourism, it is the undeniable heart of the city, around which everything else clusters, glimpsed at almost every turn.

You can walk an entire circuit of the Acropolis and ancient Agora on pedestrianized streets, allowing them to be appreciated from almost every angle: in particular, the pedestrianization has provided spectacular terraces for cafés to the west, in Thissío. On the other side, in Pláka, you may get a little lost among the jumble of alleys, but the rock itself is always there to guide you.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

Cyprus has been a divided nation for over 40 years, but fresh reunification talks have offered hope of a united future. As Cyprus prepares to make history aga…

26 Apr 2017 • Darren Loucaides local_activity Special feature
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month