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It is a fact that Athens is not the most green capital of Europe, but there are many green spots around in the city center where you could have you afternoon walk, a picnic during weekend, you morning running or just to take a break from your daily routine in traffic. And there are some larger parks, not so close to the city center, but still it’s worth visiting for many reasons. This page can be your… Athens Green Guide. Put it in your favorites and every time you have some spare time, visit a new park. Or just visit again your favorite.
National Garden, Zappeion, Syntagma
The National Garden is the most central green space of the city, as it is located right at the top of Syntagma Square, the most central square of the city. It was formed in 1839 as the garden of the Palaces of the first Kings of Greece (the building that today houses the Greek Parliament), which is why its first name in 1927 was “Royal Garden”. Including the garden of the Zappeion, the total area of the park is 285 acres.
Apart from the naturalistic interest which is enormous with over 500 species of trees and plants from all over the world, as well as duck ponds, an original sundial, a botanical museum, the National Garden has important archaeological monuments and busts, The Garden also boasts important archaeological monuments, including the statues of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the national poet Dionysios Solomos, Aristotle Valaoritis and the philhellene Eynard, and is located next to the archaeological site with the columns of Olympian Zeus.
Here, there is even a picturesque traditional café where you can enjoy your afternoon or morning Greek coffee, listening only to the sounds of nature, leaving the other sounds of the city aside for a while, as well as a summer cinema where during the summer months you can enjoy modern and older classic films.
Address: Ave. 1 Amalias Avenue, 10557 Syntagma, tel: +30 210 3223509.
Access: Metro (Blue line) Syntagma
Opening hours: Daily, from sunrise to sunset
Parko Eleftherias (Freedom Park), Athens Concert Hall
Parko Eleftherias is located next to the Athens Concert Hall, in the area of Ilisia. It was designed in the 1960s by the architect Panagiotis Vakalopoulos. Right in the centre, there is a monument with the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos, the work of Yannis Pappas. At the back of the park, the visitor will find stone buildings which during the Balkan wars were used for military purposes and during the dictatorship they were detention centres – this is the reason why it was named Freedom Park, as many fighters of the Republic were tortured and suffered here in the past. Today it is home to the Eleftherios Venizelos Museum, founded in 1984, and the Athens Municipality Arts Centre, which occasionally hosts solo and group exhibitions of artists.
In the area of the park there is a cafe-restaurant where visitors can enjoy their coffee, brunch or lunch, while in the famous Mavili Square, which is right next door, you will find even more restaurants and bars for all hours of the day, as well as the famous Athenian secret: the canteen with the most delicious street food. During the summer period, at the smaller garden of Athens Concert Hall which is right next to the park, it takes place one of the most popular music festival and open-air cinema festival.
Address: Parko Eleftherias, 11521, Athens
Access: metro (Blue line), Megaron Mousikis (Concert Hall)
Hours: Open 24h
The Rizari Park is located in the city centre, just behind the Evangelismos Hospital and metro station, and borders the Byzantine Museum, the archaeological site of the Lyceum of Aristotle and the National Gallery, while the War Museum is also very close by.
The park, originally 115 acres in size, was an orchard (“perivolion”) purchased in 1838, at auction from the Petraki Monastery, by the benefactor and member of the Society of Friends George Rizaris, in order to establish there a School for future priests, a School built in 1844 and bequeathed to the Greek State. After successive land reclamations, only 50 acres remained. In 1975 the War Museum was built there and in 1979 the remaining acres of the park were, after exchanges, transferred to the Municipality of Athens, while a small piece still belongs to the Rizarios School.
Rizari’s wish was to create a garden in the city centre for the young people. So, after a redevelopment that lasted several years, another 15-acre “green space” was added, open to all since 2010, with Mediterranean trees and shrubs, paths, sculptures and benches that allow you to take the necessary breaths and forget for a while that you are in the city centre, between the two busiest avenues of Athens.
Address: Rizari 5, 10676, Athens
Access: Evangelismos Metro Station
Hours: Open 24h
Ilision Park, Ilisia, Athens
The Ilision Park or Syngrou Park since 1971 has been granted by the Forestry Department of Athens to the Municipality of Athens, which owns most of it, while the rest belongs to the Municipality of Zografou. Its history dates back to 1909, when, on the initiative of Queen Sophia, reforestation was organized in order to “afforest Attica”. Among the areas that were planted was the then area of Kouponia, which is now called the Syngrou Grove in Ilisia. The Syngrou Forest was named after the adjacent hospital of the same name, Andreas Syngros Hospital of Venereal & Dermatological Diseases.
In 1950 a shack on the northeast side of the grove was used to meet the religious needs of the residents “behind the Hilton”. In 1952 the church became a parish church, and in 1956 the St. Charalambos Iliac Church was founded, officially completed and consecrated in 1992.
In the centre of the grove, on a small hill, there is a stone iconostasis and on the south side of the grove there is a Scouts’ dormitory. Inside the grove there is still the building of the National Agricultural Research Foundation and at the southern end of the grove the 9th Primary School of Athens. It has an internal road network with footpaths, but also stone structures for seating, as well as several built fountains, unfortunately none of which are in operation.
There is an organized effort by local residents to keep the grove clean and remain as another green oasis in the city, spaces that have become quite scarce in recent years.
Very close to this grove is the small but special Madrid Square set in an equally small but beautiful park. An island of greenery with plants, sculptures (the “Monument to the Greek Teacher”, “Maria Callas” and the “Spanish Dancer”) and a large, beautiful fountain to give a pleasant, playful touch with the water jets, when in operation, creating a nice spectacle, and the roar of the waters, overlapping the noise of the cars. In the summer months, restaurants set up their tables outside in specially designed areas on the square, creating a beautiful setting amidst the greenery.
Address: Alsos Ilision, 11528, Ilisia
Access: Megaro Mousikis or Evangelismos Metro Station
Hours: Open 24h
Pedion Areos, Kypseli-Exarchia
It’s the largest public park in Athens, located between the areas of Kypseli and Exarchia, with an area of about 230 acres – 277 including the Finopoulos Hill. It was designed in 1934 to honour the heroes of the 1821 Revolution there – for this reason you will find busts of heroes scattered throughout the park, along the main “Fighters of ’21” street. In fact, at the entrance to the grove is the equestrian statue of King Constantine I, on the Alexandras Avenue side there is a monument to the fallen English Australians and New Zealanders with the statue of Athena on a higher pedestal, while scattered throughout the grove are monuments to the Holy Company, Alexander Ypsilantis, etc.
One of the most beautiful parts of the park is definitely the neighbourhood of the plane trees and the Rhone with various varieties of roses. As you stroll through the park, if you look up, you will surely see some of the birds that have taken refuge there such as the blackbird, the robin, and probably cormorants that have recently appeared.
Within the park, there are also two of the most historic refreshment rooms in Athens. The Green Park, which operated in the 1960s with summer arts programs by Homer Athenaeus, and which now reopened as a café. Alsos, which was also operated in the 1960s by George Economidis, a famous performer of that era, with similar programmes, will be reopened in 2019 as a theatre and concert venue.
During Christmas and Easter period, it is possible to meet there a christmas/easter village for shopping, or other outdoor cultural events and exhibitions by Municipal of Athens. In the wider area of the park, you will find many theatres and cinemas to combine your stroll, ethnic and not only restaurants, the Archaeological Museum, as well as St. George’s Square and Exarchia Square with the twin lampposts in their centre, for a more alternative look at the city of Athens.
Address: Pedion Areos, 11473, Kypseli, Athens
Access: Viktoria Metro Station (Green line)
Opening hours: 1 May – 30 September: 06:00 – 21:30 & 1 October – 30 April: 06:00 – 19:00
Klonaridis-Fix Park, Patisia
A smaller park in Athens, but of particular historical value for the city, is the Park Klonaridis-Fix in Patissia, the area that was once the countryside of Athens and was called Paradisia (Paradise). There, at the beginning of the 20th century, the old Clonarides brewery and ice factory was built, and in 1930 it passed into the hands of the founder of the Greek brewery, Fix.
Recently, the park has been completely renovated with 4000 plants of Mediterranean flora planted in 5 different thematic zones, where visitors can learn more and educate themselves about nature and the environment as they browse. In the central part of the park, a sensory garden consists of plants with different colours and textures of foliage and flowers which are of particular seasonal and botanical interest, and which naturally change with the seasons. Another garden in the southern part of the park is dedicated to Greek biodiversity with the planting of evergreen Mediterranean shrubs. In the western part there are plane trees and perennial herbaceous plants and shrubs, while in the eastern part the lawn has been restored to accommodate outdoor activities for young and old for recreation, or even for picnics in the city.
Moreover, it is worth mentioning that even the benches you will find in the park are of particular interest as they have been taken over by students of the city’s art school, so we could say that the park can also function as an outdoor gallery.
Directly opposite Fix Park, there is the Drakopoulos Park, also a historical site of the city, as the history here starts in the 19th century with the establishment of Villa Drakopoulos as a textile factory. So from 1921, when it was purchased until the 1950s when the owner died and production ceased, and then donated to the Red Cross, it adorns the area with the neoclassical buildings that served as auxiliary to the factory. From 1983 onwards, the site was designated as a public green space and the buildings were listed, and shortly afterwards a 6-acre park was created.
After your stroll through the above parks and… history, you can drink your beer (Fix preferably, now that you know its history) in one of the bars of Patissia such as Lokal, Strange Fruit or even the most historic of all, Au Revoir which is located just down the street from 1957 and where most of the country’s artists, actors and singers have passed through. Even Frank Sinatra has his drink there once.
Address: Patision & Kaftantzoglou, Athens
Access: Agios Eleftherios Metro (Green Line)
Hours: Open 24h
The Pagrati Grove is a park in Pagrati, one of the most popular areas of central Athens, with an area of around 30 acres.
Its planting began with pine trees in 1908 by Princess Sofia. Later, the Forest Society created a nursery of forest trees and shrubs in the tree-planted area, which were to be transported for transplanting to the hills of Athens.
The private exploitation of the grove began in 1920. In 1936 the grove was granted to the Municipality of Athens by the Forest Society and operated as a free recreational area. With the redevelopment carried out by the Municipality from 1937 to 1939, the grove was transformed from the wild vegetation it had into a piece of greenery with flower beds and flowers, ducks, pigeons, partridges and peacocks.
The grove was also home to a zoo before the period of German occupation which was later destroyed by the Germans. Also, during the occupation period the grove was in danger of being destroyed because the citizens of Athens used the wood for their heating. In 1950, the “Alsos” theatre started operating in 1950, which operated until 19 May 1974 when it was destroyed by fire. For many decades the grove was a pole of attraction for the residents of Pagrati as it was used as a summer cinema, a café, a kiosk and a playground.
In 1977 it was decided to redevelop it, where it was finally decided to make it available as a public recreational area without any buildings within it, and in 1981 demolition began, and soon the construction of a playground and basketball court was completed.
Recently, there was again a proposal to build a 350-seat theatre, but the Pagrati Park Assembly managed to keep it as a pure ecosystem as it had been designated in the past. The Pangrati Park Assembly exists until today and is active with various entertainment, sporting, informative and cultural events in the area of the Park. Ιt would be an omission not to mention that in the 70’s one of the most famous patrons of the area, and therefore of the park, was Manos Hadjidakis, the famous Greek composer, who also won an Oscar. Few meters away, it’s also his favorite restaurant “Magemenos Avlos” which still operates until today.
Address: Pangrati Grove, Athina 116 35, Entrance from Eftichidou or Eftichidou & Sp. Merkouri Street)
Access: Evangelismos Metro Station (Blue line)
Opening hours: Open 24h
Probona Grove is located in the area of Perissos, between Patissia and Nea Philadelphia. It is a small park of about 40 acres, behind the abandoned building of the historic Columbia record company.
The park has plenty of vegetation, a fountain and there are walking and running paths, a playground, and two basketball courts. In addition there is an old chapel of St. George and a large church in honor of St. George, St. Anargyroi and St. Fotini.
The park was named after doctor Dimitris Probonas, who came from Naxos and bequeathed an area of about 40 acres to the municipality of Athens. This area was a cemetery during the Byzantine period. It was first inhabited around 1870 by the family of Michalis Anagnostou and then by the families of Spyros Skaretzos and Dimitris Diapoulis.
Dimitrios Probonas was born in 1874 in Naxos. At the age of 16 he went to study in Athens. Despite his limited knowledge he became a pharmacist’s assistant. After many hardships he managed to complete university. In 1909 he established his own pharmacy with orthopedic supplies on Pireos Street. Along with his work he enrolled in medical school where he successfully completed his studies. He was elected member of the Cyclades Parliament in 1946 with the combination: “National Political Union”, (Venizelian Liberal Party), receiving 2,007 votes. He died on 6 May 1949 while he was a sitting MP. After his death, he bequeathed to the municipality of Athens an area of about 40 acres, while the greater part of his estate was donated to the Air Force, setting as the only condition in his will that it should become a recreational park for the Athenians. Originally the site was a municipal nursery and today it is one of the largest green spaces. The marble bust of Demetrius Probonas is located in the garden of the same name in Rizoupoli, where the doctor used to grow medicinal plants.
It is also worth noting that this park is also one of the parks in Athens exclusively for dogs. What does this mean? There are special de-stressing games for dogs, both for the physical part and for their minds. There is always water available and special shovels are there for owners to pick up the dogs’ dirt. In other words, we are dealing with a socialization area, fully organized and safe, ideal not only for dogs but also for owners since it is an environment with a strong green element. Indeed, in these parks there is also a separation between large and small dogs, so that everything is under control.
The main entrance to the Grove is located on Antheon Street, very close to the metro station in Perissos. There is another entrance, on the back side of Rizoupolis, on Hermippou Street.
Address: Eratonos 2, 11143, Athens
Access: Perissos Metro Station
Opening hours: open 24h
Goudi Metropolitan Park
Goudi Metropolitan Park is one of the largest open green public spaces in Athens: an integrated urban landscape in which the natural features, the historicity of the area and the architectural value of the buildings play a major role.
It is a lush area of 49 hectares that has been transformed into an organized recreation and sports area.
It is located quite close to the city centre between Messogeion, Katehaki and Kifissia avenues, but has retained the characteristics that allow it to function as an opening and a continuation of Mount Ymittos, one of the two largest mountains surrounding Athens.
A set of remarkable architectural buildings recalls the presence of the “Military City of Goudi”, which was founded at the beginning of the 20th century and operated until the 1980s. The sanatorium Sotiria used to operate in this area. Today, the Athens General Hospital Sotiria is located just a few kilometers away, and is one of the most important public hospital in the city.
The core of the park is under the ownership of the Ministry of National Defense, as it owns 550 acres of the total area. Specifically, 330 acres constitute the Army Park, and the remaining approximately 400 acres belong to the municipalities of Athens and Zografou.
Among other things, it includes a playground with wooden structures, sports facilities and a refreshment area.
What makes Goudi Park stand out is the impressive water route it has. It takes the form of a small river that flows as a waterfall from the playground. You will see it ending in the northern part at the height of the listed building. The waterway is about 300 meters long and two wooden access bridges have also been placed there.
Goudi Park is the place that will surprise you with its many variations in the natural landscape. Where you meet low vegetation, you will suddenly find tall trees in front of you. Of course, there is no shortage of grassy areas for leisurely strolls all year round.
Address: Goudi Metropolitan Park
Access: Katehaki Metro Station (Blue line)
Sygrou Estate is located in the northern suburbs of Athens, between the areas of Marousi and Kifissia. In 1921, it was bequeathed by Iphigenia A. Sygrou to the then Agricultural Society of EΓE with the aim of establishing schools of gardening, poultry farming, beekeeping, sericulture and animal husbandry with the mission of training “good farmers and gardeners”.
It is one of the last natural forests of the wider Attica prefecture and has an area of about 950 hectares, most of which is covered with pine trees (the common pine), but also several other species of trees such as pine trees, cypresses and numerous shrubs and other plants. Of the remaining 250 hectares of the estate, about 200 are landscaped for agricultural use, while the remaining area is occupied by the buildings of the Institute of Agricultural Sciences and the National School of Anavryta (which was attended by the former King Constantine II of Greece), as well as the preserved mansion of Andreas Syngrou and the church of Agios Andreas, the only gothic style Orthodox church, which is also preserved. Both of these buildings are the work of the famous architect Ernesto Chiller.
The Sygrou Forest has been designated a landscape of outstanding natural beauty and archaeological finds have been found that testify that the area has many years of history dating back to prehistoric times.
Address: Avenue. 182 Kifissia Avenue, Athens, Greece
Access: KAT Metro station (Green line)
Hours: Daily, 07:00 – 22.00,
Beekeeping Museum: Monday – Friday, 09.00 – 14.00
Antonis Tritsis Metropolitan Park, Ilion
Antonis Tritsis Park is located in the area of Ilion, bordering the municipalities of Agioi Anargyroi and Kamatero. It is the largest park in Athens, with a total area of approximately 1,200 acres. As an indication of its size, Hyde Park in London has an area of 1,420 acres and Central Park in New York has an area of 3,410 acres.
Within the park, the wet element is dominant with the 6 artificial lakes and the artificial canal that connects them, as well as the rich flora and fauna of the park that make it unique in the whole city.
Since 2005, the Hellenic Ornithological Society has been systematically active in Tritsis Park, mainly through environmental education activities, which had identified the importance of the park for wild birds since the 1990s, as an “oasis” within the urban fabric and especially the migratory birds need it very much, as a resting station on their long journey. During the period 1993-2017, the Ornithological Institute has observed 198 species of birds in the park, including 12 alien species that do not occur in Greece, which means that they either escaped from captivity and found a safe haven in the area, or were released-released by private individuals. One of them, a species of an exotic parrot, has been breeding in recent years within the Park, where it now maintains a small population.
The history of the Park:
Even more interesting is the history of the park, which dates back to the 19th century when the area where the park is now located was a Turkish confederation. During the Greek Revolution, specifically in 1833, the landowner Ioannis Papatheodoros Lefakis from Andros bought the land and built his first estate of 300 acres, exactly where the Vasilissis Tower is located today. Later, this estate was sold to English landowners, while in 1848 it was bought by Queen Amalia who, after a visit, was enthusiastic and decided to develop it, buying the surrounding land and by 1861 the 300 acres had become 2,500, and a model farm of that time had already been created with thousands of fruit trees. 700 mulberry trees, many acres of peanut trees, about 180 acres of vines, thousands of olive trees, rare varieties of ornamental plants from foreign countries, crops of cotton, corn, corn, clover, oats, oats, rye, potatoes, beans, beans, beans, 40 good breed cows from England, Switzerland and Aldeburgh, birds from India and Africa, rare species of sheep, piglets, Arabian horses, and it is also said that the Queen brought giraffes! The buildings that were constructed and some still exist today were used as stables and as workers’ homes.
Pyrgos Vasilissis (Queen’s Tower)
The current Gothic Revival Vasilissis Tower” was inaugurated in 1854. Apart from the impressive entrance, which rises in the form of a castle with battlements and smaller towers in a stepped arrangement, the main hall stands out for its elaborate decoration with blue walls, golden geometric decoration, the wooden floor made of different types of wood, small furniture and Gothic-style fixtures. The garden is lush with palm trees, romantic statues, sarcophagi and a fountain. Today, the tower has been restored and is in excellent condition and is open to visitors by appointment for a guided tour.
The specific location where the park is located is otherwise called Eptalofos, because of an artificial hillock created by Otto and Amalia, and the other six natural hillocks that existed were named by Argonauts: Jason, Polydeuces, Castor, Theseus, Hercules, Orpheus, Pyleus
Since 1863, when Otto’s eviction took place, the estate did not have its best days until it passed into the hands of the couple Ioannis Baptist Serpieris and Penelope Lidoriki who tried to revive it. However, World War II interrupted their plans and eventually during the war, Nazis settled there. Immediately after the end of the war and the Liberation, the estate passed to the State, granting the land to various public organizations such as the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, now the National Centre for Rehabilitation, the Mother Baby Centre, now the Child Protection Centre of Attica, and the Foundation for the Protection and Rehabilitation of Children and Youth with Mental Retardation, Theotokos. In 1993, it takes its current legal form and the current Tritsis Park begins to be created.
Holy Church of Apostle Paul
Within Tritsis Park there is a holy church of special value and importance: It is the Holy Church of Apostle Paul, built in 1958, under the supervision of the great Athenian architect Dimitris Pikionis, on the then royal estates. It is a stone-built church of great architectural and aesthetic value, a project in which the architect was Pikionis’ collaborator Thanasis Koutsogiannis, while all the hagiographies are by Fotis Kontoglou. The inauguration took place on 22 June 1960.
Address: Antonis Tritsis Metropolitan Park, Spirou Moustakli 23, Ilion 131 22
Access: Pyrgos Vasilissis Station of suburban train
Hours: Open 24h
Diomidous Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is located in Haidari, 8 km from the center of Athens and occupies an area of 1860 acres, on the northern slopes of Mount Egaleo. The cultivated and visited area of the Garden is located in the western part.
About 200 of the Garden’s 1,860 acres are cultivated and are home to more than 4,000 species of plants. They are divided into the following sections: Arboretum, Anthium, Medicinal Plants, Historical Plants, Systematic Section, Economic Plants, Greenhouse, Nursery.
In the boundaries of the Garden, we find one of the oldest forests of pine (Pinus halepensis) in Attica with a natural understory of skina (Pistacia lentiscus), holly (Quercus coccifera) and other species. A large part of the garden is also covered by a forest of Pinus halepensis ‘enriched’, after reforestation, with Pinus brutia and Cupressus sempervirens s.l. A significant area of scrub and toasted grassland is made up of olive trees (Cistus spp.), aspen (Sarcopoterium spinosum), asphodel (Phlomis fruticosa), thymelaea (Euphorbia acanthothamos), thymelaea (Thymelaea spp.), thistle (Euphorbia acanthothamos), and thymelaea (Thymelaea spp.). ), thyme (Thymbra capitata), thymes (Satureja thymbra), filled in spring with flowering annuals and geophytes.
Of particular interest is the chasmophyte flora on the limestone cliffs of the hills. The visitor is impressed by the rock bellflower, which is endemic to the hills around Athens and the neighbouring islands (Campanula celsii subsp. celsii), the Greek fritillaria (Fritillaria graeca), the many autumnal Greek cyclamen (Cyclamen graecum), the autumn and winter lilies (Sternbergia lutea, Crocus cancellatus subsp. mazziaricus, Crocus laevigatus, Crocus cartwrightianus, Colchicum atticum), but also from the multitude of orchids (Himantoglossum robertianum, Ophrys spp., Orchis spp., Serapias spp.).
The Botanical Garden is also designated as a wildlife sanctuary. This means that all the organisms that live there are protected, both they and their environment, so that they are preserved, reproduce and maintain the ecosystem in its natural balance. In the Garden you will see foxes, hares, rabbits, skunks, partridges, partridges, guenons, owls, turtles, frogs and several species of freshwater fish, insects, etc. These animals live in their natural environment and are maintained in numbers through mechanisms of competition that ultimately lead to ecological balance. It is this balance that man has disturbed throughout the planet and future generations will suffer the consequences of indiscriminate intervention and uncontrolled exploitation. So you can see how important it is to preserve an undisturbed ecosystem, an enclave of wildlife such as the Garden, in the inhospitable urban fabric that surrounds it. This is one of the reasons why pets are not allowed in the Garden. In addition to the fact that our domestic friends are at risk from diseases or parasites that circulate widely among wild animals, there is the potential for them to affect the natural ecosystem in ways that are hard to imagine.
An elegant cafeteria operates in an area of the Garden, next to the Main Entrance. In the well-kept wooden, woodland setting, the experienced staff at the Canteen can offer the Garden’s friends coffee, pastries, ice cream, soft drinks, light snacks and other delicacies. In other words, everything they need to add an extra pleasant touch to their visit.
The canteen is open from the morning, when visitors enter the Garden, and continues to operate in the evening hours, depending on the season. However, when the Garden is closed to visitors, patrons of the Canteen should confine themselves to the area around it.
The Julia and Alexandros Diomidos Botanical Garden is a place whose main purpose is Environmental Education, mainly for schoolchildren and other organised groups, as well as Scientific Research carried out in its entire area by its scientific staff and collaborating institutions from Greece and abroad. It also accepts a limited number of individual visitors on a controlled basis, as park services are not part of its purpose. It is mainly a place of visitation and not a “ride”. In order to be able to enter quickly and without delays, it is advisable to visit its website in advance and to have already taken the zero value ticket.
Address: Iera Odos 403, Chaidari 124 61
Access: Agia Marina Metro Station (Blue line)
Hours: 09.00 to sunset
Aesthetic Forest of Hymettus (Kaisariani & Byronos)
The Aesthetic Forest of Hymettus is located on the western side of Mount Hymettus, in Attica, and is bordered to the north, east and south by the rocky slopes of Hymettus and to the west by the Athens University Campus and the municipalities of Kaisariani and Byronas. The total area of the forest is 4,460 hectares.
The great reforestation effort of the Philoforestry in combination with the restoration of the monastery of Kaisariani, was aimed at creating a harmonious ensemble of nature and culture and at the same time protecting the soil and the native vegetation of the area, improving the aesthetics of the environment and offering an area for the recreation of the residents of the capital.
The Aesthetic Forest of Hymettus stretches from the edge of the city to the rocky slopes of Hymettus at an altitude of 760 metres. The area is dominated by moderate and steep slopes (30% – 65%), and the topography is intense and fragmented with many hilly outcrops. The forest is crossed by the streams of the Iridanos and Koutalas rivers running from east to west with little or no flow.
The reforestation interventions in the whole of the Aesthetic Forest have resulted in the creation of a mosaic vegetation dominated by pine (rough pine) in pure stands or mixed with cypress and broad-leaved species such as hickory, carob and downy oak. In rocky areas there is pine together with holly and wild yew. The mosaic is complemented by units with a special character (in a limited area) such as the ‘historical olive grove’, the adjacent cypress grove, the eucalyptus trees mainly to the south of the Kaisariani cemetery, the riparian vegetation, etc.
The mosaic of vegetation (artificially created or natural) gives a particular physiognomic variety to the area which also reflects the variety of the different habitats. The mosaic of vegetation makes the area distinct from its neighbours and makes it more accessible to vegetation management, with the aim of enhancing the aesthetics of the area, in addition to its ecological contribution. This diversity, which is the result of the management of the Philoforestry, will, under normal conditions, continue to exist and be highlighted by individual variations.
The geological formations found in the area are the lower and upper marble and the Caesarian shales. Their contact on the slope of Kalopoula is characteristic. At the western end of the area there are semi-metamorphic rocks and new and old deposits consisting of conglomerates, mudstones, sands and clays in varying proportions. The soils formed on these rocks are predominantly skeletal, stony and shallow, due to the severe degradation of the vegetation in the past.
Due to the diversity of habitats, the area is important for birdlife, particularly for smaller bird species (e.g. ostriches). Of the species that have been observed in the Hymettus area, many nest, winter or occur permanently or occasionally in the area. Indicatively, the following are mentioned: Common Partridge (Alectoris chucar) , Decapod (Streptopelia decaocto), Wood Thrush (Streptopelia turtur), Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), Owl (Athene noctua), Curlew (Galerida cristata), Red-winged Hawk (Erithacus rubecula), Blackbird (Turdus merula), Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), Nightingale (Luscinia megarynchos), Red-winged Teal (Parus ater), Eurasian Nightingale (Parus major), Magpie (Pica pica), House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), House Finch (Fringilla coelebs), Common Sparrow (Carduelis chloris).
The following mammals have been observed in the area: fox (Vulpes vulpes), hare (Lepus europeus) and hedgehog (Erinaceus europeus) and a species of bat and reptiles: green lizard (Lacerta trilineata), house lizard (Elaphe situla), lizard (Coluber najatum), viper (Vipera ammodytes) and the tortoise Testudo marginata.
What the visitor can do
The area of the Aesthetic Forest is ideal for light recreational activities such as:
Hiking on the roads, footpaths and trails of the area.
Sports, individual or group (without the use of equipment and infrastructure).
Resting in various specially designed places, either individually or individually (without the use of equipment or sports equipment).
Enjoying the view from various high points and vantage points in the area.
Cycling on forest roads.
Visit to the monasteries of Kaisariani, St. John the Theologian and St. George Koutala and the monuments of Taxiarches Hill and Ascension.
Educational activities, school and other, related to the natural environment and especially to the vegetation and flora of Hymettus.
Various individual activities of a mild nature.
Organised guided tours of the FEA Botanical Garden
The Aesthetic Forest hosts sights such as the Monastery of Kaisariani, the churches of Ag.Markos and Taxiarches, the chapel of Ascension, the monasteries of Ag.John the Baptist and Ag.George Koutalas and other sights (e.g. the Monastery of Asterion), which are obligatory to pass through the Aesthetic Forest. The areas surrounding these sites are treated with special attention since they are points of intense pressure from visitors. Care of the vegetation ensures both the preservation and protection of the natural resource and the continued ability of the area to meet the public’s recreational demands.
Address: Dervenakion 92, Vironas 162 32
Access: Bus 224 from Syntagma
Hours: Open 24h
Kifissia Grove (Alsos Kifisias)
It was created in 1885 when the Attica Railway decided to extend the line to Kifissia and, at the same time, to contribute to the regeneration of the area as a compensatory benefit for the residents.
They were often startled by the appearance and noise of the then steam-powered railway engine. The company therefore bought a piece of land between the Railway Station and Platanos, which belonged to the wealthy Constantinople merchant Stefanos Georgantas, and replaced the vineyards and pigsties there with the Grove. Tall palm trees were planted, carpets of flowers were created and the whole area was landscaped with imaginative French-style designs.
All together they made the area unrecognisable. 25 acres of cultivated land were transformed into the present jewel of the area, the Grove of Kifissia. Many distinguished citizens of Athenian life arrived by train every afternoon, just to enjoy their ice cream at the confectionery of the Altos. Among them were Venizelos, Drosinis, Diligiannis, Benakis.
The Grove has been designed in the style of the French School, in which symmetry and straight lines prevail in the design and planting. Palm trees, carpets of flowers and lots of greenery composed the setting. The grove is recommended for families with children and is a particularly safe environment for play. There are 3 paths that can be followed, with their branches, while fountains, gazebos, fountains, benches and squares elegantly decorate the space, giving it a lively atmosphere. The buildings found in the Grove are painted green to harmonise with the space.
Also, every year since 1937, the Kifissia Flower Show has been held in the spring in the Grove. An institution that is a great success.
Address: Theod. Diligianni 11, Kifisia 145 61
Access: Kifissia Metro Station (Green line).
Hours: 09.30 – 23.00
Nea Smyrni Grove
Nea Smyrni Park is a “lung” of greenery that was created in the 1920s. It is one of the largest parks in the municipalities of Attica, with an area of 50,000 square meters and is surrounded by the main streets of the city:
The area that the Grove occupies today had already been earmarked for this use in the original plan of the city in 1924, being the first project of the settlement. Before the settlement of the refugees, the area belonged to Plakiote landowners and, according to testimonies, was covered with almond and eucalyptus trees, while two large streams ran through the northern and southern sides. In 1926, the area was divided by barbed wire and planting began on the basis of a plan drawn up by the Ministry of Transport.
Today, the area is made up of forest trees (Scots pine, pine, Thassos pine, cypress, etc.), about 20 %, and ornamental trees, almost 20 %, while 60 % of the plant population is made up of conifers. The plant material of the grove is characterised by almost monoculture and dry greenery planted at a very high density, although, in recent years, the dry vegetation character has been altered due to irrigation with furrows. The architecture of the grove is completed by two fountains and the entire area is covered by an iron fence.
In the past, the grove was home to a pair of peacocks, a fox and other animals in special areas. Today, within the site, there are pigeon boxes with a total surface area of 60 m, which house hundreds of pigeons. Birds (blackbirds, decoys, sparrows, etc.) form the main part of the fauna of the Park.
There are no sports facilities in the area, but the playground is open daily. The perimeter paths are used for sports, exercise and jogging by individuals and athletes from city clubs, while the entire perimeter is covered by a cycle path.
Within the Grove there is a canteen and an open-air theatre with a stage with a capacity of around 2 500 people, backstage, changing rooms, outdoor chess and an environmental information centre, where music and theatre events are held during the summer months during the local festival. Usually with free or very low admission. Occasionally, book exhibitions have also been held in the Grove.
The first event in the Grove dates back to 1937, specifically, the weekend of 21-22 August, when the hereditary committee of Agia Fotini organised a rural festival, which included dances, a Smyrna festival and food. 6,500 tickets were then made available and the proceeds went towards the building of the church. This celebration in the Grove of Nea Smyrni was established as an annual institution, which contributed significantly to the development of the cultural life of the city.
In the period 1941-1944, the area of the Grove was occupied by the German occupation troops. In the post-war period, many cross-country championships were held there, such as the 1945 Panhellenic Men’s Cross-Country Championships, many women’s national championships, regional championships of Attica, and the popular cross-country race in memory of Kostas Kotzias, organised for many years by Panionios.
In June 1992, the municipal cinema “CINE ALSOS” operates for the first time in the theatre of the Grove. The summer cinema operated until 2006, in a specially designed area. From 2002 until 2009, every spring there was a “Karagiozis Festival”, in cooperation with the Athenian Mantos, with the presence of important creators of the Shadow Theatre and the accompaniment of a folk instrument orchestra. The event continued until the death of Mantos Athenaeus. In 2006, the makeshift structure was replaced by a permanent stage. In that year an extensive redevelopment project of the Grove began, which was completed in 2007. With the redevelopment, the Grove was transformed into a new urban space for greenery, promenade, recreation and culture, environmentally friendly, since the materials used in the redevelopment were stone, soil and wood.
There are five citizen entrances, two wheeled entrances and three disabled entrances. Access to the Grove is provided by various means of public transport, including trams, buses and local public transport.
Address: Park Nea Smyrni, Nea Smyrni 171 21
Access: Tram T6, Aigaiou Stop
Hours: 06.00 – 01.00
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (Stavros Niarchos Park)
A public space, with free access and open public participation in a variety of cultural, educational, sports, environmental and recreational events and activities. It includes the facilities of the National Library of Greece and the National Opera House, as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park, one of the largest green spaces in Athens, covering an area of 210 acres. The SNFCC was created with an exclusive donation from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which upon completion of the project handed it over to the Greek State. The SNFCC Monopic S.A. is a non-profit organization and its purpose is the maintenance, operation and management of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre and Stavros Niarchos Park, while it has developed its own programming of cultural, educational and sports events. It is supervised by the Ministry of Finance.
The Stavros Niarchos Park covers an area of 210 hectares and occupies 85% of the total area of the SNFCC. It hosts a variety of plant species such as olives, schina, kumarias, carob trees, kuchoupia, laurels, cypresses and a very large variety of Greek native aromatic plants. The choice of plants was made in order to alternate seasonal flowering and create interesting colours or textures and includes 16 species of trees, 161 species of shrubs and a variety of grasses and bulbs. Each month brings a new colour and each season showcases a different combination of flowers and foliage. In the Stavros Niarchos Park, different species of birds have already appeared and different species of birds have either wintered or stationed themselves during their migration.
The Labyrinth of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is an integral part of Stavros Niarchos Park. Planted with grass and surrounded by olive trees, it is a circular, green and tranquil space, which visitors find by following the Western Paths. These natural features combined with its location, in a relatively more secluded yet elevated part of the Park, make it the ideal environment for an escape from the hurried pace of everyday life. Unlike three-dimensional mazes whose aim is to disorientate, in the one-dimensional maze of the SNFCC there is only one path leading to the centre. The Labyrinth invites visitors to wander through it and stop time for a while.
In 2017 o The Vegetable Garden was created as an area of the Park that is used both for urban growing of organic vegetables and for the education of children and adults. A typical example is the popular Little Gardeners programme for children, which introduces children to the flora of Stavros Niarchos Park, raises awareness of the importance of green spaces in the heart of a city and introduces them to the concept of sustainability through movement activities, hands-on gardening and role-playing games that promote environmental protection.
Xefoto is the heart of Stavros Niarchos Park. Right in the centre, it is the crossroads where all the paths meet, while during the summer months it hosts a wide range of activities and events. It is surrounded by coniferous trees, olive trees and herbs that thrive in the Greek climate, creating an impressive passage from their shade to the abundant Attic light. The Xefoto, and Stavros Niarchos Park in general, are a lung of greenery, offering both residents and their thousands of visitors the opportunity to get in touch with nature without being removed from the urban fabric.
The playgrounds are the liveliest and happiest parts of the Stavros Niarchos Park and of course the meeting point for young visitors. The area, designed in a sustainable and completely environmentally friendly way, consists of instruments made of wood that comes from logging based on sustainable forestry. Contrary to the usual restrictions, the SNFCC Playgrounds are not enclosed by railings, but are surrounded by bushes, allowing children to discover their limits and the world in a safe and pleasant environment.
In all areas, almost every time of the year, you could find activities for adults and kids, such as yoga and pilates in the park, running training, gardening etc to know better the park and the activities you might interested in.
Address: Leof. Andrea Siggrou 364, Kallithea 176 74.
Access: Free shuttle bus from Syntagma or Syngrou-Fix / Tzitzifies & Epaminonda Tram Station.
Opening hours: 06.00-22.00
Ellinikon Experience Park
On the site of the former Athens International Airport, where the three hangars of the Air Force dominate, The Experience Park is a green oasis that offers unique experiences for all visitors. The Ellinikon, with a total area of 6,200,000 sqm, will be a new benchmark for Greece, a model of urban development and sustainable living.
The Experience Park offers a multitude of activities and experiences for every age and every preference. It has been designed to create a new green oasis for Athenians, and to become a model of sustainable living and recreation. The park is constantly evolving. With each visit discover something new.
The benchmark of the Experience Park and the ideal meeting place. Be part of an exciting experience with impressive water choreographies.
A space inspired by the history of civil aviation. Wooden toys and structures offered for entertainment, education and exploration. All designed with the safety of young visitors in mind.
Connect with nature and yourself. A sanctuary where the element of water and Mediterranean nature prevail.
Exercise in nature and tone your body and mind. Discover modern outdoor fitness equipment suitable for all fitness levels. Of course you will find plenty of space for running, yoga and other outdoor activities.
Address: The Ellinikon Experience Park, Athens Riviera, Ellinikon, 16777
Access: Elliniko Metro Station (Red Line)
Opening hours: 09.00 – 22.00, Children’s Forest: 09.00 – 21.00
Sounion National Park
It is the smallest national park in the country with an area of 35,000 hectares, and is of great historical and geological interest. The area belongs to the Municipality of Lavreotiki and is located in the southeastern side of Attica.
It is the place where the mines of Lavrion operated from about 3000 BC until the 1970s (with long breaks). The place from which Ancient Athens extracted metals such as lead and especially silver to which it owed a significant part of its power. More than a forest, the area is a geological park and a museum of ancient technology.
The silver of Lavrio was a key source of the wealth that made classical Athens a great power. Full of underground galleries and tunnels, the area is a secret paradise for cavers and climbers. The historical monuments, natural trails and the beauty of the landscape attract a select few.
In a beautiful pine grove full of wooden picnic tables and overlooking the sea towards Makronissos island is the Egkolo Chaos. Shortly after the mountain village of Agios Konstantinos (Kamariza) you will find a sign that will lead you there. This unique sinkhole is one of the most impressive sights of the area. It is a natural monument that probably originated from a cave roof collapse. It is over 50 metres deep and is now fenced off for safety reasons, but you can get close enough to admire the curious sight. The chasm is also called “Kitsos’ Chaos” after the famous robber who is said to have operated in the area in the 19th century. Its heart-shaped shape has given it a special romanticism and legend has it that it is the result of a meteorite fall. You can walk around the chasm without difficulty, as there is protective barbed wire everywhere.
The ancient metal washers of Lavreotiki
In the Lavreotiki area, 750 types of minerals have been recorded, making it one of the richest mineral subsoil areas on Earth. One spot that will definitely cause you a lot of interest is the so well-preserved metal washers, in the ancient silver processing system, that is. The most well-preserved structures are just south of Chaos and are easily accessible by car. They are located outdoors and give a good insight into the ore processing process. They are rectangular structures partly carved into the rock and partly built. They were part of the production of silver in classical times. Because the ores in the area were mixed, they were essentially ground in a kind of mill and then washed in washing machines with running water to remove the components that were not needed. There was also provision for recycling the water so that less of it was used.
If you take a walk around the area you will also find the beautiful chapel of Agia Triada. This is where the main area of the ancient mines with the galleries and shafts actually starts. Enjoy the Mediterranean landscape, relax in the view of the dense greenery and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. On the way back, a stop at the taverns of Lavrio or Palea Focaea or a swim in the sea with the temple of Poseidon in the background is worth it to complete your escape!
Address: Sounion National Park
Access: KTEL Attikis to Sounio or you can book a private taxi/van
Parnitha National Park
Parnitha is the highest of the mountains that surround the Attica region. It occupies a large area, which includes dozens of peaks, gorges, ravines, gullies and plateaus.
In 1961 the largest part of the mountain was declared a National Park. The Park consists of the core, which occupies the central part of the mountain (approximately 38 000 ha) and the peripheral zone (approximately 220 000 ha). Most of the core (90 %) is covered by Abies cephalonica (Abies cephalonica), while the peripheral zone is mostly covered by tall Pinus halepensis (Pinus halepensis).
An interesting feature of Parnitha is its great diversity. From east to west, long ridges stretch from east to west, forming 16 peaks with an altitude of more than 1 000 m, the highest peak being Karavola (1 413 m).
The arrangement of the rocks present in Parnitha favours the creation of many springs. Where limestone (which allows water to pass through it) and slate (which does not allow water to pass through) meet, the water comes to the surface in the form of a spring. In Parnitha, 45 continuous-flow springs have been recorded, while the spring of Kithara is very well known, which from ancient times until today supplied the Adrianion aqueduct, which, passing under the Kifissos River, transports the water of Parnitha to the reservoir of Kolonaki. Other well-known springs are those of Ag. There are no rivers with a continuous flow in the mountain, but there are many seasonal streams, whose water is clear, because Parnitha is covered with vegetation that protects the soil from erosion. The main streams are those of Ag. Triada, Houni, Molas, Keladona, Ag.
Parnitha also has several caves and chasms, particularly on its western and south-western side, where limestone predominates. The most famous cave is Panos, named after the worship of the god Pan and the Nymphs. It is located at an altitude of 620 m, at the northern end of the gorge of Keladona. The most beautiful caves are those of Keramidiou (27 m deep), the two caves in Tamilthi (each 35 m deep), the Goura cave (20 m deep) and the cave-basement of Dhekelia (vertical depth 20 m, two chambers) and Davelis (vertical depth 8 m, cave 200 m2).
To have your break from your hiking day, there are two refugees where you could have your coffee, light lunch, or just admire the view from their yard: Bafi and Flambouri refugees, both could easily reached by car.
Parnitha is only 30 km from the centre of Athens and is easily accessible from the south and west. From the south, a paved road climbs from the foothills of Parnitha (cable car position) to Ag. Triada (altitude 1,020 m), where it meets the 16 km long – closed for cars – ring road to the core of the National Park. From the west, an asphalt road climbs from the settlement of Phili to the spring of Phili (17 km), where a forest road begins to reach Aghia Triada.
Address: National Park of Parnitha, Parnithos, Fili 133 41
Access: from Larissis Station Metro (Red line), take the bus 726 to arrive at Cable Car Station Regency Casinos
Royal Palace of Tatoi, Varympompi
Tatoi is located 15 km north of the centre of Athens, at the foot of Parnitha. It was built in 1889. The estate was the summer palace of the former Greek royal family. In 1898, Tatoi acquired its maximum area: 47,427 acres.
The distance from the entrance of Varympompi is long enough to reach the historical core of the estate. Access from the Lefka entrance to the Historic Core is easier.
On the estate you can tour the buildings, walk the estate paths, walk your dogs, ride your bike. A very beautiful route is the one to the artificial lake Kithara which has an excellent view to the region of Attica and is of rare natural beauty. It is one of the first road works of the Koumoundourou Governments with the year of construction in 1876 as the stone inscriptions on top of the bridges testify.
On the estate there are many open spaces where you can enjoy your picnic. Pay close attention to your rubbish. Litter bins can be found in several places on the estate. For horse riding enthusiasts, the Tatoi Estate is an ideal destination. We would also like to inform you that motor vehicles of all kinds are prohibited in the historic core of the estate.
Apart from gentle (or intense for some) walking on the numerous beautiful paths from the gate of Varybopi to the barracks building, the activities that one can do for sports inside the estate are of course jogging (off-road) – mountain running, and off-road (or mountain biking).
So we urge you to leave your car at the Estate gates (the further away the better), put on your trainers or hop on your MTB or trekking bike and head inland ….. Tatoi will reward you! The routes and their combinations are countless, their difficulty varies, so everyone can choose the route that suits them.
The former royal estate of Tatoi as an important cultural capital and as part of the wider Parnithos National Park is protected by a special status and is governed by specific rules of operation, unwritten but respected.
Address: Royal Palace of Tatoi
Access: Bus 503 from Kifissia Square (Kifissia Metro Station, Green line)
Opening hours: Sunrise to sunset