Watch the Changing of the Guards and View the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Head to Parliament in Syntagma Square and you can watch the Changing of the Guards which takes place every hour around the clock. Members of this special unit known as Tsoliades have to go through rigorous training to learn to keep their minds and bodies still, with their faces completely motionless. They guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument sculpted in the 1930s that blends ancient architecture with French Empire design. On the steps and the wall flanking it, are inscriptions recording battles in the First and Second Balkan wars, the Greco-Turkish War, World War I and World War II. It sits in front of the Parliament Building where the guards stand perfectly still for an hour until changing positions in pairs, synchronizing their movements. On Sunday mornings at 11, the ceremony is a bit more elaborate and includes fancier dress.
Stroll Through the National Garden of Athens
Taking a stroll through the National Garden of Athens can be a wonderful way to enjoy tranquility away from the crowds. Located right behind the Parliament building, the Royal Palace once owned this picturesque park, but today the city owns it and offers it to the public to enjoy a tropical oasis in the heart of a concrete jungle. Wander around enjoying the songs of the nightingales, viewing all sorts of colorful flowers and trees along the meandering pathways. The garden also features several ancient ruins and a little zoo home to a lion, peacocks, wolves, monkeys, goats and a variety of birds.
Browse the Impressive Collections at the Cycladic Museum of Art and Benaki Museum
One of the best things to do during the hottest part of the day in the summer is to head inside to check out some incredible collections of Greek art. The Cycladic Museum of Art boasts the world’s largest collection of prehistoric art from the Cyclades Islands. It contains over 3,000 pieces of Cycladic, ancient Greek and Cypriot art that dates from 3000 BC to the 4th-century BC, with its marble figurines one of the most popular features. The building itself is worth viewing as one of the city’s best examples of neoclassical architecture.
At the Benaki Museum, you can follow the course of Greek art from the prehistoric era through today, spread across three floors. The ground floor exhibits remarkably sophisticated classical sculptures, archaic ceramics and sophisticated Neolithic vases, while the first floor showcase pieces from the late Byzantine period and under Ottoman rule with examples of folk costume and religious icons, while the top floor contains documents, weapons and paintings from the Greek War of Independence dating to the early 19th-century. In between, on the second floor is a cafeteria.