If you’re aching for a quiet moment away from the bustling city centre, the National Garden has all the necessary trappings for an imaginary journey into the wild! Quiet and almost refreshing (due to the fact it maintains a cooler microclimate), in comparison to the rest of downtown, this is the perfect place to take shelter if you’re visiting Athens during a heat wave. The National Garden was Queen Amalia's life work, and raised more than a few eyebrows when it was first planted in 1839 by her German gardener; back then, Athenians did not feel the need for a royal garden, as the surrounding landscape was still rural and underdeveloped. Almost 180 years later, they couldn't be more grateful!
The main entrance on Amalias Avenue, named after the Queen herself, leads on to 70 acres worth of luscious vegetation, snaking paths and a sprinkling of ancient Greek ruins and tame animals - a pleasant reminder that the National Garden used to house a small-scale zoo. On Saturday mornings, the place is briefly transformed into a runner's paradise, while less sporty types can seek out two very different cafes: Aegli is an upscale coffee spot with an adjacent open-air movie theatre for dreamy summertime screenings, while Kipos is a much more traditional stone-built establishment that's so ingrained in the garden's DNA, some people have a hard time locating it! Zappeion Hall, the first building to be erected for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world, looms large behind the greenery, but it's the tiny fairytale-like children's library nestled in the heart of the garden that will surprise you the most. Happy hunting!