A verdant archway full of plants at the National Garden in Athens

© Lazaros Papandreou / Getty Images

National Garden

Top choice in Syntagma & Plaka

The former royal gardens, designed by Queen Amalia in 1838, are a pleasantly unkempt park that makes a welcome shady refuge from summer heat and traffic. Tucked among the trees are a cafe, a playground, turtle and duck ponds, and a tiny (if slightly dispiriting) zoo. The main entrance is on Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias, south of Parliament; you can also enter from Irodou Attikou to the east, or from the adjacent Zappeion to the south.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Syntagma & Plaka attractions

1. Parliament

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Built between 1836 and 1842 by Bavarian architect Friedrich von Gärtner, Greece's Parliament was originally the royal palace. From its balcony, the…

2. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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In front of Parliament, the traditionally costumed evzones (presidential guards) stand by the tomb and change every hour on the hour. On Sunday at 11am, a…

3. Zappeio Hall

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Inaugurated in 1888, the neoclassical Zappeio Hall is named after Evangelis Zappas, the tycoon who funded the first modern Olympics in 1896. Used to host…

5. Church of Sotira Lykodimou

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6. Presidential Guard


Get a close-up look at the evzones, the traditionally dressed Greek soldiers, standing in front of their main barracks and, further down Irodou Attikou,…

7. Zappeion


The southwestern third of the green space at the centre of Athens, adjacent to the National Garden, is a network of wide, tree-shaded walkways around the…

8. Plateia Syntagmatos

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