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.