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Bettany Hughes's Athens

Bettany Hughes, the British historian and broadcaster, reveals here favourite attractions, hotels and restaurants in Athens. Why Athens? Athens is my spiritual home. I spent hours walking its streets while researching a book about Socrates, who described the city as his "psyche". It's steeped in history, and full of archaeological treasures. And for all Greece's current woes, in a strange kind of way, drama, tragedy and high politics have always been part and parcel of the city's make-up.

Anything special I should pack?

This might not be very original, but a good pair of shoes. Because so much of Athens has been pedestrianised the city is made for walking. Plus a scarf – it can be windy.

What's the first thing you do?

I go straight to the Acropolis, and walk around the base of the rock. I sit with the Acropolis at my back and think about the city's extraordinary history over the last 3,500 years.

Where would you send a first-time visitor?

The New Acropolis Museum which has a glass floor allowing you to see through to the excavations below: a real layer cake of Greek history. In short, it's an archaeological site and museum wrapped in one.

What should I avoid?

Watch your handbag around the central railway station. That said, for all the troubling television images you might have seen in recent months, I've walked the streets late at night and never had any trouble.

What should I bring home?

Some honey – Greek honey is the best in the world. The bee has been worshipped in Greece for centuries so honey-makers are given the respect they deserve.

Author: York Membery
Tuesday, April 24, 2012