Please bear in mind that due to Covid-19 the information that we present in our articles regarding the timetables of public transportation, hotels, restaurants, etc. may be subject to change. We highly advise you to double-check before proceeding with any bookings. Rest assured that we here at BTI Athens are doing our best to keep up with these turbulent times and provide you with up-to-date travel information. Do not hesitate to reach out for any questions, we’ll be more than happy to help!
Adjacent to the Hellenic Parliament and just a few meters away from Syntagma Square lies the National Garden of Athens. Spanning 16 hectares in total, this green oasis in the center of the Greek capital is home to historical landmarks and the Ζappeion Hall.
Locals head here for a relaxed morning walk or in the evening to catch a movie in the open-air Cine Aegli.
Take a stroll in the peaceful flourished garden and discover its history through the building and antiquities that lie in its premises.
The National Garden of Athens
Commissioned in 1838 by Queen Amalia, wife of King Otto, the National Garden of Athens was initially named the “Royal Garden” or “The Garden of Amalia.”
It is said that Her Majesty was spending at least three hours daily in the garden and she planted herself the imposing palm trees that today are 25 meters long.
The German agronomist Friedrich Schmidt was appointed for the design of the garden and he imported 500 species of plants and various animals such as peacocks, ducks, and turtles.
Even though many of the plants didn’t survive in the Meditteranean climate, the garden is until nowadays home to 519 species and plant varieties.
The King and the Queen had their own private space in the upper garden and allowed the entrance to the public only in specific hours.
However, since the 1920s the garden is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
The National Garden of Athens was the setting in an incident that played a great role in the country’s history. On the 30th of September 1920, King Alexander who was ruling Greece at the time was bitten by a monkey while walking in the Royal Garden.
Upon his death, the deposed King Constantine I, father of King Alexander, returned to Greece.
He supported and succeeded in the election of the monarchist Dimitrios Gounaris as a new Prime Minister changing the country’s political environment.
A series of political events followed leading to the catastrophe of Smyrna in 1922 and the Exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.
As you walk through the garden you’ll also discover the Zappeion, a neoclassical building that was built in 1878 for the modern Olympic Games.
Today it hosts public exhibitions, conferences, and events. The donator was Evangelis Zappas, founder of the Zappian Olympic Games.
Why You Should Visit the National Garden
Visiting the National Garden of Athens is certainly a must.
Not only is it a great place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle but also due to its privileged location, it can easily fit your sightseeing schedule.
As you stroll around Athens’ most beautiful public park you’ll come across six lakes, around 7,000 trees, and 40,000 bushes that originate in different parts of the world.
Palms and cypress trees from the Canary Islands, pines from Australia, and Chinese trees-of-heaven compose the fairytale scenery.
Moreover, the garden features statues and monuments as well as antiquities such as the sundial at the main entrance.
A Roman floor that was discovered during excavations in the 19th century is now placed close to the entrance on Vasilissis Sophias Avenue.
The National Garden of Athens not only is a place of unique beauty but also of great historical significance.
Things to Do in the National Garden of Athens
Aside from a long walk or a picnic, there are plenty of things to do in the National Garden of Athens.
The entrance to the library is free and little ones will love it.
It features two reading rooms, a room for music and films, and a room where fairytale narrations take place.
There is also a conservatory that is considered to be the country’s first greenhouse and until nowadays, plants are cultivated here before being replanted to the garden.
The perfect place to finish off your walk is the little cozy cafe which is located at the entrance of the Irodou Attikou Street.
Take a stroll to explore all of the garden’s hidden corners and discover the Zappeion Hall. The neo-classical building is of great importance and it is certainly worth a visit.
Finally, if you’re visiting Athens in the summertime, you should definitely watch a movie in the open-air Cine Aegli.
It’s one of the most popular Athenian summer cinemas and one of the locals’ most favorites.
How to Get to the National Garden of Athens
The easiest way to get to the national garden of Athens is by metro.
Take off at Syntagma Square and in about a 5-minutes walk you’ll be at the garden’s central entrance on Amalias Avenue. Visit our Athens Maps page and download for free the Map of Athens Center
There are seven entrances in total, one on Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, three on Irodou Attikou Street, and two more in the area of Zappeion.
Check this map of the National Garden to see the entrances and other details:
Located among the areas of Monastiraki, Kolonaki, and Pagrati, the National Garden of Athens is also easily accessible by foot if you’re roaming in the city center.
If you are getting around Athens by bus, lines 040, 224, 550, 856, Α2, Α5, and Ε14 pass by or close to Syntagma square and the National Garden of Athens.
The Zappeion Hall in Athens
Commissioned by the philanthropist and businessman, Evangelos Zappas, the Zappeion Hall (or Zappeion Megaron) was the first building to be erected for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world.
Its construction began in 1874 and was completed in October 1888.
Unfortunately, Zappas wasn’t in life at the time the Zappeion Hall was completed but he left behind one of the most important buildings.
Several buses and trolleybusses pass by the Zappeion Hall since it’s very centrally located. Some of them are lines 040, 227, 856, A2, E14.
Where to Stay Near the National Garden and Zappeion Hall
Opened in the 60s and recently renovated, Hotel Amalia Athens is one of the city’s gems ideal for business and leisure travelers. The four-star hotel features 97 rooms that overlook the Greek Parliament and the National Garden of Athens.
Where to Eat Near the National Garden and Zappeion Hall
By the Glass
By the Glass is an elegant wine bar offering a selection of over 500 wines from Greece and abroad and a mouthwatering food menu. Based on Mediterranean cuisine, all dishes are designed for pairing with the wines.
Inspired by the English gastropubs, 7 Food Sins, combines high-quality food and drinks in a relaxed-atmosphere restaurant. It is housed in a neoclassical building, featuring a rooftop terrace and a stylish indoor room.
The former is an ideal place to spend a relaxing day in nature hidden in the city center while the latter will give you a glimpse into the city’s rich history.
When you explore these popular tourist spots, make sure to follow our recommendations for nearby hotels and restaurants.
You certainly won’t be disappointed!
A Quick Reminder:
Remember that BTI Athens Travel Guide is here to guide you with planning the perfect trip to Athens and help you every step along the way. If you didn’t found what you’re looking for, or need any recommendations about your trip to Athens, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you. Please be as more detailed as possible regarding your subject so as to help you better.
If you like what you read please scroll down at the end of this page and subscribe to BTI Athens Travel Guide so next time to receive more articles like this straight forward to your email. Join BTI Athens Travel Guide on Facebook for comments, photos, and other fun stuff. If you enjoy this article please share it with your friends on Facebook.