Whether you’re craving adventure or relaxation, our editors’ list of ten Best Summer Trips—plus one reader’s choice—offers a world of possibilities.
June 1-August 31
Experience international theater, opera, classical music, and dance performances in a variety of magnificent modern and ancient spaces. Venues for the 60th Athens and Epidaurus Festival range from the industrial Peiraios 260 (housed in a former Athens furniture factory) to the ancient theater of Epidaurus, built in 340 B.C., buried for nearly 1,500 years, and renowned for its preserved limestone tiers and near perfect acoustics. The festival program includes Greek productions (ancient tragedies and new plays), a Greco-Japanese co-production of Homer’sNekyia, and new interpretations of European classics.
New for 2015: performances designed to spark dialogue about topical Greek issues such as homelessness, job loss, financial insecurity, refugees, and immigrants. During the interactive street performance “In the Middle of the Street” (July 7), audience members can use an MP3 player and earphones to hear the voices and stories of Athens’s newly homeless.
How to Get Around: Most festival venues are in Athens and are accessible via public transportation (bus, trolley bus, Metro, or electric railway). Two venues—the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and the Little Theatre of Epidaurus—are located in Argolis on the Peloponnese peninsula, about two hours west of Athens by car or bus. Reduced intercity bus fares from Athens are available when purchasing tickets for performances at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus.
Where to Stay: The 15-suite AVA Hotel & Suites is ideally located in historic Plaka, Athens’s oldest quarter. From the hotel, it’s only a ten-minute walk to festival performances at the ancient Herodeon (The Odeon of Herodes Atticus). Shops, restaurants, the Acropolis Museum, Hadrian’s Arch, and the Temple of Zeus are even closer. All suites have kitchenettes and balconies. Splurge on the third-floor Exclusive Suite for the extra space, private veranda, and Acropolis views.
What to Eat or Drink: The Acropolis Museum restaurant in Athens stays open until midnight on Fridays for a gourmet dinner service (reservations required). The menu includes Greek specialties such as San Mihali, a cow’s milk cheese from the island of Syros; Metsovone, a smoked cheese from Metsovo in northwestern Greece; fresh fish; and smoked veal fillet with truffle oil and dried fruits. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide spectacular night views of the Acropolis.
What to Buy: Athens’s bustling Central Market is where locals go to buy fresh produce, fish, and every imaginable part of a cow, chicken, lamb, or rabbit. To steer clear of the sheep’s heads, stick to the perimeter stalls, where vendors peddle spices, nuts, dried fruits, baked goods, coffee, and small household items.
What to Read or Watch Before You Go: Originally published in 1941, Henry Miller’s classic memoir The Colossus of Maroussi recounts his time spent living in pre-World War II Greece and includes pivotal scenes in Athens and Epidaurus.
Helpful Links: Visit Greece and Athens and Epidaurus Festival
Fun Fact: There’s not a bad seat in the house at the Ancient Theatre at Epidaurus, considered the best-preserved ancient Greek theatre. Built into a natural hillside, the semicircular theater has limestone bench seats and offers unobstructed views for up to 14,000 people. The setting and design combine to create exceptional acoustics; a soft whisper uttered in the central performing space, or orchestra, easily can be heard 55 tiers up in the theater’s last row.