The crowds may have gone, but Athens is basking in the afterglow of its 2004 Olympics homecoming, one that comes with a hefty price tag. Not only are residents still struggling to pay off the multimillion dollar makeover, but rampant price gouging has pushed up the cost of living and visiting.
With its mélange of cross-cultural performances at the Odeon of Herodus Atticus, near the Acropolis, the Athens Festival is the Greek capital's top cultural event. The festival kicks off in June; you can plan ahead with a sneak preview at www.hellenicfestival.gr.
The cheapest tickets go for 18 euros, but be sure to bring binoculars and a cushion.
Summer arrives with a frenzy of free events in Athens. Opera divas sing at the ancient Agora, crowds clamber up the Parthenon for midsummer strolls and dancers prance amid ancient ruins until 3 a.m. Check www.cultureguide.gr, these events only take place on nights when there is a full moon.
If your travel dates don't coincide with the phases of the moon, then venture to Lycabettus Hill, the tallest spot in Athens, for a rewarding view of the city. No need to tote binoculars up the craggy 968-foot rock. They're available at an observation deck, near the idyllic 19th-century Chapel of St. George.
Religious or not, it's customary for visitors to light a candle, kiss or just glance at the stunning fresco of St. George slaying the dragon.