Maybe red birch forests do not grow on the slopes of Mount Hymettus, and the colors of autumn may not be apparent among the apartment buildings in several Athenian neighborhoods, however, that does not mean that there are no parks and wonderful nature in Athens. When there’s a will, there’s a way, and we have found a way for you to enjoy all of Athens’s nature in autumn.
Half an hour away from the center of Athens you will have the chance to walk on the dirt paths that run through the verdant slopes of Mount Hymettus. Necessary stops along the way are the famous Monastery of Kaisariani, built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Demeter, whose columns still stand in its courtyard, the ruins of the Church of Agios Marcos Frangomonastiro, and the Byzantine Tower of Anthousa. If you are hungry or if you need a good dose of caffeine to keep going, you will find a place with large wooden tables under the roses of the café-bar called Kalopoula Refreshments. Enjoy their homemade pies and if the weather is cold, try some of their steamed, homemade bean soup.
Follow the roads that go up the National Road to the mountain of Athens, to wander on wonderful hiking trails on its green slopes, which still exist, and to enjoy the autumn colors of the forests that stretch in and around Tatoi Forest. You will make some detours along the way, to reach the very nice Lake Mpeletsi, with the mini zoo on one of its banks, to visit the spectacular Panos Cave.
On the hill of Haidari, almost next to the Monastery of Daphni, Diomidous Botanical Garden is the largest, most beautiful, and impressive botanical garden of Eastern Europe. Furthermore, it is probably the most unknown to the general public, which adds to its charm. It is also extremely unique as it has a ‘historical section’, which houses plants mentioned in historical texts. For instance, the Ferula Communis, where according to mythology Prometheus hid the fire to carry it to humans or the hemp, Conium Maculatum, that killed Socrates. Finally, this 1,860-acre botanical garden has natural forest vegetation as well as cultivated plants and flowers, which makes this botanical garden even more fascinating.
Also known as Syngrou park or forest. Perhaps it’s the favorite oasis of the inhabitants of the Northern Suburbs as it’s a forest drowned in pines, olive groves, almond trees, and orchards, which at this time of year smell like autumn. The dirt paths that run through them allow hikers enthusiasts to hike for many long hours. Nevertheless, families can enjoy playing at a well-kept playground. Apart from the impressive nature, the Syngrou Forest is also of special architectural interest: the only neo-Gothic Orthodox church in Greece, that of Agios Andreas, is hidden behind its dense vegetation, as well as the mansion designed by Ernesto Ziller of the Syngrou family.
Key Advantage: You do not even have to drive. Right in the center of Athens, you will find one of the greenest, most peaceful, and most unrecognized Athenian oases. Large and lush, the ‘Royal Garden’, inspired by Amalia and created by her German gardener, Friedrich Schmidt, extends to 155 acres - or 285, if we add the acres of the Garden of Zappeion, with which it communicates - and hosts a mini zoo, a playground, two ponds, and the café ‘National Garden Coffee Shop’, which serves, among other things ouzo varieties under the shade of the trees. The real attraction, however, here are the cobbled paths, which pass under spectacular tree trunks and next to green glades, where families and groups lay the picnic blankets. This garden is a paradise both for trekkers and families.
Seven hundred acres tucked in the pines, dirt paths ideal for exploration, wooden bridges, plus the sightseeing offered by the creations of Dimitris Pikionis that adorn him and the impressive monument of Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappos who gave it to him. As if these are not enough reasons to go up the cobbled streets, you will also have the best view of the Acropolis!
Come prepared with picnic baskets and checkered tablecloths, to lay out in the shade of the pines on the hill. If you prefer to have a bite out to eat, follow the famous paved road that starts just above Lombardiaris, and descends from the adjacent hill of Pnyx to the backside of Thiseio, to sit at ‘To Steki tou Ilia’ that serves exquisite ribs with crispy, homemade french fries and a view of the trains that pass.
If there is one place in Athens where you will have the opportunity to see the utmost autumn scenery, meaning streets paved with yellow and orange leaves of trees, making the characteristic ‘crunchy’ sound when you step on them, this is the Grove of Kaisariani. Beautiful and green, all cobbled streets and carefully thought-out corners: lawn in several places, wooden fences, ornate benches, and a well-kept playground so that your little ones do not get bored, the little park is what you need for the autumn days near the center of Athens.