Athens: History, Festivals and Greek Islands - United Hub
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Athens: History, festivals and Greek islands

By Bob Cooper, January 25, 2018

Athens may be known as the “cradle of Western civilization," but admiring its ancient buildings is only one reason to visit.

Monuments in Athens, Greece

Magical monuments and museums

Europe's oldest major city knows how to show off its 3,400 years of history. The city of three million people is filled with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments, most famously the Acropolis. A UNESCO World Heritage Site built nearly 2,500 years ago, the hilltop citadel is a collection of several ruins, including the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike. In contrast, the adjacent New Acropolis Museum — 10 times the size of the landmark's original museum — opened just seven years ago, and displays an even more extensive collection of millennia-old sculptures and objects recovered from the site. Elsewhere in Athens, museums showcase archaeology, ancient Greek art, Byzantine art, Cycladic art (ancient art of the Aegean islands), ancient epigraphs and coins.

Hiking Trail in Athens, Greece

Sports and entertainment

Greece may be the birthplace of the ancient and modern Olympics, but Athenians don't rest on their laurels (an expression that originated in ancient Greece, by the way). They love to root for their local professional basketball and soccer teams. They love to hike in the mountains and national park surrounding the city. They love taking in an IMAX or OMNIMAX film at the huge Athens Planetarium, which screens several daily. And they love exploring the live theater options at more than 100 theaters citywide. Visitors can also enjoy these diversions.

Greek Island Resort near Athens

Greek islands

The Greek islands' resorts, beaches and ancient temples are so popular that they have more hotels than mainland Greece. Athens is the gateway to the islands, which are only a quick ferry trip away from the city. Among the best and most popular islands are Santorini (with an active volcano and streets carved into cliffs), Hydra (a car-free island where locals get around on donkeys) and Sifnos (mountains and beautiful beaches) — but altogether there are 200 inhabited Greek islands, so it's easy to pick one where you can escape the crowds.

Balcony Restaurant in Athens, Greece

Festivals and food

The August full moon is celebrated throughout Greece. More than 100 monuments, including many in Athens, are open for free visits during the moon's appearance on August 17–21, with music, dance, theater, art and films. Film takes center stage when 50,000 indie cinephiles flock to the Athens International Film Festival, with screenings from filmmakers around the world at five theaters. But every day is a festival at Athens' tavernas (casual restaurants), where Greek food and wine are consumed and celebrated.

Tourist Areas in Athens, Greece

Practicalities

Athens can be hot and a bit crowded in August, so September through November is a perfect time to visit, when it's still warm and the prices are lower — though Athens is a bargain year-round. It's far less expensive than most of Europe's other great cities, like London, Paris and Rome. Buses, subways and taxis are the best way to get around in Athens, and many ferries also go to the islands.

If you go

United Airlines has launched new nonstop service to Athens International Airport from Newark Liberty International Airport, extending through October 5. Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your trip.

United Cargo operates more than 11,000 cargo-only flights in one year

By The Hub team, March 19, 2021

On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.

10 tips for spring travel

By The Hub team, February 24, 2021

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.

Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.

United joins UNICEF COVAX initiative

By The Hub team, February 19, 2021

This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.

"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.

We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

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