Photo: Georgios Makkas

There are few more exhilarating ways to discover the soul of Athens than on two wheels.

By Alex King

The wide, tree-lined boulevard of Dionysiou Areopagitou makes a picture-perfect bike track beneath the Acropolis.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

On your bike!

Head for the coast

Cycle among olive trees and lavender gardens at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre.

Photo: Amalia Kovaiou

The Palio Faliro seafront path joins the dots between the city and the Athens Riviera.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

For challenge seekers

Awaken all senses with a bike ride through the fragrant trails of Tatoi Royal Palace.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

Nuts and bolts: Tips for cycling in Athens

It's true that investment in cycling infrastructure hasn't matched the pace of other European capitals in recent years, like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or even London. Safety is still a concern and traffic pollution in summer heat can be oppressive. But cyclists are a growing community and the Municipality of Athens has committed to ensuring that cycling plays an increasing role in the city's future.

Cycling is here to stay in Athens.

Photo: Manos Chatzikonstantis

The Strategy for Enhancing Sustainable Urban Mobility lays out the steps necessary to promote the bike as a viable alternative to journeys by car. The popular network of cycle paths, like the Thissio-Faliro route (mentioned above), as well as Agio Anargyroi-Acharnes and around Kifissia, is being expanded across the city, to help cyclists escape traffic for more of their journeys.

Currently still in pilot phase, AthensBikes is a new public bike-sharing service, similar to those in cities such as Paris, London and New York. Visit the help point at the Industrial Gas Museum Shop in Technopolis to get started. Each AthensBikes e-card comes loaded with five hours riding time and the first 30 minutes of each ride is free. Check out their website for a useful map of cycle ride suggestions in the city centre.

Pedal back through the millennia with a ride through historic Philopappou Hill.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

Vicious Cycles Athens in Psirri and the Handlebar next door are a mecca for cyclists of all stripes. Here you can get a feel for the city's vibrant scene. It's the best place to find out about cycling events, from road and mountain bike races to alleycats (where cyclists race one-another between checkpoints on city streets while avoiding traffic) and, of course, raucous street parties.

While the heat and the hills might be off-putting for some and the behaviour of Greek drivers frequently leaves a lot to be desired, for those in the know, Athens provides one of the most diverse offerings for cyclists anywhere in Europe. Where else could you finish work, summit a 1,000 metre peak, and cool off with a swim in the rejuvenating open sea, all before darkness falls? Athens might just be the cycling scene’s best kept secret.

"Athens provides one of the most diverse offerings for cyclists anywhere in Europe."

Saddle up to experience Athens' diverse bikeways.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Cycle tours and bike rental

Take a wooden bike tour with CocoMat.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

See the sights with Athens By Bike.

Courtesy: Athens by Bike