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Nature’s Oasis in the Heart of Athens: A Guide to National Garden and Zappeion Hall

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Adjacent to the Hellenic Parliament and just a few meters away from Syntagma Square lies the National Garden of Athens. Spanning 16 hectares in total, this green oasis in the center of the Greek capital is home to historical landmarks and the Ζappeion Hall.

Locals head here for a relaxed morning walk or in the evening to catch a movie in the open-air Cine Aegli.

Stroll in the peaceful, flourished garden and discover its history through the buildings and antiquities on its premises.

The National Garden of Athens

Commissioned in 1838 by Queen Amalia, wife of King Otto, the National Garden of Athens was initially named the “Royal Garden” or “The Garden of Amalia.”

It is said that Her Majesty spent at least three hours daily in the garden and planted the imposing palm trees that are 25 meters long today.

athens national garden palm trees
In Athens National Garden you will find the biggest palm trees in Greece.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

The German agronomist Friedrich Schmidt was appointed to design the garden, and he imported 500 species of plants and various animals, such as peacocks, ducks, and turtles.

turtles in the national garden of athens
When you visit the National Garden of Athens don’t forget to see the turtles.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Even though many plants didn’t survive in the Meditteranean climate, the garden is now home to 519 species and plant varieties.

athens national garden
National Garden of Athens: A tropical paradise right in the middle of the concrete jungle of Athens.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

The King and the Queen had their own private space in the upper garden and allowed the entrance to the public only in specific hours.

However, since the 1920s, the garden has been open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

The National Garden of Athens was the setting in an incident that played a great role in the country’s history. On the 30th of September 1920, King Alexander, who was ruling Greece at the time, was bitten by a monkey while walking in the Royal Garden.

the national garden in the center of athens
The National Garden is an impressive, historic park in the center of Athens.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Upon his death, the deposed King Constantine I, the father of King Alexander, returned to Greece.

He supported and succeeded in the election of the monarchist Dimitrios Gounaris as a new Prime Minister changing the country’s political environment.

A series of political events followed leading to the catastrophe of Smyrna in 1922 and the Exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.

visit athens garden
The National Gardens of Athens is the best place to escape the city.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

As you walk through the garden, you’ll also discover the Zappeion, a neoclassical building that was built in 1878 for the modern Olympic Games.

Today, it hosts public exhibitions, conferences, and events. The donator was Evangelis Zappas, founder of the Zappian Olympic Games.

the statue of Evangelis Zappas
The statue of benefactor Evangelis Zappas. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Why You Should Visit the National Garden

Visiting the National Garden of Athens is certainly a must.

Not only is it a great place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, but also, due to its privileged location, it can easily fit your sightseeing schedule.

As you stroll around Athens’ most beautiful public park, you’ll come across six lakes, around 7,000 trees, and 40,000 bushes that originate in different parts of the world.

small lake in National Gardens
A small lake in the National Gardens of Athens. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Palms and cypress trees from the Canary Islands, pines from Australia, and Chinese trees of heaven compose the fairytale scenery.

Moreover, the garden features statues, monuments, and antiquities such as the sundial at the main entrance.

A Roman floor that was discovered during excavations in the 19th century is now placed close to the entrance on Vasilissis Sophias Avenue.

The National Garden of Athens is a place of unique beauty and great historical significance.

sundial in the athens national garden
When you visit the National Garden of Athens, you’ll love the sundial at the main entrance, where visitors try to guess the time before looking at their watch. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Things to Do in the National Garden of Athens

Aside from a long walk or a picnic, there are plenty of things to do in the National Garden of Athens.

If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to visit the children’s library and the playground.

the playground inside the National Park of Athens
The playground is located within the National Park of Athens. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

The entrance to the library is free, and little ones will love it.

It features two reading rooms, a room for music and films, and a room where fairytale narrations occur.

Children's Library in the national garden of athens
For children who love books, the National Garden is also home to a Children’s Library.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

There is also a conservatory that is considered to be the country’s first greenhouse and until nowadays, plants are cultivated here before being replanted to the garden.

The perfect place to finish your walk is the little cozy cafe at the entrance of Irodou Attikou Street.

The National Gardens Café
The National Gardens Café can be accessed from the Irodou Attikou entrance.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Take a stroll to explore all of the garden’s hidden corners and discover the Zappeion Hall. The neo-classical building is of great importance, and it is certainly worth a visit.

Finally, if you’re visiting Athens in the summertime, you should definitely watch a movie in the open-air Cine Aegli.

It’s one of the most popular Athenian summer cinemas and one of the locals’ favorites.

open-air Cine Aegli
Aegli is one of the oldest open-air cinemas in Athens and it is located at Zappeion.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

How to Get to the National Garden of Athens

The easiest way to get to the National Garden of Athens is by metro.

Take off at Syntagma Square and in about a 5-minutes walk you’ll be at the garden’s central entrance on Amalias Avenue. Visit our Athens Maps page and download for free the Map of Athens Center

There are seven entrances in total: one on Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, three on Irodou Attikou Street, and two more in the area of Zappeion.

Check this map of the National Garden to see the entrances and other details:

map of the National Garden of Athens
National Garden map. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Located among the areas of Monastiraki, Kolonaki, and Pagrati, the National Garden of Athens is also easily accessible by foot if you’re roaming in the city center.

If you get around Athens by bus, lines 040, 224, 550, 856, Α2, Α5, and Ε14 pass by or close to Syntagma Square and the National Garden of Athens.

Irodou Attikou Street
The National Garden has three entrances on Irodou Attikou street.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

The Zappeion Hall  in Athens

Commissioned by philanthropist and businessman Evangelos Zappas, the Zappeion Hall (or Zappeion Megaron) was the first building to be erected to revive the Olympic Games in the modern world.

Its construction began in 1874 and was completed in October 1888.

Zappeion in Athens
The Zappeion Hall (or Zappeio Megaro)  in Athens. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Unfortunately, Zappas wasn’t in life when the Zappeion Hall was completed, but he left behind one of the most important buildings.

Theophil Hansen, a Danish architect well-known for his structures in Athens and Viena was the designer of the neo-classical Zappeion Megaron.

Zappeion Megaron main building facade Athens
The Zappeion Megaron is a part of the national heritage of Greek civilization, designed by T. Hansen.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Over 120 years, the Zappeion has been an integral part of the capital’s history.

Even though it was always connected with the Olympic Movement, the Zappeion has served different operations.

In 1940, for example, it was converted into a hospital and a year later, occupied by the German army, was transformed into a storehouse and later a barracks.

It hosted three fencing events during the 1896 Summer Olympics, and ten years later, it served as the Olympic Village.

The Zappeion hall atrium in Athens
The Zappeion Hall atrium in Athens

In the 2004 Olympic Games, The Zappeion Hall served as the press center.

From 1936 to 1970, the Athens Radio Station, the country’s first national broadcaster, operated on the hall’s premises.

Featuring fully-equipped meeting rooms and exhibition and congress halls, the Zappeion is used for public and private exhibitions events, and conferences.

Zappeion main building
The Zappeion Exhibition Hall, or the Zappeion as the Athenians call it.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Why You Should Visit Zappeion Hall

Often overlooked by tourists, the Zappeion is not considered one of Athens’ main attractions, but it is certainly worth your while.

Having witnessed Greece’s history for more than one century, the neoclassical building has its own story to tell.

The Zappeion Hall main entrance
The Zappeion Hall’s main entrance. Courtesy:

Even though it was built for the modern Olympic Games, it has served multiple usages over the years.

Stroll around its lavish garden and discover its beautiful trees and flowers, as well as the statues and the cast-iron lamp-posts that adorn the Zappeion Garden.

The Zappeion Gardens
The first trees in the Zappeion Gardens were planted in 1857.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

How to Get to Zappeion

Standing at the crossing of Vasilissis Olgas Avenue with Vasilissis Sofias Avenue close to the National Gardens of Athens and the Hellenic Parliament, the Zappeion Hall is easily accessible.

Take off at the Syntagma station and walk around 700 meters to reach its entrance at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue.

How to get to Zappeion Hall-map
The route you have to walk so to get from Syntagma metro station to Zappeion Hall

If you’re getting here from the Athens International Airport you can use either the subway or the X95 Airport Express Bus.

Since it’s centrally located, several buses and trolleybusses pass by the Zappeion Hall. Some of them are lines 040, 227, 856, A2, E14.

Where to Stay Near the National Garden and Zappeion Hall

Hotel Amalia

Opened in the 60s and recently renovated, Hotel Amalia Athens is one of the city’s gems ideal for business and leisure travelers. The four-star hotel features 97 rooms overlooking the Greek Parliament and the National Garden of Athens.

See Amalia Hotel on

Innathens Hotel

Featuring 37 rooms in total, Innathens Hotel aims to offer a personalized experience to its guests. Each one of the rooms is decorated in a unique style that is based on Greek simplicity.

See Innathens Hotel on

Electra Hotel Athens

Electra Hotel Athens is a four-star hotel located in the city’s main shopping district. It offers all the amenities for a comfortable and, at the same time, stylish stay in the heart of Athens.

See Electra Hotel Athens on

In case you ask yourself, we have also written a great guide about where to stay in Athens and why. Check it, you shouldn’t miss it!

Where to Eat Near the National Garden and Zappeion Hall

By the Glass

By the Glass is an elegant wine bar offering a selection of over 500 wines from Greece and abroad and a mouthwatering food menu. Based on Mediterranean cuisine, all dishes are designed to pair with the wines.

  • Address: G. Souri 3 & Filellinon, Ralli Arcade (Stoa) Syntagma, Athens, 105 57 Greece (Map)
  • Telephone: +30 210 323 2560, +30 210 324 9988

7 food sins

Inspired by the English gastropubs, 7 Food Sins combines high-quality food and drinks in a relaxed-atmosphere restaurant. It is housed in a neoclassical building featuring a rooftop terrace and a stylish indoor room.

  • Address: Plateia Filomousou Etaireias 1, Athens (Map)
  • Telephone: +30 210 701 1108


Nolan is a high-end fusion restaurant located in the heart of Athens’ city center. Its dishes are a combination of Greek and Asian flavors and its atmosphere boasts the Greek capital’s
urban vibes.

  • Address: 31 Voulis Street, Athens (Map)
  • Telephone: +30 210 324 3545

And if these options are not enough don’t worry. Read the article below; we have gathered a huge collection of restaurants in Athens!

Both the National Garden and the Zappeion Hall that adorn it are attractions you cannot afford to miss on your visit to Athens.

The former is an ideal place to spend a relaxing day in nature hidden in the city center while the latter will give you a glimpse into the city’s rich history.

When you explore these popular tourist spots, make sure to follow our recommendations for nearby hotels and restaurants.

You certainly won’t be disappointed!

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