It may not be charming or beautiful – a sea of dirty, grey concrete buildings, many covered in graffiti – but Athens, with an unmistakable buzz and a thriving nightlife – was named Europe’s Best Leading City Break Destination for 2018.
Beating out Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris and Rome, Athens won the distinction from the World Travel Awards and in a ceremony at the Capital’s Zappeion Hall also saw the Acropolis chosen Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction over Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum in Rome.
A third award named Athens as Europe’s Best Tourism Board for its services to tourists and more promoting the city, with more stopping to stay and look around the city instead of using it as stop-off on the way to the islands in the summer.
Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said there was “explosion” in the city’s popularity and noted a rise in visitor numbers of 648 percent between 2013-18, with a record 5 million visitors recorded last year.
The new interest, he said “breathed life into the city’s economy and helped attract major hotel groups and the creation of new hotel units, bringing multiple benefits to the capital’s economy and generating jobs.”
“This triple distinction is the best way to inaugurate a season that is already looking particularly promising in terms of arrivals in Athens,” Kaminis told the ANA-MPA news agency.
The World Travel Awards were founded in 1993 in the UK and are designed to reward excellence in all sectors of tourism.