Athens Must GO’s Beyond the History

Beyond all the amazing history and ruins of Athens, there are more neighborhoods to explore, fabulous restaurants for delicious local cuisine, nice hotels and adventures to be had outside the city.

Neighborhoods & Restaurants

* Plaka:  The old quarter of Athens, once considered the neighborhood of the Olympic gods, is a fabulous place to enjoy a cafe’s Greek coffee or yummy Greek food at one of the many restaurants. My favorite restaurants and cafes are:

  • Arhaia Agora: We stop here for lunch outside every visit…Greek salad, tzatziki, fried zucchini. Just outside the Agora is a strip full of restaurants. Arhaia Agora is directly across from the end of the Stoa of Attalos (Musuem in the Agora).
  • Geros Toy Moria: Dine under the grapevines of this traditional taverna in Plaka built on the side of the Acropolis. The tiered steps offer great spots to enjoy their classic Greek cuisine and many nights enjoy their live local entertainment(Mnisikleous 27).
  • Psara’s Fisherman’sTaverna: Plaka’s oldest restaurant is another great spot for outdoor dining with some really good fish 16 Erechtheos).
  • Brettos: Don’t miss the oldest distillery in Athens dating back to 1909 for one of their spirits, ouzo or a local wine surrounded by their colorful floor to ceiling liquer bottles (41 Kidathineon).

* Psiri: A cool neighborhood to check out at night with lots of activity and restaurants. I really like Oineas (Esopou 9) for its eclectic decor and authentic Greek food.

* Kolonaki: The high street of Athens has great cafes and shopping. Coffee competition here is unbelievable…there are 18,000 shops in Athens, mostly mom & pops. Everyone drinks frappe and fredo so check them out. Greece’s department stores are here as well as high end retailers. Walk to the University area to enjoy the architecture.

* Piraeus Port: It’s worth a trip down to Greece’s largest  port for a leisurely lunch or dinner on the water among the yachts at Jimmy and the Fish for local seafood like their famous lobster spaghetti.

* Lycabettus Hill: This is the highest hill in Athens and worth a trip to the top for stunning views and a drink. We rode the CableWay up for a sunset cocktail. Perfect evening! There’s also a restaurant.

Hotels

Your hotel can add a nice touch to your stay in Athens.

  • St. George Lycabettus: This was the hotel I stayed in my first few visits and is my favorite! Sitting on a hill just down from Lycabettus Hill, there are fabulous views from the rooms looking out to the Parthenon.  If you don’t stay here, they also have a bar to enjoy the great views (call to ensure its open this time of year). Sensia Spa is great place for a massage.
  • Marriott: Yes its a chain but you know what you’re getting. I stayed here many times for work as it was close to our office. The great thing about the hotel is the amazing rooftop pool, restaurant and bar with stunning views of the Parthenon and Acropolis. Its hard to walk to downtown from here but there is a complimentary shuttle.
  • Fresh Hotel: This trendy hotel is in the heart of Athens. Friends have stayed here and really liked it.

Taxis: A few tips…The Athens airport is 30-40 minutes from downtown and costs about €35. Beware of the taxi drivers in town. They often try to take advantage of tourists so watch the meters. If you feel the fare is too much, ask the bellman at your hotel to confirm before you pay. Avoid taking taxis from the Acropolis…I was severely ripped off there on my first trip.

Adventures Outside Athens

* Athens Riviera: Back to the beauty of it’s 1960’s glory, the Athens Rivieria is island life only 25km from downtown Athens. It stretches from Piraeus Port to the Temple of Poseidon (really worth checking out), full of marinas, high-end resorts, beaches, shopping and nightlife.

  • Glyfada is a great upscale shopping area suburb resembling Miami’s Ocean Drive.
  • Astir Beach is a gorgeous beach club (connected to the popular and luxurious Astir Palace hotel) where you can lounge on chairs (daily rental is €15-20), enjoy lunch, a coffee or cocktail.
  • Island is a hip spot 27km from Athens in Varkiza, one of THE famous spots for drinks.

* The Cyclade Islands: If you’re making the trip to Athens for a few days, you MUST take an extra week to get out to the islands. This group of 39 islands, 24 inhabited, is a fairytale trip. We’ve been to cute quiet Kea, magical Santorini and happening fun Mykonos.

Athens and beyond…truly worth the visit for a once in a lifetime experience!

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