Dominated by centuries old landmarks, ancient buildings and iconic temple ruins, discover the capital of Greece, Athens. Communications Manager and Greek go-to, Sophia Kondilis shares her top locations for food, entertainment and an idyllic summer.
Describe Athens and what makes it special.
Athens is an unassuming city with heart and grit. Fundamentally it is known as the capital of Greece and home to iconic landmarks like the Acropolis. However, Athens also delivers deep-rooted Greek culture that you must unearth through the cities people, food and music. My mum was born in Athens and my husband and I visit every year, so each visit renders a new opportunity to re-live old favourites and enjoy new experiences and openings. With most flights and ferries stemming from Athens, why not make your stopover or visit memorable?
View from Athens Was Hotel via Conde Nast Traveller
What are some of your top Athens eats?
Along the Athenian rivera:
Krabo Beach Restaurant - Thespidos, Vouliagmeni 166 71, Greece Mykonian.
Glam restaurant and beach bar, newly opened by the Margi group.
Island - 27nd km Athinon - Souniou - Varkiza, Vari 166 72.
A premium day to night seaside club-restaurant in Varkiza.
Ithaki - 28 Apollonos Str. Vouliagmeni.
Elevated culinary experience with an idyllic sea view.
Ark - 2 Grigoriou Lambraki Str. Glyfada.
Modern all day bar-restaurant on the seafront, perfect for couples and large groups of friends. Fantastic service and dishes.
Fedeel - Ktena 1, Athina 105 63, Greece.
Urban tapas with a Greek twist in Glyfada. You are very likely to stumble across great cafes in Glyfada such as Pere, Sea Spice, Su Casa and the classic loved by locals, Opus.
In and around the city:
Vezené - Vrasida 11, Athina 161 21.
Greece Greek-bistro style dining.
The Clumsies - Praxitelous 30, Athina 105 61, Greece.
Athens has an impeccable list of all-day bars including The Clumsies.
Nixon - 53 Skoufa & Omirou, Kolonaki.
Modern Greek bar-restaurant which relocated to Kolonaki, a beautifully historic part of the city.
Spondi - Pirronos 5, Athina 116 36, Greece.
One of Athens most awarded upscale Mediterranean restaurants.
Souvlaki ‘O Kostas’ - Plateia Agia Eirinis, Monastiraki.
This old-school family run business serves up the freshest Souvlakia and expertly crafted Gyros with a no fuss approach in Monastiraki.
For another traditional feed try Barbadimos in Syntagma or Pirreas as you wait for your ferry.
Lukumades - Aiolou 21, Athina.
Crowd-pleaser. Dessert bar serving up ‘loukoumades’ with lashings of Nutella, toppings and treats.
Island, Athens Riviera
Speciality shops in Athens?
Korres Skincare - 4, Ermou Str. & Nikis, 105 63 Syntagma.
No trip to Greece is complete without Korres in your luggage! The apothecary brand has a range of natural-based products that smell and feel divine.
Zayiana - Leof. Dimarchou Aggelou Metaxa 19, Glifada 166 75, Greece.
Unique and hand-made homewares, ceramics and gift shop.
Carpo Chocolate & Coffee - Grigoriou Lampraki 20, Glifada 166 74, Greece.
For snacks, chocolate and coffee while shopping or walking around Glyfada.
What are some well-known precincts and areas to visit in Athens?
There are so many interesting suburbs within Athens waiting to be discovered. Psirri, Marousi, Hallandri, Gazi and Nea Philadelphia to name a few... As a first time visitor of Athens, here is the ‘summer’ edit of precincts:
The Athens Riviera; Vouliagmeni, Glyfada, Voula - this group of seaside locations are filled with bars, restaurants and nightlife scene. Glyfada is most popular with many hotels and eateries to explore.
For families Balux + Balux House Projects is a lifestyle multi-part outdoor complex where you can spend the whole day in from pool to beach. Vouliagmeni Beach and newly relaunched Astir Beach Palace are two beach destinations with beach beds, water sports, shopping and food. Astir is it's own complex with a paid entry fee (more expensive on weekends than weekdays).
For a more relaxed view, discover Limankia - a flat rock beach perfect for diving into the ocean and Lake Vouliagmeni for its natural, archeological and cultural points of interest. A newcomer in town is secluded Krabo Beach, in the exclusive Kavouri area. A small but luxurious cove-like spot with delicious food. Standout eateries and bars include; Artisanal Bar, Rakkan Bar & Restaurant and TwentyOne Hotel. For something sweet, try Sweet Alchemy or Chryssinas.
Syntagma Square - the famous Athenian central square. Atop of Syntagma is the Parliament Building and heritage public buildings, houses and mansions. Watch the Evzones soldiers and travel down popular Ermou, which leads to Athen’s main shopping district of Monastiraki. Aiolou Street in downtown Athens has a buzzy feel as does the atmospheric neighbouring spot of Psirri.
Plaka - market-style shops clustered around the labyrinth streets near the Acropolis. This area is full of tourists and characters, so keep your belongings safe and be smart about purchases. For the original gyros-master, go to well-known 'Thanasis'.
Piraeus - if you are visiting the Greek islands, you are likely to visit Piraeus, the largest port in the Mediterranean with more than 20 million passengers annually! Piraues has seen greater times but, if you have time to burn waiting for your boat, visit Mikrolimano for a frappe at one of the many cafes or enjoy a deliciously hearty meal at Barbadimos. Monastiraki
Top beaches in Athens?
Krabo Beach - secluded swimming cove with a beautiful restaurant, newly launched by the Margi group in 2018, pictured below.
Yabanaki (AKA Varkiza) - spend the whole day and into the night.
Vouliagmeni - sandy, family friendly with a local summer feeling and fantastic neighbouring eateries. Visit Akti for a taverna experience or the exclusive Astir Beach Resort.
Lagonisi - picturesque coves and clean water on the way to Sounio where many Athenians have summer homes. Krabo Beach
What are the top significant cultural landmarks and sights in Athens?
For historically significant monuments; one cannot miss the Acropolis and Parthenon. Try late afternoon to avoid the heat and masses of people. Combine your visit to see the new underground exhibit at Acropolis Museum as well as National Archaeological Museum in the heart of Athens. The new cultural landmark of Athens; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre has become a new hub and meeting place for Athenians. Architecturally designed by Renzo Piano, the centre features the Greek National Opera and National Library of Greece. Vrahon Theatre an outdoor theatre playing host to many Greek musicians. Remarkable sound and live atmosphere.
Top 10 luxury hotels and accomodation?
Ergon House Athens - Mitropoleos 23, Athina 105 63, Greece.
New Hotel Athens - Filellinon 16, Athina 105 57, Greece.
Hotel King George - A' Street 3, Athens.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, 1 Vasileos Georgiou A' str., Athens.
Athens Was Hotel - 5 Dionysiou Areopagitou Str. Athens.
By the beach:
Four Seasons Astir Palace Resort - Apollonos 40, Vouliagmeni.
The Margi - Litous 11, Vouliagmeni.
Four Seasons Astir Palace Resort - Apollonos 40, Vouliagmeni.
Grand Resort Lagonissi - 40th km Athens Sounion, Lagonissi.
Divanis Appollon Hotel - Leof. Vouliagmenis 10, Vouliagmeni.
The Margi Hotel, Glyfada
Nightlife destinations that combine music and food?
Akrotiri Club Restaurant - by the sea, the spectacular fit out plays hosts to Greece’s biggest DJ’s and artists
Posidonio Music Hall - experience the ‘bouzoukia’, celebrating Greek musicians on a live stage. Greek artists are approachable to their audience; their song is your song.
Balux Café - dreamy sunsets in easy location to spend time by the pool or beach, any time of day or night.
Moorings - dine or drink lakeside in the evening at Marina Vouliagmenis.
What is the best way to travel and get around in Athens?
When you are in a specific neighbourhood, by foot is the best. For everything else, hop in cab or try the bus or metro.
Best short getaways or weekend escapes?
Spetses & Hydra - sophisticated, sun-drenched destination popular with locals, due to its close proximity to Athens. Spetses has it all - chic town shopping, restaurants and easy beaches. Like Spetses, Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece located in the Aegean. It is a special and intimate island where all travelling is by foot, boat or donkey.
Cape Sounion - famous for its ancient temple of Poseidon; with beautiful coastal cliffs and beaches.