Following up on our “When in Athens: Part One”, where you were given all the crucial info on where to soak in staple landmarks, we have now compiled the list of traditional experiences that come with a local thumbs-up! So, if you want to fully immerse in Greek culture during your stay and plunge into authentic locales along with seasoned travelers and locals-in-the-know, here we dish out all the inside information.
Start by exploring Plaka, situated at the foothill of the Acropolis, a city district as old as time, bountiful in stylish neoclassical residences and a variety of cafes and tavernas. Take in the sights and pleasant atmosphere while you explore the courtyards and lovely gardens, full of flavors and souvenirs. You will fall in love with the quaint and colorful Anafiotika, a beautiful settlement within, reminiscent of an Aegean island nestled in the heart of Athens.
You will also enjoy a walk downtown through the Monastiraki flea market, accessible by metro, an excellent place to pick up souvenirs, leather goods, traditional trinkets and get lost in its narrow cobblestone streets and countless small shops.
As one of the many celebrated entertainment centers of the city of Athens, Thissio, overflowing with history and culture, is the place to be and enjoy yourself at all times of the day, brimming with museums, art galleries, exhibition centers and open-air theaters from where you can enjoy the amazing lush surroundings. A tourist spot and favorite hangout for Athenians!
Why not also hike up Lycabettus Hill, standing at 277 meters above sea level, the highest point in Athens and enjoy the magnificent view? You can choose to walk up the forested paths or take the cable car to the top, and it is well worth your time, as locals and visitors daily dine at the cafe/restaurant atop, enjoying the wonderful locale and the white-washed quaint St. George church. Lycabettus Hill also provides for a fantastic place to enjoy your morning jog as most neighborhood residents will attest to.
One of the greatest venues dishing out variety festivals and concerts to acclaimed exhibitions and events, is the most emboldened cultural/educational project ever undertaken in the country, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in the Bay of Falliro.
Another landmark to visit, a hub attracting everyone from celebrity chefs to everyday home cooks, is the larger-than-life bustling market, the Varvakios Agora. Locally sourced foods, from fresh fish to delicious fruit, fill up the largest market in Athens where you’ll certainly find the goods you’re after.
Stretching from the southern city neighborhoods all the way to the southernmost cape in Attica, the Athens Riviera is a lovely coastal route, passing by all the high-end suburbs of the capital. Beautiful seaside, a variety of eclectic shopping options and top rated food and drink venues, all line up as you travel down this idyllic road breathing in the sea breeze.
A rare geological gem awaits you smack down in middle of the Athens Riviera, as you take a break over at Vouliagmeni Lake, frequented for its soothing atmosphere and thermal underwater springs.
Why not enjoy a cool swim in the beaches of Athens, where you can find everything from exclusive beach bars like Astir Beach and comfortable sun lounging at Akti Vouliagmenis. One of the largest beach clubs, the Varkiza Resort, offers everything from water sports to great eateries. When in the capital, a salty dip is closer than you’d think!
The nightlife in Athens is all encompassing. You can discover sophisticated cocktail hot spots all around popular areas like Monastiraki, Plaka, Psiri and Thissio, with lounging areas on rooftops from where you can enjoy the breathtaking views of floodlit historic landmarks under the stars. Agias Irinis square, Kolokotroni street, the Kolonaki neighborhood downtown and of course the Athens Riviera are overflowing with options which also include slow paced ouzo drinking, accompanied by a “mezes”.
Speaking of “mezes”, a snack traditionally served with drinks, sometimes seafood-based or concocted of cheese and meats, the Athens experience would be lacking if you didn’t taste all the wonderful flavors. Greece is famous for its mediterranean cuisine and countless popular dishes expanding further than the staple Greek salad and delicious mousakas, so enjoy a delicious journey around the city center and Old Town for a finger-licking great experience!