TORSTAI, 23. HEINÄKUUTA 2020
With equal measures of grunge and grace, Athens is a heady mix of ancient history and contemporary cool. For all too many people, Athens is a city that happened two-and-a-half thousand years ago. It’s true that even now the past looms large – literally, in the shape of the mighty Acropolis that dominates almost every view, as well as on every visitor’s itinerary. Yet the modern city is home to over four million people – more than a third of the Greek nation’s population – and has undergone a transformation in the twenty-first century.
The magnificent Acropolis, visible from almost every part of the city, is the hub around which Athens still revolves. This temple city, built in the 5th century BC, serves as a daily reminder to Greeks of their heritage and the city's many transformations. All over the urban basin, rooftops and balconies angle toward the landmark, a block of milky marble atop a steep-sided hill. Pull up your own chair, settle in and allow time to appreciate the Acropolis' many moods, as the light shifts and the clouds cast their shifting shadows.
The cultural and social life of Athens plays out amid, around and in landmarks that are centuries old, if not millennia. The remnants of Ancient Greece get the most attention, of course, thanks to a little thing called democracy. Oh, and mythology, and drama, and philosophy. But don't overlook the 'later' years: thousand-year-old Byzantine churches, for instance, which squat, unruffled in the middle of streets and attached to hillsides. Ottoman traces can be seen in architecture and in food. And the neoclassical style of the 19th century adds elegance all over the centre.
Although Athenians have endured difficult circumstances since the start of the economic crisis in 2009, the city as a whole crackles with energy in art shows, political debates and even on the walls of derelict buildings, as Athens has become one of Europe's most noted spots for street art. Creative surprises lie around nearly every corner, so be sure to leave room in your schedule for spontaneous discovery: buy a ticket to that dance show that's just starting as you walk by, or sit down at the restaurant where the musicians are setting up. You'll be rewarded.
Beyond Athens, down the Attica peninsula, are more spectacular antiquities, such as the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion and the site of Ancient Eleusis, as well as very good beaches, such as those near historical Marathon. Sure, you could zip across, west to east, in less than an hour, but it's far more fun to take a leisurely road trip to a thermally heated lake, say, or a monastery with dazzling Byzantine mosaics. If you'd rather not drive, most of these surprise sights (including great beaches) can be reached on public transport.
BEST TIME TO VISIT ATHENS
The best times to visit Athens are between March and May and from September to November. Weather during these spring and fall months is agreeable and sunshine is pretty much a guarantee. Not to mention, crowds are thinner and hotel and airfare deals are easier to come by than in summer.
Spring's pleasant temperatures (which hover between the mid-40s and high 70s) and more affordable accommodations and flights make this season an excellent time to visit. Plus, you'll have more elbow row at the Acropolis and Anchient Agora, since most visitors time their visits during the summer. Just keep in mind that Athens is less than 10 miles away from Greece's coast, so you'll want a light jacket to protect yourself from spring's biting winds.
Between June and August, many Athenians – including restauranteurs and shopkeepers – head to the beach or smaller villages to escape the heat and large influx of tourists that commandeer the city. As a result, some local businesses may be closed in summer, meaning you may have a harder time grabbing a bite to eat or shopping for souvenirs. You'll also have to deal with summer temperatures that often skyrocket into the 90s. On the positive side, a large number of festivals are hosted here during the summer months.
Pleasantly warm weather and deals on hotel rooms make the fall a good time to experience Athens. Daytime temperatures generally sit between the mid-60s and mid-80s but may occasionally drop into the high 40s at night, so pack a light jacket. You can also take full advantage of the city's restaurants, shops and nightclubs, which reopen in September when locals return to the city.
If you're planning a winter trip, make sure to pack an umbrella; on average, December is the wettest month of the year. Also, January highs are commonly in the 50s, so the weather really isn't much of a draw. However, if you don't mind the brisk temps and lack of consistent sunshine, you're sure to get a great price on a room.
GETTING TO ATHENS
By plane - The fastest, cheapest, most logical and the most popular way to travel to Athens is by plane. There are few airlines that offer non-stop flights between the USA and Athens; however, many offer one or two stop over flights. Athens is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, so it is very well connected with the rest of the continent.
By sea - In summer, one of the most popular ways to travel in Europe is to book a cruise around the Mediterranean. Some of the biggest cruise ships dock in Piraeus (Athens). To mention a few:
- Royal Caribbean International offers a 7-night cruise departing from Venice around some of the Greek Islands and includes a stop at Athens.
- Seabourn also departs from Venice during a seven-night tour of the Greek Islands and stops the last day in Athens.
- Celebrity Reflection departs from Rome and stops in Athens.
By train - Greece does not have a good railway system and it has cancelled most of its international train services, so traveling to Greece by train is not a very good idea.
By coach - If you prefer to get to Athens by coach, we suggest you take a bus to Italy and from there take a ferry to Greece. Patras port is linked to the following Italian cities: Brindisi, Bari, Ancona and Venice. Then from Patras, it takes approximately 2 hours to get to Athens by bus.
GETTING AROUND ATHENS
Buses - There's a network of buses that go everywhere. There are no printed maps, though.
Metro - Fast and efficient and most useful for visitors.
Tram - Slow but scenic way to the coast.
Suburban rail - Not commonly used by visitors, but an alternate way into the city from the airport.
Taxis - Very affordable, and very much part of the 'public transport' system.
Walking - Almost certainly what you'll be doing the most!
Bicycle - Even experienced cyclists might find Athens' roads a challenge, with no cycle lanes, often reckless drivers, and loads of hills – but some hardy locals do ride. A bike route runs from Thisio to the coast. A few outfits offer bicycle hire, such as Funky Ride and Solebike.
WHERE TO STAY IN ATHENS
Coco-mat Athens BC features a restaurant, seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and bar in Athens. A spa centre and a car rental service are available for guests. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free WiFi throughout the property. Guests at the hotel can enjoy a continental breakfast. Coco-mat Athens BC offers 5-star accommodation with a sauna and sun terrace. There is a tour desk and bike rentals are available, while the business centre has newspapers and a fax machine and photocopier. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Acropolis Museum, Odeum of Herodes Atticus and Temple of Olympion Zeus. The nearest airport is Elefthérios Venizélos Airport, 34 km from Coco-mat Athens BC.
Just 800 m from the world-renowned Acropolis and Acropolis Museum, Elia Ermou Athens Hotel is conveniently set in the heart of Athens. This 4-star hotel features a restaurant and wellness club. Free WiFi is possible. At the hotel, the rooms come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. The rooms have a kettle, while some have a balcony. Selected rooms are equipped with a hammam and spa bath, while some feature Acropolis views. Guests at Elia Ermou Athens Hotel can enjoy an American buffet breakfast. Set on the highest floor, the à la carte restaurant boasts Acropolis views. The wellness club features a range of facilities including a cryosauna, fitness centre and hair salon. The scenic Plaka and the lively Monastiraki are just 400 m away. The nearest airport is Elefthérios Venizélos Airport, 34 km from the property. Private parking is possible upon charge.
Situated in Athens and with Museum of Cycladic Art reachable within 600 metres, COCO-MAT Athens Jumelle features express check-in and check-out, allergy-free rooms, a bar, free WiFi throughout the property and a garden. Featuring a restaurant, the property also has free bikes, as well as an indoor pool and a fitness centre. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and organising tours for guests. The rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel rooms have a private bathroom with free toiletries. Guests at COCO-MAT Athens Jumelle can enjoy a continental or a buffet breakfast. The accommodation offers 5-star accommodation with a spa centre and terrace. Popular points of interest near COCO-MAT Athens Jumelle include Syntagma Square, Lycabettus Hill and Panathenaic Stadium. The nearest airport is Elefthérios Venizélos Airport, 31 km from the hotel.
Ideally located in the heart of Athens, just steps from the hip bars and restaurants of Koukaki, Hotel @Syngrou Fix offers modernly decorated rooms with free WiFi access. A snack bar offering views over the Acropolis and the city of Athens is featured on the 5th floor of the property. Fitted with parquet floors and soft colours, the soundproofed rooms at Hotel @Syngrou Fix are equipped with a desk, a fridge, a kettle and a flat-screen TV. Each includes a private bathroom with hairdryer and free toiletries. Each includes an espresso machine and free capsules. Some units open to balconies overlooking the National Museum of Contemporary Art and part of the city. Each suite features ceramic hobs and kitchenware. Guests can start their day with a buffet breakfast served daily at the 5th floor of the property. The 24-hour front desk can offer helpful tips for getting around the area. The New Acropolis Museum is 800 m from Hotel @Syngrou Fix, while Syngrou Fix Metro Station is just a short walk from the property. The nearest airport is Elefthérios Venizélos Airport, 37 km away.
Well set in the Athens City Centre district of Athens, BED in Athens is located 300 m from Monastiraki Square, 700 m from Ancient Agora of Athens and 1.6 km from Ermou Street-Shopping Area. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. Free WiFi is available and private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. All units are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel every room is equipped with a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Roman Agora is 2.1 km from BED in Athens, while Monastiraki Flea Market is 2.4 km away. The nearest airport is Elefthérios Venizélos, 32 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
- B4B Athens Signature Hotel
Centrally located in Athens, just a 6-minute walk from the Acropolis Museum, the brand new B4B Athens Signature Hotel, owned by B for Boutique Hotels, features an on-site bar. It offers elegantly decorated rooms and suites with free WiFi access. A handy smartphone for unlimited international and local calls is provided. Fitted with parquet floors and earthy colours, the rooms and suites at B4B Athens Signature Hotel are equipped with a 32'' Smart TV, a Dolce Gusto coffee machine, a mini bar and a safe. Each includes a modern bathroom with free toiletries, bathrobes and slippers, while a separate rainfall shower is also featured. Some units offer views over the Acropolis or the city. Guests can start their day with a buffet breakfast served daily at the dining area. Drinks, coffees and cocktails can be enjoyed at the bar throughout the day. Syntagma Square can be reached within a 15-minute walk, while the Acropolis Metro Station is 400 m from B4B Athens Signature Hotel. Syngrou-Fix Metro Station lies within a 6-minute walk away. The nearest airport is Elefthérios Venizélos Airport, 35 km from the the property.
Housed in an old industrial building featuring a steel and glass facade, Kubic Athens is a smart hotel centrally located in Athens. Combining cutting-edge technology and modern comforts, the hotel offers stylish rooms with free high-speed WiFi and tablets. A 24-hour modern bar is available on site. Fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and decorated in light green and grey tones, all rooms at Kubic Athens are equipped with a 43'' LG Smart TV, USB ports, VoIP phone and soundproofed windows. The in-room tablet enables guests to control in-room temperature and lighting. The modern bathrooms come with a rain shower, free branded toiletries and a hairdryer. Extra facilities include 2 Apple Mac computers for guest's use, a conference room and free high-speed WiFi throughout. Guests can enjoy healthy, organic flavours, coffees and drinks from the on-site bar, while grab-and-go snacks are also available. Omonia Square is 500 m from Kubic Athens Smart Hotel, while Metaxourgio Metro Station lies within a 4-minute walk away. Elefthérios Venizélos Airport is 35 km away.
Located in the heart of Athens, just 200 m from Syntagma Square, the modern Electra Metropolis boasts a small, rooftop pool with waterfall effect, and a sun terrace with views over the city. Gourmet dishes and refreshing cocktails can be enjoyed at the top-floor restaurant or at the M Bar offering panoramic views over the Acropolis. The elegant rooms and suites at Electra Metropolis feature modern decor, wooden floors and warm tones. Each includes a marble-tiled bathroom with hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers and organic KORRES toiletries. A work desk, 40'' Smart TV with satellite channels, a laptop safe and a mini bar are standard. Free WiFi access is provided throughout. A retro-style lounge area, where guests can enjoy a coffee or a drink, is featured at the unique sky-light atrium decorated with Fassianos artwork and located at the center of the building. Guests can also taste Mediterranean flavours at the ground-floor bistro featuring an open kitchen. Extra services include a 24-hour front desk and room service. Restaurants, bars and shops can be found just steps from Electra Metropolis, while the scenic Plaka area can be reached within a 10-minute walk. The nearest airport is Eleftherios Venizelos Airport, 34 km from the property.
Located in Kolonaki, one of the most high-end districts in Athens, Coco-Mat Hotel Athens offers elegantly designed units close to major touristic attractions and vibrant areas of the city. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. Every room at Coco-Mat Hotel Athens has a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some rooms open to a balcony with Athens views, while others feature a seating area. You will find a coffee machine and a kettle in the room. Rooms include a private bathroom equipped with a shower, while free toiletries are also offered. Several shops are available on site. Free use of bicycles is available at this hotel. The surrounding area boasts an abundance of modern bars, restaurants and premium boutiques. Acropolis is at 3 km. Athens International Airport is at 34 km.
Set in the high-end Kolonaki area of Athens, just steps from designer's shops, Hotel Lozenge offers rooms and suites with free WiFi access. A bar-restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine is featured on site. The historical centre of Athens can be reached within a short walk of the hotel. Modernly decorated with well-chosen furnishings and soft colours, all units at Lozenge come with air conditioning, coffee machine and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Certain units include a seating area for your convenience, while most also open to balconies. The bathrooms come with a bathtub or shower, slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property. Airport transfer can be arranged on request and at extra charge. The hotel also offers bike hire. Zappion - National Garden is 400 m from Hotel Lozenge, while Kolonaki Square is 500 m away. Elefthérios Venizélos Airport is 38 km from the property.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN ATHENS
Athens is a vibrant and colourful capital city, with its fascinating culture playing out among some of the world’s most important historical and cultural attractions.
For 2,500 years the Acropolis has stood sentinel over Athens, the crowning jewel of a city that ignited the flame of democracy across the Western world. Today, the collection of ancient monuments and buildings never fail to stir something deep within the thousands of visitors it receives daily. The star of the show is the Parthenon, a temple built in the fifth century BC dedicated to Athena Parthenos, Greek goddess of wisdom and war and namesake of the entire city. Truthfully, this is one of the most important historical sites in the world.
Opened in 2009, the Acropolis Museum contains the many cultural artefacts and treasures found in the Acropolis, celebrating the height of Ancient Greece’s artistry and achievements. Located on the southern slopes below Greece’s most visited attraction, exhibits cover the period from the fifth century BC to fifth century AD, containing archaic sculptures, statues and votive offerings. A glass floor reveals the remnants of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood below, and floor-to-ceiling windows capture views of the Acropolis above. This is the ultimate experience (aside from the Acropolis itself) for those interested in Ancient Greece.
Designed to be the pre-eminent monument of the Acropolis, the Parthenon epitomises the glory of Ancient Greece. Meaning 'virgin's apartment', it's dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the goddess embodying the power and prestige of the city. The largest Doric temple ever completed in Greece, the Parthenon took 15 years to build. It was designed by Iktinos and Kallicrates and completed in time for the Great Panathenaic Festival of 438 BC.
Originally constructed in the fourth century BC, the Panathenaic Stadium is where the Ancient Greeks would compete (in the nude) in athletic feats of strength and endurance. Restored for the 1896 Olympic Games, this is the only stadium in the world constructed entirely from white marble. Audio guides lead you through the stands and vaulted passageways beneath, recounting the stadium’s Olympic legacy along the way. Visitors can also relive history by going for a run on the track and taking a photo standing on the winner’s podium – as long as you keep your clothes on.
- National Archaeological Museum
One of the most important museums in Greece, the National Archaeological Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Greek antiquities and artefacts. Sculptures, art, jewellery, pottery and more are on display, grouped thematically to give you a sweeping overview of Greece’s civilisation from the prehistoric era to more classical periods. There’s far too much to take in on a single visit, which is why guided tours are recommended. By taking part in a tour, you will be directed to the most significant works in the museum and gain an understanding of the decisive points in Greece's history.
The Museum of Cycladic Art houses over 3,000 artefacts and pieces of art, all of it of Cycladic, Greek and Cypriot origin. The marble figurines on the first floor draw the most attention, slender pieces from the Cycladic civilisation that flourished on the islands in the Aegean Sea between 3,200 and 1,100 BC. Here, you’ll also find pieces of Ancient Greek and Cypriot art over the four floors of the museum, such as vases, figurines and weapons, organised thematically.
The expansive National Garden is located in the heart of Athens. The park is a welcome and pleasant refuge from the searing summer sun, and inside you’ll find a café, a small zoo and tranquil duck ponds. Commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838, it was formerly known as the Royal Garden. Guided Segway tours are also available, with the added bonus of taking in Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Zeus, Parliament House and the Presidential Mansion.
Plaka, Athens’s oldest neighbourhood, lies under the shadow of the Acropolis. The old town of the city is the centre of all things tourism, with cafés, restaurants and shops dotted throughout. The best way to experience the area is to get lost in its narrow streets, wandering past Byzantine churches and Neoclassical architecture, all the while catching glimpses of the magnificent Acropolis above. You’re sure to come across something special on your explorations.
The highest point in Athens, Mount Lycabettus sits 300 metres (984 feet) above sea level, commanding outstanding views over the entire city. Much like the Acropolis, it can be seen from almost anywhere in Athens. The walk up is pleasant (as long as it’s not the height of summer), with the paths taking you through a fragrant forest of pine trees before emerging at the top. At its peak, you’ll find the 19th-century Chapel of St George, but most come here for the views. Catch the sunset and watch as the ancient sites across Athens glow in the fading light.
The Ancient Greeks made many advancements in science and technology, so it’s only fitting that Athens is home to the most advanced planetarium in the world. Embark on a virtual 3D trip into the galaxy, with films displayed on a 950-square-metre (10,226-square-feet) dome that delve into the secrets and mysteries of our universe. Located in the popular seaside neighbourhood of Palaio Faliro, the foundation also hosts various scientific exhibitions and workshops in the Athena Science and Technology Centre at the same location.
Visitors might be drawn to Athens by its ancient monuments, but those who come back do so for the infectious and creative vibe found in its neighbourhoods. There’s a distinctly alternative and edgy undercurrent that runs through Exarcheia, an area famed for its revolutions, riots and intellectually engaged population of students, anarchists and creatives. Plastered with politically charged murals and graffiti, the neighbourhood is full of bookshops, vinyl stores, quirky independent shops, cafés and bars.
It’s not summer in Athens until the open-air cinemas begin operating again. Over 90 cinemas are scattered throughout the city, drawing in visitors to watch a healthy mix of classics, Greek films and the latest Hollywood blockbusters. One of the best in the city is Cine Paris, which has been around since the 1920s. The only problem is that from its vantage point on a rooftop in the heart of Plaka, the views of the Acropolis might distract you from whatever film is playing on the night.
The southern edge of the Greek capital is where you’ll find the Apollo Coast, marked by idyllic white-sand beaches and inviting esplanades. Flisvos Marina is one of the more popular areas along this coastline, a magnet for European millionaires. The promenade is the perfect place for an early-evening stroll, stopping for a cocktail or a spot of seafood.
The Karaiskakis Stadium is situated in the Piraeus port district, where the majority of traffic comes through from the Greek islands. It’s the home of Olympiakos Football Club, who are to Athens what Real Madrid and Barcelona are to Spain, so if there’s a chance to grab tickets for a game at the stadium, don’t miss out on a great local experience. The surrounding area has been cleaned up from its red-light district days into a glitzy entertainment hub, with plenty of bars and clubs that are frequented by Athens’s most trendiest residents.
Skydive Athens and the experienced instructors can't wait to show you the extreme landscapes from high above. With the expert instructors, you'll take the leap of faith from 14.000 ft. All instructors have performed thousands of in his life, so relax, you're in great hands. After a small briefing, and gearing up, you'll be escorted to the plane and flown to 14,000ft where your adventure awaits. Once you take the leap you have 60 seconds of freefall to enjoy before the chute opens and you're flown back down to earth. You will be flying in Kopaida Airfield, about an hour away from the centre! There are buses (KTEL Liosion) going from the city centre to the Airfield. The area is called Livadias-Kastrou. If you are coming by car, it is on the 110 km Athens-Lamia, on the exit: Livadia-Kastro.
- Snorkeling boat excursions in Nea Makri, Athens
A snorkeling trip only half an hour away from Athens city centre will save the day! In Nea Makri, you can go on a boat snorkeling trip and explore the blue waters of the East Attica. A must during your stay in Athens! Explore the hidden bays of Marathon Cape with your mask and fins, swim to the crystal clear waters and relax on the golden sandy beaches of Schinias Bay. Get on board on a snorkeling trip to enjoy the warm and safe waters of the historical Marathon area. Their 6-meters inflatable boat is located in Marathon beach in Schinias bay. There you will find the beautiful suburbs of Athens with the gold-sand beaches where you can relax while staying in Athens. After a 20 - minute speedboat ride from Marathon beach, we will be exploring the beautiful, hidden bays of Marathon Cape. Later we can relax or swim at the crystal clear waters of the sandy beach of Schinias Bay. A certified instructor will help you with the snorkeling equipment and guide you to the most interesting places where you can see many colorful fish and plants. The visibility is great so you will be able to enjoy and observe even the smallest creature of the seabed. After exploring the area with your mask and fins you can relax, swim or sunbathe on the boat. And don't forget: relax, snorkel around, sunbathe and enjoy the ride with the boat!
- Discover Scuba Diving in Nea Makri, Athens
Get your first scuba diving lesson in Nea Makri near Athens and get familiar with the most fascinating underwater sport. Dimitris and his friendly team can't wait to show you the beauties of the seabed and teach you how to use the scuba gear in a safe and comfortable environment. Don't miss out - leave your coffee aside and book the Discover Scuba Diving session! With this course you will learn the basics of scuba diving. First, you will learn the theory of scuba diving and how it evolved over the years. You will become familiar with all the signs you need to use underwater as well as the scuba gear, and you will make your first try in open water. In the beginning, you will try to use the equipment in shallow water and then off you will go in the open sea to explore the seabed like a modern Cousteau! Small and big fish await you in the open water, hiding in between the colourful reefs. You will also explore the underwater caves and you will check the wrecks that house different types of fish from a safe distance. The maximum depth to reach is 6-10 m. Once you complete your Discover Scuba Diving course, you will get the completion certificate in case you wish to follow up with your education in scuba diving! For this activity you have two choices; either the shore dive, where you will dive from the shore and explore the underwater life for 30-40 minutes or the boat dive where you will dive from a boat in the open water and explore the dark blue sea.
- Tandem paragliding flight in Plataies near Athens
If you have always dreamed about flying, then this paragliding flight near Athens will make your dream come true! Paragliding will make your dreams come true, letting you fly over the Attica region, having great views to the valley and the mountains around. With this paragliding flight, you will be flying safely harnessed to a certified instructor, Vagelis. You will be flying as a passenger on a tandem paraglider that can seat two people. You on the front enjoying the views to Athens and Attica valley, and behind you, your instructor taking care of the wing. No need to jump, or to do any special moves... just a few steps and the wing will be fully inflated, making you leave the ground and reach the clouds. A tandem paragliding is possible for everyone that is up to 110 kg in weight. Tandem flights take place in Plataies Boeotia and Kandili Megara (a 1-hour driving distance from Athens). Weather permitting, you will fly high to see the world from a different perspective.
- Sailing Trip in the Athenian Coastline
Sailing on the coastline of Athens is the best way to pass a hot day and explore the beautiful coastline only half an hour away from the center of the city. Get on board and enjoy a day of swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the deck while sailing the coastline of Athens. An amazing experience awaits you in Athens, with the day sailing trips departing at 9:00 am and getting back at 14:00 pm. 5 hours of sailing in the Athenian coastline, departing from the Kalamaki Marina every morning. Hop on the sailboat and meet the friendly and experienced crew that will accompany you through the sailing trip. For 5 hours you will be sailing in the Saronic Gulf. Next to the experienced skipper, you can learn the basics of sailing, or simply relax. You will be dropping the anchor in one the most beautiful bays of Athens, and snorkel around secluded bays with azure-colored waters. Snorkeling equipment will be provided. After swimming and snorkeling, you will be served an authentic Greek meze (like tapas) and Greek wine while making your way back to Kalamaki Marina, Athens.
- Mountain biking in Parnitha mountain
Mountain biking in Parnitha should definitely be on your to-do list while visiting Athens. One of the few green areas that remains unspoilt by the urbanisation of Attiki, and has some great trails to enjoy while mountain biking. Your local guides while take you trough the best routes to find nature and some adrenaline of course! Mount Parnitha lies to one side of Attica basin, is a well endowed area. It contains a wonderful forest, which is teeming not only with wildlife such as dears and wild boars, but also with ancient heritage that marks an era of wonders. The more you cycle into this environment, the more you might have the pleasure to encounter all of the above in an area so close to Athens.
- Canyoning at Agios Loukas Canyon near Athens
Explore the ancient Greek gorge of Agios Loukas on this canyoning adventure near Athens. Navigate this scenic canyon downstream from the Peloponnese countryside, following waterfalls and babbling brooks deep into the heart of the ravine – swimming, scrambling and climbing with the freshwater flow…
Agios Loukas Gorge is located near the Village of Kallithea in Peloponnese close to Xylokastro Town. It’s a beautiful canyon with water throughout the year. Kallithea is 1500 m long and has 3 descents (highest 9 m) with lakes a few jumps and 2 slides. It can be reached from central Athens via car (1h 30 mins).
RESTAURANTS IN ATHENS
Sushi in Athens doesn't get any better than this. Tell Antonis Drakoularakos, the Tokyo-trained chef who holds court behind the counter, your budget and he'll prepare a feast of local seafood sliced up as sashimi (raw fish) and nigiri (atop vinegared rice). It's a tiny place so book ahead at least a month to be sure of a spot.
A superb addition to Athens' culinary landscape is this deli, cafe and restaurant occupying a gorgeously designed atrium space flooded with light. There are separate areas for a greengrocer, fishmonger, butcher and bakery, plus shelves packed with top-quality Greek products sourced from small-scale producers around the country. You'll dine well here and, most likely, leave laden down with goodies.
This charming old taverna is an Athens gem. There's no signage – look for two sets of doors leading to a rustic cellar. There's no printed menu, just a few dishes that haven’t changed in years. Order the house speciality revythia (chickpea stew) and follow up with grilled fish, paired with wine from one of the giant barrels lining the wall. The brusque but friendly service is part of the appeal – as is the likely appearance of an accordion player.
This modern mezedhopoleio (restaurant specialising in mezedhes) is a minor hike up Exarhia's hill, but you're rewarded with a lovely setting – an old school building, with tables outside in the vine-shaded playground – and super-savoury small plates that go well with drinks. Think pickled octopus, meatballs flavoured with cinnamon and cloves, and lamb kebabs.
With excellent homestyle cooking, this modern taverna lives up to its name (meaning ‘homey’). It’s decorated like a cosy bistro, and tables on the footpath allow people-watching without the usual Kolonaki bill. Pastas, salads and international fare are tasty, but try the daily mayirefta (ready-cooked meals), such as the excellent stuffed zucchini. Book ahead on weekends.
At this modern-day pastomageireio (combo tavern-deli) tables are set alongside the deli cases, and staff offer complimentary tasty morsels while you're looking at the menu. Beyond the Greek cheeses and cured meats, there's good seafood, such as marinated anchovies, as well as rarer wines and craft beers. Service is excellent, as is the warm welcome, often from Fani herself.
Three generations of a family work at this romantic homestyle restaurant that's decorated with wood beams, lacy white tablecloths, twinkling candles and chandeliers. Traditional Greek dishes – such as fava beans with smoked eel, and slow oven-baked lamb kleftiko – are superbly prepared and presented. A nice touch is the welcoming amuse bouche of a small cup of soup.
Gutsy fresh food, an open kitchen, friendly service, a handwritten daily menu and rock on the soundtrack: Seychelles may be the Platonic ideal of a restaurant. Dishes can look simple – meaty pan-fried mushrooms with just a sliver of sheep's cheese, say, or greens with fish roe – but the flavours are excellent. Go early or book ahead; it's deservedly popular.
There is no shortage of Cretan restaurants in Athens, but this is the one that Cretans themselves recommend, especially for rare seasonal treats such as stewed snails, bittersweet pickled volvi (wild bulbs), and tender baby goat with nuts and garlic. It occupies several storefronts inside the arcade; on weekends it's a good idea to reserve.
WHERE TO SHOP IN ATHENS
Specialising in Greek avant-garde rock and obscure sounds, this is one of Athens' top record shops. It stocks a wide range of music genres on vinyl and CD, both new and secondhand. It's also an art gallery, cafe and, on Friday nights, a performance space – check the website to see who's playing. At the time of research, the shop walls were hung with the spectacular tribal mask collection of Nicos Papageorgiou, an ex-Unesco officer.
Billing itself as Greece's first activist bookshop, the Free Thinking Zone specialises in books on LGBT issues, refugees, violence in society and so on. However, rather than being earnest, it's quite a fun and creative place. It has a cafe and sells locally made souvenirs such as their multilingual board game Beat the Book Bug. Check their website as they often organise events.
Meaning 'raft', Shedia is Greece's version of street-vendor magazines such as the Big Issue. Unsold copies are now being upcycled into an appealing range of homewares and accessories including papier-mâché lampshades and bowls, and dainty earrings and necklaces. The space beneath their editorial offices has been reimagined as a shop and stylish cafe-bar.
A Greek-Spanish duo specialising in silkscreen designs inspired by classical motifs. Especially nice are their leather notebooks, wallets and more, where black ink on the natural hide echoes the colours of ancient pottery. Some of their work shows up in museum shops, but this storefront and workspace has the best selection.
This impeccable small store (two shops, one upstairs and one down around the corner) stocks super-cool gear, from fashion to housewares and gifts, all by contemporary Greek designers. Great for gift shopping – who doesn't want a set of cheerful 'evil eye' coasters or some Hermes-winged beach sandals?
This charming jewellery store is a delight before you even enter: turn the handle on the window display and watch as gears and pulleys animate the scene. Papachatzis' designs have a storybook quality: small figures, clouds and animals rendered in sterling silver and enamel.
You can often find Krina Vronti busy woodblock printing her appealing graphic designs on T-shirts, cushion covers and paper at this combined studio and shop. The images are often inspired by ancient and classical themes but are given a contemporary twist.
Eleftheria Domenikou is the young designer whose minimalistic, elegant yet comfortable clothes and accessories are stocked here. She cooperates with jewellery designers and stocks some other cute accessories and gifts.