48 HOURS IN ATHENS

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Begin your day having breakfast by the window with a view of History…

On the terrace of the ‘A for Athens’ hotel, there is a spectacular view of Acropolis and the whole of the city. Try to get there early, this place is always busy.

Every Friday afternoon, outside Thissio Metro station, hundreds of cyclists meet there to cruise the city all together. hire a bike and join the crowd. I can’t think of a better way to see the city a locals way and if you ask a few of them, they can tell you where it’s worth ending your ride as Athens has seen a plethora of affordable Tapas bars pop-up offering such treasures as salads with roasted manouri cheese, nuts, oranges and blackberry dressing and as the Greeks are very much known for their pastries try as many as possible. You wont regret it.

If you happen to be here during the winter months, you could visit some of the basement restaurants known as Bakaliarzidikos that specialize in fried codfish. Typically found in the Plaka area, the size of these venues means that they are far too hot in summer when ovens get involved though these restaurants generally have some of the city’s best homemade wine (khee-ma) and the codfish (bakaliaro) served with garlic dip (skordaya). Saita Restaurant on Kydatheneon is one such venue to look for.

A walk through Plaka will get your palate wetter still with the lure of Peloponnesian cuisine including dishes such as yellow split peas with onion chutney (5-6 euro), the sweet green salad with soft katiki cheese and dried figs and the homemade noodles, called hilopites, simmered with chicken, fennel, sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Most dishes around here fall under 10 euro. For the budget traveller, Quick Pitta in Plaka has a menu consisting mainly of Gyros where much of it is under €5 and has a happy hour 5pm-6.30 with beers for €1. Good times! Still on the budget tip, 48 Urban garden near Ambelokipi is a secret garden of sorts within the centre of Athens. Located inside the Ileana Touanta gallery, it has the unique combo of gourmet and street food.

The Syntagma area across from Parliament just up from Monastiraki is where you’ll find a lively marketplace and an equally lively cafe scene. Its about a 10 minute walk from Plaka. Just about any venue you eat at, a cheese platter will not disappoint with cheese being part of the culture, quality is almost guaranteed.

The Acropolis is the one historical site you can’t miss, in fact this should be the first thing you do as the €12 ticket also enables entry to about 5 other sites. You can take a tour or wander up there yourself but during the summer, go early or late in the day and to escape the punishing heat, the nearby Acropolis Museum (new by Athens standards), designed by the Swiss-born architect Bernard Tschumi houses spectacular artifacts from the country’s most famous site. Finds date from the Hekatompedon, the oldest known building on the Acropolis, though the showcase is the Parthenon Gallery, where portions of the Parthenon frieze are dramatically displayed though this is not included in the Acropolis ticket. €5

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A short walk from the National gardens is the Panathenaic Stadium in Mets, a neighborhood in eastern Athens. According to legend, the river god Ilissos worshiped in a sanctuary on Ardittos hill next to it. Refurbished in 1896 to host the Olymics, it is the finishing point for the Athens Classic Marathon held every autumn.

Down by the beach, the seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni, there is a lake of the same name slightly southwards set inside a jagged boulder and regarded as a natural spa that stays warm year-round and costs about 10 euro entry. Nearby is the private Astir Beach, considered the Athens Riviera and very much a place to be seen during the Athenian summer. There’s a 25-euro fee for summer weekends, but it drops to 18 euros during the cooler months.

Athens is at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to music with a focus on the past yet with a large youth population, the contemporary is popping up in places all over the city.Karitsi Square is a tucked-away cobblestone oasis near the city center where Toy Bar – the first bar to open up in this area – is a haunt for many journalists and has thrived since day one.Similarly, Agias Irinis Square is the ever-crowded social centre of cool Athens withinnumerous all day cafe-bars and outdoor tables.

The Art Foundation (known as TAF) and Six d.o.g.s near Monastiraki are two of the latter with TAF opening in 2009 with a renovated 19th-century building complete with galleries and a space for lectures also playing host to many plays and concerts. Six d.o.g.s. has an excellent cafe-bar and spacious garden and hosts gigs ranging from underground metal-rap to nostalgic indie-folk and the central courtyard is one of the city’s coolest bars, with chill-out music and subtle lighting.

Brettos. A spectacular interior, with bottle-lined back-lit shelves creating a warm glow, c Brettos has been an Athenian institution since 1909. 30 different flavours of liqueurs all made in-house including Ouzo. This is the prime nightcap venue.

The Galaxy bar at the Hilton offers have-to-be-seen views of the Acropolis in a see-and-be-seen atmosphere where many of Athens’ classier set relax. There are pricey cocktails, an open air terrace, D.J’s and stays open until early morning.

GalaxyBar
The Galaxy Bar at the Hilton. Make this a ‘Must-do’

Throughout the summer, glamorous clubs set up all along the coast, the most celebrated being Island. Stunningly beautiful, its décor – a sea-view terrace with lots of minimalist white and flickering candlelit lamps – is inspired by the Cyclades. Mediterranean cuisine, finely carved Indian furniture with regular Greek celebrities and sports personalities.

The Bolivar beach bar is the Athens home of bohemian chic atmosphere
within 50’s architecture surrounds. Regular DJ’s both local and international.







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