What you just can’t miss:
The rugged and iconic citadel of the Acropolis towers dramatically over Athens, ensuring part of the city remains perfectly frozen in time. The mind-boggling history of The Acropolis dates back to 447 BC but even if you’re not that into the facts, it’s worth coming up here for the breathtaking 360-degree views of Athens. It will be worth it for the gram.
2. THE COFFEE CULTURE (FRAPPE / COLD COFFEE)
Coffee culture is rife in Athens. Young creatives and business minds flock to the most on-trend establishments in the city such as Tailor-made, Spollati or Six d.o.g.s, where outdoor tables are hot property. If you’re lucky enough to get one, pull up a pew, order yourself a Freddo coffee and prepare to watch the catwalk of passersby.
3. THE ROOFTOP BARS
Scattered throughout the city, the rooftop bars of Athens are hard to find. Often hidden away and terribly signposted, each one feels like a secret society for people in the know. They’re buzzing morning, noon and night and depending on what time you go you’ll get a different perspective of the Acropolis and the white-washed city below. Head to Couleur Locale for the ultimate secret scene or go to The Roof Garden at The Electra Metropolis to watch an incredibly chic sunset.
Until recent years the sleepy hillside village of Anafiotika went by unnoticed by tourists, but now the secret is out. Located just below the Acropolis hill, this tiny village is more reminiscent of a rural Cycladic island than a capital city. Get lost amongst the labyrinth of narrow alleyways that connect the whitewashed houses.
5. THE FOOD
One thing that remains timeless about Athens is the food. The quality and produce of Greek food in Athens are just as high as on the islands. Feast on succulent souvlakis, fresh seafood, mouth-watering mezzes, baked moussaka and tomatoes that taste ten times more delicious than in London.
6. THE PRICE
Greece’s financial crisis has kept the prices of food, drink and alcohol extremely competitive, meaning you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the bill comes. Local wines are very cheap and equally as delicious as their imported counterparts.
7. THE SUNSHINE
Athens is drenched in the sun for the majority of the year, and even if you travel in January you can expect highs of 10 degrees. The optimum time to travel is between March and May when the skies will be blue and the breeze will be balmy. Whatever time of year you travel, you’re likely to see skies as blue as the Greek flag.
8. THE NEW ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
This dazzling modernist museum at the foot of the Acropolis’ southern slope showcases its surviving treasures still in Greek possession. While the collection covers the Archaic and Roman periods, the emphasis is on the Acropolis of the 5th century BC, considered the apotheosis of Greece’s artistic achievement. The museum cleverly reveals layers of history, floating over ruins with the Acropolis visible above, showing the masterpieces in context. Designed by US-based architect Bernard Tschumi with Greek architect Michael Photiadis, the 130-million museum includes items formerly held in other museums or in storage, as well as pieces returned from foreign museums.
9. THE FLEA MARKET
The saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” certainly rings true in Athens Flea Market. This fascinating complex of stalls sells weird, wonderful, and downright bizarre objects. Prepare to channel your inner David Dickinson and put your negotiation skills to the test.
10. THE PICTURESQUE PLAKA
Plaka is Athens’s Old Town and easily the most picturesque neighbourhood. Imagine cobbled streets, historical architecture, sun-drenched piazzas and restaurants with white and blue tablecloths. Andrianou is the main shopping street in Plaka and is lined with boutique stalls and souvenir shops. Venture to the end of this street and you’ll find a strip of great restaurants too.