Economic hardships and cultural turmoil in Greece’s capital cannot override the fact that the city of Athens, its ruins still reverend, its myths still told, its people still passionate, still stands as the cradle of western democracy, debate, philosophy, and more. The power of such a history can be felt from the outskirts on its suburban beachfront properties to the bustling center “kendro,” where traditionally garbed guards ceremoniously protect the Parliament Building.
If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in this iconic city, find a balance between the out of towner must-sees and more recreational activities. Keep in mind, that while Athens is a great tourist destination, it is also the center of a country in the middle of cultural and ideological change, fronted by the newer generations in the areas of fashion, art, and philosophy. By learning where they go and what they do, there is insight and understanding to Athens’s potential future.
Parliament Building, Athens image via Discovergreece.ru
Where to Stay:
The Athens Plaza Hotel, Leoforos Vasileos Georgiou 2 Athens 105 64, Greece
In general, staying in central Athens doesn’t come with the most luxurious of choices in terms of accommodations. However, the heart of the city is the most convenient of locations to be in. Luckily, there’s The Athens Plaza. Comfortable rooms, helpful staff, in-house dining–but you’ll be so effortlessly close to all the must-see sites that we hardly expect you to stick around the hotel for too long.
Where to Grab a Drink:
Balux Cafe, Poseidonos Ave. 58B Asteras Glyfadas, Greece
With the beach a stone throw away, it’s hard to beat the serene ambience of this trendy lounge. Located in the glamorous Glyfada suburb, a ritzier part of outer Athens, the accommodating restaurant/bar offers a magical seaside escape for a more dressed up night out.
Balux Cafe, Glyfada image via Asterascomplex.com
Gazaki Bar, Triptolemou 31 Gazi,Athens
Gazaki Bar is located in the up and coming area of Gazi, heavily influenced by innovative art, new-age politics, modern youth movements, and offering an alternative night scene to the high class Glyfada lounge, Balux. For a more urban cool atmosphere, head here to enjoy the roof garden for a quieter drink amidst the bustling hipster neighborhood below.
Where to Shop:
The Kifisia suburb
This charming, high end northern suburb of Athens (it’s been called the “Chelsea” neighborhood of Greece) offers the ultimate retail experience along the relaxing and architecturally pleasing main streets of Kiriazi and Kasaveti. Make sure to bring all your credit cards along for this excursion. Visitors will find designer outlet stores like Hermes, Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg and more alongside smaller local boutiques offering one of a kind luxury pieces. This shopping mecca will make you wonder, what financial crisis?
The Kolonaki neighborhood
If Kiffissia is too much of a trek out of Athens, the Kolonaki neighborhood will adequately serve as your fashion haven. Conveniently located in central Athens, walking distance from the main sites of the city, this chic district offers a number of high-end Greek and international boutiques as well as better known designer destinations like Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. One of its main shopping streets, Voukourestiou Street, is famous for its jewelry shops, offering vaulted treasures from pearls to semi-precious stones.
What to See:
The journey to the Acropolis, meaning “high city,” can be a bit tiring, especially in the summer’s heat, but this is not an excursion to skip. Wear good shoes, pack some water, and set along the pilgrimage millions venture to Athens to experience! Along the trek, you’ll pass key sites like the quaint plaka, or the “Neighborhood of the Gods,” and the theatre of Dionysus, until you will finally reach the 2,500 year old temples atop the hill. The most wondrous of them is the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena. Notice the missing ”Elgin Marbles” on the structure’s top, the pieces now in London’s British Museum after being removed in the 1800s. Imagine the delicate ruins being used to hold up the German War flag, as it did for many years during WW2. There’s so much history, so many unknown facts–if you forgot your guide book, it may be worth following sneakily behind a tour group!
The Acropolis image via Discovergreece.ru