Happy new year! I wish this year to be just different, to take us a step further, to finally visit this place that we always wanted, to quit smoking, to start running again, not to forget to smile (at least once a day!), to say ”Kalimera” to the people even if we do not really know them and many more small and big things. With this post I will try to give you all the hints that a local can give in a visitor of the city. Athens is a big big city so I will try to focus in the city centre, plus some necessary city trips (less than an hour from Athens) that I can recommend if you have the time.
In the previous post I gave some tips about city’s most prestigious museums and monuments so in this post we will focus in cafes, restaurants, bars, some locations of interest and finally some easy city trips you can try. Keep in mind also that Athens public transportation is really cheap (1,40 euros for 90 minutes of use of every public transportation mean), reliable and certain lines (like the airport line for example) operate 24/7. Do not hesitate to ask people around you if you think you are getting lost, Athenians are always happy to help (they are not so good in calculating the distances properly so if they tell you that it is 5 minutes walk, probably it will be at least 10).
As a Greek I love fresh food (and coffee) so I tried to make you three short lists that combine also sun and sea (our main products). Let’s go.
Cafes ~ Bars and Bites:
- Mokka cafe/roastery. The absolute spot to try a greek/turkish coffee made the traditional way. It is next to Athens central market that worths a visit itself.
- Two other amazing choices to taste fine coffee is Tailor Made next to Monastiraki square and The Underdog in Thissio area.
- Deksameni Cafe. An all day cafe with amazing meze and really good prices. Can be easily combined with a visit to Lycabettus Hill and Kolonaki hip area.
- Drinkwise now, all with amazing view to the city, we have Bios (my favourite terrace of the city), A for Athens (right on Monastiraki square) and Couleur Locale (food is also good and cheap here).
- If you can keep a secret, there is a secret garden cafe/bar with amazing cocktails. Follow the link https://goo.gl/maps/vRAY9fvmVHL2
- If you feel hipsterish, do not miss Bel Ray Bar that offers amazing brunch also.
- In the upcoming Kerameikos area I would recommend Louis (good food, amazing local atmosphere and even more amazing prices), Korova (nice place to have a coffee, eat and even work/study) and of course Kabethon (prepare to drink a lot and also enjoy the amazing garden).
- First things that comes in mind when you visit Greece and you want a quick bite is of course Souvlaki. Here I give you my favourite four places to enjoy greeks’ greatest discovery after democracy: Kostas (with the famous spicy tomato sauce) and also Kostas (go early around 15:00 he is sold out), Elvis (A M A Z I N G meat, almost 0% fat) and The Pitta Co (the definition of value for money with amazing falafel also).
- And because Athens is not only souvlaki and because I know that all of options is no options, in terms of fine greek cuisine these two restaurants can be trusted with the eyes closed: Mani Mani, the definition of creative greek cuisine (in Google maps it is referred as closed but this is not true) and another restaurant with authentic greek cuisine is Athiri (with a really beautiful garden to dine in).
- If you wan to visit an island but you do not have that much time the following island are the perfect destination for you (and yes they have nothing to be jealous of the other popular Aegean and Ionian islands). So catch a boat from Piraeus port (last stop with green metro line) and go for either Hydra (amazing architecture, no cars allowed) or Spetses (really beautiful small island) or Aegina (do not miss Afaia temple, similar rhythm like the Parthenon of Athens and the temple of Poseidon in Sounio that is by the way a nice short trip to enjoy sunset in a unique location).
- Another two islands that I strongly recommend and they are a stone’s throw from Athens is Andros (nice beaches, architecture and unique trekking routes) and Kea (do not miss Karthaia ancient site/beach). Andros is accessible from Rafina port and Kea from Lavrio port.
What I strongly recommend, no matter what you will choose to follow as your daily program, is to wear comfortable shoes and let yourself get lost in Athens. Do not hesitate to ask the locals for anything that troubles you and of course taste as much food as you can. Feel free to send us a message by using the contact form of the site if you have any questions and follow the blog by just giving your email address (you only receive a mail when we post something, and this is just twice a week).
P.S. A small tip if you feel like swimming is to take the bus from the city centre to Limanakia beach (my personal favourite, especially early in the morning when there is literally no-one) or Vouliagmeni beach (if you prefer something more organised).