The capital of Greece has had it’s up and downs throughout history, which has created a city unlike many other capitals. On one hand you have a people that truly have a reason feel despair, but at the same time a people that live life to the fullest through their music, food and community. The slightly chaotic nature of the city can easily scare away visitors from the city, but the success of your trip to Athens will depend on your ability to embrace just that. Get away from the touristic areas that dominate the neighborhoods surrounding the Acropolis and discover the real Athenian soul. Athens is mesmerizing. Not because of what it looks like, because honestly it’s not a very pretty capital, but more so because of the fantastic Greek hospitality, cuisine, the historic significance of the city and the countless rooftop restaurants and bars that will give you an absolutely unforgettable view of the capital and the Acropolis. We’ve put together our favourite experiences in Athens so that you can make your trip as memorable as possible. Yamas!
WHERE TO HAVE DINNER IN ATHENS
Athiri: Athiri serves up Greek specialities with a modern twist. Located in the cool Kerameikos neighborhood and thus away from the touristy streets of Athens this is a real gem. Try to get a table in the inner courtyard. Athiri has been awarded a Bib Gourmand rating from the Michelin guide several years in a row. Book in advance.
Strofi: Hands down the best we had in Athens (and one of the best of our lives). Strofi serves up traditional Greek food, but with a strong focus on having the best ingredients. Try their tzatziki, their baked feta with honey and sesame, their moussaka and their lovely Gyros. Book ahead and make sure to get a table on Strofi's rooftop terrace overlooking the Acropolis.
Art Lounge @ New Hotel: Art Lounge restaurant and bar at the top floor of the New Hotel is a real treat. This small restaurant oozes of sophistication and attracts the trendy Athenians. The menu has a wide array of dishes taking inspiration of all over the world. Try the smoked eggplant with pita, the mini black angus burgers, their grilled fish and the grilled chicken skewer with pita and red onions. Art Lounge also serves up lovely Greek wines and beautiful cocktails - and with a view of Athens you really can’t go wrong here.
Mani Mani: Tucked away in a small street close to the Acropolis, Mani Mani is a local favourite that has become known for it’s untraditional takes on classic dishes. The restaurant doesn’t boast a lovely view of Athens, but the lovely staff and the good food makes up for it. We tried the ‘Twisted Greek Salad’, the grilled veal meatballs with pita and a fantastic Greek pasta dish with asparagus, zucchini and chicken.
Kuzina: Recommended by the Michelin guide this cosy little restaurant serves up traditional Greek food - and is really good value. Try one of their set menus, a good bottle of wine and if you can try to get a table on the top floor terrace overlooking Athens. A great place to suck in the beauty of Athens and try real Greek food.
Gostijo: This kosher greek restaurant is located at the beginning of the Kerameikos neighborhood. Tucked away in a small street this place serves up some real mouth watering Greek food.
2MAZI: Founded by two fantastic Greek chefs, 2MAZI serves up modern Greek food, with a lot of seafood. 2MAZI has a cute little courtyard garden that you can sit and enjoy your dinner in, so make sure to ask for a courtyard table if you’re making a reservation.
Where to have a drink in Athens
BIOS: We were recommended to go here by a friend who had lived in Athens. Situated in the cool Kerameikos neighborhood, Bios is one of the coolest rooftop bars in Athens. Once you’ve climbed up to the rooftop you’ll have a beautiful view of Acropolis and Athens. The place plays good tunes and has a very trendy vibe to it. Try the spicy ginger margarita, their caipirinha or their old fashioned. This is as hip as it gets.
Liosporos - jazz cafe: A cute little jazz café where you can go to enjoy a glass of wine and listen to some classic tunes. We love jazz bars and this one is a good option if you’re visiting Athens.
360 Bar: 360 bar is located right by the Monastiraki square and is popular with the local crows. One of the best views of the Acropolis and really tasty cocktails. A safe bet!
A for Athens: Actually a hotel, but this place has an amazing rooftop terrace with one of the best views in Athens. Go to the roof, enjoy a delicious cocktail and take in the full view of the Parthenon and the bustling nightlife of Athens.
Ta kapanapie: This small café/bar on a street corner in Karameikos is a real local spot. Go here for their iced coffees, their freshly squeezed orange juice or nice cold cocktail/beer. This was one of our favorites in Kerameikos.
Alphaville:This small bar is tucked away in one of the small streets in Kerameikos. This is where the locals go for a mid-day drink or a quick bite. Great place to sit in the shade and blend in with the local Athenians.
Barley Cargo: Looking for good beer? Barley Cargo has a ton of different delicious craft beers and with a very relaxed atmosphere (and good prices) this is a winner!
Heteroclito: This small wine bar in central Athens is great place to go for a good bottle of wine. Heteroclito is rather small, which makes it a great place for a romantic date or a pre/post-dinner glass of wine before heading out into the Athenian nightlife.
Where to have lunch in Athens
Avocado: This vegan restaurant is delicious. Away from the tourist streets in Plaka, Avocado serves up beautiful vegan food and fresh fruit juices. Try some of their starters, one of their salads and wash it down with a super healthy fruit juice. We had an amazing quinoa salad with avocado, honey and parsley.
Kostas: This place has existed for +60 years and serves up one thing - souvlaki. This hole in the wall located in Plaka is where locals go for lunch. Now run by the son of the original founder, this tiny place has a tiny grill where the skewers of meat are grilled to perfection before being nested in fluffy pita with red onions, yoghurt, parsley and tomatoes. A must if you on the hunt for good souvlaki. Oh yeah, and it’s 2,5€ for a meal.
Thanassis: Located in a very busy street just off Monastiraki square, Thanassis is packed to the brim with locals, as well as tourists, because of their souvlaki kebabs. Unlike Kostas (above) the skewers here are made of seasoned minced meat. We got ours to go with some french fries and then sat down at Monastiraki square and did some people watching while gobbling down this fantastic wrap of goodness. This is dirt cheap - 2€ for a souvlaki. You can’t lose with a lunch that cheap and that good.
Falafellas: This place is trendy for a reason. Falafellas serves up one of the best falafels in Athens and has a hipster vibe. A great place to grab some quality street food in Athens.
Osterman: This place is classy. A real French bistro in Athens which makes it a great place to go if you're looking for something non-Greek. Try their lamb burger, their beef bourguignon or their steak frites. Yum!
WHere to stay in Athen
New Hotel: This wonderful hotel is where we chose to stay during our time in Athens. A super cool and hip modern hotel with a perfect location in central Athens. The rooms are spacious, have balconies and each room has it's own unique decor. Make sure to enjoy their amazing breakfast each morning, as well as have a drink in their fantastic rooftop bar/restaurant. Read our review of New Hotel here.
Hotel King George: This is a classic luxury hotel and with its 5 stars you can't really go wrong here. Decadent rooms, a fantastic view of the Acropolis from the rooftop restaurant and very centrally located.
Hotel Grande Bretagne: 5 stars, an award winning spa, a rooftop restaurant/bar overlooking the Acropolis, a cigar lounge and a swimming pool. Classic luxury located just by the famous Syntagma square.
What to do and see in Athens
These are the things that you should prioritize when visiting the Greek capital:
- Walk up to The Acropolis for the view as well as the beautiful archaeological site
- Visit the Acropolis Museum to truly understand the historic importance of Athens
- Take a stroll through Plaka to see the old houses and old streets of Athens
- Walk around Exarchia to get a real glimpse into the real Athens - see the market here
- Climb the stairs (or run the tracks) of the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympics were held
- Try Souvlaki, Gyros, Tzatziki, Greek Salad, Moussaka, Kalamata olives or Dolmades
- Have a glass of Ouzo, Raki or Greek wine
- Visit on of the many rooftop bars of Athens to see the lit-up Acropolis
- Check out the beaches and bars at Glyfada
- See the changing of the guards at Syntagma square - trust us, it’s worth the visit just because it’s mental