Athens is a city of unlimited offerings for anyone interested in culture, bars, dining, shopping and beachside experiences. A gateway to our past and future, you can easily get lost in the present.
Athens boasts also some of the hippest new bars, and restaurants, arts and cultural venues and possibly the world’s most impressive street art representing artists from across the globe.
Artemis Theodoris Papoutsis who lived and worked in Athens for many years has helped Billy Cotsis, an author and a frequent traveller to Athens, to compile the Top 20 must do in Athens list.
1. Visit the Acropolis and the Parthenon. It would be nice if the British Museum Board could also visit the ancient site to return the Stolen Marbles
2. Acropolis Museum, one of the best in the world, though it can only be complete when the Stolen Marbles are returned from the British Museum
3. Explore the back streets of Plaka…. Get lost in the architecture and tavernas of the “old town.” Have a drink at Brettos in Plaka, one of the oldest bars in Athens
4. Visit Syntagma Square, the changing of the national guards never ceases to inspire. Nearby you can explore the National Gardens, neo-classical architecture and various archaeological sites such as the Temple of Zeus or simply grab a frappe at the top of “Public” which overlooks Syntagma
5. Shopping and coffee in Ermou St, and must try the Pie Shop Athens it is unforgettable.
6. Thission Open Air Cinema which is generally acknowledged as one of the best in the world by CNN
7. Take a walk in Psiri for, hip cafes and restaurants, vibrant bars and live music, check out little Kook, Ellyz Café, Atlantikos for excellent seafood, and for a late night drink head to the well hidden Cantina Social. You will keep coming back to explore every nook and cranny of Psiri and it is worth the effort.
8. Go to the Herodion Atticus Theatre
9. Check out the exhibition space at Hellenic Cosmos Cultural Centre, Tavros
10. Check out the Benaki Museum and feel inspired
11. Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre in Kalithea, completed in 2016 at a cost of $861 million and donated to the Greek state in 2017, encompasses facilities for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera , alongside the 210,000 m2 Stavros Niarchos Park, all designed by architect Renzo Piano and funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
12. Take a peek at the 1896 Olympic Stadium in Pangrati, which is made of marble!
13. Monastiraki is a must. Have a gyros at Thanasis near the square, one of the oldest food outlets in the world. Look up to find 360 and A for Athens, good rooftop bars or simply visit the Flea Market or Thissio for a bite, drink or tavli
14. Gazi nightlife area, which is easily reached via Keramiko metro station from Monastiraki or walk along the “promenade” passing the 11 acre ancient Necropolis of Keramiko
15. Visit Edem Taverna for a sunset meal sitting on the beach
16. Take a stroll along the beachside suburb of Palio Faliro
17. Beaches: any number of Athenian beaches from Voula to Vouliagmeni, Kavouri, Bikini Beach and a number of others. Busses, trams and taxis will get you there
18. Flisvos Marina, a modern gem with yachts and eateries
19. Sounion for the sunset, a good meal and of course the Temple of Poseidon. The drive along the Attika coast is breathtaking
20. Piraeus to catch ferries for nearby day trip islands such as the historic Hydra and Spetses or the picturesque Poros, Agistri, Aegina or Porto Heli in the Peloponnesus
Other suggestions for a traveller, includes Lykavitos for the little St George Church or a live performance, Byzantine churches, any number of modern churches found throughout Athens, bouzoukia by the seaside areas, rooftop bars in Panormou or the soon to be built green city at Ellinikon.
Pyx Lax generally hold large concerts such as the Olympic Stadium in the picturesque suburb of Marousi, worth experiencing our version of Coldplay. For those seeking fitness, drop in and ask for Alexi Lazaridis at Top Fit Pireaus https://topfitgym.gr/, then have a drink around trendy Marina Zeas.
Last, if don’t have much time in Athens but you’re landing at Athens airport, try nearby getaway beach side towns such as Artemida and all the way up to the port of Rafina which can take you to places such as Tzia island.
It’s Athens, scratch the surface and you will find a whole new world.
*Artemis now lives in Sydney with her family and is an active member/leader within the Greek Community. Billy Cotsis is the author of The Aegean Seven Take Back The Marbles