I have been so many times, in Athens and Greece in general… I already wrote one post last year about my summer holiday in Skiathos, and here I wanted to show you why I like coast of Athens and why you should not miss it.
Greece is one of my favorite countries in the World!
The reason why I had been at least 20 times in Greece is because when I was studying in Budapest, most of my friends were Greeks and thanks to them I got to love this beautiful country. And I will return to it many times in the future! What is more, I even learnt some basics of Greek language, so pame na doume ti egrapsa edw 🙂 (translation: let’s see what I wrote here) !
If you go to Athens for the first time (like I had done back in years when I was 18 with a school trip), it is ok to be situated in the center and visit all the archaeological sites around. Even outside Athens like Corinth canal, Meteora monasteries, Delphi oracle…
ATHENS CENTER – MUST SEE ?
Center of Athens, is nice, but I must say is a bit dirty, especially the two main squares Omonia and Syntagma, and I would not recommend walking alone there at night, as there are a lot of men on the streets (mostly from Albania). But if you are careful, believe me nothing can happen. During the day it is very busy there, lots of traffic and people going around, and nothing really to worry about.
However, if you are in the center – you must definitely go for shopping to Ermou street, which is full with very nice shops for clothes and shoes. Then have a traditional meal in Plaka district and buy some souvenir at a flea market in Monastiraki – which is an old historical neighborhood. It is very near to Acropolis, and so called “Neighborhood of the Gods” (source: Wikipedia).
At evenings, you may go to Kolonaki – which is in general an upmarket shopping district with high-end boutiques, shows, jewelers. At Kolonanki square you can find lots of cafes, trendy bars and tavernas (Greek restaurants) and enjoy sitting with locals.
Naturally you can’t miss the Athens’s jewel – the ancient Acropolis ( citadel with several ancient architectural building and sites, like the most famous one – Parthenon). There is an entrance fee (20€, or 10€ from Nov 1- Mar 31) , but once there – you really feel amazing just when you think about it – what was happening here like 1000s of years ago..
Another important site in Athens is the Greek Parliament, situated right there in the center. Unfortunately, there are strikes and demonstrations quite often in Athens and usually this is where they are held. The Parliament is protected by Greek Army called Evzones, who wear traditional Greek uniforms which look like kilt-like skirts. The changing of the guards takes place every hour so you can witness that also. During their service, the Evzones are not allowed to talk or move at all, and probably are bothered when tourists take photos with then…but what to do – it is part of their duty.
COAST OF ATHENS – MUST SEE?
Now moving down, along south-east side of Athens, along the Aegean sea, you reach to my favorite partsof Athens!! The coast of Athens or Athens riviera – comprised of districts like Faliron, Glyfada, Voula, Vari, Varkiza, Vouliagmeni.
For a long time, it was difficult to reach this part from the center, as it took a long time due to heavy traffic. But now there is Athens Metro all the way to Glyfada (the stop is called Ellinikon and it is the same line that goes to the Acropolis, Syntagma and Omonia) and the coastal tram (starts at the top of Syntagma and then at some point it splits with one line going along the coast towards Pireaus, ending at the Faliron metro station and the other going to Glyfada, and terminating in Voula). Though slow this is the easiest method of transportation to and from the coast, not including taking a taxi. The last point of the coast is called cape Sounion – an hour from Glyfada. Driving along the coast is amazing, with most of the time having Aegean sea on the side.
Whenever I come to Athens, most of my time I spend in Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza. Why? Because my best friend and her family live in Voula (where I usually stay) and Vari and we go for the beach and food to Varkiza and then for a drink or out in Glyfada. So I do not need to go to center anymore, unless really needed for some reasons. Plus, these areas are:
“areas to relax, have a Greek coffee or Freddo Cappuccino, have a swim, walk along the coast, eat by the sea and enjoy a good nightlife”.
Glyfada is actually a major shopping area with hundreds of shops, in a few intertwined streets, where it is always a hassle to find parking – always! I know I would lose nerves if driving there every day 🙂 To some people this area reminds of for example Beverly Hills in California, although I believe it is more a mix of high and middle class.
It is always crowded, especially in the summer – when lots of young people are hurling here for pre-party drinks or to some clubs along Poseidonas Avenue. Almost all famous Greek singers, actors, politicians come here, and singers even perform at night clubs around this area. Living in this area is really prestigious, and those who want prestige want to live here.
Those who already have the prestige, live in the other wealthy area – Vouliagmeni. The most famous luxury hotel in Athens, and its yacht marina are called Astir Palace Beach resort hotel, and it located in this coastal area. There is a Moorings cafe from which you can admire number of luxury yachts parked in front of it.
Astir Beach in front of the hotel is the most expensive beach in this upscale Vouliagmeni district. To enter it will cost you €18 but you will get all the amenities you need.
Vouliagmeni is also famous for Lake Vouliagmeni, which is made from sweet water and close to a natural spa to Athens. It is open year round.
My favorite cafe in this are is En Plo , either during the day or night, and it is located just by the sea. It is perfect for pre-party drinks if you are on the way to one of the top clubs along the Poseidonas Avenue.
Vari is known for very good meat restaurants – grill houses (psistarias), taverna after taverna with outdoor barbecues serving lambs, porks, goats… Men who will serve you are dressed in traditional mountain clothes and they are literally waving the drivers passing by to come in. And Voula is more residential area… The type of buildings with 3-4 floors (like in the photo) is typical for Athens.
After Vari you reach Varkiza, which has one of the best and cleanest public beaches, as well as some really good restaurants and cafes with spectacular views. For me the best beach is here: Yabanaki Beach which is located on the main beach of Varkiza and it has many activities, water sports, restaurants, cafes, so you wont get bored. Entrance is 5€ for on weekdays (includes sunbeds), 6€ on weekends + 5€ for sunbeds.
In Varkiza, I can recommend a delicious Greek food restaurant ( with best gyros, souvlaki…) called Zaxos Grill taverna. Portions are huge as you see, and for example for gyros plate you would paid around 8€, while in pita break just around 2€.
Latini cafe and restaurant in Varkiza is a cozy place to sit again by the sea and enjoy. I enjoy places like this where I can drink a Freddo Capuccino and watch the sea horizon.
The last time I was in Varkiza just a few weeks back, I went with my friend to Kastelorizo Varkiza for some fresh seafood, and I definitely recommend this place. This place has a long 30 years tradition and is known for fresh and quality ingredients. Often politicians from high Governmental levels come here for a lunch or dinner. It has a beautiful terrace when it is hot outside.
Regarding clubbing, Athens was always the best for me, from what I saw even around the World. Greeks like to party late and to combine new disco/club/mainstream sounds with the popular Greek songs. But Greeks really like to have good fun and enjoy and always on top level! And the best and most glamorous clubs with sea-view terraces and interesting decors are the ones located along coast of Athens. Another option is to go to places where popular Greek singers sing their songs (something like mini concerts), and the best of all is that you buy rose petals to through onto them as a sign of appreciation. To check out more about current Athens clubbing scene, read HERE, as I haven’t been out recently to recommend what is good at the moment.
I hope you enjoyed my post about Athens, so do not forget and do not miss coast of Athens as it is really amazing, and you would feel like a local there.