Athens Must GO’s Beyond the History

Beyond all the amazing history and ruins of Athens, there are more neighborhoods to explore, fabulous restaurants for delicious local cuisine, nice hotels, and adventures to be had outside the city.

Neighborhoods & Restaurants

Plaka: The old quarter of Athens, once considered the neighborhood of the Olympic gods, is a fabulous place to enjoy a cafe’s Greek coffee or yummy Greek food at one of the many restaurants. My favorite restaurants and cafes are:

  • Arhaia Agora: We stop here for lunch outside every visit – Greek salad, tzatziki, fried zucchini. Just outside the Agora is a strip full of restaurants. Arhaia Agora is directly across from the end of the Stoa of Attalos (Museum in the Agora).
  • Geros Toy Moria: Dine under the grapevines of this traditional taverna in Plaka built on the side of the Acropolis. The tiered steps offer great spots to enjoy their classic Greek cuisine and many nights enjoy their live local entertainment(Mnisikleous 27).
  • Psara’s Fisherman’sTaverna: Plaka’s oldest restaurant is another great spot for outdoor dining with some really good fish 16 Erechtheos).
  • Brettos: Don’t miss the oldest distillery in Athens dating back to 1909 for one of their spirits, ouzo or a local wine surrounded by their colorful floor to ceiling liquor bottles (41 Kidathineon).

Psiri: A cool neighborhood to check out at night with lots of activity and restaurants. I really like Oineas (Aisopou 9) for its eclectic decor and authentic Greek food.

Kolonaki: The high street of Athens has great cafes and shopping. Coffee competition here is unbelievable. There are 18,000 shops in Athens, mostly mom & pops. Everyone drinks frappe and fredo so check them out. Greece’s department stores are here as well as high-end retailers. Walk to the University area to enjoy the architecture.

Piraeus Port: It’s worth a trip down to Greece’s largest port for a leisurely lunch or dinner on the water among the yachts at Jimmy and the Fish for local seafood like their famous lobster spaghetti.

Lycabettus Hill: This is the highest hill in Athens and worth a trip to the top for stunning views and a drink. We rode the CableWay up for a sunset cocktail. Perfect evening! There’s also a restaurant.


Your hotel can add a nice touch to your stay in Athens.

  • St. George Lycabettus: This was the hotel I stayed in my first few visits and is my favorite! Sitting on a hill just down from Lycabettus Hill, there are fabulous views from the rooms looking out to the Parthenon. If you don’t stay here, they also have a bar to enjoy the great views (call to ensure its open this time of year). Sensia Spa is a great place for a massage.
  • Marriott: Yes its a chain but you know what you’re getting. I stayed here many times for work as it was close to our office. The great thing about the hotel is the amazing rooftop pool, restaurant, and bar with stunning views of the Parthenon and Acropolis. Its hard to walk to downtown from here but there is a complimentary shuttle.
  • Fresh Hotel: This trendy hotel is in the heart of Athens. Friends have stayed here and really liked it.

Taxis:  A few tips…The Athens airport is 30-40 minutes from downtown and costs about €35 (maybe a bit more today). Beware of the taxi drivers in town. They often try to take advantage of tourists so watch the meters. If you feel the fare is too much, ask the bellman at your hotel to confirm before you pay. Avoid taking taxis from the Acropolis! I was severely ripped off there on my first trip.

Adventures Outside Athens

Athens Riviera: Back to the beauty of it’s 1960’s glory, the Athens Riviera is island life only 25km from downtown Athens. It stretches from Piraeus Port to the Temple of Poseidon (really worth checking out), full of marinas, high-end resorts, beaches, shopping and nightlife.

  • Glyfada is a great upscale shopping area suburb resembling Miami’s Ocean Drive.
  • Astir Beach is a gorgeous beach club (connected to the popular and luxurious Astir Palace hotel) where you can lounge on chairs (daily rental was around €15-20), enjoy lunch, a coffee or cocktail.
  • Island is a hip spot 27km from Athens in Varkiza, one of THE famous spots for drinks.

The Cyclade Islands: If you’re making the trip to Athens for a few days, you MUST take an extra week to get out to the islands. This group of 39 islands, 24 inhabited, is a fairytale trip. We’ve been to cute, quiet Kea, magical Santorini and happening fun Mykonos.

Athens and beyond…truly worth the visit for a once in a lifetime experience!

Mykonos…ahhhh…the Greek Islands

…white washed architecture with blue shudders & doors to match the azur blue sky & sea, sunshine, beaches, Aegean Sea, warm temperatures, delicious food, great wines, sunsets… its definitely one of my favorite spots!

I’ve loved Greece since the first time I went to Athens and love it more every time I go…especially after this trip. We did 10 days in the Cyclade Islands …called that from the ancient Greek word meaning ‘to cirlce’ or ‘surround’ because the islands encircle Delos, the birthplace of god Apollo…4 1/2 on Mykonos and 5 1/2 on Santorini.

Vencia Hotel pool

What did I love most about Mykonos? The beaches, Mykonos Town for its restaurants & shopping, cocktails & sunsets, and the laid back fun atmosphere. Many say Mykonos is the party islands … not why we went so don’t let this deter you. We went mid-May and it was perfect… before the packed high season of late June through Aug. The weather was in the mid-70s with blue skies & sunshine every day.

“Must GOs”… here’s my favorite list from the island…

The Beaches

Mykonos has a beach for everyone…family, party, ‘be seen’, gay…there’s one for you. In mid-May everyone was getting ready for the season so we checked them all out. I recommend renting an ATV (or scooter if you’re brave) to check out the island & all the beaches have to offer. Then pick your favorite to hang out for a full day … that’s what we did. And our favorite… Psarou Beach & Nammos

  • Psarou Beach & Nammos “restaurant by the sea”… this is the place to see & be seen, voted #1 restaurant in the Mediterranean last year, as it was off season we easily got great chairs, fabulous service and enjoyed a delicious lunch at the restaurant. The day wasn’t cheap but it was worth the splurge! Check out their cool website… make sure you pick up a pack of their matches (being in marketing I appreciated them)… this place is so well done!

Cocktails & Sunset
Little Venice is the place for this. With a stunning view of the Windmills on your left and the ‘hanging bldgs’ on your right (thus the name Little Venice), you’ll enjoy the sun setting in between. Our favourite spot is Scarpa. They have FABULOUS cocktails full of fresh fruit!

Scarpa Sunset Cocktailssunset-from-little-venice

The Dining
Greek cuisine… it & Italian are the best! Ripe fresh vegetables, olives, olive oil, fish, feta, tzatziki w/ fried courgettes, baklava…yum!! 🙂 Our restaurants of choice…

  • Acqua – on everyone’s list as a must go, in Little Venice so perfect spot on the water , reservations suggested +30 22890 26083
  • Nikos Tavern – just off the waterfront, this traditional Greek Taverna is great! 22890 24320
  • Avra – in town set under a beautiful canopy of grapevines, romantic spot with great food
  • 2 spots we didn’t make it to but are supposed to be great…Sea Satin Market below the Windmills and philippi in town (supposed to be most romantic restaurant in town)

The Shopping
Walking the streets of Hora, aka Mykonos Town, in the late afternoon/evening is a treat in itself and there is plenty of shopping to be done. For some reason I always treat myself to lots of jewelry in Greece (and pick up Christmas presents for friends & family!).

  • a fish called Marina – (9 Georgouli Street) Marina, the sweetest ‘ya ya’ (grandmother in Greek), has fantastic jewelry for great prices
  • fetish – cool store with great interior design and I got a beauitful ring here,

We stayed at a great family run hotel, Vencia Boutique Hotel, I found on line perched just above Hora a quick walk into town (which I think is a must for the Island, you can then ATV or Scooter to the beaches). The staff was so nice; rooms are simple, clean with great patios offering views of town & sea; infinity pool is perfect for sun, swimming & cocktail at the bar. We even got to see a “Big Fat Greek Wedding” Saturday night at the hotel!

One excursion we must do next time is the boat trip out to Delos (2 miles from Mykonos), considered by ancient Greeks to be one of the holiest sanctuaries as its the birthplace of Apollo.

To see more great photos of Mykonos visit the gallery.  Also see the post on Santorini.