From the second we emerged from the Monastiraki station in Athens, we found ourselves on winding streets overlooked by the Acropolis just blocks away. Big box retailers play neighbor to fenced-off ruins, and sidewalks are occasionally made of glass so you can see the history below the city. Accordion players walk by your table as you eat on the street, and the walls are covered with colorful graffiti. It feels both intensely modern and timeless all at once.
Athens is fairly walkable—many sites were just a few blocks from our hotel (A for Athens, which I highly recommend). We found the city full of good restaurants, welcoming people and lots of cheese.
Here are some highlights and tips from our visit. All photos were taken on my
Not to be dogged by jet lag, we wandered around and got some Alpha beers, which are everywhere in Greece. We were quite fans of the Alpha Weiss.
An example of the colorful graffiti all over the city.
Catholic Churches are everywhere, often preserved in the midst of commercial spaces.
On our first night, we took a nap and then went to Nolan for some Japanese-fusion food.
The interior of Nolan.
Their karaage and steamed buns were incredible
Then we strolled around, taking some snaps of the fountain in Syntagma Square.
After dinner, we visited the very charming Baba au Rum for cocktails.
On our second day, we visited the relatively new Acropolis Museum. It was fascinating to read about Greece’s turbulent history as one of the oldest cities in the world. Called “Athina” in Greek, it was named after the goddess of wisdom. Since its glory days as the birthplace of democracy, Greece has been in a constant fight for independence. Today, it’s struggling to overcome a major recession.
Then, we climbed up to the top of the Acropolis. It looks like a very difficult walk, but it was surprisingly short. At the top, you can visit the Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaia and the Erechtheion.
The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena.
Hungry from our walk, we headed to Bel Ray for lunch. This café is really cute, although if you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, you might want to eat outside. Athens is very smoker-friendly!
I got a green juice, and a cappuccino freddo, which was my favorite. They also have an amazing superfood salad.
Gotta capture that gram-worthy menu.
We also visited the Olympic (Panathenaic) Stadium, which was surprisingly empty. I can’t explain how cool it was to hang out on an olympic track that was built in 330 BC.
One of the many cats of Athens.
I turned 30 on our second day in Athens, and celebrated with some peanut butter gelato.
Neil made us a reservation at the rooftop bar of our hotel (A for Athens), which is incredibly popular at sunset. They gave us some free glasses of wine as we watched the lovely show.
A few people at the bar not sticking their cameras at the sunset.
Then, we went to Vezene for my birthday dinner. I would definitely recommend going there if you visit Athens (although not if you are vegetarian).
We didn’t shop as much in Greece as we did in Japan, but it’s full of cool souvenirs and charming boutiques like Forget Me Not. Also, if you like beauty products, hit up the Korres store.
Street art in Athens.
Our final night in Athens, we went to Mani Mani, near the Acropolis. I can’t imagine better food for such a reasonable price. The pork was life-changing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get great pictures there, but it was lovely.
At 3.50 euro each, the house wines were delicious. Just uh, maybe cool it on them if you have a 6 a.m. flight the next day like we did. (Hindsight is 20/20.)
Finally, we visited Ipitou, a cocktail bar tucked away from the main drag.
The drinks seemed to specialize in rum, which we weren’t mad at.
Thanks for an amazing time, Athens!