By Christina Vassiliadis
The cool summer breeze rustles through verdant tree leaves in a play of abundant sun light and shadow, giving shape to an incredible stretch of coastline in the south suburbs of Athens that only a handful of visitors know about. Spanning from Piraeus to Sounio and some 16km (9.9 mi) from downtown Athens, the Athens Riviera can take you oceans away from Greece, to a magical place, worth exploring.
From the tranquility of the blue clear waters and the alluring sandy beaches to the rocky inlets of Lavreotiki with small and almost private swimming areas, from the dazzling lights emanating from its vibrant nightlife to a romantic stroll on the white paved paths and from a movie night under the stars to a high-end fine dining experience or a journey through the marvels of ancient history, Athens Riviera has a lot to offer.
Hop on the tram from Syntagma Square to Voula and indulge your senses with an «island-like» experience in the southern heart of the capital.
One of the most famous organized beaches in Athens, Astir Beach located in Vouliagmeni, approximately 30 minutes from the center of Athens, offering countless sun beds and umbrellas, as well as a bar, restaurant, boutiques, spa treatments and many more services. The price for one umbrella, two sun beds (maximum of 2 people) costs €50 on weekdays and €80 on weekends, kids from4-12 y.o. can enter for €20. Another private beach, having a more affordable entry fee than Astir beach, is Akti Vouliagmenis, a 650 meter coast offering tennis, basketball and beach volleyball courts, for those who love sports. On weekdays general admission costs €10 and on weekends €15, while persons over 75 and students get a reduced entry fee of €5 on weekdays and €8 on weekends. For those who prefer a natural, less organized beach, Lavreotiki Riviera is the place for you. Many continuous bays with beautiful waters and golden sand, however more rocky. KAPE beach in Sounio is a diverse beach, with sandy, pebbled and rocky sections. If you want to avoid large groups of people it is ideal to visit on weekdays, as it attracts a lot of visitors on the weekends. Additionally, a trip to Lake Vouliagmeni is a must, for an unforgettable swimming experience, a natural lake with fresh spring and seawater where the water is always warm, making it a popular spot. For sailing enthusiasts, there are countless marinas scattered along the coastline of the Athens Riviera that offer daily catamaran cruises along the coastline, swimming in the most beautiful waters and dinning on board parked, off the Athenian shoreline, and enjoying the beautiful sunset.
Standing for an eternity at the end of the Sounio Peninsula at the southernmost point of Attica, the imposing ruins of the Temple of Poseidon bathed in a vibrancy of colors as the sun dives into the sea, captivate your mind and soul. The temple dedicated to the God of the Sea, cited as holy grounds by Homer and Herodotus, was made entirely of white marble and has been welcoming visitors for 2.500 years. Right below lays a small beach with two small taverns, perfect for a quick swim and a bite after visiting the Temple. Heading to the top of the hill to watch as the sun sets behind the Tempe of Poseidon, is the perfect ending to a busy day in Cape Sounio.
If you prefer a relaxed day at the Athens Riviera, just walking along the coastline, through all the areas from Faliro, to Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Lagonissi and more are just some of the areas you can walk through, all with a unique atmosphere, from beach bars turning into night clubs, to beautiful views of the beaches. Each area offers different activities for all kinds of people, from romantics to food lovers and generally for those who love Greek summers.
After the sun has set, the main focus moves to the vibrant nightlife of the Athens Riviera. Alimos, Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza offer some of the best beach bars and nightclubs, with people drinking and having fun until the early morning hours. Some of the most famous nightclubs in Athens are located in the Riviera, loved by both locals and visitors. All of them offer a unique and unforgettable experience with nonstop music and partying all night long.
For the film lovers, some of the best open-air cinemas are located at the Athens Riviera. Cine Floisvos, located in the Floisvos Marina Park, open since 2003, is one of the newest open-air cinemas in Athens.
An outdoor cinema experience right next to the seas, still being relatively close to the city center, just a 15 minute drive or 20 minute tram ride from downtown Athens, where you can enjoy the Athenian sea breeze while watching the latest movies.
For the food lovers visiting the Athens Riviera, there are countless restaurants scattered all along the Athens Riviera for everyone’s taste from Mediterranean, Italian, sushi and more, there is no doubt you will find a restaurant that suits your taste. For a great Italian, Mercato, an upscale trattoria located at the famous Astir Place, authentic Italian dishes enjoy on the outdoor terrace overlooking the Athenian Riviera.
For a beautiful view of the sunset right above the water, try Moorings, a café in the afternoon and restaurant later in the day, with Mediterranean cuisine, a sushi menu and an impressive wine list, it is the perfect restaurant to relax with a beautiful view of the water and a delightful dining experience.
If you are travelling with kids, there is a plethora of parks and playgrounds featuring loads of family activities. Voula’s Park, also known as Notos, is one of them. At Notos, a large café-bar, adults can relax with a coffee or a drink, while children play in the safe playground. Additionally a perfect place for kids and adults alike, Stavros Niarchos Foundation is a multifunctional and sustainable environment in Kallithea. The whole center consists of the National Library of Greece, the and the 210,000m² Stavros Niarchos Park that can be enjoyed by both parents and their children. One of the center's mission is to create a safe, creative and educational environment for kids to play and have fun in.