Once thriving as a powerful city-state and a global hub with the port of Piraeus, Athens went through a rough patch and is slowly transforming itself back to a modern metropolis.
Over the last few years, retail space across the city centre went vacant and business overall plummeted. On the aftermath, creative minds and entrepreneurs alike started creating a new foundation that is slowly catching up with other modern capitals. Meanwhile, tourism is booming which may well mean you can easily find yourself visiting us soon!
Acropolis, Plaka and Koukaki
Of course you'll want to go off the beaten path when you get here, but first there is a lot of history in this area to go unnoticed. Take a stroll up the Acropolis hill to discover the foundation of the ancient citadel and the magnificent Temple of Parthenon. Some of the marbles have been carefully moved to the new Acropolis Museum (despite those still held at the British Museum) and a stop there can serve as a nice break.
You can then wander around the old city of Plaka with its pebbled streets and colorful backdrop. If you really want to explore the centre like a local, opt for Koukaki, an area that has recently attracted the youth with a bunch of new bars and cafes around.
Once thriving as mainly a luxury shopping district, this area went through a rough patch and is still recovering. Cafes and restaurants on the other hand are popping up like mushrooms. Whenever you visit, chances are it's going to be warm so you can catch some sun at Dexameni cafe as well as some nice Greek meze.
On the same note, Flower in Mavili square, a good 15min walk from Kolonaki, offers a relaxing vibe for a coffee or a small eat. Just opposite the square you can find a foodie's heaven for pastries, Mike. Try the oven cheese pie!
If you're keen for some of that Greek culture, you can visit the Cycladic Museum that recently renovated its shop and cafe.
Piraeus, Mikrolimano and the SNFCC
If you're visiting during the summer then you definitely go by Piraeus port along the way to the Greek islands. If not, never mind! There used to be a commercial yet traditional and authentic feel to it, these days most of it has washed away. Still though you can enjoy great fish at Papaioannou in Mikrolimano or opt for a burger instead at Mpar-Mpee-Kiou close-by.
Finally, for some arts and culture, you can visit the newly opened Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center spanning an area of 50 acres and an architectural masterpiece designed by Renzo Piano. Definitely worth a visit during the day, or better yet a stroll just before sunset.
Far and beyond: Vouliagmeni and Kifisia
Further out towards the south, Vouliagmeni is the perfect destination during the summer months. With a coastline of more than 5km, it offers one of the best beaches around with both organised (think Astir beach) as well as more adventurous options (think below Island club). And then there's Cape Sounio about another 20km down the road with the Temple of Poseidon which is another must.
Finally, if you want to explore the northern suburbs Kifisia has been bustling with shops against the real estate crisis. It also offers many options for small snacks, coffee and drinks. Different Beast offers a very tasty brunch after 10am, Paramalo is famous for its oysters and seafood and Eleftheriadis is a traditional taverna with almost just one specialty, their peinirli.