Destination Athens by Kyriakos Avgoustis
Photography & Text KYRIAKOS AVGOUSTIS
Take a moment to think of Greece, the first things that come to mind are images of sandy beaches, crystal clear water, white houses with blue roofs and amazing sunsets, right? This is what you will find in many of my country’s islands and you wouldn’t be wrong to want to experience it. The islands in Greece are after all one of the top touristic destinations in the world, and not without good reason.
However there is much more to Greece to discover, and we are here to talk about a place that many visit because their flight connects there. This place is Athens, the country’s capital and biggest city. In recent years it has been known mostly due to protests and political events taking place here, but behind all the chaos, Athens is a vibrant, up and coming city with a lot to offer.
Of course, once you are here, you are bound to go to Acropolis, walk in the area of Plaka and party until dawn at Gazi, but in this article we will go past the places that your guidebook would tell you about and explore some of the city’s best restaurants, all-day wine bars and sweet shops, as well as the best place to get a great view of Athens and also a super cool place to get your very own pair of designer eyewear.
As you walk around Exarhia neighborhood, you might not see this semi-hidden restaurant inside a gallery at Veranzerou street. However, you are sure to be captured by the amazing smell that comes from all the freshly prepared home-cooked delicacies they offer.
As their name suggests, I Kriti is serving food directly from the island of Crete in the south of Greece, and maybe it’s the fact that I spent five years down there, but I can’t wait to eat at that place every time friends visit. The food is exceptionally tasty and well-priced. Their selection varies from well-known and loved specialties like stuffed zucchini flowers with rice and herbs, fried feta cheese with honey and pan-fried pork to more adventurous choices like fried snails or beef liver with honey and apaki (cured meat).
The retro atmosphere with vintage objects on the walls, along with the Cretan music playing in the background, make for a great way to experience Crete without leaving Athens. Just one tip, come hungry!
From the very first time I ate at Bousoulas, I knew that I would be going back again and again. Growing up in Rhodes, my standards for seafood are quite high and this restaurant is definitely hitting the mark. Located outside of the main touristic areas, in Kesariani neighborhood, it is a place that you won’t find in Lonely Planet but it’s most definitely worth the 10-minute taxi ride from the center.
Some of the best options include steamed mussels, freshly fried calamari, stuffed flounder with herbs and cheese and crab salad. And of course the experience would not be complete without a good variety of Greek tsipouro and ouzo. The family-like atmosphere, with the simple but fitting decoration make up for a great lunch or dinner spot. Come with a big group so that you can sample more of their tasty treats.
Nancy’s Sweet Home
You have heard of the term “sweet tooth”, right? Well I am convinced that I was born with more than one of those because every time I think of sugar, I get weirdly excited. Nancy’s Sweet Home (also known as Serbetospito) is a place I have to fight with myself not to go into every time I pass by Psyri neighborhood in the center of Athens. This corner shop right at the square of Psyri, is serving chocolate-loaded, mouthwatering sweets that are sure to satisfy your need for a sugar rush. Accompanied by their famous Kaimaiki ice cream, it is a combination made in heaven!
And for those who are not into chocolate, there is a big variety of traditional Greek and Turkish sweets with syrup, as well as cheesecakes and tarts. Their portions are quite generous, so come with a friend and share the love (and the calories).
Standing at 277 meters, Lykavittos hill is the highest point in the center of Athens. Located in the neighborhood of Kolonaki, this moderately easy climb is a must for everyone visiting Athens. You can walk up the top of the hill in 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the route and your fitness level. There is also the option of using the Teleferik, a cable car that takes you to the top through a long tunnel in a few minutes.
The views from the top are exceptional and it’s a perfect place to see the sunset, while waiting for Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus and Ancient Agora to light up. There you can enjoy a coffee or some snacks at the café and visit the Chapel of St. George, dating back in the 19th century. I love coming here to relax and take photos of the city from above. During the week it’s not even that crowded.
Right in the center of Athens, in the neighborhood of Psyri, King’s Theater is a unique all-day wine bar that promises to transport you back in time. With its Victorian Era-themed decoration and its accordingly dressed staff, you are sure to feel like a prince/princess while enjoying a glass of your favorite drink. Their exclusively Cretan wine list includes more than 40 names and if wine is not for you, then a big variety of cocktails as well as warm drinks will make sure that you don’t stay thirsty. Cheese, meat and veggie variety platters can accompany your experience. I am always looking forward to tasting a new drink there while feeling like I am King Arthur himself.
Right in the center of the upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki, this optical store offers a unique and personalized, shopping experience. Its industrial and chic design is inspired by the time the owner spent in London and New York. Its bar-like interior welcomes you to enjoy a coffee or drink as you browse.
Their collection of eyewear comes only from independent designers and companies that have been making glasses for generations. You can find pieces from Moscot, Kuboraum and Dita among other high-quality brands. I love this spot because every time I come here, I feel like I am in the hands of an expert. Yannis is really knowledgeable and will confidently help you pick the best eyewear for you.
About Kyriakos Avgoustis
Kyriakos is a Greek-born traveler. After exploring the world for a good number of years, he decided to settle in Athens. He studied medicine but later decided to move towards another direction. He started managing rental apartments in the city. His working knowledge of five languages has greatly helped with interacting with tourists. His social character is making his work a joy. You will often find him posing for shirtless photos or geeking out with board and role-playing games. Check out his places for your future trips to Athens.
www.airbnb.com/rooms/32039641 // www.airbnb.com/rooms/27050708