Athens is the capital of Greece and one of the world’s oldest cities. With a history spanning around 4 000 years there are a number of archaeological treasures to explore, including the Acropolis – one of the most important monuments from the ancient world.
With a population of more that 3.5 million it’s also a modern city with on trend cafes and nightclubs and contradicting traditional bars and ouzerias serving the famous Greek aniseed infused alcoholic drink, ouzo.
Traffic in the city can get notoriously congested but the convenient metro system makes navigating the city incredibly easy.
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Athenians eat dinner late with many bistros and restaurants not opening until around eight - finding someone open for an eight o’clock breakfast can be a challenge. It’s a good idea to visit the supermarkets to stock up on snacks for the morning, although some cafes will open early serving light pastries and drinks. Aigli located in the picturesque Zappeion Gardens is the perfect place to enjoy your morning coffee.
Head to the central market located between Monastiraki and Omonio Square to immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of traditional Greek life. Butchers, Fishmongers, cheese and spice purveyors offer a visual feast and the olive vendors have dozens of olives for you to try. Arrive early to beat the heat and avoid missing out, they close around midday.
Perhaps a little touristy (but that is after all what you are visiting Greece for), Kalokerinos restaurant, located in the Plaka district is the perfect place to acquaint yourself with all things Greek. From the folk dancing and singing to the traditional Greek cuisine this is the place to go to enjoy fried eggplant, stuffed vine leaves and of course plenty of cheese and lamb. Located a short distance from the Acropolis, be sure to make a reservation at this kitsch Greek kitchen.
For the best baklava in Greece make friends with a friendly Greek person and a willing mother or grandmother is sure to whip you up a batch. If you are without friends than the cafes in the Plaka or Kolonaki areas serve the sticky, sweet pastry en masse, don’t leave Greece without experiencing this delicious Mediterranean sweet.
Athens has great shopping, particularly if you’re out to emulate the casual Grecian look – leather sandals, cotton shirts and long flowing dresses. It’s also a great place to pick up jewellery with lots of glass and metal beaded bracelets and necklaces to choose from.
Well heeled shoppers will revel in the Kolonaki neighbourhood, where designer boutiques like Versace and Lagerfield can be found. With plenty of cafes lining the streets it’s also a great place to stop for coffee and people watch.
The Sunday Market and Athens’ Monastiraki flea market is a great place to hunt for something to take back home. Handcrafted copper kitchen items, pottery, wine jugs and handmade shoes can all be found in this treasure cove of Greece. Keep in mind anything over 100 years of age cannot leave the country without a special permit.