Athens Greece holidays: Flights, hotels and things to do in the city | Short & City breaks | Travel

Athens holidays: What does the city have to offer? (Image: GETTY)

Athens is described as the historical capital of Europe, boasting with archaeological sights and ancient ruins. But you’d be mistaken to think this is all the Greek city has to offer. The Acropolis and Parthenon are definitely worth a visit if you travel to Athens, but there is so much more to be discovered. Walk outside the tight perimeter of the city centre and into the various different neighbourhoods, you’ll begin to discover why the Athenians have made this place their home.

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Athens – walk outside the tight perimeter of the city centre and into the various different neighbourhoods, you’ll begin to discover why the Athenians have made this place their home

Athens suffered its worst financial crisis in almost 80 years as part of a global recession in 2018, but the city is now in the throes of an entrepreneurial, cultural, spiritual and artistic renaissance and has been transformed into one of Europe’s most interesting new city break destinations.

The Greek capital is alive and kicking with a creative and business spirit as a fresh generation of talented young Greek business minds, designers, architects, techie wizards, musicians, artists and chefs launch their own businesses, brands and creations, reinvesting their time, funds and talent into their home country.

Hip new neighbourhoods are popping up with a renewed cafe culture adding charm and vibrancy to the city, established art museums are undergoing a facelift, innovative fashion designers are making waves, Greek cuisine is being reinvented by maverick chefs, and tech start-ups are gaining momentum – all with an air of optimism, independence, passion and drive propelling the new Greece forward.

The city is a mix of new and old school and affluent and working class where bohemian students hang out in the Exarchia neighbourhood which is right next to upscale Kolonaki, underground Metaxourgio is neighbours with more mainstream Gazi, and one off Athens’ last authentic neighbourhoods Petralona is next to busy cafe-filled Thissio and arty Kerameikos.

South of the main shopping drag Ermou Street, new art spaces and funky boutiques have popped up alongside antique shops, while Eolou Street, Karytsi Square and Agias Irinis Square are brimming with new cafes, concept stores and bars.

Whether you decide to go for a weekend break or a week-long vacations, what things should be on your must-see list when you visit?

Athens holidays: The view from Lycabettus Hill (Image: KATRINA TURRILL)Where to stay

Whether you’re travelling for leisure or business, Periscope in Kolonaki is just a stone’s throw away from trendy restaurants and cafes, boutique shops, and an amazing view point to see the city in all its glory.

With a total of 22 guestrooms, each room features artworks and installations inspired by the city’s most vibrant spots.

The lounge in the lobby boasts a modern simplistic but sophisticated feel, and a moving underwater scene projected onto the ceiling adds a fun quirk to the hotel’s style.

If you’re lucky enough to bag the penthouse suite, you can enjoy views of the city from an outdoor jacuzzi or the balcony which runs the entire length of the suite.

But this isn’t the only opportunity to catch a great view of the city. A few steps from the hotel is Lycabettus Hill – the highest peak in Athens.

You can reach the top via cable car or walk and be blown away by the number of Athenian landmarks you can spot.

Athens holidays: Wahoo fish at Vassilena’s Restaurant (Image: KATRINA TURRILL)Where to eat

Mediterranean cooking is known for both its health benefits and its use of fresh, easy ingredients, and hundreds of restaurants around Athens are putting their own spin on traditional dishes.

Vassilena’s Restaurant

Located in Vrasida Street, this restaurant is a short walk away from Kolonaki and is a culinary paradise for those that appreciate the taste of fresher than fresh seafood.

Silver sea bream carpaccio and smoked wahoo fish are just a couple of the dishes on offer on the starters menu, and for mains you can enjoy the likes charcoal grilled grouper fillet.

It’s important to note is that there are alternatives to fish available such as the beef spider steak from Naxos – which is delicious.


If you’re looking to indulge or celebrate the end of your trip in Athens then look no further than Cookoovaya.

Using sustainable food and seasonal ingredients, Cookoovaya offers an extensive salad menu, wood oven pies, and octopus, swordfish, fish and beef cooked on charcoal.

There are no frills attached – tiny dollops of sauce, flavoured foams or fancy garnishes – which is refreshing. Ridiculously tasty Greek cooking in its most basic form is what you can expect.

Going on an empty stomach is recommended, and be careful not too order too much, because you definitely get your money’s worth with the portion sizes.

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If you’re stuck with how to go about exploring the city Alternative Athens should be your first port of call.

The tour company offers a variety of different tours from mythology and street art to visiting the different neighbourhoods and local food tours.

Two tours to recommend are the Athens Riviera Sunset Tour and the Urban Athens Neighbourhood Tour.

Athens Riviera Sunset Tour

Forget France or Italy, did you know Athens has its very own riviera?

Just a 30 minute drive out of the city you’ll find Athens’ riviera offering public and private beaches, restaurants and bars and a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Hidden off the main beach road is Lake Vouliagmeni’s, a natural spa with year-round warm water.

Keep travelling along the beach road and you’ll discover more rural Athens and the Temple of Poseidon, where you can enjoy the sunset over the Aegean Sea in a picture-perfect cliff-top setting.

Urban Athens Neighbourhood Tour

Athenian history doesn’t just consist of legends, mythical creatures and gods.

By walking round the different neighbourhoods in the city you’ll discover more about Athens’s more recent history.

The tour offers the exploration of six different neighbourhoods ranging from working-class havens to boutique boulevards.

You’ll hear how Athens was transformed from a town into a modern city and uncover hidden spots with stories to tell or treasures to offer.

You also have the opportunity to stop for coffee in a secret courtyard right in the middle of one of the city’s busiest spots.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Just a couple of years old, the centre is home to the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, as well as it’s very own garden.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the complex was constructed following one of the largest donations for a cultural building project in history.

During the day, its 400-metre sea-water canal offers a place for people to learn to sail or kayak and after dark it’s a backdrop for live jazz or tango classes.

It’s well worth a visit, even if it is just for the magnificent views.

Flight information

You can fly from UK airports direct to Athens with Aegean Airlines.

For more information on where to go and what to do in Greece, visit Discover Greece. 


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