Athens - an exciting Weekend in the Greek Metropolis
Antiquity, but also a lot of trendiness. For me, the Greek capital is one of the most exciting cities in Europe. In this article, you will also find two hotel tips for Athens.
Athens – here I come
A year without travel, with lockdown and lots of couch potato. What a relief was the prospect of a trip to Athens, one of my favourite cities ever. So there I am on an AEGEAN plane on 18 June, four weeks after my second Corona vaccination. DUS airport is pleasantly empty for June (the operators may see it differently), and I keep my passport and vaccination book ready at all times. Unfortunately, my pharmacy had not managed to get me a digital vaccination booklet. Still, the good old yellow booklet also serves its purpose.
On the plane, all the middle seats were left empty, very pleasant. But, of course, masks are compulsory. Only for a snack are the constant companions allowed to be briefly removed. But what the heck, you've got used to the paper or cloth part on your mouth and nose.
A good two hours later, I land in Athens. Bright blue skies and pleasant temperatures make me want to explore. By taxi (38 EUR per trip - as of the end of June 2021), with regular traffic (whatever that means in Athens), you're in the center in 45 minutes. And there it is, the world-famous Acropolis with the Parthenon Temple, majestically towering over the city. And you can literally sense the sea. This metropolis, with its brutal traffic, could do with some fresh air. But it should be said that Athens is also a very green city. Many parks and green roofs.
A lovely Accommodation in Athens
My destination is the Asomaton, a pleasant boutique hotel with only 19 rooms and suites that served as a carriage wheel repair shop hundred years ago. It became an elegant townhouse but has been abandoned for the last 20 years; in 2017 the works started in close collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Culture transforming this listed building into a unique boutique hotel.The Asomaton is located in the lively Thission district, not far from the center and - with a beautiful view of the Acropolis, which you can best enjoy from the small roof garden. The hotel has been furnished with great attention to detail, perfectly combining old elements with new designs. The highlight is a small pool in the lobby, where loungers invite you to chill out. From the reception, you look directly onto the water. "If guests want to swim undisturbed in the pool, we close the blinds," says receptionist Christina. A fantastic idea, I think. Before I check into my room, I am asked when and where I would like to have breakfast. I can choose between a small area next to the pool, my own room, or the roof terrace. The choice is not difficult, of course, I want to start the day under the Greek sun with a view of the Acropolis. It's a deal!
In Bed with Nana Mouskouri
I stay in the Nana Mouskouri Suite. A portrait of the famous Greek singer hangs above my bed. I can't help but think of her hit song "White Roses of Athens" ... it's been a while. The so-called dot-pop art of the Greek artist Philip Tsiaras, who lives in New York, is present in every room. Greek icons like Maria Callas and Onassis adorn the rooms. I enjoy my date with Nana. Old and modern elements are also perfectly combined in the rooms. I like the large sliding door between the bathroom and the sleeping area. The espresso machine naturally delights the heart of the frailing coffee lover. Minor drawback: there is no table with a seat to work at. Never mind, I'll just post my Instagram photos on the bed or in a lovely café.
The highlight is breakfast on the small roof terrace. A fairy godmother comes with a huge tray. She puts all kinds of Greek delicacies on the table - fruit, delicious bread, eggs, fresh juice, and of course, excellent Greek yogurt with honey. I've already described the incredible view, but the sun is already burning quite brightly at 9 o'clock in the morning. There is no restaurant in the Asomaton, but you can order food at the reception and enjoy it in the evening on the rooftop.
So I decided to have breakfast by the pool the following day - all by myself. The fairy godmother finds some time for a friendly chat - the staff here are generally super nice. All in all - thumbs up for the Asomaton. The prices (79 to 250 EUR per night, breakfast included) are also very nice.
Acropolis – the Site you never miss in Athens
Of course, I have to go to the Acropolis, which I always have in view. Most people think Acropolis is the term for the temple on the hill, but this is not true. The term refers to the entire hill with its historical buildings. From the Asomaton, a traffic-calmed, rather steep road leads directly to Athens' landmark (a UNESCO World Heritage) at 156 meters above sea level. On the way, there are numerous cafés and restaurants, some of them very chic. Many brag about their roof terrace and the "best view of the Acropolis" - who should you believe? Of course, from the Acropolis with the famous Parthenon Temple, you have the city's best view between the sea and the mountains. The scramble is rewarded with a beautiful panorama. You can find more information (in German) on the website of This is Athens.
Maybe you'd like to visit the Acropolis Museum - it's worth it! The imposing glass and concrete structure from 2009 is a treasure trove of stunning sculptures, ceramics, and other ancient treasures.
Time for Coffee
After so much culture, it's time for a coffee and shopping. The Monastiraki Flea Market is about a 10-minute walk from the Asomaton and reminds me of the medina in Tunis. Like in a bazaar, shops with junk, but here and there exciting things, are lined up next to each other. Put on your mask (it's pretty busy) and just take a leisurely stroll. A red cat sleeps in a display and is not disturbed by the loud music. The saying "Slow down, you are in Greece!" comes to mind. During one of my first trips to Greece, I heard it when I was impatiently waiting for a ferry in Piraeus. - In a side street of the flea market alleys, I discover Vestopazzo, a boutique for jewelry made of recycled aluminum. I bought a silver bracelet for 24 euros. Chic, unusual accessories at affordable prices.
The alleys of the flea market end at the lively Monastiraki Square with its pretty Orthodox church and the Acropolis in the background. From here, it's only a few minutes walk up to Syntagma, the large square with the Greek parliament. If you want to indulge in some luxury, enjoy a drink on the rooftop terrace of the historic Hotel Grande Bretagne. This traditional house probably offers the best view of the Acropolis.
Psiri – A trendy neighbourhood in Athens
In the evening, I stroll through Psiri with its many bars and restaurants. There is a lot of activity in the alleys, and here too you shouldn't forget your face mask. Finally, I end up at the brand new Funky Soul bar, where I end a wonderful day with wine and Greek salad, "people watching" included.
Another Hotel Tip: 18 Micon Street
I try out another boutique hotel, 18 Micon Street. The name comes from Mikon, an Athenian painter and sculptor of the 5th century BC. The historic building once served as a warehouse for the first Athenian merchants. Here, too, history and modern industrial design have been perfectly combined. Located in the trendy Psiri district, you'll literally stumble into restaurants and tavernas such as Oineas directly opposite the hotel (see below). I particularly liked the modern lounge at 18 Micon Street, just behind reception. There is a great breakfast buffet here. In Corona times, plastic gloves are provided for each guest, and everywhere attention is paid to distance - exemplary.
The cozy sofas also invite you to linger during the day. 18 Micon Street has only 15 individually designed rooms, one of the most excellent being my "Acropolis Loft" on the fourth floor. And - you guessed it - it has an irresistible view of the Acropolis from the vast terrace with whirlpool.
Tip: Watch the sunset here and wait for the Parthenon temple to light up. What a great spectacle. Who needs a TV? But of course, you also have one in your chic room, as well as a Nespresso machine. You have to climb a small spiarl staircase to get upstairs, not recommendable for people with difficulty in walking. for Rates at 18 Micon Street range from 120 to 220 euros per night.
Athens in a Nutshell
How to get to Athens
Direct flights are available from many European cities. I like to fly with the award-winning Aegean, a member of the Star Alliance. Have a look here to get the best airlines deals.
The best time to visit Athens
June to August are definitely too hot for a city break with lots of sightseeing. Tip: Athens has a mild climate even in winter - ideal for lots of exploring!
Getting around Athens
I did most of my sightseeing on foot and discovered a lot. However, you can also use the comfortable metro, which was inaugurated in 1869. If you want to be really pleased, book excursions in and around Athens and transfers with Greece Private Greek, an award-winning company with an excellent service and comfortable vehicles.
If you want to discover even more of Greece, check out Fly Me to the Moon Travel. Here you will find tailor-made offers according to your wishes, with many insider tips.
Top Attractions in Athens
Acropolis - choose between a single-use ticket and a special ticket package. The combination ticket is especially worthwhile if you want to see other sights such as the ancient Agora. The ticket costs 20 EUR per adult in summer (April to October) and half-price in winter (as of June 2021). Tip: In summer you should go to the Acropolis in the morning from 8 am or in the late afternoon. It gets too hot at midday, and there are simply too many people.
Syntagma Square, the heart of the city. Here is the Athens Parliament, once a city palace and surrounded by a magnificent park that is freely accessible. Not far away is the Olympic Stadium, venue of the 2004 Summer Games, and the famous shopping street Odos Ermou begins right at Syntagma Square.
The 277-meter-high Lycabettus Hill is the highest elevation in Athens. You can climb the hill on foot or by cable car, which runs every 30 minutes and costs €1.50 per ride (June 2021).
If you are curious after your first tour of history-rich Athens and would like to learn even more about the history of ancient Greece, visit the National Archaeological Museum. The museum tells you in detail about the various cultures that have developed in Greece over time. In addition, it houses the most important exhibits from Greek antiquity.
The famous Plaka is the most historic quarter of Athens. A stroll through the romantic alleys with their cafés and boutiques right in the center is not to be missed. Tip: Every Sunday, the Monastiraki flea market takes place in Plaka. There is a lot of junk here, but also art and antiques.
Stavros niarchos foundation cultural centre
Public space where everyone can participate in cultural, educational, environmental and recreational activities. It includes the Greek National Opera, the National Library of Greece as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park, one of the largest green areas in Athens, a real green lung and ideal for a break after walks in the city. I love the architecture of this ultra-modern building - what a contrast to all the historic sites downtown!
Museums in Athens
The city has quite a few excellent museums. Highlights are certainly the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and - my favourite - the recently reopened National Gallery.
The Athenian Riviera
Yes, Athens has beaches! My tip: Vouliagmeni, approximately 30 minutes from downtown. You can swim in the sea or in Lake Vouliagmeni, a very special experience. Read more in my article about Vouliagmeni.
Sleeping in Athens
Two super-sympathetic boutique hotels in prime locations:
Agion Asomaton 10 Athens - Greece
Tel. +30 210 32 49 109
18 Micon Street Hotel
Esopou 14 & Mikonos 18 - 10554 Athens - Greece
Tel. +30 2103235307
Culinary Delights in Athens
Giving gastronomic tips is equivalent to the famous expression "carrying owls to Athens" - so extensive and prosperous is the range of typical cafés, restaurants, and tavernas. Nevertheless, here are some personal tips for your gastronomic explorations.
The friendly chef Eva Kontaki has focused on vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free food. A simple restaurant in the trendy Psiri district with a charming terrace surrounded by old houses and workshops. Excellent fusion cuisine and super tasty smoothies. A must for vegans and vegetarians (meat lovers are also welcome)!
Funky Soul Athens
Brand new, chic little restaurant/cocktail bar with a lovely terrace in Psiri. Very reasonable prices and lovely food.
Kuko's The Bar
Chic bar near Monastiraki Square. Ideal for a snack or coffee - lovely terrace!
Greek restaurant in Psiri, directly opposite 18 Micon Street. Good (and inexpensive) cuisine, lovely terrace. Clou: a collection of old advertising posters that turn the restaurant into a small museum.
Chic restaurant/cocktail bar in Kolonaki, just a few minutes walk from Syntagma Square. Sophia Loren, Melina Mercouri, and Anthony Quinn have all dined here. Lovely terrace where you can also just have a coffee.
After my wonderful weekend in Athens, I treated myself to a few days on the chic island of Mykonos - have a look!