After a winter hiatus since northern European Edinburgh piece, 10 Do's and Don'ts return by traveling south to Athens as in Athens, Greece not Georgia. We owe this guided tour of Athens to Alexandra Stratou.
Alexandra is the author of Cooking with Loula, Greek Recipes from my Family to Yours (Artisan Books/ May 3, 2016). She self-published the original edition of Cooking with Loula, called Cooking to Share after a Kickstarter campaign in 2013).
Do’s and Don’ts Athens By Alexandra Stratou
Take one of the thematic city tours with Big Olive to learn more about Greek art, architecture, literature, history, cuisine and contemporary culture on foot.
Go to the Varvakios market to scope out their fresh fish, meat, and vegetables, and then have lunch at Diporto, one of the most epic restaurants in town. Just look for the unmarked restaurant with two doors and a fixed menu of tomato salad, chickpeas, and fish.
Go to the temple of Poseidon in Sounio around sunset; life will pause for you to marvel in the beauty.
Buy a souvlaki from Kostas, eat a koulouri (round sesame bread with a hole in it) in the street, and order the lamb chops at Elias in Thissio.
Visit the Acropolis Museum and the Cycladic Museum to get your dose of the ultimate ancient Greek cultural achievements. For some early 20th century Greek art, visit the Ghika’s exhibition at Benaki Museum and explore the contemporary art scene at the Eleftheria Tseliou Gallery.
Watch a performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus – the seats are decidedly uncomfortable, but how many times in your life will you watch a performance in such an ancient and beautiful place?
Sit at a coffee shop for hours watching passers by. Simply enjoy it.
Say “hi” to Stamatis at Ellinika Kaloudia and take a piece of Greece home with you, in the form of honey, nuts, cheese, wine, or olive oil.
Don’t come to Athens for a day, come for four and really get to know it!
Don’t take a cab from the airport. Go to syntagma with the train or X95 and then take a cab from there to get you where you are going. If you do take a cab make sure the driver turns the meter on and pay exactly what is written on the meter.
Don’t worry, you are not alone: everybody speaks English and is willing to help you.
Don’t feel obliged to buy flowers from gypsies or give money to beggars.
Don’t be deceived by the chaotic façade of Athens, explore the small streets of the city and don’t be afraid to get lost.
Don’t shy away from drinking the local tsipouro you may be offered free before a meal. It is super strong; sip it, don’t down it!
Don’t think that because you are in Athens you are confined to the city. Go on a day trip to Hydra, take a two-hour bus ride to Sounio along the coast, visit a vineyard thirty minutes away (Papagiannakos), climb a mountain.
Don’t be lured into the tourist traps; treat Athens as you would your own city. Don’t take the easy choice in terms of restaurants because you will likely end up eating the worst version of Greek food and that would make me sad.
Don’t venture to the neighbourhood of Monastiraki. Take a long walk around Plaka, instead!
This is only a taste of Athens—there is so much more for you to discover!
Thanks Alexandra for sharing your 10 Do's and Don'ts as Athens celebrates Greek Orthodox Easter...
(* Illustrations, top to bottom, Staicase from Big Olive Walks Facebook page, Kostas Souvlaki from Why Athens, Logo of Benaki Museum from their Facebook page, outdoor movie theater Cine Thissio from their site, Papagiannakos vineyard from their site, Kiki de Grece wine bar from their Facebook page)
Not every American will go for their 'Fish Head Soup' recipe yet I am sure every one of them will find something to be awed by in Hartwood 'Bright, Wild Flavors from the Edge of the Yucatan' (Artisan Books, Fall 2015) by Eric Werner and Mya Henry.
The couple decided to leave their New York restaurant jobs and pack up their bags for Tulum (Yucatan, Mexico) to build their dream restaurant open to the skies.
Here's a cocktail from the book to make you thirsty for more.
Makes 1 drink
A marocha is a woman with dark hair and smoky coloring; it’s also slang for a party girl, the one who’s always going out and hitting the dance floor. This drink tastes how a marocha looks: earthy papaya (which becomes buttery when pureed) paired with smoky mezcal and brightened with orange juice. It’s also what a marocha might drink to get the night going.
2 shots papaya puree
1 shot smoky mezcal
¼ cup fresh orange juice
Pour the papaya puree into a glass, then fill the glass with ice. Add the mezcal and orange juice and stir well.
10 Do's and Don'ts are back, after a hiatus with Edinburgh in the picture.
Thanks to Danielle Ellis of Edinburgh Foody for sharing. "Edinburgh Foody is Edinburgh's longest running food blog written by Danielle, Caroline and Slaine. We are always happiest when tucking into a good meal made from Scotland's finest ingredients with a wee cocktail on the side!"
We have an amazing transport system of buses and a tram. You can go all over the city for just £4 a day. There are night buses to most areas too. Download the app to buy tickets (so you don't need to find change) and discover bus routes and timetables. It's one of the very best of its type.
It's a great way to get a flavor of the city. Choose one that has a live guide and you'll get lots of great stories including spooky ones!
-Explore Edinburgh's drinks
Gins and beer made in the city? There are many. Head for One Square that has 60 gins to try or Edinburgh Gin Distillery. And if you're here for a longer stay, you can even brew your own beer at Stewart Brewing, say a Popcorn Pilsner! The mixologists in our bars love nothing better than creating unique cocktails with ingredients created in the bar itself.
Hop on and off the museum bus to discover our two Modern Art galleries, the National Portrait Gallery and National Galleries. Fascinating exhibitions inside and out and renowned cafes in each one. "Starting at the Scottish National Gallery the bus runs a circular route to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. A voluntary donation of £1 is requested." Current exhibit at Gallery of Modern Art is Modern Scottish Women | Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965 which opened on November 7 and runs until June 26, 2016.
Climb Arthur's Seat
Our very own extinct volcano Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park is worth a climb. The views from the top are astonishing and if you look hard you might see where the sea once lapped.
Try haggis, neeps and tatties
If you like sausages, I assure you, you will love haggis. It's even better with a dram of whisky!
Don't assume it will be warm or dry in summer. Always bring layers and good walking shoes – we have lots of hills!
Bring the kids
Edinburgh is great for Kids. You can even entertain them for free! Pay a visit to Gorgie City Farm. The animals will keep youngsters amused for hours. Visit the Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile and show the little ones toys from years ago. Ever seen a million pounds? You can at the Museum on the Mound.
Don't just visit in August.
We have amazing events all round including a Science Festival (March 26 to April 10, 2016) and Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year Festival) in addition to the Festivals during August. Check the list on Edinburgh Festival Cityin addition to the Festivals during August
Don't delay booking accommodation
The population of the city swells by a million during the August Edinburgh Festivals. Book your accommodation long in advance – unfortunately it will be pricey.
Don't miss the outdoors
We're the only European capital that has a park on one side of its main street. It's a leafy city, greenery everywhere you go. The Royal Botanical Gardens are a true oasis of peace. And when it's chilly pop into the palm house to warm up!
Don't park in the city
Parking is extremely expensive and limited. You don't need a car to get around town. If you do, download the RingGo app so that you can park without needing cash.
Don't rely on printed guides to eating out
We have more restaurants per head than any other city (allegedly). Follow some of the local bloggers from 2 The Kitchen via Jelly & Gin to The Usual Saucepans... to see which restaurants are up and coming. Fantastic ones open every week and the guides will be out of date.
Don't assume you can always get a table
Edinburgh is a small city and we love eating out. Always book the restaurant of your fancy as far in advance as possible. Often you'll find the best restaurants just off centre or down in Leith.
Don't skip the markets
A great place to find street food and the finest local produce, Markets listed on This is Edinburgh are held across the city, mostly on the weekend with special ones at Christmas and during August.
Don't think that whisky isn't for you
The story goes that there is a whisky for everyone and it's true! Visit the Scotch Whisky Experience as a starting point and you will be surprised.
You'll find that bank notes can look very different to those found in England. Although they are legal tender in England, sometimes you may encounter difficulty.
Don't wait to come back!
Once you've visited you'll be smitten. We'll see you soon.
(* Photo credits: Restaurant Martin Wishart dining room (top) from their website, Modern Scottish Women from Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Scottish Bills from Visit Scotland website, all others from their respective Facebook page's photo album)