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.
Pack a picnic lunch for a stroll on Filopappou hill. Wash it down with a local beer like the unpasteurized Zeus beer from Zeos Beer Co or the Santorinian Yellow Donkey.
Go to an outdoor cinema – check out Cine Paris or Cine Thissio.
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!
Don’t miss a wine tasting of Greek wine. We have a budding wine scene and many wine bars. Try one of my favorites: By the Glass, Oinoscent, and Kiki de Grece.
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)