On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:Athens’ central location affords you the opportunity to visit other parts of Greece on quick day trips—whether it be a quaint town or a charming island. Here are a few of Forbes Travel Guide’s top day trips from Athens:
Epidaurus. This modern coastal town is about 2.5 hours from Athens and features one of the country’s most beautiful archeological sites, the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus.
Sounion. Forty miles outside of Athens in Sounion stands one of ancient Greece’s legendary sites: The Temple of Poseidon. It is truly majestic, as it stands tall on a cliff and overlooks the Aegean Sea. Take in this piece of Greek history, and then check out the area’s quaint beaches and traditional tavernas.
Hydra Island. A two-hour ferry ride from the Athenian port of Piraeus gets you to this charming, small island. No cars are needed to explore it — in fact, all vehicles are forbidden here. It’s good excuse to do a little exploring via donkey.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:After a trip to Athens, some of the best things to bring home are handmade silver jewelry and marble Greek statuettes. You might also want to snag some Greek foods that are difficult to find elsewhere. When browsing the tourist shops, you’ll find that Greece’s traditional foods are boxed and ready to bring home. The choices are endless — you can find olive oil in little tins, vacuum-packed olives, boxed sweets, small jars of honey, and packs of dried honey and sesame bars. These foodie souvenirs might not last forever, but are a great reminder of how well you ate while in Athens.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:Greeks love food and they love to share it — and Athens is the place to have all kinds of food experiences unique to the country. Here, according to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, are the five best food experiences in Athens:
1. Greek fast food. Souvlakia is the ultimate Greek fast food. It consists of pita sandwiches garnished with sauce and fried potatoes. Other fast food options include deliciously grilled skewered meats.
2. A taverna experience. Not to be confused with a tavern, a taverna is a traditional Greek restaurant that serves Greek appetizers and main dishes that are meant for sharing.
3. A unique ice cream. Kaimaki is a creamy white ice cream that gets its unique flavor from gum mastic (or mastiha) — an ingredient found only in Greece — and salep, which is a powder from orchid plants.
4. Zaxaroplasteio. The Greek word translates to sugar factory, but it’s actually more like a Greek sweet shop. Zaxaroplasteio is where you’ll find loads of creamy chocolate cakes, Greek cookies and traditional desserts like baklava.
5. Seafood by the sea. Find a fish taverna near the sea and order what they’ve caught for the day. Dishes grilled or fried are always served with fresh lemon and Greek olive oil.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:Different areas of Athens have claimed to have the best nightlife in town; but today, Gazi is the one owning that title. Formerly a rundown neighborhood that was once home to a decrepit gas factory, Gazi has undergone a complete transformation to become an art, culture and clubbing mecca. Walking through Gazi on a summer night, you’ll be surrounded by crowds of people enjoying drinks and loud conversation. Each turn in Gazi offers more choices — a new bar to have a fancy cocktail, a trendy place to dine or a packed place to dance. The diversity in music, ages of people and types of food has become part of an energy that is tough to beat in any other part of Athens today.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:Although Athens is sprawling city, it’s easy to see it all in one day — just stick to the main attractions, which are found near the Acropolis and are easily accessible by foot.
Start at the pedestrian walkway Dionysiou Areopagitou, which begins at the Acropolis metro station. Stop at a nearby café for a coffee or freshly squeezed juice; or, if you want a real Athenian breakfast, buy a koulouri (circular bread with sesame seeds) from a street vendor.
Next, take on the steps that lead to the top of the Acropolis. It’s considered a true masterpiece of architecture and ancient history (it’s also considered a top tourist site — so be prepared for crowds). Enjoy the views of the city and take the obligatory pictures before heading to Acropolis Museum, which is also on Dionysiou Areopagitou. The museum has a bright, sleek design and houses important artifacts from the Acropolis. It also has an impressive patio — a great spot to refuel with a beverage or snack, while you enjoy the view of the Acropolis.
Once you leave the museum, start your walk through Old Athens. On Apostolou Pavlou, you’ll pass the hills of the Thissio district. Look for the Thissio metro stop, which marks the beginning of the Monastiraki neighborhood. This part of town is named after a sunken monastery that sits in the middle of its square. Take a peek at the odds and ends for sale in the flea market, and then stop to admire archeological sights including the Ancient Agora and the Tower of the Winds. Next you’ll walk into the neighborhood of Plaka, where you can explore old churches and several small museums about Greek culture.
After your day of sightseeing, you’ll likely be in the mood for an “early” dinner (Greeks don’t usually eat dinner until after 10 p.m.). Make your way to the high-end district of Kolonaki and take the funicular train up Mount Lycabettus. At the top, indulge in fine Greek cuisine served at Orizontes Restaurant. There, you can soak in the nighttime view of the city and the brightly lit Acropolis before heading back down to Kolonaki to have a drink at one of its many trendy bars.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:Whether you’re shopping for fresh Greek spices or a designer purse, the center of Athens is where you’ll find what you need. Its food market bustles with activity, while a few streets away, high-end boutiques wait on local and international fashionistas.
Kolonaki is the exclusive district of Athens. It’s known for its art galleries, high-end dining and especially for its posh boutiques from international and Greek designers.
The winding streets of Plaka and Monastiraki are bursting with shops selling packaged Greek food, including liquors, sweets and olive oils. Also popular are touristy T-shirts, evil-eye pendants and Greek worry beads.
The Athens Central Market on Athinas Street is one of the liveliest places in town. Here, you’ll find aisles of Greek vendors selling fresh meat, fish, fruit and spices from all over the country. More goods can be grabbed at the Monastiraki Flea Market, a series of antique and secondhand shops. If you can, go there on a Sunday, when vendors set up tables out in the surrounding streets.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:When the kids need a break from Athens’ archeological sites, the city has some key options that will keep them happily entertained. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s top picks:
1. A Day at the Zoo. Visit the Attica Zoological Park and make sure to walk through the interactive monkey jungle. A little monkey might just come up to shake your child’s hand.
2. Have a picnic. The lush and open National Gardens of Athens are a haven in the middle of the metropolis. They feature duck ponds, resident cats, a botanical museum and playgrounds for kids to run around on.
3. Swim and play. The coastline’s beaches and parks are very kid friendly, especially Vouliagmeni Beach and Flisvos Park, which has a playground.
4. Children’s Museum. Housed in an historic mansion, the Hellenic Children’s Museum has two floors of space that encourages kids to learn through creative play.
5. Amusement at the park. Allou Fun Park has kid-favorites like a Ferris wheel — a ride on it will give you panoramic views of the city — and water rides.
On July 5, 2012Marissa Tejada answered the question:Between the archeological sites, the nightlife and shopping, there are plenty of things to see and do in Athens. Here, according to our Forbes Travel Guide editors, are the five best things to do in one of the world’s oldest cities:
1. Visit the Acropolis of Athens. The towering sight of it from afar strikes a chord of admiration. Once at the top, you can admire the city spread out before you (not to mention the birthplace of democracy).
2. Explore the Acropolis Museum. The archeological museum reopened next to the Acropolis of Athens in 2009 to international acclaim for its bright, sleek design. Inside, it showcases the artifacts found near the Acropolis.
3. Experience the Athenian Riviera. The blue-green sea here splashes onto a bustling coastline of beaches, clubs, restaurants and cafes.
4. Climb Mount Lycabettus. You can hike it or just hop on a funicular train to the top, where a restaurant, café and the hill’s namesake church offer a breathtaking view of the Acropolis.
5. Stroll through Old Athens. Get lost in the charming, narrow and winding streets that cross through the ancient neighborhoods of Plaka, Monastiraki and Psyrri.
On June 28, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Right in the heart of Athens, some of the best Greek chefs are taking their country’s specialties to another level. Here are five great places in Athens to taste their work:
1. Ithaki. Situated in a green lush corner of the Vouliagmeni Peninsula, Ithaki has a large balcony with views of the sea. Come here to dine on a delectable selection of sushi and other fresh seafood dishes.
2. Spondi. Housed in an old Athenian mansion, this award-winning restaurant offers a stellar wine list and a gourmet take on Greek cuisine.
3. Filistron. Admire the Acropolis from Filistron’s rooftop terrace as you decide which traditional Greek mezes (appetizers) and dishes to enjoy.
4. Balthazar. Located in a neo-classical home, this restaurant has an airy open garden filled with palm trees and a hip vibe. As for the cuisine, it’s Greek Mediterranean, serving dishes like marinated fish and ravioli stuffed with chicken in tomato sauce and ladotyri Zakynthos.
5. Varoulko. This award-winning seafood restaurant focuses on taking classic Mediterranean dishes to an even more sophisticated level. For example, the traditional fish soup is topped with saffron and capers.
On June 28, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Athens has a diverse selection of top-quality boutique hotels and resorts. Combine that with the Greek’s friendly demeanor and the beauty of the city, and you’re on your way to a great stay. Here are five hotels that Forbes Travel Guide recommends:
1. St. George Lycabettus. Situated on one of the landmark hills of the city in the posh district of Kolonaki, this boutique hotel prides itself on its modern style and top views — the Parthenon can be spotted from nearly every common area and many guest rooms.
2. Hotel Grande Bretagne. Located near Parliament and right off the city’s central square, this elegant and historic landmark has hosted countless dignitaries and celebrities. But we love it for its city views, regal décor and amenities like a rooftop pool.
3. The Margi. In the heart of the Athenian Riviera, this sleek and modern retreat has 88 rooms — all of which have a private balcony. Other onsite perks include a fitness center, poolside bar and sea views.
4. The Divani Apollon Palace and Spa. Built right on a beach in the Athenian Riviera, this family-friendly hotel features a children’s playground and several pools, as well as a spa and golf course for the older set.
5. New Hotel. New Hotel has a cutting-edge aesthetic that looks more like an art museum than an Athenian boutique hotel. However, the service is traditional (and great) and the location is central, giving you easy access to all parts of Athens.