Watch out for the human statues and old-fashioned Greek musicians who parade up and down the street especially on Saturdays. Another good place to shop for just about anything is the Hondos Centre; this is a departmental store which has shops dotted all around Athens. The main shop is in Ommonia Square and sells everything from clothes, shoes and watches to household goods, toiletries, perfume, makeup and even traditional souvenirs. It is also a lot cheaper than the other department store, Attica.
Central Athens, Across the road from Syntagma Square; nearest metro station: Syntagma
If you're looking for shopping heaven in Athens, The Mall is the place to go. Brand new, and the first major shopping centre in Athens, it has hundreds of shops (Greek and international), restaurants and a multiplex cinema. In the northern suburb of Maroussi next to the Olympic stadium but easy to get to, with a direct metro taking 20 minutes from the centre of town.
35, Andrea Papandreou str., Maroussi, adjacent and parallel to Attiki Odos highway
Kifissias Avenue Exit;
nearest metro: Neratziotissa;
tel: 210 630 0000 – 5;
Decorated with a fully wooden interior and resembling the original Cotton Club, this wonderful and cosy bistro awaits you from early in the morning for coffee until late at night. It's food menu is also exquisite. Every night there’s live music.
3 Kolokotroni Street (shopping arcade) opposite the Old Parliament, next to Habitat; nearest metro station: Syntagma. tel: 210 331 4915
If you want to know what Greeks choose to eat when they go out then the answer is meat, meat, and more meat washed down with the odd chip or bit of salad. And there is no better place to enjoy this than in the hills of Fyli, a few miles north of Athens.
To get there you drive out of town through the massive gypsy slum of Ano Liossia (a sight that many Greeks would prefer you didn't see) before climbing up the slopes of Mt Parnitha to Fyli itself.
You will know you have reached Phyli by the sight of dead sheep and goats hanging outside doors. These aren't butcher's shops as many think at first, but the restaurants themselves, and the bodies are lunch. Not one for the vegetarians, or the sensitive since there are dozens of these tavernas within a couple of miles of each other, Greeks aren't squeamish about where meat comes from.
In winter you eat inside, warmed by vast, open wood fires; in summer everything moves out into the garden. Meat is sold by weight, and the prices are very reasonable. Someone I knew boasted of once having eaten a whole lamb by himself. Compare that to the price of two weedy little chops in Britain. Wash it down with a few jugs of home made wine, pulled from a massive barrel then wander out into the hills and find a tree to sleep it off under.
On the slopes of Parnitha on the old road to Thiva
One of the friendliest places in Athens and maybe the only venue for great live jazz music in this city by some of the world's most renowned jazz musicians. The place can be packed on Saturday nights and if Milo Z happens to be around with his band it's going to be just another crazy party!
Trivonianou Street, Mets;
The Vorres Museum consists of a complex of buildings, gardens and courtyards, covering an area of 80 acres. The museum has been donated, in the form of a cultural and artistic foundation, to the Greek state by the Vorres family.
It is mainly a museum of modern Greek art, which presents important works of art and sculpture created by Greek artists of the second half of the 20th-century. A general survey of the works clearly shows the significant influence of classical, Byzantine and folk tradition.
Good collection of work by artists who will be unfamiliar to most but none the worse for that. Beautiful setting, and can be combined with a visit to the impressive Peania Cave which is within walking distance if you are feeling energetic.
1 Parodos Diad. Konstantinou, 190 02 Paiania, Attica;
tel: 210-6642520, 6644771
Saturday-Sunday 10.00-14.00, Monday-Friday: please contact with the museum
The Acropolis and the museums are free on Sundays all day.
And if you have a European student card you get in for free at other times. I have a rather dodgy looking student card from five years ago for a language school I worked at in Spain, and that was good enough for every place I went to in Greece (Mycenae, Corinth, etc...).
A bus ride down the picturesque Attic coast, the temple of Poseidon crowning the cliffs at Cape Sounion is one of the most beautiful sights in Greece. The man-made grace of the white marble temple is in perfect contrast to the craggy cliffs and blue, blue sea below. Go in time to catch the sunset and you won't be disappointed.
Catch the bus from the square near the Archaeological museum.
Tucked in Panormou Street, it's a hipster, slightly left-of-centre hangout that would probably suit a Guardian reader just fine. Some of the best funk music you can find in Athens and drinks that would probably count as quintiple portions over here.
Nearest metro station: Panormou
This year's swinging bar in the Kolonaki area of Athens is called (Perfect) TEN, by the same people who brought us Sol y Mar in Myconos (or so I am told). Uplifting music, very friendly service despite the fact that you can't move in the place. Cool fun but avoid it on Saturdays if you can.
Ploutarchou Street, Kolonaki
A small fishing village at the extreme eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth, about two hours’ drive from the city (in normal traffic conditions) it is possibly the most beautiful spot a day out at the beach in the vicinity of Athens. There is an imposing bay, with steep, pine-forested mountains sloping down to the sea, with the spectacular ruins of ancient Aigosthena immediately behind the largest beach.
The Psaropoula fish tavern has excellent food, and is far cheaper than a comparable fish tavern in Athens would be. If you feel like staying over night, there is the somewhat run down but beautifully located Hotel Egosthenion and a number of rooms for rent, but if you have a car it is easy enough to go back to the city at the end of the day. There seem to be buses that will get you there too, but I do not know their schedules.
Hotel Egosthenion, tel: 0263/41 226
The most atmospheric concert venue in the city. A genuine ancient (Roman) theatre situated just below the Acropolis, which can be clearly seen from most seats. Spectacular indeed, especially on a night with a full moon. Concerts of every imaginable kind. Artists I have seen there include the Japanese Kodo Drummers, Paco Pena, Vladimir Ashkenazi conducting the EU Youth Orchestra, the Boston SO, Jan Garbarek, and the late Dizzy Gillespie.
Dionysiou Aeropagitou Str, Acropolis Metro;
Up and coming friendly jazz club, featuring local Greek musicians such as the outstanding tenor player Dimitri Vassilakis, and where you can also find international names such as Soweto Kinche and Andy Sheppard.
Upstairs at the Bar Guru,
Platia Theatrou 10, nearest metro probably Omonia
www.bargurubar.gr/jazzupstairs.htm Tel: 210-3246530
This club is a little out of the way but often puts on some of the more interesting rock concerts to be found in the city. I have seen people such as David Thomas and Two Pale Boys and The Residents there in recent years.
Liosion 205 near the Attikis Metro station; tel: 210 8547600
Predominantly a music venue in a truly spectacular setting on top of the Likavitos Hill in central Athens. Worth going just for the incredible view, but also puts on many fine concerts in the summer months, with acts ranging from top Greek performers to first division international jazz musicians (McCoy Tyner, Jan Garbarek, Branford Marsalis etc.) rock acts such as the recently reformed Van der Graaf Generator and other international performers (Italian singer Milva gave a spectacular concert of songs by Astor Piazolla recently, and Salif Keita has performed there).
Above Kolonaki; tel: 210 722 7209 (box office)
Intimate live music venue with a great atmosphere where you can see some of the better local musicians on the jazz and ethnic jazz scene in the city. Particularly recommended acts include Human Touch, Takis Barberis, Nikos Kapilidis, Mode Plagal and Haig Yazdjian, all of whom play there on a regular basis. Closed during the summer.
Damareos 78, Pagkrati;
tel: 210 7560102
This is a pedestrian street lined with lots of bars, along from the Old Mosque in Monasteraki. On a spring bank holiday afternoon all the cafes were packed with Greeks drinking and chatting away - the volume of people talking without any background music is amazing in itself. There were also loads of people selling cheap handbags and sunglasses so you can get the kit to pose like the locals.
This area is a little warren of streets radiating out from Iroon Square. It’s close to Monastiraki, but being just a fraction further from the Agora and Acropolis, it’s a bit cheaper. There are lots of restaurants, bars and cafes all close by so you can just pick whichever place looks most tempting on the night.
Just north of Metro Monastiriki
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