Buro city guide: Athens
Athens-born Christina Martini has a degree in Footwear Design and Product Development from London's Cordwainers College. After stints as a shoe designer for Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton she moved back to her home country (Corfu, to be exact) and teamed up with footwear businessman Nikolas Minoglou to launch Ancient Greek Sandals. Inspired by Anicent Greek history and culture, the brand is now stocked in over 500 retailers worldwide, including Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion, Le Bon Marche and Mytheresa.
Here, Christina shares the best spots to soak up the food, culture and ancient history of the Greek capital.
Top 3 coffee shops
1. Melina Café
Located in the streets of Plaka, the old center of Athens, this is a picturesque cafe dedicated to the legendary Melina Merkouri.
22 Lisiou, Athens, 105 56, facebook.com/MelinaCafeRestaurant
- 2. Heteroklito
A wine bar and café located opposite the main cathedral in Athens.
2 Fokionos, Athens, 105 63, heteroclito.gr/en
- 3. Cafe Avissinia
In the heart of the flea market in Monastiraki, you can also have lunch or dinner at the terrace overlooking the Acropolis.
7 Kynetou St, Athens, 10555, facebook.com/Cafe-Avissinia
Top 3 restaurants
1. New Hotel
Head to the rooftop bar overlooking the Acropolis.
16 Filellinon Street, Athens 10557, designhotels.com
- 2. Mama Roux
Near the lovely pedestrian Agia Irini square.
48-50 Aiolou, Athens, 10560, facebook.com/mamarouxrestaurant/
- 3. Acropolis Museum Restaurant
After your morning visit to the Museum or even during you can have a lovely brunch on the airy balcony.
15 Dionysiou Areopagitou St, Athens, 11742, theacropolismuseum.gr/en
- 4. Bel Ray Bar
In the Koukaki area.
Faliro 88 & G. Olympiou, 117 41, Koukaki, Athens, belraybar.gr
1. Ouzeri Karayannis
Inside the Varvakios Market where you can drink Ouzo and Tsipouro accompanied with a wide selection of meze.
42 Athinas, Athens, 105 51
- 2. Diporto
The best hidden secret of town, a basement tavern within the Central market where you can have delicious dishes in a traditional Taverna.
9 Sokratous, Theatrou, Psirri, Athens 105 52
- 3. Feedel
Billed as 'urban gastronomy', it's a tasty twist on modern Greek cuisine.
1 Ktena, Athens 105 63, facebook.com/feedelurbangastronomy
1. Varoulko Seaside
A gastronomical journey, it is a unique cuisine based on fish. It's located in front of the sea at Pireus.
52 Akti Koumoundourou, Mikrolimano, Piraeus, varoulko.gr
- 2. Seychelles Restaurant
Located in Metaxourgeio, where the traditional Greek menu is based on small local producers. It's casual and you can drop by for lunch or dinner.
49 Kerameikou St, 104 36, Metaxourgeio, Athens, seycheles.gr/en
- 3. Nolan
By Greek-Japanese chef Sotiris Kontizas, it's small and meant to be shared. The food is carefully prepared and presented. The flavours range from Vietnamese to Thai to Greek - and everything in between. Sophisticated and delicious.
31 Voulis, Athens, 105 57, nolanrestaurant.gr
Top 3 cocktail bars
Best known for its lovely interior, with shelves of beautiful coloured bottles. Cosy Brettos has been running since 1909. The owners make their own liqueurs in many flavours.
41 Kidathineon Street, 105 58 Athens, brettosplaka.com
- 2. Galaxy Bar
For a more sophisticated evening out, the rooftop of the Hilton Hotel offers you a stunning night view of the Acropolis while drinking your delicious cocktail.
46 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, 11528, hilton.com/en/hotels/greece
3. The Clumsies
This occupies a restored neoclassical building with a main bar and a private room. They serve a cocktail degustation menu, plus draught beer and wine by the glass. It gets outrageously busy at weekends.
30 Praxitelous, Athens, 105 61, theclumsies.gr
The best suburbs to stay
Where I grew up is always in my heart. It's close to beach, with a lot of great coffee places, bars and good restaurants. It's also a good place for shopping. You barely need to leave the suburb, it's the California of Athens... people are more lighthearted there, too.
One of my favourite suburbs as it is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It's close to Athens but it's calm and you are surrounded by green, beautiful houses/apartment blocks.
A more sophisticated supburb than Glyfada, it's better to stay there over the winter time. It has good restaurants, bars and coffee shops. There is a lot of green, it has the Goulandris Natural History Museum (above) and many different shops from Zara to Bottega Veneta.
3 best hotels
1. Grand Bretagne
For a luxurious stay in the heart of Athens where more is more.
1 Vasileos Georgiou A' St, Syntagma Square, Athens, 105 64, grandebretagne.gr
- 2. Athens Was
A hip hotel close to the Museum of Acropolis and the historical centre.
5 Dionysiou Areopagitou St, 11742 Athens, athenswas.gr/en
- 3. Coco Mat Hotel
An eco friendly hotel is situated in the Kolonaki area where the superb Museum of Cycladic Art and Benaki Museum of folk art are a few blocks away.
36 Patriarchou Loakeim St, Athens, cocomatathens.com
Where to shop
Voukourestiou Street and the streets towards Kolonaki area are where most of the designer shops but also some of the Greek designers are located. There you can find Prada, Gucci and Hermes but also Lalaounis, the iconic Greek jewellery house, among others. Currently there are a lot of good Greek jewellery designers that have shops around this area such as Ileana Makri, Lito, Sergakis and Nikos Koulis.
3 best galleries
1. Zoumboulakis Galleries
6 Kriezotou, Athens, 106 71, zoumboulakis.gr
2. The Breeder
45 Lasonos St, 10436, Athens, thebreedersystem.com
- 3. Rebecca Camhi
9 Leonidou, Athens, 104 37, rebeccacamhi.com
Best place to hang out
It's an awesome concept. Think an urban art, music and creative space - with all these funky cool events going on. It makes my list for the gorgeous rooftop with a view of the eternal Acropolis. It's also in the eternal nightlife district of Athens called Gazi.
84 Pireos, Athens, 104 35, bios.gr
Best view of the city
Which is the highest point of Athens and offers a breathtaking view of the city. The fun part is that you can reach it by a vintage cable car from the Kolonaki area. If you don't want to go up the hill you can also visit the bar of the King George Lycabettus Hotel (above).
A hill in the centre of Athens where you can walk through the pebbled streets to reach its highest point. There, you can admire the Acropolis and Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
A tourist attraction you may not have heard of
Hidden on the north side of the Acropolis, the neighbourhood is accessible by small streets that don't look like they're going anywhere. That's until you step into it and feel like you just landed on a Greek island.
When people comes to Athens, they usually only visit the Acropolis and the historical centre. I would recommend taking a stroll at the National Garden and Zappeion which is situated just opposite the Main Square of Syndagma.
If you visit during summer, its essential to go and see a movie at an open air cinema such as Aegli, Thissio or Cine Paris.
Best places to drop in for an exercise class
1. Holmes Place
4 Stadiou, Voukourestiou, Athens, 105 64, holmesplace.gr/athens.c/en/
- The Hilton
Even if you don't stay there you can visit the beautiful pool, gym and spa right in the centre of Athens.
46 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, 11528, hilton.com/en
Best day spa
The Hammam of Athens
You can have an Ancient Greek Massage after a steam bath.
17 Ag. Asomaton, Thissio, Athens 105 53
Where to buy homewares
Monastiraki Flea Market
If you look well enough and with a bit of luck you can find treasures.
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