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How to Spend a Weekend in Athens, Greece
It may be the cradle of Democracy, but with its hip nightlife and lively restaurants, Athens’ present is as intriguing as its past.
Only have a weekend in Athens? Then put on your hiking shoes, grab your camera, and get ready for a whirlwind tour through one of the world’s most iconic cities. This guide will help you figure out what to do in Athens.
If you’re only planning on spending 72 hours in Athens, Greece, then make sure to book a hotel that will put you near all of the attractions. AthensWas is a vibrant boutique hotel with refined quarters and stunning views of the Acropolis, making it the perfect launching pad for your Greek adventure.
After checking in, hop on a cable car to the top of Lycabettus Hill, where you’ll discover Orizontes, an elegant Mediterranean restaurant offering delectable croaker pappardelle and walnut pie, along with a cliffside terrace providing sweeping views to the Port of Piraeus.
Once you’ve had your fill of fresh seafood, head back to the hotel for a nightcap, as AthenWas has one of the best rooftop scenes in the city, as well as an on-site sommelier to help you pick the perfect glass of regional white or a signature cocktail. There’s no better place to kick back, watch the stars sparkle over the Acropolis, and get inspired for the next day.
Your Saturday morning begins with a walk through the trendy Koukaki neighborhood to Riza Riza, a friendly establishment serving chocolate pancakes on a streetside terrace, making it a great spot for people-watching over a Bloody Mary.
After fueling up, it’s time to tour the Parthenon and the Acropolis. Get the most out of your visit by checking out the museum first, so you’ll be well versed in the area’s history. Don’t miss the circa-161 A.D. Herod Atticus Odeon, a restored concert venue that has welcomed everyone from Maria Callas to Elton John, and is host to the annual Athens – Epidaurus Festival.
From there it’s only a 20-minute walk to The Panathenaic Stadium, a must-visit site for sports lovers. The marble-built stadium hosted the first modern Olympic games, and offers a fascinating audio tour. After wandering through Athens’ glorious history, grab lunch at nearby Katsourbos, an old-world restaurant serving classic Cretan dishes.
Saturday night means it’s time to soak up some local culture. Take an amble through the narrow alleys of colorful Plaka, the oldest part of the city, where you can peruse the charming shops, tap a toe to the folk singers and accordion players, and get lost in the scent of the flower sellers’ gardenias. Then pop into the Cine Paris, a gorgeous open-air cinema dating from the ‘20s, where you can enjoy a classic flick and a glass of brandy beneath the moon.
When dinnertime calls, skip the touristy tavernas and head to Daphne’s, a traditional Greek restaurant that’s become something of a haunt for celebs and foreign dignitaries. If the weather’s nice, dine al fresco in the quaint garden, and make sure to try the rabbit in sweet wine sauce. After your meal, toast to your weekend in Athens with a glass of homemade ouzo or Tsipouro at cozy Brettos, the city’s oldest distillery.
When Sunday morning comes, you only have 24 hours in Athens left. If you’re still a little foggy from a late night at Brettos, sleep in and then grab brunch at Mama Roux in Monastiraki, a vibrant neighborhood that’s the place to be on Sunday morns. Dig into Mama’s famous American-style brunch, and then check out the sprawling Monastiraki Flea Market, where eagle-eyed shoppers can find everything from knock-off designer watches and vintage vinyl, to handmade bouzoukia and original art.
After brunch and bargain hunting, step back into Athens’ past with a visit to Hadrian’s Library. The ruins provide a glimpse into 2nd-century grandeur, and are conveniently situated near the Tzistarakis Mosque. It’s a short stroll from the Library to the Ancient Agora of Athens, where you can check out the museum before grabbing lunch at Atalos, a family-run restaurant serving traditional Greek fare.
Sunday night is your last evening in Athens, so go out with a bang by visiting lively Syntagma Square, the city’s main hub. Catch the changing of the guard ceremony, snap some pics of Parliament, and throw a coin in the fountain for good luck. If you’re looking for that perfect photo, the Hotel Grande Bretagne offers a rooftop garden with a designated selfie spot backdropped by the Acropolis.
Then, dive headfirst into Syntagma’s renowned nightlife. The area is bursting with vibrant venues, so plan a bar hopping adventure that takes in the best of them. Stop by 42 Barstronomy for an out-of-this-world cocktail, pop into The Clumsies to find out why it was named one of the world’s best bars, and ask around to find The Speakeasy, the city’s coolest hidden bar.
For your final meal, grab dinner at Nolan, a chic restaurant serving Asian dishes with a Greek twist.
Athens offers a heady mix of historic sites, daring dining, and classic culture, making it a must-visit destination for any traveller. Book your weekend in Athens today!
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