Athens Travel Planner
Your questions answered for summer-in-the-city layovers: outdoor dinners with Acropolis views, where to stay to max your culture and comfort, plus the best shopping and souvenirs
For this first part of our Greece Travel Planner, we’re tackling Athens. Most of you will be spending only a night or two here on your comings and goings–which will probably be during the summer months, when it’s at its hottest. Our local friends who gave us all this brilliant intel kept that in mind when answering your questions, and someday we’ll do a proper Athens Black Book, as it’s a city that definitely deserves more than a layover.
WHERE TO STAY
Thoughts on the best hotels/neighborhoods to stay in Athens?
I admit I am also usually in Athens only for a night–a layover between a flight from Leros or Milos and my return home the next day. Since it’s just one night, we splurge for the Grand Bretagne, which has the best location (looks directly at the Acropolis and over Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament). We have an afternoon swim in their rooftop pool, then perfect martinis at their outdoor roof bar with views to the lit-up Acropolis and a delicious breakfast, also on the roof, before heading out. Since I haven’t done much exploring, I’ve asked friends who know better than I do.
Our friend Maria Lemos, founder of Rainbow Wave (they represent the coolest designers), and owner of one of our favorite stores Mouki Mou (in London, but opening in Athens at the end of the summer!), suggests the Four Seasons Astir Palace in the Athenian suburb of Vouliagmeni (which you can drive to straight from the airport, bypassing the city) for a summer layover: “It’s too hot for the city! Stay in a cabana, not the main hotel, have lunch in the taverna and a swim. There is also a mini-Benaki museum kiosk on the grounds. Then you can get up super early and go to Sounio–that drive is breathtaking, but everyone goes for sunset. I would then go into the city late, have a drink at the Grande Bretagne rooftop bar, and eat in town before heading back.”
Nausika Georgiadou, our friend who owns Skinopi Lodge in Milos but lives in Athens apart from the summer season, had these suggestions: “In Athens, the great addition of the last few years has been the Four Seasons taking over the all-time classic Astir Palace in Vouliagmeni, which is in any case the best suburb of Athens with great restaurants and beach bars. I think that many people coming to Athens in the summer don't realize that Athens is a seaside city with the opportunity to enjoy the sea as well. So I’d steer you to the Athenian Riviera in general, with Vouliagmeni as the crown jewel and then the drive to Sounio. If one comes in the winter, then the places to stay are either Kolonaki for a non touristy vibe, or the area around Syntagma Plaka, the