Athens and what you need to know before you go
I am fortunate to have spent a lot of time in Greece thanks to the fact my 9 year old twins are Greek. I first went there 20 years ago, and have been back many times.
I love the Greek culture, the people, the food, the energy, and the way of life Greek people have adopted.
Mediterranean people live to work, not the other way around, and in summer, the searing heat makes the Greek islands the ultimate place to enjoy in Europe, as the entire country and everyone in it come alive and the beaches are full, the water clear.
- Time: Greeks work to their own schedules and hours, starting mid-morning, sleeping in the afternoon and work late into the night.
2. The attitude: Greek people say what they think, are creative with their ideas, and are passionate. They will likely offend you, but don’t take it personally, it’s them, not you – and they don’t mean to offend.
3. When in Greece..The only food to eat in Greece is Greek – and it is sensational. It is well documented that Greeks live the longest lives and are the healthiest, so why would you eat anything else? This is one of the only places in the world where you can holiday and lose weight if you stick to their diet. And drink Greek wines, apart from the traditional retsina which I would not reccomend, everything else is pretty good.
4. The Acropolis is brilliant and you must climb it. I do this every time I am in Athens and never tire of it. The crowds are hectic and it is very, very hot in summer during the day so go early or go late, just go. There is a small fee to pay to get in, you have to by water, but it’s all pretty straight forward.
5. The Plaka is the tourist area, but don’t be put off by tourists, it’s worth hanging out there. The restaurants and bars in the Plaka are pretty good, and the quality of food is good too. Yes, there are touristic shops, but all in all, it’s ok. There are some local bars sprinkled in-between, they are the ones to find and hang out at. Anywhere there is little English is a good start.
6. To Buy: The only thing worth buying as a souvenir is Ouzo. Maybe this is a bit harsh and comes from someone who has been often, but the ouzo is sensational. My favourite bar in Athens is Brettos bar that has been there a million years and has too many types of ouzo and other spirits to mention. Ask anyone in the Plaka and they will point you in the right direction.
7. Stay in a hotel with a pool in summer. The weather is searingly hot in summer, and you do a lot of walking around Athens, so you will use and love a regular swim.I recommend staying close to the Plaka. The Electra Palace Hotel is a great spot, as is The Hilton, although you will need a taxi to get into town if it is summer as it is too hot.
8. Where to jog: If you are a runner like me, there are basically two options – one is to run around the base of the Acropolis, and the other is the park in the middle of Athens. The park is flat and leafy, the base of the Acropolis is steep, but go super early in the mornign to avoid both the heat and the crowds.
9. Rooftop Bars: Don’t miss the rooftop bars and restaurants. After dark, the rooftop bars and restaurants are the nest places to hang out. The Hotel Bretagna is the ritziest but there are plenty more including at The Hilton Hotel and Electra Palace Hotel as well as many more.