As co-founder and contributing editor for XpatAthens, Costa Tzavaras is on a constant quest to find the most unique spots, plan the swankiest parties and taste the most divine foods for the Athens’ English speakers.
Sip the nectar of the gods
“In Athens, coffee is our most important meal of the day so we’re starting out at Yasemi. It’s a sweet little café on the edge of Anafiotika, a tiny island-like oasis in the historic Plaka district. Hot coffee is a no-no during Greek summer — unless you want TOURIST stamped on your forehead — so order your brew iced. Sip your godly nectar on the café’s pillow-lined steps and listen to the cacophony of Greek voices discuss what they got up to last night.”
Time travel to the Aegean Sea
“Museum visits are a must in Athens and the Acropolis Museum is our most famous … so we’re skipping it and visiting the Cycladic Museum instead. This goldmine of eclectic Greek Island art,set in a restored neo-classical mansion, is a gorgeous ode to our culture. Once you’ve taken in the ancient artifacts, 19th-century works and modern exhibitions, visit their exquisite little café for your second cup of the day.”
Lunch atop the ruins
“With its contemporary design, modern Greek menu and delightful sidewalk tables facing the ancient Agora, Moma restaurant is a jewel in the Athenian crown. Vibe to the cool music and people-watch the even cooler patrons while you nosh on perfectly grilled salmon and mushrooms or traditional cheese pie. A must-see in this restaurant: the bathroom, with its glass floor sitting atop ancient ruins — a reminder that you’re dining in one of the oldest cities on Earth.“
Souvenir shopping in style
“It’s time to shop for that perfect memento that won’t end up on your mother’s fridge. We’re ditching the traditional souvenir shops and heading to Forget Me Not, a funky store where you’ll find everything from sleek fashion and accessories to sophisticated tchotchke and ancient-style jewellery. You’ll take home that one-of- a-kind Athenian memory that isn’t a fake piece of concrete ruins.
‘Follow me through an alley you’d avoid in most cities and down a questionable flight of stairs into Six Dogs, a magical Athenian playground’
Run with the pack
“Athens is hot so let’s cool down with a glass of wine or a cold beer. Follow me through an alley you’d avoid in most cities and down a questionable flight of stairs into Six Dogs, a magical Athenian playground. Dip your feet in the warm sand or swing under massive, ancient trees while you sip your drink and watch the young and beautiful play. Sway to the beat of the live musicians and know in your heart that this is exactly how life should be.”
Ditch Siri for Psirri
“Athens chic is not shiny — it’s raw authenticity and the district of Psirri is as raw as it gets. We’re walking off our buzz down graffiti-adorned paths with galleries and bars for blocks, where street art is abundant and café owners fight the mopeds and street musicians for space. Take in the beautiful imperfection of the city and, if you stay long enough, find yourself at the best party of the year. But me? I’m hungry again, so let’s go grab dinner.”
Eat with Frida
“I hope you’ve got an adventurous palate because rooster-filled ravioli is on tonight’s menu. We’re eating at Feedel, a modern twist on the Greek Taverna with unusual but delicious food combinations and an artsy decor featuring paintings of Frida Kahlo on the exposed brick wall. Not only is there an amazing selection of Greek wines that even most locals haven’t tried, but their in-house sommelier can help you decide how best to appease the wine god, Dionysus.”
Drink with a saint
“Athens comes alive at night like nowhere else. We’re bar-hopping through the best spots around Agia Irini (Saint Irene) square, where there’s a drink, music or scene for every taste and mood. We’ll end up at Gazarte in the Gazi district, a tony nightspot and rooftop bar with seats amongst olive trees and one of the most incredible panoramas of the city. End your perfect day with a cocktail in hand and a view of the Acropolis and all of Athens in its glory.
But wait! There’s more…
“One day is not enough to explore this ancient city! Sneak in a few extra hours and hop a cab to Akanthus beach bar on the Athenian Riviera. In Athens we say the sea is never far from your thoughts … or your feet, so dip those toes in the water, rent a private bed on the sand, and raise your cocktail glass to Helios, the sun god. Now you’ve had the perfect day!”