Got a weekend to kill in the Greek capital?
We’ve combined first hand experience with some local knowledge (shout out to Secret London’s very own Greek Goddess and born-and-bred Athenian, Catherine) to create the perfect, jam-packed 48 hours in Athens. Discover the city’s rich history, enjoy some incredible food, and get boozy in the city’s best bars.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be taken on a trip to Greece with Metaxa and world-renowned Athens bar, The Clumsies. I’ll be honest, I had to Google ‘Metaxa’ before I left. It’s not something you see a lot of in London… at least not in the places I frequent (ahem, mostly Spoons). Wikipedia will tell you that it’s “a brand of Greek amber spirit made from Muscat wines from the island of Samos, aged wine distillates, and Mediterranean botanicals.” But, in simple terms, it’s basically a bit like brandy and it’s killer in a cocktail. (Make sure you try one in any of the bars we’ve recommended.)
Anyway, here’s how to make the most of your time in Athens, with or without a Metaxa in your hand:
DISCLAIMER: This article was not paid for but the press trip was gifted. I’ve starred the places I visited during this trip, like this .
Where to stay
That’s easy: Ergon House . Based in Plaka, the historical heart of Athens, this boutique hotel has the very best of the city right on its doorstep. As well as gorgeous bedrooms, Ergon House is also a haven for foodies; boasting an incredible greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers, bakery, marketplace and delicatessen, as well as a bar and restaurant celebrating Greek cuisine.
How to get around
You can pretty much walk everywhere from Ergon House, but the metro and buses are super easy if your legs get a bit tired.
Let’s start with Athens’ most famous landmark, shall we? Head first to the Acropolis Museum to learn about its history, before making your way along the iconic pedestrianised promenade Dionysiou Areopagitou towards the Parthenon (to clarify: the Acropolis is the hill, the Parthenon is the actual monument). Without giving too much away, this magnificent site is one of the most important in ancient archaeological history. Throughout time, it’s been many things: a home to kings, a mythical home of the gods and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. And despite many tribulations, it still stands today as a reminder of Greece’s rich history.
Just a short walk away, you’ll find Kostas Souvlaki, which supposedly serves the best souvlaki in Athens. It would be a crime to leave the country without stuffing face with souvlaki, so this seems like a pretty good place to start. You’ll find it within Agias Eirinis Square, which is a lovely spot for coffee or drinks, so consider sticking around.
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Time for a wander! Start by browsing the Monastiraki Flea Market, which you’ll find less than five minutes from your souvlaki pit spot. Explore the surrounding monuments and historical sites, too: including Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora and the seriously impressive Stoa of Attalos (pictured). While you’re in area, it’s worth popping into Anglais, a “secret” rooftop bar boasting breathtaking views of the Acropolis.
After a mid-afternoon cocktail, it’s time for a temple crawl: starting at the Temple of Hephaestus, passing the Temple of Athena Nike and ending at the Temple of Olympian Zeus. After that, you can wander up to Syntagma Square and the parliament building, and you’ll probably be just about ready for dinner.
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For tea tonight we recommend the very trendy Mama Roux. Serving food from a variety of cultures, you can expect everything from burgers and bao buns to chop suey and tagliatelle. This might sound like a bit of a sh*t show, but rest assured it comes highly recommended.
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Here’s where Athens really shines. Seriously, this city gives me serious bar envy! There’s only one place to start, and that’s The Clumsies : one of the world’s best bars, like, officially. You’ll need a UV torch to reveal the cocktail menu and, when you do, you’ll have a tough time deciding what to order. I went for the Popeye & Olive—a bizarre mix of gin, mint, spinach, green apple and green olive—and, trust me on this one, it’s delicious.
Without hesitation, make your way to Estrella for some Effing Good Pancakes. Particularly recommend trying the red velvet pancakes with cheesecake cream and berries. D R O O L.
Walk off the pancakes by making your way to the Kolonaki neighbourhood, about 20 minutes away by foot. It’s a lovely place hidden in an oasis of trees and gorgeous Greek houses — a whole world away from the bustling centre. Kolonaki is home to Athens’ wealthiest residents, and it’s full of expensive designer shops and cafes. Shopping here is like shopping in the finest districts of New York or Paris. But you don’t need bundles of cash to enjoy it: people watching is free.
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Dexameni is a perfect alfresco lunch spot in Kolonaki, and it’s not wildly expensive like a lot of restaurants in the area. The menu consists of tasty small plates—both hot and cold—and they range from traditional Greek dishes to much more playful ones.
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After a leisurely lunch, you’ll be ready for a leisurely stroll. Before exploring the vast and beautiful National Gardens, make a stop at the Benaki Museum for a captivating overview of Greek history throughout the ages. Housed inside an impressive neoclassical building, previously home to the Benaki family, the museum exhibits Antonis Benaki’s extensive private collection.
From the National Gardens, make your way across town to the Keramikos neighbourhood — this will be your base for the evening. First up, dinner at η σαμ τα έχει με λάθος αγόρι (or “Sam Picked The Wrong Boyfriend”). A strange name for sure, but you can be confident that you haven’t picked the wrong restaurant. The menu features Greek and Mediterranean flavours and it comes with rave reviews.
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Keramikos is full of excellent venues, but Bios is a must-visit. This cultural hotspot is a rooftop bar, a gig venue, an art gallery and a theatre all in one. Full of locals, the terrace serves up creative cocktails, screens outdoor movies, hosts top DJs and, of course, boasts incredible views of the Acropolis.
If you’ve got a bit more time to spend, I recommend hopping on a plane to Crete to spend some time at the gorgeous Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas . The flight takes just 30 minutes and what awaits is the dreamiest resort you’ve ever seen. It’s boujee, it’s beautiful, and there’s even a cable car that will take you from beach to bar and back again. Check it out here.