Athens probably is one of my favorite cities. It is sometimes dirty, smelly, old, hot and sweaty. But insanely creative and entrepreneurial. People are warm and welcoming and the food is amazing.
The first time I visited Athens was in the year 2000 with my high school. But especially in the last years, I spent quite some time in Athens for conferences, and in November 2017, for the Athens marathon. So, here are my favorite places in Athens:
Athens – my favorite places to eat
- Lukumades has filled spherical-donut-like sweet thingies (yes, that is pretty much the best description I guess). Every time I visit Athens with Greek friends, they want me to taste it, and the ones with mastiha cream in particular. I really don’t like them, but I guess it turned into a running gag now, so it now is one of my favorite places 🙂
- O Thanasis smells like a tourist trap, sounds like a tourist trap, looks like a tourist trap but it isn’t. Super fast, super tasty. A sure stop when I’m in town.
- Cupola has great pasta and pizzas. Panathenaic stadium so perfect for pasta prepping before/after the marathon.
- The Black Sheep has Greek cuisine with a twist. When I was here I went full omakase on the waiter who surprised me with some amazing lamb and some even better kidneys.
Athens – my favorite places to go out for a drink
- Tailor made Microroastery is one of my favorite coffee places throughout Europe. There is a large table to sit with power sockets, they have a great selection of coffee and the staff is amazing.
- Around the Monastiraki square, there are several really nice roof top bars. On the top level of the A for Athens hotel, there’s probably the best one.
- Upupa Epops is a really nice stylish cocktail bar.
Athens – my favorite places to stay
- A for Athens is near Monastiraki square. Very close to the key areas of the city and with amazing views of the Akropolis.
- During the Athens Marathon I stayed at a designer penthouse in the area of Panathenaic stadium. A perfect apartment in general -clean, spacious, quiet and close to the city center- but truly amazing for the marathon. I could pretty much roll from the finish line to the hotel.
Athens – my favorite things to do
- The usual suspects. But make sure to visit the Acropolis and the Panathenaic stadium.
- At Monastiraki square is a huge toy store, Moustakas. If you need to buy your kids a gift, this is the place.
Athens – my favorite places to go out for a run
In all honesty, I had quite a hard time finding nice running routes in Athens. I have run in the former Olympic park (meh), several parks in the city center (rather small), so I usually settle for a sightseeing run through town.
- Sightseeing run (also see my post on why) – several times, I have run around town to see the different landmarks. The Akropolis and it’s area is actually quite nice for a run (but try to avoid the Plaka as it is super crowded, which makes running rather challenging).
- If you’re a true running fanatic, please consider the Athens Marathon (usually early November). Although the route isn’t the most beautiful, it is a remarkable experience to start in the original town of Marathon and finish in the central Olympic stadion in Athens. I’ve run the 2017 Athens marathon.
One last tip – if you ask the front desk employee at your hotel if it’s safe to run near the hotel uphill and he looks at you with big eyes and says ‘uphill, are you sure?’, please don’t. Really. I tried and it had a 10% slope.