A Weekend in

Athens

Tips by Atalanti Martinou
- Images from Miguel Flores-Vianna

Left: An 'Evzone' (Presidential Guard) at the Hellenic Parliament. Right: A sculpture at the Ancient Agora. Images: Miguel Flores-Vianna

Athens-based art advisor Atalanti Martinou shares insider's tips for a cultural weekend in the Greek capital.
 
Both an ancient city and a modern metropolis, Athens is a buzzing cultural capital with plenty to offer visitors throughout the year, as well as an ever-growing collection of stylish hotels and guesthouses to choose from. Athens-based art advisor Atalanti Martinou shares with Cabana her favorite spots in the city, from world-class museums and thrilling flea markets, to walking routes with the best views of the Acropolis.  

 

Left: A sculpture at Athens' Archaeological Museum. Right: Embroidery detail at the Benaki Museum. Images: Miguel Flores-Vianna

An Insider's Guide...

Where to Stay

Although the prevailing accommodation style in Athens has typically leant towards the urban and minimal, there are plenty of stylish new openings and an option to suit every preference and budget.

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Where to Stay

Small hotels and Guesthouses
Shila, Athens - An elegant 1920s townhouse with six suites, situated in Athens' cultured Kolanaki quarter.
Monsieur Didot (pictured) - A home away from home in an Athenian neoclassical house, also in the Kolanaki quarter.
The Foundry - Twelve luxurious industrial-style lofts in the city's historic Psyrri neighborhood.  
 
Larger Hotels
Perianth Hotel - Sleek design on one of Athens' liveliest squares.
Astir Palace - For serious Four Seasons luxury by the sea. 
Milos Hotel - A stylish hotel with a really excellent restaurant.
 

 

Where to Eat

Athens has a great culinary scene, full of authentic flavor and fresh local ingredients. From the best Souvlaki to the freshest seafood, read on to discover Atalanti's recommendations.

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Where to Eat

Breakfast and Brunch
Wild Souls - A concept and coffee store, a great place to buy homemade spreads and marmalades.
Kora Bakery - For great sourdough and excellent pastries.
Philos - For a relaxed stylish brunch. Phone: +30 21 0361 9163.
 
Lunch and Dinner
Ratka - A local's favorite in Kolonaki; great for dinner. Saturday lunch to late evening becomes very fun. Phone: +30 21 0729 0746
Papadakis - A fine restaurant in Kolonaki, headed by Greek star chef, Argiro Barbarigou. Great for fish and quality ingredients.
Kanaria - A small family-owned place in Moschato (about 20 minutes by car from the city center) serving the best tomato salad, fish and fried shrimp. It's beautifully simple, it feels like time has stood still since 1950 when it opened. It's a good place to combine with a visit to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which is next door. Phone:+30 21 0942 2119.
Kostas - Only open for lunch, Kostas on Pentelis Street is an Athens street-food institution serving the best Souvlaki in the city. Be sure to arrive early. Phone: +30 21 0322 8502.
Hasapika - For terrific seafood and sushi, Hasapika is a fun experience situated inside the Central Market of Athens, a classic Athenian fish and meat market. Phone: +30 21 6070 7026
 
Sweets and Treats
Epik Gelato - It's all in the name, go here for epic ice cream.
Anana - A great place for coffee and snacks.
Mariboo - Fresh artisanal ice cream. Phone: +30 21 0724 7037

What to See and Do

Athens is great place to walk and wander, taking in architects' pathways and historical sites, like the Acropolis and Panthenon. It's also full of excellent museums and galleries, including the world famous Benaki Museum.

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What to See and Do

Museums
 
Benaki Museum - Comprising five museums, covering Greek civilization, culture, ceramics, Islamic Art and more, the Benaki Museum is world-renowned and not to be missed.
Byzantine & Christian Museum - With over 25,000 artefacts dating from between the 3rd and 20th century AD, this is a real treasure trove of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art and culture. It's also worth visiting for the beautiful building - the Villa Ilisia, built by the Duchess of Plaisance in 1840.
Acropolis & Acropolis Museum - Visit Athens' Acropolis, the ancient citadel sitting high above the city, and see the remains of important ancient buildings, most famously the Parthenon. The on-site Museum is dedicated to its archaeological findings.
National Archaeological Museum - The largest museum in Greece with more than 11,000 exhibits, including some really important pieces like the Gold Mask of Agamemnon.
Epigraphic Museum - A unique museum housing more than 14,000 Greek inscriptions, as well as fine furniture by the British designer T. Robsjohn Gibbings (1905-1976) who lived in Athens.
 
Walking and Wandering
 
I love walking from the paved Dionisiou Areopagitou Street (which has one of the best views of the Acropolis) up to Pnyka Hill (an archaeological site) going through architect Dimitris Pikionis' pathways down to Thiseio.
 
In general, Athens is great place to walk. Some great areas for strolling are Plaka, Anafiotika, Thiseio, Lofos Filopappou. I also love walking through the whole area below Syntagma Square.

Tips For Art Lovers

Athenians have always placed great emphasis on the arts, and this proud tradition continues today. As well as thousands of years' worth of art and craftsmanship, Athens has a buzzing contemporary arts scene to discover. 

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Top Spots for Art Lovers

Museum of Cycladic Art - A great museum of ancient Greek Art and Cycladic and Cypriot culture with a large permanent collection of antiquities and hosting contemporary art exhibitions too, often mixing with the ancient objects. 
The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) - This newly reopened national museum exhibits works by many modern and contemporary Greek artists in a modernist building, designed by architect Takis Zenetos. 
Yannis Pappas Studio (pictured), Benaki Museum - The workspace of Greek artist, Yannis Pappas (1913-2005), housed in his family's home in the Zographou district. The property, full of Pappas' paintings and sculptures was donated to the Benaki Museum by his son, and is a fascinating place.
Goulandris Foundation - A short walk from the Panathenaic Stadium, this museum houses the exceptional art collection of collectors, Basil and Elise Goulandris, and includes works by Picasso, Rodin, Degas, van Gogh, Miró and Giacometti.
Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center - An arts hub and exhibition space in a warehouse, with a good book shop, showing Greek and International artists in a range of media.

 

Where to Shop

From flea markets and fabric stores to fine art galleries and designer boutiques, Athens is a haven for shoppers and collectors alike. Read on to discover some of Atalanti's favorite shops and markets.  

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Where to Shop

Shops and Galleries
 
Martinos Art - A wonderful emporium of fine art and antiques in Monastiraki, Athens’ ancient commercial center, where you’ll find carpets and kilims, Islamic art, fine furniture, rare ceramics, paintings and 20th century decorative objects.
Antiqua - Right by the Museum of Cycladic Art (see 'What to See and Do'), Antiqua trades in quality 20th century design.
Ileana Makri - For fine jewelry by Ileana Makri and a selection of designers in her flagship store in the heart of Athens.
Enny di Monaco - For high-end designer clothing.

 

Markets and Thrift Stores
 
I love exploring the fabric shops on Aiolou and Kalamiotou Streets, and you shouldn't miss Plateia Avissinia, the city's oldest bazaar, which is open all week but busiest on Sundays.
 
With a bit of luck and rummaging, you might find something special from the old antiques market there; last week I found two miniature milleflori murano vases for a bargain price.

What Not To Miss

The open-air Herodeon Theater is magical at night. Check the performance schedule for late spring or summer.
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1) Lilly Pulitzer x Suzie Zuzek

When Lilly Pulitzer launched her classic shift dresses in the ’60s, few knew their playful nature-inspired prints were the vision of Florida-based artist Suzie Zuzek. The striking collection mixed Zuzek’s imagination and masterful drawing with Pulitzer’s eye for vivid color. The striking collection mixed Zuzek’s imagination and masterful drawing with Pulitzer’s eye for vivid color. launched her classic shift dresses in the ’60s, few knew their playful nature-inspired prints were the vision of Florida-based artist Suzie Zuzek. The striking collection mixed Zuzek’s imagination and masterful drawing with Pulitzer’s eye for vivid color. The striking collection mixed Zuzek’s imagination and masterful drawing with Pulitzer’s eye for vivid color.

 

Shop Martinos Art

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