TAKE me to Athens
We spent three nights in Athens at the beginning of April and I can assure you that this is all you need to experience the magic of it.
Athens is full to the brim of colourful streets, enchanting history, mouth-watering food and absolutely wonderful people.
Where we stayed...
We stayed in the COCO-MAT Hotel Athens a cute, eco-friendly and minimally luxurious little hotel found in the Kolanki neighbourhood in Athens. The hotel is located on a quiet street lined with boutique shops and lively, sophisticated restaurants and cafes.
The quirkiest bit about this affordable little beauty is that the entrance of the hotel is actually a furniture show-room. Yep, you read that right. COCO-MAT actually makes beds and pillows and all sorts of natural homeware and accessories. You actually get a pillow menu in your room and you can select your pillow! The hotel also offers free use of their exclusive wooden bikes which you can take for a ride around Athens.
Our hotel room was perfect, clean, comfortable and very chic. We really enjoyed hanging out in the lounge area on the roof of the hotel, which offered spectacular views of the city, along with comfy seating, a cool arty wall (great for pics), this cool area is reserved for guests only and they can enjoy a menu and waiting service up there too! We personally bought some cool snacks from a little tuck shop across the road which sold delicious coated fruit, nuts, sweets and chocolate and we sat on the roof with our Nespresso coffees (made in the machine in our room) and enjoyed the view.
Last but not least, FOOD! The breakfast was fresh and delicious and the dining area was extremely cute! We were greeted with fresh orange juice and a menu where we could choose how we would like our eggs! The rest of the breakfast is laid out on the bar and you just help yourself! It's fresh and delicious and slightly different everyday. The great thing about this place, is that they have an honesty bar, where you can help yourself to all kinds of snacks, fruit, drinks etc at ANYTIME you like! Theres a little list and you just put your room number next to the items you took and they add it to your tab! What I loved most about this is that the prices were totally normal and not inflated at all, like they normally are in hotels!
Anyway, I wasn't supposed to go into a detailed review of this place but to be honest its a great little affordable place to stay and they have a chain of hotels all around the world!
What we saw...
We spent the majority of our time in Athens, actually ALL of our time on foot.. we didn't catch public transport once ! Mainly because we didn't really need to and our hotel was a 15-20 minute walk from all the main sites and attractions which is perfecto!
When travelling I love to explore as much as possible by foot and absolutely love it when I am able to step out of my hotel and walk to wherever it is I want to go. I feel that you see so much more this way and you end up stumbling across loads of interesting places that you probably would have otherwise missed.
The main places that I would recommend to visit are (probably quite obvious):
The Acropolis, Parthenon & Odeon of Herodes Atticus (if you only see one thing in Athens - SEE THIS!) - this whole area will take your breath away and all three of these are in the same grounds so easy peasy. We found our way here by using a mixture of Google maps and following signs. We then just walked up to the main gates and bought tickets, I generally don't like doing tours because i get quite bored and don't like sticking to a schedule or being under anyones control on holiday (I do that enough at work). So, I prefer to read about the history of these places in the leaflets provided/information boards or in my own time and walk around the sites exploring and of course taking loads of fancy pictures.
The Plaka Neighbourhood - this is the area of small winding streets around the Acropolis and its so very charming. We spent ages walking around exploring this area and we sat down for a cold coffee and some delicious Greek mezze in one of the many little restaurants along the way.
Monastiraki Square - So, whenever I go ANYWHERE at all, I have this crazy urge to shop. This areas is the place where you can fulfil all your 'typical-tourist-junk' shopping needs. You will find some really cool stuff here actually and its quite fun to walk around and have browse. Also, if you are around on a Sunday, there is a flea market where you'll probably find piles and piles of extra cool stuff!
Kolonaki District - seeing as we were on the topic of shopping, I thought i may as well mention Kolonaki, this is the area I mentioned earlier where our hotel was based. It is an exquisitely 'chic' area set along the foothills of Mount Lycabettus it's full of beautiful architecture, boutique and designer shops and fancy restaurants and cafes. It's a completely different vibe to the hustling bustling centre of Athens. I really enjoyed walking around this area, exploring the shops and little coffee and food boutiques and delis. It's a great area to sit and sip on a cold coffee while people watching, almost Paris-like. You are also guaranteed to find some different and stylish clothes/accessories from the array of independent boutiques if you are looking to shop.
What we ate & drank...
So... FOOD! One of the most important things especially whilst on holiday. to be quite honest you will be absolutely spoilt for choice in Athens. There are so many places to eat and drink and I don't think you will ever be disappointed. Every single cafe/restaurant/deli we entered we came out fully satisfied. The food is fresh, reasonably priced, large portions and absolutely delicious. So here is a list of some of the places to eat/food to try:
- Strofi - So, we went to one of those restaurants aimed at tourists that give you a great panoramic view of Athens and the acropolis. And, let me tell you something, we were not disappointed. This place offered MAGNIFICENT views, HUGE portions of delicious food and exceptional services. A bit pricier than normal places in Athens but worth it for a fancy/romantic meal. We ate the seafood salad, which was INSANE (and huge), we also ordered a variety of Greek delights such as halloumi, spinach pie, Greek salad and moussaka. All absolutely divine and we couldn't finish any of it because the portions were so massive so we ended up taking half of it away in a takeaway box.
- Greek Salad - I ordered a Greek salad every single time I saw it on a menu and it was on all the menus that we saw. Not once was I disappointed, what a glorious creation.
- Iced Coffee - You will find everyone in Athens walking around with an iced coffee in hand, and you will soon find yourself joining them. There are cafes/restaurants on every corner where you can purchase this refreshing caffeine hit that will fuel your on-foot exploration of this bustling and very hilly city.
- Souvlaki - You can't really get away from this delicious, cheap street eat that is everywhere. We didn't really bother searching for recommendations of where to eat we just dropped into one of the many places that sell this juicy hand-held delight. You must give it a try.