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Cape Sounio in the distance | © jojo nicdao / Flickr
Cape Sounio in the distance | © jojo nicdao / Flickr
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11 Reasons Why You Should Get Lost in Greece’s Athenian Riveria

Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 3 July 2017
Part of the greater Athens area, the Athens Riviera extends from Piraeus all the way to Sounio. With its picturesque marinas, palm tree–fringed promenades and a plethora of beaches and small coves to escape to, the beautiful coastline is an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle and heat of the Greek capital.

Beaches, beaches and more beaches

You don’t need to jump on a ferry to find spectacular beaches in Athens. Instead, explore the coastline. With an abundance of public and private sandy shores, many of which have Blue Flag certification, the Athens Riviera will no doubt have one with which you will fall in love. Beaches of note include Astir Beach (Vouliagmeni), Asteras/Balux (Glyfada), Yabanaki (Varkiza), Althea (Skalakias Agias Marinas), Grand Beach Lagonissi, KAPE/Legraina and Sounio.

Grand Resort Lagonissi Geach
Grand Resort Lagonissi Geach | © Mark Hillary/flickr

A bit of culture

Located in Kallithea and dominating the Faliro Bay, the splendid Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, built by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is home to the National Library and National Opera. Surrounded by a vast park, complete with an artificial canal and a recreation and open-air gym, this venue is Athens’ new landmark. The centre, which hosts a variety of events, workshops, concerts and other fun activities throughout the year, is open to the public and features several cafeterias as well as a visitors centre where they host exhibitions. Check out the programme because there is most likely an event that will interest you.

Fish, Fish, Fish

Athens is much more than souvlaki and gyros when it comes to food. Take advantage of its extensive coastline and head to the Riviera, where you can find fish tavernas and restaurants on the waterfront. Many places offer some of the most delicious and freshest fish that you will ever taste. A few recommendations include Psarou in Anavyssos, Omega 3 and Imerovigli in Piraeus, Psipsina in Paleo Faliro and Lambros in Vouliagmeni.

Vouliagmeni Lake

For a change of scenery or simply for a relaxing dip, Vouliagmeni Lake makes for an enchanting break from the beach. Surrounded by cliffs and incredible nature, the lake offers warm waters (between 22–29°C or 72–84°F), which are known for their healing virtues. The population of Garra rufa (also known as doctor fish) offers the most natural exfoliation for swimmers. The complex also includes an all-day bar, restaurants and changing rooms.

A perfect hub for fine dining

The Athens Riviera has a wealth of world-class restaurants and under-the-radar foodie paradises. The legendary A-lister hot spot Ithaki in Vouliagmeni serves high-end cuisine. Nearby, Moorings offers a laid-back setting and splendid views over the sea, with a rich menu of Japanese influences, but if you are craving Japanese flavours, Kiku Seaside is a perfect spot for you. The famous Matsuhisa still ranks high with delectable staples in an elegant setting, and don’t forget to visit Grand Resort Lagonissi, where you can dine at Kohylia and taste flavourful Polynesian cuisine. Michelin-starred Varoulko Seaside, in Mikrolimano, is also worth a mention, and finally, Galazia Hytra, the summer outpost of award-winning Hytra, takes you on a journey where Greek flavours and eastern Mediterranean cuisine deliciously collide.

Courtesy of Varoulko
Courtesy of Varoulko

Experience the nightlife like a Greek

Athens is known for its vibrant nightlife, and the Riviera is likely a contributing element. In fact, many of the clubs in town have a summer outpost by the river. From stylish cocktail bars to luxurious nightclubs and beach bars, you will be able to party like a Greek.

Mikrolimano

Take a break from the beach and discover picturesque Mikrolimano, a small harbour filled with fishermen boats and, of course, waterfront fish tavernas. Venture out to the beautiful nearby Kastella district and end your day of exploration with a dinner by the water.

Shopping in Glyfada

Glyfada, sometimes dubbed the Greek Hamptons, sits in the heart of the Riviera and is a perfect place to take a break from the heat and shop. Boasting several international chains and local boutiques, plenty of restaurants, cafés and bars, this urban oasis is worth a visit.

Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion

Since the Athens Riviera ends in Sounio, you should not forget to visit this spectacular site, home to the Doric temple consecrated to the god of the sea, Poseidon. The temple, offering all-encompassing views over the sea, stands on top of the Cape and is an ideal location to watch as the sun sets over the bay.

Cape Sounio in the distance
Cape Sounio in the distance | © jojo nicdao / Flickr

Catch a flick at Marina Flisvos

Athens is home to over 60 open-air cinemas, but one of the favourites is undeniably Marina Flisvos. Open every summer, the cinema has all the benefits of a regular movie theatre but with the sea in the background. After the film, stroll along the Marina, admire the yachts or have a drink at one of the many bars in the park.

Marina Flisvos, Palaio Faliro
Marina Flisvos, Palaio Faliro | © Elpidoforos Papanikolopoulos / Flickr

Sail away

Overlooking the Saronic Bay, the Athenian Riviera is home to many marinas, complete with sailing clubs and yacht charters where you can rent a boat (with or without crew) or take a day trip around the nearby islands. Set sail to Hydra, Agistri, Aegina or Poros, have a picnic on board and take a refreshing dip in hidden coves or beaches. You can do it all in the Athenian Riviera.