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A Design Lover's Travel Guide to Athens in a Day

Courtesy of Inn Athens
Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 19 October 2017
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Thanks to its multitude of ancient monuments, vestiges of a rich history, endless summers and numerous islands, Greece is a top destination for many travelers. But few know that its capital can also be the perfect base for a design-focused city trip. We’ve created a guide for any design lover to the ancient city of Athens.

Where to stay

Inn Athens is a charming boutique hotel located a stone’s throw away from Syntagma Square, and the shopping street of Ermou. Housed in a beautifully restored neoclassical mansion, Inn Athens surely stands out. With a magnificent atrium, elegant décor, clean lines, dark marble and natural wood accents, and scrumptious breakfast, Inn Athens is one of our favorite accommodation options in town. You are sure to feel right at home here.

Courtesy of Inn Athens
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Where to eat

Since opening in 2016, Nolan has been the talk of the town. The design is minimalist, with Scandinavian touches. The downtown bistro is known for its innovative Greek-Asian fusion cuisine, and has helped up the quality of the international cuisine available in Athens. The menu created by young chef Sotiris Kontizas features eccentric names and an eclectic cuisine, and though it changes regularly, it includes a few star dishes worth trying.

Courtesy of Nolan

In the lively port district of Piraeus, Pirée is a stunning multifunction art center housed in an industrial building. Opened in March 2016 and designed by Lab 71 Kosmas Karavas, the place features a café/wine and cocktail bar where premium coffee, delicious drinks, wine and cocktails are served, as well as finger food, salads, tapas and more, as well as several design showrooms for exhibitions and live performances.

Courtesy of Pirée

What to see

Located on Syggrou Avenue, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) is a fantastic architectural feat. With two floors accommodating its permanent collection that includes works by Greek and foreign artists (such as Stephen Antonakos, Vlassis Caniaris, Chryssa, Gary Hill, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and Nikos Kessanlis), the museum includes several spaces for events, temporary exhibitions and educational programs, as well as a library. Check out the museum’s website to see the current exhibitions on show.

Design Plaza may seem like a regular interior design store, with a vast collection and roomy display rooms, but it is much more than this. Home to the Design Museum of the 20th Century, Design Plaza can be seen as the center of design in Athens. The ‘museum’ is locaed in a 1200 m2 space, and the furniture, lights and everyday objects were designed and created by leading designers and architects of the 20th century. Chronologically organized, the exhibits explore the works of prominent names such as Dali, Le Corbusier, Mackintosh, Eileen Gray and Mart Stam.

Courtesy of Design Plaza

Where to shop

Opened in 2015 by George Karras and Angela Koutroulaki, Paraphernalia is a unique interior design shop featuring a collection of carefully curated items ranging from home and office wares, furniture, lighting, jewelry, and accessories. Fair warning, you can spend hours here and not want to leave the sleek store, but if you spot something you love, Paraphernalia also has an e-shop and ships worldwide.

Courtesy of Paraphernalia

Do some double-duty shopping by buying unique and useful souvenirs created by young designers from Greece at Forget Me Not Athens. This unique souvenir shop in the central district of Plaka is the ultimate Ali Baba’s cave of cool souvenirs and gadgets to bring home with you.

Courtesy of Forget Me Not
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