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Whether you’re headed for a weekend getaway, a European stopover or simply looking for a way to switch up your routine in the city, keep reading to discover our guide on how to spend 48 hours in Athens, which includes the best of food and culture, so you can really soak up the best of the Greek capital.
A morning at the Acropolis Museum
A jewel of Athens, the Acropolis Museum is a must-visit during any time of year. Opened in 2009, the museum was designed by architect, Bernard Tschumi with Michael Photiadis. Throughout the design, which dedicatedly recreates the landscape of the Acropolis, the initial sloping galleries display treasures found from the hillside, while the Parthenon Gallery on the top floor evokes the scale and spectacle of the marbles. The restaurant offers majestic views of the ancient monument, ensuring that even if you don’t have the energy to climb up to the real thing, you’ll leave fully immersed in the history of the place.
Lunch around Thissio
Walk around the base of the Acropolis on the wide paved boulevard towards Thissio. Located close to Plaka but without the same level of tourist shops, this is a more authentic side of Athens that gives way to the vibrant neighbourhoods of Petralona and Metaxourgio. You can’t go wrong with a late lunch at Kappari on Akamantos Street, where traditional Greek classics are made from local produce and are always delicious.
An afternoon in Koukaki
Walk through the picturesque Filopappou Hill towards the buzzing area of Koukaki. Home to the relatively new National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), which is housed in a former FIX factory, fashion and design lovers should also pay a visit to the spectacular Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum. Pick up a snack at Takis Bakery and enjoy endless people watching at one of the many bars and cafes in the area. Little Tree Books and Coffee nearby is an atmospheric and lively place to enjoy a frappé or freddo cappuccino.
An evening in Psyrri
For classic Greek food at affordable prices, Cherchez La Femme is the perfect spot. Located close to Syntagma Square on the cusp of the lively neighbourhood of Psyrri, the restaurant offers ornate design, with marble tables an oak bar and a decadent chandelier, alongside innovate and contemporary takes on traditional dishes – it’s well priced, too. In summer, the seats outside are fantastic for watching the glamorous crowds passing by and in the winter months, the indoors offers a cozy and relaxed atmosphere.
Afterwards, head to the heart of Pysrri and make the most of a host of great bars in close proximity. Places like Six D.o.g.s, The Frogs and Boiler all serve up a lively atmosphere and delicious cocktails, while Cantina is the place to head to if you’re looking to party throughout the night.
A morning at the Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art
Home to some of the most fascinating and diverse collections in Athens, the Benaki and Cycladic museums are cultural institutions that make for essential viewing. Located around the corner from each other, start at the Benaki Museum and take in the prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman exhibits in the permanent collections, before exploring Byzantine costumes and Coptic art. There’s usually an exhibition of contemporary art upstairs, too. Afterwards, enjoy a coffee on the large outdoor balcony. If you have time, the Benaki Islamic Museum is more of a hidden gem on the other side of town and offers an extensive survey of ceramics, jewellery, art and design from the 8th century onwards. Located close to the main Benaki Museum in Kolonaki is the Museum of Cycladic Art, where you’ll find works from Aegean and Cyprus dating back to the 3rd century BC.
Lunch in Kolonaki
Nice n Easy serves organic and local dishes with a strong selection of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. In warmer months, try house specialties such as the marinated cucumber spaghetti or if you’re in the mood for something heartier, offerings such as The Elvis Presley (seabass with potatoes and smoked aubergine) will sate your cravings. For dessert, the olive oil ice cream is a must-try. After lunch, explore the many designer boutiques on offer and if you’re feeling energetic, make the hike up to Lycabettus to enjoy spectacular, panoramic views of the city.
An afternoon exploring Exarcheia
Situated next to the luxurious area of Kolonaki is the anarchist and artistic neighbourhood of Exarcheia, one of the many juxtapositions that make Athens so exciting to explore. A stroll underneath the picturesque Mount Lycabettus from Kolonaki and into the contrasting neighbourhood will present you with endless galleries, vintage stores and record shops to get acquainted with. Head to Yesterday’s Bread for the best vintage browsing, while Rhythm Records is a great spot to discover vinyl.
An evening in Piraeus
On your final evening in Athens, treat yourself to a sumptuous farewell with dinner at the renowned fish restaurant in Piraeus. Yperokeanio is a favourite among locals and visitors alike, with a fresh and simple menu that will ensure you finish your trip to Athens on a high.