Worn Down Buildings in Athens to Receive Major Makeovers

Athens’ Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis announced on Monday that 63 abandoned buildings in the Greek capital will be handed over for renovations as part of the city’s extensive regenerations plan. 

Insights Greece - Worn Down Buildings in Athens to Receive Major MakeoversThe Municipality of Athens aims to bring new life to the urban centre, improving the standard of living for locals and ensuring that the Greek capital attracts more tourists all-year-round; as well as more investors.

“Today 63 buildings will return to the Athenians. The way is open for them to be revived- to regain their life and colour… let’s re-illuminate every corner of the city,” announced Mayor Bakoyannis on his Facebook page

Insights Greece - Worn Down Buildings in Athens to Receive Major MakeoversMany of these worn-down properties feature classic Athenian architecture and will require major maintenance and upgrading of the facade before they can be used again. 

The properties are located in the centre of Athens, mainly in the neighbourhoods of Omonia, Acropolis, Metaxourgeio, and Psyrri. Each building was given a thorough clean and was disinfected before approval for renovations could commence. 

*Images: @Kostas Bakoyannis FB Page 

Keeping Fit During Lockdown in Athens  

The gyms are closed, but the bakeries are open, and those little blue delivery bikes are buzzing around the city dropping off their parcels of (fattening) comfort food. But if, like me, you are not quite ready to roll over and hibernate in front of Netflix, here are five things you can do to stay fit and healthy in Athens during the lockdown.

 By Christopher Nicholas 

1. Go jogging in Athenenian History

Insights Greece - Keeping Fit During Lockdown in Athens  

Put on your running shoes and go for a jog in the National Gardens, the best ‘park’ of Athens, directly behind the Parliament in Syntagma Square. The sun is still shining and palm trees line your track, and once you work up a sweat you will forget that winter is upon you. Pedion Tou Aeres is another big park in central Athens, and smaller, but quite unique is Akadamias Platanos, where you can take a jog through the ancient ruins of Plato’s Academy (where else in the world ?!). Finally, a satisfying route is to be found on Dionyssiou Aeropagitou pedestrian road that connects with Apostolou Pavlou St, starting from Acropolis metro and ending all the way down to Thisseio. For more inspiring runs around the city, check out Great Runs and search for suggestions in Athens.

2. Flex Venice Beach style at Technopolis Gym Park

If working out in the sunshine is your thing, then you will love this outdoor gym. Tucked away in the corner Technopolis (the old gasworks factory of Athens, recognisable by its tall brick tower that’s lit by red lights at night) arts and leisure park in Gazi, this is my favourite place to exercise. There is strict social distancing, and entrance is limited to 3 people, so this is a safe and comfortable place to train. The “calisthenic” gym machines and bars, use your body mass as resistance, so if you are used to lifting heavier weights in the gym, this might not hit the spot at first. But slow down the motion and aim for higher reps, and you will soon start to feel the burn in all the right places!

3. Get on your Podylato!

Insights Greece - Keeping Fit During Lockdown in Athens  

Ok, so I would not recommend this during normal times, but as Athens is grinding to a virtual halt, there’s never been a better time to discover the city by bicycle. To be fair, and Covid aside, the city of Athens is steadily making significant progress in greening the city centre. Panepistimiou Street, one of the major arteries running from Syntagma to Omonia Square, now has a dedicated cycle lane, for example. Mysteriously, many bicycle shops remain open, but you can also find a bargain on skroutz.gr, while car.gr is a good place to shop for second-hand bikes. Another option is to rent a bike from Funkybikes. In these tourist downtimes, you can pick up a very affordable weekly deal.

Do be careful, however, because unlike some other European cities, biking is not so commonplace and car drivers do not always have the instinct to look out for their two-wheeled compatriots. And make sure your lights go on as the sun goes down. To help you plan your cycle route around town log on to Bike Map.

4. Walk around Old Athens at dusk

Simple but there you have it – just take a nice, long walk. Start at Thission station, and wander up the cobbled streets towards the foot of the Acropolis, carry on past the ancient theatre of Herodes Atticus, before curling back into the Plaka and the maze of charming streets, taking in the beautifully lit Roman Agora and Hadrian’s library, before entering the eerily quiet passageways of the flea market, ending up at Monastiraki station.

A brisk walk is proven to build stamina, burn excess calories, and make your heart healthier. The ideal is to walk about 5km an hour to get the physical health benefits, and you can use the free Active 10 App to check your speed. But even a gentler stroll, under the moon, in the shadow of this iconic ancient hill will be deeply soothing for the soul, and good for your mental health.

5. Workout at home and travel the world

Insights Greece - Keeping Fit During Lockdown in Athens  

You don’t need to waste hundreds of euros on a running machine that will gather dust as soon as lockdown is over – a yoga mat and a couple of resistance bands are all you need. If you need some inspiration, many gyms run online courses for their clients. But then again, why visit the same old gym? The beauty of working out on Zoom is you can tour the world as you pursue your fitness goals.

Try Yoga on the banks of Lake Orta in Northern Italy (www.mandali.org), or Pilates in Sydney (@movewithnicole), or jet off to New York and join a ballet class with Sarah Jessica Parker (search for New York City Ballet workout on Youtube). I like Alex Crockford (@alexcrockford), fitness model turned coach on social; he will help you work up a sweat and maintain muscle mass. Evolve do some great high energy sessions. For something closer to home, Maria and Alikis of Twinsfit (@twinsfit.gr), have taken their pilates, yoga, and TRX training out of the studio and into your living room with Zoom. Or tune in to Charlie’s (founder of GaziCrossFit) “Quarantine workout core crusher” on Instagram (@charliemakkos). Street Workout Athens, have come off the streets,  and are offering a wide range of classes, from Combat and Bootcamp to Spinning and Pilates on Zoom.

Whatever you decide to do, try and do a little every day; just 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day will have significant health benefits. We would love to hear what you are doing to stay fit and healthy during lockdown. Stay safe, stay healthy, and try to say no to these lovely Greek cheese pies!

*All images by Christopher Nicholas © (Copyright) 

Exploring Delphi, Greece’s Second Most Popular Archaeological Site

Did you know that after the Acropolis, Delphi is the most popular archaeological site in Greece?

Located at the foot of Mount Parnassos, within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. In fact, Delphi is regarded as the centre of the ancient world.

Due to its close proximity to Athens (just over two hours drive) Delphi is an ideal spot for a long weekend getaway from the Greek capital. This historical site not only offers incredible cultural experiences, you are also in for an adventurous trip, with some fabulous spots to eat and drink.


The archaeological site of Delphi includes two sanctuaries, dedicated to Apollo and Athena, and other buildings including the Treasury of the Athenians, the Theatre, the Stadion, and the Castalian Spring- which are all must-see sites.

Visitors arriving from Athens first encountered the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia – that is, Athena who is before the Temple of Apollo. Outside its walls spread the settlement of Delphi. Within the walls were the famous Tholos, the symbol of Delphi today, and the remains of three temples dedicated to the goddess. Outside and around the two sanctuaries are the remains of the settlement and cemeteries of Delphi, which developed mainly in the Classical and Roman period.

Insights Greece - Exploring Delphi, Greece's Second Most Popular Archaeological Site

Temple of Apollo 

All that remains of the Temple of Apollo, the most important building in the Sanctuary of Apollo, are the foundations. It was built on the same location three times and featured columns, sculptures, and statues inside. The present Temple of Apollo, built in Doric style in the fourth century BC, preserved the ground-plan of the earlier sixth-century-BC Archaic temple and re-used the old column drums, but the detailing is typical of the late-Classical period. It is here, in the adyton (inner shrine) that the Pythia (priestess) would sit and utter the words of the Oracle, sent to her by Apollo and interpreted by the priests.

Modern Museum

The  Archaeological Museum, which presents the history of the Delphic Sanctuary in 14 rooms, provides for another profound lesson in Delphi’s political, religious and social history. Lying between the ancient site and the modern town of Delphi, the archaeological museum displays a fascinating collection of finds from the site, including friezes, statues, votive offerings, and stele. Exhibits are displayed in chronological order and arranged across the 14 rooms. There is also a café and a gift shop. Tip: Make sure to check the museum’s opening times ahead, as hours can vary.

Historical Monasteries

On the western slopes of Mount Elikonas, just outside Distomo village (15 km from Delphi town) is the Holy Monastery of Osios Loukas (Saint Luke). The large walled complex contains two adjoining churches, one of which is the 10th Century Church of the Theotokos, dedicated to Panagia, Virgin Mary. Adjoining it is the Katholikon cathedral, built in 1011. A bell-tower, monastic rooms and a little store selling religious items are also located in the complex.

Adventurous activities

From the fresh, mountainous air to the incredible caves, springs and ancient paths, Delphi is the ideal spot for hiking, paragliding, rock climbing and mountain biking. There are many tours that are organised here throughout the year or you can of course, adventure out on your own and explore the wonderful surroundings.

Visit the Pretty Town

The gorgeous little town of Delphi (population of around 2,000) is now home to a range of hotels, guest houses, restaurants and shops. It was established in 1892, when the village of Kastrí, which had grown up on the site of the Temple of Apollo, was moved to a new position one kilometer west to allow excavation of the ancient site. This is a good base for exploring the surrounding area.

Before You Leave
Check out the picturesque town of Amfissa, which is at the foot of Delphi. Here you can enjoy the endless olive groves and walk along the paved streets, admiring traditional stores and cafes, with locals who are ready to welcome you with authentic delicacies.
Cover Image via landways.com

Visiting Athens’ Acropolis Museum

No trip to Athens is complete without a visit to the Acropolis Museum, which has been named one of the Top 10 museums in the world!  

The modern museum is an archaeological site, housing more than 3,000 ancient artefacts from the Athenian Acropolis.

Located in the historical area of Makriyianni, southeast of the Acropolis, the renowned Museum narrates the story of life on the Rock from prehistoric times until the end of Antiquity.  These findings cover a long period- from Mycenaean and Roman times through to the Early Christian periods of Athens.

Insights Greece - Visiting Athens' Acropolis Museum

Having opened its doors in June 2009, architect Bernard Tschumi’s new Acropolis Museum replaced the old Museum on the Rock of the Acropolis. The tailor made building with extensive use of glass ensures breathtaking views of the Acropolis, the surrounding historic hills and the modern city of Athens.

With the benefit of the changing natural light, visitors can discover the delicate surface variations of the sculptures and select the vantage point from which to observe the permanent exhibits.

The exhibits of the Acropolis Museum are presented over four levels. There is also a fifth floor with a wonderful restaurant/cafe boasting uninterrupted views of the Acropolis.

In 2019 the Museum also opened another permanent exhibit: the extensive archaeological excavation site that lies beneath the building. Here parts of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood have been brought to light. Among the ruins you will discover homes, shops, baths, mosaic floors, workshops and a stunning urban villa.

The Museum is ideal for people of all ages and includes activities, talks, guided tours as well as lots of spots to sit back and enjoy some quiet time.

While we all wait to visit again (some for the first time) we can enjoy a virtual tour of the Acropolis Museum right here- Acropolis Museum Virtual Tour.


Discovering Athens Without Spending A Cent

Nearly every corner of Greece’s capital is filled with unparalleled history, rich culture and a raw beauty that you can experience first-hand without spending a cent! Here we reveal some of our favourite things to do in Athens that are for free. 

Get that perfect Insta shot of the Acropolis

The Acropolis can be seen from almost anywhere in the heart of the city but if you are on a mission to find the “best view” of the Parthenon that won’t cost you a penny, Areopagus Hill is that spot!  Here you are guaranteed to get one of the best Insta shots of Greece’s most iconic landmark, as well as being able to catch great views of the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus.

Climb the centre of the Greek capital

Filopappos Hill as well as the hills adjacent to it, “Pnyx” and “Nymphs” are popular amongst locals and visitors alike who come here for a pleasant stroll as they discover historical monuments and unparalleled views of the city. The walk, which takes around 20 minutes is all on a beautiful and winding path and when you get up top you will discover spectacular views of the city. On a clear day, you can see all the way across to Piraeus and the Saronic islands.

Catch a glimpse of Greece’s famous Evzones

No trip to Athens would be complete without catching a glimpse of the Evzones– Greece’s Presidential Guards. At Syntagma Square, right in front of the Presidential Mansion, you will find the Evzones, traditionally dressed in their distinct uniforms, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here you will have full view as they march and change guard every hour on the hour.

Insights Greece - Discovering Athens Without Spending A Cent

Discover Underground Metro Museums

Several metro stations in Athens have amazing ‘underground museums’ where you can discover ancient antiquities and learn more about Greek history. Acropolis, Syntagma, Monastiraki, Elaionas, Aigaleo, Dafni and Panepistimio stations have permanent displays of beautiful artifacts that are freely accessible every day from 5 am to midnight.

Insights Greece - Discovering Athens Without Spending A Cent

Lose yourself in an island-like neighbourhood

Anafiotika is a hidden wonder located in the heart of Athens. Here you will be amazed as to how quickly you can be transported from a vibrant city vibe to a calm, laid-back island feel. Surrounded by white-washed Cycladic-style homes and alleyways, this part of town will have you believe you are steps away from the Aegean Sea, but in reality, you are moments away from the Acropolis.

Say a little prayer

The centre of Athens is filled with many historical churches. The “Mētrópolis” is a grand cathedral located halfway between Syntagma Square and Monastiraki and is dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary). The nearby Church of Agios Eleftherios is also well worth a visit. Further down towards Monastiraki is the Church of Kapnikaréa, it’s an old Byzantine stone church, now situated right in the middle of Ermou street. Other churches to explore in Athens are Agios Georgios Church at the top of Lycabettus Hill, the Church of Metamorphosis Sotiros in Anafiotika, and the Church of Agios Nikolaos Ragavas in Plaka.