Best Things to Do in Kifissia

Many of my childhood and teenage years were spent living in the northern suburb of Kifissia, which has expanded and seen several changeovers in shops and restaurants throughout the decades yet still remains pretty much the same.

As it was popular among Athenian gentry during the 18th and 19th Centuries as a cool summer from the city heat, Kifissia was bequeathed with some beautiful – or at least interesting or unique – neoclassical architecture. Its Alsos park, which leads directly from the train station (green line) to the main square, where when I arrived in 1982 was where ‘the cop in the can’ stood directing traffic, is still great for a nice stroll, with its large round fishpond, a café and a scattering of park benches (but no playground). 

Insights Greece - Best Things to Do in Kifissia
Athens’ famous Northern neighbourhood

The temperature in Kifissia is thought to be around 4-5 degrees C lower than that of the city centre, largely owed to the greenery in the area, Syngrou park nearby and Mt Parnitha not far above. Although I moved to Athens in my early 20s and was happy to escape what I felt was a dull, sleepy suburb, today I relish the relaxed energy, fresh clean air, greenery and small(er)-town community vibes. As school kids, we went to the shopping centre for slush puppies and rollerskating (so 80s!) and walked freely and safely around at night after going to Chloe or Boboniera outdoor cinemas (both still there) in summer. Small yet pleasant Kefalari park (just a 15-minute uphill walk from Kifissia) was where the wild things went to skull down beers, kiss and throw each other into the pond. 

Today, Kifissia still has low-profile energy when it comes to both day and night outings, but there are plenty more places to hang out for lunch, coffee, dinner and drinks, as well as more options for culture lovers and shopaholics. Like Kolonaki in central Athens, Kifissia’s shopping scene is generally for those willing to spend freely, but there are more reasonable and high-quality choices available too.

Culture /Art

Insights Greece - Best Things to Do in Kifissia
Galerie Lefakis on Tatoiou

There aren’t many museums in Kifissia, but the one there is, the Goulandris Natural History Museum (Levidou 13 & Othonos) is special, as it presents a cornucopia of plant and animal species, fossils and the replica of a giant dinosaur skeleton. It also has a café and shop. Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Kouvoutsakis Art Institute next door (Levidou 11) where over 1,500 paintings and sculptures that date back to the 1800s are showcased. Culture vultures should also visit Mamush Gallery (Panagitsas 3), which hosts a private collection of 500 works including originals by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Victor Vasarely, Keith Haring, and Pablo Picasso as well as internationally known Greek artists like Pavlos, Gaitis and Galerie Lefakis (Tatoiou 73) and Mihalarias Art.


Insights Greece - Best Things to Do in Kifissia
An endless range of boutiques and shoe stores

There is a multitude of high-end clothing and jewellery boutiques to walk or gaze into in Kifissia, lining its streets and clustered in its three main shopping centres. We cannot list them all here, but you’ll be able to find both famous international and local brands. For fashion head to Detroit, Regent, Soho Soho, American Vintage and for jewellery to Minas, Ilias Lalaounis, Pandora and Swarowski Boutique. If you like concept stores with clothing, accessories and décor items, visit Safe House, Mixi Concept Store and Onar Candles.


The Playmobil Fun Park (Amaliados 4 & Kalavryton) is a playground, where young children will enjoy playing with all sizes of PLAYMOBIL toys. For interesting gifts, visit the Pehnidospito specialty toy store (20 Kiriazi) where most toys are made of wood.
Authentic toys from wood.


Why not get a massage when you’re in Kifissia? Le Hammam (8 Agiou Trifonos) is a great place for that. With décor and a steam room reminiscent of the original hammams in Constantinople and signature therapies using spices and oils, you’re in for a treat. A little out of Kifissia (15/20 minutes drive) is the Orloff Spa at Life Gallery (103 Thisseos Leoforos, Ekali) where the therapies on offer are also highly reputed.

Insights Greece - Best Things to Do in Kifissia
Nice N Easy for farm to table dishes


As with the shopping scene, there’s much to discover here in this area depending on your tastes and needs, but some of the most popular hangouts are Nice N Easy (Papadiamanti 7) for delicious farm-to-table food made with Greek ingredients but inspired by Hollywood stars, Artisanal for Mediterranean cuisine, Buba Bistro Exotique (Papadiamanti 4) for Thai/Asian/Mediterranean cuisine, Blue Pine (Panagi Tsaldari 37) for classic French dining, To Koutouki (Kifissias Ave 308), Vathis (Kirou 7) and Elaias Gi (Dexamenis 4) for classic Greek cooking (the latter more on the fine dining scale), Monzu (Leof. Kifisias 317b) an Italian restaurant and spritzeria, the Dalliance House (Kiriazi 19,) for brunch and mingling, and new luxury steakhouse Drakoulis Dry & Raw (Pentelis 1).

How to get there: Kifissia is reachable by bus (550 or A7 from central Athens bus stops), the HSAP green line and by taxi (around 25-50 minutes at a cost of 11-17 euros, depending on traffic).

Main images Courtesy of The Dalliance House 

The Other Side of Kolonaki

Discovering Daily Feel-Good and Wonderful Places in a Neighbourhood I Once Disliked with a Passion

I was never a big fan of the Kolonaki that’s usually written about and seen. The busier part, where the main square and all its surrounding streets thrive with costly liveliness. Essentially, I have always somewhat avoided the super-trendy areas with their hyper-expensive boutiques, glossy cafes and wine bars, delis and galleries.

Insights Greece - The Other Side of Kolonaki
Views over the neighbourhood

For just over a year, I’ve been fortunate enough to have made my nest in the neighbourhood that overlooks the heart-opening, lush greenery of Lycabettus. The forested hill across my home resounds daily with the sound of birds, church bells and mainly spirited chit-chatter in all languages. On windy days, I listen out for the rustling leaves and the flag from the church of St George, which I feel privileged to watch flapping at the top of the hill through a tiny gap in the trees.

On cold winter mornings, I relish opening my balcony window to inhale the mulchy, crisp forest air, feeling like I’m living in the countryside; on summer nights I say “mmm” from the intoxicating wafts of jasmine, orange blossoms and night flowers. My part of Kolonaki was unbeknownst to me before I moved. It is quiet, quaint, and green, with joggers, tourists, families and dog walkers as its protagonists. Here I will share with you the favourite places I enjoy on an average day, places I reach around the area without ever entering the central part.

Morning to Midday

Insights Greece - The Other Side of Kolonaki
Kora Bakery

One of my favourite ways to indulge myself in the morning is to buy a Pain au Chocolat with Gianduja chocolate, or a perfectly flaky and buttery croissant with Cretan apaki ham, Greek graviera and a mustard bechamel from Kora Bakery on Anagnostopoulou St. What an Italian neighbour/friend of mine aptly described as a place that looks more like a hairdresser’s or bathroom – because of its yellow tiles on a stark white wall – rather than a bakery, Kora also sells artfully stacked loaves of freshly baked bread, including a very special one with hints of dark chocolate. The quality is high, the service is professional and there’s no hanging around.

For food shopping, I love visiting Kostarelos on Patriarchou Ioakeim St, originally a cheese manufacturer (since 1937) and now also a deli with top-quality products sold at very reasonable prices. One can get a takeout coffee and savoury or sweet pie or sit here and eat a yummy cheese (or chocolate!) fondue as well as other easy meals. Or, like me, just head straight for the counters deeper into the store, where I buy chocolate or vanilla cream (kremoula) puddings for my son, great ice cream (the pistachio flavour is made with Aegina pistachios) as well as wonderful fresh cuts of hams and cheeses, organic sliced bread with olive oil and even homemade style jams from small producers around the country.

Afternoon to Evening

Insights Greece - The Other Side of Kolonaki
Kostarelos cheese

Xenokratous Street is my go-to shopping zone. During lockdown, it was, happily, the only place I circulated in. I say happily because it’s one of those streets that has everything you may ordinarily need: two butcher shops, two kiosks of the type that sell ‘everything’, a neighbourhood café (The Daily, where mainly locals hang out) two small supermarkets, a florist, a cava, two pharmacies, a key shop and two jewellery shops, my favourite of which is Amaya, where I spend a good while gazing through the window to admire the beautifully handmade earrings, pendants and rings. It’s also the street where the ‘laiki’ open-air market takes place every Friday from 8 am-4 pm. The vendors definitely pinch up their prices for what they presume are richer locals, but the variety and product quality is good.

It’s also pleasing, especially during summer and springtime but also in cooler months, to spend afternoons and evenings at Dexameni, where you’ll find an ancient Roman aqueduct, an open-air (summer only) cinema, a playground and a café-restaurant with tiny tables lining the steep hill that leads down to it. This is where I often meet friends either for playdates with our kids or for drinks or a combination of both, a few meze dishes or a movie. On summer nights Dexameni Café gets very crowded with everyone from millennials from around the city to elderly regulars who queue to sit at the tables.


Insights Greece - The Other Side of Kolonaki
Bar 56, a hidden spot in Kolonaki

Since I moved to Kolonaki I must have walked by Bar 56 a gazillion times without even noticing it. Shrouded by a giant black umbrella and hidden in an enclosed, leafy corner along the Ploutarchou Street stairway, once I did notice the warm, reddish light coming from inside it I thought it may be an underground haunt frequented by mafia, and/or ladies of the night. Much to my surprise, when I finally plucked up the courage to pop my head inside upon returning from the St George’s Kick Boxing Club just two minutes down the stairs, I was somewhat awestruck in discovering a vintage-style bar with a jazzy soundtrack that was dreamily lit by fairy lights, with old photos covering the walls, a layout designed for lovers of clandestine corners and a piano. It turns out it has been around for some 30 years and is a “known secret” among serious whiskey and rum connoisseurs. It’s now what I call “my new neighbourhood steki” or hangout, although with Covid madness I’ve only made it there twice thus far.

Nice N Easy

Insights Greece - The Other Side of Kolonaki
Prasini Tenta

This place, where Skoufa Street meets Omirou Street, reminds me of the TV show ‘Taxi’, “where everybody knows your name” as the theme song goes, and I’ve had some of the best nights of my life there. Why? Chiefly, the owners, Eirini Andersen, Dimitris Christoforidis and Executive Chef Chris Athanasiadis, individuals who know everything right about running a successful, ‘I’ll-Be-Back’ vibe restaurant that offers an idyllic combination of warm hospitality, delicious farm-to-table healthy food, feel-good décor and a happily buzzy ambience. Located near the beautiful Agios Dionyssios church and classically intellectual-friendly Filion Café, this place has always felt like a perfect place to get away while also feeling like home.

Prasini Tenda
Oh…Those Summer Nights! When, after a short (but sharp, let’s face it!) walk up the steps towards St George church on Lycabettus you arrive at a stunning, and at night, sparkly, panoramic view of Athens, the Parthenon, the sea…Enough said. From morning to night, but especially seductive at night, this café-restaurant is the perfect place to fall in love with the city you’re in, and if you’re with the right company, perhaps with whoever happens to be sitting across you. The main dish is the view, but the service and menu are appealing as well.

Main image by harrypapaioannou