Why Greece’s Simple Koulouri is Such a Popular Snack

If you’ve ever been to any of Greece’s largest cities, surely you would have come across a Koulouri stand, selling a round-shaped bread, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

And if you’ve ever wondered what’s so good about it? It’s jam-packed with valuable carbohydrates and proteins, making it the country’s most popular breakfast on the run for both locals and visitors. As for the taste? When you take a bite, its crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside texture will undoubtedly leave you wanting more!

Although it can be found in most regions of Greece, the Koulouri is most loved by Thessalonikians and Athenians, and in both cities, you are guaranteed to find a Koulouri stand on every second street corner. It’s standard to watch locals running around town, biting on a Koulouri as they go about their daily activities, as it really is the ideal snack at any time of the day.

This super simple treat, which was traditionally made in a ring form has slowly evolved over the years and now comes in a variety of flavours including meat and cheese varieties, as well as multi-seed, tahini, and whole wheat options. Certain bakeries have gone even fancier, creating twisted and braided versions.

If it seems too simple for your liking, you can always cut the Koulouri in half and add cheese, or spread some of your favourite jam or honey over it.

Just make sure you head out early to grab your Koulouri, as it’s best enjoyed fresh and you’ll avoid disappointment, as they do sell out quickly!

All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)  

Our Ultimate Travel Guide to Mykonos

Mykonos is a playground for the rich and famous. From luxurious yachts to inevitable star-spotting, this is the Greek isle to see and be seen. Whatever your style and taste, our ultimate guide to Mykonos reveals the best places where you can eat, swim and play!  

Having visited for the first time in my early 20s, I was captured by the island’s 24-hour party vibe. Stunning beaches, international DJs, late-night outings, great food, sunrises. I just felt alive. Having visited many more times since then, I can say it has now become a super cosmopolitan island, even more luxurious and in line with renowned European party locations such as St Tropez and Ibiza. There are always new places popping up, so here’s my current must-see and do list when visiting this ultra-chic Cycladic isle.

Getting there

From Athens, it’s a 35-minute flight. The quick ferry (Rafina to Mykonos) takes 2.5 hours and roughly 5 hours with the slow ferry.

Where to stay

The main town has many hotels to suit a range of budgets- staying here allows you to walk around the centre day and night. Agios Ioannis/ Ornos is also a great spot as it’s close to town- only a 2-minute drive but not as crowded. Platis Gialos is a gorgeous spot and close proximity to the beach clubs. Ftelia Beach is on the other side of the island and allows for more privacy and a chilled vibe.

Getting around

If you are staying in town it’s completely walkable. Buses take you to all the main beaches and depart regularly. Of course, hiring a car allows you to really discover the island and you can drive to remote beaches that aren’t so crowded. There is valet and free parking available all over the island. A Vespa is another great way to zip your way around the tight and winding Mykonian roads.

To sleep 

Located in Ornos, Cactus is a charming boutique hotel that is perfect for singles and families, or you can try Hippie Chic in Agios Ioannis which is another mid-range priced hotel that’s central and stylish. If you would like to stay close to the shops and nightlife Harmony is set on the Old Port and offers complete sea views. If money isn’t an issue check out Bill & Coo, Rocabella, Branco, and Cavo Tagoo, which offer a super luxurious stay.

To eat

Starting off casual, grab yourself a gelato from Bon Bon Fait Maison or a souvlaki from Sakis Grill House. For some great dining experiences try Kikis Tavern at Agios Sostis Beach but get there early, as there is always a wait. For amazing Asian food try Ling Ling. Super fresh seafood is served at Hippie Fish and at Spilia you will enjoy oysters shucked right in front of you. For fresh, handmade pasta and pizza head to Fresca Barkia Pasta. If you are after a range of Mediterranean dishes, Kastros in Little Venice is great. And for one of the best meals in town (that won’t blow the budget), try M-eating– don’t leave until you taste the homemade Myconian Honey Pie. For amazing outdoor dining try Bakalo- they serve traditional tavern-style dishes, Mr Pug restaurant for great Asian, La Maison De Katrin has a fusion of traditional Greek and French elements, and at I Frati you will have a delightful Italian culinary experience, located just a bit out of town.

To drink

This list is truly endless but I love Semeli Bar right on the water in Little Venice and Cosi is also a great place for a casual drink. Remezzo, established in 1967 is world-renowned for its parties that go until sunrise (incredible views). Astra in the heart of town is always buzzing, while Bonbonierrie is perfect for people watching, star-spotting, and some shisha. Queens of Mykonos is cozy, fun, and the crowd spills out onto the streets. Baos Bar is ideal for afternoon drinks on the water- followed by a late-night dance. For an exclusive Myconian nightclub experience head to Moni, and for Greek music make your way to Rhapsody and 4711, where the party kicks off after 2 am!

To swim

Try to get to all of these beaches (in no particular order)- Ornos, Panormos, Ftelia, Agia Anna, and Kalatafi. I also recommend a boat ride around the island, where you can visit secluded beaches.

Beach bars

If you want to rub shoulders with global celebrities and socialites just head straight for Nammos, Mykonos’ famous spot to swim and play (just make sure there’s plenty of money on your credit card.) For a more artistic and holistic experience, Scorpios is an all-day bar/restaurant that offers a real Myconian beach feel. At Panormos beach, you will discover Principote where you can also wine, dine, and dance the afternoon away. For a more chilled vibe head to Alemagou at Ftelia Beach where you can enjoy great food, cocktails, and music in a bohemian setting. And for families who are after some sports activities, Ornos is a great place for people of all ages.

Where to shop

Mostly in town, as many international designers including LV and Balenciaga have set up shop here. At Nammos Village you will find Dior, Burberry, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Louboutin, and Luisa boutique. Another stylish store that stocks international and local designers is Bazaar at Scorpios. Bollicine is a great concept store with exclusive brands and a rooftop bar, so you can enjoy a cocktail while you shop. Chora Mykonos has amazing Cycladic home décor and Yasemi features stunning sandals. While Soho Soho boutique is home to numerous leading European and International fashion brands.


Minima Gallery showcases a range of contemporary artworks by both upcoming Greek and foreign artists. At Skoufa Gallery you can view historically significant contemporary art of the 1930s. For modern art head to Rarity Gallery and for a gallery/auction house that promotes local artists definitely check out Kapopoulos Fine Arts.  

Spiritual sites

Mykonos has over 800 churches on the island, I highly suggest you see a few such as Panagia Paraportiani, Panagia Tourliani, Agios Giorgos, and the Virgin of Saint Rosary which is the only Catholic church on the island.


You must get close to the iconic Kato Mili Windmills, Armenistis Lighthouse, and also head to Ano Mera the second largest village on the island where you can visit the 13th-century Gyzi Castle.

Do as locals do…

Go to isolated beaches such as Agios Sotis and Fokas beach, head to a Panigiri (festival) by the beach, have a drink at Bakoyias near the Old Port, and catch an outdoor film under the stars at Cine Manto.

Take a day trip to…

The ancient island of Delos, where Apollo was born, or take a ferry across to Tinos and visit Panagia Evangelistria, where the Virgin Mary appeared.

Can’t leave until…

You find Peter the famous Pelican, have a dance at Jackie O and watch the sunset at 180 Degrees Sunset Bar.

Buying a Flat in Metaxourgeio: the Pros & Cons

Having spent his childhood in Greece, Christopher Nicholas decided to buy a flat in Athens and describes the challenges and the joys.

By Christopher Nicholas

Buying a place in Athens was an easy decision to make. I went to school in a suburb of the city and have been returning ever since, always happy to reconnect with friends on my way to the islands. Most of all I love the ever-evolving array of the city’s cultural and culinary options, and its energy and chaos are the perfect antidotes to my quiet life in Geneva where I live, working for the Red Cross.

Why Metaxourgeio?

You may be wondering why I chose to create my Athens base in an area that could be described as a little sketchy. It’s artistic and edgy, with happening places, but definitely not one of the capital’s most attractive neighbourhoods.

In fact, it largely came down to budget and convenience. I wanted something central and properties in the historical centre or one of the trendier areas like Mets or Pangrati were not in my price range.

Discovering the Charms

However, I have become increasingly enchanted by my new neighbourhood. I’m discovering a community steeped in a rich and fascinating history. “Metaxi” means silk, and the area got its name from a silk factory built here in the 19th century, which put Metaxourgioon the map. It quickly became a bustling working-class community, home to artisans and small business owners, and suffered a severe decline in the 1970s. It’s had several stop-and-start waves of regeneration since and today the working-class spirit lives on, with old community favourites such as Gefstiki Gonia souvlaki place or Akrovatis kafeneion jostling side by side with alternative cafes, and artists’ studios in disused workshops.

I love the look and sounds emanating from the printing workshop downstairs and hope that the old manual 1960’s presses do not end up as accessories in a new hipster café. But if hipster is what you are after go to Platia Avdi with its sprinkling of achingly cool bars and eateries, like Seychelles and Blue Parrot. 

Flat-Hunting for Beginners

I first flirted with the idea of buying a place three years ago. I found the best way to get an idea of prices and neighbourhoods was the Spitogatos app, which meant I could shop around from the comfort of my sofa in Switzerland. While friends were swiping left and right in search of their perfect partner, I flicked through Spitogatos compulsively looking for my match. After visiting about a dozen places during short trips over, this one felt right immediately – it was bright and airy, on the top floor, with two bedrooms, a large terrace, on a quiet street and near the metro.

Sealing the Deal

With the seal of approval of two trusted friends, one of whom is an architect, I put in a cheeky offer. Initially, it was turned down. Then we struck a deal. However, the owner stuck close to his asking price. Six weeks later I was back in Athens for a 24-hour whirlwind tour of banks and tax offices. Eventually, with all paperwork duly stamped, I arrived at the solicitor’s office for the final exchange. Note: None of this would have been possible without my brilliant conveyancing lawyer, Alkis, who accompanied me every step of the way. Without him, I would have been lost, and it would have taken a year to do what we achieved in a day. 

Not Buying Out

Athens is bursting with wonderful shops, markets, and artisans and there really is no need to set foot in Ikea. I bought local and Greek wherever possible – a good quality bed from MediaStrom, a stylish made-to-order sofa from Fabrica, and curtains from the traditional fabric shops in Aiolou street. I also bought one or two quirky secondhand pieces from Reto, a social enterprise run by people recovering from substance abuse. And one day I hope to be able to splurge at MOFU, a gorgeous vintage design store, in Psyrri.

Always A Catch

People say that buying property in Greece can be complicated, but overall, the process went pretty smoothly. However, there was one small sting in the tail. Despite assurances from the estate agent to the contrary, it turned out that the “Doma” (room) on the roof above my flat was inhabited. Worse still, the tenant had put beds on the roof and was charging 5 Euro a night as a place to wash and rest!

Love Thy Neighbour?

During subsequent visits, I crossed tired workers/roof renters in the elevator and had to put up with noises like scraping furniture above, and wafts of late-night souvlaki dinners blowing down on to my terrace. I work in the humanitarian sector and initially let it go until I discovered that the rogue landlord was unduly profiteering. The actual landlord (of the  property above) sent him packing and the space is now rented to a more responsible tenant.

Happy End

Essentially, I have no regrets and am thrilled to be a homeowner in the city that I love. In this new era where working from home becomes the new norm, I’m hoping to spend more time here. In the long term, I see this as an investment – one that perhaps I can trade-in for a more idyllic spot by the sea when I come to retirement!

Insights Greece - Buying a Flat in Metaxourgeio: the Pros & ConsChristopher’s Top Tips:

  1. Make sure you have a good conveyancing lawyer.
  2. Support Greek Shops and suppliers!
  3. Don’t rush into things – take your time & use apps like Spitogatos & Chryssi Efkairia.
  4. Re-visit the property and take a careful look around before completing the sale.

Culinary Journeys at Botrini’s Restaurant

As soon as you arrive at Botrini’s you feel you’ve reached somewhere special and your expectations are fanned.

The very friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive staff make you feel at home, although there is always a sense of being somewhere very elegant where you can’t completely let your guard down. With seven Michelin stars and a multitude of awards under his belt, restaurateur/ TV celebrity, and poet Ettore Botrini has created three tasting menus that each tells a story. Each story connects flavours, textures, philosophical concepts, cooking traditions, nostalgic memories, creative ideas, and even a fortune teller’s advice with often playful, beautifully presented dishes. It is a sort of theater of the palate and a wonderful place to visit with someone whom you can enjoy the journey with. After at least four ‘welcoming’ amuse bouche dishes come several entrees, the main course, a sorbet, and finally a light, refreshing dessert. Advice: Eat a light lunch on the day you visit!

Insights Greece - Culinary Journeys at Botrini’s Restaurant

Type of cuisine: Modern, Creative, Greek-Mediterranean

Type of eatery: Elegant, stylish, modern, with a large garden and large white rotundas.

The low down… Since it opened in 2014, the restaurant has received a Michelin Star seven times for its ambitious menu, professionalism, and ultra-creative high-end flavours.

Décor/ Ambience: Modern and designer, with strong elements of glass (like the façade of the kitchen, which one can see through upon entering the building) and wood. The garden area is spacious but hush-hush posh.

Entrees: We loved ‘Herring, A Journey Through Time’ the service of which starts with a smoked golden herring brought to the table as décor and ends with a glass of white mousse-like cream you dip through with an extra-long spoon to discover the herring and other ingredients from the bottom up. The Cheese Pie puff with cheese, sesame, and thyme honey was also a delight.

Insights Greece - Culinary Journeys at Botrini’s Restaurant

Mains: If you want to relish an explosion of citrus (Corfiot neratzosalata or bitter orange salad) artfully combined with Swordfish Carpaccio prepared in fishermen style from the Elba island. Also delicious was the Pasta Benedetto Cavalieri cooked like a risotto, in lemon water with sea urchin. Unfortunately, as a sea urchin fan, I couldn’t taste much of it, but the pasta was gratifyingly cooked to perfection as one would hope from a half-Italian chef, and with a zingy lemon punch.

Something to drink: Every dish in each elaborate menu is paired by the restaurant with a Greek or Italian wine chosen by the restaurant’s Sommelier.

Price range: There are three tasting menus created by Botrini, My Origins (70 € a head), Travelling (120 € a head) and Ploes (90 € a head).

FYI: Botrini also has an award-winning restaurant in his native Corfu.

Location: Vas. Georgiou B, 24 b, Halandri.

Opening hours/days: Tuesday- Saturday 20:00 – 24:00.

A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

Neo-tavernas have become a huge hit among both visitors and locals over the last decade because they provide authentic-style cuisine in a fresh, modern setting. Yet there’s an undeniable charm to the real, old, non-renovated Greek taverna that should be experienced at least once.

Many of the Greek tavernas listed here opened in the ‘20’s – the ‘50s, and it is much more than nostalgia that has kept them going, especially during a merciless financial crisis. Their charm, infused in the décor reflective of a bygone era, the owners, who have created dishes inspired by their culture for so many decades for so many hungry customers, are important factors. And then there’s the food itself, which may not be playful and innovative, culinarily-fluid or instantly Instgrammable, but it tastes pretty much the same as it did when it was first served up. 


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Opened in 1932, this is the only place in this guide that is a little bit closer to a restaurant than a classic taverna, although its menu is comprised of classic traditional dishes. Bang in the heart of central Athens, it has been a favourite of famous Greek painters, politicians, and poets for its homey and unpretentious yet chic style.

Dishes To Try: The large variety of meze dishes and platters eaten with a glass of ouzo. Giant beans baked in tomato sauce (gigantes), bite-sized minty, fried meatballs (keftedakia), pan-melted cheese with pastrami (saganaki me pastourma and tart, salty) and marinated smoked mackerel (tsirosalata).

Location: Themistokleous 2 & Panepistimiou Sts

To Koutouki Tou Andoni

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: The cosy ambiance in this taverna, with a covered, tiled courtyard with a large fig tree, wine barrels, wooden tables with lion’s claws, and a vintage mosaic and stone walls hasn’t changed since it opened in 1958.

Dishes to Try: Fresh, fried small fish, calamari and cod, fava bean puree, wild greens, charcoal-grilled sausage, and meat patties (bifteki), as well as meze dishes with your house (hima) wine.

Location: Argyrokastrou 26, Palia Kokkinia, Metamorfosi

Taverna Tou Axoti

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Still standing proud after 60 years of operation, this family-run taverna makes you feel right at home. If you’re lucky you may be treated to a spontaneous live song performance by the owner’s grandsons.

Dishes to Try: Lamb chops, fried cod with garlic sauce (bakaliaros skordalia), fluffy meat patties, and hand-cut, freshly-fried potatoes.

Location: Paparseni 15, Polygono

Bakaliarakia Tou Damigou

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Considered one of Athen’s most antique tavernas, Damigos is said to have opened in 1864, when it specialised in cod. Today run by the fourth generation of proprietors, who have over time extended the menu. Numerous actors, writers, poets, and painters have traversed Damigos’ threshold over the century.

Dishes to Try: Definitely the cod, spicy anchovies (gavros), garlic sauce, and taramosalata.

Location: Kydathinaion 41, Plaka


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: More of a traditional meze-restaurant-kafeneion than taverna, this is a favourite for many (since 1975) because of its scenic view of the Ancient Agora in Plaka.

Dishes to Try: Take a break from touring to eat a Greek salad and a grilled meat platter accompanied by a cold beer.

Location: Dioskouron 13, Plaka


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: By now somewhat famous for being so old, authentic, and traditional, Diporto is just a few minutes walk from the Central Athens Varvakeios Fish and Meat Markets. It is charming especially because it’s a basement that you enter by walking downstairs, as well as for its remaining, heavily traditional working class of the ‘50s décor; and the food is delicious too.

Dishes to Try: The house retsina wine, oil-cooked pulses (ladera), traditional slow-cooked stews (mageirefta) and small fried fish.

Location: Sokratous 9 St & Theatrou Square, Psyrri

To Eidikon

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed
Image Courtesy of Culinary Backstreet

History & Style: This only remaining – since 1920, when it started off as a food store, as its décor reveals – old style-deli tavernas in Piraeus is located behind the tobacco factories at the central port. It was a favourite hangout of Greek Rembetika musicians Kazantzidis, Tsitsanis, and Papaioannou.

Dishes to Try: Sausage, the taverna’s well-known corned-beef omelette, fava, keftedes, sardines, and a side of juicy tomatoes, olives and good quality Greek gruyere cheese.

Location: Psarron 38 & Salaminos, Piraeus

Koutouki Tis Harikleas

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Located in an old refugee building, this place looks more like an antique store than a taverna. Old radios, sewing machines, cooking utensils, photographs, and wine barrels make up the surprising décor.

Dishes to Try: Lamb chops, fried pork, melted cheese, and great salads.

Location: Artis 29, Metamorfosi


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: In the leafy northern suburb of Kifissia, this early 19th Century taverna has hardly changed its menu since it opened in 1893, making it a beloved old classic. In summer enjoy sitting out in the garden.

Dishes to Try: This place is for meat-lovers and is known for its steaks, as well as some home-cooked stews and oil-based (ladera) dishes.

Location: Kifissias Avenue 311, Kifissia


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: This legendary taverna in Proskopos Square opened in 1920 and has a devout local as well as a tourist fan base. Its large wooden wine barrels and cosy ambiance are its most noteworthy characteristic feature.

Dishes to Try: Their famous meat patties, either plain or stuffed with cheese, crispy lamb chops, and traditional side dishes.

Location: Arktinou & Pafsaniou 4, Pangrati


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Originally a kafeneion next to the temple of St John, since 1927 this wine tavern offers customers both a real sense of old Athens and tasty dishes.

Dishes to Try: Lamb with potatoes slow-cooked with garlic in a ceramic pot, onion pie, melted cheese, tomato-stewed rooster with mashed potatoes, and good house wine.

Location: Theatrou Square 2, Psyrri


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed
Image courtesy of This Is Athens

History & Style: Since the 1970s this basement-level family-run taverna with an old mosaic-tile floor has lured many a diner, especially with its wine and meze dishes. All even better when accompanied by rembetika music.

Dishes to Try: Oven-baked beans (gigantes), sausage, lamb chops, wine meze dishes, and steaks.

Location: Ymittou 253 & Vinkelman 3, Mets


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Over half a century old, this wine tavern has retained the vibe of Athens’ bygone era when friends gathered to feast on simple yet authentic and delicious food.

Dishes to Try: Meat stew with orzo (yiouvetsi), shrimp pasta, and chicken cooked in tomato sauce.

Location: Pythodorou 10, Metaxourgeio

Mister Loukidelis

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Nea Filadelfia’s most well-known taverna opened in 1932 and is now managed by the third generation of proprietors.

Dishes to Try: If it’s your kind of thing, try the famous Loukideli’s testicles” (ameletita) meze. Also try the cheese pie, fried cod, fava puree, and snails.

Location: Georgiou apandreou 79, Nea Filadelfia


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Old mirrors from 1919, wall paintings, antiques, and old photographs create a nostalgic and singular ambiance here.

Dishes to Try: Roasted mastelo cheese from Chios, coal-fire smoked aubergine dip (melitzanosalata), pork cooked with mastic, fluffy croquettes with wild greens and herbs and pork with hand-cut fresh fried potatoes.

Location: Mavromichali 152, Exarcheia


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: Since 1930 when it opened, this taverna has changed its appearance several times, but the food has remained deeply gratifying.

Dishes to Try: Well-grilled, good-quality meats like lamb chops, steak, liver, and meat patties with fresh, hand-cut fries, as well as home-cooked stews. In winter warm-up with the meat soup.

Location: Konstandinoupoleos 34 & Proussis, Vyronas, Nea Smyrni 


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: An authentic, traditional taverna that opened in 1922, signs of which you can see around the tavern- an old set of scales, wooden plate rack, and ceramic bowls. Through the glass floor, you can see the old wine barrels in the basement. Some days you can enjoy live Greek music performances.

Dishes to Try: Fried meatballs, goat, fried cod, and fava puree.

Location Kaisarias 9, Ymittou Square

O Vathis

Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: With a large, lovely garden, this 1974 taverna has a warm, family feeling both because of its friendly service and cosy ambiance.

Dishes to Try: Grilled bread with olive oil and oregano right from the start. Cabbage-wrapped meat dolmades, lamb chops, a big choice of tasty home-cooked stews and ladera dishes, fava puree, melitzanosalata and fried courgettes.

Location: Kyrou 7, Kifissia


Insights Greece - A-Z MINIGUIDE: Athens’ Authentic Old Tavernas You Never Knew Existed

History & Style: A taverna that used to be the home of Yiayia (granny) Triandafyllia and has kept elements of her life, who was from Smyrna.

Dishes to Try: Unsurprisingly, the cuisine here is also influenced by Asia Minor and includes dishes like tabbouleh, pastrami pie, egg and cheese terrine, homemade liqueur and kazan dipi dessert.

Location: Vas. Alexandrou 10 & Ymittou

Main image: Karavitis 

The Effortless Joy of Electric Cycling Through the Capital

Solebike Tours organize electric bicycle excursions throughout the day – and year – and you don’t need to be super-fit to enjoy them!

Ah, la luna, la luna…the night that I sped under the spell of the moon. In Athens, the August full moon is the one night of the year when the city’s ancient sites are open to the public after sundown. I hopped on my Solebike electric bike and off we travelled through the city’s most beautiful spots, in the silvery light of the moon.

Easy, Breezy, Fascinating!

Insights Greece - The Effortless Joy of Electric Cycling Through the Capital

Solebike, created by cycling-enthusiasts/tourism experts Costas and Sofia has been successfully running city tours for people of every age (baby and child seats are both available and safe) for several years now. Daytime tours include wearing an earpiece through which you can follow a fascinating guided tour by Costas, Sophia, or Dimitra as you cycle. Electric bicycles are so easy to ride, all you need to do is pedal a little and zoom! Off you go, whether you’re on flat ground or up-hills. As for downhills – and believe me, we had some steep ones on my night trip – just gripping both brakes gently assures a smooth, easy experience.

The greatest thing about electric bicycle tours such as the ones so skillfully organized by Solebike is that regardless of traffic – by cars or people – you can easily and speedily navigate through the city. Vastly appealing to both foreign visitors and Greeks (indeed on my tour is was an all-Greek group), the tours are fun and always have something interesting to teach. Except for stopping at various points of interest, you get to observe life, architecture, nature, and often unknown side streets or other areas you wouldn’t normally walk through in the city.

The Moonlight Tour

Insights Greece - The Effortless Joy of Electric Cycling Through the Capital

On my tour, we started at the dinky Solebike Tours HQ in Makriyanni, near the Acropolis Metro station, where we registered and were offered complimentary water, helmet, and instructions. The first stop was the ancient and deeply historical area of Filopappou, where we walked to the same-named Roman monument from where we took in heady panoramic views of the city, sprawling glitteringly all the way down to the deep blue coast on one side. On the other was the gold-lit Acropolis, admired by families and friends who sat around in groups, and lovers concealed behind olive trees on ancient benches.

Next, we whizzed through the very lively Plaka neighbourhood, with its old tavernas, neoclassical buildings, seductive smells of delicious Greek foods, and buzzy crowds of revellers, many of them out to soak up the full moon’s light like us. After that, we cycled to the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium where the Modern Olympic Games were organized in 1896, but we got to see it both from the ground level and a ‘secret’ angle that Costas took us to from high above on Ardittou Hill. Finally, we visited the Zappeion Megaro next to the National Gardens, before parking our bikes back at the shop and enjoying a refreshing complimentary glass of wine and happy chat at Wine O’Clock bar on Vrassidas St.

Something for Everyone

This was just one of many creative, educational, and fully enjoyable tours that Solebike offers. They also organize cycling visits that include food and/or wine stops, seaside routes, and soon they are hoping to launch excursions to nearby Saronic islands like Aegina, where there are a whole different variety of pleasures to discover – food, sea, ancient sites and varying nature.

Solebike are out-of-the-box thinkers and even include a Sea Turtle Rescue Tour, while they are always coming up with new ideas of how to make the best of the developing Athens Walkway, the cycling paths on the southern coast, nearby locations and creative/pleasurable pursuits. They also organise private tours.

Our Complete Guide to Hydra  

A small island in the Saronic Gulf (just 2 hours away from Athens), with its classic beauty, has seduced many international personalities such as Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, and Leonard Cohen, who purchased a house on the island in 1960. Moreover, the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd used to regularly vacation here.

Hydra has a charming atmosphere and romantic allure, it is aristocratic, yet authentic and features a rocky landscape with elegant, imposing stone mansions, narrow cobblestone alleys (with colourful bougainvillea), plus impeccable sunsets.

What you need to know before you arrive

Cars or motorcycles are not allowed on the island, aside from garbage trucks and ambulances.

Getting There & Getting Around 

You can get here by ferry that departs from the port of Piraeus in Athens (a 2-hour journey). You can drive up to Metohi in the Peloponnese (2.5 hours) and park your car and cross to Hydra by a ferry or water taxi (25 minutes). You can also do a day cruise from Athens, where you will visit three islands- Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. Bear in mind that you will only have two hours to explore Hydra. Once there, the main method of transport is the delightful mules and donkeys, as well as water taxis.

Where to stay

Near the harbour is nice, this is where all the buzz is. Other great places for accommodation are Vlychos, Mandraki, and Vlychos Plakes.

Where to sleep

Rafalias a magnificent Mansion, near George Kountouriotis Manor and the Hydra Museum Historical Archives. Mastoris Mansion is another great hotel, located just 90m away from Hydra’s port, with five rooms beautifully decorated and a wonderful terrace. And Hydrea Boutique Hotel in the heart of Hydra Town has stunning views.

Where to eat

Techne Restaurant & Social, situated by the sea, it’s set in a renovated historic building with a picturesque courtyard and serves great Mediterranean dishes. Omilos Restaurant is a must as it evokes memories from Hydra’s history.

To Piato, a traditional restaurant with a big collection of plates, decorated by the clients. From its prime spot, you can see the port while you enjoy fabulous dishes. Caprice, an Italian trattoria, only 150m from the port. The restaurant is decorated with old photos, tools, and equipment used by sponge divers. It serves traditional Italian recipes made with fresh Greek ingredients. Il Casta, another authentic Italian restaurant in the alleyways of Hydra’s town serves food from Napoli and the South of Italy.

What to eat  

The traditional Hydriot halva for dessert and Tsagkaris’ amygdalota.

Where to drink

Hydronetta, a café-bar carved into the craggy coastline near Hydra’s harbor is the perfect spot for a drink any time of the day. Amalour is for cocktail lovers and Isalos café, the most well-known café on the island is also a must. Tip: ask for the Caffe del Doge, a specialty coffee from Venice.

Where to swim

Vlychos, a pebbled beach, just 2km west of Hydra Town, it’s for those who are fond of undisturbed beaches. Kaminia, a pebbled beach, is located within a small fishing village, only 1km west of Hydra Town, and near the village of Vlyhos. Spilia, a rocky “beach” with translucent blue waters is the perfect diving spot. At Agios Nikolaos, a sandy blissful beach on the western end of Hydra. In front of the Four Seasons Hotel and located in Plakes town, the long, sandy beach of Plakes offers panoramic views of mainland Greece and the surrounding islands. To get there, the hotel offers a boat that runs every hour between the village and Hydra Harbour for 3€, or you can hire a water taxi (20€).

Discover history

Visit the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Hydra’s main Cathedral, located in the center of the harbor, underneath the clock tower. It was said to have been built by a nun on her arrival in 1643 and consists of magnificent Byzantine-style architecture, frescoes from the 18th century, and exquisite Orthodox icons. Historical Archives Museum, founded in 1918, displays artifacts and rare documents related to the historical, traditional, and cultural aspects of the island from 1708 –1865. There is also a library there. Kountouriotis Museum, a mansion dedicated to Lazaros Kountouriotis, who played a vital role in the War of Independence. It was built in 1780 and features beautiful interiors, paintings by Greek artists, historical jewellery, and furniture owned by the Kountouriotis family. The Ecclesiastical Museum, located on the west side of the Monastery and housed in a former monk cell, has been open since 1999 and showcases elaborate holy vessels, jewellery, musical manuscripts, and other historical relics of the Monastery.

Special Events in Hydra

Miaoulia is celebrated during the last weekend of June, in remembrance of Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, who played a vital part in the War of Independence. The festivities include folk dancing, concerts, and boat races. At the very end, a sensational fireworks display takes place.

Koundouriotika Festival takes place in late August and commemorates the death of Hydriot and the first Greek Republic President Pavlos Kondouriotis. The festival includes sporting events, exhibitions, and lectures while ends with thanksgiving and memorial service.

Hydra Regatta is a famous sailing race from Faliro to Hydra and back. It is organised twice a year, in Spring, on the weekend before the 25th of March (Independence Day), and in Autumn, on the last weekend of October.

Do as locals do

Visit little-known beaches on the back of the island, such as Limnioniza and Nisiza. You can reach them using a boat ride. For a beautiful walk, begin from the picturesque fishing village of Kamini to Hydra Town. It is off the beaten path as there are no tourist shops. You will meet the parish church of John the Baptist and several stunning mansion ruins.

Top activities

There is a Yacht Club, offering swimming, water polo, sailing, and canoeing. The island is also rich in aquatic life, reefs, and sea caves at the bottom of the sea, so it’s perfect for snorkeling. Hydra is also top for hikers because the landscapes from the highest points are magnificent.

Where to shop

Speak Out is a chic boutique with various jewelry, accessories, and clothing. Keramidas Lykourgos, since the late 1960s, creates jewellery inspired by Greek tradition (especially the Byzantine one). Turquoise, unique clothing, and textile shop, with handmade pieces.  For a variety of beauty products including soaps, lotions, and cologne that are made using old traditional recipes from Greek pharmacopeia, in stylish packaging, visit Rafalia’s Pharmacy.

What to see

Rafalia’s Pharmacy is considered one of the most beautiful pharmacies in the world. It was founded in 1890 by Evangelos Rafalias, located within a gorgeous century-old mansion,  it’s the oldest in Greece and has remained in the same family. The Tsamados Mansion houses the oldest Merchant Marine Training School in the world, still in operation today. The Tombazis Mansion hosts students from the Athens School of Fine Arts in the summer. The Bastions to the left and the right of the harbor, with a breathtaking view of the Aegean Sea. 

Take a day trip to…

Poros and Spetses islands. Alternatively, to Ermioni, Porto Heli, or Aegina.

Can’t leave until

Stopping along the way to admire the dusk at Sunset Restaurant, which has a spectacular and romantic view of the sea. And a walk to the Profitis Ilias Monastery.

All images by Polina Paraskevopoulou © (Copyright)  

Veganism in Athens in 2020: It’s So Easy Being Green

The vegan food scene in Athens just keeps blossoming, and their menus are as sophisticated as they come.

Veganism has become a way of life for many Greeks, especially those of the younger generations. Being more well-travelled and culturally awake, vegan eaters in Greece today expect – and are getting – great dishes at affordable prices. The places we list below each have their original style, décor and menu, often with several exciting options that include influences from ethnic cuisine or fun and flavorsome creations made by the chef. Whether you’re strictly vegan or just in the mood for healthy, fresh, surprising and meat/dairy-free foods, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

VEGANAKI (Athanasiou Diakou 38, Makriyianni)

Comforting Greek homemade-style dishes and recipes with Asian or Mediterranean elements are given a contemporary overhaul here. Try the classic Pastitsio dish which is made with soya instead of beef mince and a rich bechamel sauce made from pureed cauliflower and almond milk, juicy burgers made with veggies and pulses, salads, soups, sandwiches and smoothies

Insights Greece - Veganism in Athens in 2020: It’s So Easy Being Green

AVOCADO (Nikis 30, Syntagma)
The Original vegan gathering point in Athens is still a favourite for locals and visitors alike. The organic food here is nutritious, delicious and worldly – from comforting spicy Dahl or vegan sushi and avocado pizza to peanut-butter marinated tofu served in a vegan bowl with spicy edamame peas and quinoa, there’s something for everyone. The juices, teas, smoothies and desserts (try the chocolate fondant tart) rock too.

MYSTIC VEGAN (Emm. Benaki 76, Exarcheia)
What started out as Mystic Pizza, which quickly stood out because they use hemp flour with cannabis seeds, in later years branched out opening Mystic Vegan. From seasonal soups and fresh salads to lachmatzoum, peinirli, pasta and of course many choices of pizza, this too has become a favourite for Athenian vegans.

VEGAN BEAT (Perikleous 56, Monastiraki)

Located in buzzy Monastiraki, this dinky restaurant with a few outdoor tables serves the vegan rendition of fast food- from burgers covered in melted vegan cheddar cheese and caramelized onions to souvlaki and moussaka, there are plenty of meat-free ‘junk food’ options to keep you satisfied.

PLANT KINGDOM (Frynis 1, Paleo Faliro)
With a menu of fresh, seasonal, local and mainly organic ingredients, this green spot in the southern suburb of Faliro changes its menu every week. Try their vegan burger with vegan cheese and guacamole, lentil ‘meatballs’ with roast potatoes or try the dish of the day.

PEAS (Falirou 40, Koukaki)

Try a jackfruit burger, seitan club sandwich, cheesy tofu nuggets with black eye beans or any other creative and freshly conceptualized dish at this new arrival. Serving food that’s centred on flavour and health benefits, including smoothies, juices and mouthwatering desserts like lemon pie, Peas already has a devout following.

LIME BISTRO (Dekeleon 23, Gazi)

Lime in Gazi has an uplifting interior imbued with shades of blue and a back garden where you can taste a great choice of vegan burgers, a daily raw tart of the day, soups, power smoothies and salads. Try the raw carob-‘dako’ rusk tomato salad with creamy almond ‘myzithra’ cheese and the ‘seafood’ orzo pasta dish and don’t miss out on the banoffee pie.

YI (Grigoriou Lambraki 69, Glyfada)

Not only vegan but also raw, Yi’s sophisticated menu can’t fail to impress with its fantastic variety of homemade plant-based cheeses, nut-and-seed “butters”. The restaurant is also proud to be serving strictly glucose, gluten, sugar and dairy-free, non-processed foods only, making no sacrifice on flavour. They specialize in hot (with hot water added, not boiled) and cold soups and their most popular dish is the Burrito platter for two.

COOKOOMELA GRILL (Themistokleous 43-45, Exarcheia)

Greece’s first vegan/vegetarian souvlaki joint serves delectable gyro and wrapped souvlaki using mushrooms and pulses to replace meat and serving fresh crisp salads rich with aromatic herbs and seasonal veggies. Try their best selling dish Yellow, with mushroom gyro, avocado, handmade vegetable mayo, mustard, parsley and freshly cut fries.

The Most Romantic Spots in Athens

Even with social distancing, nothing can quell romantic notions if you and your amour are in Athens.  

There are several go-to places in the city that can push your romance up a few notches and it would be foolish to not make the most of them! Here are some of our favourite spots in the Greek capital to visit with our other half! 

Head for the Hills

Grab a chilled bottle of prosecco from the fridge and walk up Lycabettus hill at sunset, seeing a panoramic vista of the city’s lights twinkling on at glowtime. Other scenic spots for a scenic al fresco drink are Philopappou or Pnyx hills, where you can sit on a rock or lay down a blanket and soak up the ancient vibes and awesome views of the Parthenon seemingly side by side with Lycabettus hill. Finally, get away from the urban throng and summer heat in the shady, verdant National Gardens (closes at sunset); enjoy walking amongst tree and plant species from around the world and spotting exotic birds like parrots, peacocks and black swans.

Islandesque Romance 

Take a stroll through Anafiotika, an island-like ‘village’ neighbourhood built by locals of Anafi in the foothills of the Acropolis. The pretty mini gardens and whitewashed houses, narrow cobblestone lanes and sweeping city views are all delightfully romantic. Start in the morning with an early stroll here while it’s still cooler and then head to Makryianni neighbourhood below for a coffee at Little Tree Cafe, Lotte Cafe or Drips and Drupes charcuterie where you can enjoy a midday prosecco or a healthy juice and a cold cuts platter a deux.

Foodie Turn Ons

Share a refined, delicious meal in a buzzy restaurant like Asian-Greek Nolan in Syntagma, meze-garden Ama Lachei in Exarcheia, Seychelles in Metaxourgeio or Nice N Easy in Kolonaki. If you prefer romance by the sea, visit the magical Temple of Poseidon in Sounio (around an hour from Athens by car or KTEL bus), have a cooling dip and then admire the temple lit up in gold light as you sit for dinner by the lapping waves at one of the tavernas below.

Hold Hands in the Dark

Munch on popcorn, sip iced drinks and venture to other worlds together watching a movie at one of Athens’ refreshing open-air cinemas. Some of the best and most classic (and still open despite Covid) are Cine Thisseion (one of the city’s oldest, where unlike anywhere else the bar snacks include bottarga from Mesolonghi, homemade cheese-pie and cherry liqueur) and Vox in Exarcheia.