Mid-Apollonos Street: Where to Shop for Greek Orthodox Items in Athens

Venture outside the tourist box to see how Athens’ ever-changing present syncs with its age-old past! The book ‘111 Places in Athens You Shouldn’t Miss’ was written to offer you exactly that.

This is just one of 10 unmissable places that even locals often miss, offered exclusively for IN+SIGHTS GREECE readers by the guide’s publishers EMONS.

Insights Greece - Mid-Apollonos Street: Where to Shop for Greek Orthodox Items in Athens

From halfway down Apollonos Street you’ll start noticing a whole series of very different kinds of shops, their windows decorated with glittering religious bric-à-brac and paraphernalia. Look inside and observe jewel-encrusted crosses, hand-painted icons, and churchy candelabras. Prepare yourself to see around 20 such shops ahead; on both sides of the street, you can feast your eyes on a vast array of ecclesiastical accessories and elaborately hand-crafted cloths for liturgical garments.

Reflecting the massive influence of the Greek Orthodox Church in a country where religion is a core element of national identity, the shops stream all the way to Agia Filothei Street, right behind the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. Some are modern and polished, while others belong to a long-gone era. The first such shop to open in 1926 belongs to renowned iconographer Konstantinos Zouvelos, whose work can be seen in churches around Greece as well as New York, San Francisco and Vancouver. With his wife and son, they create religious artefacts of all varieties; among their one-of-a-kind pieces are an elaborate, stone-encrusted silver brooch shaped like the Star of Bethlehem with an engraving of the Virgin Mary on mammoth tusk at its centre.

A little further down look out for Tasi, opened in 1986, which is jam-packed with hand-painted icons, incense burners and good luck charms featuring saints. See the many tamata, small metal plaques, each depicting an ailing part of the body and used as a votive offering, usually placed on a miraculous icon in a church. Also rewarding is a visit to Hilton, which centres its trade on handmade mate- rials for every echelon of the clergy, selling everything from basic €100 plain black cotton robes to intricately designed, hand-sewn cloths in bold threads like silver or gold on velvet, satin and silk, worth up to €500 per metre.

Insights Greece - Mid-Apollonos Street: Where to Shop for Greek Orthodox Items in Athens

Address: Apollonos Street, Syntagma, Athens 10556

Getting there: Metro to Syntagma (M 2 & M 3)

Hours: Regular shop hours Mon, Wed & Sat 9am – 5.30pm, Tue, Thu & Fri 9am – 7.30pm.

Tip: Light a candle in the Athens Cathedral and see the relics of the city’s Patron Saint Agia Filothei, encased in a golden, bejewelled box.

111 Places in Athens That You Shouldn’t Miss can be found at all major bookstores worldwide as well as online at Amazon.

A Mountain Top Hideaway That’s One of Northern Greece’s Best Kept Secrets

With an unrivalled location, Grand Forest Metsovo Hotel is a place where you can completely unwind and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, discover the lush pine forests, and explore the cultural old town nearby.

Where & Why?

The stunning Grand Forest Metsovo lies on the slopes of the Pindus Mountain range, near Pindus National Park. The center of the city is a 15-minute drive from the hotel while Ioannina Town is around 45 km away. 

From the minute you arrive at the secluded hideaway, you will feel a step closer to nature. With awe-inspiring views of the mountains, suites that boast floor-to-ceiling windows, an outdoor terrace infinity pool, and an indoor pool beneath the striking sunroof- Grand Forest becomes your complete gateway to rest and relaxation.  

Style & Feel

Warm, cozy, and rustic- this charming and authentic boutique hotel features elements of modern architecture and sleek designs that blend in beautifully with nature.

Food & Drinks

Experience modern local dishes and breathtaking views at the exquisite Metsovo 1350. The restaurant is set high up on the mountainside and the sublime backdrop is accompanied by tempting plates from the Epirus region, which are all created using fresh local produce. The Lobby Café serves light dishes, snacks, and drinks, while The Pines bar is the perfect spot to enjoy some exquisite malts, ports, and cigars by the fireplace. 

Rooms

The hotel offers 62 well-appointed, non-smoking suites. Every guest room is a luxury suite, many of which offer a garden or mountain view. Suites include the Junior suite with garden/mountain views, Superior suites, Panorama suite, and the opulent Grand Forest suite.

Ideal for…

Couples, families, solo travellers, plus spiritual and adventurous types- as the hotel provides personal advisers who are ready to help cater to your needs and create exclusive itineraries designed specifically for each guest. Here you can take part in horseback riding, wild truffle hunting in the countryside, and wine tasting. If you are after a thrill-seeking experience you can enjoy some rafting, paragliding, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, paragliding, mountain biking, skiing, and snowmobiling. For those who are in search of a spiritual journey, there are many monasteries and churches to visit, and history buffs will relish in the museum and art tours. You can also visit Metsovo town to experience local culture and traditions, while families can take advantage of the 24-hour Kids Club.

Facilities & Services

The Fontus Spa is not to be missed as it features a heated indoor pool, Hammam, sauna, and jacuzzi and if you want a full pampering session there is also a beauty salon on site. There is also an outdoor infinity pool, gift shop, gym, Kids’ Club, function rooms, free WIFI, restaurants and bar, and free parking.

*All images courtesy of Grand Forest Metsovo 

Holidaying with Little Ones in Greece is Child’s Play

When we told family and friends that we were travelling to Greece with our then 11-month-old baby, which entailed a 24-hour flight from Sydney to Athens, many said we were crazy!

I knew it would be an extremely different holiday to our previous kid-less travels, but I was determined to have a great time with our little girl, and that we sure did.

Insights Greece - Holidaying with Little Ones in Greece is Child's Play

Family-oriented Greeks whole-heartedly welcome babies and children of all ages. And whether you are exploring the islands, visiting archaeological sites, enjoying the stunning beaches, or just eating at a local tavern, Greece is an ideal destination to introduce kids to a fun, carefree and comfortable atmosphere, which helps create wonderful memories for the entire family.

Kids become your ticket to the front of the queue

You will find that Greeks love children and treat all kids as their own. From babies through to teenagers, locals smile at children, ask their name, age, and greet them in a lovely, warm manner. Travelling with kids to Greece really is your passport to excellent service and chances are you will be ushered to the front of the queue at airports, museums, or cafés, as Greeks understand kids have their limits, as do parents! 

Insights Greece - Holidaying with Little Ones in Greece is Child's Play
Feeding fussy little eaters has never been so easy

While travelling, many parents worry about what their children will eat, which is a fair enough concern, as many kids are used to certain foods. What’s great about Greece is any place you go, whether it’s a city, village or island, there is always a local taverna serving fresh food that is ideal for kids, as the variety is healthy, delicious and simple. From salads, vegetables, meat, and fish, through to pasta and rice dishes and of course tiganites patates (homemade chips), there is a huge selection to cater to all tastes. And don’t expect a kids’ menu, taverna food is designed to suit the entire family.

Insights Greece - Holidaying with Little Ones in Greece is Child's Play
No such thing as being bored

Trying to entertain kids while parents simultaneously enjoy themselves can be testing at the best of times, let alone while you are away from home, but what is there not to love about Greece- regardless of your age? Greek beaches are perfect for kids as the water is clear, calm and shallow and the sun is not as strong as other parts of the world, so with plenty of sunscreen, families can sit back and enjoy a full day of playing, eating and drinking by the water. And when the sun goes down kids are still riding their scooters, shooting a basketball at the school court, kicking a soccer ball around, and dancing at the local Panigiri (festival), where all kids are welcome to join in on the fun. Here you can forget about curfews and routines and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty the kids aren’t asleep at a certain time.

Sleep Like Babies

When it comes time to tuck them into bed, chances are they won’t have much energy left to resist as they should be worn out after a jam-packed day at the beach, followed by dinner, which is capped off with a night stroll and some ice-cream. By the time you head back to the hotel, your kids will be ready for a good night’s sleep… then wake up and start all over again!

Stay tuned as IN+SIGHTS GREECE will be sharing lots of family-friendly tips and ideas for you to be able to discover Greece all-year-round with kids of all ages.

All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)  

Kefalonia’s Holy Monastery of Agios Gerasimos

Every year thousands of pilgrims from around the world arrive at Kefalonia for a blessing at the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to visit this spiritual and sacred site again, which is home to a 16th-century church complex with a modern chapel, courtyard, gardens, and most importantly the tomb and relics of the Holy Saint, who once lived here, and is known to perform miracles upon those who pray for his intercession.

Location 

The monastery is located 15km from Argostoli and is found on the plateau of Omalon, near the villages of Valsamata and Fragata. The easiest way to get here is by car, however, during peak season, there are buses that arrive daily from the main town.

Who was Agios Gerasimos?

Agios Gerasimos is the Patron Saint of Kefalonia and known for his protecting and healing powers, especially for those with mental illness. Born in 1503 in Trikala, he was ordained a monk at Mount Athos, then went to Jerusalem where he lived for 12 years, before passing through Crete and Zakynthos and finally arriving in Kefalonia where he died on August 15 in 1579. Agios Gerasimos spent his first five years in a cave in the area of Lassi. He subsequently cultivated the area where the monastery of Agios Gerasimos now exists. The monastery which he established cared for the poor and became a charity centre.

What can be seen at the Monastery today

The body of Agios Gerasimos is at the monastery and made available for veneration as miraculously, it has never decomposed. After his death, he was buried twice and exhumed intact, thus leading the church to ordain him as a Saint in 1622. Today, his relics are saved in a double glass reliquary placed above the Saint’s tomb, which is dressed in burial robes and displayed for worship. I was lucky enough to have been there at a certain time when the casket was opened by the nun and high priest on duty, who was saying a prayer. There is a book inside the church where you are able to write the names of family and friends who you wish to receive Agios Gerasimos’ blessing. You are also able to give the priest a piece of paper with names to be read out loud, while the casket is open.

Enter Agios Gerasimos’ Cave

At the back of the church is a trap door that leads down a narrow passage to two small caves where Agios Gerasimos lived before the monastery was built. Visitors can climb down a three-metre ladder to see the caves that were built by the saint himself. After reaching the first cave, you can visit a second smaller one with a tiny entrance.

The modern church next door

Next to the small chapel is a much larger modern church, richly decorated with ancient icons. Ceiling murals depict scenes from the Old Testament, the birth and baptism of Christ and the Annunciation, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Miracle of Pentecost. It includes a fresco of the death of Agios Gerasimos depicted with Christ near his deathbed holding his hand over the Saint’s soul depicted as a child in swaddling clothes.

Outdoor garden

In the main monastery courtyard, you will see a big plane tree and a well. The tree is said to have been planted and the well dug with the saint’s own hands. The area is well known for its wells and visitors to the monastery may pass through the garden containing 40 of them.

When can I visit?

Visits to the monastery can be made every day between 8 am to 1 pm and 3.30 pm to 9 pm. Make sure to be appropriately dressed, otherwise, there are apron-like dresses that you can wear, as women’s knees and shoulders must be covered at all times while you are inside the church.

A: Moni Agiou Gerasimoi,

Omala Plain Frangata

PH: +30 2671 086385

All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)  

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.

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.

Amalour for cocktail lovers and Isalos café, the most well-known café on the island. 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. 

Golf Enthusiasts Head for the Greens in Greece

It might come as a surprise to some, but Greece is now considered an ideal destination for golf enthusiasts.

Imagine perfect weather conditions, luxurious accommodations with magical views, and a superb golf course only a few steps away. If that sounds like a dream read on to discover three exceptional golfing experiences around the Aegean that will leave you wanting to head for the Greens!

Costa Navarino

In the heart of Messinia, Costa Navarino offers not one but two world-class golf courses with the stunning sea, mountain, and river as a backdrop to your tee shots. The Dunes and The Bay Course are 18-hole signature courses surrounded by five-star hotels and resorts, making it a prime location for golf connoisseurs. Here you will find everything from shoes and buggies to full sets of golf clubs for hire and you can test your skills while enjoying uninterrupted views of lush olive groves on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other. This spot has become so popular with golfers from around the world that Costa Navarino is scheduled to open two new José Mariá Olazábal-designed golf courses in 2021.

Insights Greece - Golf Enthusiasts Head for the Greens in Greece
Porto Carras, Halkidiki
Porto Carras

Set on the spectacular coast of Sithonia, Porto Carras is home to the one and only golf course in Northern Greece, which is now considered a leading golf destination in the Mediterranean. Here you can enjoy a luxurious golf experience on its 18-hole and par 72 signature course, which hosts international tournaments all year round (pre-COVID). With breathtaking views of the Aegean, nearby mountains, vineyards, and the overall landscape of Halkidiki have made Olive Grove Golf Course one of the most admired in the globe. There are also private and group lessons, which are designed for every golfer level, including kids’ classes. The course is close to Porto Carras two 5-star hotels, a world-class villa, a casino, one of the biggest thalassotherapy and spa centers in Europe, a private 315-berth marina, a horse riding academy, a tennis club with nine courts, a diving center, a nautical club, plus Greece’s largest organic vineyard, making it a real treat for all.

 

Crete Golf Club

On Greece’s largest island, you will find an 18-hole Championship course that meticulously maintains the distinctive elements of Crete’s natural landscape. The mountainous course at Hersonissos, about 25km east of Heraklion, features a desert-style layout and each hole has been individually sculptured to blend into the authentic surroundings. The course is said to test every aspect of a golfer’s repertoire and the popular 11th hole offers an unrivaled view of the Lasithi Mountains and the unique Cretan countryside. Open all year round (prior to COVID) the course is only footsteps away from its 5-star hotel that consists of 25 suites, which all include large balconies with mountain/ sea views, plus a serene restaurant overlooking the course.