Syntagma Square’s Christmas Tree Lights Up for 2021

Tis’ the season for all things jolly and The City of Athens annual tree-lighting event to celebrate the Christmas holidays, took place at Syntagma Square overnight with the centre of the Greek capital beautifully lighting up and bringing joy to Athenians earlier than usual this year.

The 19-metre-tree from Karpenissi, Central Greece, was lit with 60,000 multi-coloured lights measuring 5km from top to bottom, signalling the official start of the end-of-year holiday season.

Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said that the annual decoration of the city came earlier this year than any in the past, “In order to leave behind the negative atmosphere of the [ongoing] pandemic and bring a spirit of celebration to the city sooner.” He added that it would also help boost the Athens market, which had suffered during the pandemic.

The Mayor also announced that the low-budget infrastructure introduced this year will be reused in the future, and “turn Athens into a brilliant and contemporary European capital this year too.” He also reminded the public to keep health measures.

The city’s main square, the Greek Parliament building and nearby streets and buildings have also been decorated with a total of 350,000 Christmas lights and green garlands. The lighting show was designed by lighting specialist Giorgos Tellos and the original music was provided by composer and sound artist Stavros Gasparatos.

Images Courtesy of INTIME and Eurokinissi 

Athens’ Century Old Greek Olive Store

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 - Athens' Century Old Greek Olive Store

This year, 2021, marks a century since this warehouse-like shop (Ariana’s Olives) has sold almost nothing but olives. Open to the street, with no doors to put you off, it invites you to inspect the contents of 23 large free-standing barrels as well as smaller containers poised on shelves along the side walls. And taste them.

Perhaps you thought there were only two kinds of olives, green and black, pitted or stuffed with pimento, garlic or almond? This collection features the fruit of some 20 varieties, with emphasis on the big oval greeny ones from Amphissa, the famous olive grove below Delphi. The Kalothanasis brothers, Andreas and Mihalis, represent the third generation in this business started by their grandfather, Andreas, who came from the area, and where the olives are still processed. As Mihalis, who runs the shop, says, ‘Amphissa olives grown anywhere else don’t taste the same. The land, soil, climate make a difference. We deal with olives from all over Greece – tear-shaped Kalamata, tiny Cretan, wrinkly (salt-cured) throumbes from Thasos – and my brother knows the secrets of curing, preserving and storing them until the next season. Ideally, we’d like to run out the day the new olives arrive, and sometimes that has happened.’

Insights Greece - Athens' Century Old Greek Olive Store

The most popular and priciest are big green olives from Mount Athos, followed by blond throumbes from Chios. And some firm Amphissa ones are rated by size: jumbo, colossal and mammoth.

The name Ariana comes from two ancient Greek words, ari and a(g)no. It means ‘very pure’, like the olive tree, Athena’s gift, which earned her the patronage of the city over Poseidon’s salt spring in the mythical contest on the Acropolis.

Address: Theatrou 3, Athens 10552, +30 210 3211839

Insights Greece - Athens' Century Old Greek Olive Store

Getting there: Metro to Monastiraki (M 1 & M 3) or Omonia (M 1 & M 2), and a 10-minute walk

Hours: Mon – Sat 7.30am – 3.30pm

Tip: In the heart of Athens’ food and market district, there are many other shops selling just one thing, from ropes to shoelaces, eggs, flour and phyllo.

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


5 Best New Places to Eat in Athens

Despite its ancient age, Athens is always blossoming with novelty of every kind – edible and drinkable being among the most exciting forms.

After a year of home delivery Athenians are rejoicing that they can be their good, old extrovert selves and spend endless hours dining out under the sky while watching the world go by. Here are the five hottest new food places to visit ASAP.


Near the Varvakios Market, you’ll find Dopios (Skouleniou 1 in Aghio Theodoroi Sq), which is themed on Asian cuisine and meze dishes and has a menu created by well-reputed chef Christoforos Peskias. Try almirikia boiled greens with Japanese-style oil and lemon sauce, or black garlic sauce (skordarlia) with popcorn shrimps. Although culturally playful the meze restaurant aims to showcase authentic Greek products made by local producers and small farms.


Greek street food served from a food truck in an old parking lot-turned pebble-covered eating space is what you’ll find at this new alfresco eatery in Metaxourgeio (Avdi Square, Iatrakou 4). Chef Gogo Deligianni invites guests to seat themselves on colourful barrels and soak up the summery Athenian vibes. Try the grilled meatballs (keftedakia) or soya sloppy joes with dairy-free mayo for vegans, the fish n chips and salad with strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and graviera cheese, and sip an icy cocktail. 

Cherry Blossom 

What’s a 50s American diner doing in the centre of Psyrri (Lepeniotou 26)? Cherry Blossom is like a time travel machine with checkered black and white tile floors, waitresses in A-line skirts, and cute neon signs. It serves American classics like burgers with gooey cheese pouring down the side, tall ice cream smoothies, sticky ribs, and fried eggs on stewed meat. Good old-fashioned comfort food a la Americana for anyone tired of souvlaki.


At Tzoutzouka in Rouf (Meg. Vasiliou 32) you shouldn’t expect the food to be artfully presented and perfectly Instagrammable, but you should definitely expect it to be flavoursome and authentic. Local recipes with bolshy creative touches by chef Argyro Koutsou evoke feelings of childhood nostalgia in Greeks and are made using lovingly grown, high-quality local ingredients from small farms. Try the fava from Schinousa with fresh pickled calamari, lemony giouvetsi with Tinos country sausage, and stuffed aubergines.


More of a wine bar than a restaurant, this new place on the roof garden of Utopia Hotel (Ermou 46) overlooking the Acropolis, Lycabettus, and the Athens Metropolis Cathedral serves a great variety of protected designation of origin (POP) products along with over 100 Greek wine labels. The all-day menu includes dishes as varied as finger foods, snacks, cheese, and cold cuts platters, burgers, scrambled eggs, and prawn dumplings.

Lycabettus Hill Set to Receive Major Upgrades 

Lycabettus Hill, the highest point in the centre of Athens, is set to receive major upgrades. 

With thousands upon thousands of locals and international visitors making their way to the top each year to take in the splendid views, Athens’ Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis announced on Wednesday that the management of Lycabettus Hill, is now in the hands of the Athens municipal authority, which will allow the Mayor to proceed with projects that will upgrade the entire hill.

This includes the reconstruction and reopening of the landmark Open-air Lykavittos Theatre, which is a 1960s amphitheater that hosted concerts and other events in the summer.

The Mayor says the decision paves the way for Lycabettus “to come to life” and other upgrades include maintenance, upgrades, road and footpath works. The project is budgeted at 1.5 million euros and is part of the major makeover of the Greek capital.

Lycabettus is also home to the beautiful church of Agios Georgios and from the front of the church, visitors can enjoy uninterrupted views of Athens, stretching out to the city’s coastline. Visitors can also enjoy a coffee or dessert at the cafe, which is open for breakfast and lunch; and for some fine dining and to enjoy Athens all lit up, Orizontes restaurant is open in the evenings.

Nomsy, a Smart New Arrival in the Athens Souvlaki Scene

Keri Golas was creating and making things ever since her childhood in Philadelphia PA, but hadn’t imagined then that she’d be opening a stylish souvlaki restaurant in Athens one day. 

Driven by a thirst to explore the art world, Keri studied visual arts in university, focusing on metal sculpture, printmaking, and glass blowing. Food was her other passion and skill and especially unique and cultural foods that she often convinced her family to try. Cooking for family and friends has always been one of her greatest pleasures, although she also cooked professionally for several years and many different restaurants.

What brought you to Greece?

I met my husband in Philadelphia, PA, and we decided to get married and move back to Greece, which he always knew he wanted. I was always up for travelling and adventure, so jumped right in and we came to Greece to live and start a family at the very end of 2005 and have been here since. We now have three children, all with a deep love and appreciation for good food, maybe to a fault!

Insights Greece - Nomsy, a Smart New Arrival in the Athens Souvlaki Scene

Why did you decide to open Nomsy? And why Glyfada?

I cook constantly and my husband has thought about me opening something for a long time, and I’ve always thought about doing something with cooking but wasn’t sure what. While my husband doesn’t cook much himself, he grew up around and worked in his
father’s business, “O Thanasis” in Monastiraki, Athens. He appreciates good food and the world of restaurants and knows the business pretty well.

Glyfada was a happy accident. We live in the northern suburbs, so were looking for something closer to home, when a friend of ours introduced us to a RE agent in Glyfada with a few well-priced options. And we found something we were happy with and went for it. In the end, we decided to go in the direction of the business my husband and his sister knew so well, with a modern and maybe somewhat American style from me. And, Nomsy was born.

Insights Greece - Nomsy, a Smart New Arrival in the Athens Souvlaki Scene

What does Nomsy mean?

We liked Nomsy because we felt like it bridged the two worlds in a smart way, “nostimo gefsi” and nom-nom – which is a food expression for “incredible tasty” used in the US.

What is the main concept of the restaurant?

Modern day Athenian foods made with great care and respect to their history, while introducing new ways to see and experience these flavours.

Can you give us a glimpse of your menu?

We have many of the traditional kebab, skewers, gyros dishes, but we make and process all the meat ourselves with our own recipes. We have a unique Black Angus gyros, and do not sell any pork. We have some international influences or fusions, and just try to keep things fresh, healthy and done well, we added a few vegetarian and vegan options as I think this important to include.

Insights Greece - Nomsy, a Smart New Arrival in the Athens Souvlaki Scene

Will you will be introducing more meat-free dishes to Nomsy’s menu in future?

I was a vegetarian for a long time and know that it can be hard to find a restaurant that includes both meats and vegetarian options on their menu, so wanted to have something that went along with our food concept, was fun and tasty. Of course, I have so many ideas of things we could do, but we take it slow, and as business gets better we will start to introduce more items and change things to try new ideas out.

Any future plans?

My husband and I are really focused on creating a great place to work and eat in the Athens area. Somewhere that inspires people and shares the passion and beauty of Greece with them. We really care about people having a great experience with us. Part of my need to create things and cook for people is that I have a deep desire to bring joy, beauty, and a deep caring to people’s lives. Food is a great, and very accessible way to do this.

A: Artemidos 3, Glyfada , Athens

Athens’ Top 5 Vintage Stores

From retro wares to one-of-a-kind statement pieces, these vintage stores in Athens are stocked with treasures! 

Many celebrities and fashion icons have jumped on the slow-fashion trend and many are advocating the advantages of buying second-hand clothing and accessories. Combining a long-lasting, high-quality bought item with vintage or interesting pre-used items is not only good for the planet but for one’s image too. Wearing used clothing that could have come from anywhere and that one selects as a particular attribute to their entirely personal style can make a world of difference.

Where once it was unheard of to wear something that wasn’t directly off the rack because it was considered dirty or a sign of poverty, constantly-evolving Athens has gained more and more second hand stores throughout the last decade. Here we present you with the best!

Insights Greece - Athens' Top 5 Vintage Stores

Our Bazaar

A large hall filled with treasures perfect for bazaar-lovers who like to hunt for the perfect item through piles and rows of things. Here you’ll find everything from accessories, shoes and clothing (mainly women’s but also for men and kids), paintings, decor items, jewellery and toys. It’s not a glamorous space but it’s very laid back and there is an ultra-glamorous corner featuring designerwear by fashion legends like Valentino, Armani and Stella McCartney at a fraction of the price they were originally sold at. You can also bring your own stuff and put it up for sale, receiving a commission from the final sale. 

A: Drakou 33, Koukaki

Kilo shop

Note the colour of the plastic tag locked onto the clothing item or accessory of your choice and weigh it according to its price per kilo. This is the very place you need to visit if you’re looking for a gratifying variety of basic outfits like jeans, a white skirt or a striped or polka-dot shirt, although there are many other colourful and unique items to choose from too, from hats and dresses to belts and jumpsits that are vintage or coming from a vague, faraway galaxy.

A: Ermou 20, Thisseio

Insights Greece - Athens' Top 5 Vintage Stores


Near the Monastiraki metro in a small Psyrri sides-treet, this two-storey dinky shop showcases well-priced, sometimes unusual and even exotic items from all over the world. Many things here seem ordinary at first glance but are pretty special when you take a closer look. 

A: Protogenous 11, Psirri


In a cool little square graced by three buzzy bars and between the borders of Syntagma and Plaka you’ll find this luxury rendition of a second-hand clothing store. Preloved sells top designer gear by greats such as Chanel, Gucci, Diane Von Furstenberg and Yves Saint Laurent that is ideal for ladies who like to sparkle in sequins, faux fur, velvet and silk, without having paid an arm and

a leg for it. An additional bonus is that you’ll also find vintage designs from the ‘50s to the ‘80s to make you stand out even more.

A: Ipittou 5, Syntagma 

Insights Greece - Athens' Top 5 Vintage Stores

Yesterday’s Bread

In rebellious Exarcheia known for its off-beat sense of style, this shop mainly sells second-hand and vintage and retro clothing and accessories from Amsterdam and Paris and is especially known for its Converse sneaker collection. This is also a favourite store for Athens’ passionate Swing-dancing community.

A: Kallidromiou 87-89, Exarcheia

cover image @fashionist

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 

New Museum Showcasing Greek Culture Set to Open in Plaka  

A museum showcasing modern Greek culture over time is set to open in May 2021 in Athens’ historic Plaka district.

According to Greece’s Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, the Museum of Modern Greek Culture will feature exhibits that highlight the country’s culture through different periods, with the Minister stressing the importance of the location of the museum, which attracts millions of local and international visitors each year.

The layout of the complex is set around a central courtyard, in a style identical to that of the 19th and early-20th centuries, enabling visitors to experience the atmosphere of urban living in Greece during that period.

Insights Greece - New Museum Showcasing Greek Culture Set to Open in Plaka  

The property, which has been recently restored, is situated between Adrianou, Areos, Kladou, and Vrisakiou streets and has architectural remains from classical Greek and Roman antiquity. 

The 18 preserved buildings will include the 1759 Tzisdarakis Mosque, which was the first premises of the Museum since its establishment in 1918 until 1973, and The Bath House of the Winds– the only public bath of Athens surviving today. 

“The 18 buildings constitute a neighbourhood of Athens, as it was formed in the late 19th to early 20th century. It has very strong features of that period, which are revived through the exhibitions and collections of the Museum of Modern Greek Culture,” says Mendoni.

The nine buildings within the complex house the museum’s permanent installations which include over 25, 000 functional and decorative objects. Dating from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and originating from all geographical areas of Greece, the objects include items used in the home or at work as part of everyday life and traditional customs.

Other permanent exhibits will include folk art, the history of Plaka, and traditional Greek shadow puppet theatre.

The first show to open in May will be dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution as part of the bicentennial Greece 1821-2021 events. 

*Source and Images: Museum of Modern Greek Culture 

5 Great Places to Read Around Athens

The perfect reading spot has to be comfortable, quiet, and picturesque and we have put together our favourite spots in Athens for the bookish, so you can easily escape into the pages of a good book! 

Filopappou or Pnyx Hill

Reachable by walking along a cobblestone pedestrianised walk that forks off from Dyionissiou Aeropagitou, which is surrounded by trees and greenery, these two hills are not only incredibly scenic and intensely historical but also scenically serene. Bring a soft blanket along and set yourself down against an ancient rock to read your book and occasionally glance up at mesmerising views of the Acropolis, Lycabettus and the sprawling capital.

Lycabettus Hill

With entrances from all sides (from Exarcheia, Ambelokipi and Kolonaki) that have paths leading round the hill and up to the top, as well as a Teleferique rail car, this green hill has numerous benches to perch yourself on for a tranquil read. Or head right to the church of Saint George at its peak and enjoy your book from one of the highest places in the city.

National Gardens

There are plenty of park benches, grassy patches, thick tree trunks and large rocks to settle on here, as you sit surrounded by one of the city’s largest botanical varieties from around the world. Hear the exotic parrots squawk and see children giggle as they feed goats and geese in these large, lush grounds just off Syntagma Square.

First Cemetery

Not to everyone’s taste but considered as extremely pacifying for some (indeed, there is even such a thing as cemetery tourism), the First Cemetery in Mets is an ideal place for reading and reflection. These expansive grounds are where the city’s most well-established, oldest and richest families have laid their beloved to rest, as well as being the burial land for some of the country’s greatest figures. That means it’s filled with incredible works of art, most of them in the form of elaborate marble sculptures crafted by acclaimed artists. Park-benches dot the alleys of sculptural graves, lined with trees and greenery, and, well, it’s certainly silent here. Just don’t come after dark

A: Logginou 3, Mets


The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre has become known for its beautiful facilities, which include pretty sea views, an artificial lake, a row of fountains and a giant park that includes an olive grove. Although it can get noisy during the weekends, when parents bring their kids here to run free, there’s almost always sure to be a nook where you can read your book. And then there’s the SNFCC’s Library if you’re looking for an indoor readscape.

A: Leof. Andrea Siggrou 364, Kallithea

Cover image: First Cemetry by Fanis Vlastaras

Greece Extends Lockdown to January 7  

On Monday, Greek Government Spokesperson Stelios Petsas announced that the current lockdown measures in the country will be extended through to January 7, 2021, to limit the spread of Coronavirus. 

This includes a night time curfew and a ban on travelling outside home prefectures.

According to the announcement, schools, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, taverns, courts and ski centres will resume operations as of 6am, Thursday, January 7, 2021.

What you need to know

Outside movement will continue to be allowed only for specific reasons and by sending an SMS to the five-digit mobile phone service 130 33. The night curfew from 9pm to 5am will also remain in place.

Travel to and around Greece

Also, until January 7, 2021, domestic travel will not be allowed and public gatherings will continue to be banned.

Those returning from countries abroad between Friday, December 18 and Thursday, January 7, 2021, will be required to:

  1. Submit a PLF and a negative Covid 19 test result (PCR) performed up to 72 hours before arrival.

2. Take a rapid Covid-19 test at the airport, upon entry.

3. Enter a 10-day mandatory quarantine.

*Images by Christos Ditoras

Check out more of Christos’ images here

Strolling Through Ermou Street

A paradise for shoppers, pedestrianised Ermou Street stretches over one and a half kilometres in the centre of Athens. This is the busiest and most expensive commercial street in Greece, making it a must-see destination.

Visitors can begin their leisurely stroll from Syntagma Square. Across from Parliament you walk down a set of stairs that lead you to a charming fountain- from here you are able to begin your walk all the way through to Monastiraki.

Insights Greece - Strolling Through Ermou Street

Along the way you will come across a variety of stores that stock international brands and local designers.

Athens’ shopping strip is also popular thanks to its laid-back vibe, with musicians and other artists busking outdoors- providing a cool and lively buzz- both day and night.

However, most do come to shop and from high-end clothing to handmade shoes, leather goods, embroidery, and designer jewellery – there is something here for everyone. But if you aren’t really into fashion don’t despair you can also find some great food stores that sell local delicacies such as herbs, teas, olive oil, nuts, and cheeses. Otherwise grab yourself some Greek street food, or sit at one of the many cafes or bars and enjoy a coffee or dessert.

As you walk along, you will also come across one of the oldest churches in the Greek capital. The Byzantine Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea is in a small square, on the east section of Ermou Street. The historic 11th-century church stands out, with its beautiful icons created by Fotis Kondoglou.

Insights Greece - Strolling Through Ermou Street

If it’s all about the shopping- you are definitely in the right spot. From beauty stores such as Sephora and Mac through to the largest retailers in fast fashion- Zara, H&M, Pull & Bear and Bershka, you will find them all at Ermou. For those who love shoes, make sure you stop off at Migato, Mourtzo and Tsakiris Mallas, which are local brands. We also suggest you make time to check out the streets parallel to Ermou, for lots more stylish boutiques and designer wear.

As you make your way down, you will arrive at the heart of Monastiraki, which is famous for its flea market. Here you will discover a variety of stores including souvenir shops, vintage and second-hand shops. It’s the perfect place to pick up all your bric-a-brac and enjoy the fun game of bargaining. Monastiraki, (meaning little monastery) is a distinctive area, with narrow streets criss-crossing streets, and small buildings. It is located in the old quarters of the city.

​The area is home to several clothing stores, specialty stores, and you will also find plenty of places to eat. If you are after leather sandals, traditional clothes, Greek football jerseys, used or new furniture, old books, vinyls, antiques and inexpensive gifts to take home- this is where you will find them. Keep in mind that most stores are open Monday-Saturday 9am to 9pm and are closed on Sunday.

There are certain Sundays throughout the year whereby the stores are open- usually over Christmas, Easter, New Years or during sale season.

*Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright) 

Cozy Apartments in Athens to Make You Feel at Home

Back in 2012, four friends decided to renovate a number of properties in the heart of Athens, turning average, everyday apartments into stunning, comfortable and affordable places for local and international guests to feel at home as soon as they step inside. If you are planning on heading to the Greek capital and are looking for self contained apartments with a personal touch, look no further!  

Insights Greece - Cozy Apartments in Athens to Make You Feel at HomeVarnavas, Vassilis, Antonis and Andreas, began designing spaces that were cozier than a hotel and had a more personal touch than an Airbnb, as the guys are there to meet and greet you upon arrival and eager to share local insider tips on the Greek capital- ensuring your stay is one to remember. The journey all started with an empty building in Thissio- a cool neighbourhood below the Parthenon and from there the Live in Athens story continues.

Ten years later, there are now five distinct buildings with 20 stylish apartments in the portfolio- all located in the much sought after neighbourhoods of Plaka, Thiseio and Psyrri.

All four creators are very hands on- from the concept and design through to styling and painting- they work together to ensure every apartment has a unique and personal touch. Part of the process is sourcing old furniture and other decor items that they turn into functional pieces and create spaces that they would like to live in themselves.

What makes each apartment so special is that you feel as though you are arriving at a friend’s home and in true Greek hospitality, there are homemade Greek delicacies including yogurt and fruit, biscuits and other treats in the kitchen for you to enjoy as soon as you get there.

All the apartments are centrally located in the areas of Plaka, Thissio and Psirri- the centre of Athens, where you can enjoy an amazing mix of the old and the new Athens, the glorious past and the diverse present of the city.

Insights Greece - Cozy Apartments in Athens to Make You Feel at Home

“Staying in the center is the best option for travellers that want to explore Athens. Both Thissio and Psirri are next to the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum. They are also in walking distance to the Ancient Agora, the central market, the city’s galleries and hidden bars. There is something for everyone just around the corner,” says Varnavas.

Apart from letting guests know where to wine and dine, they also create tailor made experiences- including private dinners on the terrace and unique tours that cater to individual tastes and preferences.

The guys are also behind the popular brunch spot Spiti Mas, which is located at the basement of one of the Live in Athens apartments. This cool Psirri hangout is known for its great coffee, delicious brunches and mouthwatering homemade desserts. It is an open house for both guests and locals, and here you can take a power nap on a comfortable bed, or sit on your laptop and work away as you enjoy the warm and inviting surroundings.

images @liveinathens