Greece’s Best Dessert Bar Opens in Athens

Chania’s famous Koukouvaya Cafe, which has been named Greece’s leading dessert bar (year in, year out), has now opened its doors in the heart of Athens!

Popular among locals and tourists alike, the family-run eatery first opened up in 1997, in Chania, Crete, and is located right near the hill of Prophet Elias and the Venizelos Graves. Offering majestic views across to the Old Town and its Venetian Harbour, it quickly became the place for locals to gather and enjoy a coffee while indulging in the delicious homemade desserts. 

The decadent sweets have become so famous, nowadays people from all over the country and worldwide come here to taste the mouthwatering creations- especially their signature chocolate cake “Zoumero”, which is a moist cake dripping in a rich chocolate sauce- needless to say this secret family recipe is very well guarded! 

Take note: servings are extremely generous and if you are in a group, we suggest you order a variety of the freshly made sweets and indulge in a spoonful (or two, three) of each one.

Some of the other popular items on the menu include the “Erasmia” a chocolate sponge cake filled with orange custard, topped with freshly made whipped cream, orange glaze, and chocolate flakes, the “Igloo” a domed shape dessert, which features layers of vanilla custard and chocolate covered in crunchy caramelized almond crumbs; and if you get a chance also try the incredible variety of cheesecakes and waffles.

For those looking to taste some traditional Greek desserts, they also serve homemade Lemonopita (lemon cake), Mosaiko (chocolate biscuit cake), Milopita (apple pie), Karidopita (walnut cake), Rizogalo (rice pudding), and Ekmek Kataifi (shredded pastry topped with syrup, custard, and cream).

And now you can taste these decadent sweets when visiting Athens, as a second Koukouvaya shop opened in Plateia Agia Eirinis (in early June), allowing Athenians and international visitors to the Greek capital the opportunity to try out this leading cafe-patisserie, that has surpassed the borders of Crete as well as Greece, earning it international recognition as one of the best spots in the world to grab a dessert! 

A: Crete- Venizelos Graves, Chania 731 00; Athens- Skouze 1, Plateia Agias Eirinis 

Top 7 Bougatsa Shops in Thessaloniki

The most famous sweet delicacy from Thessaloniki is bougatsa, a crispy pastry filled with semolina custard, and served sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon.

Beyond the traditional flavours, nowadays you can find bougatsa packed with a variety of cheese, meat, spinach, and chocolate. 

Greece’s co-capital is said to have more than 1,000 shops selling this famous pastry, so we’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up the Top 7 spots where you can savour a freshly baked bougatsa! 


Insights Greece - Top 7 Bougatsa Shops in Thessaloniki

This is by far the local favourite, which first opened back in 1969. Serving traditional bougatsa, the store is currently run by Philippos Bantis, who was has taken over using his grandfather’s secret recipe. The filo is handmade and when you take a bite you will understand why there are huge crowds lining up to get their hands on a delicious piece! 

A: Panagias Faneromenis 33, Thessaloniki 

To Anoteron

Another family run business, Anoteron specialises in a  variety of bougatsa, including sweet and savoury options. Run by 2 sons and their dad- who has proudly served his loyal customers for over 50 years- this is the perfect spot to grab a Greek coffee any time of the day and sit back and enjoy every bite of this traditional pastry, which is made using a long-running family recipe. 

A:  Agiou Dimitriou 59, Thessaloniki


Said to be the “Original Bougatsa Thessaloniki”, in 1952, Zacharias Pratsinakis opened the first “SERRAIKON” shop on Vasileos Irakleiou, where the store still stands today. Expanding with more shops since then, you can also head to Fragon 2, or at Markou Mpotsari 99 in the city, where you can choose from their range of cream, spinach, meat, and chocolate varieties. There are now also Serraikon stores in Athens, Germany, and the Netherlands! 

A: Vasileos Irakleiou 35, Thessaloniki 


Insights Greece - Top 7 Bougatsa Shops in Thessaloniki

With a steady stream of loyal customers who have been coming here for over a decade, Romfea’s is well-known throughout the city, thanks to its unique take on the recipe. This version uses confectionery cream rather than traditional semolina custard, which has become a favourite for many. 

A: Venizelou 56 and Ioustinianou 13, Thessaloniki

Bougatsa Giannis

The tiny street where Giannis’ is located is filled with locals who wait in line for one of their famous pastries or pies. Apart from the traditional semolina custard version, they are also known for their chocolate-filled bougatsa and mince pastry for those who prefer a savoury treat. Normally open till 3 am (for the night owls) at the moment they are also offering delivery service. 

A: Mitropoleos 106, Thessaloniki 


Insights Greece - Top 7 Bougatsa Shops in Thessaloniki

This all-day cafe is famous for its “bougatsan,” a hybrid of the croissant and bougatsa. It’s essentially a croissant filled with traditional semolina custard; sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon. They also offer alternative options including a chocolate praline, fresh berries, and an ice-cream-filled bougatsan! 

A: P. Mela 48, Thessaloniki 

Bougatsa To Xryso Efpakria

With a flagship store in Serres (about an hour from Thessaloniki) you will find this chain store all over the city, where you can taste one of their five varieties, which come in sweet and savoury options. The key to their huge success is the handmade filo and you don’t have to look far to find them as To Xryso stores can be found at shopping centres, airports, and other major cities all over Greece. 

A: Dim. Gounari 27, Thessaloniki 

Featured image by Alkis Kaloudis © (Copyright) 

Traditional Karidopita Recipe

Karidopita is a traditional Greek walnut cake drenched in a lush lemon syrup. It is by far one of Greece’s most popular cakes. Here is a delicious and authentic recipe for this syrupy sweet by popular Greek chef Giorgos Tsoulis. 

Ingredients (makes 10-12 pieces)

For cake

– 500 x grams plain flour 
– 500 x grams caster sugar
– 10 x eggs, room temperature
– 250 ml olive oil
– 50 grams baking powder
– 1 x tablespoon vanilla sugar
– 1/4 x teaspoon ground cloves
– 1 x tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 400 x ml full cream milk
– 300 x grams walnuts, crushed

For syrup

– 500 x grams caster sugar
– 1 litre water
– 50 x grams glucose syrup
– 2 x cinnamon sticks
– 1 x lemon, juiced


For syrup

-Place saucepan over medium heat, add water, sugar, glucose syrup, cinnamon sticks and lemons juice. Mix with a wooden spoon and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Once syrup has set, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

For walnut cake

-In a large metal bowl, pour the olive oil, milk, sugar, eggs and stir with hand whisk until the eggs are dissolved.

-Take a large pot and fill it halfway with water and transfer to medium/low heat, until it
starts to boil.

-Place metal bowl with the eggs on top and stir constantly with a hand whisk for 5-10 minutes, until fluffy.

-Remove from heat, add flour and mix with a plastic spatula.

– Add baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, walnuts and mix until well combined.

-Butter a round pan with a diameter of 35cm, and transfer mixture into pan. Bake it in a preheated oven in the middle rack at 180 degrees Celcius (air force oven) for 40-45 minutes.

-Once it’s ready, remove from oven and lightly piece the walnut pie creating small recesses with knife.

-Pour the cold syrup over the walnut pie , cut into pieces and serve.

For more delicious recipes by Giorgos Tsoulis, head to his website here

Follow Giorgos Tsoulis on his socials below




Traditional Diples Recipe

Diples are a traditional Greek sweet, served mostly at celebrations including Christmas, engagements, weddings and baptisms. 

They are thin sheets of handmade dough- folded and fried into a crispy pastry that’s then  dipped in honey and dusted with walnuts and cinnamon!


– 2.5 x cups of all purpose flour

– 3 x eggs

– 4 x tablespoons of Brandy

– 1 x tablespoon baking powder

– 2 x tablespoons sugar

– Vegetable oil for frying

For syrup 

– 1 x cup of honey

– 1/4 x cup of sugar

– 1 x cup of water

To garnish 

– Finely chopped walnuts

– Ground cinnamon


– Mix the flour with baking powder in a bowl and place a hole in the middle of the mixture.

– Whisk the eggs with sugar and brandy in a separate bowl for a few minutes and then add it into the centre of the flour.

– Knead your dough until it becomes smooth but slightly firm.

– Cover with plastic cling wrap and allow to sit for half an hour.

– Mix the dough slightly again with your hands.

– Divide the dough into small balls (about the size of an apple) and begin rolling them out on a floured surface until it becomes a thin pastry.

– Start cutting the pastry into rectangle pieces (approximately 12cm x 6cm)

– Add oil into a deep fry pan and allow to heat.

– Carefully place your dough sheet (one at a time) completely into the oil and using a set of tongs and a fork (or you can use 2 forks) quickly fold it three times to form a rolled shape (as pictured).

– Repeat this process until all your sheets of dough have been fried.

– To make the syrup, add honey, sugar, and water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

– Dip your Diples in the hot syrup and toss them a few times to coat them entirely with the syrup.

– Repeat until all the Diples have been dipped in the syrup.

– Sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts and ground cinnamon.

– Diples may be served immediately or you can store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to a week.

*Recipe & Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE

Homemade Bougatsa Recipe

Bougatsa is a traditional Greek sweet that consists of layers of crispy filo pastry, filled with a delicious creamy custard, and dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar.

Here is our much loved family recipe, which I first shared a few years back on my former food blog Flavours & Flair.


  • 1 x packet filo pastry (375 grams) Insights Greece - Homemade Bougatsa Recipe
  • 250 x grams unsalted butter
  • 1 x litre full cream milk
  • 1 x cup fine semolina
  • 1 x cup caster sugar
  • 4 x eggs
  • 1 x tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 2 x tablespoons, fresh lemon juice
  • cinnamon sugar, for dusting
  • icing sugar, for dusting


  • Add 100 x grams of butter into saucepan and allow to melt on low heat. Add the semolina and stir for one minute with wooden spoon. 
  • In a separate saucepan, heat milk and add to butter and semolina mixture. Slowly add sugar and stir consistently. Allow the cream to thicken and then turn off heat.
  • In a bowl, whisk eggs and when cream has slightly cooled down, add whisked eggs into cream mixture with vanilla sugar and lemon juice. Stir quickly, so no lumps form in the cream.
  • Melt remaining butter and lightly grease large baking dish.
  • Place half the filo pastry on the bottom of the dish one by one, brushing each sheet of filo pastry with melted butter. 
  • Pour entire custard cream on top of filo and spread across entire dish.  
  • Using the rest of the filo pastry, begin placing each filo pastry on top of custard mixture, brushing each sheet again with melted butter until you have used up the entire packet.
  • Fold in the edges and make sure you brush the top filo layer with melted butter.
  • Bake in a 200 degrees (preheated oven) for 30 minutes, or until filo is golden brown.
  • Allow to slightly cool and dust with cinnamon and icing sugar to serve.  

Recipe and Images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright)