Swimming at the Top of the Town

We splashed around in one of Athens’ most reputed swimming pools and lapped up the splendid views!

Just when you think you’ve been to all the best places in your own city, its nothing short of wonderful to discover yet another delightful spot to escape to during summer. This is how we felt when we stepped out of the lift onto the Divani Caravel Hotel’s 9th floor to enjoy its swimming pool.

Located just a little further down from the Athens Hilton away from Vas. Sofias Avenue, the hotel is at a walking distance from Lycabbettus hill and Kolonaki, Syntagma Square, the Panathenaic Marble Stadium and the National Gardens, all of which can be admired from its rooftop pool. Surrounded by glass that blocks out any city noise yet lets in the breathtaking panoramic views that include mountains, hills and of course the Acropolis, the Divani pool is especially beautiful because of its openness and light.

The pool itself is of a large enough size (16m length x 8m width and up to 2m in depth) and has crystal-clear turquoise water that feels clean and fresh and has no odour of chlorine. With large comfortable loungers at the end as well as a long row on the terrace at the side of the pool, one gets a spacious, open feel accentuated by lovely views.

At the entrance of the pool there is the Pool Bar-Restaurant area and as the pool is open from 7 am to 8 pm daily this makes for a great spot for breakfast, lunch, aperitifs and dinner. We were there for lunch and tried the Angus beef burger with hand-cut fries and coleslaw, which got 5 stars from everyone on the “Mmm” rating, as well as the quinoa salad with edamame beans and avocado, which was also packed with flavour. 

The kids enjoyed sipping on what they dubbed the “melonade”, a lemonade mixed with fresh watermelon juice, and we adults sipped on well-mixed, light and refreshing Aperol spritzes. We also tried the desserts (inevitable when kids are around), which included a rich chocolate tart and a lemon pie with a dark chocolate cookie base, both of which were tasty but we all found a little too rich as poolside desserts, although the menu also includes Kayak ice cream as a lighter option.

INFO: The Divani Caravel Hotel pool costs 30 € per day on weekdays and 40 € on weekends, and a monthly membership costs 180 €. Use of the pool includes free use of the gym (also on the 9th floor), free towels and a tea or coffee.

A: Vas. Alexandrou Ave, Ilissia.

*All images courtesy of Divani Caravel Hotel

Discovering Athens Without Spending A Cent

Nearly every corner of Greece’s capital is filled with unparalleled history, rich culture and a raw beauty that you can experience first-hand without spending a cent! Here we reveal some of our favourite things to do in Athens that are for free. 

Get that perfect Insta shot of the Acropolis

The Acropolis can be seen from almost anywhere in the heart of the city but if you are on a mission to find the “best view” of the Parthenon that won’t cost you a penny, Areopagus Hill is that spot!  Here you are guaranteed to get one of the best Insta shots of Greece’s most iconic landmark, as well as being able to catch great views of the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus.

Climb the centre of the Greek capital

Filopappos Hill as well as the hills adjacent to it, “Pnyx” and “Nymphs” are popular amongst locals and visitors alike who come here for a pleasant stroll as they discover historical monuments and unparalleled views of the city. The walk, which takes around 20 minutes is all on a beautiful and winding path and when you get up top you will discover spectacular views of the city. On a clear day, you can see all the way across to Piraeus and the Saronic islands.

Catch a glimpse of Greece’s famous Evzones

No trip to Athens would be complete without catching a glimpse of the Evzones– Greece’s Presidential Guards. At Syntagma Square, right in front of the Presidential Mansion, you will find the Evzones, traditionally dressed in their distinct uniforms, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here you will have full view as they march and change guard every hour on the hour.

Insights Greece - Discovering Athens Without Spending A Cent

Discover Underground Metro Museums

Several metro stations in Athens have amazing ‘underground museums’ where you can discover ancient antiquities and learn more about Greek history. Acropolis, Syntagma, Monastiraki, Elaionas, Aigaleo, Dafni and Panepistimio stations have permanent displays of beautiful artifacts that are freely accessible every day from 5 am to midnight.

Insights Greece - Discovering Athens Without Spending A Cent

Lose yourself in an island-like neighbourhood

Anafiotika is a hidden wonder located in the heart of Athens. Here you will be amazed as to how quickly you can be transported from a vibrant city vibe to a calm, laid-back island feel. Surrounded by white-washed Cycladic-style homes and alleyways, this part of town will have you believe you are steps away from the Aegean Sea, but in reality, you are moments away from the Acropolis.

Say a little prayer

The centre of Athens is filled with many historical churches. The “Mētrópolis” is a grand cathedral located halfway between Syntagma Square and Monastiraki and is dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary). The nearby Church of Agios Eleftherios is also well worth a visit. Further down towards Monastiraki is the Church of Kapnikaréa, it’s an old Byzantine stone church, now situated right in the middle of Ermou street. Other churches to explore in Athens are Agios Georgios Church at the top of Lycabettus Hill, the Church of Metamorphosis Sotiros in Anafiotika, and the Church of Agios Nikolaos Ragavas in Plaka.