Lonely Planet Local Marissa Tejada is a travel writer, journalist and blogger who has been living in Athens for eight years. What she loves about the city is its contrast of ancient and modern. Greece’s capital is never boring – the constantly evolving contemporary art scene, fantastic Mediterranean cuisine and outdoor bars keep things exciting.
When I have friends in town… if it’s their first time in Athens, I make sure they visit the Acropolis. It’s the eternal monument of the Greek capital and in many ways an eternal symbol of Greece itself. The views from the ancient sight are stunning, so it’s worth the climb. I still get chills when I enter it every so often, whether alone or with visiting friends. There’s a special energy there – no wonder the ancient Greeks chose that spot for it! Afterwards, the Acropolis Museum is a must. Not only is it one of the most beautiful museums in the world, it’s a way to learn more about the significance of the Acropolis throughout time. The dining patio is a great place, with beautiful views over the site. I also urge friends to take a hike up Lykavittos Hill. It’s by far the most panoramic view of Athens, including the Acropolis, the mountains that hug the city and the sea along the Athenian Riviera – they all seem within reach when you’re standing up there. It’s perfect during sunrise or sunset. On a gorgeous day, you can see out into the Aegean and pinpoint the surrounding Greek islands.
When I’m up for a big night out… we head to the centre of Athens and then choose from a set of bars that have helped redefine the lively nightlife scene here, like the Christmas-themed Noel, Clumsies for creative cocktails and Faust which hosts cabarets too. On a special occasion, for a change and with a good group of Greek music-loving party people, I’ll reserve a table at a Greek bouzoukia. These are traditional Greek music clubs, and the party goes on until the morning hours. It’s one of the most unique cultural nightlife experiences you can have in this part of the world.
A typical weekend involves... meeting friends for brunch, which happens to be an exploding fad here. Pancakes weren’t readily available eight years ago, and now picturesque cafes are specialising in American and various types of European-style brunches. Nice places to try include Nice ’n’ Easy in Kolonaki, Odori (en-gb.facebook.com/Odori-Vermuteria-Di-Atene) near Klafthomonos Square, New York Sandwiches (facebook.com/newyorksandwiches) in Syntagma Square, Mama Roux in Agia Irini Square and Harvest Cafe (facebook.com/HarvestCoffeeWine) in Monastiraki. Relaxing over a coffee with friends means heading somewhere scenic, with a great view, a garden or lots of people-watching opportunities. Also, a leisurely walk in a pedestrianised zone like Dionysiou Areopagitou or in the hills like Lykavittos or Filopappou Hill is always a refreshing break, with super views to match. I love trying out the wine bars of Athens – there are many to choose from, all very ambient, and Greek wines are incredible with award-wining varieties. Some favourite places include Heteroclitoand By the Glass (bytheglass.gr).