Published: October, 2019
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Athens and the Riveria, Greece

— Caroline Kesmodel
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Family, Beach, City
  • Activity level: high
  • Ideal length of trip: So many skip thru Athens in a day, but there is so much to see and walk to, we needed 2-3 days to cover the city. Then hit the Riveria for a day when you crave the beach.

to & from

It is hard to get anywhere in Greece, without starting and finishing your trip in Athens. Decide when you will want to be touring the city.
Athens was the warmest spot in Greece and not great for jet lag, so we connected to the islands first and did Athens on the way home, when we were better adjusted.
Fly Emirates for the best service/seats and it gives points to Alaska Airlines. Direct flight is 9.5hrs from NY, 11 hrs returning. Book business class! You will want a scheduled pickup at the airport, it is crowded and so worth it.
Walk all over Athens, no rental car needed and you can taxi if you want. 45minutes from Athens airport to Athens city center.

Where to Stay

Hotel Grande Bretagne in the city center is the favorite recommended luxury hotel to stay. Fabulous views, rooftop restaurant and rooftop pool. Walk to everything.

Their sister property, King George is next-door and less expensive, but no pool. A deal breaker in the summer.

The new Four Seasons Astir Palace on the Riveria opened in 2019 and is a great option to escape the city heat. Amazing pool and beachfront hotel with 3 restaurants and stunning modern rooms. Staying here and commuting (30-45min) to the city for day trips is a great option or at least a night. While quite beautiful and luxe, it does feel Americanized and isolated, so we loved it for last beach/pool day before we flew home.

Where to Eat and Drink

Enjoy Mediterranean cuisine everywhere in the city, especially in the many cafes in Plaka:
Ergon is a busy, casual cafe in Plaka- a modern twist on traditional Greek food. Great for lunch, may need a reservation. Great food and service.Tzitzikas kai Mermigas another classic popular mezze serving fresh, farm to table Med cuisine. Lunch or dinner in Plaka

Ouzo is the anise-flavored apertif of choice, Done as a shot. Like Sambuca.

There are so many unique foods, be sure to try yogurt and honey for breakfast, lamb kebabs and spinach pie at dinner and all the many varied desserts.

Fine dining at the Grande Bretagne Roof Garden with a stunning view of the Parthenon, is a must dinner reservation. Ask for outside dining, Acropolis side.

Walk toward the Acropolis and eat dinner at popular Strofi. Eat outside with another great view.

On the Riveria/Vouliagmeni, don’t miss impressive Ithaki Restaurant; Mediteranean-Asian fusion Restaurant. One of the best waterfront views in Athens, Amazing service and authentic cuisine.

What to Do

Plan a day in city center:
Day 1 -Walk to Parliament for changing of the guard, thru the National gardens and fountains, and past the President and Prime ministers house end up thru taverns and shopping of Plaka.
Day 2 – Walk to the Olympic stadium, Zappeio, pass ruins in the metro, and the temple of Zeus. End the day heading to lush Labetticus Hill views
Day 3- Tour the Acropolis and the new, amazing Acropolis museum.
Day 4- Head to Riveria- See Sunio and Temple of Poseidon at sunset.

  • See the changing of guard at Parliament, but watch your purse too! This popular activity is captivating, but lures tourists and the pick pockets.
  • Stroll, shop and dine in Plaka
  • The Acropolis museum is so beautiful, unique and well done it is worth the ticket. Buy tickets ahead, you will not want to wait in line. Use a private guide to take you thru the Acropolis and the museum for a more interestingl tour.

inside scoop

We used Blu Cove, (Kostas) affiliated with Amex Travel, invaluable with greeters, transfers and tours. Plus use Amex points. Kostas is based in Greece and was great with making last minute changes and his planning made our itinerary seamless.

All of Greece runs late and cancels, know who to call if a flight and/or ferry needs to be quickly rebooked or changed.

  • Athens is a large busy city, be prepared where to go and what to see to maximize your time. Buy your tickets to acropolis and museum in advance. Make reservations at restaurants.
  • It is great to stay in a city hotel and walk the city, we never got in a car, but be aware later when it gets dark.
  • Talk to locals. They love Americans, talking proudly about Greece and are happy to give friendly advice. Ask away....
  • for hottest handbags, everyone was carrying them and and The store in bottom of Grande Bretagne Hotel carried both of these..

What to Pack

Summers in Athens are warm and comfort is key. Ancient Greek and K.Jacques Sandals are definitely made for Athens walking.
We didn’t even need sweaters at night.


There are 11million people in Greece and 5million are in Athens. This is a great cultural hub, with so much history based on mythology and devoted to Athena.

Athens and the Riveria, Greece - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Courtney Leary Says

    Stay- We really liked the Electra Metropolis Hotel for a less expensive but still higher end option a couple blocks from the Grande Bretagne. Ask for an Acropolis View Suite on an upper floor. The restaurant and bar have amazing views of the Acropolis at all hours. Skip the pool, it is tiny.
    Tour- the Acropolis in the evening to avoid massive crowds from the cruise lines, we walked right in at 5:30pm.
    Guide- Michael Patmanidis is extremely knowledgeable, friendly and fun– although my teens are not into guides these days.
    Skip – dinner at Orizontes restaurant on Lycabettus Hill and opt for a sunset drink instead. The food is only ok but the views are amazing!
    Shop- Aesthet, a women’s clothing boutique carrying Greek designers- gorgeous resort wear. Also fun to visit Ancient Greek Sandals and The Naxos Apothecary.

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