The heart of Greece and the symbol of Western civilisation at its finest, Athens is a cultural wonderland that welcomes millions of tourists from around the world. The city’s history stretches more than 3000 years. Athens is the birthplace of such brilliant minds as Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles. Today, it has developed into a bustling modern city that still remains home to lots of historic attractions.
From the Acropolis with its hilltop ruins to the Temple of Zeus, there are a host of exceptional artifacts just waiting to be explored. But do not believe that Athens is just a city with antique status, it also boasts some of the best European food and wine. You can spend quality time in its Plaka and Anafiotika neighborhoods with their narrow brick-lined streets, bougainvillea-draped houses, and inviting terrace restaurants. So without further ado, we present you with our list of the top attractions to visit and places to savor the best Mediterranean cuisine in Athens.
The Ancient Acropolis is an archeological wonder, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the world's most recognizable landmarks. It is the crown jewel of the historic attractions in Athens. The Acropolis dates back to the early 510 BC and is perched on a clifftop called the Sacred Rock of Athens. The ruins functioned as a central citadel of the ancient city. The most emblematic building is the Parthenon which is a temple dedicated to Athena and is considered the world’s finest Doric masterpiece for its perfectly proportioned columns. You can explore the stunning sculptural details in the temple and learn about the relics that depict the birth of the goddess of war.
Other ruins in the Acropolis include the Temple of Athena Nike at its entrance and Erechtheion, a complex of ancient sanctuaries with six statues of maidens in place of columns. You can also visit the Acropolis Museums nearby to learn more about the past and legends of Athens.
Pork is one of the most popular meats throughout the world. Pork can be cooked or preserved through a curing process. There's a wide variety of dishes that can be prepared from pork, including salami, pork sausages, barbecue pork, tang cu li ji, and other.
Arcadia is a popular Greek restaurant situated right opposite the Acropolis Museum that has been open for business since 1977. Nowadays, it serves traditional Greek dishes from the region of Arcadia in the Peloponnese. The restaurant has been very carefully decorated with classic wooden furniture surrounded by elegant white walls. They also have outside seating during the summer months so you can enjoy your meal under the Acropolis.
The menu varies based on the month of the year as the meals are prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients, extra virgin olive oil, and locally sourced meat and seafood. Some of the specialties that you should try here are roasted goat with oregano, veal cooked in a special ceramic pot with goat cheese, grilled lamb ribs, pork or chicken souvlaki, thick pasta with meat filling in tomato sauce, and grilled fish with fried potatoes. They also serve Greek beers and wines to accompany your meal.
Athens is the city that hosted the first Olympics games, but before that, in the fourth century BC, during the era of Herodes Atticus, there used to be the Panathenaic games that were played in ancient Athens’ largest construction – the Panathenaic Stadium. Its capacity for 60000 spectators would let them watch runners compete in races around the track.
The new stadium is an all-marble structure that is a replica of the original one. It was reconstructed for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and was used as a site for archery competitions and the marathon finish line. Today, this giant is a popular tourist destination that hosts concerts and other shows during the summer season. Attending a music event here can be a lovely way to spend your evening in Athens.
Tapas refers to any snack served at the bar for beer or wine. It can be nuts, chips or olives, or independent dishes like seafood, sandwiches, different cold and hot appetizers. Often, small "tapas" are included in the cost of the drink. A popular entertainment of the Spaniards is to move from the bar to the bar, drinking wine or beer and eat tapas.
Skyfall Cocktail & Food Bar is one of the best restaurants and hangout places in the center of Athens next to the Olympic stadium. It is primarily a terrace bar that is very popular for private events. The front of the house is divided into two levels – the dining area and the bar – with a common kitchen among them. The terrace of Skyfall has always been a standard meeting point for local celebrities and international jet setters.
At Skyfall, you can dive into the chic atmosphere with dinners full of glitz and class. It is an ideal setting to try well-balanced signature cocktails, finger foods, and tapas dishes with unique flavors. The menu features delicacies such as sea bass ceviche, black angus brisket with broccoli, bao buns with shrimp, mushroom burger, and ribeye steak with sweet potatoes. In desserts, do not miss out on their fried apple pie and lemon sorbet with fresh fruits.
Zeus is the king of gods as per Greek mythology. The Temple of Zeus also called Olympieion was the largest place of worship that was ever built in ancient Greece. Its construction began in the sixth century BC, and it took nearly 600 years to complete this masterpiece. In its former glory days, it housed the statue of Zeus sitting on Mount Olympus. Today, the massive structure only has 15 of its original 104 columns still standing, and most of the marble has been recycled or used in other projects.
A visit to this historic place can help you imagine the grand impression this temple made in its complete form, and it is indeed a befitting shrine to Zeus, the ancient Greeks’ most powerful God. You can also explore a small park nearby containing the ruins of the Themistoclean wall and the Roman Baths. These are free attractions that can be included in your walking tour of the Temple of Zeus.
Mashed potatoes is a simple dish made of boiled potatoes with the addition of milk, butter, salt and pepper. It can be served alongside a broad array of meat and fish dishes.
The Athens Gate Restaurant is a rooftop eatery located on the 8th floor of the Athens Gate hotel. It boasts an amazing view that overlooks the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, and the entire city. You can bask in the ambiance of the restaurant which is sleek and elegant in its decor made up of cushioned furnishings in a turquoise blue color tone.
The restaurant’s kitchen is managed by distinguished local chef, Evdokia Fylakouri, who serves up a combination of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine that is bursting with flavors. Some of the dishes that you will find on the menu are beef steak with sweet potato mash, creamy saffron risotto with grilled squid, roasted sea bass with fennel and baby carrots, Greek salad with olive oil, and rump steak served with caramelized onions. They also offer a selection of the finest light Greek wines that perfectly pair with your meals.
The Plaka and Anafiotika neighborhoods in Athens are tourist hot spots that are situated between the northern slopes of the Acropolis and Ermou street. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited districts in the city. The main attraction of this historic area is its charming village ambiance with narrow old lanes and crumbling buildings with bougainvillea-draped houses from different eras.
The neighborhoods also have many impressive churches, ancient sites, and picturesque small squares buzzing with restaurants, cafes, and shops. There are also two archeological spots – the Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian that can be visited here. After a peaceful walk in the area, do come over to Pantheon Cafe for an all-day breakfast meal.
Sandwiches usually consist of vegetables, cheese, eggs or meat put between thin slices of white bread. Sandwiches can be consumed at lunch and dinner, eaten on the go, or served with soup or salad.
Pantheon is an all-day cafe bistro located in the heart of the Plaka district in Athens. It is a beautiful place where tourists and locals can enjoy hefty Greek brunch meals accompanied by young, fruity wine and ice-cold cocktails. The bistro offers two seating areas – indoor and outdoor. The decor of the Pantheon is very simple and cafe-like, with a natural vibe of wooden furniture on the outside and cozy cushioned sofa seats on the inside.
The menu features a wide variety of food and drinks made from high-quality local products. Order a Greek moussaka, spaghetti with shrimp in arrabbiata sauce, turkey and cheese toast sandwiches, or rocket leaves salad with smoked salmon with a cup of strong coffee for a healthy and nutritious meal. The cafe also offers signature cocktails such as Aperol spritz, gin fizz, Cuba libre, and mojito, which will be perfect accompaniments to your food.
The Ancient Agora of Athens was the marketplace and the center of everyday life. It was also the place where elections, religious celebrations, and various types of shows were held. One of the most striking features of the Agora is the Stoa of Attalos – a two-story rectangular building with columns that is said to be the location where the trail of Socrates took place.
Another key attraction here is the Temple of Hephaestus, which is one of the best-preserved Doric temples in present times. It is one of the most special world’s archeological sites. The Agora has helped historians understand the day-to-day lives of Ancient Greece. You can also visit the museum nearby to learn more about the customs and traditions of the past civilization.
Burgers are made with meat, cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles and are seasoned with ketchup, mustard, or another sauce. The ingredients are placed between two halves of a bun. Typically, burgers are made with beef, but other types of meat, such as turkey, chicken, and salmon can be used as well.
Theta restaurant is an all-day coffee and cocktail place that overlooks the Acropolis in Athens. You can enjoy authentic Greek food at Theta that is made with the best local organic produce. The restaurant’s ambiance is very chic and hip in nature with light color tones and a modern vibe. They offer outdoor seating during the summer that lets you relish mouthwatering specialty dishes in the backdrop of the Agora.
From sunrise, you can enjoy coffee accompanied by breakfast or brunch fare continuing until lunch. In the evening, you can savor flavourful meals with signature cocktails in a relaxing setting. On the menu of Theta restaurant, you will find a variety of foods such as bagel sandwiches with turkey and cream cheese, poached eggs Benedict, Greek salad with fresh basil, beef tagliatelle pasta with raisin sauce, and chicken burger with avocado in a yogurt sauce. Besides cocktails and coffee, Theta also features energizing smoothies and rich oaky wines on its bar card.
Athens is a wonderful tourist destination that is bursting with history, from mind-boggling ancient ruins to majestic museums. It offers a completely different vacation experience from the idyllic Greek Islands of Santorini and Mykonos. The Greek capital is also a seriously trendy spot for atmospheric little cafes and gourmet restaurants. You can enjoy classic plates of succulent dolmades, souvlaki, and lots of feta cheese in Athens. And when you are done with your meal, take a walk around the flea markets and shopping districts before heading to a bar in the evening for a lovely time.
Have you been to Greece already? What is your absolute favorite place there? Share your thoughts with our community in the comment section below. And for more food&travel ideas, check out our latest articles.