Athens is a modern metropolis, its reputation solidified as the foundation of western civilization. The ruins and apartment blocks, the hills and green canopy of space afforded by the plurality of orange blossom trees on nearly every street, not to mention the plethora of parks and communal spaces; Athens is an al fresco city and the fact that mountain and sea juxtapose so seamlessly practically means the sounds and the colors vary to a big degree depending on where you happen to be. The northern and southern suburbs, then, dominate. In what is a two part series we’ll give you the lowdown on 5 of the most interesting areas of either borough, starting with the north.

And the north is dominated by the district of Kifissia. This leafy suburb is the epicenter of commercial activity and cultural life. Old mansions and indeed, old money reigns supreme. Upscale malls and trendy boutiques line up alongside some of the most traditional establishments, themselves venerable pillars of commerce for generations. An abundance of parks and squares, galleries, museums, hotels, upscale restaurants, bars and venues make for a vibrant cultural life. You could spend a whole life in Athens and never want for anything the center has to offer.

Within Kifissia, the tiny Kefalari area is where one can find a lot more of that plus the added bonus of being next to the more residential part. That means more space and access to the mountainous side of the area, ideal for a hike after your latte.

Nea Erythrea, just up the road from Kiffisia is a traditionally residential neighborhood with little by way of charm, but the last 15 years have witnessed its transformation into a partly gentrified suburban watering hole district. Bars cascade on top of each other in an amphitheatrical slope that spills onto the streets with revelers partying like its downtown.

Maroussi is not as colossal as Kifissia in size, but this adjacent suburb packs a wallop and it punches well above its weight. A residential area through and through, it sits close to the urban grid and hosts some major athletic facilities which enables it to have direct access to a steady stream of students and high schoolers, funneling them into the myriad of cafes and bars that dot the central square.

The uber wealthy high net worth individuals inevitably decamp in the green hills of Politia, just next to Kefalari. If you’re looking to see how the 1% live look no further than here, folks. The main square provides for some glitzy looking joints serving all manner of delicacies. This place even has its own country club so expect to see plenty of conspicuous wealth. We recommend this place for a good brunch followed by mimosas and a stroll along its leafy streets.

Check back with us next week for our second and final part of our report on the 5 most interesting neighborhoods in Athens to explore

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