The city of Athens is all that and a bag of chips. Really tasty chips at that. When you produce such horticultural opulence, blowing your own horn is almost expected. And Athenians do love a good honk now and then (literally, we mean it, the car honk pollution is a thing) on account of their history.
And the history is abundant. As the cornerstone of western civilization, Athens is in prime position to showcase the links between past and present. Ancient and modern collide in unique juxtaposition, and the result is singularly peculiar. Seeing the old and the new graffiti side by side is nothing if not food for thought, and let’s just say that you’ll be doing loads of both (eating and contemplating, that is).
But it’s worth pointing out that in between Athens’s glory days and the present nothing great happened to Athens. As a backwater region of the Byzantine and then Ottoman empires, Athens enjoyed none of the privileges that came to the western nations, namely the Renaissance and you know, freedom. But that is what shaped the city’s character and made it into the multicultural hub it is today. Apart from the classic structures of the Hellenistic years and the Golden Age, there’s a few undiscovered gems that point to the city’s past. And there are a few that are only just recent additions.
Learning about the city can seem like a daunting exercise, especially the chaos that is Athens. However there are many ways to explore and find out. Athens is tightly pressed together and to see it all will require forward planning. One of the best ways to do this is by booking a specialized tour.
That may be a food tour that takes you to all the best traditional taverns and the central market. Fish, meat and all sorts of herbs, spices and beans, vegetables and fruits of the freshest variety. Some of the best eateries in the center are simply holes in the wall or underground (literally) taverns with menu du jour types. Athens is going through an intense food revolution and you get front row seats to the action. Greek food has always traditionally been awesome, but the young blood is upping the ante and we suggest you take a sip of the cool-aid.
Similarly, wine is undergoing a revival. And when we say revival we mean a full blown Lazarus resurrection. Greece practically invented wine (Ok, the God Dionysus) so we’re not exaggerating much when we say that gone are the days of retsina and ouzo. Instead, the last ten years have seen the likes of Assyrtiko, Malagousia and Moschofilero take center stage.
And let’s not forget the street art. Athens is the de facto European Mecca of graffiti and street art. One look at the streets and you’ll be hooked for life. You’ll be wanting to know and discover more. Athens is a creative city and beyond the mural adornments it’s become a creative hub for many artists around the world, as well as the local talent. Some tours offer personalized visits to artist studios and some even let you partake in workshops and tutorials by jewelers, designers and artists.
The nightlife in Athens is not be missed. All year round, Athenians party till dawn and when summer comes the party spills out onto the beach suburbs and their summer clubs. But it is during the winter that the real character of the city emerges. Traditional boites, live Greek music and all sorts of clubs and bars (with 2 bars in the top 50 worldwide) make up the scene here. With so much to see, it would behoove you to seek out the expert to sift through all the options.
Athens is so much more than the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus. Athens is the sum of all its parts. And when your parts are that good you really can’t go wrong.