Athens has to be one of the few European capitals that blends old and new so well. It also the only European capital that boasts of a Riviera as well as a set of imposing mountains to round it up as a true singularity. Athens’ running joke about fishermen and goat herders is probably too leftfield to tell but it paints a poignant picture of how well-endowed Athens is, geographically speaking at the very least. Just a quick 20 minutes away from the city center, the Athens Riviera stretches along 70 kilometers all the way to Cape Sounio (home of the Temple of Poseidon). The Riviera is by all accounts the hidden jewel in the crown of the Athenian landscape. Proximity to the sea has always attracted people of the high heeled variety and that has meant a steady carousel of celebrities, glitterati and statesmen, with Obama the latest in a string of high end figures to parade through its grounds. And naturally, this kingdom has to have a capital. Enter Glyfada. This suburb is synonymous with glamour, fashion and martinis by the sea. This is the undisputed king of suburbs down south.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Glyfada is right by the sea, and it´s pretty. Real pretty. Palm trees line the promenade, handsome people strut along, high end boutique stores abound and a general sense of affluence pervades every corner. You´d think you´re in Miami if not for the absence of high rise hotels along the sea shore. People gravitate towards it in the summer, although that fallacy needs to be put to rest. Glyfada is just as enjoyable during colder months. There’s tons of things one can do.
Take Lake Vouliagmeni for instance. Its natural mineral enriched waters stay a placid 22 degrees year round. You can just waltz in and dip right in to its thermal goodness. Extra awesomeness is provided by the garra rufa exfoliating fish that nibble on your dead skin. There´s a bar and reclining chaise longs and it´s all wonderful.
Obviously, it goes without saying that the beach lifestyle is what brings so many people to its doorstep. Percolate on this: The possibility of actually being able to go swim all year round in what are admittedly lovely, crisp, clean waters. And while Milos they’re not, the beaches in Glyfada are legit.
If there were any lingering doubts over Glyfada´s high end credentials then surely those can be put to sleep when considering Glyfada´s golf course. The only golf course in the Attica basin, one might add.
DRINK & FOOD
As is to be expected, Glyfada and the southern suburbs contain the biggest ratio of Michelin starred restaurants. Dining al fresco isn’t something to be scoffed at. Especially when the sun is setting across the horizon as you dip your feet into the sea from your chair while chowing down on fresh calamari.
Café culture is alive and well, too, in Glyfada. Sipping on your freddo cappuccino while doing people watching is different here than in downtown Athens. And while the Parthenon is lit (quite figuratively, too), Glyfada exudes an easy confidence that melts your worries away. And isn’t that what we really want? The afterhours scene isnt all that bad, either. Clubs and bars are to be found all along its shores, with many of them doubling up as restaurants cum clubs, which in other words mean you dont have to hoof it across town to get your sunset cocktail fix. Even after the summer officially ends sometime in October, alot of the clubs actually stay open in semi dormancy for all the negroni addicts.
At only 20 minutes from the city center, Glyfada ought to be your go-to destination on a weekend. With kids in tow or alone, Glyfada seems to have something for everyone. Sandals not inclusive.