The word “Athens” conjures images of spectacular history: the Parthenon towering over an ancient city, the original schools of democracy, and massive marble statues.
Its reputation is merited: Athens is over 3400 years old, and remnants of the past appear seemingly every step (sometimes in a museum, sometimes next to an H&M). Classical Athens—the peak of the city-states civilization around 300 BCE—is, of course, the immediate draw, as the mind-bending array of temples, art, and history have overwhelmed travelers for centuries (even writers in Ancient Rome geeked out when they finally got to visit the Acropolis). Today, though, the classical era is but a part of a much longer story. With a population of nearly 3.75 million people (roughly a third of Greece), Athens is very much a living, breathing, car-honking, expletive-shouting city, as evidenced by its omnipresent street art and stray cat army. Amid the tumult you’ll the ouzerie culture and alternative youth scene of modern Athens, which have their own feisty, yet laidback, charm. Balance your shots of the Acropolis with some shots of ouzo at a local taverna, or a strong coffee in rebellious Exarchia. From museums to night clubs, parks to packed bars, flea markets to fat souvlaki pitas, Athens has both your inner-nerd and inner-socialite covered.
Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square
The National Garden
The Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaistos
Monastiraki Flea Market
A For Athens
A favorite of young Athenians, this gritty bar opens up into a artfully lit garden space lined with a fully-stocked bar.
A sleek bar and café right on Monastiraki Square, complete with rooftop seating and views of the Parthenon.
Athens' wildest beach club, perfect for dancing until the sun comes up.
Taverna Tou Psiri
Ariston Pita Bakery
The place for delicious and affordable seafood, with a menu handwritten fresh daily.
An easy-going taverna, accommodating locals and tourists alike.
Specializing in savory pies and the traditional Greek pastry spanakopita.
A traditional ouzerie, where locals sip ouzo and pass around small plates.