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Travel Guide: A local's guide to Athens

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Greek postcard Athens guide

In this edition of our Greek Postcards, Zelos' Marianna take you to her hometown of Athens to discover the hidden charms of Greece's capital. Once merely a stopover on the way to the islands, Athens has become an increasingly popular destination, and rightfully so. The city is vibrant and alive, noisy and messy...but we know you'll love it!

Half of Greece's population, more than 5 million people, live in the Athens that is my hometown and my favorite place in the world. Although I moved to Switzerland at a young age, I would always come back here as often as I could. I'm now lucky enough to spend half the year in Athens, so I wanted to share my favorite places as an Athenian and help others see the beauty of the city that I do. 

This is not meant to be an exhaustive guide, as the Greek capital offers literally thousands of possibilities to eat, drink, explore history, shop and more. What follows are the places I recommend to my friends, whether they're visiting for the first time or the tenth. These are the spots that I, too, go back to on a regular basis. Also, even though there is no mention of the Acropolis, if you've never visited, please do 😉


Let's start with the most important thing: food!

  • Diporto, a tiny underground taverna and a true Athenian landmark, open since 1887! Diporto literally means "a place with two doors". Located close to Monastiraki and the Varvakeios Agora (the main market of Athens), this was the go-to lunch place for local workers. There is no menu, everybody eats what is cooked daily by the owner. 
  • LS and SIA is one of Athens’s most popular restaurants. The menu changes often according to the availability of ingredients and will always surprise you. Make sure to book in advance and ask to sit inside to fully enjoy the interior design.
  • Taverna Oikonomou, in Petralona, is another taverna with a long history (open since 1930). You'll enjoy classic Greek food surrounded by works of art, as the new owner is an avid art collector and passionate about supporting Greek artists. Perfect for Sunday lunch but you should probably book in advance.
  • Seychelles, close to Metaxourgeio, offers a contemporary twist on Greek food. The restaurant is ran by three chefs and supplied by small domestic producers. 
  • Akra opened recently in Pagrati and is my personal favorite right now! You can go for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The kitchen is completely open and everything will be happening around you, so it will be noisy. Again, all the ingredients are local and the menu will change seasonally. Please book in advance!
Akra restaurant Athens food guide
  • Wine is Fine is one of the newest openings on this list and already very popular with the locals. The food is European-inspired so go if you've already spent some time in Athens and feel like trying something different.
  • Philos Athens for brunch or lunch (no dinner!) in a uniquely designed  space.
  • Yperokeanio is a fish taverna, ran by a former sea captain, close to Piraeus port. Perfect for a seafood meal on a sunny day.

If you want to grab a quick bite or a famous Greek souvlaki, these are my top "fast food" recommendations: 

  • Stania traditional (since 1931!) dairy/pastry shop, for delicious yogurt with honey.
  • Lefteris o Politis and Kostas(the one in Ayia Irini square) for the best souvlaki (although this is often a highly debatable and polarizing topic!).
  • Ariston Lompotesi for a decadent traditional tiropita cheese pie.
  • Feyrouz for Middle Eastern street food and great desserts, too!


Discovering new bakeries is one of my preferred weekend activities - here are my all-time favorites:

  • Kora in Kolonaki for their sourdough breads and pastries
  • Takis Bakery in Koukaki is a traditional third-generation bakery under the Acropolis with more than 30 different kinds of bread
  • Black Salami Micro Bakery in the Exarcheia neighborhood for their amazing focaccias and sandwiches 
  • Lido in Pagrati for recipes from Asia Minor and the best tsourekia sweet bread, traditional cookies and so much more


  • Galaxy bar is a must as it is one of the oldest bars in Athens, opened in 1972. Space is limited but get a seat at the bar if you can!
  • Baba au Rum is consistently on the list of the “50 Best Bars in the World” and is a favorite, especially in the summer. 
  • Heteroclito, a wine bar on a pedestrian street, with a focus on Greek artisanal wines.
  • Paleo Wine Store if you are close to the port of Piraeus. 


First, grab a coffee and go up Lycabettus Hill, the second highest spot in the Attica region at just over 900 feet above sea level, for some of the best views of Athens. If you make it all the way up to the church of Saint George, you'll get a real 360° view of the city. 

Acropolis view Lycabettus Athens


Visit the Kallidromiou Farmer's Market on Saturdays for a true experience of everyday life with the locals. I like to sit in the cafes alongside the market and just watch people go by. 

After you've visited the Acropolis, you can discover a variety of museums and galleries for their permanent collections and temporary exhibitions:

  • National Gallery of Athens for Modern Greek art, from the post-Byzantine period to today, where you can admire the work of the most important Greek artists including one of my favorite paintings, pictured below, called Athenian Evening (1897) by Iakovos Rizos!
Athenian Evening by Rizos in National Gallery of Athens
  • Museum of Cycladic Art houses an impressive collection of Cycladic art, prehistoric art originating from the Cyclades islands in the Aegean sea. The museum also shows temporary exhibitions of the most prominent modern and contemporary Greek and international artists. You should also check out the Cycladic Cafe inside the museum. 
  • Benaki Museum, established in a beautiful neoclassical-style building, is dedicated to Greek Culture, from prehistory to the 20th century. You will also find very interesting temporary exhibitions and an amazing museum shop. 
  • Alekos Fassianos Museum: Alekos Fassianos is one of the most important Greek painters and artists. The museum, opened in 2023, is dedicated to showcasing his evolution, from his early works until the end of his life. 
  • Gagosian Gallery, first established in 1980 in LA, operates as a global gallery with locations all around the world including the Athenian one, in Kolonaki. 
  • Breeder Gallery, founded in 2002 and housed in an renovated ice cream factory from the 70s, it promotes "artistic dialogue between Athens and the world".
  • Bernier Eliades founded in 1977 by Jean Bernier and Marina Eliades has been instrumental in introducing new artistic currents and the younger generation of American and European artists to the Greek public.

Take a day trip to Sounio, visit the Poseidon temple, and have a simple fish lunch at Taverna Marida. I've been going to Sounio and this specific taverna my entire life, and it makes for a great day trip all year round. 


Poseidon temple Sounio


The majority of the places in this guide are in the center of Athens. However, the center remains a broad area and, since it's not easy to walk everywhere, I have grouped them below by neighborhood to make your planning a bit easier. 

Historical center (Monastiraki to Syntagma):

  • Diporto taverna
  • LSANDSIA restaurant
  • Wine is Fine  restaurant
  • Kostas souvlaki
  • Feyrouz street food
  • Ariston Lompotesi pies
  • Baba au Rum bar
  • Heteroclito wine bar 


  • Philos Athens
  • Kora bakery
  • Galaxy bar (located between Kolonaki and Syntagma)
  • Lycabettus hill 
  • Museum of Cycladic Art 
  • Benaki museum
  • Gagosian gallery


  • Taverna Oikonomou
  • Takis bakery

Honourable mentions if you are in the area: Morning Bar for breakfast, Drupes and Drips for an afternoon spritz, Dolce Far Niente for an ice cream. You can visit the area after your visit to the Acropolis Museum since it's close by.


  • Stani
  • Lefteris o Politis souvlaki
  • Black Salami micro bakery
  • Kallidromiou farmer's market


  • Seychelles restaurant
  • Alekos Fassianos museum
  • Breeder gallery
  • Bernier Eliades gallery


  • Akra restaurant 
  • Lido bakery
  • National Gallery of Athens

Southern suburbs/Piraeus port:

  • Yperokeanio taverna
  • Paleo Wine Store

I really hope you discover all that Athens has to offer. Leave us a comment to let us know if you plan to visit soon and tell us which place we should write about next! 

2 Responses


April 15, 2024

Evangelia, thanks so much for your support! Have a great time next month….and send us any new tips you might discover!

Evagelia Samaha
Evagelia Samaha

April 15, 2024

Thank you for all the information.
Will be in Greece in May
I was born in Sparta. Left young.
Love my roots.
I am one of your clients.

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