The essential site for city travellers
The metro runs from the airport every 30 minutes into the centre of Athens stopping at Syntagma then Monistariki which are two of the most central stations, the journey takes 40 minutes. There are various options for tickets from the airport and there is also a bus service to Syntagma.
In Athens a day ticket for the metro and bus is available and useful but a five day ticket is much better value. The metro extends to Piraeus if you are catching a ferry. Some of the metro stations are full of works of art so worth looking at the stations as you pass or get of the train.
A good web site to look at is www.athensguide.com by an American called Matt Barrett full of great info and well produced from over 20 years of living in Greece.
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.venere.com. We have always stayed at the Hotel Attalos Athinas Street nr Monistariki Metro Station, www.attaloshotel.com. The rooms are simple with all facilities required, ask for a balcony room, ideally the corner ones for a fabulous view of the Acropolis. There is an excellent roof top bar, a great place for an evening drink. The staff are helpful, the location is great so it is our first choice.
Atlantikos, Avliton 7, Psirri was the find our our most recent visit. I had read about this fish & seafood taverna in an article and on our first visit was surprised to find a modern restaurant with outside seating in a small lane. The fish was outstanding and the prices incredibly reasonable, the staff were friendly and we were very impressed. We returned on our last night after travelling and were lucky to get a table, the prawn starter and the fish main were great, as was the house wine and the bill.
Taverna Tou Psirri, Eschilou 12, Psirri, has been there for years and on this visit arriving late we tried it on our first night, simple food, reasonably priced and decent service.
Oineas, Esopou 9, Psirri, we booked this in advance after reading about it and seeing how busy it was one evening. The setting is lovely and the staff welcoming, the two mains were both good but I found the octopus starter rather tough.
Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani, Sokrates 1 & Evripidou 52, Monistariki, just of Athinas Street, we spotted this at the start of this visit and returned at the end to have another look. It looks like a grocers & delicatessen with a few tables which is exactly what it is. We were enticed in by some lovely pastrami & cheese given to us by one of the great staff. As we were going somewhere later we only tried a couple of small dishes but they were both excellent, the staff lovely & the free dessert of yoghurt with sweet carrot was super. A really great find and definitely a must on a return visit.
Fillipou, Xenokratous 19, Kolonaki, tried booking on line but failed so on a visit to the Kolonaki area we decided to go for lunch. There is a large menu but only so many dishes are available each day, the waiter will tell you what is on offer. The restaurant is busy with well heeled locals who eat there all the time or come in to take away meals. The setting is smart and the food good but not exciting enough to go out of your way to try.
Tzitzikas & Mermigas, Mitropoleos 12-14, Syntagma, we found by chance wandering back from Syntagma and looking at how busy with locals it was we decided to give it a try. The food was great, all three dishes were well cooked, lovely flavours and the house wine was excellent. It was great value and wish we had managed to return during our stay.
Manas Kouzina-Kouzina, Aiolou 27,Monistariki, had read great things and booked it for dinner when passing one lunchtime. Unfortunately at dinner it was very quiet and the food was not uninspiring. Having read the reviews I suspect this is a better lunch option.
Kuzina, 9 Adrianou Street, near Monistariki and Thisio Metro, is a modern Greek restaurant with lovely views up the Acropolis, it has an a la carte menu but also does an incredibly good value 4 course set menu, really nice staff make it a good choice. Prices seem to have gone up since our last visit.
Sardelles, 15 Persefonis Street, Metro Keramikos, this is a modern fish taverna in a very lively area, reasonably priced and good service, they also own the meat taverna next door called the Butchers Shop.
Pozania or Rozalia, it seems to have two names, Valtetsiou, 58, Metro Omonia is in an area called Exarhia and is a very old established taverna with a huge outdoor garden and great grilled meats.
Brettos, 41 Kidathineion Street, is a great place, it is owned by the Brettos Spirits Company and is a beautifully lit bar with dozens of liqueurs to try, all cheap, they also serve wine and beer, it is open every day.
The area of Psirri, is five minutes walk from Monistariki and it is a popular area for bars & restaurants. There is a wide range of bars and it should be no problem to find one that suits.
Transistor, Protogenous 10, is a very cool, popular bar, just of Athinas Street going towards Psirri. There is a wide selection of drinks and also food and being able to get an outside table at busy times can be hard.
Liosporos Jazz Cafe Bar, Miaouli 24, Psirri, is an old favourite from previous visits. It has a very local feel, there are always seats outside and it is a great place to chill with a drink and people watch at any time of day.
Ivis, Ivis 10, is very much a local bar & cafe which serves meze dishes and drinks. There is an English menu but specials are in Greek so ask the staff. It mainly cater for locals eating and drinking but when quiet stop by for a beer or wine the prices are incredibly cheap.
Gazi is the new lively area with loads of terrace bars and places to eat, although it attracts quite a young crowd there is enough choice that you could find somewhere suitable. The metro station Keramikos has its main entrance just in the square that is the centre of all the activity. There are a number of modern art and cultural centres in the area.
Exarhia, nearest metro Omonia but walkable from Monistariki, is the new hip area, it has a bit of a radical reputation but these days seems quite safe, just stay on the well lit and busy streets. The main square Plateia Exarhion has loads of bars and cafes.
The Kolonaki area is like the Knightsbridge of Athens full of very smart places to eat, drink and shop.
Ano Petralona, Metro Petralona, is a residential area that has a good reputation for local tavernas with good traditional food.
Ouzo is of course probably the best known Greek drink and while still seen being drunk with meze it has apparently lost popularity presumably as people change their drinking habits and more cocktail type bars open up.
Cocktails are popular both in the cities and on the islands, and many of the island waterfront bars are great for happy hour drinks.
Lager type beer such as Mythos is very commonly drunk but there is increasingly bars focusing on small craft breweries with more ale type beers such as IPA’s.
Lastly wine, and in more informal eating places house wine by the litre is both cheap and drinkable, white, rose and red are usually available. If you are going to try more upmarket wine then it is worth doing some homework before you go to learn about grape types. Greek wines are gaining more and more admirers so check out some of the wine bars that have opened in recent years.
Must visits are the obvious sites of the Acropolis and Ancient Agora, try and go early as they get very crowded. The new Acropolis Museum looks fantastic and there is a lovely new pedestrian walk round the Acropolis hill and down to Monistariki with some lovely cafes to sit outside about three quarters of the way down.
Go up Lykavittos Hill by funicular for a fabulous view of the city.
The Flea market on a Sunday at Monistariki is worth a visit as are the Central Markets on Athinas Street.