Words by: Annika Johansson
Step foot on ancient land and there is something spellbinding that takes over your soul. You’re transported back in time as the stone walls of architectural wonders whisper their secrets of long ago. You close your eyes and imagine the tales that played out long ago right where you stand. Only to be jolted back to the present with the smells, sounds and familiar chaos of a vibrant cosmopolitan city.
This is the feeling when you escape to Athens. The ancient capital of Greece. One of our planet’s oldest cities, a melting pot of contrasts. Strength and elegance. Age and edge. Classical, awe-inspiring stone architecture intertwined with chic cosmopolitan layers. Old and new. A great place to escape to. We fell in love with two eclectic little neighbourhoods on our recent escape to Athens. Here’s why.
Full of neoclassic colours, whimsical scents and elegantly-kept gardens. Plaka sits at the foot of the Acropolis and has a real local village feel to it. With its labyrinth of cobblestone streets closed to cars, Plaka is a neighbourhood for meandering and exploring at your own pace. Where getting lost only adds to the pleasure. Full of little shopfronts selling anything and everything, and backstreets dotted with family-run tavernas and quaint cafes. There’s even an al fresco movie house, Cine Paris, when you want to rest your travelling soles. And it has a fabulous flea market. Because there’s always room for more gems in that travel bag.
Plaka serves up majestic views of the Acropolis and with a history of over 3,500 years, is home to many ancient ruins like The Roman Agora, Byzantine temples and renovated neoclassical buildings. We recommend an evening at The Old Tavern of Psarras, an Athens icon, when your day of exploring is complete. It’s Plaka's oldest restaurant, and connoisseurs the world over come to sample the finest traditional cuisine Greece has to offer.
Anafiotika, a quaint and tiny Cycladic settlement within Plaka, feels like a secrete mini Santorini oasis in the heart of Athens. With its tiny winding paths, cube houses, white-washed walls and bougainvillea growing wild, it was created by the builders who came from the islands to help reconstruct the city of Athens in the 19th century. They wanted a place to remind them of home.
In Anafiotika, you feel a million miles away from the chaos and pace of Athens. A place to catch up with yourself, to reflect, to admire a different view of the Acropolis. Here you can discover the charm and colour of everyday Athens’ life. Pop by Anafiotika Café, a favourite local hangout for some live music and brilliant coffee.
Colourful, vibrant, authentic, historic Athens. A place to soak up the contrasts, the colours, the smells, the unique wares, the sounds – familiar and not so familiar. Take it all in and file it away for when you want to next escape on a whim.