Where to eat, drink, stay and shop in Athens

Dining room at AthensWas

Dining room at AthensWas

Athens has bounced back from the brink, its creative energy alive in vibrant new bars and eateries, writes Victoria Kyriakopoulos.

STAY

AthensWas
Brilliantly located on the lively pedestrian promenade around the Acropolis, this polished boutique hotel pays homage to Modernist design. The 21 rooms with spacious balconies are artfully decorated with bold graffiti-patterned carpets and period furniture, from Le Corbusier armchairs to 1950s Flos lamps. Enjoy views of the Acropolis from the rooftop terrace, where Modern Dining serves contemporary Mediterranean fare such as sea bass with black lentils and roast Ibérico pork with black truffles. 5 Dionysiou Areopagitou.

Electra Metropolis Athens
A towering art installation by Greek artist Alekos Fassianos soars 10 levels in the hotel's stunning atrium. The €17 million transformation of the derelict 1960s Ministry of Education building incorporates a tiny post-Byzantine church preserved in the portico, and ancient city walls and ruins are visible through glass floors and walls in the basement. The 216 retro-chic rooms have balconies, but the big drawcard is the rooftop pool and expansive Roof Garden restaurant and bar, with 360-degree views of the Acropolis, and hills of Athens.
15 Mitropoleos.

By the beach
A luxury seaside hotel on the Athens Riviera, The Margi offers an organic farm-to-fork experience at its farm, at the lauded Patio restaurant and poolside at the Malabar, among olive trees and bougainvillea.  Litous 11, Vouliagmeni. 

Ergon Greek Deli + Cuisine (photo courtesty of Ergon).

SEE

EMST
The long-awaited opening of EMST, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, at the old Fix brewery is a boon for Athens's burgeoning arts scene. The seven-storey Modernist building has colossal exhibition spaces for contemporary Greek and international shows, including the contemporary art showcase Documenta 14 being co-hosted with Kassel, Germany, until July. Upper galleries will house the permanent collection soon after. Kallirrois & Frantzi.

Underground history
Take refuge in the peaceful Café Ilissia in the gardens of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, and go underground to see its fine collection. Aristotle's Lyceum next door is the city's newest archaeological site.  22 Vas Sofias.

SHOP

Yoleni's
The six-level flagship store of this successful online deli is a one-stop shop for Greek cuisine. Styled as a traditional '60s grocery store, it features Greece's first olive-oil tasting bar, a wine and liquor store, and a staggering selection of artisanal and regional products packed on basement shelves. The ground-floor café has a wood-fired oven baking traditional pies. Upstairs is a butchery and grill house, cooking classes and a supervised kids' play area. Solonos 9. 

Yoleni's (photo courtesy of Yoleni's).

DRINK

Athens' vibrant bar scene has flourished despite tough economic times. The Clumsies (Praxitelous 30) is open all day but shines at cocktail hour, when staff are let loose with bespoke concoctions developed in the lab upstairs. The El Draque Mojito, for instance, comes as a toothbrush with edible mint and apple toothpaste. On a bigger scale but just as much fun is Noel (Kolokotrini 59B), a warren of drinking nooks off a central arcade with good food, interesting cocktails and a permanently festive vibe. A session at Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro (Mitropoleos 66) is a crash course in Greek viniculture. It claims the world's largest by-the-glass wine list (500 at last count, half of them Greek, poured from Coravin) and has an extensive menu and 1960s French-bistro ambience.

EAT

CTC 
Chef Alex Tsiotinis is regarded as a rising star of Athens's food scene, and he's in full creative flight at CTC. Book ahead for an artfully presented six- or nine-course tasting menu that might include his signature corn and lobster velouté or lamb ravioli. Oumplianis 14 & Diocharous. 

CTC (photo courtesy of CTC).

Ergon Greek  Deli + Cuisine
This slick food store-restaurant, which has outposts in London, Miami and the Greek islands, has built its reputation by sourcing the country's best traditional produce. Regional dishes are made with flair: the likes of a pilaf of Grevena wild mushrooms and Mytilini cheese, say, and Cretan tomato salad with Santorini capers. Mitropoleos 26.

Fabrica tou Efrosinou
Traditional Greek cooking is taken up a notch with modern flourishes and artisanal and organic produce at this taverna in Athens's latest hot neighbourhood of Koukaki. Expect the likes of slow-cooked claypot honey pork kotsi, a carrot salad with walnuts and Turkish delight, and good house-made wine. Zinni 34, Koukaki.


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