Athens has incredible museums, several in fact for everything. I have two favorites that I think everyone needs to see. The Benaki Museum is one of the oldest museums in Greece, here you will find a little bit of everything, Icons, Textiles, Ceramics, Photography, and Historical Archives. Personally my favorite section is considered part of the “Historic Heirloom” Collection. I have been involved in traditional Greek Folk dancing since I was 3—this part of the collection displays some of the most incredible clothing from decades ago, what I consider “costumes” now for my own dance group that I teach. Between the costumes and some incredible items belonging to some of our country’s most notable heroes, The Benaki is a great place to spend your afternoon. After you leave The Benaki, you need to go to the Hilton Athens. It’s a 15 minute walk and you’ll flip for the rooftop bar. Be advised, you need to be dressed to get into this bar the have a dress code and even asked friends of mine who were guests at the hotel to change out of their shorts. Just saying. Anyway, the Hilton is really pretty, lovely lobby, blah, blah, but I am a total hotel bar snob. I love hotel bars. I don’t know why but I love them, even when I’m not traveling! The Galaxy Bar at the Hilton has the most beautiful view of the city and of The Acropolis. Go there, you will love it, and be prepared to pay20Euro for your cocktail, but the view is totally worth it.
- Back downtown on Ermu Street. It is off Syntagma Square (where Parliament is) and it’s one long street filled with stores that will lead you back down to Monastiraki. There is great stuff there and don’t be fooled by stores you see in the US, they don’t have the same stuff. H&M in Athens is fantastic, H&M in Atlanta…not so much. Same goes for Zara. Ermu is stop 1 on this train and pick out any cute café down one of the side streets and have a coffee, they are all good, you can’t go wrong.
- Next, I like to go to Kolonaki—here are my specific instructions and if you say exactly this and your cab driver doesn’t know what you are talking about, then he is an idiot. There is a “Platia” there (a small square) in the center of Kolonaki (a suburb of Athens) off the Platia, there is one specific street that taxi’s are not allowed to drive down (I think the street is called Tsakalof) it is flanked by two café’s, again, stop and have a coffee, then do a little shopping. There is great stuff there and a bit more high end then what you will find on Ermu.
- Finally, my newest favorite place is The Mall. Again, we aren’t super creative with naming things. The Mall is actually pretty close to our house so it is convenient that way, you will also pass it on your way to and from the airport. This is where I discovered the Zara Home store (it’s kind of like if Anthopologie and Club Monaco hooked up) AH-Mazing! This is also the best place to get a good look at the Olympic Stadium. The Mall has a beautiful balcony filled with café’s that over looks the masterpiece created by Santiago Calatrava for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.