All Aboard for Athens
Santorini was not easy to say goodbye to. Things got a little emotional as we boarded the ferry and watched that stunning volcanic isle disappear in the distance. Still, Heather and I had one last stop on our joint European adventures to enjoy — a weekend of urban adventures in Athens. I loved this city something fierce on my first trip several years ago, and was extremely excited to return for another round.
Photos courtesy of Heather Holt
Photos courtesy of Heather Holt
We absolutely adored our apartment rental in Santorini, and were thrilled to continue the theme in Athens. This time, we went with a spacious designer loft found on Flipkey (this particular place is no longer listed) for a fraction of what a high-end hotel would cost. While there were issues — the building was fairly sketchy and it’s definitely a one bedroom apartment with a second bed awkwardly placed in a master bathroom — we loved using our own kitchen and washing machine, having enough space for impromptu midnight dance parties and pretending we were super trendy Athens locals for two nights.
And really, any complaints aside — if only you could find apartments like this in New York starting at $150 a night!
This was my first time using Flipkey — they invited me to test out the site after I bonded with some of the team at a travel event in NYC — and I loved it. It had a super clean interface, it’s integrated with Tripadvisor (one of my favorite travel sites of all time), and they had a great selection of properties.
My family and I are already using it to plan a big reunion next year in Florida — we found houses on Flipkey that didn’t know up on any of the other standard rental sites.
We kicked off our first night in Athens in style by popping around the corner — literally — from our apartment for sunset drinks at Fresh Hotel, where Heather was hit with her first ever glimpse of the Acropolis. Yamas! (That’s cheers, if it’s not all Greek to you.)
Photo courtesy of Heather Holt
Our next stop? Zappeion Gardens for a midnight movie at an outdoor theater, one of my favorite memories from my first trip to Athens. While the cinema experience lived up to my own personal hype, the attached restaurant has gone downhill compared to my rose-colored recollections.
Still, you simply can’t miss visiting one of these countless open air theaters on a summer trip to Greece.
The next morning, we mostly ran errands and enjoyed doing cartwheels in our cavernous accommodation. Eventually though, we made our way to another one of Athen’s mega-hip hotels, New Hotel, for an avocado-laden late lunch, and then worked off the calories with a window-shopping stroll though the charming Plaka district.
Finally, it was time for the big one — visiting the Acropolis itself. Having already been once myself, I was still excited to return, especially with a fellow photographer in tow. We were running late, as usual, and arrived just as the crowds were thinning out and the golden hour of lighting was settling in over the hill.
It was perfection.
One of the many things I love about traveling with Heather? She takes the most amazing candids. Look how deep and contemplative I look through her lens, when in reality I was probably mulling over the maximum amout of gyros it is socially acceptable to eat per day.
Photo courtesy of Heather Holt
Photo courtesy of Heather Holt
Photographers — save the Acropolis for sunset. I can’t imagine a more stunning time of day. We practically floated back down to the streets when the guards finally kicked us out.
We decided to celebrate our perfect Parthenon experience with a night in Gazi, Athens’ hip and happening nightlife district. With no real insight on where to go or what to do, we simply bar hopped in whatever direction the wind (and wine) took us, from bro-tastic mega bars to hipster-inspired speakeasies tucked down discreet alleys. From what we could tell, we were the only tourists around.
Going out in Gazi yourself? Cartone and Plastiko were two of our favorites.
Eventually, we cabbed it back to the more tourist-friendly — and much closer to our accommodation — Psirri district. Here, we discovered two more of our favorite finds of the night, Six Dogs and the rooftop bar of A is for Athens. While A is for Athens was a hotel bar and thus filled with a healthy mix of tourists and Athenians, hidden away Six Doggs definitely had the same local flavor we had found in Gazi.
All too soon, our forty eight hours in Athens were over and it was time to part ways with Heather — though not for long, as we already had plans to join forces again in Thailand a few short months later. And while Heather was off to Germany, Iceland, and beyond, I was thrilled to not be crossing any borders for a few more weeks.
And with that, I was off to next installment of my Greek adventure…
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Many thanks for Flipkey for providing me with a booking credit. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
Wow, both of you are such gifted photographers! I’m really interested in this renting apartments for short stays, are you doing a post about that?
Hey Breanna! I didn’t plan to do a full post on the subject but I’d be thrilled to answer any questions you have about it! What kind of info are you looking for?
I’m just looking for websites really. You seem to like using that as a form of accommodation, and I’m looking at travelling with a group of friends so maybe that’s a way to go instead of hotel or hostel.
Definitely! I like the one I used here, Flipkey, and I hear great things about AirBnB and VRBO. Good luck 🙂
Oh my god, that apartment is ridiculous! What I would give to live there. Athens is such a wonderful city. I haven’t been there in 7 years! And even then my trip was way too brief. But your photos totally bring me back. The view from some of those bars is pretty awesome. I love how the ruins are all lit up! I definitely hope I make it back there sometime very, very soon!
I just love that no matter where you go in Athens, you see that beautiful reminder of its epic past! It’s an amazing city — I’m always shocked when people say they don’t like it.
It really feels you 2 had a great time!!! Love all the photos, seems such a gorgeous place. I never went there because my sister told me it wasn’t really worth it, your photos just changed my mind
Yeah, Athens gets a bad rap! In my mind, totally undeserved 🙂
I really want to see the bed in the bath! I feel like that is song lyrics to something I have heard.
Ha! You can kind of see it in the picture of the dining table. It’s a super open plan apartment, clearly 🙂
I’ve read many negative things about Athens, so it’s nice to read a post written by someone who loves the city. And the rooftop bar at A is for Athens looks amazing!
It was a great one… so many trendy little hotels in Athens with great bars attached 🙂
Ah, this brought back happy memories of my wonderful time in Athens! So glad your second visit went so pleasantly! 🙂 And the photos, as usual, are amazing! Both yours and Heather’s!
Thanks Erika! I’m glad to hear from another Athens lover 🙂
Athens looks awesome! It has never been on my list but you’re making a strong case for it.
I figure, you have to stop there on your way in or out of Greece anyway (usually)…. might as well make the most of it!
Golden hour at the Acropolis is perfection – when I were there ages ago I was a different traveller and more inclined to be there earlier in the day. I hope to go back and make the most of sunsets 🙂
It’s too hot early in the day! At least for these lazy travelers 😛
Although it has been probably about 7 years I still remember Athens as being one of my favorite cities, The food and liveliness of the place just kinda gets to you, actually Greece in general, so much history!
Love hearing from someone else who loved Athens! I’m always so shocked by other travelers saying they hated it. So much to do, see, and absorb.
Thanks for the photo tip about Acropolis! Your photos are incredible as always <3
It was definitely a happy accident 🙂 We stumbled upon the perfect timing, even if we were a bit rushed!
Those views both of the acropolis and from it are mesmerizing. Makes me feel like I am there! Wonder if you could bring a bottle of wine and some gyros up with you and have a sunset picnic 🙂
Ah, that would be heaven! Not sure how the guards would feel about it, but better to ask for forgiveness than permission, I say 🙂
I just returned from a week in Athens (for TBEX) and I absolutely loved this city. So great to see your wonderful photos and think back of an amazing week! I’m really loving your stories about your time in Greece :).
I thought it was funny timing that I just got to this post around TBEX time! I was so sad I couldn’t be there, but ah well 🙂 Glad you had a great time!
Athens looks wonderful. I just love how the Acropolis is towering so majestically over the city. I can’t believe I have never been!
It’s definitely one of those cities I think every traveler should see at some point. Magical!
My next destination! Can’t wait!
Awesome! You’ll love it 🙂 Enjoy!
I really enjoyed Athens too! It’s funky and has such a good mix of old and new. That’s what I love so much about Berlin too.
I haven’t been to Berlin, but this comment definitely sells me on it 🙂
I love how historical and gorgeous Athens is – I definitely want to visit eventually!
It’s an amazing city. And it’s also the gateway to the Greek islands, so that’s yet another reason to visit 🙂
Been browsing through some of your posts. I must admit, I just can’t stop reading. I love your writing style. And your photos, too!
Looking forward to reading your future posts! 🙂
Thanks Miguel! That is lovely to hear. Happy to have you following along!
I am off to Greece (Athens) on June, what are your recommendations on “must do” in Athens?
Hey Naville! I’d recommend heading to my destinations post and clicking on Athens to read all my posts about it 🙂 My must dos will all be in there! The Parthenon, the Acropolis museum, an outdoor movie, and a rooftop bar of some sort! Enjoy your trip!
Athens is intriguing. I actually like Ancient Agora more than Acropolis. But my favorite place has to be Plaka with the endless lush greeneries decorating the walls. Gorgeous!
Ah, I love Athens so much! Seriously, swoon! And yes — Plaka is gorgeous.
Thanks for covering the nightlife of Athens! Really underestimated by most travellers.
I agree John! It would be a shame to blow straight to the islands and miss this great city.