A Wine Lover’s Guide to Athens (Αθήνα)

Advisor - Kelsey Parry
Curated By

Kelsey Parry

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  • Athens

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • Boutique Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Foodie

  • Wineries

A ruin with pillars.
Curator’s statement

Whether planning a purpose-driven vacation to Greece or spending a few days pre- or post-cruise, Athens is a phenomenal city in which to dive into local history, culture, food and wine. The culinary scene in Athens is truly top-notch, so plan to spend three to four days in the city, sightseeing during the day, then eating and drinking your way around town in the evenings.

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Where to stay

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The Foundry Suites Athens

Modern all-suite property in a converted foundry from the 1930s with contemporary living spaces.

xenodocheio Milos

Luxurious five-star gastronomic hotel with a focus on sleek design and seamless hospitality offerings.

ERGON House Athens

Foodies rejoice: this industrial-style hotel is set above a trendy food court and marketplace in downtown Athens.

Fora Perks
  • Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability at check-in.

  • Complimentary bottle of wine in room on arrival.

  • Welcome treat and fruit plate in room on arrival.

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Advisor - Kelsey Parry

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Day 1: Arrival and Hotel in Athens (Αθήνα)

A basket of food sitting on a table on a rooftop during the daytime

Kalimera (Καλημέρα) and welcome to Athens! Most direct flights from the U.S. arrive in the morning to ATH, with the customs/arrival process very clearly marked in English. Taxis can be found right outside the arrivals terminal. However, consider pre-booking pickup transportation through Blacklane or Welcome Pickups for an assigned driver to be waiting for you personally to assist with luggage and navigating the arrivals terminal (Welcome Pickups, in particular, is only a few dollars more than standard taxi fare from the airport). Public transportation is also an option via certain Athens Metro 3 (blue) line trains, though this is only recommended for those with carry-on luggage. The Metro is notoriously difficult with luggage and susceptible to pickpockets for those coming from the airport.

Head straight to your hotel, The Foundry Suites

The Foundry Suites is a fantastic hotel featuring full kitchens in every room, record players and local minibar additions. Some rooms have private gardens, terraces, and even multi-room lofts. Located in the hip (and centrally-located) Psyrri district, The Foundry Suites is a short walk to almost any attraction you desire in central Athens. Upon check-in, you can designate whether to have breakfasts on the rooftop in the mornings or a lovely basket brought to your room instead. If departing early for an excursion, they will even pack you a to-go breakfast with juice and coffee for the adventure. The breakfast spread (regardless of whether you enjoy it on the roof or from the basket in your room) comes from a fabulous deli across the street called Athenian Deli Grocery.

Day 2: Central Municipal Market and Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro

Kitchen of a restaurant Lukumades.

Once situated at The Foundry Suites (or while waiting for your room), walk over to Varvakios Central Municipal Market and grab your first Greek bites at Ouzeri Karayiannis (order ouzo, a beer and their meze-like snacks). It is recommended to pour just a touch of the water they provide into the ouzo, which will make it look a bit cloudy.

When refreshed and nourished, wander through the market to your next snack stop Η Βόλβη souvlaki Η Βόλβη’s take on souvlaki has more of an emphasis on the basics with the best ingredients possible, which gives them a bit of a new-age take on the Greek souvlaki tradition (a warning - they use mustard instead of tzatziki sauce).

*An important item to note regarding souvlaki: in many instances, what most Americans consider a gyro is called souvlaki in Greece. Depending on which island or province you find yourself, ordering a gyro might result in a huge plate of food instead of the wrap you are expecting, so stick with ordering souvlaki if you are hoping for a handheld pita. Additionally, lamb is very infrequently used for souvlaki in Greece, as pork (χοιρινό) or chicken (κοτόπουλο) are the primary options.

On your way back to the hotel, consider stopping at a grocer (or one of the many stalls in the Central Market) to get snacks and bottled water for the next few days of your visit.

After making yourself at home in the hotel and enjoying a short respite, set out walking for the Monastriaki neighborhood and dinner at Vintage Wine Bar & Bistro, where reservations are necessary. While the name seems rather unassuming, Vintage Wine Bar has the largest selection of Greek wines by the glass in the country, with incredibly knowledgeable sommeliers who are very happy to explain each selection in depth. Like us, you will likely find yourself back at this spot again later in your trip just to enjoy more of the wines on offer.

Skip dessert at Vintage Wine Bar and instead enjoy your first loukoumades of the trip at LUKUMAΔΕΣ, which is another shop with a modern take on the Greek classic and an unbelievable selection of toppings. This stop is well worth waiting in line!

Day 3: The Acropolis

A couple standing in front of an old building ruin with pillars.

Since you have already requested a to-go breakfast from the Foundry Suites, enjoy your meal while strolling the 25-minute walk to the Acropolis Museum entrance, where your private tour will begin. For those looking for a true academic-level tour guide, Context Travel ensures their guides are true experts in the field, most having PhDs in history, archeology, all of the above, etc. Schedule the earliest morning tour at 8 a.m. to ensure you beat the heat and crowds (as much as possible).

Your tour will conclude back at the Acropolis Museum, which is a very short walk away from the neighborhood of Plaka. Geros tou Moria is a great stop in the Plaka area for lunch and to enjoy the views and streets of the historic area.

After another possible afternoon respite, head to dinner at Linou Soumpasis, where reservations are required. Also referred to as LS and SIA or ΛΙΝΟΥ ΣΟΥΜΠΑΣΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΣΙΑ, this “new-age taverna” specializes in classic Greek ingredients and flavors but with an emphasis on the freshest local ingredients and techniques possible (and of course has a great wine list).

After dinner, stop for a nightcap (or three) at The Clumsies, one of the top 50 bars in the world.

Day 4: Syntagma Square and the Changing of the Guard

Food in a brown box in front of a restaurant.

Enjoy a leisurely morning start to the day, and perhaps take breakfast in the hotel’s rooftop garden. On the way out from Psyrri, stop at Bougatsadiko Psirri (Μπουγατσάδικο η Θεσσαλονίκη στου Ψυρρή) to pick up bougatsa for the morning's adventure.

Syntagma Square is a 20-minute walk from The Foundry Suites (or a 15-minute metro ride) in order to catch the hourly Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The largest and most elaborate changing of the guard is held at 11 a.m. on Sundays if your schedule permits.

After watching the guard change, walk down Voukourestiou Street to enjoy high-end designer window shopping. LALAoUNIS is a highly regarded Greek jewelry store for those looking for elevated gifts. If very interested in jewelry, the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum is near the Acropolis Museum and is an easy addition to that day’s itinerary.

Continue to wander toward Monastiraki Square, stopping for a quick (or long) tipple at the Bar in Front of the Bar, a cocktail street bar (also on the list of best bars in the world), where the menu changes daily emphasizing zero-waste.

While still working your way back towards the hotel, stop at ERGON House to take a walk through their first-floor food hall, similar in mindset to Eataly in New York (this is also a good place for a bathroom stop, if necessary).

If you can manage, head up to Krinos for more traditional loukamades before returning to the hotel to put up your feet.

Dinner tonight is at Karamanlidika tou Fani (Καραμανλίδικα του Φάνη Σωκράτους), where reservations are indeed needed. Upon arrival, you will be separated into a line of those with reservations (who are quickly taken in to be seated) and those without, hoping something becomes available last minute. When making reservations, the Mezze Restaurant of Karamanlidika at 1 Sokratous Street is the original (and recommended) location. Order local wine and try some of their house specialties: pastrouma pies, sahanaki karamanlidiko, meatballs, and smoked mackerel. Feign surprise when they send you a dessert on the house, which is usually Greek yogurt with candied carrots called glyko karotou.

If you are still up for more Athenian nightlife, head next to Baba au Rum, another of the world’s top 50 bars.

Day 5: Athens Epidaurus Music Festival

Open air stadium with a music concert.

Depending on your travel schedule (and the schedule of events), consider organizing your specific plans around the Athens Epidaurus Music Festival, which occurs throughout the summer in Athens. Most importantly, it has multiple events scheduled throughout its program that are held at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Ωδείο Ηρώδου Αττικού-Ηρώδειο), which is the ancient theatre on the Acropolis that you will most definitely see from your guided tour. The theatre is only accessible during a scheduled event (not by tour), so it is a great opportunity to see everything from Maria Callas opera tributes to Florence and the Machine while enjoying the 2000-year-old venue.

Day Trips and Honorable Restaurant and Food Mentions

Pizza on a table in restaurant.

Day Trip to Meteora (Μετέωρα), Greece

If you have the time in your vacation schedule, consider adding a couple of days to your itinerary and take the train to Meteora (Μετέωρα) in central Greece (about 4 hours each way via direct train from Athens). Meteora is known for its monasteries built atop giant rock formations, many of which are only accessible via precipitous staircases cut into the rock. For those with less vacation time to allot, multiple companies offer this as a day trip from Athens (albeit a long day), as outlined in my guide, a Day Trip to Meteora (Μετέωρα), Greece.

Honorable Restaurant and Food Mentions

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my itinerary, Pre-Cruise Guide to Southampton, UK.

This itinerary is part of our ongoing series on travel to Athens.

Advisor - Kelsey Parry

Travel Advisor

Kelsey Parry

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