Tasting Table’s mouthwatering profile of noteworthy places to eat and drink in Athens
This article from Tasting Table will whet your appetite for places to get a great drink, snack or meal during your trip to Athens
Tastes of Athens: We don’t yet know if we’ll be spending any time in Athens on our next trip to Greece, but I have already bookmarked a timely Tasting Table article (pictured above) to help us decide where to enjoy a coffee, drink, snack or meal if we do manage to visit the city.
16 Places to eat and drink in Athens, Greece popped up while I was scrolling through news stories on my phone during a break at the gym. Thankfully, I didn’t have time to read it then, since writer Brandon Rich’s food and beverage recommendations would have left me feeling ravenous the rest of the day.
His profile includes two cocktail bars that have been named among the world’s best, and two restaurants on the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand listing. I instantly recognized the names of three of the four establishments, plus one of several Greek tavernas that Rich writes about. I wasn’t familiar with any of the other eateries — probably because, as Rich points out, “some of the best places you can eat and drink in Athens are still flying under the radar.”
His article spotlights bakeries and cafes, traditional tavernas and fine dining establishments, souvlaki joints and street food shops, describing signature drinks and dishes and must-try meals and beverages. The easy-to-read piece also provides links to websites for each venue, so you can obtain addresses and contact details, and read more about each place.
Winter wonders: The latest Athens issue of Greece Is magazine sure would have come in handy during a recent Christmas party conversation about winter travel plans. After friends and acquaintances described their upcoming trips to Florida, Australia, Mexico and the Caribbean, everyone looked perplexed when I said that I wished I could visit Athens. “But isn’t everything there closed down?” one of my acquaintances asked. Similar questions by others in the group suggested they, too, think Greece is only a summer beach destination.
Like many people, they just don’t realize that, even during the cooler months of off-season, the capital of Greece is always brimming with engaging arts and culture events, and fun food, drink and entertainment activities.
Why wouldn’t it be? It’s a major international city, after all, and its 3 million residents don’t go into hibernation until Greek Easter. They like to get out and about to experience their city’s cultural attractions and events, and there are plenty of those to enjoy throughout the winter months — as the Athens Winter 2022-2023 special edition of Greece Is magazine points out.
Released in early December, the 148-page issue includes:
♦ A spotlight on things to see and do in Athens — both indoors and out — on mild winter days
♦ Photos and information about visiting the Makrigianni site — the ancient streets beneath the Acropolis Museum
♦ “Art & the City,” a look at local hangouts for food, drinks and shopping in the neighbourhoods near the city’s major museums and art galleries
♦ “At the museum with the kids,” an article that highlights “tailored programs and tours” geared specifically for children — a must-read for families travelling to Athens
♦ In “Dining Out: Then & Now,” writer Christos Chomenidis “connects the past with the present” as he describes visits to five noteworthy restaurants that each have “their own story to tell.”
♦ “Finding philosophy among the ruins,” a piece that traces the “ancient Greek philosophers’ favourite haunts in and around the Athenian Agora”
♦ “Dreaming of the blue skies of Attica,” an essay that considers “why the return of the Parthenon Sculptures is a democratic imperative,” and much more.
If you’re planning a winter trip to Athens, or simply wondering if it’s worthwhile to visit at this time of year, have a look through the magazine. You’ll find lots of helpful information and great suggestions for places to visit and things to do — more than enough to keep you entertained and enthralled.
The Greece National Tourism Organisation released this video last month to kick off a campaign promoting the country’s mainland destinations for winter holidays. This week, a massive snowstorm made international headlines and reinforced the campaign message that “Greece has winter, too.”
Snow wonder: Was it simply good timing, a complete coincidence, or an incredible Greek drama directed by the mythical Greek gods at Mount Olympus?
Just days before Christmas, Greece’s ministry of tourism and its national tourism organization launched an advertising promotion to encourage winter tourism at destinations in mainland Greece — a campaign intended to show people around the world that there’s much more to experience in Greece than summer vacations on its famous sun-drenched islands.
The campaign was built around its centerpiece video, which we posted above. It begins with a press conference-style spokesperson greeting viewers with: “Dear World. We Greeks know that when you think of our country, you think of the islands, the sea, the endless summer. But today, we have a big announcement to make. It may sound confusing. You may be surprised. But Greece has a winter too!”
The video goes on to show beautiful winter scenery and exciting outdoor activities at places in Central Greece, Epirus, the Peloponnese, Thessaly and West Macedonia. We were surprised that the film doesn’t mention or display any skiing or other alpine snow sports, even though mainland Greece does boast major ski centers — such as Parnassos and Kalavrita — along with 15 smaller but very popular alpine facilities.
Kalavrita Ski Resort (Το χιονοδρομικό κέντρο Καλαβρύτων) in the Peloponnese, seen in a January 15 aerial photo from its Facebook page
The promotional campaign was aimed primarily at Greece’s main travel markets — the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Scandinavian countries and Israel. But less than a month later, the message that Greece has a winter season reached countless millions of people around the world loud and clear — not through the video or advertisements, but rather thanks to some unexpected free publicity from Mother Nature on Monday January 24.
That’s the day a massive weather system walloped Greece, dumping record-setting heavy snowfalls that virtually paralyzed traffic and transport in Athens and many parts of the country. The unprecedented snowstorm and its immense visual impact made international news headlines across the globe, with television and social media reports showing almost surreal snowfall images that confused, surprised — and astounded — millions of people who didn’t realize that it snows in Greece in winter, including sometimes in Athens and on the islands, too.
Given the widespread media coverage of the storm — including videos of people skiing along streets below the Acropolis of Athens — it seems clear the tourism campaign achieved its goal of showing people there’s a winter season in Greece, albeit inadvertently.
Perhaps tourism officials might consider updating their campaign to include images and references to skiing, snowboarding and other alpine snow adventure sports. Before the Elpis snowstorm, Greek ski enthusiasts were raving about this season’s superb snow conditions, which some reports described as the best in decades. Imagine how good the skiing and boarding is now, with even more snow. We think it would be a shame for people outside the country not to learn there is much better skiing to be found in Greece than on the roads beneath the Acropolis!
Below are a few of our favourite Instagram photos of Elpis snow on globally-recognized Athens monuments, along with an aerial video showing some of the city’s landmarks the day after the storm.
An aerial view of the Parthenon with snowy mountainsides in the background, by @spirostheodorou
Καλημέρα Αθήνα – Καλημέρα Ελπίδα is a 2:25-minute aerial video by Up Stories showing views of snowy Athens landmarks the day after the Elpis snowstorm struck the city
Thousands more photos and videos are available online; if you’re keen to see more, here are links to several news and information websites that have published photo galleries of Elpis images from across Greece:
At his Greece Summer 2020 press conference on Santorini on June 13, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis formally announced Greece’s re-opening for summer tourism. Impressive backdrops for the international media event included views of the island’s clifftop village of Imerovigli (top photo) and a glorious sunset over nearby islands (bottom). Greece went into lockdown in late March to protect its citizens from the Covid-19 pandemic, and on June 15 began reopening its borders to tourism.
“Greek tourism is back.”
Those words — spoken by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during an international press conference on Santorini island June 13 — must have been sweet music to the ears of people around the world who have been hoping to holiday in Greece this summer.
Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2 of this post.
These striking photos of the city of Kastoria in northern Greece and the historic Kokkoros Bridge in Epirus are from The White Issue of Fly, the magazine of Sky Express airline. The picture-packed issue spotlights visit-worthy mainland Greece destinations that aren’t on typical tourist itineraries.
Armchair travels: Since we can’t take our scheduled spring trip to Greece because of Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, we have been travelling there vicariously — by reading magazine and newspaper articles about destinations, hotels, attractions and a wide variety of aspects of Greek life and tourism. Armchair travel lacks the thrill and pleasure of actually going to Greece, of course, but it’s a heck of a lot better than brooding about the cancellation of our 2020 holiday plans while we’re cooped up in home quarantine.
On the positive side, our time catching up on articles published over the past six months has been well spent, introducing us to incredible places in Greece we weren’t too familiar with, and giving us ideas and inspiration for trips we hope to take once the pandemic has passed and Greece re-opens its borders to international visitors.
Since the articles and photo profiles could be interesting and helpful to readers dreaming about their own future trips to Greece, we will be sharing our “quarantine travel reads” in a series of blog posts, beginning with this one.
Destinations and topics profiled in this instalment include:
♦ Thessaloniki and the Halkidiki peninsula;
♦ the southern Peloponnese, including Costa Navarino, the Mani and Monemvasia; and
♦ Impressive towns, villages and scenic areas in mainland Greece
Upcoming blog posts will spotlight:
♦ stylish luxury hotels and hot dining spots in Athens, Crete, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini;
♦ travel writer accounts of trips to Athens and various Greek Islands, including Evia, Milos, Paros and Symi;
♦ Cretan food and the Mediterranean diet;
♦ mini guides to Greek islands, and more.
Athens and the southern Peloponnese
Dimitsana, a mountain village in Arcadia, is among the places writer Nikos Chrysoloras recommends visiting in the southern Peloponnese
Greece does indeed abound with places people would consider paradise, but Chrysoloras devotes his article to describing a travel itinerary that will let visitors experience the true essence of Greece first in Athens and its surrounding area, and secondly during a scenic road trip through the southern Peloponnese peninsula.
A must-see in the historical center of Athens, he says, is Monastiraki Square, which “epitomizes my country perhaps more than any island or beach.” He recommends two rooftop bars overlooking the square, from which visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Parthenon and other historic monuments. “It’s the weight of millennia packed in the space of a single block,” Chrysoloras notes. He also recommends a day trip along the Athens Riviera and a visit to the clifftop Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, famous for its sensational sunset view, which he describes as “Greece, Profound.” He also suggests specific places to drink and dine, so visitors planning to spend time in the city would be wise to bookmark the article for easy reference once in Athens.
For the Peloponnese portion of his suggested roadtrip, Chrysoloras recommends starting off in the area around the Costa Navarino resort and the incredible Voidokilia beach (which I wrote about in my blog post A bucket list visit to Voidokilia), and then exploring the rugged Mani region. “It’s a mountainous terrain with stone-built villages and very narrow roads leading to pebbled beaches. This area is the land of the ancient Spartans, people as defiant as history suggests.” Again, Chrysoloras recommends places to stay, dine, hike, swim and enjoy a drink with a fabulous sunset view.
From Mani, the drive continues to the castle town of Monemvasia, whose “medieval alleys are full of mystery and wonder, like a set that Game of Thrones producers ought to have used.” On the way back to Athens from there, Chrysoloras urges a detour to Dimitsana — his mother’s home town — “one of the most characteristic specimens of the mountainous side of Greece. Surrounded by conifer trees, you can enjoy unspoiled traditional stone architecture and hike in the area’s beautiful forests and nearby villages.” Although worth a look nearby is Panagia, a now-deserted village where Chrysoloras recommends a taverna that serves outstanding traditional dishes.
Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2, where we discuss excellent magazine articles about Thessaloniki, noteworthy destinations in mainland Greece, and fascinating places to explore in Athens.
In Greece Places, filmmaker Pawel Worsztynowicz captures splendid sights and scenery from 38 marvellous spots around the country
Stunning sequel: He’s done it again! Last year, filmmaker Pawel Worsztynowicz created an impressive video showing more than two dozen amazing places in Greece he had visited during nearly a year of travels throughout the country.
We included that film — Greece story — The best places in Greece? — in a blog post spotlighting our favourite videos of Greece from 2019. Running just over 2 minutes, Greece Story wowed us with spectacular views of some glorious Greek sights and scenes we recognized from our own travels, along with other beautiful places we haven’t yet had the chance to see for ourselves.
Pawel told us he had shot more video and thousands of photos during his time in Greece, so we kept hoping he would produce another short film sometime soon. We didn’t have to wait long — he let us know in mid-April that he had just published a new video called Greece Places, which we were thrilled to watch and share here.
Locations shown in the film include:
♦ the Parthenon and the Old Temple of Athens in Athens;
♦ sites in Attica region, the Peloponnese and Halidiki;
♦ Evia island;
♦ Skiathos and Skopelos in the Sporades chain of islands;
♦ Corfu and Zakynthos in the Ionian islands;
♦ Ios, Santorini and Thirasia in the Cyclades; and
My Sifnos by Nikos Panou is my favourite video of 2019; it makes me smile and feel good every time I watch it. Panou deftly captures the essence of an amazing Greek holiday experience — the pure joy, wonder and exhilaration of exploring a beautiful destination (in this case, Sifnos island) and discovering the delights of its people, food, culture and atmosphere.
You know that December is drawing to a close when you see just about every media outlet — TV and radio shows, newspapers, magazines and websites — presenting lists and rankings of “the best” and the “top moments/ memories/ things/ whatever” of the year. Seeing “best of 2019” features everywhere I looked inspired me to compile one myself this week while I was organizing the many hundreds of bookmarks I had accumulated on my web browser this year.
Rather than move links for my favourite videos into folders where I probably would forget all about them, I’m posting them here for my readers to enjoy (and to give me an easier way to find them for repeat viewing or future reference).
In Greece Story –The Best Places in Greece? Pawel Worsztynowicz captures striking aerial scenes from 28 beautiful places in Greece, including Athens, Sounion, Crete, Corfu, Meteora, Halkidiki, the Peloponnese, Skiathos, Skopelos, Symi, Santorini, Thirasia, Ios, Kos, Eubea, Rhodes and Zakynthos. (Notes accompanying the video on YouTube provide a chronological list of locations shown.) Pawel compiled the film following nearly a year of travels across Greece, so you can just imagine the stories he can tell about the places he visited.
Out of the countless clips I have seen in the past 12 months, I have selected just over two dozen to highlight in this post. I liked these best of all either because they show sights and scenes familiar to me from our own past vacations, or because they depict destinations on my travel bucket list. All were released or published sometime during 2019, and none run longer than 10 minutes.
I have organized the clips into alphabetic order starting with the videos of Amorgos island, below, and continuing on page 2. Included are films of:
♦ Vatheia in the Peloponnese
I love The Island‘s dramatic cinematography, which superbly captures the mountain, coast and village scenery on Amorgos. This film by Igor Popović also contains excellent views of the incredible Chozoviotissa Monastery, built against the face of a cliff high above the sea.
I thoroughly enjoyed Amazing Amorgos, Greece, a delightful and entertaining aerial film in which Joerg Daiber captures the island’s magnificent sights and scenery using time lapse and tilt shift photography techniques.
This film by I Viaggi Di Michele is narrated in Italian; however, you don’t need to speak or understand the language to enjoy the beautiful Andros scenery. Sights and locations shown in the 11.5-minute video include Chora, the Tis Grias castle, Tis Grias to Pidima and Achla beaches, the Tourlitis lighthouse, Korthi Bay, Batsi village, the Monastery of Zoodochos Pigi and the Panachrantos Monastery, and the Pithara waterfalls.
If there are any videos from 2019 that you enjoyed, but don’t see featured in this post, feel free to post their links in the comments section so other readers and I can check them out.
A scenic view from Santorini appears on the cover of the June Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which includes a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece
Travel tips: Spring is the time when international lifestyle magazines and travel publications typically turn their attention to Greece, and that has been the case again this year.
When I browsed newsstands while we were in Greece from late May until mid-June, and here at home after returning from our holidays, I noticed numerous magazines that featured cover stories or major articles focussed on travel to Greece.
The two periodicals that appeared the most interesting and informative were the June edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, which I purchased at Athens International Airport prior to our return flight, and the June/July issue of National Geographic Traveler, which I bought at my favourite local bookstore a few days ago.
A photo from Santorini island appears on the eye-catching turquoise and white cover of the Sunday Times magazine, where the main cover line proclaims: “We’ve found the tiny, timeless idylls you’re dreaming of” — all revealed in a 24-page Total Guide inside.
The guide includes:
♦ tips on island hopping by ferry in the Cyclades, Dodecanese and Argo-Saronic archipelagos;
♦ short profiles of “heavenly” 5-star hotels on Naxos, Crete, Santorini, Sifnos, and Mykonos islands, as well as in Halikidi, the Peloponnese and the Athens Riviera;
♦ an article about the Arcadia region of the eastern Peloponnese;
♦ highlights of three places, away from the “holiday hotspots,” where visitors can “find solitude in a Greece untouched by time: lost in nature, rich in ancient, spiritual sites”;
♦ advice for low-cost weekend getaways to Athens, Thessaloniki and Kefalonia; and
♦ recommendations for exclusive rental villas and luxurious all-inclusive resorts.
In the feature article “New Greek Odyssey,” Christopher Vourlias relates what he learned about “home, heroes and Hellenic heritage” during a trip to his father’s ancestral village in Central Greece.
The theme of the National Geographic Traveler issue is “Trips to Change Your Life,” and includes two features on Greece:
♦ the intriguing article “New Greek Odyssey,” in which writer Christopher Vourlias describes the personally insightful trip he took with his father to the latter’s home village in Agrafa, a mountain region of Central Greece; and
♦ An “insider’s guide to the best of Greece” — short profiles of specific recommended places to visit for food & drink, history & artifacts, islands & beaches, and culture & people.
And as you would expect, the articles in both magazines are illustrated with tantalizing photos of Greek destinations, monuments, and scenery that will make you feel wistful for a trip to Greece — even if, as was the case with me, you may have just had a holiday there.