The Athens Coast has all-round appeal, offering warm, reliable sunshine, soft, sandy beaches and sparkling sea.
Resorts along the coastline southeast of Athens provide the double whammy of sun, sand and sea with easy proximity to the ancient ruins of the Acropolis, the archaeological museums and other attractions. Escaping the hustle and bustle of this most vibrant and buzzing of European capitals to a smaller town nearby brings the opportunity to relax between sightseeing trips, unwind by the warm Aegean and enjoy the facilities of the some of the mainland’s finest hotels.
First stop and just a short distance from Athens city centre is the sophisticated resort of Glyfada. A popular getaway for local Athenians, the golden sandy beach, boutique shops and weekly market make it popular with beach lovers and shoppers alike. Vouliagmeni is an upmarket resort with a picturesque harbour and a number of good beaches. If offers some great resort hotels and a wide range of eateries, making it a favourite retreat among Athenians for short breaks out of town. A little further down the coast is Lagonissi, a sophisticated town of luxury homes with numerous restaurants and cafes at its heart. Visitors are attracted to the well maintained beach for its scenic views, sparklingly clear sea and excellent facilities. The beautiful beach resort of Anavyssos is where many wealthy Athenians have country homes perched on the hillside facing the pristine beach. It is renowned for its clean, shallow sea and is ideal for families with young children. Tall pine trees offer shade, and sea breezes make it a favourite spot for windsurfers too. On a rocky promontory at the southernmost tip is Sounio, one of the most upmarket areas of Greece, where the Temple of Poseidon was originally erected around 600 BC. If you look closely at the remains of the Doric columns you may spot the engraved name of Byron, possibly from his visit in 1810. He was so captured by the beauty and grace of the temple that he included it in his poem: "Isles of Greece". The small town of Nea Makri is an idyllic spot with a mild climate on the opposite, southwest coast of this finger of mainland Greece, near the port of Rafina. It has a harbour lined with palm trees, tavernas and yachts, their sleek modernity in sharp contrast with the ruins of the newly excavated temple of Isis.
Athens is a holiday destination with more historical attractions than you could possibly get round, even in a fortnight. But it isn’t just about culture when you venture a little further south along the Athens coast. In nearby resorts where the pace of life is slower, your holiday will have the sun and sea-salt flavour we Brits just adore, while you can still dip in and out of Ancient Greece whenever the mood strikes.
The Athens Coast has all-round appeal. After all, what doesn’t it have? Warm, reliable sunshine, soft, sandy beaches and sparkling sea? Yes. A wealth of history and a lively city within easy reach? Yes. Good restaurants in picturesque settings? Yes. Water sports, children’s activities, and chilling out!; you name it, you’ll find it here.
The best beaches in Athens are situated on the south-east coast, in Glyfada. Many of the beaches are private so you would have to pay to swim there. However, there are secluded rocky creeks which are less crowded than the main beaches.
Vouliagmeni Beach offers everything needed to enjoy a day out at the coast, with tennis and volleyball courts, water slide and children's play area.
Greece is hard to beat when it comes to fresh and flavoursome food. But the growth of tourism in this area is giving rise to great value, stylish new grill houses which bring a more up-to-the-minute feel to traditional cuisine. Springing up are modern american-style eateries and cosy bars, where fast food staples such as burgers can be found. Nonetheless, in Athens and the resorts further out from the city, the choice is wide, with fresh seafood restaurants, pastry and ice-cream parlours, traditional tavernas, and pizza and pasta places. There is something to suit every palate.
If you are self-catering on your holiday, or even if you’re not, a trip to the weekly market at Glyfada on a Thursday is a sensory experience not to be missed, with an array of aromas, textures and tastes to be sampled before you buy. You’ll find Greek specialities such as mountain tea, honey, olive oil, and equipment for making your own a dolmades at home.
Athens is a city awake around the clock and gives real meaning to the concept of nightlife. After a late dinner, live music is on offer at the clubs in Syngrou and Poseidonos Avenues. The area of Gazi is known for its many art cafes and trendy bars.
Athens holidays are hard to beat for the sheer joy of shopping, with a vast choice of tourist shops in the areas of Plaka and Monastiraki. The busiest shopping street is the pedestrianised Ermou, off Syntagma Square where souvenirs, clothing and accessories can be found, and more upmarket shops are to be found in Kolonaki where you'll be tempted by a wide range of designer boutiques. Having avoided the development of large shopping centres found in most other cities, strolling around the streets of Athens is still a pleasurable day of discovery.
Things To Do
Attica Zoological Park: Situated in the suburb of Spata this is a modern zoo and the only one of its kind in Greece. It is home to a wide range of animals including lions, tigers, black pumas, monkeys and reptiles. Shows are put on daily demonstrating the activities of birds of prey and sea lions - a great day out for the whole family.
The National Gardens: Not just a feature of beauty to be admired, in the child-friendly gardens you’ll also discover a small zoo and a playground. Relax and admire your surroundings while the kids let off some steam.
Mount Likavitos: Take a ride in a cable car to the top of Mount Likavitos and admire the view on the way. Once at the peak, relax with refreshments at the café you’ll find there.
Sports: As you might imagine in the home city of the Olympics, Athens offers a wide range of sporting options. The beaches of Athens coast provide the opportunity for watersports, including waterskiing, windsurfing and jet-skiing. At Vouliagmeni, the Astir Beach Club has great facilities including showers, changing rooms with lockers, sun loungers and a volleyball court.
The Balux House Project: in the Athens suburb, Glyfada, is a great place to while away a day. It has a huge glass-fronted clubhouse furnished with squishy sofas, a library, gaming stations and board games. Children are welcome too, and for them there is a large playground both in and outdoors. There are sun loungers for hire on the beach, and an adults-only swimming pool at the original Balux next door. Enjoy hot chocolate and wood-fired pizzas while you relax. Entry and parking are free.
Open-air Cinema: The main one of these in the area is the Alpha Odeon, which puts on English-language screenings of mainstream films, with a first screening around dusk at 9pm and a second late showing at around 11pm. Don’t expect a reverent hush here though. The noisy locals will be chatting and making phone calls as usual!
Taxi: You can flag one down on most street corners. Taxi fares in Athens are quite cheap and so for getting around in a group, this can be a very a cost-effective option.
Train: To travel south from Athens, you will need to go to Peloponnese Stat, one of the two main train stations in the city. Fares are discounted for under 26s and foreign students (ID Required).
Athens Metro: When in town, it’s worthwhile taking a ride on the underground system here, if only to see the archaeological finds displayed at the exact spot they were discovered; other stops are decorated with work from well known Greek artists. Athens has 27 metro stations with 2 lines operating weekend services until 2am.
Blue Buses OASA: The blue bus network consists of more than 320 lines connecting the city centre with all the Athens suburbs and Piraeus. The buses run daily from 5am to 12:15am.
Thermal Buses (ETHEL): The ETHEL buses are the core lines connecting Athens and Piraeus city centre with the surrounding areas. There are several express bus routes to and from Athens International Airport. Thermal buses run from 5am to 11pm.
Trolley Buses: The old yellow trams of Athens past have now been replaced with cutting edge purple and yellow trolley buses with digital displays. These run daily from 5am to 12.30am.