Welcome to our city guide blog series. When they’re not based at Tileyard, our residents are often jet-setting around the globe for business, heading home for the weekend or touring in far flung cities. Travelling goes hand in hand with the creative industries so we thought it would be fun to share the highlights and secrets of the cities our residents know and love.
This week we spoke to Vanya Marinova, our community associate, to find out more about the city she grew up in, Athens.
I was born in Bulgaria and moved to Athens when I was six years old so I know the city like the back of my hand. I would recommend Athens to anyone looking for a good city break as there’s something for everyone; beaches, history, amazing seafood food, good nightlife. I hope this mini guide will give you some pointers if you’re thinking about visiting this beautiful, ancient city that I like to call home.
Where to stay
It’s quite chaotic staying in the centre of Athens, it’s a bit like getting a hotel in Camden Town. Instead, I’d recommend staying in Pireas, a small port town next to the sea. It’s close to the beach and you can reach the centre of Athens in 15 minutes by metro.
What to eat
You have to try a typical Greek souvlaki. It’s basically a pitta bread stuffed with chips, tomatoes, chicken or pork, with then usually either tzatziki or the Greek equivalent of burger sauce. The best place to experience a proper souvlaki is O Thanasis. It’s an old, Greek tavern with outside seating.
For a taste of the sea head to Pireas. Sea Bream and Sea Bass are really popular. There’s a tasty dish with grilled Octopus too. The cooking method doesn’t sound very appealing but trust me, it’s delicious. They boil the octopus for an hour, dry it in the sun for 100 days and then grill it on charcoals.
If you’ve got some cash to splash, check out a restaurant called Varoulko – one of Greece’s fine dining restaurants. The views are beautiful here too as it’s located on the Mikrolimano marina.
If you’re looking for sweet treats you can fill your boots at any bakery in Athens. Pontiki (meaning mouse) are tasty – they are small chocolate cakes with chocolate mice on top. Kokakia are also good – basically choux pastry with cream and chocolate on top. Loukoumades are my favourite. They are a bite-sized, Greek version of a doughnut. Traditionally they are soaked in a hot honey syrup and often served with chopped nuts on the top or a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Where to drink
For epic views of the Acropolis whilst you’re having a drink or two, check out 360 Cocktailbar. It’s a rooftop bar in the centre of Athens. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike so book a table ahead of your visit to avoid being turned away. Apolis in Petroupoli is also good for a drink with a view. If I’m honest there are so many chilled out bars and cafes all over Athens. The majority of them are reasonably priced too!
Photo by Alkis Moraitis Photography
What to see
Would this even be an Athens city guide if I didn’t mention going to the Acropolis to see the Partheon? You can take a tour or wander around yourself. However, unless it’s overcast make sure you go early or late in the day. It gets incredibly hot up there and you don’t want to be boiling hot when you’re admiring the greatest of all archaeological sites.
Where to chill
If you’re looking for somewhere to chill out in Athens, head to Lake Vouliagmeni for a unique experience. It’s a part saltwater, part spring water lake on the Western Coast of Attica. You can swim all year round due to its desirable temperature of 22-25 degrees celsius. There are a bunch of bars and restaurants there too. You can reach the lake by car in around 45 minutes from the centre of Athens. If you haven’t got a car, you can take a tram and a bus which takes about an hour in total. The beautiful scenery is definitely worth the extra bit of travelling.