If you have one day in Athens to spend exploring the outskirts of the city, then here are three top recommendations that will reveal the wonderment of the greater suburban areas. Athens is a coastal city, with a great natural advantage of having a massive coastline that totals a staggering 65 km. Within 12 hours you can get to fully enjoy the environs, outside the inner city’s confines that combine some wonderful visuals and some leisurely things to do.
Discovering the Athenian environs
1. The Athenian Riviera: Faliro, Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza & Sounion
All the way from its port, Piraeus, to Sounion, the southern part of Athens is essentially a long coast known as the Athenian Riviera. It is bound to become a leading coastal destination that includes blue-flag beaches which makes it something worth discovering. For your one day in Athens suburbia, begin your coastal drive from Faliro, where a lovely yacht marina is located too, full of cafes and bars. After you walk around it for about an hour, make your way towards Glyfada. A sensational region of Athens by the sea, it is brimming with stores for all kinds of shopping, lovely squares with parks and, of course, a vibrant all day and night scene. Next is Vouliagmeni, one of Athens’ most prized residential areas due to its fantastic location and home to the prestigious Four Seasons resort. Stop for an incredible meal at a renowned fish restaurant BlueFish that combines sensational seafood flavours with a unique ‘Head to the Tail’ concept, where you can order a whole fish and have it served in various delicious sets of combos that guarantees variety and zero waste, right at the edge of the water. Next is Varkiza, a popular spot for enjoying a few lazy hours under the Greek sun at the Yabanaki beach that has sunbeds and parasols, as well as lively beach bars, for winding down with a cocktail in hand. For the highlight of your evening, head over to cape Sounion to enjoy the sunset against the phenomenal Temple of Poseidon for a truly magical experience.
2. Exploring northern Athens: shopping at Golden Hall, Kifissia, Tatoi Palace & picnic
Towards the north, you will get to see a different side of the city. Begin your one day in Athens by visiting the state-of-the-art Golden Hall shopping mall in Maroussi. It boasts a large collection of high-end & mainstream retailers as well as several restaurants and a children’s play zone. Once you get your shopping fix, you can make your way further north to the posh area of Kifissia. A verdant area characterised by wide streets and manors, Kifissia is the place of residence for the wealthier Athenians. Of course designer shopping outlets are not in dearth here, as you will find various houses to peruse if you so wish it. A wonderfully organised suburb, even a saunter around its center is enough to convey its elegance. Take a break and find a nice little cafe for a coffee or refreshment and just sit and watch the world go by if you feel like it. For enjoying the full experience however, one suggestion is to stop by the gourmet supermarket, Thanopoulos, and grab a few delectable items and snacks, before you head over to Alsos Syngrou, a refreshing woodland area or even at the Tatoi Palace grounds where you can find a nice little spot within the expansive gardens and set up a little picnic for you and your party. Tatoi Palace used to be the last residence of the royal Greek family and you can visit the abandoned buildings, that although slightly derelict, still have a sensational charm about them.
3. Venturing further out of Athens: Nemea, Mycenae & Delphi
One day in Athens curated for wine lovers specifically, is a day excursion to the region of Nemea. A place that is notorious for its viticulture since the ancient times, this site combines archaeological interest with a famed wine culture. Steeped in myth too, Nemea was the place where the legendary Hercules slayed the notorious Nemean Lion, so a visit there is bound to be unforgettable. Just under a 2 hour drive from Athens, Nemea in the Peloponnese is a destination that lends itself for indulging in mythology, history, wine and fascinating visuals. The long standing tradition in wine making of Nemea means you can expect more than a handful of local wineries that will take you on a tour to discover the full extent of flavour of the indegenous red grape variety. You can spend the entire day exploring the region, tasting the prestigious appellation paired with local delicacies that will fully bring out the full depth of the Nemea wine that has justifiably earned its place in the pages of sommelier directories around the globe. A brief stop at the Mycenae archaeological site can easily be combined too. A partially buried, interesting place that used to be an ancient kingdom, where King Agamemnon resideded, Mycenae has been talked about in the writings of Homer and will evoke feelings of awe when you consider its historical salience. For a more spiritually emotive experience that will definitely not leave you unaffected, your one day in Athens could take you the ancient Oracle site and the Temple of Apollo. Considered to be the navel of the world and the beating heart of classical Greece, Delphi is a remarkable place; an archaic sanctuary charged with energy that is palpable. There you will witness a vast plethora of ruins dotted around a spectacular hillside that offers exceptional panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape. The site contains a museum too displaying a wide collection of related ancient artefacts to which a visit is highly recommended.
Tatoi Palace – Author: Tilemahos Efthimiadis – CC BY-SA 2.0