Athens is filled with beauty, charm, and plenty of oh la la!
When you think of European romance, you probably imagine Paris, or maybe Rome. And I don't disagree! But I think Athens should be added to that list. It's got the fantastic food and delectable desserts. It's got the incredible wine and the amazing views. And it has a charm, a prettiness, that's all it's own. It may not be a conventional choice but I think Athens needs to be on everyone's list for romantic getaways. Here are my picks for the loveliest, swoon-iest, most romantic spots in the city.
The neighbourhood of Anafiotika
A stroll through Anafiotika is to wander through all the Greece in just a few hundred feet. It's a tiny village in a capital city, a slice of island life in a concrete jungle. Whitewashed houses with splintered blue window panes are home to stately old ladies who proudly show off their gardens, adorably skittish, fuzzy kittens who will soon grow into lazy cats who know how to hold their ground, and more potted plants than have any business to be on a windowsill, a walkway ledge, or a crumbling wall. It's romance and charm and turquoise doors and it's everything you've ever wanted Europe to be.
Anafiotika's the perfect place to wander around and get lost but if you want a bit more direction, Ryan recommends doing a semi-private guided tour (just 20 Euros!) with local photographer Dimitris from Dopios Tours. Dopios' work focuses on bringing travelers and locals together for non-touristy experiences and we've always been extremely happy with their hospitality and knowledge.
KTISTAKIS' loukoumades shop
Is the best way to someone's heart through their stomach? I certainly think so and, judging from the steady stream of customers to KTISAKIS (Sokratous 59, 120m from Omonoia square) I'm not the only one. This humble shop specializes in a single product: Cretan style loukoumades.
Loukoumades are often described as Greek donuts and when they're prepared in the Cretan style, they're coated with a sugar syrup (as opposed to the more common honey), and then dusted with cinnamon and sesame seeds. Lightly crispy on the outside, the syrup oozes out when you bit into the hot, fluffy, puffy middle. I'd rather a dozen Cretan Loukoumades than a dozen roses any day of the week!
A few years ago, if someone suggested you could find romance near Omonoia Square, they'd likely (correctly) assume you'd be referring to the kind of romance you pay for by the hour!!! Today, the square is scrubbed up, letting the many traditional bakeries and food producers shine and win their way into hearts. I discovered KTISAKIS thanks to a food walk with Culinary Backstreets Athens, one of the best tours I've ever done.
The top of Aeropagus Hill
The Greek gods were famous for loving and feuding and their passionate, celestial lives influence Athens to this day. I dearly wish that I could connect Areopagus Hill to Eros and Aphrodite but mythology tells us that this was the site where the council of gods conducted a trial for Aris, the god of war, who was facing murder charges for the death of Poseidon's son, Halirrhothios.
But a true romantic never lets a thousands-year-old murder trial stand in the way of enjoying a beautiful panoramic vista and Areopagus Hill is clearly a favourite spot for both tourists and young, enamoured local teenagers. If you're visiting the adjacent Acropolis (which surely you will be), take the extra time to walk up to the top of Areopagus Hill - you won't regret it.
The rooftop bar at A Is For Athens hotel
Plenty of places in Athens boast a view of the Acropolis but few have so clear a line of sight as the A Is For Athens hotel. But the gorgeous night time views of Parthenon are only part of the appeal, for the roof top bar also has fantastic views of the Monastiraki market below. I loved watching the hustle and bustle of people going about their business in Monastiraki Square as much as I did gazing over to see the Parthenon lit up at dusk.
You don't have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy this incredible view - just take the lobby elevator to the roof. There's a good wine list and nibbles on offer if you can tear your eyes away from the view. And long nights on the roof aren't just for romantic moments - it's the perfect place to share drinks with your friends or to enjoy a solo treat while writing.
PS: You can read our review of A Is For Athens and several other Athens properties in this blog post.
A sunset dinner on Lycabettus Hill
The views from the top of Lycabettus Hill are unrivaled anywhere else in Athens. As the city's highest point, it pretty much guarantees spectacular sunrises and sunsets all year round. And yet the phenomenal view is only one tiny part of what makes this such an incredible (and uber romantic!) spot.
Sunset visitors are also treated to a moving ceremony each evening when the Greek flag is lowered at dusk and carefully folded away by the attending soldiers. The on sight church is a beautiful spot for a moment of reflection and contemplation after a busy day of travel. And the Lycabettus Hill restaurant, Orizontes, is the absolute icing on the cake after a beautiful, heart warming, romantic day.
Orizontes is the full package. Phenomenal view, beautiful tables, fantastic menu. Cheese and chocolate always rank high on our list and both are done right at Orizontes. Do not pass up on the fried feta wrapped in phyllo pastry as an appetizer! There's also a great selection of local Greek wines to wash everything down. A night like this on Lycabettus Hill definitely falls into the splurge category for our travel budget but it's well worth it - you won't find a more stunning or romantic setting anywhere in the city.
Is Athens romantic? You bet it is! Prepare to fall in love!
Athens defied our expectations in so many ways. This is a city that constantly surprised us and left us completely enamored with its many charms. So many people come to Athens for the history, the culture, and the archaeology but I think everyone should take the time for a little romance as well. Athens in the off-season is the perfect destination for a romantic escape or even a honeymoon and your heart will be stolen from the moment you arrive.
What Do You Think Is The Most Romantic Travel Destination?
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