Too touristy for some, this old quarter of the city, clustered on the slopes of the Acropolis rock, is still one of Athens' best sights. Strings of red-roofed buildings with balconies dripping with bougainvillea sit alongside Neo-Classical mansions, all connected by a tangle of streets that are a joy to get lost in. There are plenty of arts, crafts and pottery shops to browse, and although it can be somewhat commercial, you'll still find authentic tavernas and street cafes where you can rest your weary heels (and gulp down a glass of chilled retsina wine, of course). Bakaliarakia, on Kidathinaion Street, is the oldest tavern in Athens and specialises in traditional cuisine..
Athens' port of Piraeus is just a metro ride away from the city centre, and provides the gateway to a flock of idyllic islands just off the coast. Or there's even tiny Angistri, a pine-clad beauty loved by hikers and a haven for anyone who just wants to potter around quiet coves and drop in at local tavernas on their weekend break. There's Aegina, a delightful home away from home for many Athenians, at just an hour's boat ride away. Or there's Hydra, once the haunt of Picasso and Chagall, its pretty port lined with marble flagstones and elegant townhouses. Take your pick, or read our full guide to 20 gorgeous Greek Islands if you want to hop a little further...
Get a proper kebab:
Greece is the birthplace of this quintessential late-night snack, but the authentic souvlakiayou'll find in Athens are a million miles from the greasy meat kebabs you get at 2am on a Saturday night, back in the UK. Thanasis on Mitropoleos Street is said to boast the best kebab in town but we'll let you be the judge... Watch out for the differences as well: a pitta-kebab is specifically minced lamb or beef, while a pitta-souvlaki contains pork cooked on a skewer, and a pitta-kotopoulo is the chicken variety. All usually come with salad, tzatziki and onions, or whatever combination you like.
Experience Dinner in the Sky:
Psirri is also home to some of the best bars and restaurants in Athens such as Gostijo, Beer Time and the exceptional Dinner in the Sky. Like a cross between a theme park ride and a top-notch restaurant, you'll have to strap into your seat at the table, as you're hoisted 50 feet in the air, to enjoy your cocktails and fine dining as you slowly rotate with a unique, open-air view of the city's most recognisable landmarks. Book a package in advance on the website; the full 5-course menu starts from €120 per person.
Tour Athens' Street Art:
In what feels like a world apart from the marble temples of the Acropolis, the lanes of Athens have some of the highest concentrations of contemporary art in the world. Public walls and hidden corners of neighbourhoods like Gazi and Monastiraki have been an open-air canvas for political and social messages since the 1990s and since there are over 2000 pieces, the best way to explore them is through a guided walking tour. The perfect alternative experience to cap off your weekend break in Athens.
It is traditionally additional about town breaks than beach holidays, however just 13km (kilometers) south of the city centre you will find Astir Beach, in the tranquil suburb of Vouliagmeni. As well as miles of postcard-perfect shoreline stretching out on a peninsula in the Med, there’s plenty of leisure facilities with restaurants, jet-skiing and other watersports, and a spa. Unfortunately you will have to pay for the privilege of this private paradise - access to the beach is €28 at weekends in the summer but it's a lot quieter and cheaper during the week (€18). Try the town beaches in Glyfada, slightly nearer the city, if you want a cheaper alternative.
Make time for a visit, not only for the superlative views from the platforms, but for the chance to catch a show at the amphitheatre, which regularly hosts music concerts and events in the summer. You can't miss the looming shadow of Mount Lycabettus, a pine-carpeted, 300 metre-high limestone hill which overlooks the city. You can walk up to the top of the hill on a choice of footpaths, or take the Lycabettus Funicular train which takes just 10 minutes and costs €7 (catch it at Ploutarchou and Aristippou Streets). Evening is the best time to visit, when you can watch the sun sink behind the Athens skyline.
National Archaeological Museum:
The modern museum explores the findings which have been made on the site of the Acropolis; there’s over 4000 objects on display. The collections are divided into five different focuses and eras, such as the Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, where you can peer through the glass floor into the excavation site itself for a glimpse into everyday life, thousands of years ago. The long-awaited Acropolis Museum opened in 2009 and was immediately heralded as one of Europe’s best museums.