I Heart My City: Dimitris’s Athens


By I Heart My City

It’s hard to find someone who appreciates Athens more than Dimitris Hall. Though he has lived in the Greek capital nearly all of his life, this local’s appreciation for his hometown has grown over time.

Though Athens seems to live in the shadow of its long history, Dimitris is on a mission to suss out city surprises, both new and old. Lucky for us, as he digs up new discoveries, he shares them with the world on the Spotted by Locals blog. Here are a few of his favorite things about the place he calls home.

Athens Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to Areios Pagos, a hill right below the Acropolis of Athens that offers a fantastic view of the entire city and its western suburbs.

For the best view of Athens (and a healthy does of ancient history), head to the Acropolis. (Photograph by oligator83, Flickr)

May and June are the best times to visit my city because the weather is ideal for exploring Athens and partaking in outdoor adventures.

You can see my city best from the Acropolis, as well as from the hills and mountains that surround it—namely Ymittos, Parnitha, and Pendeli.

Locals know to skip the touristy Greek restaurants and to check out the authentic eateries in Petralona and Koukaki—like To Pagaki and Pleiades—instead.

Apostolou Pavlou, the pedestrian street in Athens’s Thissio neighborhood that leads to the Acropolis, is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like philosopher Socrates, opera singer Maria Callas, and filmmaker Theodoros Angelopoulos have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the National Archaeological Museum because you can find a rich overview of Greek civilization from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity. These time periods are not only important to the people of Greece; they helped shape the world.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that you can reach any part of Athens by using the mass transit network, which includes the metro, buses, and trams. Using the city’s public transportation website (which is available in English) in combination with Google Maps will get you far. Also, check out the Athens Transport blog.

See the “Jockey of Artemision,” a bronze statue dating to the second century B.C., and more at the National Archaeological Museum. (Photograph by clairity, Flickr)

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is in a café or bar located in prime people-watching territory, be it day or night. Try Tyflomyga.

My city really knows how to celebrate Orthodox Easter because of the sheer number of churches in Athens and the richness of the traditions surrounding the holiday, which include epitaphios processions, fireworks, and special dishes.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they cross the road while the light is still red.

For a fancy night out, I go to the bars in the center of the city around Monastiraki Square.

Just outside my city, you can visit the forest on Mount Parnitha.

Kimolia Art Café is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and 24οro is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, check out the events listing on the Athens Walker blog. If you can read Greek, seek out Athinorama.

The best outdoor market in my city is in the area around Monastiraki Square.

Best market? Head to Monastiraki Square. (Photograph by raulvillalon, Flickr)

Best market? Head to Monastiraki Square. (Photograph by raulvillalon, Flickr)

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I grab beers from the periptero (newspaper kiosk) with friends and enjoy the open air, preferably around Exarcheia or Areios Pagos.

To escape the crowds, I go to Peonia and have some tea to relax.

The dish that represents my city best is souvlaki (grilled meat skewers), and tsipouro is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Kosta’s Souvlaki near Syntagma for a truly classic taste and Beduin at Gazi in Kerameikos, respectively.

Six D.O.G.S. is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Bios.

Demonstrations, traffic diversions, and the closing of multiple metro stations every couple of weeks for “security reasons” could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should walk down small neighborhood streets to smell the blooming orange trees, jasmine, and acacias.

Summer must: Visiting the islands in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, which includes Poros (above). (Photograph by visitgreecegr, Flickr)

Summer must: Visiting the islands in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, which includes Poros (above). (Photograph by visitgreecegr, Flickr)

In the summer you should enjoy the warm Athenian nights and head for the nearby beaches and islands on the Argosaronic Gulf.

In the fall you should check out the Athens International Film Festival and participate in the Athens Marathon.

In the winter you should visit Mount Parnitha or curl up with a glass of rakomelo, honey-flavored alcohol.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Hellenic Children’s Museum or the Attica Zoological Park.

Why the world should heart Athens: “It’s ancient, but groundbreaking; ugly, but inspiring; stressful, but lively. It’s a city at the forefront of the 21st century.”

Original Article: I Heart My City: Dimitris’s Athens