The Ultimate Guide To Athens

Athens is a very beautiful and vibrant city, full of magic, charm and history around every corner. On my second visit to the city, I explored a little more, I was able to find my way around a little better and with my Marco Polo guide which is incredibly helpful for any first or second timer to the city! Full to the brim of important information, I was ready to explore once again, this time finding new things that I had not had the chance of doing before. Here is my ultimate guide and 'survival guide' to Athens!

Plaka area

Plaka area


Getting to and from the airport is easy via public transport, but of course it is always nice to travel hassle free, with Athens Transfer Tour, a friendly punctual service that transfers you from the airport to your hotel or destination, with kind English speaking drivers, helpful with luggage, and at affordable prices, they are my go-to when travelling to Athens.

When you're in the city, getting around is incredibly easy! There is a very easy (busy but easy) metro system. Pick up a 24 hour ticket that takes you on all the lines, from the north to the south of the city and with three major lines (blue, red and green), it's easy to navigate and it is definitely convenient for getting around. Other transport includes the ferry to the nearby islands, I highly recommend Aegina, an hour ferry ride from Piraeus and you are in a very beautiful location with beaches, the gorgeous sea and lots of food to consume!

You can grab a taxi in and around the city, they are relatively cheap (some may add on a little extra) but they are plentiful and flagging them down is a standard way of getting their attention. Helpful for when your feet have had enough and you want a little relax!


Academy of Athens


I have stayed in three hotels in Athens and I can honestly recommend all three, for cleanliness, location and value for money. My top three are:

Electra Palace Hotel 5***** (Plaka area)
Coco Mat Hotel 4**** (Kolonaki area)
Athens Tiare Hotel 4**** (Omonia Square)

Of course there are an abundance of hotels in Athens but I'd recommend a central location to make things easier for you. If you're OK with travel, then there are many hotels a little outside of the city, that also come a little cheaper, but are still beautiful. I'd recommend avoiding expensive times, October especially seems to be expensive for both hotels and flights as the temperature is warm but not excessively hot and the autumn days here are like perfect summer days in the UK.

Attractions To Make The Most Of

Acropolis - Of course no trip to Athens would be complete without a trip to the Acropolis. It's 20 euros per entry but if you are not bothered about heading to the top to see it, then the Aeropagus Hill nearby has some incredible views of both the Acropolis, Parthenon and the rest of the city.

Kifisia - Kifisia is a northern affluent suburb of Athens that you can reach on the metro in around half an hour. It is an upscale suburban area with many high end shops, little boutiques, pretty parks and lots of cafes. The Starbucks there is the best one I have ever been to. A perfect place to escape the city for a little while and enjoy the more relaxed suburbs. Good for a half day trip.


Tunic from Miss Tunica 
Piraeus - Piraeus is the coastal area of Athens which serves as a place to connect to the islands. Plenty of cruises, boats and things to do in the area, and of course, take in some clean sea air. It also would be ideal for a half day trip if you speed walk, and there are always beautiful churches around to take photos of!

Aegina - find yourself in an oasis away from the crowds on this beautiful island in the Aegean Sea. Like a holiday island with beaches, gorgeous views and magical traditional streets with quaint houses and chapels. It's not too far from Athens but the ferry does take an hour from Piraeus. You can opt for a more expensive option and take the fast boat which takes around half an hour I believe. Hydra and Poros can all be taken in at the same time if you wish to make pit stops and many companies offer day tours to all three. Or you can stay on the one for the whole day and really explore. I found quite a few pebbles under the clear waters to take home as keepsakes. Many treasures to be found and a lovely island that is well worth a stop!

Aegina coastline

Streets of Aegina

Rock picking in the sea

Kolonaki - Kolonaki is an upscale area of Athens that is based just a few streets away from Syntagma. It has upscale restaurants and boutiques and is well worth a wonder as it is away from hustle and bustle and you will find more locals around there, even though it is very much near the city centre. Lots of coffee shops and a little less traffic and the streets a little more secluded. Although there are no true points of interest, it is a nice little neighbourhood to make a pit stop in.

Rooftop Bars - no trip to Athens is complete without a rooftop bar. It is undoubtedly the highlight of the trip to really soak in the views of the city and Acropolis whilst you're there. For some ideas of where to go, here are some hotspots, but to avoid missing out if you want to dine, then book in advance or get there early. Some favourite picks are:

1. 360 Cocktail Bar - a three storey bar with two indoor floors (great views) and a rooftop bar. Popular with the locals and also popular with tourists. It serves food and is quite young and trendy but do not let this deter you. It is in the heart of Monastiraki and the area in general does get incredibly busy. 

2. A is for Athens - again in the heart of Monastiraki, this hotel serves as an incredible rooftop bar. It is higher up than 360 and has a large balcony. The views of the Acropolis are particularly special at night.

3. Royal Olympic Hotel - this five star hotel boasts views of both the Acropolis and the Temple Of Zeus. Down the road from Syntagma, it's a prime location for many incredible views and the restaurant at the top is the perfect place to have a romantic meal! I would recommend it at night for the lights and magical views although it's a great spot for lunch also. 

4. Coco Mat Hotel - I recently visited Coco Mat Hotel and have a lot of good things to say about it. You can read my review here but tucked away in the trendy area of Kolonaki, this hotel has a roof garden and the views are insanely amazing. It has panoramic views and mostly likely you will find only residents there. I would say it is one of Athens best kept secrets. Well worth the ten minute walk out of the main area of the city. It's artsy and private and above the rooftops, and feels exclusive but homely. A great choice for a calmer more chilled environment.

Greek People & Etiquette 

The Greek people are generally very hospitable. I have Greek friends and they are exceptionally welcoming, warm and very friendly. There are not many rules for visiting Athens, as it is a very multicultural and people are generally aware of others cultures and beliefs. It's always nice to speak a little Greek, it will warm people up exceptionally even if it is just "kalimera" (good day). People may not at first glance seem to be overly friendly. They do not often exchange smiles, unless you are in a shop but most often if you interact with them, they will be chatty and helpful. People are slower paced than the UK. They are polite and mild mannered, pushing, shoving or loud behaviour could possibly be frowned upon. There are pickpockets around, many people wear their backpacks at the front to be secure. You will encounter people trying to sell you things, table cloths, jewellery, tickets, but politely saying no and moving on is the best way to deal with it.

You may encounter young children selling things or walking around asking for money. It does tug on the heart strings and I often throw in a few loose coins. These children are asking for money for a reason and it is easy to see on the outskirts that there is poverty and a lack of money due to the economic crisis. I also found a list of helpful numbers and addresses in my Marco Polo book for reference!

University of Athens

Ancient ruins in Plaka
National Gardens

Street food is very prevalent in Athens, although they don't always sell Greek food. There are plenty of bistros, taverns and cafes around every corner, it is hard to go hungry. Don't stick to cafes that look touristy, the ones that don't look as inviting are probably where the best local food is served and if you see many locals dining there then it's probably renowned for its good cuisine. Here are some of my picks which include a little bit for everyone.

1. Mayor - this stylish modern and elegant restaurant in the heart of Athens, an affluent area and restaurant, and a popular hotspot with celebrities and VIPs. Offering tasty food (not just Greek food) but there is a broad range available. Cosy and chic it is a lovely place to spend an evening.

2. Royal Olympic Hotel - this hotel is situated near The Temple of Zeus and their rooftop restaurant boasts incredible views of the city. Enjoy it during the day or at night, and indulge in some incredible cuisine, in a lovely relaxed environment away from the busy streets.

3. Aleria Restaurant - if you're looking to jazz your evening up a little and add a touch of class to the day, then Aleria restaurant has had a lot of press surrounding it, with its gorgeous interiors and food.

Of course there are plenty of taverns and restaurants around every corner, exploring new ones is key!

So that is the guide completed! Feel feee to ask any questions below if you are heading to Athens. It is a very vibrant and safe city with plenty to do and a great location for many day trips around Greece. Be sure to read up on my trip to Delphi, in mainland Greece with Key Tours here

Delphi, Greece With Key Tours

Back in March, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Cape Sounion with Key Tours. It was a beautiful drive down the Athenian coastline all the way to the amazing Temple of Poseidon, and I highly recommend that. You can read about that trip here. However, second time around, Key Tours and I collaborated on an incredible trip that they offer to Delphi. The magic began and if you are interested in exploring and seeing more of mainland Greece, then this is the tour you need to take.

Delphi is situated in mainland Greece, buried deeply up in the beautiful highlands it is a beautiful and wonderful archaeological site with the most incredible views of the neighbouring mountains and in the distance, the Gulf of Corinth. It is situated on the slope of Mount Parnassus and includes the Sanctuary of Apollo, which is the site of the ancient oracle. The true beauty can be seen when you climb a bit higher, to see the site in its entirety. It overlooks the Pleistos Valley.

The Schedule

You are picked up early in the morning by an air conditioned coach at your hotel and you are returned to your hotel at the end of the day. I love that it's door to door and all things are taken care of, with amazing tour guides, Evangelos was our guide who was very good, funny and very informative. The drive was around 3 hours, perhaps a little less, and completely worth the trip, just for the drive! After wandering around the site and museum, there was a pit stop for food at a local family restaurant and then heading back to the wonderful Athens!

The Drive

The drive north out of Athens is truly incredible, especially once you leave the last parts of the city behind and delve into the countryside of Greece. Through small towns, there are many mountains, a lake, and as you climb higher, you can truly see the panoramic view of the entire area. You drive through the amazing Arakova, a place that needs to be explored separately and known for being a ski resort in the winter months. It has a Slavic influence, with stone and styles of building and it makes it even more charming, mixing eastern Europe with the beauty and style of Greece.

The Site

Delphi is there to be explored, and it certainly is a long hike upto the very top to see the stadium, however you can walk as far as you wish, or just sit and admire the views. Delphi became the site of a major temple to Phoebus Apollo, as well as the Pyrthian Games and the prehistoric oracle. There is much more information in depth, for some heavy reading about the history of the site, but of course, it is very deep set within the heart of the Ancient Greeks. More information can be found here. There are too many stories for me to tell about this incredible site that you must read up on it before visiting, but it is full of charm and character and there is plenty to feast your eyes on. Scroll down for some more photos!

The Food

The trip includes a meal at a local family run restaurant. It was a beautiful location in a lovely building, with friendly staff. Most people integrated on the tables together and we were served a three course meal (drinks not included), but there was plenty of food to go around. Although it was not all to my taste, I did absolutely adore the olives, fresh and aromatic and all in good time before heading back home on the road.

Next time you are in Greece, make sure you take a look at Key Tours, as they are friendly, reliable and affordable and lots to do no matter where you choose in Greece! Click here to see what tours they offer and book your next adventure!

*This post was in collaboration with Key Tours but all views are my own

Coco Mat Hotel Athens

I recently had the pleasure of returning back to Greece for a mix of business and pleasure and my first night, I was staying at the incredible Coco Mat Hotel, the most unusual, chic, and artistic hotel I've ever stayed in. It is known as a 'design hotel' and it was certainly full of gorgeous and modern design!

At first glance, I thought this hotel was a shop, and in fact, it is! Full of gorgeous comfy beds, pillows and the bed was truly amazing to sleep on! In the Kolonaki area of Athens, it is very central, in an exclusive area, around a ten minute walk to Syntagma Square (the main heartbeat of the city) and it boasts many upscale restaurants and shops in the area, which is lovely for someone wanting to taste the more affluent side of what Athens can offer. Coco Mat's raw stylish and modern aesthetic is incredibly pleasing, with kind helpful staff and a gorgeous stylish restaurant downstairs which was a joy to eat breakfast in. It was a lovely beginning to the trip and of course I'm going to tell you all why I loved it and show you what makes it so good!

The Lobby

The Room

Clean, modern, elegant, stylish, and complete with a little balcony, the room was everything I'd expected and more. The cool tones were relaxing and made it very homely. The balcony was an added bonus for those warm mornings, and a perfect place to relax with your Nespresso coffee. The pillows were incredibly comfortable, as was the bed itself, and the perfect thing I needed after a long day of travel.

The Bathroom

The bathroom areas were separated, with the shower in a separate area and the sink around the corner, complete with a vanity and necessities for your stay. Marble and white are the main colours and textures with a wooden element which is my favourite, keeps everything incredibly clean and stylish. The shower was easy to work, and everywhere was impeccably clean and new!

The Restaurant

The restaurant is on the lower ground floor, as is the whole hotel, on the floor beneath the store (such a novelty for those who love stylish modern artsy hotels). There was a choice of cold buffet food for breakfast or you can choose hot food from the other menu. I always opt for fruit and of course you cannot resist Greek yogurt when in Greece, it truly is the best you will find!!!

The Balcony

This was perhaps my favourite part of the hotel!! With panoramic stunning views of the city, of course including the amazing Acropolis, this hotel boasts an incredible rooftop area to relax, with a drink, doing some work, reading, or perhaps just soaking up the magic of Athens. It must not be missed if you are staying here, it was incredibly quiet on a morning after breakfast which is when I visited, and the wall is covered in intriguing art, another nod to its incredibly artsy background.

Overall, a lovely stay, easily accessibly to the city centre, and stunning views with an artsy modern feel. To look at Coco Mat's pricing and what they offer and availability click here.

*I was a guest at Coco Mat but all opinions and views are my own. 

Take A Luxury Winter Trip

The crisp winter season is almost upon us; when we can wrap ourselves up in knitted scarves and dream about the copious amount of wine and food we can ingest over this period. However, traveling through the winter is the perfect way to embrace the cold weather and immerse yourself in the festivities of the season. Keep it luxurious and look at some top places and travel ideas to put on your travel bucket list this upcoming season.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay
Christmas Markets

Pick your favourite European city that you’ve always wanted to experience during winter, perhaps a new city you want to explore, or a city that’s famous for its luscious Christmas markets. Going to a Christmas market is a great way to impress, for finding little hidden gems and gifts that nobody else will have picked up. Take in the culture and all the food that comes with it, particularly popular choices are Copenhagen and Berlin for the traditional taste of the European markets. Whilst Christmas markets can be a popular choice, there’s a substantial chance that you have missed the peak of the tourist season; and are more likely to encounter the locals of the town, getting a more genuine and welcoming feel.

Skiing and Log Cabins

Winter sports have become increasingly more popular over the past few years. If you’re a skiing enthusiast then Europe has to loads to offer. If you’re looking for a luxurious getaway with some time to relax and unwind, then a fully catered ski chalet is the answer. Val d’isere in the French alps is an idyllic resort for all your friends and family to enjoy both on and off the slopes. What could be better than enjoying the crisp cold air with stunning mountain views and a crackling log fire in a luxury ski chalet like these from Le Chardon Mountain Lodges. Indulge in some French cuisine, bask in the sloping snowy mountains and allow yourself time to unwind. Sit and bake in the sauna, and forget the icy outdoor weather, it’s a little taste of summer in the midst of winter!

Image Courtesy of: Le Chardon Val d'lesere
UK Spa Trips

Spas are always a good choice any time of year, but during the festive season, the stresses and strains of Christmas shopping, catering for friends and family, can take its toll. Take a look at a luxury weekend spa break. Enjoy a full body massage, a Jacuzzi, and a hot stone treatment, whilst being able to stay closer to family, if you prefer. You could even research Ireland if it would be easier to stay within the British isles but still feel as if you’re having a break away. Explore places nearby to take long winter strolls; heavenly and magical.

Northern Lights At New Year

If you want to wait until the rush of Christmas is long gone, and your not quite feeling the effects of the Christmas slog, then booking a trip to see the Northern Lights could be a wonderful way to kick start your new year. Take a look at Iceland; with its rugged volcanic terrain, and icy waters, you can appreciate its beauty, whilst taking in one of the world’s greatest spectacles. Iceland offers a small handful of luxury hotels that can serve as your base whilst planning your post-Christmas trip. The Blue Lagoon spa is a popular choice with it’s outdoor mud baths, although flights can be difficult to find, research, and plan thoroughly if the Northern Lights is on your wish list.

So this season, take a look at some luxury travel ideas that could leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for the year ahead. Share your travel plans below and let me know which of the ideas above take your fancy!

Luxury Experience With York Designer Outlet

As we leave the final remnants of summer behind, it's most definitely time to focus on the autumnal vibes and drift into the festive period. As we move into autumn, and summer sales, shopping becomes very exciting, especially as Christmas moves closer. The York Designer Outlet on the outskirts of the beautiful city of York is the perfect place for a day out with friends or family, and offers unique items from the luxury sector, at reduced prices. They are part of the McArthurGlen chain. They have chains all over the world, including one in Canada. *Scroll down for super exciting competition also!*

Parking & Getting Around

There is a north and south entrance to the outlet with two large car parks and good access for disabled too. You can also get there by bus which runs a regular service to and from York city centre which makes it an easy place to get to, with buses running every twenty minutes or less. York itself also has plenty of Park & Ride stops if you want to leave your car there and take a scenic bus ride or if you're staying in the city and want to see what the designer outlet has to offer. Inside the outlet are little maps and screens to help you find your way around. All the cafes and places to stop off for a hot latte are upstairs, aside from a couple on the ground floor. Plenty to choose from! The outlet itself is large but can be all taken in within a few hours and is a fun day out, even for the whole family! Plenty of things for the kids to do also, little play areas and a couple of kids’ shops, including a few sweet shops, which of course you don’t need to be a kid to enjoy!

The Shops

The brilliance of the outlet is the fact you can find so many high-end brands here from Michael Kors to Armani and plenty in between!! Each shop sells incredible items at excellent prices. A Michael Kors bag can be picked up at £90 when it's retail price may be £140. The reductions are well worth it and there should be no misconception about the outlet just being last years stock as they sell the real stuff for the best prices!! From clothing, to sunglasses, even chocolate shops, there will always be something to find. It varies nicely from female to male clothes, and from younger to the more mature customer and best of all plenty of bag shops, for the bag lovers (I know I am!).

York Designer Outlet is gearing up for an exciting autumn/winter collection, and it’s clear that this AW17 we should embrace the past to create the future. As classic shades and fabrics unite with modern style, bringing a fresh approach to this season’s trends. I found some gorgeous knitted jumpers in French Connection, autumn boots in Kurt Geiger and so many cute accessories to take you effortlessly from summer to winter, and we all know shopping for the cooler weather is the most fun with layering and styling at its best! For a complete breakdown of all the stores at the outlet, click here and to see their latest offers view here.


After all that shopping, finish off in the food area upstairs and grab a coffee and a sandwich, or perhaps a delicious cake, which I opted for at Patisserie Valerie. Make sure you box one up for the trip home or to save for later. Some of the cafes include Starbucks, Thorntons, Ed's Easy Diner, Subway, Wagamama and Yogi Bar which is an absolute treat for me, because frozen yogurt with fruity toppings is such a good way to finish the day, even if it’s chilly outside, who can resist frozen yogurt? York Designer Outlet is the perfect place to catch up with friends and enjoy those cooler autumn days, keeping warm indoors whilst grabbing all of the hot bargains! As we move into autumn, it’s definitely time to grab all those fantastic deals and enjoy what they have to offer!

What I love the most about the outlet is the variation from the younger shopper to the mature shopper, and there are definitely many happy hours to be spent in Michael Kors, because they seem to have every bag ever made in there! I've also been eyeing up and lusting for For a list of all the retail shops in the outlet click here and plan your trip now!

Your chance to WIN a £100 Voucher courtesy of York Designer Outlet is within your grasp! Head on over to INSTAGRAM and find my York Designer Outlet post.

The competition will run for two weeks and a winner will be chosen at random! Look out for your name popping up on my Instagram stories next week! Best of luck!

*This post is written in collaboration with York Designer Outlet but all views and thoughts are my own.