Earlier this year Luke and I went to Athens for a 5-day minimoon* straight after our wedding. After weeks of preparation, planning and generally being rushed off our feet (not to mention the tension from the big day!), it was the perfect getaway to relax and unwind. I’m usually a serious planner who devises itineraries and knows exactly what’s happening and when, but after the wedding I just wanted to catch the plane to Greece and see what happens – no pre-made plan for us, thank you.
*If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a minimoon, it’s basically an excuse to have two honeymoons. The minimoon is usually a short holiday just after the wedding whilst you save up for a bigger, more honeymoon-esque trip a few months later.
I’d been to Greece before but neither of us had been to Athens so we were really excited to visit somewhere new together. We went in April which meant that even though the Greeks classed the weather as ‘pretty mild’, it was actually like summer in England, but without the crowds as the tourist season hadn’t kicked in yet. Bliss.
We spent most of our time just wandering around the city. It’s big, vibrant, and there’s so much to see and do.
One of my favourite parts to explore was Plaka, a district within the city. It’s at the base of the Acropolis hill, and it’s made up of lovely little streets, shops, bars and restaurants. One thing I will say about Athens (and this might be the same elsewhere, I just haven’t experienced it before) – you cannot just browse a shop in peace. Store workers like to come over and encourage you to buy things. There were a few times when I was on the cusp of buying something, but then I got put off by the fact that there was someone standing right next to me, staring at me, waiting for me to decide. I CAN’T HANDLE THE PRESSURE. Anyway, don’t let that put you off. It’s still a nice place to walk around.
The best part of the trip was taking a boat from Pireus to Aegina Island, which was absolutely beautiful. It’s about an hour each way and takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city – amazing if you want a little relaxation by the sea. I believe a lot of Athens city workers come and spend weekends in Aegina, and I can see why.
The promenade has lots of little cafes and restaurants, fruit and veg stalls, and there are a few touristy shops too. Those touristy shops actually came in really useful to me. When your shoes are rubbing holes in your feet and disrupting your relaxing trip to the island, sometimes you just need a tourist souvenir shop to buy some emergency flip flops.
We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb (our usual choice of accommodation), which was in Mets. Mets is in the heart of Athens, but it feels like a sleepy little village. It was in a pretty, quiet neighbourhood, which according to our Airbnb hosts, is home to lots of writers, artists and actors. I didn’t see any, but then I’m not well versed in Greek creatives. Anyway, I’d highly recommend it if you want somewhere that’s not insanely busy, but close to all the tourist hot spots.
The apartment was 19th century, charming, and had lots of character. Plus, it has a private courtyard where we could sit and enjoy our dinner. Amazing. The good thing about staying in an Airbnb is that we were able to do lots of cooking in the apartment. It’s great to be able to do this when you’re on a tight budget because you just spent all your money on getting married, and you’re also trying to save for your big honeymoon in Norway. Here are a couple of snaps of our Airbnb. Isn’t it pretty?
I could not write a post about Athens without telling you about Avocado. Ah, Avocado.
Avocado is a vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free restaurant in the city centre. They have the friendliest staff and the most delicious food. I’m pretty sure you’d love it even if you were a meat-eating, bread-loving fiend. We actually went there twice, once for dinner and once for lunch, and neither time did it disappoint!
On our first trip, Luke had ‘Viva Paella’ which was a spin on Spanish paella and made using pumpkin, seasonal veggies, mushrooms, haricot beans and tofu. He loved it so much that I tried to replicate it when we got home…so far I’ve not nailed it, but I’ll keep trying! This was vegan and gluten-free.
I went for a trusty veggie burger, in particular Avocado’s signature burger, made from sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger, chickpeas, herbs, peanuts and tamari sauce, along with salad and a helping of avocado (of course!). It came with a side of sweet potato flakes which were crispy and delicious! Ask for it without cheese to make it vegan.
The next time we visited we opted for the ‘Vibrant Vegan’ Pizza, which I have to say was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t have space for the whole thing, so they popped the remains in a box for me so that I could take it to the airport for the way home. It was topped with a variety of vegetables, tomatoes, avocado and vegan cheese – delish!
The final thing I had to share from Avocado was this…
Isn’t it beautiful? (Please excuse the finger print on the top there, I had to manhandle it to get it out of the box). This is Avocado’s Raw Chocolate Tart. It’s vegan, gluten free, and sugar free. The best part is you’d never have known! It was creamy, chocolately, and seriously decadent. It’s made from cocoa powder, avocado, coconut oil and agave syrup, on a crust of almonds and dates. Words can’t describe how yummy it was – you’ll simply have to go to Athens and try it for yourselves.
So, in conclusion, if you’re looking to holiday in Athens, I say go for it.
- I suggest going in spring when the temperature is akin to British summer but you don’t have to fight your way through an army of tourists.
- Try and find accommodation in Mets, it’s super lovely.
- Make sure you visit Aegina for some gorgeous scenery, peace and quiet, and a dip in the ocean.
- If you don’t go and eat at Avocado, well. That’s just silliness.