Just 25 minutes from the Acropolis, an alluring stretch of beachfront beckons with island charm. No ferry required.
By Amy Tara Koch
Aug. 1, 2019
The southern coast of Athens, a 35-mile stretch of pine-speckled beachfront, is gaining in popularity for travelers keen on exploring the ruins in the city’s historic center, and then ditching the urban sprawl (it’s a mere 25-minute drive from the Acropolis) for the charms of the Aegean Sea. The ambience of this coastal hideaway, known unofficially as the Athens Riviera, veers more remote Greek island than urban-adjacent beach town.
In-the-know Greeks and their celebrity friends have long decamped to its sandy shores on the coastline of Attica, a triangular peninsula jutting into the sea. Rustic boîtes like Limanakia Beach Bar, tucked into a craggy inlet and where sun-bronzed Greeks leap from the surrounding cliffs into the turquoise sea), Blue Flag beaches (a premium designation for water purity) equipped with curtained sun beds, waiter service and access to secluded swimming coves, plus a cool-kid cocktail scene, lend glamour to this pocket of suburban Athens.
The sunset view is the draw at this time-worn, naval-themed boîte in Alimos Marina. Kick back with a Mythos beer and just-caught calamari in the company of stylish island-hoppers and fisherman fresh from the surrounding boats.
Pier No 1, Alimos Marina, Athens
Recently revamped, the historic Astir Palace (frequent haunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Charlton Heston, Frank Sinatra and Joan Collins), has upped the ante for seaside glitz here. Perched on a peninsula directly on the Aegean Sea, the 303-room hotel has seven restaurants and bars, private beaches equipped with snorkeling, wind surfing and Jet Skis, a variety of pools, boat outings to archaeological sites on nearby islands (Aegina, Hydra, Poros) and sunset sailing nightly.
Apollonos 40, Vouliagmeni 166 71
Night life revolves around this hot spot where locals and a flurry of glitterati (Jean Paul Gaultier, Moby, Chiara Ferragni, Olivia Palermo) converge for a tasteful supper by the sea followed by DJ helmed dance party that often ends with coffee at sunrise.
On the 27th kilometer of Athens-Sounio Avenue, 16672 Vári
4. Aqua Marina
For village-like charm and sweeping views of the yacht-dotted coastline, pop into Aqua Marina bakery for traditional pastry (cream-filled phyllo, almond meringues, marzipan, baklava) or a signature Greek breakfast of eggs layered in oregano-dusted tomato purée and feta cheese.
Agiou Panteleimonos 15, Vouliagmeni 166 71
Within a volcanic crater amid dramatic rock formations, this emerald green lake (fully staffed with sun beds and an all-day cafe) doubles as a wellness destination. The privately operated attraction offers therapeutic bathing (the brackish waters have been soothing muscles since ancient times) and shaded, sage-scented grounds to while away the afternoon. This season, there are outdoor movement classes on those grounds and massages available in open-air thatched huts.
Lake Vouliagmeni, Vouliagmeni 166 7
This piece originally appeared in The New York Times on August 1, 2019.