Shhh don’t tell anyone but Athens is one of my favourite European cities…it’s authentic, charming and there is a dose of history around every corner.  We only had 48 hours in Athens on this occasion however we put it to good use by *cough* relaxing and eating.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

We arrived late afternoon in Athens and caught a taxi from the airport (beware of the taxi drivers; we were pretty firm with our driver after he tried it on…just the once!) and checked into the Intercontinental Athens (not my favourite hotel in Athens and will write a review one day; it felt a bit dated, soulless and the service was mixed).

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

The first night we had access to the Intercontinental Club lounge where we enjoyed a light supper via the nibbles in the lounge and a few drinks while appreciating the view over the city.

The next morning we had a full day…to be fair we’ve done a number of the touristy things in Athens that you really should tick off on a visit to the city so we decided to climb a hill to get another view over the city from the Hill of the Muses…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…it’s pretty wonderful up there…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…with great views over the city…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…make sure you wear sensible shoes as it’s not stable ground.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

After our stroll up a hill, we managed to end up in a middle of a religious procession that we had no idea about…thankfully a lovely old Greek lady grabbed me and explained that it was a particular saints day and we were close to her church (I have a funny feeling it was Catherine but I could be just making that up!) but it’s one of the reasons why I love Athens – the culture, history, religion and the friendly people that stop and chat to you…we held hands as she explained everything.  A truly lovely moment that I will cherish.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

G decided that he needed a ride on a segway and I wasn’t really feeling up for a segway tour so while he whizzed around seeing the city from different vantage points (he really loved this tour!)...I used my feet and just lost myself in the streets of Athens…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…photographing the hell out of it…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…the city felt a tad festive which surprised me (never thought of Christmas and Greece together before…doh!)

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…Athens at times does remind me of Paris…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…pretty in pink to make the boys wink!

The city felt empty of tourists, it was November so it was nice to chat to shop keepers and one in particular stopped me when he saw that my camera was on manual mode not auto…he loved photography so we had a chat…the Greeks love to chat.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

I managed to photograph myself a few doors of course!

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Unfortunately I had fibroid issues on this day (once you overheat, it’s game over!) and ended up having to change my entire bottom half in the smallest and smelliest toilet in all of Athens…the joys of not being able to flush paper down the toilet makes public toilets reek even more than usual!  I’m still pretty proud of myself balancing on one shoe while trying to pull off and chuck on jeans in what felt like a tiny cage.  I survived to tell the tale!

I did ponder about buying a pair of slippers…I haven’t succumbed yet but next time a pair of these bad boys are coming home with me…along with another 25 litres of olive oil.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

After a quick walk back to the hotel, a shower and a brisk walk to the Hotel Grande Bretagne as I was meeting G for afternoon tea…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…G wanted to make sure that the Grande Bretagne in Athens still made the best scones in the whole world…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…they were rigorously tested (don’t ask me why the napkin ended up there…the shirt desperately needed a iron and he needed a trim as well which I was nagging him about)…they still hold the number one spot so if you’re a gluten eating monster then you need to make sure you pop in and taste their scones and their gluten free afternoon tea is pretty good as well!

We decided to head up to the terrace bar at the hotel which offers fabulous views over Athens…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…and then watch the sunset…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…I managed to get over my fear of flying rats (joking…still totally petrified of birds!  And I forgot to focus the darn thing on the bird…doh!)…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…they make a rather tasty mocktail if you’re that way inclined which I am!

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

The following morning I decided to head out again to discover some more beauty spots around the historical centre of Athens…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…Athens is famous for it’s street art…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…in between ducking inside a few art shops, Athens does some seriously good art if you like bright bold striking colours (which I do!)….and yes there is a lot of graffiti as well…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…Athens is fabulous for people watching as it’s full of funny little characters like this gentleman who gave me a wink when I dropped in a few coins; traditional Greek music and possibly helping someone out is good for the soul (you never know a persons circumstances)…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…I found all this just by walking around the touristy area of Athens…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…I love a colourful destination…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…Athens does make me smile and I thought to myself, hmmm 48 hours in Athens really isn’t enough even on my 4th visit to the city!  I stumbled on a few ancient ruins…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…another man entertaining the small crowd of only me…

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

…and just kept wandering around (I managed to find myself a few cushion covers and a load of olive oil…yes I’m officially old!).

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

Travel Tips for Athens, Greece

  • The historical centre of Athens is quite compact so you can walk around with slightly pretty shoes if you fancy (just don’t do heels!)
  • I’ve stayed at a few hotels in Athens and my favourite is the Hotel Grande Bretagne (great location, lovely service, iconic hotel which is part of the Starwood chain of hotels) or there is the Intercontinental Athens (IHG chain of hotels) which is more business focussed and takes approximately 10 minutes to walk into the historic centre.
  • A taxi will cost you 38 euros from the airport to downtown Athens and this is a fixed rate but could change so check the board at the taxi stand – some taxi drivers will try and play funny buggers so I suggest having two 20 euro notes available rather than a 50 euro note and don’t listen to their bollocks about riots closing roads in central Athens – they just don’t want to take you all the way into the city
  • You can catch the metro or buses from the airport which takes approximately an hour and is a cheaper alternative.
  • If you are looking for a day trip from Athens then I would suggest Nafplio, the Islands of the Saronic Gulf or the Poseidon Temple which are all worth while and I’ve visited them all.  Plus I have a load more Athens tips here including where to buy Greek Sandals and another great view point.
  • Athens is really quite hip and it’s slowly becoming a foodie hotspot – Greek food is on the rise; simple but tasty flavours and you can easily find gluten free options!
  • The Hotel Grande Bretagne offer a lovely afternoon tea in their Winter Garden which is definitely worth checking out.
  • Athens is often dubbed as boring and overlooked as an entry / exit point for the Greek Islands; I always suggest 48 hours in Athens to really discover an authentic European city where history, locals and tourists mingle making it a great alternative city break destination.  Athens won’t be for everyone but I love it!

Greece Travel Inspiration - 48 Hours in Athens, one of my favourite cities in Europe with so many things to do, great food and ancient sites with amazing history all over the city! Plaka is my favourite area and there are so many fabulous photography opportunities on these tiny streets. Winter is a great time to vacation in the city so pop on over to the blog and read my travel tips at the bottom from hotels, day trips and where to find the best afternoon tea in Athens.

xx

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After doing an afternoon tea staycation post earlier this week, I thought I needed to do a post on some destinations a little bit further afield so let me introduce you to some alternative city breaks in Europe to take in the coming months.

Marseille, France

France’s second largest city; once deemed a city to avoid,  it’s now one of France’s best kept secrets.  It’s such a delightful city to visit and the pastel colour streets and beautiful architecture will make you fall in love with Marseille.  You can read my City Break to Marseille post by clicking right here and my second visit to Marseille right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

A great little destination for a quickie break if you are struggling with time and a great place to take the kids if you are travelling with them the first time. Luxembourg City is compact, doesn’t have all the hordes of tourists seen in the more popular city break destinations, green and ever so child friendly.  You can read my City Break to Luxembourg post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Porto, Portugal

The city of Porto has been on my wish list for a number of years and after reading Elle’s posts on the destination last year here and here I was desperate to visit.  You can read my city guide to Porto here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Krakow, Poland

This Polish city has so much to offer that I would suggest extending it from a quick weekend break to spending at least 4 nights in the city to visit all the incredible sights the city has to offer. A day trip to the Salt Mines and Auschwitz is a must.  You can read my City Break to Krakow post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Athens, Greece

I’m not sure why Athens isn’t a more popular city break destination; it has so much to offer. From incredible historic sights, amazing museums, fabulous shoe shopping and don’t even get me started on the food. The flying time is just under four hours however don’t let this put you off as the extra time spent on the plane is so worth it!  You can read my City Break to Athens post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Verona, Italy

The city of love; is this Europe’s most romantic city? Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet in fair Verona and the city makes a perfect city break destination as it’s small and compact. If you’re visiting during summer than try and get tickets to the Opera that is played in the Arena (Roman Amphitheatre).  You can read my City Break to Verona post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I’m adding Amsterdam to my alternative city break list as the city is shedding it’s dirty drug / sex image and becoming a luxury city break hot spot. If you’re an art lover, this city is the perfect destination for a quickie city break (excuse the pun).  You can read my City Break to Amsterdam post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Dusseldorf, Germany

Most city breakers head to Berlin and Munich if wishing to visit Germany however I’m going to suggest Dusseldorf. The city offers incredible shopping however if you are keen on heading to the Christmas Markets, fly into Dusseldorf, visit the markets there and then jump on the train for the short journey to visit the bigger Christmas Market in Cologne.  You can read my City Break to Dusseldorf post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Vienna, Austria

If you eat a lot of cake and base your holidays around this requirement then let me recommend a visit to Vienna; the home to so much cake that you will possibly need to buy two seats on the return flight back home! The city is just stunning and I would return in an instant as I found three nights wasn’t enough to enjoy this delightful city break destination.  You can read my City Break to Vienna post by clicking right here or my Gluttons Guide to Eating Cake in Vienna post.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

Split, Croatia

Don’t overlook this beautiful Adriatic city; the city has so much to offer and there is nothing more beautiful than sitting in Diocletians Palace on a balmy summers evening having dinner. The city is so much cheaper to travel to than Dubrovnik and I would high recommend trying to rent an apartment in the Old Town to really enjoy your stay.  You can read my Split vs Dubrovnik post by clicking right here.

alternative-city-breaks-in-europe

What was your favourite City Break destination? Where would you recommend visiting for an alternative city break in Europe?

xx

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To quote the great 4th Century Philospher Epicurus; “You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity” and for me this sums up Athens perfectly!  A bank holiday weekend in the UK meant that we spent a well deserved luxury city break to Athens.

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I decided to have a change from our normal hotel chain of choice and went for a Starwood property and the most iconic hotel in all of Athens; The Hotel Grande Bretagne which has been welcoming visitors through its very glamorous doors since 1874.  To say that I fell in love with this hotel is the understatement of the year; I didn’t want to leave and let me show you why!

The hotel has that old world charm that I just couldn’t get enough of (and I will be doing a full post on the hotel as it deserves it!) and it should be on everyone’s itinerary if you are in Athens, even if its just to try their delightful Afternoon Tea in the Winter Garden or a cocktail on the rooftop terrace.

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Our room was amazing and included a balcony overlooking Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament.

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My room included two very pretty and oh so delicious gluten free cakes!  I LOVED the shoe cake!!  The squeals of delight could be heard as far as New Zealand; I felt like a princess!

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We arrived later than anticipated into Athens so it meant we were late for our Afternoon Tea at Hotel Grande Bretagne however they were happy to change the times (thank you!) and once checked into our room, a quick change of clothes, we were eating a very scrummy Afternoon Tea.  You can read my full review here and I will let you know right now, you have to read the review as G thought the scones were better than Claridges!  See you want to read that review now don’t you!

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Remember to have a tipple up on the roof top terrace at the Grande Bretagne so you can get the best view of the Acropolis at night time

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The next day we got up bright and early and ventured upstairs to have breakfast on the rooftop terrace where the views over Athens are incredible.  Nothing beats having breakfast with a view of the Acropolis.

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We needed a hearty breakfast (well G did as I may have eaten those cakes for breakfast, I lack self control!) as we were walking up Mount Lycabettus.  Now I’m probably telling you a bit of a fib as we took the Teleferik (Funicular) most of the way up to the top 

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but I did have to walk up a lot of stairs to get to that point so comfy shoes are a necessity!  You may think my Minnetonka moccasins are ugly however they are most comfortable shoes for travelling.

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I knew the views over Athens were going to be killer from Mount Lycabettus but I never imagined something as grand as this!

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Or this!

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The very quaint St George’s Chapel sits on top of Mount Lycabettus where you can wander inside and light a few candles.

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I felt like I was on a Greek Island not in the capital city.

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G and I didn’t grab a drink however there is a lovely seating area and would be the perfect place to have a sundowner on a warm Athens evening.

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After getting lost on the way back to the Grande Bretagne we found some great street art and the piece of the right reminded me of a piece of artwork that I purchased in Paris a few years ago.

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We finally made it back to the Grande Bretagne and as we were all wilting in the Athens heat (wimps I know!) we decided to grab some lunch inside.  My sister had the Greek burger which she enjoyed (on the right) and the hotel kindly made me a gluten free club sandwich but without bacon as they couldn’t guarantee it was gluten free.

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After leaving the handbrake at the hotel (i.e. G), Lisa and I hit the shops!  Athens has amazing shopping and I would fly to Athens to support the Greek economy each month if I could.  There is something for every budget and Athens is a shoe shopping paradise; the ladies of Athens seem to be more obsessed about shoes than I am!

Our first stop was The Poet Sandal Maker for custom fitted Greek Sandals which for me are the perfect Greek Souvenir.  Honestly, don’t leave Athens until you purchase a pair and they are super cheap starting at €25 a pair.  The tiny workshop is tucked away at 2 Agias Thelas Street just off Monastiraki Square and with past customers such as Sophia Loren, Jackie O and me; you know you can’t go wrong!  On this visit I purchased a pair of Hermes and the Jackie O – if it’s good enough for Jackie O then its good enough for Kelly O!

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We then stumbled upon Athens Protasis after our fish pedicure (oh yes we did!) where I purchased two pairs of beautiful earrings.  The jewellery is all made in Greece so it’s another perfect little keepsake to take home from your visit to Athens.

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Lisa and I tried to stay out of all the tacky tourist shops that you find in the Plaka and just locate some cool Greek shops.  We found a fantastic souvenir shop called Forget Me Not which all the products are designed by locals and sometimes taking the mickey of the surroundings and then there is Korres – the Greek Cosmetics company.  Bright new red lippy – tick!

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When visiting Athens always remember to look up as the buildings are just fantastic especially the ones that are crumbling away…

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..and the cute little alleyways.

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On our way to visit the Evzones we stumbled across a few men that just wouldn’t crack a smile, even though Lisa was having a Miss Monroe moment.  Luckily enough, there are always a few Greek men around to show their appreciation – just not these three philopshers unfortunately!

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And if you are wondering what an Evzone is – it’s the guy below with Pom Poms on his shoes!

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I can’t tell you how much I love Athens and totally recommend a visit to Athens on a city break at least to get a little taster of Greece.  The food, the people and the history make this city a place you must visit when in Europe!

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As this wasn’t my first visit to Athens we didn’t visit many of the tourist spots but I highly recommend checking out the Acropolis and The Acropolis Museum when in Athens…

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and if you fancy taking a day trip then I highly recommend the beautiful islands of Aegina, Poros and Hydra or the Temple of Posideon

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Travel Tips for Athens

  • The X95 bus takes you from the Airport to Syntagma Square
  • If the Immigration queues are crazy and you hold a UK Resident Card then flash this as they will allow you into the EU queue
  • The ladies of Athens wear heels however if you are going to do some sightseeing then flats are best especially if you are heading to the Acropolis or Mt Lycabettus
  • You can walk everywhere in Athens
  • The older Greek gentlemen love to talk to tourists; smile and enjoy the moment as the Greeks are most definitely the friendliest people in Europe.
  • Highly recommend staying at the Grande Bretagne or if it a tad pricey for your budget then head there for Afternoon Tea in the Lounge or a cocktail or two on the roof top terrace
  • Make sure you pick up some olives, olive oil and feta cheese at the airport before you head back to the UK – nothing beats fresh Greek produce!
  • My final and most important tip for Athens is to buy a pair of custom fitted Greek sandals from The Poet Sandal-Maker

xx

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