1. Take a virtual tour of a museum
Get a jump start on your next Athens culture trip with a digital stroll around the city’s most riveting museums. That way, you’ll know exactly what to make a beeline for when you come IRL. Eyeball ancient marvels like Pheidias’ 5th century BC Parthenon sculptures in high-definition detail on a virtual visit to the Acropolis Museum, thanks to the Google Arts & Culture platform. Next, snoop around all four of the Benaki Museum’s sites on 360 degree virtual tours. Start from the flagship Benaki Museum of Greek Culture which offers a one-stop panorama of Greek history from prehistoric times, and end with the stunning exhibits of the Benaki Islamic Art Museum collection. Finally, fall under the spell of filmmaker Georgis Grigorakis’ hypnotic contemporary video sculpture as he depicts hyper real Aegean seascapes, inspired by Cycladic Art. It’s part of the Museum of Cycladic Art’s new Home Activities series.
2. Whip up your own freddo
Yes. You. Can. (Assuming you have an espresso machine). Here’s how to make Athens’ favourite brew.
- A few minutes before you know the craving is coming, put a medium sized empty container (think bar shaker) in the freezer, preferably metal.
- Run two short espresso doses into a cup. Add sugar as desired. Set aside.
- Pour milk into your cold metal container till it’s half full. Full fat is preferable, it makes the creamiest froth, but whatever you have will do. If your milk or container isn’t cold enough, add a couple of ice cubes.
- If you have a small handheld mixer (not a double superpowered cake one please), use it to beat the milk. If you don’t have a mixer, a bar shaker or any other DIY container will do. Shake till your arm hurts. Set aside.
- Add about 4 cubes to your coffee. Mix or shake and add more ice. Carefully scoop the froth on top, with a spoon, to make sure that any milk that’s still in liquid form doesn’t ruin your creation. Ask a friend to video chat, sit back and enjoy, slowly.
3. Scroll through This is Athens’ Instagram feed
Just because we're proud of it. It features the best shots of our city, snapped by our photographers and many of our beloved followers who use our hashtag (#ThisisAthens) when they post their own odes to Athens. From drone shots of the metropolis crowned by its famous ancient temples to lively urban scenes and your favourite all-time classic photos of Plaka, we promise to bring you as close to Athens as you can get right now.
4. Listen to music that takes you there
We’ve scouted the best tracks to conjure up memories of those much-loved Athenian moments, until you can get back to them:
- Sipping on cocktails on a rooftop bar, gazing at the view of the Acropolis rising before your eyes. (1, 2)
- Getting lost in Plaka and Anafiotika, surrounded by bougainvillea and neoclassical beauties. (1, 2, 3)
- Cruising down to the Athens Riviera. (1, 2)
- Exploring off the beaten track Athens. (1, 2, 3)
- Recalling the days before social distancing. (1, 2)
5. Catch a classical performance courtesy of the Athens Concert Hall
Athenians have been die-hard culture buffs since antiquity; so they aren’t about to let a little thing like closed concert halls stand between them and their passion for the fine arts. Nor should you. Megaron, the Athens Concert Hall, has stepped up to deliver free nightly classical performances from Europe's biggest concert venues, in alliance with the European Concert Hall Organization. Log onto the Megaron’s Facebook page at 9pm Greek time to enjoy a show from the comfort of your own saloni. Experience anything from a rousing homage to Maria Callas by the Athens State Orchestra to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony from Vienna. Dress-code? Strictly Lounge.
6. Cook a Greek dish
There’s so much on the menu, even the least talented home cook can master something, and the bonus is that so much of it is healthy. Go as simple as a Greek salad (dried oregano and top shelf olive oil are the secret to its success, aside from fresh vegetables) or as complicated as gemista (stuffed tomatoes and peppers) if you have a lot of time. And let's face it, time is our most plentiful ingredient these days. If you have dried chickpeas (revithia) or lentils (fakes) or giant beans (gigantes) in your pantry, they're all another way to go. Or try your hand at this comforting soutzoukakia recipe from This is Athens food blogger and chef Carolina Doriti that's sure to improve any day spent stuck inside (it’s basically meatballs spiced with garlic, cumin and wine, mixed in a tomato sauce). Whichever way you go, just don't forget to order feta on your next virtual supermarket run.
7. Make a cocktail with Mastiha
Thanks to the coronavirus, happy hour has made its biggest comeback yet, even in the most unlikely of households. Here’s a tipple that will make you feel like you’re at an Athenian rooftop bar with a warm summer breeze tickling your hair. Happily, it doesn’t require graduation from a bartending academy either. Get hold of a bottle of Mastiha liqueur. Pour over ice in a tall glass. Top with tonic, squeeze a wedge of lime, drop it in and stir. You can make it as light or strong as you desire (best dosage is ⅓ Mastiha, ⅔ tonic). Sweet, with a tang of sour and a touch of bitter fizz. This is what cocktail hour with a twist of Athens is all about.
8. Travel to Athens with a contemporary tale
Stretch out on your sofa, or better yet balcony, and escape to Athens through the pages of a cracking read set in the Greek capital. Here are two modern classics: Dinner with Persephone by Patricia Storace (part travelogue, part cultural history, this stylish essay collection by American poet Storace chronicles her year living in Athens and captures the capital at its most sublime and surreal); and Outline by Rachel Cusk. Cusk’s vivid vignettes of Athenian pavement life during one balmy Greek summer will make you feel like you’ve pulled up a chair and can almost smell the coffee.
9. Soak up the Athens street art scene
Do you know your WD from your Billy Gee? Get to know the hottest mavericks putting their mark on Athens one colourful mural at a time with our Athens Street Art slideshow. More of a classicist? Take a virtual tour of Robert McCabe's beautiful vintage photography, showcasing 1950s Athens, set against some pretty mighty ancient monuments.
10. Watch a cinema classic
The urge to disappear to a merrier time and place has rarely been greater. Embark on a celluloid romp with Greek national treasure Melina Mercouri across a swinging sixties Athens in Never on Sunday. Free-spirited prostitute Ilya meets American tourist Homer in this feel-good favourite set amid the rambunctious tavernas and bustling port of Piraeus. Not only did this award-winning flick plant both Piraeus and Mercouri on the world map, it’s also said to have inspired the then First Lady Jackie Kennedy to travel to Athens. As it will you.