Tucked between glitzy Glyfada and the upscale enclave of Vouliagmeni, sleepy little Voula used to be like the overlooked middle sibling. How times change. This unassuming seaside suburb now ranks among the most cosmopolitan postcodes in the capital. When it comes to going out, many southsiders are now choosing Voula over Glyfada because of its chic but cosy vibe.
Twelve years ago, when we moved to Athens, leafy Voula was a pleasant residential community, perfectly placed for the best beaches and drawcards of the Athens Riviera, while still only 16km from the city-centre. We lived just across the road from Voula Platia, or main square—a handy but parochial hive of butcher’s shops, bakeries, hardware and carpet stores. Voula Square, with its slightly rundown air and matronly boutiques, was the place you went to run errands, meet friends for a hurried weekday coffee, or relax over a mellow Sunday lunch at one of the old school tavernas, while the kids belted about on their scooters.
The spirit of old Voula can still be found at stalwarts like Fontanina brasserie, Dio Mio café and Andonis’ taverna. But in Voula reloaded, you’ll now also find “meat boutiques” (complete with DJ decks and €300 imported cuts), sophisticated wine and sushi bars, concept stores, posh delis and classy dining options covering all creeds of cuisine from Russian and Vietnamese, to Italian and contemporary Greek. There’s even an oyster bar where you can tuck into French oysters or grilled scallops.
I’ve loved witnessing Voula’s luxe transformation. But what I relish even more is that my suburb has retained its neighbourhood spirit. There are still plenty of spots dishing up quality, atmosphere and great value for money.
Voula's Greatest Hits
This hugely popular wine bar perfectly captures the “village vibe” of Voula. A big part of its charm is its bijou size and great location, just beyond the main square, across from pretty Agios Ioannis church. Faidon inhabits its own chilled bubble, especially when you factor in owner Christos Tsiknakos’ penchant for gypsy jazz. On any given weeknight, you’ll encounter a mix of mellow locals and urban sophisticates, perched on the pavement around re-purposed wine-barrels. Stools are in scant supply and on weekends it’s usually standing room only, so book ahead if you wish to sit. Choose your preferred grape from Faidon’s well-curated stock of mid-range and special edition Greek and foreign wines (you’ll pay just a few euros on top of cava price for corkage), and watch the sun dip behind Agios Ioannis over a bowl of organic olives or a charcuterie platter sourced from their delicatessen. Faidon recently expanded to include a coffee, nuts and chocolate bar, making it an all-day proposition.
"Stools are in scant supply and on weekends it’s usually standing room only."
Dentro All Day Bar
Don’t be fooled by the low-key suburban setting of this sociable nook that curls around a giant eucalyptus tree at the far end of Voula Square. Their Moscow mules and whiskey sours are as good as any you’ll score downtown (if you really want to surf the Voula coastal vibe, the passion-fruit cocktail is the way to go). Though billed as a bar, Dentro’s ace is that the food is every bit as terrific as what’s in your glass. The menu is reasonably-priced and varied enough to cater for all those outings when half of you are in “brunch mode” while the others are raring for the next course. I’m hooked on the conchiglioni (pasta shells on steroids) with bolognese, chili and parmesan foam; my husband rarely deviates from the pancakes with bacon jam; while our kids go nuts for the juicy loaded-up burgers. They excel at kerasma too here (that uniquely Greek brand of hospitality). Get a decent round in and you'll likely be brought a plate of posh bruschetta on the house.
Drakoulis Meat Open Project
Is it a nightclub? Or a mecca for elite meat? Actually, this hip and happening Voula butcher is both—depending on when you visit. And there’s more: the cellar is a high-end restaurant called Dry & Raw, with a decadent, underground vibe where you can pick out your favourite imported cuts of Wagyu, Kobe or striploin beef and have them cooked your way. Otherwise select from pricey statement dishes, such as poached lobster with pak choi miso sauce and the curiously named “Bullshit”- short ribs slow-cooked for 48 hours. Don’t have the readies? Shop Drakoulis’ pre-packaged meat, including delicious bifteki (burger) patties and marinated chicken skewers that won’t break the bank.
The Essential Voula Address Book
Classic Greek Food: To Gnision
Insider Tip: The baked kebabs with yoghurt and tomato salsa always hit the spot.
Superb Seafood: Akrovoli Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Insider Tip: Call ahead for oysters—sometimes they run out.
Afternoon Tea: Family
Insider Tip: The banoffee pie. You’re welcome.
Greek Designer Fashion: WHERE?
Insider Tip: Pricey but highly-wearable fashion from hot, Athens-based designers.
Coastal Chic: 10Ten
Insider Tip: One-off pareos, beach totes and jewellery make great gifts. Pitch-perfect Riviera attire.
Gourmet Groceries: Peri Gis Grocery Bar
Insider Tip: Creative smoothies and juices are their forte; the tortillas are delicious (and cheap!), too.
20-Somethings: Rey Pablo
Insider Tip: A cool all-day haunt, but brunch rules the roost (especially the pancakes with granola).