Locals drinking freddo in the late afternoon in Athens, Greece.
Photo: Izzet Keribar/Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image
It’s commonly understood that the best way to explore a new place is to go straight to the locals. Each week in the Urbanist, we take that wisdom one step further by seeking out not just locals but local experts — those who are especially well versed in their cities’ newest and most noteworthy scenes — to give us insider tips. This week, we asked Greek artist Eugenia Vereli, whose sculptures are currently on view in a solo exhibition at Allouche Benias gallery, for her recommendations in Greece’s capital city.
“Athens is the definition of Mediterranean. You can see this in the kitchen, in the seaside, in the nature. It’s a really youthful city. People stay out until late into the night every single day of the week. It’s not like the north region of Europe or even France or Italy. We are out all day long. We have many bars, many cafés, many shops. When you wake up, you’ll go out and drink coffee. The nice thing about Athens is that because it has so much history, all the ancient buildings and art, you can walk through these ancient things every day. You can see these things and live your modern life today. People from other countries can’t do that. The best time to see the Acropolis is in the late afternoon because it’s not too hot and it’s really nice when the sun sets. Everything looks gold. The art scene is really popular these days in Athens. There’s a contemporary gallery called Allouche Benias (Kanari 1) that features a lot of emerging artists. I have an exhibition there right now. It’s in Kolonaki, which is one of the nicest places downtown with all the good shops and expensive brands. Most of the galleries are in this neighborhood. Every Thursday night there’s an opening. There’s also a great art museum called National Museum of Contemporary Art, or EMSD in Greek. This is one of the biggest for contemporary art.”
“You can go swimming approximately 30 minutes away from the city center. Sounio is a really nice place where you can swim along the southern coast of Athens. Some of the beaches don’t have names, but Cape Sounion is a great beach where you can have a view of the ancient Temple of Poseidon. It’s really popular, but the atmosphere is really nice. You can swim and you can see the ruins, so it’s perfect. For a day trip, I would definitely recommend going to Hydra. It’s only an hour or an hour and a half from Piraeus, which is the main port of Athens. You can take a ferry there from Piraeus; there are no cars allowed on Hydra. The name is from Lernaean Hydra, the ancient mythical beast with many heads. You can find the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art there. They show contemporary art in an old slaughterhouse. Every year in June, there are openings. Every year they have a great artist. This year it’s Kiki Smith.”