ancient-greek-feature

Explore Greece’s storied capital with footwear label, Ancient Greek Sandals. Dress code: mythological mules.

Grecian footwear label, Ancient Greek Sandals, headed by Christina Martini and Nikolas Minoglou, takes its inspiration from the bygone aesthetics of Greece and Greek mythology.

“Everything you hear is true – Athens is dirty, taxi drivers might rip you off, there’s too much pollution and lots of traffic – but people are very hospitable and charming and there is certain buzz at the moment. The city is booming with energy,” they say.

Donned in flat sandals bearing wings, we stepped out with the brand’s creative director Christina to explore the storied capital.

The best day of the week to arrive in Athens is…

Sunday – there is no traffic.

What’s the best way to explore the city?

On foot, taxi (which is cheap) or by subway. Many of the stations contain unique, archaeological mini-museums and modern-art installations – so it’s worth opting for the latter at least once.

Where’s the best place to wake up?

The Grande Bretagne has an amazing view of the Acropolis and the city.

Coolest neighbours worth exploring…

Around Agia Irini Square, Anafiotika and Psiri. Walk Dionysiou Areopagitou, a pedestrianised street, from the Acropolis Museum towards Thiseio.

Where should we go for a low-key lunch?

The taverna on Plateia Dexamenis in Kolonaki serves really good mezze plates.

Other food spots we should try…

Ama Lachei in Exarchia is an elementary-school-turned-restaurant. Grab a table under the trees in the expansive yard. Diporto is an old-school, hole-in-the-wall taverna located near the main vegetable market (which is also worth a visit). Its serves fried fish, chickpea stew and hearty salads. For something a bit more upscale, try Nolan, a Greek-Japanese restaurant renowned for its cod burger.

Must-try Greek dishes include…

Gavros marinatos (marinated whitebait with garlic), horta (wild greens with olive oil) and the seasonal speciality of courgette flowers stuffed with rice.

Where should we go for a big night out?

Romantso hosts big parties with Greek and international DJs.

Where should we head post-party?

Grab a souvlaki and head to the top of Lycabettus Hill for a view across the city by night.

Where’s good for a pre-bedtime tipple?

Heteroclito, a small wine bar right in the centre of town specialising in Greek wine. Alternatively, get an old-school cocktail in the tiny Galaxy bar – it’s always open and frequented by Athenian nightcrawlers.

One place only locals know about is…

I Kriti, an amazing Cretan taverna in Plateia Kaniggos. You can sample a great selection of the island’s popular dishes here and wash the food down with a shot of raki.

What’s the city’s dress code?

It depends where you go. There are different kinds of people following different trends and lifestyles in Athens. Anything goes, but nothing too extreme.

How do your surroundings impact your design?

Athens is full of archaeological sites, temples and museums. It’s a highly inspirational city – especially now that I design sandals.

What key pieces do you always pack when travelling?

A maxi-print dress, denim shorts and t-shirts or tops, a little black dress and sandals.

Historical and cultural landmarks to visit…

The Parthenon, the Museum of Cycladic Art, Benaki Museum, the Acropolis Museum, Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum and walk around the old part of Athens.

Underrated spots worth a visit…

Go to an open-air cinema, watch a movie and have a hot dog and beer. Alternatively, you could visit the Lake Vouliagmeni and swim in warm therapeutic waters 20km south from the centre of Athens.

A great out-of-town option is…

The temple of Cape of Sounion, a magical place where you can also swim and have lunch. If you want to totally relax, visit Astir Beach or the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni.

A book to read before we go?

Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens by Sofka Zinovieff, or Circe by Madeline Miller.

What one thing should we bring back as a souvenir?

Leather Ancient Greek Sandals, olive oil and olive oil soap.

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The New Athens: From Crisis to Creative Capital

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