Attracting people for thousands of years, Athens delivers classic (and classical) honeymoon satisfaction to culturally curious couples
History and romance are inescapable in this crossroads city, birthplace of the Western world. With flowers bursting from cracked ruins and warm, pleasant weather, Athens is perfect for a spring honeymoon. The relaxed, schedule-free Grecian lifestyle guarantees a change of pace, and something to do all day and night. Plus, while Athens itself is a hotbed of sizzling nightlife, Mediterranean paradise awaits just offshore in the Greek Isles.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
To avoid the wet winters and 100-degree summer heat even locals dread, late spring and early fall are the ideal seasons to take in Athens, and dodge the biggest crowds.
Open, vibrant gay communities exist in Athens and some of the resort islands (St. Barts, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini, Paros and, yes, Lesbos.) Couples will find it much more welcoming than many other parts of Europe. However, with a 97 percent Greek Orthodox population, don’t be surprised if you encounter some ingrained cultural biases.
After reveling in the party culture until dawn around Syntagma Square (one of Athens hippest, most gay-friendly areas), recovery is easy in the luxurious Grande Bretagne). Ouzo oil massages, jaw-dropping views of the Acropolis, and a world-class wine cellar add romance and classic elegance to an Athens honeymoon.
For the unbeatable conveniences of the Syntagma area at an affordable price, stay at the Electra Hotel). The staff is friendly, and you’re only a 5-minute walk from the Vouliagmeni beach.
If you and your sweetheart prefer a peaceful hotel outside the bustle of Syntagma, opt for the Athens Hilton high rise. With its incredible views, open-air restaurant and numerous nearby museums, the pool, spa, gym and beauty center are just icing on the wedding cake.
WINE & DINE:
To refuel amidst your Plaka shopping extravaganza, crowd into Oinomagerio Paradosiako. This busy, family-owned taverna offers fresh, very traditional Greek fare and a no-frills eating experience inside the Plaka, and conveniently close to Syntagma.
An excellent wine list, good service and a choice of Mediterranean or international cuisine await couples at Orizontes, an upscale restaurant on Lycabettus Hill. A view of the Saronic Gulf adds to the experience.
Kalamaki’s hottest club-restaurant, Akrotiri, sits atop the highest peak in Athens, Lycabettus (or Lykavittos) hill. To revel in Athens nightlife, hop the funicular (a cable railway), ride up, up, up and get down! Ultra-chic decor, incredible food and an incredible view have made this one of the city’s most popular club destinations, so be sure to make reservations early and avoid Studio 54-reminiscient lines. Let the ouzo flow!
SEE & DO:
The Acropolis. Majestically situated above Athens, this destination is irresistible. A flat rock rising above the city, the Acropolis is scattered with 2500-year-old statues, the ruins of temples, a still-used theater and more. The stunning hill was a center of military, religious and artistic life in antiquity, and on the way up through some of Athens’ oldest neighborhoods (parts are car-free) couples can unearth modern dining and shopping treasures together. The often-immitated, never-duplicated Parthenon, one of the world’s greatest architectural mysteries, rewards visitors at the pinnacle.
New Acropolis Museum. Just completed last year, the Greek people have put decades of work into this massive complex. Large enough to house every Greek artifact ever found, it’s a tourist stop of Olympian proportions, just a short stroll down from the Parthenon.
Shopping in the Plaka. After getting your fill of history at the Acropolis, don’t miss the Plaka district, where you’ll find amazing shopping in the oldest part of the city still used for commerce.
The Ancient Agora. The birthplace of Athenian democracy, this ancient market will fascinate anyone. Occupied nonstop since 3,000 B.C., historian honeymooners can check out restored temples, the ongoing excavation, a museum and monuments galore.
National Archeological Museum. Guess what? More history! No traveler should miss one of world’s greatest collections, featuring rare finds from Egypt to the Near East. Since ancient Greek culture saw sexuality very differently from the modern West, many of the discoveries throw into relief their fundamentally different perspective on eroticism and sexual openness.
The Temple of Zeus. Pay homage to the ancient inhabitants’ chief god in a lush valley at the foot of Mount Kronios. Situated near ancient Olympia, site of the original Olympic games, the sacred temple was buried by earthquakes and mudslides eons ago, but thanks to excavations, the impressive foundations have been unearthed.
PERFECT FOR COUPLES LOOKING FOR:
A historically good time! A party destination for four continents teeming with unparalleled historical finds, Athens is also a center for yummy and famously healthy Mediterranean cuisine, unique shopping, and intoxicating scenery.
DAYS TO STAY:
2 to 3 days will give you plenty of time to take in the museums and nightlife, and then head to the Greek Isles to experience more of the good life at world-class resorts and beaches.
OH, AND BY THE WAY…
Gay clubs and gay-owned restaurants are everywhere. Be sure to check local publications to track down don’t-miss events.
With additional reporting by L.A. Jones
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