Athenian Riviera

A week ago we spent a bite-sized amount of time in the Athenian rivera. We booked flights to Athens, then came the decision of how to spend these two days in Greece. My first thought was to board a ferry to a nearby island because I didn’t want to again spend the weekend in Athens. But after some research, I came to realize that the coast surrounding the peninsula that Athens is situated on has another name or two it goes by – the Athenian Riviera or the Athens Gold Coast. It’s likened to either the French or Italian riviera, and by all accounts, still flying under the radar. Indeed, it is beautiful and also saturated mostly by locals!

Because we booked late, many of the hotels were already booked in the most highly sought-after towns, so we instead decided to stay on the northern coast of the peninsula. I found a great deal at a freshly renovated hotel called Marathon Beach Resort in Nea Makri. We based ourselves here, though after consulting Google Maps, I realized it would only be 40 minutes drive to the south side of the peninsula to a suburb called Glyfada which begins the so-called Athenian Riviera. From there, it would be a bit over an hour to the end of it, so I figured we would be traveling around for most of the weekend anyway.

What was quickly apparent to us was the sense of difficulty for Greece. Perhaps around 50% of stores were empty and recently shut down. It is an interesting perspective for me when seeing the casualties of the people with my own eyes, but otherwise hearing about the opposite perspective of the Greek dilemma living in Germany. But really, the normal people in Greece who pay their taxes are the ones suffering at the hands of the government who can’t/won’t do anything to help them. But I digress, and had

The first day we drove directly down to Glyfada, considered an affluent suburb of Athens, then began our route along the Athenian Riviera. We stopped for a snack at Lake Vouliagmeni, a unique geological site which is constantly replenished by both the sea and the underground thermal springs. Though right next to the coastal road, it cannot be seen from it.

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The road to Lake Vouliagmeni
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Lake Vouliagmeni

Finally we decided to begin our drive along the riviera passing one beach club after another, but even between them, cars had parked back to back, where all the locals had stopped to spend the afternoon on the free rocky coastline.

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View down the Athenian Riviera
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Halfway through
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One of many beach clubs

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The goal was to get to Sounion and watch the sunset from the ancient ruins. We slowly made our way there, making a few stops on the way and arrived about 40 minutes prior to sunset. Sounion is the last town of the peninsula and that’s where you can find the Temple of Poseidon, and the positioning of the ruins against the backdrop of the sunset was absolutely worth the trip.

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Temple of Poseidon
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That’s one way to see sunset

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The following day, Sunday, was a beach day. We decided to check out Varkiza Beach Club which was a pleasant place to park for the day. In the evening, we finally dug into Glyfada a bit further, and discovered a wonderful square full of restaurants, bars and cafes. This was such a nice break, and one we both wouldn’t mind repeating in the future.

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Varkiza Beach Club

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