Amanda swapped her native sunshine state of Queensland for (almost) year round sunshine in Greece. This Aussie is our favorite local writer, so be sure to click on the links throughout this piece to get even more tips about the Athens Coast!
What brought you to Greece?
That old chestnut: Work-Life-Balance. After a decade of grey skies and living for our careers (and the weekends!), we yearned for a total Life Makeover. My husband (who is Greek-Australian) had been offered a plum job in the finance sector (yes, those actually existed pre-crisis!) Also, we were ready to start a family and couldn’t see that working out so well in Work-Hard-Play-Hard London.
Why do you choose to live along the Coast?
I am such a cheerleader for the Athens Riviera way of life. I really feel we get the best of all possible worlds down here in our little Hellenic Hamlet.
We have easy access to the culture, splendor and infinite variety of the capital; but combined with a chilled vibe and year-round emphasis on outdoor living, in a less, shall we say, frenetic environment than the city-centre offers.
As an Australian, I feel that living by the coast enriches our lives so much, that I can’t imagine living any other way now! Taking the kids for a spontaneous swim off the rocks after school; riding our bikes/scooters along the seafront after yet another long Sunday lunch by the sea, etc, etc. Being spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches (and being very glad that we don’t have to join that God awful car convoy from other parts of Athens that chokes up the coast road most weekends in summer!).
We see so many friends back home and in the UK who have had to sacrifice “the buzz” when it comes time to move out of the city (usually when kids come along or they want to set up home). But here on the coast, we don’t have to pay that price.
Apart from the amazing Beach Life, there are so many fantastic and exciting options right on our doorstep – outdoor (and indoor!) cinemas, leisure complexes, an endless supply of bars and restaurants, boutiques – we always joke that every place you want to go on the Athens Coast is literally only 10 minutes away. All of this, in addition to the low crime rates, and a very lively, fun-loving support network of fellow foreigners, has convinced us that there are very few places on the planet which provide a better backdrop for raising a family and leading a balanced lifestyle.
You can read my Ode to the Athens Coast in the Guardian HERE
Which is your favorite beach and why?
Do I really have to choose just one?! For family outings, I’d say: the Varkiza Resort complex because of its clean, shallow waters, aqua sport options, green spaces, and pathways for the kids to run around on – and the fantastic foodie options such as Vincenzos on the beach and Da Vinci gourmet ice-creams.
For a special treat, I’d say Astir Beach (during the week when it’s half the price and half the attitude!).
When we want a real “Island Getaway” feeling, we go to the brilliant Mavro Lithari Hotel beach (about 20 minutes drive and a true insider’s secret) with rock pools and charming coves, a jetty and diving pontoon, divine swimming conditions – and great taverna right at the water’s edge. All for just €3 for a sun lounger.
What is your favorite area to spend time in during the day and why?
During Summer, I love meeting up with other families at Yabanaki or Varkiza Resort and having a lazy long lunch somewhere like Vincenzos, or the marvelous Garbi down in Kavouri (opposite Divani) which does amazing meze. You can settle in with a bottle of rose while the kids swim safely just out in front. Then hit the beach for a siesta afterwards!
I also try to include an outdoor hike most weekends – somewhere local and handy, either above Vouliagmenis Lake (so you can reward yourself with a coffee or lunch nearby afterwards on the Glitter Strip!). Or up in Panorama on the lovely public walking trail near where we live. The views out to the islands on a clear day are epic.
Year round, if we have visitors from out of town, we will generally take them to Balux House Project, on the Glyfada seafront, which I think really has the “wow” factor in terms of its location and what it has to offer (overseas friends are routinely stunned that there is no annual membership fee, or valet-parking charge).
Moorings in Vouliagmeni is also a terrific spot for a prolonged Sunday coffee session over the papers.
For a night out, which area do you prefer and why?
We are very lucky to live up in Panorama where apart from the stellar views, it’s just a lazy five minute roll down the mountain to be right in the middle of all the bright lights and action of Glyfada.
We have spent countless nights in Glyfada – maybe starting off with a latest release movie at Cinepolis, then moving onto the Kiprou Street strip (where you could happily bar hop pretty much all the way down from Amigos (killer margaritas and salsa nights!); Su Casa, Per Ubu… Moouu steakhouse (just off the roundabout in Fivis) is another favourite fixture. The steaks are absolutely 5-star quality (without 5-star prices).
I’m also a big fan of the Laodikis strip (around Café Soleto, Holy Spirit). It has a great international vibe going on – and looks so pretty at night with all the fairy lights switched on around the trees!
In the past year or so, there’s definitely been a big social shift towards Voula. Voula Village, (as we now joke!) has undergone a radical reboot with a steady stream of fab new restaurants, wine bars and civic improvements – and is now seen far more as a weekend destination. A great night out starts at one of the buzzy new wine bars (Faydon or Vergera), where you’re guaranteed to spot someone you know… then moves on to one of our favourite current restaurants like Ballaro (Italian) or Oppen (gourmet burgers).
Voula now even has a designer butcher called Drakoulis – (The Hollywood Butcher) – where you can dine on incredible carnivorous tastes in a classy little stone cavern that’s been carved out below the shop. He also throws very cool lock-in parties for those in the know!
Do you have any tips for someone who is a new resident on the Athens Coast?
What should the rest of the world know about the Athens Coast?
That they won’t believe it’s Athens! After nearly a decade here, I still get such a kick out of turning people’s perceptions of what Athens will be like on its head. You really could come here for a fortnight’s holiday and go to a different beautiful beach every day. (Not to mention a different bar every night!).
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As Editor of Athens Insider magazine, I always love hearing about all the great new finds, places, and trends that seem to be popping up everywhere these days – not just down here on our magic Athens Coast, but all over the capital. Do please feel free to drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got something you’d like to shout about!