A guide to alternative Athens
As a journalist and traveler Alex King has had the privilege to have seen a lot of cities around the world over the past few years. According to King, Athens is one of the most exciting places to be right now.
“When I first came here, I was struck by the disconnect between how negatively the city and Greece as a whole had been portrayed in the media since the financial crisis and how much creativity and innovation there was to found here — despite such challenging circumstances,” he says.
He decided to relocate in Athens nearly two years ago now, in the hope of highlighting some of the positive stories and remarkable projects he’d seen spring out of Athens.
“Of course, I don’t want to make light of the serious problems that remain. But I’ve been immensely inspired by a new generation of Greek artists, architects, activists, social entrepreneurs, musicians and more, who are transforming the city around them and making it an increasingly vibrant place to be.”
Here’s a short selection of some of King’s favorite places you may be unlikely to stumble across otherwise.
Put pedal to the metal
Athens has nothing like the cycling infrastructure of Copenhagen or even London and both the heat and extreme geography are likely to dissuade many from biking. But for me, there’s no better way to explore Athens than by bike. Those who do choose to live by the pedal are a tight-knit crew, who congregate around the cycling mecca that is Vicious Cycles Athens in Psyrri. When they’re not putting on punk gigs out front or organizing urban alley cat races, the VCA crew are working on taking over the planet with their cycling paint brand Spray.Bike. Both my bicycle and motorbike boast custom Spray.Bike looks and were hand-painted on the street outside the shop. Now run by friends, VCA also founded the Handlebar, a cycling bar next door which is the best place to see out summer nights in the city.
Vicious Cycles Athens
Melanthiou 8, Athens
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Hit the open road
Around the corner from VCA, The Real Intellectuals is a community hub for another type of biker – the custom motorbike variety. There’s always a revolving cast of petrol-powered works of art on display in the store and you can pick up anything you need to ride in style, including TRI’s very own apparel. If you’re in town on 29 September 2019, make sure you catch the fifth edition of The Rotten Race – a raucous carnival of custom motorbikes and flat-track racing held on the city’s outskirts each year. It’s wild. You have been warned!
The Real Intellectuals
Pallados 9, Psyrri
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Eat on an island – without leaving the city
You could easily miss Avli. From the street, all you see is a door and a small sign. But step through into the bustling courtyard and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to one of the Greek islands. The family-run restaurant serves up delicious and authentic taverna food in a cozy, intimate space, which is like nowhere else in Athens. Options for both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike are stellar.
Agiou Dimitriou 12, Avli
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Share stories over a brew
One of the most exciting food movements to emerge out of Athens in recent years is the craft beer scene. Many brewers began in their apartments and bath tubs and have gone on to produce exceptional artisan beer brands. Tales of Ales is a cozy drinking hole and one of the best places to sample beers from small producers around Greece and the rest of the world. All brewed within the city limits, my favorites are Noctua’s Head Twister Pale Ale, Midnight Circus’ Queen of Hearts Red Ale, Strange Brew’s Jasmine IPA and whatever the latest small-batch special brew is on tap from Anastasiou Brewery – all of which can be sipped at Tales of Ales. Make sure you ask Agis the barman for his recommendations and to share his encyclopedic beer knowledge with you too!
Tales of Ales
Miltiadou 19, Monastiraki
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Published: May 9, 2019
Last edited: May 13, 2019