Even a small city center like Athens has an uptown. There's a definite shift in the scenery as one crosses from Syntagma to Kolonaki-it becomes quite clear that the things to do in this money neighborhood nudge you into a higher class, the rise of green Lykavittos Hill acting as the perfect metaphor. Kolonaki is legendary throughout the nation for its hilly streets lined with haute couture boutiques, expensive home goods and culinary specialty shops, established tavernas and sophisticated cafes. The denizens of this area pride themselves on their firm grip on high culture; it's no coincidence that the "museum mile" wraps itself around the neighborhood's embassy-thick border of Amelias Avenue. Our top ten Kolonaki activities blend the best of the area giving you a well rounded view of high society.
The number one thing to do in Kolonaki is also the neighborhood's main focal point- the aforementioned Lykavittos Hill with the miniature white church of St. George perched on its crest. For the active, the hill makes a great hour-long hike. For the less-active but still curious, the funnicular through the hill's core will get you up the gentle way. However you get there, the view from the top is well worth the effort. Back at the base is the Museum Mile that includes the eclectic Benaki Museum, a fine collection of icons and religious art in the Byzantine Museum, Neolithic art from the Cycladic islands in the Cycladic Museum, and relics of war throughout all of Greece's long history in the War Museum. For the true museum enthusiast, go for gold and include the National Gallery holding the private treasures of some of the richest Greeks in the 21st century, including Aristotle Onassis.
Art is another very important subject in Kolonaki and a stop in one of the main art galleries is essential to getting the full experience. The Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre and the Medusa Gallery are two of our favorites because of their excellent eye for both emerging Greek talent and those who have long since made their names. The Athens branch of the internationally renowned Gagosian Gallery is also worth planning into your day.
Take at least one long and leisurely break to give your feet a rest from sightseeing by stopping into one of the posh sidewalk cafes on Voukourestiou or Skoufa street. Both streets have their share of international designers like Chloe, Burberry, and Hermes, but some of the most established Greek jewelry designers and clothiers also have their stores here. Finish the evening with a show at the Pallas Theatre or dinner at a fine restaurant, and why not- take a taxi back up to the top of Lykavittos for a view of the city by night.
Corner of Aristippou & Ploutarchou Streets
At Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias, Kolonaki, 5 blocks east of Syntagma Sq
An 19th century mansion with 8,000 years of history... read more
22 Vasilissis Sofias Ave
From Syntagma Sq., walk along Queen Sophias Ave. for about 15 min. The museum is on your right. If you come to the Hilton Hotel, you have gone too far
Vassilissis Sophias Avenue and 2 Rizari Street
From the stone age to the present day... read more
4 Neophytou Douka
(off Vassilissis Sophias Avenue)
48 Armatolon-Klephton Street
Xenokratous Street 7
Historically classy since the 1950's... read more
Uptown street of Kolonaki's best shopping and nightlife... read more