Athens is a magnificent city, with a cornucopia of activities. Making your way through the archaeological sites in the Greek summer heat can drain your energy, so these are some favorite places to stop and cool off.
1. Just outside the main entrance of the ancient Agora, on Adrianou Street, there are many cafés. A favorite is one almost opposite the stoa of Attalos called KOYTI. This lovely café serves great food after noon, but even if it is earlier in the day or if you don't feel like lunch, you can enjoy wonderful and unique flavors such as traditional sour cherry juice (try it!) or rose petal ice cream.
2. The majority of travelers leave Acropolis Hill the same way they arrived. If, however, you turn to the right as you walk down the stairs of the Propylaea, towards the Acropolis' northern slope, you walk through a shady area, past an ancient fountain called Klepsydra. Kelpsydras Road is one of the first small streets taking you downhill to the picturesque Plaka. As you walk down the steps, you’ll find a lovely café with excellent homemade cakes, called - what else? - Klepsydra.
3. Right next to the Parliament, on the Syntagma, there is a hidden oasis: the National Gardens (formerly the King's Palace Gardens). When entering this area, the noises of the city along with the steaming pavement will be left behind. There is a café here with a children's playground. As you walk through the park, you'll find various exits. If you exit towards Vassilissis Sofias Street, this is a great shortcut to the Benaki, Byzantine Art, and the Cycladic Art museums.
4. Museums are not only for serious historical or cultural visits. You can find lovely restaurants in most, including one in the National Archaeological Museum atrium, and one at the Acropolis Museum. Some are also open on specific evenings for dinner: it’s worth checking out time schedules beforehand and making a reservation (ask me about that!). In addition, you get wonderful insight into masterpieces of art on your way to dinner! Consider going directly to the restaurant at the Benaki Museum and walk downstairs to catch a glimpse of Greek decorative arts from antiquity to modern times!
5. Certainly not least, make your way to the hilltop of Lycabettus, Athens' showstopper. You can take a cab or walk through Kolonaki, the most elegant neighborhood of Athens, to the small railway that transports you to the top, where there is an excellent restaurant and café. The restaurant is definitely worth the splurge - or you can choose to go to the adjoining café, which also serves meals, and enjoy the splendid view, especially in the evenings.