Just minutes away from Downtown Athens lies the Athenian Riviera, a collection of seaside neighborhoods and towns that offer a totally different vibe from the city center. If you’re staying in Downtown Athens, only 10 minutes by metro drops you off at Faliro station within walking distance to Mikrolimano, a charming little fishing cove of seafood restaurants and cafés that are associated more with Athens’ main port and sister city, Piraeus. Another short walk away and you get to Marina Zeas, perfect for exploring the portside vibe of Piraeus and visiting the Hellenic Naval Museum, depicting the rich naval history of the Greeks from ancient times to today.
If you make your way from Piraeus back south towards the swimmable beaches and balmy southern suburbs of Athens, do make a stop at the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation to see a modern architectural wonder by famed architect Renzo Piano and an eco-friendly building (LEED certified), complete with a herb garden on its sloped roof, like no other. If you're with children, a stop to the Benaki Toy Museum is a good idea, filled with antique and vintage toys and dolls that will amaze adults and children alike.
As you head south, you'll come across what is probably the closest trendy beach to Athens, Playa del Sol. There are some free beaches around, but this one private beach club is a quick fix if you don't have too much time. If time is not an issue, head to the finer beaches of Voula and Mikro Kavouri, as well as Oceanis (or Okeanis in Greek) in the suburb of Vouliagmeni. The most upscale and exclusive beach of all is Astir Beach where your space on the shore is best reserved online.
In terms of shopping and dining, and before you get to the suburb of Voula and its beaches, Glyfada will enchant you with its casual vibe and balmy weather for most of the year. Great restaurants, from delicious Mexican and fine Greek cuisine to crepes and gyros, will mean your appetite will always be catered for. It's also a shopping haven, whether it's fashion, sports gear, swimwear, jewelry, spirits or gourmet delicacies that you're after.
As you drive down the coast through the small towns of Saronida and Lagonisi, you'll come across several beaches, some more equipped than others – and if you prefer a more five-star experience try the Grecotel Cape Sounio for a swim. You're now within a stone's throw of the temple of Sounion, which is a must-see and deserves a whole section by itself. Lastly, you might want to go on for 10 more minutes to the lazy port town of Lavrion and its picturesque marina to enjoy its local Greek eateries and relaxed cafes.