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Makrianni, Athens, Greece

Makrianni, Koukaki from the Acropolis

Acropolis Museum, Makranni

Makrianni Street, Athens

The neighborhoods of Makrianni and Koukaki are south of the Acropolis and Mount Filopapou. They are bordered by Syngrou Avenue to the south and the beautiful pedestrian avenue of Dionissiou Areopagitou to the north and are therefore within easy walking distance of just about anywhere in Athens that you would want to be.

Makrianni Makrianni was really put on the map when the Acropolis Museum opened, along with the Acropolis metro station. Before that it was like any other area of Athens with its apartment buildings and lack of green space. But the park-ification plans of Athens were good to the neighborhood and it is now one of the most popular walking areas in the city. It is hard to remember the days when both Makrianni Street and D Areopagitou were choked with buses, cars and carbon-monoxide and the Plaka stopped abruptly at the end of Byronas street. But now it is a continuation of walk-able Athens, not to mention ride-able Athens on Segeways and skateboards, bicycles and other more traditional means of transportation. The neighborhood has three major sites, the first being of course the Acropolis which rises out of the trees and ruins of the ancient temples below it. The second is the new Acropolis Museum, waiting patiently for the return of the Elgin Marbles and attracting thousands of visitors a day. The third is the Temple of Olympian Zeus which is right across the street from the Royal Olympic Hotel which some people might call the fourth.

Rick Steves and Kosta at To Kati AloMakrianni Street which runs next to the museum and leads to S Areopagitou has traded in the small shops that sold tiropitas and jewelry for restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating. Yes they are mostly tourist places but by the intersection of Makrianni and Hatzichristou street is one of my favorite restaurants, To Kati Alo (photo)which serves the kind of home cooked dishes and grilled meats and fish that you will find in some agricultural city like Trikala or Sparta. Kosta, the young guy who runs the place with his mother, is an articulate guy who speaks fluent English. The salads are made to order, not kept in the fridge and served with icicles like some of the touristy places. One of the specialties is grilled fresh farm-raised tsipura, a meaty fish that does not taste farm raised and for which he charges about 10 euros. Try getting a whole grilled fresh fish anywhere else around the Acropolis at that price. He also grills steaks, lambchops, porkchops, local sausages, chicken and usually has a couple whole chickens and kontosouvli (pork loin) turning on the rotisserie if you get there early. Excellent wine from the Peloponessos and tsipiro-raki from who knows where? The menu is written in chalk on the wall. It looks pretty funky but the food is good. Check it out. Some of the clientele seem like the kinds of tourists who came for a visit 20 years ago and never left the restaurant.

God's restaurant, AthensAlso worth visiting is God's Restaurant which is a family owned place that has excellent food for a tourist restaurant. Plus the owner actually looks like God, or at least how many of us picture him, sort of like Santa but not fat. Next door is another good restaurant called Arkadia which features food from that part of the Peloponessos. Both restaurants are a few notches above the normal tourist restaurant and each have a friendly young staff. At 10 Falirou Street, Mani-Mani is a well-reviewed restaurant serving authentic recipes from the Mani region of the Peloponessos. Also check out two other restaurants on Falirou Street, a family run restaurant at #18 called Falirak owned by. Eleni and Mihalis where every dish costs 5 euros, and at #25 is an estiatorio called Magerio. The Strofi Taverna at 25 Roberto Galli has a rooftop garden with a spectacular view of the Acropolis. You won't find a more romantic restaurant and the food is good too. (Call because you may need reservations: 210-921-4130). There is also a nice traditional Greek taverna with very low prices called Cabana run by Spiros and his wife Dimitra on 15 Petmeza Street.  If you walk down Diakou Street just past the entrance of the metro and turn right on Porinou Street there is a very nice little wine bar called Wine Point. Have a glass of wine and then continue down the street to Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino for Italian or go back to Diakou to Belpaese, another authentic Italian restaurant, run by authentic Italians. For more reviews and others places to eat see Athens Restaurants (You can easily walk to any of the restaurants in the Plaka). After dinner, or before dinner, or all day long and into the night if you are that type of person, you can go to the Athens Sports Bar at 3A Veikou Street where it is likely that you can watch your favorite team while your family goes to the museums and archaeological sites.

Mount Filopapou, AthensBesides the Acropolis museum there is not much to see in the neighborhood itself  but its proximity to the important places you'll want to visit make it an excellent place to stay. Go up Makrianni Street and cross D Areopagitou and you enter the Plaka on Byronas Street. If you go right on D Areopagitou you come to Hadrian's Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens and the Panathinaiko Stadium. Go left on D. Areopagitou (I am going to know how to spell this name by the time I finish this section) and you pass the ancient Theater of Dionysious, the Theater of Herod Atticus, the entrance to the Acropolis, and if you continue you will go through the neghborhood of Thission and wind up in Monastiraki, and chances are good you won't have seen a car along the way. If you like the countryside you can walk for hours on the wooded paths of Mount Filopapou and there are few better views of the city than from the monument at the top where you can even see the ferries leaving the port of Pireaus. If you are a runner, walker, or bicycle rider this is the best area in Athens for you. If you are here on Katheri Deftera (Clean Monday) this is where Athenians come to fly their kites in celebration of lent and the streets and pathways are filled with food vendors, musicians and families.

Acropolis MuseumBy the way, one of the beautiful old buildings that stand in front of the Acropolis Museum whose owners went through years of legal wrangling when the city wanted to tear them town because they spoiled the view is owned by Vangelis Papathanasiou, otherwise known as Vangelis, who wrote (or recorded at least) the theme song to Chariots of Fire and more importantly was the brilliant mind behind Aphrodite's Child, the most important rock group to come out of Greece. The owners of these properties fought the city and publicized their plight with this flyer which was taped to one of the buildings which gives you an idea of how frustrating it can be dealing with the Greek bureaucracy. But thankfully the buildings are still standing so at least in this situation their ineptitude has actually been beneficial to the city. The way the beautiful vines hanging from the rooftop are fake. But you gotta give them credit for trying. The neighborhood is full of beautiful old neo classic houses and if you are a student of architecture you will enjoy walking the streets and spotting them nestled amongst the 5 story apartment buildings that many of them were torn down to build.

Drakou Street, KoukakiIn the last year or so the neighborhood of Koukaki has become yet another happening area to go to at night or even on a sunny day. Much of the activity centers around two pedestrian streets that connect Veikou Street with Syngrou Avenue. If you walk down Makrianni Street with the Acropolis Museum on your right and the tourist restaurants and cafes on your left and cross Hatzihristou street you can continue on Veikou Street and after about 3 blocks turn left on Drakou Street. The street is more of a park than a street with cafes, restaurants and a bar or two, all with tables and chairs outdoors. At the end of Drakou is the Syngrou-Fix  metro station so you can get here easily from just about anywhere in the city. If Drakou seems a little too mainstream for you take a right before Syngrou on Androutsou Street and there are several cool cafe-bars including O Pmampas (The Father) which has a nice selection of beers, not found in most places. For seafood try Skoumbri and for grilled meat try Ambrosia close to the metro. Vinni Biraria, halfway down Drakou, features a really good selection of Belgian and other beers and features 66 beers on their menu.

Olymbou StreetIf you keep walking down Veikou or Dimatrokopolou or Androutsou streets you will come to the second of these pedestrian streets called Olymbou. One of my favorite old style cafeneons is here, called Cafe tou Lolou which has very nice mezedes and is about as un-trendy as you can get in Athens. Otherwise you have your pick of a number of bistros, ouzeries, psistarias, cafes, and family style restaurants on both Olymbou and Drakou. If you are coming from Syntagma you can take the 1,5, 15 and 18 trolley and get off at either stop (Drakou or Olymbou) or if you take the #15 you can go all the way to the neighborhood of Petralona, a former refugee settlement which is now one of the centers of eating and nightlife. If you decide to walk it check out Dolixi, a cafeneon on Dimitrakopoulou Street owned by and frequented by the people from the island of Ikaria.

Practical Information

Dionysiou AreopagitouThe Acropolis metro station, which should be called the Acropolis Museum metro station because it is nowhere near the entrance to the Acropolis and is right next to the museum, is on the corner of Makrianni and Ath Diakou Streets and from there is it a 2 minute journey to Syntagma where you can take the metro or the X96 bus to the airport, and a 4 minute journey to Omonia Square where you can catch the metro to the port of Pireaus. If you walk to Vassillisas Olgas Street, by the entrance to the Temple of Zeus you can take the coastal tram to Faliron, Glyfada and Voula. The E22 bus that goes along the coast all the way to Saronida, half way to Sounion stops near the intersection of D Aeropagitou and Amalias Avenue. The #15 and the #5 Trolley will take you all the way to the National Museum and back and you can catch it on Dimitrakopoulou street or on Amalias Avenue in front of the National Gardens.

Hotels in Makrianni

Royal Olympic Hotel, Makrianni, Athens, GreeceThere are lots of hotels in Makrianni, the majority being three and four star though there are a few economical hotels scattered around. The best hotel would have to be the 5-star Royal Olympic Hotel with its views of  the Acropolis, Lykavettos and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, its swimming pool and rooftop restaurant and bar. I have stayed here and it is very nice. Then again I didn't have to pay for it. The area's other popular 5-star hotel is the Divani Palace Acropolis which also boasts amazing views of the Acropolis, a rooftop restaurant and a swimming pool. Leading the 4-star hotels is the newly rebuilt Athens Gate which has great views, a rooftop restaurant and bar, but alas, no pool. This hotel and the 4-star Airotel Parthenon are the closest to the Plaka and Syntagma Square for those arriving late on the X95 bus and dragging their luggage through the streets of Athens. The 4-star Herodion Hotel sits at the foot of the Acropolis and offers elegantly decorated air-conditioned rooms. It has beautiful roof garden with sun loungers and 2 jacuzzis with spectacular views over Athens and is one of the most popular hotels in Athens, especially with travel agents who book most of the rooms for their clients since they rarely get complaints about it. The 4-star Hera Hotel offers stylish, cosy and comfortable accommodation with beautiful views of the Acropolis, as well as free internet access, meeting facilities and a restaurant and bar in the roof garden with an amazing panoramic vista. It is also where the Rick Steves tours stay.  The Philippos Hotel, Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel and the newly built Acropolis Hill Hotel are all 3-star well regarded and within easy walking distance of the sites and restaurants. Though the page mistakenly says the 2-star Acropolis View Hotel is in the Plaka, it isn't. In fact of all the hotels listed here it is the furthest from the Plaka. But it is an economical hotel within easy walking distance of the Acropolis, Thission, the Acropolis Museum and the Plaka so who cares if they want you to think it is in the Plaka. At least it is not in Metaxourgio.

Acropolis Museum

Acropolis from Makrianni

Filopapou Hill, Athens, Greece

Temple of Olympian Zeus from Hotel Royal Olympic

You can click on the small photos on this page to see them full size

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