Experience Athens Like a Local!
Greece and Around is my independent — I do not get any sort of compensation from the businesses or sites I recommend— travel guide for the cities of Athens (where I live) and Chania (my family home which I visit frequently) and a travel blog with stories about my visits to my favorite, less touristy Greek islands and other popular destinations in Greece.
My name is Lina, I love travelling and when I visit a new place I want to experience it as a local would. Every time I’m in a city abroad, I like to imagine myself as a resident of that city. What helps me achieve this, is seeking advice from friends and friends-of-friends who might live in that destination as I plan my trip. I ask them for recommendations about the best restaurants, bars, things I shouldn’t miss etc. Most times I’m able to locate someone to ask for local tips and this is when life is easy! When I can’t find a connection, however, I then start an endless online search for places to stay and things to do which can be rather tiring and chaotic.
Travelling is collecting memories and when I don’t have insider tips I start searching online in an effort to be in the right place the right time!
I start my online search by looking for the best area to stay in a particular location. Which area is the safest, close to the must-go points of interest/attractions and near restaurants/bars? Then, as I am a foodie, I write a list of the best restaurants to visit including at least one that offers traditional dishes. In terms of going out, I’ve also found that discovering worthwhile bars can be a challenge while travelling. Searching online for a bar and determining if you will like the music, the sort of crowd it attracts and what time (or day) is best to visit can feel like an expedition in itself. How about the location? Is the restaurant or bar, you discovered online, conveniently located or do you need to drive or take public transport for an hour? And most importantly, who recommended these places? Very often, most online information is provided by tourists who, although their intention is good, usually visit places recommended by other tourists. And since tourists cannot know all the bars or restaurants in the city they are visiting, it is impossible for them to really compare them. Emotion plays a role, too. People happy to be on holiday often fall in love with mediocre bars or restaurants which they wholeheartedly recommend afterwards, creating a cycle where some places are considered to be the best while they are not.
Sometimes you are lucky though and you have some wonderful insider tips when visiting a city.
This was the case for me when I visited Belgrade, a trip that inspired me to create this website.
Some years ago on a trip with friends to Belgrade, I was lucky enough to have a Greek friend living there as an expat. He was not in Belgrade at the time of our visit, but he provided us with detailed information about the best restaurants and bars, nice city walks and cool hangouts. With his recommendations and plans, we felt like locals. We were so satisfied with the food, we knew the best times to visit each bar and where to go next. We had a blast! Upon my return to Athens, I thought of how essential his information had been to our enjoyment of the trip. He included his 3 favorite restaurants (local or fine dining), posh, hip or live music bars where locals hang out and the best times to visit them. Since I had some free time at that point, I decided to start (just for fun) a blog where I would share this sort information about my hometown, Athens. So, I started creating my ideal Athens travel guide, the one I would like to have if I were a tourist in my city.
Inspired by my trip to Belgrade and considering all my past travel experiences, I created this travel guide about Athens with:
A limited selection of restaurants & places to eat – the ones that I consider to be the best in their category (street food, taverna, fine dining, traditional cuisine or seafood) and that I visit frequently. Recommending a plethora of places just complicates things and makes it more difficult to choose.
A limited selection of bars. Again, I include bars that I enjoy visiting/visit regularly. The majority of the places I recommend usually have a live DJ set, are not touristy and cannot easily be found online.
Separate categories for bars & restaurants in walking distance from downtown Athens and those that require some sort of transportation.
Recommendations about what you can do before or after visiting a particular place. For example, if you go to a restaurant, I suggest nearby bars you can visit afterwards. Or after a walk in the city, I mention the best restaurants that are close. At the end of every page I include this info in the Combined With section. I believe this will help visitors better plan their day or evening.
Points of interest and fun things to do in the city. While travelling, I like to see the must-visit points of interest but I also want to enjoy the same activities as the locals for example, going to a live gig. In my section Be Merry I include both!
A limited selection of excursions someone can do if she/he is in Athens: Sounio, the best beaches and the best nearby islands someone can visit for a couple of days.
Songs! I believe that sometimes music can help me communicate what words cannot; the atmosphere and the feeling you get for a place!
Then I decided to do the same travel guide for my second hometown, Chania
After working for a while on my ideal travel guide for Athens, I came up with the idea of doing the same for my second home town, Chania, located on the island of Crete. My relationship with Chania started at birth and it’s the place I spent the first months of my life. I have family living there and I visit it frequently and for extended periods of time every year. So, in the Chania Tab you will find a travel guide made with the same principles as my Athens travel guide.
Travel guide to my favorite Greek islands and other Greek destinations
For some reason the only two islands most people from abroad have heard of are Mykonos and Santorini. But there are so many other beautiful and less touristy Greek islands! Since friends from abroad often ask for my advice about which Greek islands they should visit, I decided to make a section about my favorite islands. I’m not an expert about the Greek islands, but in this section I share my personal experience and knowledge about the places I visited as a tourist. I try to explain why I recommend each island and what someone should expect when visiting it.
Should you trust me and my recommendations?
Well, it’s up to you to judge if I’m trustworthy and if my recommendations and tips are of any value to you. For sure the travel guide I created has its shortcomings and it will not meet everybody’s taste or expectations. Nevertheless, while creating it I have had and still have the best intentions of providing my local insight and, even though it was not my initial plan, I ended up putting a lot of time into it.
Local insights & Tips
I regularly read online articles by travel journalists visiting Athens who have made a list of the best places to visit in my city. Their writing is impeccable and some of the places proposed are indeed worth mentioning. Often though, despite their good intentions, I find that they also recommend places based on other’s suggestions (what they have learned from other travellers or people working within the tourism sector) since their time is too limited to explore all the available options. What’s more, they lack knowledge of the local language and cuisine which makes it more difficult for them to compare, for example, one mousaka to another. I find that websites with tips and insights from locals offer valuable information, with a few drawbacks: often there are too many places recommended and a lack of prioritization. For example, Google maps shows nearby restaurants recommended by locals, but if you want to choose a restaurant to visit tomorrow, it’s a bit more difficult to choose one place over another. And of course you should spend some time reviewing the guide’s profile to determine whether you have the same taste, the same budget and whether she/he is committed to updating his/her recommendations (and there’s always the fear that a reviewer might be recommending his cousin’s taverna).
I am not getting any compensation (money or other perks) from the places I recommend. I’d be obliged by law to state it, if I did. As I also mentioned earlier, I started this blog just for fun. As time went by, I found myself putting more and more time into it and decided to try to make some profit in order to maintain and expand it. My plan is to make some profit through a selection of proposed accommodations from which, if possible, I will claim a small percentage per booking.
Similarity in taste
It can be risky to trust one person’s recommendations, unless that person is a friend or a friend of a friend and you know that you share similar tastes.
Well, again it is up to you to judge if our tastes are similar or not.
Which brings me to:
Things I love: The sea, the sun, music (Indie-rock, electro, jazz, traditional Cretan), live concerts & gigs, good food, authentic & local places, eateries, low-key & cult places, fine dining, art, modern & contemporary art events, diversity in people, playing tennis & Roger Federer, contract bridge.
Things I hate: People skipping the toilet line can make me furious, pretentious & wannabe-posh places, being overcharged, bad music – unless it’s too bad which I find funny, people taking themselves very seriously.
Random info: I speak Greek, English, Spanish and a bit of Danish. I’ve studied Management & Business Administration in Athens, Copenhagen, Madrid and Barcelona. I spent a year living in East London. I worked for an online investment bank for more than 6 years. If I hadn’t studied business, I would have loved to have studied psychology or to have been an artist.
Please feel free to drop me an email if you want to ask anything! Honestly, I’ll be happy to help!
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