Athens is a magnificent city, with lots to see and do. But strolling through the historic centre and the archaeological sites in the summer heat can get rather tiring, so these are my favourite places to stop and cool off. Please keep in mind that I have no affiliation with the restaurants mentioned; I just have enjoyed them over the years and so have my visitors. Now you can too!
1. Just outside the main entrance of the ancient Agora, on Adrianou Street, there are many cafés. I have always loved one almost opposite the stoa of Attalos (the agora museum building), called KOYTI (it is written similarly in Greek and in English so I bet you can read the small sign). 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 original cool flavours such as rose petal ice cream or traditional sour cherry juice.
2. As you leave the Acropolis hill, most people get out the same way they got in. However, if you turn to the right as you walk down the stairs of the Propylaea, towards the northern slope, you walk through a shady area, past an ancient fountain called Klepsydra. One of the first small streets taking you downhill, to the picturesque Plaka, is called Klepsydras road. As you walk down the steps, you find another lovely café excellent home-made cakes, called - what else? - Klepsydra.
3. Right next to the Parliament, on the main city square (Syntagma), there is a hidden oasis: the National Gardens, formerly the King's palace gardens. When you enter this area, you leave the city noises and hot pavement behind you. There is a café here and a playground. You can walk through the park to various exits. If you exit towards Vassilissis Sofias street, this is actually a good shortcut to nice museums, namely the Benaki, the Cycladic art and the Byzantine art museums.
4. Museums are not a strict boring cultural visit any more. You can find lovely restaurants in most, such as the above mentioned ones but also in the National Archaeological museum atrium and at the Acropolis museum restaurant. Some are also open on specific evenings for dinner: check out time schedules beforehand and make a reservation! Plus you get a wonderful insight to masterpieces of art. I actually love to go 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. Last but not least, the hilltop of Lycabettus, the show-stopper of Athens. You can get a cab or walk through Kolonaki, the most elegant neighbourhood of Athens, to the small railway taking you to the top, where there is an excellent restaurant and a café. Even if the restaurant is pricey, it is totally worth it, plus you can just go to the café, which also serves meals, and enjoy the splendid view, especially towards the evening.
Thank you for those wonderful suggestions, Christina! Travelers headed to Athens this summer should consider starting a conversation with Christina to learn more about her private tours of this ancient Greek city.