A magnificent 40-mile long coastal stretch of land that has been described in the media as an equivalent to the French Riviera since the 50s, is part of the city of Athens and its southern suburbs, a mere 20 to 70 minutes’ drive from downtown. Most of it is residential, offering a fantastic beach culture to locals and visitors alike. Many seaside hotels have been built there through the decades, and from those thriving today, we picked favorites to the most discerning clientele. If you visit Athens in the summer, you are highly recommended to stay somewhere in the Athens or Athenian Riviera, where city vibes are blurred to the point that you feel you visited an island. The most prestigious and popular locations, mentioned in order of distance from the historical center are Glyfada, Voula, Kavouri, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Lagonissi, Saronida, and Sounio. From the marinas, you can also set sail for one or more of the islands in the Aegean Sea. Lined with sporadically placed palm trees, the drive to one of these resorts is a great introduction to coastal living. In Athens, seaside summer getaways are a mainstream option. With a bit of additional research, we turned this easiness into exceptional luxury and comfort.
Accommodation in the Athenian Riviera
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel. With its first buildings raised on the Astir peninsula in 1961, this luxury accommodation complex consisting of the cosmopolitan Nafsika Hotel with a lively pool, the laidback Arion Hotel, and the iconic seafront bungalows recently received a total makeover that perfectly meets the Four Seasons standards of high-end hospitality. On sunny days, enjoy 3 private beaches, 3 tennis courts, one basketball court, jogging trails across the 75-acre property, and non-motorized water sports. On rare rainy days, check the spa with 10 treatment rooms, the stylish, high-end boutiques for shopping, the 8 restaurants and bars (including Nobu’s Matsuhisa for sushi), a cigar lounge, and the indoor pool at Arion, just a 30-minute drive from downtown Athens. Private pools and terraces, a helipad, access for boats, and other upscale services are destined to excite even the most demanding guests. Since the 60s, celebrities and leaders such as Brigitte Bardot, Frank Sinatra, Rudolf Nureyev, Richard Nixon, Mikhail Gorbachev, Francois Mitterrand, Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy, Sean Connery, Anthony Quinn, Lady Gaga, and Barack Obama stayed there at least once.
Grand Resort Lagonissi. Built on a 72-acre private peninsula, 45 minutes from downtown Athens and 30 minutes from the must-see Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, it is a destination in itself. Suites and bungalows with a private garden, terrace, or swimming pool can also secure you a private spot on the beach. Many deluxe sea-view suites and other accommodation options are equipped with a private gym area and a walk-in closet. The addition of villas to your full range of different choices takes the art of hospitality to a whole new level with amenities such as private massage areas, BBQ, butler headquarters, glass ceilings, indoor/outdoor heated pools, heated floors, private deck, hair salon, kitchenette, and home cinema. Private dining at your space or meals and drinks in one of its 7 restaurants and 2 lounge/bars can cover an array of culinary preferences, including Polynesian cuisine and sushi. At the spa, a wellness menu of holistic therapies, hydro-biontology sessions, and beauty treatments is applied based on your needs. Enter the revitalizing world of the Thalaspa Chenot center at the best spa hotel in Athens. 2 tennis courts, water sports facilities, and a fitness center, as well walks through gardens and along seaside paths, will keep you active. VIP services include an onsite helipad, personal training, shopping assistance, plus yacht, private jet, limousine, and car rental.
Cape Sounio. With a mesmerizing view of the Temple of Poseidon – one of the most famous archaeological sites in Europe – exquisite seaside bungalows and lavish villas arranged amphitheatrically on the edge of a natural preserve (a little over an hour away from Athens) come with ultra-elegant décor, designer furniture, and some of them with private pools. The resort sitting right across a coastal street has access to two beaches – a sandy and a pebbly one – via two tunnels. Amenities there include umbrellas, showers, sunbeds with padded mattresses, beach towels, changing cabins, and toilets. It also boasts a large swimming pool for adults, an adjacent one for children, and a deep hydro-tonic ‘Aqua Elixir’ indoor pool. Another 3 outdoor pools are set among fragrant terraces & lawns. The premises include beach volleyball, a 5×5 Football Pitch, 3 tennis courts, a fitness center with an aqua gym, and a spa inside sprawling gardens. Events with live music (especially full moon parties), personal or group training, yoga, Pilates, tennis coaching, guided trekking at the surrounding National Park, and fine dining in one of the 5 restaurants are among endless possibilities.
The Margi. This luxe 88-room seaside boutique hotel – located a 30-minute drive from downtown Athens is a family-run business that carries with it the founder Dr. Stavridis’ vision on both hospitality and the ‘Athenian Riviera.’ The accommodation featuring various types of rooms, suites, and a villa is characterized by profound finesse. With a recently created indoor pool, a gym, a 3-cabin spa, and an organic farm that supplies its restaurants with healthy ingredients, the dreamy Mediterranean/ethnic-style resort is private heaven.
Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso. Home to the only Thalassotherapy Center in Athens and one of the biggest spas in Europe, this luxury hotel on the Athenian Riviera (30 minutes away from downtown Athens) features an equally sizeable Fitness Center equipped with Technogym machines and other training tools. The 3,500 sq. m./37,000 sq. ft. indoor Thalassotherapy Center features a 270 sq. m /2,900 sq. ft pool with 16 different areas with water jets for you to unwind, and 25 private treatment and massage rooms for customized rituals, plus a hair salon. Spacious sea-view rooms and suites with elegant modern decoration run from 322 sq. ft/ 30 sq. m to 1,000 sq. ft/ 93 sq. m in size. Two outdoor pools and a private sandy beach with full equipment and service offer an array of water sports opportunities. Its award-winning waterfront Mythos by Divani restaurant with a sunset-view deck is among the most iconic in the Athenian Riviera. It specializes in fresh seafood with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and sushi options. A vibrant selection of wines both from Greece and from abroad will be waiting for you.
Vincci Ever Eden Beach Resort. Located in Anavissos, 50 minutes away from downtown Athens and built across a full-service sandy beach featuring a black rock formation, it will spoil you with 4-star-hotel facilities such as a spa, a large central pool with a floating deck, a pool located at the highest point of a pine forest with panoramic sea view, and an indoor pool coupled hammam and sauna. 260 luxurious guest rooms and suites exude an elegant seaside vibe, many of them having a direct or panoramic view of the Saronic Gulf and some with private pools. For drinks and meals, pick among the Seasons Mediterranean restaurant, 2 pool snack bars, a beach snack bar, a beach restaurant, a verandah bar, and a cocktail beach bar.
Glyfada Riviera Hotel. In a less than 30 minutes’ drive from downtown Athens, this sea-view hotel in the coastal social and commercial hub of Glyfada (full of boutiques, restaurants, and bars), this 5-star hotel spanning 5 floors has 47 rooms and suites accented with luxury options such as the panoramic sea-view suite with Jacuzzi and the penthouse suite. A restaurant, wine & cocktail mixology bar, a pool bar, a spa, and a gym are part of an experience that combines city and beach life.
Vouliagmeni Suites. Spacious and elegantly designed with eclectic touches, some of them with sea view, these fabulous 4-star suites are coupled with a homey & stylish Greek restaurant and pool cocktail bar with umbrellas and sunbeds overlooking the seashore, a little over 30 minutes away from Athens.
Somewhere Vouliagmeni. Nearby, a nice 5-star boutique hotel, part of the Somewhere Hotel group, offers accommodation at 11 elegantly designed suites, a guests-only pool, and fine dining in a luscious garden, close to the beach.
Restaurants & Bars in the Athenian Riviera
Ithaki. Occupying the best sea view part in the so-called Athenian Riviera – pretty much where Four Seasons Hotel is located – this is the most upscale seafood restaurant in Athens, again a 30-minute drive from downtown.
Garbi. Summer never ends in this elegant seafood restaurant with modern interiors and a direct view of the beach. Mild gourmet touches on traditional island recipes are a pure delight. All you need to do is a 30-minute taxi drive from downtown.
Labros. Since 1889 this culinary institution serves the freshest seafood in the cosmopolitan coastal area of Vouliagmeni. An infallible Greek-inspired menu accented with international elements is best enjoyed on the waterfront among trees and pergolas.
Moorings. Located in the Vouliagmeni Marina, this is a glamorous spot for sea-view drinks or dining. Curated by chef Andreas Shinas, it serves an imaginative gourmet version of the Mediterranean kitchen with excellent wine pairing. Overlooking a prime seaside location, it is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, cocktails, or quiet coffee time. It will re-open on May 15th, 2022, following renovation in the marina area.
Island Club & Restaurant. For over two decades, this is the most iconic, legendary seaside nightclub and restaurant on the Athenian Riviera that has served the likes of Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli, Bruce Willis, Hugh Jackman, Pierce Brosnan, Monica Bellucci, Prince Albert of Monaco, Valentino Garavani, Giancarlo Giammetti, Duran Duran, Abba, Tommy Hilfiger, Cynthia Nixon, Amanda Seyfried, Paris & Nicky Hilton, Elizabeth Hurley, James Blunt, Moby, Olivia Palermo, Jean Claude Jitrois, Chantal Thomass, Dsquared, and Phillip Plein. A 10-minute serpentine coastal drive away from Vouliagmeni, this island-vibe entertainment complex, elevated on a rocky shore, boasts a Mediterranean gourmet restaurant, an over-150-label cellar of Greek and international wines, a sushi menu, a rich selection of cigars, a mixology bar, and a boutique concept store. For outdoor events, the fully-equipped Private House zen pool & suite space, the private C-Lounge (decorated with Philippe Starck furniture), the Gallery with a one-bedroom villa, a chapel, and a grass lawn (400 seated/600 standing people), the Privé (up-to-100 private dining), and The Residence (1,000-people receptions), offer breathtaking sea views and impeccable VIP service. Yacht visitors have access to the club via a floating dock.
Ark Glyfada. An elegant waterfront space for coffee, drinks, and dining, located in Glyfada, stands among our recommendations due to its excellent location. Ideal for a date night! Award-winning mixologists serve cocktails inspired by Greek ingredients in the garden or on the seaside under tamarisk trees next to an old marina.
The Veranda at Aegeon Beach Hotel. Right on the Aegeon beach inside the classic hotel, this restaurant has the most jaw-dropping view of the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounio, a little over an hour away from Athens and 40 minutes from the International Airport. The beach in front of the hotel has an equally privileged position.
Riviera Coast. Enjoy your coffee, cocktails, or gourmet meals next to the water or a little above. The location of this sizeable seaside entertainment space is equally unique. In the coastal area of Voula, 30 minutes away from Athens, this all-day spot that turns into a nightclub and restaurant is also representative of the Athenian Riviera lifestyle.
Things to Do in the Athenian Riviera
Glyfada Golf Club. It is the only 18-hole par 72 championship golf course in the Athenian Riviera, located 30 minutes from downtown in elegant premises including practice range areas, Pro Shop (clubs & trolley shop and rental), two tennis courts, a restaurant, a bar, locker rooms, and valet parking. The fairways are surrounded by pine, cypress, olive, and fig trees, without significant height differences. The slightly rolling terrain is easy to walk. Taking advantage of the natural beauty of the landscape (natural creek, seaside view), the renowned golf architect Donald Harradine built an 18-hole golf course in 1962, which still exists. A significant modification was made in 1978 by Robert Trent Jones, as part of the preparations for the 27th World Cup Series. The price list includes reasonable green fees and packages of 10 or 20 in case you decide to stay in the Athenian Riviera for more than a week.
Temple of Poseidon. Built around the middle of the 5th century BC during the so-called Golden Age of Athens, it is one of the most important ancient Greek monuments from that era. Minimalist columns in the robust and linear Doric order are typically playing with sunset and moonlight, producing breathtaking and memorable imagery of Greek beauty. Crowning the southernmost cape (Sounio) of Attica at the height of almost 197ft/ 60m above sea level, it is a panoramic view, often-windy location few words can describe. Globally acclaimed Greek designer Mary Katrantzou achieved the impossible by showcasing her SS20 fashion show in this protected site, respecting its cultural heritage, for the charitable cause of the Elpida Association which features a successful Children’s Oncology Unit. Photos from the event had an enormous global appeal to the media. Arranging for a driver and guide will upgrade the whole experience. Make sure that you can arrive at least an hour before the sunset.
Lake Vouliagmeni. This rare geological phenomenon entails brackish waters that are continuously replenished both by the sea and the underground healing thermal springs offering a natural thermal spa experience. The imposing rock, the dangerous underwater tunnels that the divers are not allowed to follow, and the lush vegetation create a unique, mysterious setting. At the edge of the lake, near the rocks, starts a labyrinthine underwater cave, which has been explored at a length of 10,246 ft/ 3,123 m, while the cave’s end remains elusive. Among the 14 tunnels which make up the cave, there is one reaching 2,624 ft/ 800 m in length, the longest in the world. The discovery of a massive stalagmite in the cave has opened up new theories in the research on the formation of the Mediterranean. Amplified today with new services such as a renovated Mediterranean restaurant, bar, and an exclusive sunbed deck area, it is a cool place to visit for a swim (snorkeling too), an Apivita massage treatment, a coffee, cocktails, or lunch/dinner. The Lake also provides lifeguarding and medical services, a private lounge, parking, playground, WiFi, lockers, and dressing rooms. Its aquatic world includes the known Garra Rufa fish offering skin exfoliation. The Lake will be open soon to the public again, following seasonal maintenance.
Astir Beach. The pine-clad Astir Peninsula, where the Four Season Astir Palace Hotel is perched on, features a private beach for visitors, with the posh Privilege Beach House offering full service and organizing events. Since 1959 this beautiful sandy beach has attracted the elite, including international VIPs. In 1966, with the opening of the ski school, Astir beach made celebrity history, as it was often visited by the likes of Christina Onassis, Joan Collins, and Brigitte Bardot. Shipowners, business people, rock stars, actors, and politicians made it one of their favorite destinations. From the beach, you also have access to the 6th century BC Temple of Apollo Zoster. The Astir Villas are premium real estate assets for the very few and lucky ones. The Astir Park is ideal for sea-view walking or jogging, and the Astir Marina is the preferred mooring place for vessels of high-profile owners.
Flisvos Marina. The Athenian Riviera has many different marinas, as you might see in our article on yachting. Yet, Flisvos is among the most organized featuring restaurants, an outdoor movie theater, and berths for mega yachts.