How Best to Spend Christmas in Athens

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Athens Acropolis in Christmas

Are you spending Christmas in Athens and you are wondering what is there to do during your visit?

This guide will get you into the holiday spirit in Athens, Greece, and offer valuable ideas on how best to spend your Christmas time in Athens.

Christmas Decorations in Syntagma sq in Athens Greece
Syntagma Sq in Athens and the Parliament

Christmas in Athens is a wonderful time to be with the fantastic Christmas decorations, the merry-to-go mood, the Greek Christmas cakes, the happy songs, and the sweet smell of the amazing festive days to come!

Syntagma Sq Athens

During Christmas in Athens, the whole center is decorated and lit with colorful lights, making you happy and excited to be in Athens, Greece.

Syntagma Sq Athens

Furthermore, Christmas in Athens is a different experience than the one you are probably used to, it has unique characteristics with its Greek local customs varieties.

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What are the Best Things to Do at Christmas in Athens

Where to Stay for Christmas in Athens

Grande Bretagne Hotel

Ideally, you should stay somewhere centrally so that you can enjoy the beautiful Christmas in Athens atmosphere, such as the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Syntagma Sq.

Grande Bretagne is the most luxurious hotel in Greece and creates the most magical and impressive Christmas meals for its guests.

If you prefer to spend your Christmas in Athens near old Athens Plaka and Acropolis Hill, my list of hotels below will definitely help you find what you are looking for:

Plaka Athens Taverns in Christmas

Syntagma Square Festivities

Athens Syntagma Sq © Kat. Stamelou

One of the best things to do in Athens at Christmas is to stroll the generously decorated Syntagma square.

The main attraction is a fir tree, 19 meters high, and is decorated with some 5 kilometers of lights comprising 60,000 bulbs!

Athens Christmas Decorations and Parthenon lit on the back

My favorite decoration is a giant illuminated teddy bear close to the Christmas tree while all around the twinkling lights and the music and cheer transform the square into a magical fairyland.

Little Kook and Psyrri

The Little Cook Cafe is in the area across Monastiraki, called Psirri, a 3-minute walk from Monastiraki Metro station.

The Cafe is a fun-filled place, with a heavily decorated and Instagram-like Christmas atmosphere that is worth a visit.

It is usually, very packed and busy but if you are lucky to find a seat, you can try its desserts and hot chocolate. It is at Karaiskaki 17 st., Psyrri.

Christmas Factory in Technopolis

Christmas Factory at Gazi Technopolis

The Christmas Factory in Technopolis (an old gas factory that has been turned into an events center) in Gazi, is one of the most festive places to be in the center of Athens, especially for children.

Santa will be there and his toy factory, candies, songs, deserts, Christmas carols, and a happy atmosphere.

You can go very easily there by using the Metro and get off at Kerameikos station, one station far from Monastiraki.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Stavros Niarchos Foundation is one of the world’s leading private, international philanthropic organizations, making grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare.

Every Christmas season, Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center hosts a series of Christmas-themed events for all ages, ice skating lake, ballet shows, classical performances, and most notably a Christmas-themed opera performed by the National Opera.

On the 27th of December, there will be a live performance of Austrian Christmas Music.

See here the program of Niarchos Foundation for Christmas 2022:

www.snf.org/en/newsroom/news/2021/12/the-countdown-to-christmas-is-on-at-the-snfcc!/

Greek Night Club or Bouzoukia

Bouzoukia in Athenian riviera

Greek Night Clubs or Bouzoukia, with live music, is one of the Greekest things you can do during Christmas.

No plate smashing anymore – not since the 70’s – but dancing on the table or the stage and throwing flowers to the singer is a must!

Usually, the atmosphere is like that: a large impressive venue, packed with people ready to party all night, smoking and booze everywhere, and music that sounds a lot like it comes from the Middle East.

It is an unforgettable experience and there are dozens of nightclubs available for Christmas. Ideally, go with a Greek group of friends who know the bits and pieces of booking.

Visit the Athens Archaeological Sites and Numerous Museums

Acropolis Hill and Acropolis Museum, Ancient Agora, Temple of Zeus, Kerameikos, are just a few of Athens Archaeological Sites.

Read a detailed post on Athens Best Monuments and Landmarks with info on opening and closing times:

Enjoy a Greek Traditional Christmas Meal with a View

Lycabettus Hill View

Find below a shortlist of some iconic and impressive restaurants in Athens where you can enjoy a Greek traditional Christmas Meal with a superb view.

Generally speaking, you have to book your table wherever you go during Christmas days, especially on Christmas Eve.

Dionysos Zonar’s

Dionysos Zonar’s is a historical restaurant, located right across Acropolis Hill.

Famous for its top quality, service, and dishes, with a view that will not let you concentrate on your meal.

For more info visit their website: dionysoszonars.gr

Orizontes Lycabettus

Orizontes Lycabettus

Orizontes Lycabettus restaurant is situated on the hill of Lycabettus, the highest hill of Athens, which overlooks the capital from 277 meters and is one of the most romantic places in Athens.

Check out its delicious Christmas menu and book your table on their website: orizonteslycabettus.gr

Varoulko

Varoulko Diner

Varoulko is another top-notch multiple-awarded restaurant by the seaside of Mikrolimano in Piraeus.

If you wish to eat fresh Greek fish for Christmas in one of the best restaurants in Greece then you should make your reservations here https://varoulko.gr/

Taste Greek Traditional Christmas Sweets and Food

Christmas Tsoureki

Treating yourself with delicious Greek Christmas pastries is one of the best things you can enjoy at Christmas in Athens.

The good thing is – bad for the diet but good for the spirit – that are available at any bakery or supermarkets throughout Greece!

Ideally, you should find and taste original handmade but still, most of the bakeries do a good job with their sweets.

Read below a short introduction to some of the most popular Greek Christmas desserts:

Melomakarona and Kourabiedes

The royalty of Greek Christmas sweets! We buy them for our houses, we take them as a Christmas gift to any house visit, we treat them with any coffee or tea you will have around Athens. They are literally everywhere during Christmas in Athens, in every house and shop.

Melomakarona are soft, honey-syrupy cookies, clove-scented, and covered with chopped walnuts (I can eat kilos of them).

Kourabiedes, are vanilla almonds cookies covered in powdered sugar – perfect for dipping them into tea or coffee, yum.

Diples and Tsourekia

 Diples are fried folded dough treats drizzled with honey syrup, cinnamon and chopped nuts.

Tsoureki is a sweet bread with mahlab and comes in many forms. It can have mastiha, or filled with chocolate or chestnuts.

Christopsomo and Vasilopita

Christopsomo means the ‘Bread of the Christ’ and it is specially made for the Christmas day meal. It is always decorated with a cross and it is usually fluffy, with a beautiful crust and unique flavor.

Vasilopita is usually a cake in which contains a hidden coin or a trinket. It is a very ceremonial tradition with the head of the family cutting the Vasilopita in small pieces. The first pieces go to Christ, to the house (for good luck), and for the rest of the family. Whoever finds the coin in his or her piece, they are supposed to have good luck for the whole year.

So if you participate in any Vasilopita cut, look out for your lucky coin!

Get Greek Handmade Traditional Gifts for your Family

Diplous Pelekis or Double Axe started its journey to selling beautiful art pieces and gifts in 1925, retaining its uniqueness, quality and finesse all those years.

In particular, the Christmas traditional Greek gifts are simply amazing, some only found in this shop. You can find this beautiful shop, 5-minutes far from Grande Bretagne Hotel, at Voulis 7 street,  in the Bolani arcade.

Katerina, the owner, will help you choose the best gift for you!

Ski Resorts in Greece

aerial photo of mainalo ski center with many skiers

Greece is a very mountainous country and in December some ski resorts have already good enough snow to ski.

If you love skiing or the great outdoors then check this post on the organized Ski Resorts in Greece, rent a car, and drive to your next adventure in Greece.

If this is your first time in Greece, perhaps the Parnassos Ski resort is ideal as you can visit the Delphi Archaeological Site as well.

You don’t want to drive? Book a Private tour!

How to Get to Greece

Unless you come from any of the nearby Balkan countries, you probably need to fly to Athens or Thessaloniki International Airports to get to Greece.

I highly recommend you check out the Skyscanner search engine site for the Cheapest, Fastest, Best Worldwide Flights!

A Message from Evgenia

I hope you have enjoyed my post on Christmas in Athens! If you need local help with organizing your visit, please send me an email at  info@travelthegreekway.com, and I will get back to you with ideas.  Until then stay safe and travel the world!  
Evgenia
Travel the Greek Way

Some of my Favorite Travel Resources for Greece

  • Airflights: Cheap/Fast/Best Worldwide Flights from KAYAK or SkyScanner search engine site
  • Map of Athens Metro
  • Booking.com: I use Booking.com because I can get the best deals, have info on hotels and Airbnb’s alike, with breakfast or not, free cancellations, and great prices!
  • Ferries to the Greek Islands: Book your ferry transfer with FerryScanner or FerryHopper, and get the best prices in the market with no hidden fees
  • World Nomads Insurance: I feel insecure traveling to another country without having even the most basic of insurances. Insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations
  • Best car rental prices – Guaranteed. RentalCars.com
  • Get Your Guide: For all your day or multi-day tours and city guide needs, I use Get Your Guide
  • iVisa: For any questions, you may have about your documents, passport if you need a visa, a new photo, or any visa-related matter, iVisa is your man (or woman!)
  • Emergency Numbers Anywhere in Greece: AMBULANCE 166 – FIRE 199 – POLICE 100EMERGENCY NUMBER 112

Read about Beautiful Greek Islands

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