The lords and ladies of Olympus didn’t make Greece their playground for nothing. Anytime is the right time to traipse through Athens and those 3,000 gorgeous, blue-water islands.
If Zeus were around today, he’d be seducing Leda at the legendary King George II Palace (3 Vassileos Georgiou A’ Street; +30-2103-222210) in Syntagma Square in the center of town. The royal penthouse suite has a private swimming pool facing the Acropolis and costs about ten grand a night. Those on mere mortal budgets should check in to downtown’s new sleek and minimalist Fresh Hotel (26 Sofokleous Street; +30-2105-248511).
Let’s review the obvious. When in Greece, eat fish. Order gualisteres — large, shiny clams that wiggle when they’re fresh — at Ithaki (28 Apollonos Street, Laimos Vouliagmenis; +30-2108-963747). The world’s largest grilled calamari might be at Anemomilos (Akti Themistokleous 100; +30-2104-281283) in Piraiki. Looking for local trendsters? Have dinner at 48 (48 Armatolon at Klefton, Ampelokipoi; +30-2106-411082), the restaurant of the moment, and drinks at Lallabai (+30-2103-369340-1) a bar-oasis inside the Zappeion Garden.
SoHo meets Madison Avenue in Kolonaki, the neighborhood just below Lycabettus Hill. Veloudakis (22A Tsakalof Street; +30-2103-641764) sells sexy cocktail dresses; Old Athens (Kanari 17; +30-2103-614762) has Jackie O.-inspired shoes and bags designed by Greek Vogue editor Vassilis Zoulias. Need more shoes? Head to designer outlet Spiliopoulos (63 Ermou Centre; +30-2103-227590), where Athens’s stylists shop for less.
Hydra is tiny, quaint, and refined. No cars allowed. Water taxis jet you to the beaches along the coast, and a donkey will take you up the hill to the delightful and affordable Nefeli Hotel (+30-2298-053297). A romantic dinner awaits at Kondylenia’s (+30-2298-053520) — just go into the kitchen, see what’s on the stovetop, and point.
Andros delivers the thrill of discovery without the inconvenience of the middle of nowhere. Check in to the Andros Holiday (+30-2282-071384) in Gavrio; the private beach is breathtaking. Rent a Jeep (drive slowly), bring lots of water (it’s a trek), and venture north to Vitali beach, where if you’re lucky you’ll have the teensy church all to yourself. Hungry? A cheese-filled frittata at the beachfront taverna hits the spot.
Want more islands? (Of course you do.) Amorgos is untouched, pristine, and a little beatnik. (Nude sunbathing and backpacking encouraged.) Patmos is spiritual, monastic, and gorgeous. (So remote that St. John wrote the Apocalypse there.) If you want to party, go to Mykonos — from shops to celebs, it’s half Manhattan, half Ibiza. And just because everyone goes to Santorini doesn’t mean you should miss its unmatched beauty. (When it’s time to recover, do it in Folegandros.)