Kolonaki Athens: A Local’s Guide to Athens’ Most Exclusive District

Kolonaki Athens is the most exclusive area in the Greek capital. Grand neoclassical houses and elegant boutique stores run along the district’s tree-lined streets.

This upscale neighbourhood sits at the base of Mount Lycabettus – just a stone’s throw away from the central districts of Syntagma, Monastiraki square, and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue. Kolonaki garners its name from the sunbleached remnants of ancient column that sits at the centre of Kolonaki square.

Falling in Love with Kolonaki, Athens

Kolonaki is to Athens what Chelsea is to London, or Beverly Hills is to Los Angeles. It joins Kifissia, and the Athenian Riviera as one of the most sought after post codes in the city.

The chic cocktail bars, coffee shops, and international eateries of Kolonaki attract a well-heeled crowd. In spite of all the glitz and glamour, The laid back vibes of the quintessential Greek lifestyle have followed through here making the atmosphere far from intimidating.

It is worth dedicating an afternoon or a full day to exploring the picturesque streets and plazas of Kolonaki during your Athens itinerary if your schedule permits.

Kolonaki Neighbourhood Highlights

Kolonaki
Kolonaki Athens
  • Climb to the peak of Lycabettus hill for incredible views across Athens

  • Sip Freddo cappuccinos and watch the Athenian elite at Kolonaki Athens’ ritzy coffee shops

  • Engage in a little retail therapy at upscale local boutiques

  • Sampling traditional Greek delicacies at award-winning restaurants and tavernas

Things to Do in Kolonaki Athens

Kolonaki may not be home to archaeological ruins or major Athenian attractions but there is certainly plenty to do here. The neighborhood is adjacent to Syntagma square making a day exploring here easily accessible.

Shop for Edible Souvenirs

Yolenis Kolonaki
Yolenis Kolonaki

For the gourmand, Kolonaki Athens is a little slice of paradise. Numerous delicatessens and artisanal food stores here stock quality Greek produce. These items are a perfect edible souvenir from your Athens trip.

Yolenis is the best place to go to stock up on all things Greek. From marinated olives to cured meats, locally produced cheeses and sweet treats or chocolates, the items sold here are of the highest quality.

Nora’s Deli is another local favourite. The deli stocks agro products from all over the Mediterranean.

Hike to the top of Mount Lycabettus

Kolonaki
The peak of Lycabettus offers some of the best views across the city.

The hike to the top of Lycabettus hill is one of the best offbeat things to do in Athens. The ascent through the woodlands is pleasant. However, the highlight of visiting Lycabettus is the views that can be enjoyed from the peak.

From up here, you can see across to the Acropolis and even out as far as to the marinas at Piraeus. For the best atmosphere, come as the sun sets and the city of Athens is illuminated with twinkling lights.

If you are travelling to Athens in winter or during the shoulder seasons of Spring and Autumn, you have the added benefit of not having to share the view with dozens of other tourists.

Admire the Frescoes inside the Church of Agios Dionysios Areopagitis

The church of Agios Dionysios Areopagitis dominates Kolonaki’s Skoufa Street where it stands surrounded by boutique stores and coffee shops. This impressive structure dates back to the 1920s. 

The church’s interiors are filled with bold, vibrant frescoes that are beautiful to observe – even if you don’t consider yourself a religious person. Non-Orthodox people are welcome to enter the church, provided a religious ceremony is not taking place.

Relax and Unwind in Philikis Etaireias Square

Philikis Etaireias Square is the central and only square of Thessaloniki. It is here where you can find the old column which Kolonaki is named after (Kolonaki means “little column” in Greek).

The grassy banks and scenic benches around the square offer a spot to rest during your day in Athens. Philikis Etaireias Square itself has an interesting backstory.

The square was named after Filiki Eteria (Society of Friends). This secret society was founded in 1814 with the intention of overthrowing the Ottomon rule in Greece and establishing an independent Greek state.

Explore the Kolonaki Art Scene

Athens has not historically been known for its art scene. However, developments over recent years have seen the emergence of several fabulous contemporary galleries in upscale Kolonaki. Some places to consider checking are detailed below.

  • The Depot Gallery – A blend of art and design exhibits from Greek and International artists

  • The Elika Gallery – A contemporary local art gallery

  • The Medusa Gallery – A contemporary gallery with a unique twist, featuring the work of Greece’s best artists. Photography, sculptures, and more traditional contemporary paintings can be found here

     
  • The Pulse – A gallery that blends street photography with contemporary style artwork.  

Take an Athens Food Tour 

Opting to take an Athens food tour is a great way to scratch beneath the surface of the city of Athens. Not only does such a tour provide you with a strong introduction to Greek culinary culture, it also does so at restaurants and eateries that most tourists would never stumble upon otherwise. 

Various Athenian food tours take you on a journey across the city. They enable you to get a feel for the personalities of Athens’ various districts – including Kolonaki. Common stopping points include the Varvakios Agora Central Athens market, Monastiraki square, Kolonaki, and Psiri.

Take a History Lesson at the Local Museums  

Those with a broader interest in Greek and Athenian history will enjoy exploring the various museums scattered throughout Kolonaki. Art lovers will enjoy the Benaki Museum, and the Museum of Cycladic Art.

Both of these establishments feature ever-changing exhibits from the international art scene. The former also demonstrates the changes and developments in Greek life through the centuries.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum close to Evangelismos metro station is also a worthy stopping point for history buffs. On certain days of the month, Athenian museums, including the aforementioned museums in Kolonaki Athens, are free to enter.

Night Caps in Kolonaki Athens

Kolonaki is one of the best places to experience Athens by night. It is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or 25 (!) after a long day’s sightseeing. With an elegant ambiance and an even more elegant crowd, some of the hottest spots are detailed below.

The Stinking Bishop

Where: Σπευσίππου, Loukianou και, Athina 106 75

The Stinking Bishop is a wine connoisseur’s paradise. The chic bar attracts a glamorous crowd and offers an extensive wine menu that features exquisite vinos from across the globe.

It is possible to organise a tasting in order to experiment with various flavours. Alternatively you can request a wine pairing and enjoy the wines alongside savoury treats prepared in the kitchen.

Jazz in Jazz

Jazz in Jazz, Kolonaki
Jazz in Jazz, Kolonaki

Where: Dinokratous 4, Athina 106 75

Tucked away in the residential street of Dinokratous, Jazz in Jazz transports its visitors to the colourful, musical streets of New Orleans. The spot is so small and cozy that heading here for a cocktail or two feels almost like sitting in someone’s living room.

Jazz and bossa nova rhythms echo around the bar, and jazz memorabilia fills the walls. Jazz in Jazz is one of the most beloved Athens nightlife spots that only the locals know about.

Minnie the Moocher

Minnie the Moocher
Minnie the Moocher

Where: Tsakalof 6, Athina 106 73

For the young, hot, and Athenian, Minnie the Moocher is essentially the “go-to” spot for drinks on a Friday or Saturday night. This jazz and blues bar dates all the way back to the 1930s. The antique decor and design make the bar appear froen in time.

Minnie the Moocher is usually packed full of a trendy local crowd that spills out onto the streets, drinks in hand. This is also a great spot to enjoy a Greek coffee during the day.

Ippopotamos

Where: Delfon, Athina 106 80

Ippopotamos has an atmosphere of understated cool. It is situated on the border of Exarchia and Kolonaki. The eccentric film-noir inspired interior and brightly coloured walls and furnishings make this a great spot to enjoy a laid back beer.

Shopping in Kolonaki

Kolonaki plays host to a range of exclusive boutiques and upscale designer brands (Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Prada, et al). This is one of the best places for shopping in Athens.

For one of a kind fashions created by independent local designers, browse the stores nestled within the small alleyways and narrow streets that veer off from Platia Kolonakiou. This is the neighbourhood’s main plaza.

Coffee Breaks & Brunch in Kolonaki Athens

Sipping coffee and watching the world go by is essentially the national pastime of Greece. Kolonaki houses an array of ritzy coffee shops and cafes perfectly suited for a lazy afternoon spent people-watching. Some local favourites to keep in mind are listed below.

IT

IT, Kolonaki, Athens
IT, Kolonaki, Athens

Where: Skoufa 29, Athina 106 73

Though going out for brunch is a relatively new tradition in Greece, the shabby chic low key spot “IT” arguably serves up one of the best brunches in the city. You can find your beloved eggs benedict and honey-soaked American pancakes here.

Enjoy sipping a Freddo cappuccino amid the quirky, homely setting, or order up a sumptuous dish made with high-quality ingredients from the seasonal brunch menu.

Numismatic Museum Garden Cafe

Where: 12 Panepistimiou, Syntagma, 106 71

As you stroll around the quiet, tree-lined streets of residential Kolonaki, the coffee shop beside the Numismatic Museum stands out like a peaceful oasis among the grand houses and apartment buildings. Tucked away from the eyes of tourists, patrons can sip their coffees in a peaceful garden oasis beneath the trees and tropical plants.

This hidden gem sits netweem Kolonaki and Syntagma. Live musical and jazz performances are frequently hosted during the summer months.

Da Capo

Where: Tsakalof 1, Athina 106 73

If there was a “best place” for people-watching in Kolonaki Athens, Da Capo would be it. Da Capo may look like your typical coffee shop with alfresco seating. However, this is a special place for locals.

The award-winning cappuccino brewed here is rumored to be among the best in Athens. The outdoor seats that face outwards onto Tsakalof street offer the perfect spot for watching the Athenian glitterati.

Lawyers, Entrepreneurs, and other busy business types come to Da Capo as their break spot of choice. Da Capo is known locally for its excellent gourmet snacks and sandwiches.

Warehouse

Where: Valtetsiou 21, Athina 106 80

On the border of Kolonaki and Exarchia, Warehouse is a modern contemporary coffee shop come wine bar that attracts a trendy crowd.

The atmosphere here is young and fresh. It is not uncommon to see writers and entrepreneurs here working away on their Macbooks. Warehouse Athens is a place that you could comfortably sit and read or work for hours on end without being disturbed.

Melinikon

Where: Skoufa 37, Athina 106 73

Melinikon is a great choice for breakfast and brunch in Athens. It is often lovingly referred to as “the Greek pancake house”.

This place was opened by a successful New York businessman that left his corporate career to open up the very first pancake house in Greece. From chocolate pancakes to savory pancakes, tall stacks to short stacks, Melinikon serves up an extensive menu of scrummy treats.

Finding Traditional Greek Food in Kolonaki

You are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options in Kolonaki. If you are hoping to treat yourself or celebrate during your trip, Kolonaki is certainly the place to do this. Some of the most elegant and exclusive spots in the city can be found here.

Tucked away among all of the glitz and glamour though, there are also some excellent traditional spots where travellers can cross various Greek foods off their foodie travel bucket lists without breaking the bank.

Filippou

Dining choices in Kolonaki Athens are plentiful
Dining choices in Kolonaki Athens are plentiful

Where: Xenokratous 19, Athina 106 75

Filippou is a wonderful traditional family-owned taverna. It first opened its doors almost 100 years ago.

This is a favourite local haunt among Athenians. The owners serve up a plethora of homemade Greek classic dishes that don’t break the bank.

Everything from hearty moussaka to sumptuous pastitsio features on the menu. You will feel just like you’ve stepped inside a Greek Yia Yia’s house.

Nice ‘n’ Easy  

Nice n Easy, Kolonaki

Where: Omirou 60, Athina 106 72

The concept of farm to table eateries is relatively new in Greece. To be honest, almost everywhere you visit in Greece serves up high quality food anyway. You can always tell that the vegetables are fresh, and the meats are lovingly prepared. However, restaurants such as Nice ‘n’ Easy offer an additional level of quality assurance.

The exquisitely flavoured dishes here are cooked with organic, locally sourced ingredients. This restaurant is one of just a few places in Athens that contains a run-through of all of its suppliers on the menu. In doing so, Nice ‘n’ Easy aim to demonstrate to their customers that they are eating ethically.

Simul

Where: Ipsilantou 63, Athina 115 21

Casual, cozy, and modern, Simul is a great choice for lunch or dinner in Kolonaki. The restaurant’s menu changes with the season and offers a fusion of traditional Greek classics blended with international influences and flavors. 

International Eateries in Kolonaki, Athens

Kolonaki (and Athens in general) has a wider selection of international eateries than you may imagine. From Asian fusion cuisine, to fresh sushi, and hand-prepared Italian pasta. 

Greek food is wonderful. However, if you find yourself desiring a change part-way into your Greece itinerary, you will not be short of options. 

Il Postino


Where: Γριβαίων 3 &, Skoufa 64, Athina 106 80

Il Postino brings you all of the charm of an Italian trattoria in the centre of the Greek capital. Dining at Il Postino transports you to the quaint, ramshackle streets of Rome’s Trastevere district. The menu options are reminiscent of something that an Italian nonna would rustle up. 

Tuck into a sumptuous, authentic carbonara, or the homemade pesto with goat’s cheese. Wash it all down with a strong limoncello. Dishes here are prepared with only the finest Mediterranean ingredients. 

Kiku Restaurants 

Where: Dimokritou 12, Athina, 106 73

With branches in both Athens and Mykonos, Kiku was the first Japanese restaurant to open its doors in the Greek capital. The restaurant has a devoted clientele and the menu offers everything from wagyu beef to fresh sushi.

Where to Stay in Kolonaki Athens 

Kolonaki Athens is a great place to base yourself during your time in Athens. Not only are you situated right in the heart of the action, you are also in an area that is quieter than your average central district.

Excellent Athenian restaurants, bars, and nightlife are right on your doorstep.However, you can easily get a peaceful night’s sleep. 

Opting to stay in Athens’ Kolonaki district places you just a five minute walk away from Syntagma square, and a thirty minute walk away from the Acropolis. Kolonaki is very close to the suburbs of Zografou, Pagrati, and Koukaki – all of which are worthy of your time. 

Reputable Kolonaki hotels that you may wish to consider are detailed below. 

Periscope 

Where: Charitos 22, Athina 106 75

Periscope Athens is an intimate luxury boutique hotel in the beating heart of Kolonaki. The rooms and suites have all been decorated in a sophisticated, contemporary style. 

All materials used in the hotel’s exquisite decor have been sourced from across Greece. For instance, walnut wood, luxurious fabrics, quality marble, and so on. Enjoy breakfast in your hotel room with a view as you overlook the promenades of Kolonaki. 

Cocomat Hotel

Where: Patriarchou Ioakim 36, Athina 106 75

Cocomat Athens offers stylish rooms just a short walk away from the main tourist attractions of Athens. All units boast plush furnishings, flat screen satellite TVs, coffee machines, and complimentary toiletries. 

Cocomat’s rooftop bar is a great place for cocktails once the sun goes down. You can find the latest rates and availability here.  

Parting Words

Have you spent any time in Kolonaki Athens? If you have any questions about planning your Athenian escape, feel free to drop me a comment below.

I’ve been based in Athens’ lovely Pangrati area for the last three years. Safe travels! Geia sou! Melissa xo


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

Leave a Comment