I recently had the pleasure of popping down to Athens for a few days, ostensibly to take part in the Travel Trade Athens show, but also to have a bit of fun exploring this city.
Since it’s the place where Western civilisation started and one which somehow I have never visited, I leapt at the chance to explore, and even tacked on a few days to my itinerary to take in a few more sights.
Conveniently, a lovely hotel in the Vougliameni region asked if I’d be interested in staying with them for a few nights during my time in Athens. Which seemed like a match made in heaven.
Ok, so the Vougliameni region, being 20km or so outside of Athens itself, is perhaps not the best location for city centre exploring if that’s your prime focus. It is however spectacularly beautiful in of itself, and makes a great base for seeing more of Athens and it’s beautiful surrounds.
I spent my first couple of days just wandering around Vougliameni with my camera, before heading for the city to see what that was all about. Wandering about with a camera is just about my favourite thing to do anywhere, but even more so when the scenery looks like this:
So I was quite happy. And relaxed. Two important things for any trip!
A little about Vougliameni.
It’s rich. Like Croesus. Well – for the most part. The Greek economic troubles of the past few years have certainly left their scars, with entire resorts, restaurants and buildings just walled off, graffiti’d and crumbling away. See that lovely looking resort in the shot below? Yeah, that’s surrounded by barbed wire, warning signs, and a general air of abandonment.
But the rest of Vougliameni appears to be doing just fine. Expensive cars pootle on by. Private beaches appear to be the norm, offering immaculate umbrellas and carefully raked sandy experiences. The restaurants that are open are sleek and tempting affairs. And the marina is home to some frankly insanely expensive looking yachts.
My wanders took me along some less private beaches (having grown up on a beach, I have an aversion to paying to get sand in my camera gear) and out to the headland, past the aforementioned marina, a wonderful place with a collection of deeply abandoned concrete structures and views of a water so blue it nearly exploded my brain.
Wildflowers lined the roadside, and a fleet of yachts scurried by, clearly in a rush to get somewhere. I scooted around, shooting in the midday day, scouting for a handy sunset location.
It turned out, happily, that that day-time location of above was pretty good in the evening as well.
Bonus point if you can spot the fisherman in either shot.
So yes – a great deal of wandering, a great many photos, a lot of reflection as to how an area so clearly well off could also be home to such abandonment. And a lot of relaxing.
Speaking of which, a few words about the hotel I stayed at in Vougliameni, the Hotel Margi, who were kind enough to put me up for three nights.
This is a rather luxury style spot, two minutes walk from a couple of jolly nice beaches, with its own pool (although April was a little early in terms of giving that a go) and a truly excellent restaurant.
At the latter I ate a pile of delicious things, none of which I photographed, because I am really bad at remembering to take pictures of the food I am eating. Suffice to say it was delicious, and featured plenty of good locally sourced produce, in particular seafood and lamb.
Location wise, it was a 25 minute taxi ride into central Athens, at an average cost of €25 each way. A public bus was also available, but that took a fair bit longer. There were plenty of places to eat nearby also, including a fantastic place for some classic Greek style treats such as souvlaki, which the concierge was happy to recommend. All in all – a good spot to stay – I suspect there is a reason they are ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for hotels in Vougliameni!
Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Vougliameni. I got to know a region of Athens that I’d likely not have visited otherwise, and got to both relax and have some time along with my camera and gorgeous scenery. Which is pretty much everything I need in a trip.
Next – I’ll be telling you all about my other experiences in Athens, including my adventures scaling the main mast of a yacht under full sail and my thoughts on visiting the Acropolis. Check out the subscription options below to be sure you don’t miss any of that good stuff!
As I hopefully made clear above, my stay at the Margi Hotel was complimentary, although I paid for all extras including that excellent dinner myself. If you’re visiting Greece and want somewhere near some beaches, with friendly staff and a pile of luxury, all within a 25 minute taxi ride of town, it’s a good pick! Check out what other travellers think on TripAdvisor, or, find more hotels like this via the Destsetters portal, who list some really quite lovely hotels across Greece and many other countries on their site.