Greek-American handbag designer Andria Mitsakos is an expert on Athens having spent many years immersing herself in its enigmatic charm and building a network of young, like-minded entrepreneurs and creatives. Ahead of the Eid holiday weekend, Andria shares her city guide along with her style must-haves.
Athens in three words:
Inspiring. Classic. Buzzing.
Favourite time of day:>
Early mornings when the city is just getting ready to buzz; it’s like the calm before the storm.
Best chill out spot:
I would say my rooftop but it’s not open to the public…! The National Gardens are in the centre of the city. They are beautiful and serene and full of wild green parrots. The new Renzo Piano-designed Stavros Niarchos Foundation is also a gorgeous space to reflect near the sea.
Go-to coffee spot:
I love taking people to Metamatic: TAF (The Art Foundation) at its unassuming location off of the busy Ermou street. Historically the site was used for various things – including horse stables during King Otto’s reign, and later apparently as a women’s prison before it was a rooming house – it was eventually abandoned before TAF took it over to use as a mixed-use space for artists. It’s a fabulous space that is used to support various mediums, so there’s always a great exhibition on great to see, and they have fantastic vegan, raw nut and date balls that are perfect with a freddo espresso.
Best view of the city:
While we have loads of off-the-radar rooftop spots, I love Hotel Grand Bretagne’s rooftop bar as it was my temporary home for a while. The view from St. George Lycabettus is remarkable as well, especially at sunset. Take a picnic with you!
Must visit museums:
I love the Islamic Art Museum, which is probably the most overlooked museum in Athens. It houses one of Europe’s best collections of Islamic textiles and ceramics, and it’s the source for constant inspiration for me from colour and texture to prints. It also has a great rooftop cafe for coffee, tea and homemade sweets (order the orange cake).
The Numismatic Museum has one of the world’s grandest collections of ancient coins.
Then The Cycladic Museum is a favourite as well. Start on the top floor to get the best education in the city on ancient Greece. It will take you about 20 minutes to visit this level, which also features a fantastic installation cast by my friend Makis Gazis who did an incredible job using real photos of people to show life in the ancient city. Then make your way down to discover the mystery of the Cycladic culture, which, is so incredibly thrilling because you’re looking at a civilisation that is over 3,000-years-old yet their designs were incredibly contemporary; it absolutely thrills me. The café is lovely here for coffee or lunch – I always order the veggie fritatta.
Ancient site to see:
While the Acropolis is a must see, I always tell visitors to walk down my street – Dionysiou Areopagitou – and walk up Filopappou Hill, so you can get a true, ancient glimpse of the city. Gazing at Acropolis from here is magical.
Boutique hotel to try:
Alice Inn – owned by John Consolas, an Irish-Greek architect – is an oasis in the Plaka neighborhood and about as close to living in the city you can get without renting an apartment. John’s personal library is top-notch, and when he’s around he can talk about Greek literature for hours.
Nice-n-Easy in Kolonaki, owned by Dimtiris Christorforidis and Christos Athanasiades, who are visionaries in the country’s farm-to-table movement. Dimitris was the first to open an organic restaurant in Greece after living in Los Angeles most of his adult life. People thought he was crazy, but he worked hard and persevered and now owns two successful restaurants in Athens and four in Mykonos including the new SantAnna beach club which opened this year. He and Christos are obsessed with finding top-notch producers and often invest in farmer’s to help support their sustainability.
Buffalo meatballs with organic, sustainably-produced buffalo meat from Dimtiris and Christos’s water buffalo farm. I generally don’t eat meat, but for these, I make an exception.
Book to read:
Six Nights on the Acropolis by George Seferis
Go-to yoga studio:
SWAHA behind The Acropolis for aerial yoga.
Andria’s Summer Style Guide
Favourite local designer:
Orsalia Parthenis is instilling life and movement into the Parthenis brand after she took over as creative director (her father established the brand in the seventies). It’s my go-to for chic city basics and beautiful silhouettes for both island and city life.
The running joke is that when I go and visit Orsalia in her Kolonaki store, I typically walk in wearing one thing, and walk out wearing something else.
Greek jewels to covet:
LALAoUNIS is the country’s most iconic luxury jewellery house and luckily for me they also have a museum – Ilias LALAoUNIS Jewellery Museum – around the corner from The Acropolis.
Three sisters run it and each new collection echoes a sensibility that is both ancient and contemporary. They have fabulous stackable bracelets, which make perfect gifts, and I always treat myself to one LALAoUNIS piece at the start of summer.
Best Wanderlista bag for a day in the city:
The Stella bag, which is named for my Mum. It has three compartments so fits quite a lot and can be shoulder or cross-body. Hands-free is key in Athens.
A weekend along the coastline:
The Carpiano tote which fits anything you need for a few days away.
Go-to outfit for a day in the city:
Any black dress from Parthenis, my Lucite and 18k gold cuff from LALAoUNIS, Valia Gabriel sandals and the Orsalia clutch from my new capsule collection – Wanderlista X Parthenis.
Beauty quick fixes:
I get blow-dries at Despina on Parthenos street and mani/pedis next door at Lidia. But I do love the spa at Grand Bretgane – even when you go in just for a pedicure it feels like a spa day.
Dimitra Goula is Greece’s answer to luxurious, artisanal skincare. She sources her ingredients from the slopes of Mount Athos, where wild herbs are grown by Tibetan and Greek monks. Her facials are life-changing in my opinion. Everything is raw and natural and she uses mostly wild ingredients. When you buy a product, it’s literally made at the time of ordering and needs to stay refrigerated.