This trip is the definition of Travel After 5: a short break in the work schedule to enjoy the sun and sea. Ever considered going to the Athens Riviera for the weekend? This is such an easy trip that I have done it every summer for the last 4 years.
And the best part? Varkiza is enough out of the beaten path, so you'll enjoy a calm place, without the hordes of tourists.
Kick off on Friday. If you can take the day off or leave the office early, even better, but you don't have to. Athens has flights arriving from all over Europe on a Friday night. Wherever your starting point, chances are high that you'll have a direct flight in the summer.
Athens Airport (ATH) is 20km away from Varkiza, skipping Athens and its heavy traffic completely. Although Uber does not work here, a great and tried-and-tested alternative is Beat (android | apple). It will connect you to taxi drivers while keeping the convenience you're used to with riding apps.
It is possible to reach Varkiza with public transit but it's limited to buses with necessary connections, instead of a direct route. After a work-day and a flight, you deserve this little bit of comfort with a quick and easy transfer.
Now, depending on the time you arrive and your stamina, go for a walk around Varkiza Square and dinner nearby. You will eat very well and be shocked by your bill — at how low it is! Take a look at my suggestions below.
If you are interested in exploring Athens for a day, I suggest you do that on Saturday. That way, you can have a more laid-back Sunday on the beach before heading back to take on the upcoming week.
Choosing the Beach
Your first decision will be whether you will pay for a place within the resort or find a public spot. I highly recommend the Varkiza Resort, aka Yabanaki Beach Club. It is not expensive and you'll have a great infrastructure for a truly relaxing day. Waiters service on the sun-beds, different restaurants, gelateria, water sports, etc.
Entrance to the resort is charged until 19:00. As of 2019, prices are:
- weekdays: €5 including sunbed;
- weekends: €6 access, plus €5 for each sunbed (excluding VIP area).
If you are following my suggestion to stay at the Stefanakis Hotel, they will give you a free voucher for a small discount to the resort for the duration of your stay.
The alternative are rocky patches or small and crowded sand stretches. You only have a couple of days and you didn't fly all the way here for discomfort, right? 😉
Although the sea is definitely the main attraction, make sure you also take advantage of the delicious Greek food! I can recommend 3 spots, for different reasons:
- ΛΑΟΣ & ΚΑΛΑΜΑΚΙ (Laos & Kalamaki), within the Varkiza Resort. The gyros and souvlakis are delicious but the portions are huge, so beware. Open from 12:00 to 01:00 (Sun-Thu) and 12:00 to 02:00 (Fri-Sat).
- ΖΑΧΟΣ (Zaxos), right in front of the resort, this place is always bustling full of people. You can also order to take-away.
- Απέραντο Γαλάζιο (Aperanto Galazio), less than 1km away from the resort. With pastel-colored tables on the sand, this place is worth going even just for the setting. Go for dinner and enjoy the gorgeous sunset.
Fancy exploring Athens?
It is possible to go with public transit but taxis are very affordable and much quicker and convenient. Depending on how much you want to cover on the capital, it's even possible to be back and enjoy the last couple of hours of sun in the resort, without paying, if you go in after 19:00.
Having done both, I suggest you take your time in Athens. Nighttime takes on a life of its own and it's a delight to wander around Plaka and surroundings; full of people, music, good food, and energy.
Soon I will post on what to do in Athens in 1 day.
Back to real life...
You save precious transit time by not going through Athens' traffic on your way back. So it's still convenient for a return flight on Monday morning, instead of Sunday night. Head straight back to the office, with your hand luggage, blushed cheeks and a light heart.
Do you have any other tips for Varkiza? Restaurants, hotels, to-do's? Let me know!