Photo: Getty Images
The Greek islands have honeymoon written all over them: cliffside villas, endless beaches, and sun that stretches on for days. But before jetting off to a glam locale like Santorini, spend some time on shore soaking up the historic sites in Athens and the Grecian countryside during an escape that's both cosmopolitan and off-the-beaten path for a two-part honeymoon that blends the best of both worlds.
Get your bearings (and recover from any nagging jetlag) in the Grecian capital and largest city in the country, Athens, which has been the center of civilization for over 4,000 years. Don't worry about trying to squeeze thousands of years of sightseeing into your first day, though &mdahs; instead, cozy up in one of the city's gorgeous hotels and make the most of what a honeymoon's supposed to offer. Couples after Old World vibes will love the centrally located Hotel Grand Bretagne, sitting right off of Syntagma Square. The landmark traces back to 1874 and features furnishings just as historic. Want the royal treatment? After any wedding day woes, you deserve it. Suites not only come with luxe Acqua di Parma amenities (and views of Acropolis Hill), they also include butler service.
Photo: Courtesy of NEW Hotel
Just a few blocks away near Plaka, the city's historical neighborhood, the 79-room NEW Hotel is the perfect spot for design savvy couples looking for something with a bit more edge. Brazilian brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana dreamt up the hotel's whimsical design that plays on elements of both their home country and Grecian charm — evil eyes abound, as does local artwork, vintage photographs and bamboo flooring. From here, you're just a 10-minute walk from the Parthenon, where you can indulge in sweeping views of the city from the top of the Acropolis. Before heading to the main attraction, start first at the newish Acropolis Museum, built right over an excavation site with transparent flooring that allows you to look down and let your inner passion for archeology shine through.
When it comes to starting the night, NEW's rooftop lounge is a romantic spot to sit with an apéritif before heading to another local favorite, Papadakis, where the charming chef and owner, Argiro (whose fans include designer Jean Paul Gaultier), is sure to make the two of you feel like family while serving up island-inspired cuisine from her native Paros. The eatery is known for its seafood, with dishes that play on flavors and textures like the octopus with honey, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet wine and fried potato chips.
Before heading out to the country for part deux, stop for a feel-good brunch at nice n easy, the first of Dimitris and Chef Christos' organic bistro outposts that set the mark for this kind of fare in the city. Brunch sounds American — omelets, French Toast, pancakes — but every dish here has distinct Grecian flavor, whether its locally sourced raisins or in-house cured salmon.
Photo: Courtesy of Eumelia
Then it's time to hit the road with your other half exploring the countryside surrounding Athens, pausing for a pit stop in the historic city of Sparta, known for its local cuisine like syglina, or pork smoked with herbs, and caves dating to the Neolithic ages. Your final stop is the ultimate in eco getaways: Eumelia, an organic farmhouse stay in the heart of Laconia, set between the mountain ranges of Taygetos and Parnonas, just 10 minutes from the sea. If you were looking for a place where you can really take it easy and enjoy being newlyweds, this is the one.
Nights are spent under the stars that glow by the thousands as you curl up under blankets on your porch with a glass of local vino, with no other distraction but your other half. During the day, take part in anything from a couples' cooking course learning how to whip up Greek specialties like spinach pies or head up one of the mountains for a half-day hike or horseback ride. In summer, there's also the option of basking and kayaking on nearby Fokianos Bay before heading back to your humble abode for the evening, a traditional Greek farmhouse that has the most modern of amenities yet still feels like you're millions of miles away from the outside world.
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