Greece’s capital and hipster culture go together like pumpkin spice and lattes. While Athens is often associated with great food and breathtaking ancient wonders (both of which it embraces with pride), modern Athenians are setting a new standard for dedication in the arts department. And you can go experience the biggest example of this dedication at the Athens International Film Festival Opening Nights. Now in its twenty-third year and running from September 20 to October 1, the festival celebrates the best and the latest in local and international filmmaking, celebrating film music, documentaries, short films, retro cinema and more (including a very special section that plays scary movies late into the night). The Grand Prix of this festival is the Golden Athena Award, which last year was bestowed upon Mohamed Ben Attia’s “Inhebek Hedi”. Details about the film lineup are still hush-hush (to be unveiled at a press release on September 13), but “Wonderstruck”, directed by Todd Haynes and based on the novel by Brian Selznick, has been confirmed as the opening feature, and a tribute to French auteur Claire Denis is also planned. The only confirmed location so far is the Odeon Opera Theatre 1 and 2 on 57 Akademias street. Ticket details have yet to be revealed, so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page and website.
A FESTIVAL-GOER’S MINI GUIDE TO ATHENS
QUICK TIPS: The Odeon Opera Theatre is a few minutes’ walk from the Panepistimiou metro station. There is a special metro line that runs from the Athens International Airport all the way to the central neighborhoods of Syntagma and Monastiraki. All the city neighborhoods are on the blue Line 3 (Aghia Marina—Airport). The metro opens at 5:30 am and closes around 12:30 am (Line 3 stays open until 2:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights). A single ticket is good for seventy minutes of unlimited travel, and can be bought in a metro station or at any newsstand in the city.
- Titania Hotel: A luxury escape smack-dab in the middle of central Athens, two blocks away from the Odeon. Prices vary, average €155 a night. Panepistimiou 52, Athina.
- Athens Backpackers: One of the city’s go-top youth hostels several minutes from the Acropolis metro station, complete with a café and rooftop bar. From €23 a night. Makri 12, Athina.
- The Clumsies: A chill spot for artisanal coffee and snacks by day, a bustling cocktail lab by night (and voted the ninth best bar in the world in 2016). Praxitelous 30, Athina.
- Kentrikon: A traditional Greek restaurant serving homemade dishes that will make you feel the love. Kolokotroni 3, Syntagma.
- Fillo: A café dishing up over fifty kinds of handmade pies from various regions of Greece, at no more than €2.70 apiece. Karagiorgi Servias 12-14, Syntagma.
- The Acropolis Museum: The best of the Acropolis minus the long uphill climb. Bonus: Right behind is Little Tree Books & Coffee, an adorable café-bookstore filled with comfy couches. Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina.
- Vintage shopping: Every Sunday morning from nine to one, Ifestou street fills up with stalls jam-packed with antiques and second-hand curios. If more organized trawling is your thing, head to the nearby neighborhood of Psiri and explore.
- Mount Lycabettus: Take a cable car or a peaceful walk up this wildflower-studded peak, and be sure to catch the sunset. Aristippou 1, Athina (cable car station).