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33 Reasons Why Athens Is The Next Big Thing

Athens is once again on the rise. Dealt a black eye during the financial crisis and the ensuing media coverage of the unrest, the country has pulled itself together and its capital has never been more lively. With visitor numbers back up, a recent New York Times article touting the town, and a new campaign to make curious tourists feel more at home (#ImAnAthenian), Athens has regained its confidence and is ready to show the world why this city is the next big thing.

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3. There has been a logic-defying explosion of awesome bars, restaurants, and cafes since the crisis.

Aris Gionis / Via flic.kr

Drinks in the Gazi - a former gas plant turned artsy 'hood in the center of the city.

7. The city isn't plagued by rules.

Alexander Besant

It's not like Athens doesn't have rules - it does. It's just that those that are seen as an impediment to living well aren't really followed.

12. The city’s visitors, former residents and occupiers have left amazing things behind (though who knows what they took away):

16. It's cheap. Like, really cheap.

karpidis / Via flic.kr

Most European capitals are jaw-droppingly expensive, while Athens continues to be a bargain for any traveler. European brands at discount prices and, er, free hugs for all.

17. Out of the crisis came a booming tech start-up culture.

Nikos Drandakis / Via flic.kr

Nikos Drandakis of the fantastic start-up TaxiBeat that helps Athenians find reliable and friendly cabs in the city.

18. They're really good at combining bars, cafes, concert halls, art spaces and sometimes even a pool into one venue.

Nikos Papanagiotou / Via flic.kr

Audio-visual experimental show at the now legendary Six D.O.G.S. bar, restaurant, art and music space in central Athens.

20. Bouzoukia.

Tilemahos Efthimiadis / Via flic.kr

The idea is a reserve a table with friends, buy a few bottles and baskets of rose petals to throw at the feet of performers and watch your money disappear quickly to the soundtrack of Greek pop. Dancing onstage is encouraged.

21. There's something wonderful about street kiosks where you can buy a beer, a box of tylenol or a Byzantine flag at any hour.

22. You wouldn't tell by looking at it but Athens is safer than most cities its size.

spirosk / Via flic.kr

Exarchia (above) might look like a rough neighborhood but appearances can be deceiving. It's harmless.

27. They always serve food (free) with drinks.

George M. Groutas / Via flic.kr

Though this might not seem like a reason to visit a city, you'll think differently when a bowl of olives, pistachios, cheese, salty carrots or some grilled veggies arrive with your beer.

But what do real Athenians think of their city?

Here is Athens in their words:

"Apart from the fact that Athens is an ancient, historic city (we all know that), full of energy that you can actually feel by just by taking a walk, it is also never static, and always controversial - always transforming. It's a place full of life, bursting with fun- filled adventures. This is every day Athens to me."

"Athens is the most underrated city in Europe. Sure it's the birthplace of Western Civilization but it's also a funky, buzzing modern city that has enough cultural events to keep me busy most nights a week. The bars are some of the best in the world - and trust me I'd know."

"There is no better feeling than discovering a hidden paralia (beach), close to Athens yet invisible - there are lots. It almost feels like you are part of some big secret that you only share with your favorite people. And as long as its a secret, there will always be enough space to lay down your towel."

"I love Megaro Mousikis (Athens' largest concert hall). They host classical music events there, but every summer they have a festival on the grass in the garden next to it. It is mostly Greek bands - rock, indie, folk - it's actually quite nice. People chill on the grass, and bring food and drinks."

"Kifisia is a northern suburb of Athens with its own vibe and life, close enough to the center of Athens so its residents are not far away from the colourful capital. I live abroad permanently, so every time I visit home I enjoy every day spent there, discovering more beauties and places in the area, or just visiting the familiar ones that I have missed."

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