Discover Athens’ wonders with our local guide

The best way to discover a destination is through the eyes of a local, something Vivian, our local guide on the ground in Greece knows well.

29 February 2024

Discover Athens with local guide

Greece is a magnificent country, home to cities steeped in ancient history and islands basking idyllic sunshine. Offering both historic jaunts and modern breaks, romantic escapes and family-friendly trips, luxury vacations to Greece have it all. There is much to take in, and the best way to get under Greece’s skin is with a local guide who can lead excursions tailored to your interests. Meet Vivian, a qualified archeologist and one of our expert guides on the ground in Greece who has been unravelling the tales of Athens for travel lovers and explorers for over 15 years.

Vivian, Greece guide 

Gain insight into Vivian’s passion for sharing Greece’s storied past and present with travelers, as well as a few insider tips on the best activities to enjoy on a trip to Greece, with our Q&A below.

Our guide on the ground in Athens

Q: Can you tell our guests about you – what is your story?

I was born in Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in the country, located in the north. At the age of eight, my family and I moved to Canada, where I was fortunate to live for ten years, “juggling” two continents, two countries and many fascinating settings and experiences. Winters in North America, summers in Southern Europe!

When I was in the third grade in elementary school, I came across a Greek story book that vividly described how a lady, who was an archaeologist, managed to save a beautiful ancient statue from a bulldozer at a construction site, just in time before it was badly damaged. It brought tears to my eyes and I instantly found my purpose in life. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to become an archaeologist and dig into the past to save beautiful treasures and learn amazing stories about them.

After I graduated from high school, I was accepted into university to study archaeology in Greece, which meant that I finally got the chance to make my dream a reality! Of course, the more I studied, the more passionate I became, so eventually, I was accepted to the National School for Tourist Guides as well, and everything tied perfectly together. As a result, over the past thirty years, I have been traveling and exploring the country in every way, combining it with excavations, independent research, and unbelievable scenery. The “puzzle pieces” have gradually started to fit in, of course only to indicate that many more are still left to be found...

Eventually, this quest brought me to Athens where I have been living permanently for the past fifteen years with my husband and my twelve-year old son, giving tours to people who also love to travel and explore.

Acropolis at sunset 

Q: What do you love most about what you do?

The thing I love most about what I do is the challenge of bringing many different stories to life for people from a variety of backgrounds, needs and standards, who are traveling under various conditions (such as limited time and tight schedules, extremely hot temperatures, crowds, rain, etc). I aim to create an unforgettable experience for them to take home and smile about whenever they need to think about something nice during the rest of the year. Amazingly enough, this has the same effect on me as well, and keeps me going!

Q: What do travelers love about the experience you offer?

Hopefully they enjoy the stories, the honesty and the genuine passion that I share with them, as well as the amazing memories we create together from everything we all learn through our tours.

Q: What inspires you about what you do?

My main inspiration is actually the present. Interacting with all kinds of people as mentioned above always sparks conversations about our lifetime, as humans living in the 21st century, eventually leading to all sorts of similar topics about life in the past, enhanced with specific stories and sites that complete the whole picture.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre

Q: What’s your number one recommendation for travelers visiting Greece?

My number one recommendation is not to rush through everything on the ‘bucket list’ all at once and feel overwhelmed in the end. Take in a bit at a time, and always leave something behind for the next visit.

Q: Any ‘hidden gems’ you would recommend to travelers?

In this case, I would suggest new and unique spots. Think local yet “off the beaten track”, small yet exclusive specialty shops/workshops, art galleries, and events, which would definitely depend on the personality of each guest. The difficulty sometimes with hidden gems in our day and age is that, fortunately or not, they don’t stay hidden for too long. The good thing however is that all sorts of new - and thus still hidden - gems appear all the time.

Q: Which is a new experience that you’d recommend to return travelers to Greece?

Though the options here are obviously endless, even for a small country like Greece, I would recommend a hike on Mount Olympus combined with a visit to nearby ancient sites for those who are not into hiking.

Almost everyone who visits Greece already knows some things about the ancient gods and their myths, yet hardly anyone has any idea of where the tallest mountain in the country (and the realm of the twelve gods, according to mythology) is located, or what it looks like. Unlike a first trip to the country – where islands, beaches, Athens and the major sites dominate an itinerary, I have noticed that after the “general overview” the guests seem delighted to explore the “mountainous mainland”.

Mount Olympus at sunset 

Q: What are the best experiences that connect travelers with the culture, history, and people of Greece?

I would definitely suggest exploring more ‘rural paths’. Visits to small villages either on the mainland or the islands (especially the quieter ones - with more locals than tourists), ideally combined with local festivals and agritourism, cooking classes/food tours, open theater concerts and theatrical performances, open-air movie theaters (with related film festivals as well), small museums and galleries, and finally, as much walking and talking as possible!

Athens skyline with Acropolis in distance 

If Vivian has inspired you to embark on a Greek trip of your own, chat to our Travel specialists who are ready to plan a luxury vacation to Greece filled with incredible experiences in incredible destinations.

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