The impressive renaissance of Athens as a tourist hot spot after about three years of the Covid pandemic now offers huge options for accommodation, gastronomy, entertainment, and culture, according to a lengthy feature article in the New York Times.

From the centre of the capital and its upgraded neighborhoods, such as Pagrati, Petralona, and Psirri, to the “Athenian Riviera” and the cultural “jewels of the city”, such as the National Gallery and Museum of Modern Art, the American newspaper describes the gradual emergence of the capital as a tourist destination par excellence, which, according to the publication, went almost unnoticed by most of the city’s residents.

Here’s a surprise: While Athenians were locked down because of the pandemic, a flurry of creative and entrepreneurial activity was underway. The outcome? A total of 272 new restaurants, according to the local industry association, as well as hundreds more cafes and bars. The city also acquired 34 new hotels, offering 1,982 rooms over the last two years. And its cultural landscape blossomed, with major national projects coming to fruition.

“We’ve witnessed a cultural revival and a growing gastronomical scene that showcases the new dynamism of the city,” said Vassilis Kikilias, Greece’s tourism minister. Adding in the construction of new hotels and the upgrading of older ones, Mr. Kikilias said made him “optimistic for the season.”

As of May, the number of foreign visitors to the city was still below 2019 levels, but only by about 12 percent, and since then crowds have returned to the central squares and landmarks in numbers reminiscent of prepandemic days.