We picked up some gyros to-go during our stroll through the historic Plaka neighborhood below the Acropolis. Thespidos street was particularly memorable for the cafe we stopped at and discovering Brettos bar, which we decided to come back to enjoy as the end a lovely evening.

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Thespidos street cafés

We picked up some gyros to-go during our stroll through the historic Plaka neighborhood below the Acropolis. Thespidos street was particularly memorable for the cafe we stopped at and discovering Brettos bar, which we decided to come back to enjoy as the end a lovely evening.

Street Tango

Lost in the streets of Plaka, I stumbled upon Monastiraki Square in central Athens. These couple were having tango lessons in public, even the dogs sat quietly in full blast of tango rhythm. I had fun watching them having fun.

The Traditional Quarters of Athens

Plaka is a neighborhood of Athens exactly underneath Acropolis. Here, you can find museums, traditional restaurants, cafes and tourist shops. You can get there easily with a 10-minute walk from Syntagma, the central square of Athens. You can also continue walking to Thiseio, a very picturesque place with many cafes and bars full of young people, and Monastiraki, where you can find the biggest open market in the city with special prices to anything your heart desires.

Lounging in the Plaka

Part of the Athenian experience isn’t just ruins, shopping, and sightseeing. Sometimes you just need to wander the Plaka, find an idyllic cafe or taverna, simply sit with a cold frappe, and enjoy the moments of peace many Greeks savor on a regular basis. I do wish we had more places like this in my native Chicago.

Shopping in the Plaka

The Plaka is the hub of all the tourist shopping with souvenirs, clothing, and food at every turn. But you just can’t avoid it, nor would you want to miss it. My fiance loved getting her hands on some wonderful Mediterranean fashions as we strolled up and down the tiny streets. While it’s a great stroll and quintessential experience, for better deals check out the areas just outside of the Plaka. Venture into the areas between the Plaka and Syntagma, and between Syntagma and Omonia. You’ll find all the spots the locals shop, and at non-tourist prices.


So many tasty looking cafes in the Plaka. So easy to pick one though. Just scan for the ones full of locals drinking a beer, smoking and talking.

Athens Tips Part 5 - The Plaka

The Plaka is the tourist centre of the city, getting around it can be a challenge since there isn’t a straight street to be found. Don’t worry; there are a few tricks to help you out. First of all, the Plaka is probably the most mapped area in all of Athens, and maybe even all of Greece. Finding a detailed map of this area is very easy, often even for free. Secondly you have a great visual marker to help you find your way, the Acropolis. This entire neighbourhood is pretty much built up on the hill of the Acropolis so it makes for a great visual marker. When you first step into the Plaka, you’ll probably think that you’ve been dropped into an outdoor tourist trap. In some ways this is true, but don’t judge this neighbourhood too quickly. Amongst all the tourist shops there are many fine artisan shops, great hidden restaurants and quite hidden streets. All of this, and it’s literally littered with ancient sites. A good way to know if you’re buying from a shop selling average tourist fair vs. a store selling finer crafts is to see what kind of range of items they’re selling. I find that stores not selling a huge range of items and focusing on one particular kind of products are most likely dealing in finer products. Most people assume that any restaurant in the Plaka must be tourist only places and not “local”. This isn’t true; locals in Athens regularly enjoy a snack, coffee, or meal in this neighbourhood.

Athens Tips Part 10 - Souvenirs

No matter where you go in Greece finding souvenirs is never a problem; this is especially true in Athens. The range of items you can bring home to remind you of your visit is staggering. From cheesy magnets to full suits of armour, there’s something for every price range. Most of the classic souvenir shops in Athens can be found in the Plaka and all around the neighbourhoods surrounding the Acropolis. Picking a place to shop can be overwhelming, and many of the shopkeepers can be very pushy. Keep in mind that many of the tourists visiting Athens come from cruise ships, so the quick sale is key for many of these shopkeepers. They will hover over you, they will all tell you how exclusive their merchandise is, and they will all offer a discount, anything to convince you to buy immediately. If you have the time shop around, take your time and don’t let the shopkeepers pressure you. Most shopkeepers really cheer up when you return to a shop, and may offer better deals on your second visit. For higher quality products, it’s better to visit shops that focus on one type of items, such as olive wood, jewelry or religious items. Many shops that sell a huge range of products tend to have cheaper, lower quality, products. Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for a better price, bargaining is accepted but also be ready to walk away if the price is too high.

Anafiotika & Plaka

Picturesque Plaka’s neoclassical mansions were built for the new urban elite after the 1821 Greek War of Independence. By night, the stonemasons who built these townhouses constructed their own humble dwellings on the northern slopes of the Acropolis. Even today, there are no street names or numbers—just a jumble of whitewashed cottages draped in jasmine and bougainvillea. Wander the twisting alleys and you’ll stumble upon Roman monuments, Byzantine churches and intriguing museums dedicated to folk music and art.

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