The Best of Athens
Collected by Candice Walsh , AFAR Local Expert
The best of Athens is sometimes hidden. Athens is gritty; it's raw; it's graffiti-filled; and it's entirely unapologetic. Some hate it, but those who love Athens are those who really understand the city and all she's been through. How can you fault the birthplace of democracy for her crumbling ways? Real Greece begins here, beneath the Acropolis and over a plate of mezedes. Grab a frappé, join Athenians under the awnings of Exarcheia, and soak up Athens's city vibe.
Kidathineon 41, Athina 105 58, Greece
While sitting outside at a café in Plaka, the historical neighborhood in Athens, a brightly colored wall across the way—filled with bottles—caught my eye. Ouzo was something I wanted to try, as it is for many first-time visitors to Greece, but...
Plaka, Athens, Greece
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...
Polignotou 3, Athina 105 55, Greece
Slave-traders and shoe-menders, jewelers and moneylenders haggled and gossiped at this ancient marketplace the history of which spans five millennia. The Agora was also the stomping ground of rival philosophers Plato and Socrates—the latter...
Athinas, Athina 105 51, Greece
The noisy, smelly, chaos of Athens Central Market is an experience no foodie (or photographer) should miss. The colours, shapes and patterns are a compositional dream, but the market is not for the squeamish. You can find every conceivable...
Wandering through Omonia, my fiance and I came across this massive music and electronics store called Metropolis. Best way to describe it is a copycat of a Virgin Megastore. Up on the top floor they had a nice, quiet cafe that I believe many don't...
Athens 105 58, Greece
See our full list of Where to Go in 2015. According to legend, the ancient gods battled it out to become Athens' patron deity. The showdown came after the Phoenicians founded a city at a giant rock near the Aegean some two and a half million years...
Athens 117 41, Greece
Climb up here to see the Philopappos Monument, an ancient Greek mausoleum dedicated to Philopappos, and you'll be treated to one of the best views of the Acropolis. This whole area is surrounded by rare green space in Athens, so take some time to...
Themistokleous 66, Athina 106 81, Greece
Nosotros is a free social space in Exarcheia where the youth come to discuss politics or to participate in seminars on literature, theater, painting, music, dance, and more. You can even take a cooking or photography class. If you're a visitor,...
Exarcheia, Athens 106 81, Greece
Exarcheia is the most unique neighborhood in Athens, by far. It's not for everyone. It's gritty, graffiti-laden, and crawling with punk rock kids who are far more harmless than they appear. But behind its rough exterior you'll find a dozen...
Ifestou 2, Athina 105 55, Greece
Centered around a flea market, Monastiraki Square is busy with musicians, beggars, street performers, and tourists. Sometimes you'll hear fireworks going off here, for no particular reason. Sometimes there'll be full-on drum circles. The...
Pl. Sintagmatos, Athina 105 63, Greece
Syntagma Square is most notoriously known for its political demonstrations in front of the Parliament Building. All the major events in Greece over the past century have been mourned or celebrated here, and it's a hub of activity. Grassy areas...
Acropolis, Athens 116 36, Greece
The Acropolis is, for most people, the "can't miss" site. Because of its popularity it can be very busy, and the hours seem to change constantly. There's also the possibility that the workers might go on strike, which can mess with your plans as...
Kolonaki, Athens 106 75, Greece
Kolonaki is Athens's affluent and posh neighborhood, and the access point to scaling Lycabettus Mountain. Kolonaki is a stunning contrast to nearby neighborhoods like Exarcheia and Omonia; this is where the elite hang out, and instead of graffiti...
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