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
With its walls of colorful glass bottles, this charming little bar can be elusive—nestled deep in downtown Athens, in the warren of streets that make up the Plaka. Day or night, Brettos (pronounced Vrettos in Greek) is frequented by locals...
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
It’s hard to believe this serene archaeological park, with evocative statues scattered among the wildflowers, oak, and olive trees, was once the beating commercial and political heart of ancient Athens. It’s where citizens came to...
Athinas, Athina 105 51, Greece
Athens' Central Market is a home to a tremendous number of vendors selling everything from fresh Aegean octopus, fish and meat of every variety, to spices, olives, and cheeses. The area is surrounded by little eateries, tavernas, and cafes taking...
Acropolis District, 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...
Filopappou, Athina 117 41, Greece
Marble footpaths meander up pine-clad Filopappou Hill, a peaceful hideout for picnickers and joggers. Hidden in a rocky clearing is the Pnyx, the world’s first democratic assembly, where the great orators Pericles and Themistocles held court...
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...
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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