What to do in Athens: best neighborhoods to explore
After visiting the city’s ancient wonders, you read up on what to do in Athens. Well, it is time to discover the different neighborhoods. Don’t expect us to tell you which one is the best. We won’t be able to tell you, because we can’t choose. Athens is a conglomerate of areas, a fusion of different people, a mix of vibes and a blend of flavors; you need to taste a bit of everything in order to fully understand its richness. What we can do is describe what makes each neighborhood so special and then we let you decide.
You won’t have to wonder what to do in Athens, that’s for sure!
This is the oldest part of the city, at the foot of the Acropolis. Plaka has many beautifully restored, old buildings, while others seem to patiently wait for a caring touch or for their heirs to agree on its future. The charming, cobblestone streets are full of quaint little shops selling clothes, souvenirs, jewelry and ceramics. Monastiraki is famous for its flea market and perfect for a morning stroll followed by a visit to the Roman Agora and the Tower of Winds. It is the part of town where you can walk around endlessly without getting bored. Or you may choose to sit at a cafe and do some people-watching. Coffee – meze – cocktails (& repeat)!
The lively area right next to Plaka is known for its Rebetika tavernas, where musicians play the Greek blues while you indulge in Greek meze. Psyri is a gathering place for creative people and it has lots of workshops, boutiques and ateliers. The atmosphere is very pleasant, slightly festive and you easily make contact with other travelers or locals. Everybody is easygoing, the night is young and … you are on holidays in Athens!
Exarcheia is the naughty child in class. Unconventional, rebellious and young at heart are words to describe this popular area. Many artists, students, anarchists and intellectuals reside here. Quaint bookstores and record stores will keep you entertained for hours and a visit to the National Archaeological Museum covers your quest for ancient artifacts. If you are looking for more contemporary art, you can admire the graffiti that often has a serious message. Again, you will not go hungry with so many fantastic places to eat. Thanks to the diverse population, there are vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, some really fantastic places for souvlaki (follow your nose and the crowds!), family restaurants and tiny spots for perfect meze (check for locals!).
Upscale & shopping. Keywords for a guaranteed fun day! Whether you want to spend the money that is burning a hole in your pocket or just gaze at the shop windows, this neighborhood is a lovely destination for a day out. Kolonaki is very close to Syntagma Square and offers plenty of things to do. You can start the day with a coffee at the square and then visit the Benaki Museum. Afterwards, do some shopping and have lunch at the many trendy restaurants, either with international or modern Greek cuisine. To finish the day in style, take the funicular up to Likavittos Hill and treat yourself to a fantastic sunset!
Get the most out of your day and explore the ancient cemetery at Kerameikos early, before it gets too hot. After that, pay a visit to the Benaki Museum − Pireos St. Annex to enjoy modern art. Lunch at any of the countless eateries in Gazi is next on your list of to-dos. In the afternoon you may want to blend in with the Greeks: have an afternoon nap so that you can be fresh at night. Then, return to Gazi for dinner and party all night long to experience one of Athens’ best nightlife districts.
Do you know now what to do in Athens? And have you decided which neighborhood you will visit first? Let us know in the comments which district is your favorite!