Polytimon Travel Guide to Athens

Emmanouil

Polytimon Travel Guide to Athens

Αξιοθέατα
Even the most jaded of world travelers cannot visit ancient Greece's most iconic attraction without being awestruck. Crowning a dramatic limestone crag, the Acropolis stands high above modern Athens as a symbol of the city's former glory, recalling the culture that flourished more than two millennia ago. In addition to the Parthenon, you'll find many more things to see among these emblematic ancient ruins. While wandering around the many archaeological remains of the Acropolis, you follow in the footsteps of Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles and discover the building blocks of Western Civilization.The main attraction at the Acropolis is the Parthenon, but there are several key sites. After entering through the main gate, you will pass the theater Odeon of Herodes Atticus, then walk through the Beulé Gate before reaching the Propylaia, which is the dramatic main entrance to the Acropolis. If you look to the right as you are climbing up to the Propylaia, you'll see the Temple of Athena Nike perched up high. When you exit the Propylaia at the top, you can immediately see the Parthenon to the right and the Erechtheion complex on the left, with the easily recognizable statues of the Porch of the Caryatids. The attractions below offer more detail on each of these highlights of the Acropolis, as well as several others.
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Akropolis Athena
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Even the most jaded of world travelers cannot visit ancient Greece's most iconic attraction without being awestruck. Crowning a dramatic limestone crag, the Acropolis stands high above modern Athens as a symbol of the city's former glory, recalling the culture that flourished more than two millennia ago. In addition to the Parthenon, you'll find many more things to see among these emblematic ancient ruins. While wandering around the many archaeological remains of the Acropolis, you follow in the footsteps of Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles and discover the building blocks of Western Civilization.The main attraction at the Acropolis is the Parthenon, but there are several key sites. After entering through the main gate, you will pass the theater Odeon of Herodes Atticus, then walk through the Beulé Gate before reaching the Propylaia, which is the dramatic main entrance to the Acropolis. If you look to the right as you are climbing up to the Propylaia, you'll see the Temple of Athena Nike perched up high. When you exit the Propylaia at the top, you can immediately see the Parthenon to the right and the Erechtheion complex on the left, with the easily recognizable statues of the Porch of the Caryatids. The attractions below offer more detail on each of these highlights of the Acropolis, as well as several others.
A vividly curated trove of stunning sculptures, ceramics, and other treasures from the Acropolis.The 14,000 square-metre glass and concrete landmark, designed by the architect Bernard Tschumi, was completed in 2009.Beyond the obvious reason that it houses the treasures of the Acropolis, the museum has also consistently figured on lists of the world’s top 10 museums, both for its contents and its design.The grounds of the early 19th-century Weiler Building, which had been used in the 1930s as an army barracks and later gendarmerie. It now houses the Acropolis Studies Centre. Must-see: The Parthenon Gallery on the top floor is ingeniously designed to recreate the magnificent temple’s frieze, using cast copies of sections currently in the British Museum and other collections.
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Acropolis Museum
15 Dionysiou Areopagitou
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A vividly curated trove of stunning sculptures, ceramics, and other treasures from the Acropolis.The 14,000 square-metre glass and concrete landmark, designed by the architect Bernard Tschumi, was completed in 2009.Beyond the obvious reason that it houses the treasures of the Acropolis, the museum has also consistently figured on lists of the world’s top 10 museums, both for its contents and its design.The grounds of the early 19th-century Weiler Building, which had been used in the 1930s as an army barracks and later gendarmerie. It now houses the Acropolis Studies Centre. Must-see: The Parthenon Gallery on the top floor is ingeniously designed to recreate the magnificent temple’s frieze, using cast copies of sections currently in the British Museum and other collections.
One of the greatest museums in the world with the richest collection of Greek artefacts from neolithic to classical times.Construction began in 1866 to a design by Ludwig Lange and was completed in 1889 by Ernst Ziller.It’s one of the world’s top collections of Greek antiquities and certainly the richest, with the 11,000 items on permanent display comprising just half of the museum’s holdings.With some 8,000 square metres of exhibition space, it’s hard to take in this panorama of Greek civilisation and achievement in a single visit. So it’s best to either stick to the most celebrated exhibits or focus on a single gallery or theme. Must-see: There is so much not to miss that this truly depends on your interests. The ‘Mask of Agamemnon’, the Santorini frescoes, the bronze Zeus or Poseidon and the ‘Jockey of Artemision’ are among the most popular exhibits.
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National Archaeological Museum
44 28is Oktovriou
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One of the greatest museums in the world with the richest collection of Greek artefacts from neolithic to classical times.Construction began in 1866 to a design by Ludwig Lange and was completed in 1889 by Ernst Ziller.It’s one of the world’s top collections of Greek antiquities and certainly the richest, with the 11,000 items on permanent display comprising just half of the museum’s holdings.With some 8,000 square metres of exhibition space, it’s hard to take in this panorama of Greek civilisation and achievement in a single visit. So it’s best to either stick to the most celebrated exhibits or focus on a single gallery or theme. Must-see: There is so much not to miss that this truly depends on your interests. The ‘Mask of Agamemnon’, the Santorini frescoes, the bronze Zeus or Poseidon and the ‘Jockey of Artemision’ are among the most popular exhibits.
A trove of religious art and artefacts from the Byzantium, housed in an enchanting monastery-style building and gardens. It wa built in 1848, in the style of a Florentine palace. A 12,000-sqm underground wing was added in the 1990s. With more than 25,000 artefacts in its possession, the museum’s collection of Early Christian, Byzantine and Medieval religious artefacts is unsurpassed in size and scope. Must-see: While Byzantine culture was almost entirely concerned with religious expression, the diversity of the techniques, subjects and approaches used throughout the Byzantine Empire is extraordinary. Look out for miniature sculptures on themes such as the ‘Descent into Hell’ and a ninth-century relief carving of the ‘Tree of Life’.
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Byzantine and Christian Museum
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A trove of religious art and artefacts from the Byzantium, housed in an enchanting monastery-style building and gardens. It wa built in 1848, in the style of a Florentine palace. A 12,000-sqm underground wing was added in the 1990s. With more than 25,000 artefacts in its possession, the museum’s collection of Early Christian, Byzantine and Medieval religious artefacts is unsurpassed in size and scope. Must-see: While Byzantine culture was almost entirely concerned with religious expression, the diversity of the techniques, subjects and approaches used throughout the Byzantine Empire is extraordinary. Look out for miniature sculptures on themes such as the ‘Descent into Hell’ and a ninth-century relief carving of the ‘Tree of Life’.
A collection of ancient and modern Greek coins in a historical building. It was built between 1878 and 1880 to designs by Ernst Ziller in the style of the Italian Renaissance. It's important not just for numismatic fanatics, the 600,000-strong coin collection is a literal treasury of historical data, tracing the political, commercial, and cultural influences of Athens through the ages. Where else can you see the original coin with the owl of Athens on its face? Must-see: The building’s décor: Pompeian-style frescoes, floor mosaics depicting Schliemann’s finds at Troy and Mycenae, and excerpts from Greek literary texts. Plus live jazz concerts in the secret garden most Thursday evenings.
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Numismatic Museum of Athens
12 Eleftheriou Venizelou
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A collection of ancient and modern Greek coins in a historical building. It was built between 1878 and 1880 to designs by Ernst Ziller in the style of the Italian Renaissance. It's important not just for numismatic fanatics, the 600,000-strong coin collection is a literal treasury of historical data, tracing the political, commercial, and cultural influences of Athens through the ages. Where else can you see the original coin with the owl of Athens on its face? Must-see: The building’s décor: Pompeian-style frescoes, floor mosaics depicting Schliemann’s finds at Troy and Mycenae, and excerpts from Greek literary texts. Plus live jazz concerts in the secret garden most Thursday evenings.
The museum occupies two adjacent buildings. No. 5 was built in 1859 and No. 7 in 1833. No. 7 was the first Athens residence of King Othon and Queen Amalia. It's important because it has a plenty of royal memorabilia, right down to the cooking utensils used by Othon and Amalia. One suite recreates Amalia’s parlour, including personal items such as her piano. Must-see: A collection of etchings and engravings that can be viewed as a timeline of the city’s evolution since the 18th century.
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Museum of the City of Athens – Vouros-Eutaxias Foundation
2 Parnassou
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The museum occupies two adjacent buildings. No. 5 was built in 1859 and No. 7 in 1833. No. 7 was the first Athens residence of King Othon and Queen Amalia. It's important because it has a plenty of royal memorabilia, right down to the cooking utensils used by Othon and Amalia. One suite recreates Amalia’s parlour, including personal items such as her piano. Must-see: A collection of etchings and engravings that can be viewed as a timeline of the city’s evolution since the 18th century.
From dinosaurs to fossils, this private museum of natural history is a fantastic family-friendly attraction. This neoclassical mansion was converted into a research centre in 1964. Both the building and collection have undergone a radical transformation since those early days. It's Greece’s largest museum of natural history. Must-see : Kids will love the T-rex replica. Sea life enthusiasts should check out the marine biology section, where riches of Greek and international waters surface. The garden cafe is an attraction in itself.
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Goulandris Natural History Museum
13 Levidou
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From dinosaurs to fossils, this private museum of natural history is a fantastic family-friendly attraction. This neoclassical mansion was converted into a research centre in 1964. Both the building and collection have undergone a radical transformation since those early days. It's Greece’s largest museum of natural history. Must-see : Kids will love the T-rex replica. Sea life enthusiasts should check out the marine biology section, where riches of Greek and international waters surface. The garden cafe is an attraction in itself.
A one-stop panorama of Greek history and culture from the prehistoric era to the 20th century. The original building dates from 1860. Additional wings were added in 1930 and the 1990s. The Benaki Museum offers an ideal overview of Greek culture for the visitor in Athens with just a few hours, but has enough depth to be equally rewarding for the connoisseur. The story: Originally the Harokopos family residence, it was bought and renovated by Emmanuel Benakis in 1910. After his death in 1929, the building was turned into a museum by his son, Antonis Benakis. Must see: Two 18th-century parlours from northern Greece, complete with carved wood panelling and gold trim ceilings.
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Benaki Museum
1 Koumpari
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A one-stop panorama of Greek history and culture from the prehistoric era to the 20th century. The original building dates from 1860. Additional wings were added in 1930 and the 1990s. The Benaki Museum offers an ideal overview of Greek culture for the visitor in Athens with just a few hours, but has enough depth to be equally rewarding for the connoisseur. The story: Originally the Harokopos family residence, it was bought and renovated by Emmanuel Benakis in 1910. After his death in 1929, the building was turned into a museum by his son, Antonis Benakis. Must see: Two 18th-century parlours from northern Greece, complete with carved wood panelling and gold trim ceilings.
The world’s most extensive collection of ancient Cycladic art. The main building was completed in 1980. Temporary exhibitions are held in the Stathatos Mansion, a neoclassical residence with a porticoed entrance, roof statuary and atrium. A glass-topped internal walkway connects the two wings. Established in 1986 to house the private collection of the Goulandris shipping family, it focuses on ancient cultures of the Aegean, especially that of the Cyclades during the 3rd millennium BC. Must-see: The most prized exhibits are the Cycladic figurines. These idols—from the schematic, spade-shaped Early Cycladic (c3200 BC) figurine to the precisely defined 1.40-metre tall female statue from Keros (c2800-2300 BC)—comprise the core of the collection.
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Museum of Cycladic Art
4 Neofitou Douka
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The world’s most extensive collection of ancient Cycladic art. The main building was completed in 1980. Temporary exhibitions are held in the Stathatos Mansion, a neoclassical residence with a porticoed entrance, roof statuary and atrium. A glass-topped internal walkway connects the two wings. Established in 1986 to house the private collection of the Goulandris shipping family, it focuses on ancient cultures of the Aegean, especially that of the Cyclades during the 3rd millennium BC. Must-see: The most prized exhibits are the Cycladic figurines. These idols—from the schematic, spade-shaped Early Cycladic (c3200 BC) figurine to the precisely defined 1.40-metre tall female statue from Keros (c2800-2300 BC)—comprise the core of the collection.
This beautifully designed museum is a top venue for photography, design, architecture and fashion exhibitions. 1950s, re-designed by architects Maria Kokkinou and Andreas Kourkoulas, and opened in 2004. The building itself is impressive, with its brick and glass-fronted ramps and skylit atrium. It also houses the largest contemporary Greek design shop in Athens. On the site of a former car dealership and repair shop, the Benaki Museum / Pireos 138 has come to symbolise the modern dynamic of Athens, and especially the gentrification of the neighbourhoods west and south of Omonia. Fun fact: Marina Abramovic staged AS ONE, a six-week interactive performance here in 2016. Designed to push the boundaries between mind and body, audience participation included blindfolded tours, counting grains of rice, or sitting and staring into a stranger’s eyes in silence.
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Benaki Museum
138 Pireos
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This beautifully designed museum is a top venue for photography, design, architecture and fashion exhibitions. 1950s, re-designed by architects Maria Kokkinou and Andreas Kourkoulas, and opened in 2004. The building itself is impressive, with its brick and glass-fronted ramps and skylit atrium. It also houses the largest contemporary Greek design shop in Athens. On the site of a former car dealership and repair shop, the Benaki Museum / Pireos 138 has come to symbolise the modern dynamic of Athens, and especially the gentrification of the neighbourhoods west and south of Omonia. Fun fact: Marina Abramovic staged AS ONE, a six-week interactive performance here in 2016. Designed to push the boundaries between mind and body, audience participation included blindfolded tours, counting grains of rice, or sitting and staring into a stranger’s eyes in silence.
One of the city’s most-photographed landmarks, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is set into the wall at the base of the Parliament’s ceremonial marble steps. Excerpts from the funeral oration of Pericles chiselled into the marble are a poignant reminder of the cost of war, even for the victorious side: ‘An empty bed is lying here in honor of the unknown’. The Presidential Guard, or evzones, standing sentinel by the tomb symbolise the Greek military. Their distinctive uniform is based on the traditional 19th-century male costume of the Peloponnese but the colour, fabric, and cut of each garment represents an aspect of Greek history: the red cap is the blood spilled in conflict, the kilt has 400 pleats, one for each year of Ottoman rule, and the pom-poms on their curved slippers symbolise freedom. There’s an hourly changing of the guard, but it’s worth planning your visit to include the full ceremonial honours on a Sunday morning at 11.
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Monument Of The Unknown Soldier
133 Leoforos Vasilisis Amalias
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One of the city’s most-photographed landmarks, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is set into the wall at the base of the Parliament’s ceremonial marble steps. Excerpts from the funeral oration of Pericles chiselled into the marble are a poignant reminder of the cost of war, even for the victorious side: ‘An empty bed is lying here in honor of the unknown’. The Presidential Guard, or evzones, standing sentinel by the tomb symbolise the Greek military. Their distinctive uniform is based on the traditional 19th-century male costume of the Peloponnese but the colour, fabric, and cut of each garment represents an aspect of Greek history: the red cap is the blood spilled in conflict, the kilt has 400 pleats, one for each year of Ottoman rule, and the pom-poms on their curved slippers symbolise freedom. There’s an hourly changing of the guard, but it’s worth planning your visit to include the full ceremonial honours on a Sunday morning at 11.
The grand ambitions of the ‘modern’ urban planners are captured in three fine neoclassical buildings: the Athens Academy, the University and the Library. Activity swirls in and around these architectural gems as the university’s portal is often the staging ground for protests, under the watchful eye of the revolutionary poet Rigas Feraios, whose statue sits out front. Peek inside the austere façade’s portico at the colourful murals depicting scenes from history and mythology, a hint of the richly-decorated interior with columned ceremonial halls and gold-edged ceiling decorations. The Library, with its sweeping marble staircase, and the Academy, with its elaborate statuary, were both designed by Theophil Hansen but on a more lavish scale. The Academy and University are often open, so you can wander in and out. The Library’s main collection has relocated to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre and the old building now serves as a reading hall. Leonidas Drossis’ glimmering white sculptures of Athena, Apollo, Plato, and Socrates against the blue Attic sky make a great backdrop for your Athens holiday snaps.
Akadimia, Athens
The grand ambitions of the ‘modern’ urban planners are captured in three fine neoclassical buildings: the Athens Academy, the University and the Library. Activity swirls in and around these architectural gems as the university’s portal is often the staging ground for protests, under the watchful eye of the revolutionary poet Rigas Feraios, whose statue sits out front. Peek inside the austere façade’s portico at the colourful murals depicting scenes from history and mythology, a hint of the richly-decorated interior with columned ceremonial halls and gold-edged ceiling decorations. The Library, with its sweeping marble staircase, and the Academy, with its elaborate statuary, were both designed by Theophil Hansen but on a more lavish scale. The Academy and University are often open, so you can wander in and out. The Library’s main collection has relocated to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre and the old building now serves as a reading hall. Leonidas Drossis’ glimmering white sculptures of Athena, Apollo, Plato, and Socrates against the blue Attic sky make a great backdrop for your Athens holiday snaps.
In the Greek popular imagination, Omonia is as much a symbol of the modern city as the Acropolis is of the ancient—and with as many cultural references. When Athens first became Greece’s capital, this was the terminus for carriages and other transportation of the times, thus making it literally the place where Greeks from the provinces arrived. Through successive waves of migration during the 1960s and 1970s, Omonia is where those newly-arrived from the village connected with ‘compatriots’ who frequented the coffee houses on its perimeter. Omonia emerged as the locus of blue-collar Athens—the staging point for labour union marches but also the convergence point of spontaneous celebrations of major sports victories, such as 2004 European football championships. And while both the square and the city have undergone several transformations down the years, Omonia is still where you go to feel Athens’ urban pulse (and since the square’s latest look debuted in May 2020, the cooling mists from George Zongolopoulos’s hydrokinetic sculpture).
Omonoia Square
19 Πλατεία Ομονοίας
In the Greek popular imagination, Omonia is as much a symbol of the modern city as the Acropolis is of the ancient—and with as many cultural references. When Athens first became Greece’s capital, this was the terminus for carriages and other transportation of the times, thus making it literally the place where Greeks from the provinces arrived. Through successive waves of migration during the 1960s and 1970s, Omonia is where those newly-arrived from the village connected with ‘compatriots’ who frequented the coffee houses on its perimeter. Omonia emerged as the locus of blue-collar Athens—the staging point for labour union marches but also the convergence point of spontaneous celebrations of major sports victories, such as 2004 European football championships. And while both the square and the city have undergone several transformations down the years, Omonia is still where you go to feel Athens’ urban pulse (and since the square’s latest look debuted in May 2020, the cooling mists from George Zongolopoulos’s hydrokinetic sculpture).
It’s the next best thing to a time machine: an exhibition recreating old storefronts and streets in Athens from the early 20th century to the interwar years. 'A Stroll through Old Athens' is small but definitely worth the visit for the building alone: the former Pil-Poul hat factory. Founded in 1886, the Pilopio Poulopoulos factory not only supplied the hats of well-dressed Athenians, but also employed hundreds of workers and exported its wares to Egypt, Bulgaria, and beyond. The 1,500-square metre building today houses the Melina Mercouri Cultural Centre, which hosts cultural events and the Haridimos Shadow-Puppet Theatre, dedicated to the traditional karagiozis puppet shows—ostensibly for kids, but laden with metaphors about Ottoman rule.
Melina Mercuri Museum and Cultural Centre
66 Iraklidon
It’s the next best thing to a time machine: an exhibition recreating old storefronts and streets in Athens from the early 20th century to the interwar years. 'A Stroll through Old Athens' is small but definitely worth the visit for the building alone: the former Pil-Poul hat factory. Founded in 1886, the Pilopio Poulopoulos factory not only supplied the hats of well-dressed Athenians, but also employed hundreds of workers and exported its wares to Egypt, Bulgaria, and beyond. The 1,500-square metre building today houses the Melina Mercouri Cultural Centre, which hosts cultural events and the Haridimos Shadow-Puppet Theatre, dedicated to the traditional karagiozis puppet shows—ostensibly for kids, but laden with metaphors about Ottoman rule.
Evening visitors to the National Observatory are rewarded with a peek at the Athenian sky through the 40-centimetre lens of a 1902 telescope (by appointment). But even in full daylight there’s plenty to draw your gaze at the National Observatory, from the building’s stunning architecture and collection of scientific instruments to a full-on view of the Acropolis. Anyone who values punctuality will especially appreciate the ‘Time Room’ where a 19th-century Viennese telescope that was used to set official Greek time until 1964 is kept. Like the building itself, this instrument was donated by Georgios Sinas, a wealthy Greek expatriate who funded the construction of several monumental buildings in the city. Strolling the Observatory grounds affords wonderful views of Athens. The ancient Greeks’ association with the site wasn’t nearly as romantic: being tossed off the western slope was punishment for a range of crimes.
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National Observatory of Athens
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Evening visitors to the National Observatory are rewarded with a peek at the Athenian sky through the 40-centimetre lens of a 1902 telescope (by appointment). But even in full daylight there’s plenty to draw your gaze at the National Observatory, from the building’s stunning architecture and collection of scientific instruments to a full-on view of the Acropolis. Anyone who values punctuality will especially appreciate the ‘Time Room’ where a 19th-century Viennese telescope that was used to set official Greek time until 1964 is kept. Like the building itself, this instrument was donated by Georgios Sinas, a wealthy Greek expatriate who funded the construction of several monumental buildings in the city. Strolling the Observatory grounds affords wonderful views of Athens. The ancient Greeks’ association with the site wasn’t nearly as romantic: being tossed off the western slope was punishment for a range of crimes.
It’s been decades since the brown-brick smokestacks of the old Athens gasworks stopped belching, yet they still dominate life in Gazi, just as the wrought-iron frame of the former power station rules the skyline. The gasworks ceased operation in the mid-1980s, but it took roughly a decade for it to be put back into use as a cultural centre. Technopolis, as the compound was renamed, is a hub for city-sponsored and private events that combine culture with innovation, from art exhibitions and music festivals to food and tech fairs. It’s also the headquarters of the municipal radio station, which covers many of these events live. The grounds include the Industrial Gas Museum, a café, and the city’s only Skywalk—a post-industrial playground featuring a slide tunnel and suspension bridges.
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Technopolis
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It’s been decades since the brown-brick smokestacks of the old Athens gasworks stopped belching, yet they still dominate life in Gazi, just as the wrought-iron frame of the former power station rules the skyline. The gasworks ceased operation in the mid-1980s, but it took roughly a decade for it to be put back into use as a cultural centre. Technopolis, as the compound was renamed, is a hub for city-sponsored and private events that combine culture with innovation, from art exhibitions and music festivals to food and tech fairs. It’s also the headquarters of the municipal radio station, which covers many of these events live. The grounds include the Industrial Gas Museum, a café, and the city’s only Skywalk—a post-industrial playground featuring a slide tunnel and suspension bridges.
The ancient dramatists imbued Greek culture with a love, and flair, for theatre. Athens is home to dozens of troupes and stages, chief among them the National Theatre of Greece, known for its prestigious company and drama school. During summer, the National Theatre goes on tour, performing at ancient venues like Epidaurus. Equally thrilling is a performance at its home stage, an impressive neoclassical building designed by Ernst Ziller with a façade inspired by Hadrian’s Library. The strands linking ancient drama to modern theatre are woven into its architecture, with a main stage dripping in Belle Époque velvet and crystal and a secondary stage with the moveable seating and skene (backstage) typical of ancient theatres. A visit to the box office is the perfect excuse for a quick tour, which often includes temporary exhibitions on theatre-related themes.
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National Theatre of Greece
22 Agiou Konstantinou
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The ancient dramatists imbued Greek culture with a love, and flair, for theatre. Athens is home to dozens of troupes and stages, chief among them the National Theatre of Greece, known for its prestigious company and drama school. During summer, the National Theatre goes on tour, performing at ancient venues like Epidaurus. Equally thrilling is a performance at its home stage, an impressive neoclassical building designed by Ernst Ziller with a façade inspired by Hadrian’s Library. The strands linking ancient drama to modern theatre are woven into its architecture, with a main stage dripping in Belle Époque velvet and crystal and a secondary stage with the moveable seating and skene (backstage) typical of ancient theatres. A visit to the box office is the perfect excuse for a quick tour, which often includes temporary exhibitions on theatre-related themes.
Rising to nearly 300 metres, Lycabettus Hill (Lykavittos to the locals) towers over Athens. Geology assigns it to the Tourkovounia ridge, but mythology explains it as a rock Athena was carrying to fortify the Acropolis, but dropped when she was startled by a cow. The old quarry, which has been converted to an open-air theatre (now temporarily closed for restoration), seems to confirm this account. Starting your visit from Lycabettus will help you get your bearings, as the summit offers a panoramic view of Athens that on a clear day stretches to the island of Aegina. Agios Georgios, the medieval white-washed church at the top, is as small up close as it looks from afar and was originally a monk’s refuge. The short cable-car ride is the quickest way up, but walk down for different views of the city through the pines. Plan a stop at Ayii Isidori, the hill’s second church. It conceals the entrance to a tunnel that Greeks fighters used to escape the city during the independence revolt.
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Lycabettus Hill
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Rising to nearly 300 metres, Lycabettus Hill (Lykavittos to the locals) towers over Athens. Geology assigns it to the Tourkovounia ridge, but mythology explains it as a rock Athena was carrying to fortify the Acropolis, but dropped when she was startled by a cow. The old quarry, which has been converted to an open-air theatre (now temporarily closed for restoration), seems to confirm this account. Starting your visit from Lycabettus will help you get your bearings, as the summit offers a panoramic view of Athens that on a clear day stretches to the island of Aegina. Agios Georgios, the medieval white-washed church at the top, is as small up close as it looks from afar and was originally a monk’s refuge. The short cable-car ride is the quickest way up, but walk down for different views of the city through the pines. Plan a stop at Ayii Isidori, the hill’s second church. It conceals the entrance to a tunnel that Greeks fighters used to escape the city during the independence revolt.
Dexameni means reservoir and that is exactly what this square is built on. Hadrian constructed the first water supply system, which was fed by a metre-wide aqueduct cut into Lycabettus Hill. In the mid-1800s, the reservoir was restored and in the interwar period was briefly converted into a children’s swimming pool, but today it's only used once a year for a religious observance. Shaded by droopy elms, the tranquil plaza is what rates as counter-culture in Kolonaki—a refuge for those more cerebral than Cerruti. This reputation has its roots in the 1930s when it was the haunt of the city’s intellectuals, writers like Kazantzakis, Sikelianos, Papadiamantis, and Varnalis. The ouzeri where they met has survived various incarnations. Today you can enjoy an ouzo-meze, if not at the same table, on the same spot.
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Dexameni
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Dexameni means reservoir and that is exactly what this square is built on. Hadrian constructed the first water supply system, which was fed by a metre-wide aqueduct cut into Lycabettus Hill. In the mid-1800s, the reservoir was restored and in the interwar period was briefly converted into a children’s swimming pool, but today it's only used once a year for a religious observance. Shaded by droopy elms, the tranquil plaza is what rates as counter-culture in Kolonaki—a refuge for those more cerebral than Cerruti. This reputation has its roots in the 1930s when it was the haunt of the city’s intellectuals, writers like Kazantzakis, Sikelianos, Papadiamantis, and Varnalis. The ouzeri where they met has survived various incarnations. Today you can enjoy an ouzo-meze, if not at the same table, on the same spot.
Businessman turned diplomat John Gennadius inherited two passions from his father: a love of books and a love of Greece. These fused in a collection of some 26,000 books which he then donated to the American School of Classical Studies. The library and its strolling grounds are as impressive as the collection. Entering, your eye will be drawn to the columns and the Isocrates inscription over the door that reads ‘They are called Greeks who share in our culture’, but tilt your head back to take in details like the delicate inlay on the ceiling. Indoors, there’s plenty to see, even when the library isn’t hosting an exhibition. The reading room by itself induces a hushed awe; watercolours by Edward Lear and Lord Byron memorabilia are a bonus.
Gennadius Library
61 Souidias
Businessman turned diplomat John Gennadius inherited two passions from his father: a love of books and a love of Greece. These fused in a collection of some 26,000 books which he then donated to the American School of Classical Studies. The library and its strolling grounds are as impressive as the collection. Entering, your eye will be drawn to the columns and the Isocrates inscription over the door that reads ‘They are called Greeks who share in our culture’, but tilt your head back to take in details like the delicate inlay on the ceiling. Indoors, there’s plenty to see, even when the library isn’t hosting an exhibition. The reading room by itself induces a hushed awe; watercolours by Edward Lear and Lord Byron memorabilia are a bonus.
When Pierre de Coubertin’s vision of reviving the Olympic Games became reality in 1896, the stadium where they would be held was not a random choice. Beneath the marble stands of the 204-metre long oval stadium were the ruins of a 4th century BC arena used for the Panathenaic Games, one of the four major athletic competitions of antiquity, and later by Roman gladiators. A private benefactor, Georgios Averoff, paid to have the stadium beautifully refitted with gleaming white stone from the same Pendeli quarry used millennia earlier to build the Acropolis, thus earning the venue its Greek name—Kallimarmaron, or beautiful marble. If climbing some 50 rows to reach the top of the world’s only all-marble stadium is daunting, walk up Eratosthenous and turn onto Archimidous Street to the rear entrance. This leads to a track around the stadium’s upper rim, a popular training run for local joggers. Follow the path through the Ardittos woods for one of the best views over the centre of Athens and the Acropolis.
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Panathenaic Stadium
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When Pierre de Coubertin’s vision of reviving the Olympic Games became reality in 1896, the stadium where they would be held was not a random choice. Beneath the marble stands of the 204-metre long oval stadium were the ruins of a 4th century BC arena used for the Panathenaic Games, one of the four major athletic competitions of antiquity, and later by Roman gladiators. A private benefactor, Georgios Averoff, paid to have the stadium beautifully refitted with gleaming white stone from the same Pendeli quarry used millennia earlier to build the Acropolis, thus earning the venue its Greek name—Kallimarmaron, or beautiful marble. If climbing some 50 rows to reach the top of the world’s only all-marble stadium is daunting, walk up Eratosthenous and turn onto Archimidous Street to the rear entrance. This leads to a track around the stadium’s upper rim, a popular training run for local joggers. Follow the path through the Ardittos woods for one of the best views over the centre of Athens and the Acropolis.
Death and burial have been constant themes in Greek civilisation since antiquity. And it’s quite likely that the kitsch plastic wreaths sold at the stands along Anapafseos Street—literally, eternal rest—and outside the First Cemetery gates had their counterparts then, too. But this gawdiness does not prepare you for the splendour of the grandiose memorials inside. The 170,00-square-metre necropolis is officially a national museum, as key figures of modern Greek history are buried in many of the 10,000-odd plots. Former prime ministers, film stars, even the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann lay buried beneath some remarkable sculpture. Not all memorials are eponymous. A simple bronze statue of a woman clutching a baby to her emaciated body is dedicated to all survivors of the Nazi occupation. Another stand-out among the marble rococo is the grave of poet Costas Varnalis: an avant-garde bronze marked simply: “Peace, the kingdom of human friendship.”
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First Cemetery of Athens
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Death and burial have been constant themes in Greek civilisation since antiquity. And it’s quite likely that the kitsch plastic wreaths sold at the stands along Anapafseos Street—literally, eternal rest—and outside the First Cemetery gates had their counterparts then, too. But this gawdiness does not prepare you for the splendour of the grandiose memorials inside. The 170,00-square-metre necropolis is officially a national museum, as key figures of modern Greek history are buried in many of the 10,000-odd plots. Former prime ministers, film stars, even the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann lay buried beneath some remarkable sculpture. Not all memorials are eponymous. A simple bronze statue of a woman clutching a baby to her emaciated body is dedicated to all survivors of the Nazi occupation. Another stand-out among the marble rococo is the grave of poet Costas Varnalis: an avant-garde bronze marked simply: “Peace, the kingdom of human friendship.”
Every November, thousands of Greeks flock to the university’s grounds, not for an academic ceremony but to commemorate the 1973 student uprising that precipitated the collapse of Greece’s dictatorship. The ‘Polytechnio’ has shaped politics and society ever since. But it’s not the building—a mid-19th-century gem of neoclassical architecture—that is the focus of the memorial, but a colossal bronze of a youth’s decapitated head seemingly rolling on the ground. Even if you know little, or nothing, of these events, it’s impossible not to be moved by Memos Makris’ evocative sculpture, "In honour of the victims". Visitors lay flowers here throughout the year, but on November 17, the official commemoration, the bronze is obscured by red carnations.
National Metsovio Polythechnic
Every November, thousands of Greeks flock to the university’s grounds, not for an academic ceremony but to commemorate the 1973 student uprising that precipitated the collapse of Greece’s dictatorship. The ‘Polytechnio’ has shaped politics and society ever since. But it’s not the building—a mid-19th-century gem of neoclassical architecture—that is the focus of the memorial, but a colossal bronze of a youth’s decapitated head seemingly rolling on the ground. Even if you know little, or nothing, of these events, it’s impossible not to be moved by Memos Makris’ evocative sculpture, "In honour of the victims". Visitors lay flowers here throughout the year, but on November 17, the official commemoration, the bronze is obscured by red carnations.
When it opened in 1991, the Athens Concert Hall drew the awe of even well-heeled and well-travelled Athenians with its elegant façade mixing ancient austerity and contemporary minimalism and its wood-panelled concert halls. Performing at a venue that boasted Sir Neville Marriner as the director of its resident orchestra conveyed the highest prestige. Today it has settled comfortably into the city’s cultural fabric, opening its impressive music library to the public and organising concerts on its well-tended grounds. It’s often used as a conference centre and occasionally hosts exhibitions. Cap a stroll with a drink at the café-bistro in the gardens.
The Athens Concert Hall Organization
When it opened in 1991, the Athens Concert Hall drew the awe of even well-heeled and well-travelled Athenians with its elegant façade mixing ancient austerity and contemporary minimalism and its wood-panelled concert halls. Performing at a venue that boasted Sir Neville Marriner as the director of its resident orchestra conveyed the highest prestige. Today it has settled comfortably into the city’s cultural fabric, opening its impressive music library to the public and organising concerts on its well-tended grounds. It’s often used as a conference centre and occasionally hosts exhibitions. Cap a stroll with a drink at the café-bistro in the gardens.
Γειτονιές
The most famous Athenian neighbourhood of Plaka is definitely a top attraction for visitors. Its picturesque streets, historic landmarks and lively shops make it a must-see. Just be prepared for the crowds.Hugging the base of the Acropolis, the area extends from Filomousson Square, roughly at the intersection of Kidathinaion and Adrianou Streets, down to Monastiraki. The best way to see Plaka is to simply wander its lanes, chasing glimpses of the Acropolis between the neoclassical buildings, Byzantine churches, cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The prime sights are, of course, the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum. But do give yourself time to visit smaller gems that highlight less familiar aspects of Greek culture, like the Museum of Greek Folk Art, the Folk Instruments Museum and the fine private art and antiquities collections at the Frissiras and Kanellopoulos Museums.
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Plaka
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The most famous Athenian neighbourhood of Plaka is definitely a top attraction for visitors. Its picturesque streets, historic landmarks and lively shops make it a must-see. Just be prepared for the crowds.Hugging the base of the Acropolis, the area extends from Filomousson Square, roughly at the intersection of Kidathinaion and Adrianou Streets, down to Monastiraki. The best way to see Plaka is to simply wander its lanes, chasing glimpses of the Acropolis between the neoclassical buildings, Byzantine churches, cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. The prime sights are, of course, the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum. But do give yourself time to visit smaller gems that highlight less familiar aspects of Greek culture, like the Museum of Greek Folk Art, the Folk Instruments Museum and the fine private art and antiquities collections at the Frissiras and Kanellopoulos Museums.
Squeezing between Anafiotika’s white-washed dwellings is like exploring a Cycladic village. Indeed, this old quarter was founded by workmen from the island of Anafi. The attraction was double: familiar terrain and cheap land, as the area had been inhabited by refugees and slaves since antiquity. Anafiotika’s boundaries are loosely marked by two churches: the 17th-century Agios Georgios tou Vrahou (St George of the Rock) on the south and Agios Simeon on the north. Cats seem to perch everywhere, lace-trimmed curtains ripple in the breeze, the smell of fresh laundry fills the air, and pocket-sized yards are crowded with clay and tin planters brimming with flowers and herbs. Follow the road as it narrows into a path; you’ll see a makeshift sign directing you towards the Acropolis via Theorias, a stone-paved walk around the Acropolis. Double back towards Agios Georgios for a view extending towards Lycabettus ill that brings the city’s landmarks to almost eye level.
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Anafiotika
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Squeezing between Anafiotika’s white-washed dwellings is like exploring a Cycladic village. Indeed, this old quarter was founded by workmen from the island of Anafi. The attraction was double: familiar terrain and cheap land, as the area had been inhabited by refugees and slaves since antiquity. Anafiotika’s boundaries are loosely marked by two churches: the 17th-century Agios Georgios tou Vrahou (St George of the Rock) on the south and Agios Simeon on the north. Cats seem to perch everywhere, lace-trimmed curtains ripple in the breeze, the smell of fresh laundry fills the air, and pocket-sized yards are crowded with clay and tin planters brimming with flowers and herbs. Follow the road as it narrows into a path; you’ll see a makeshift sign directing you towards the Acropolis via Theorias, a stone-paved walk around the Acropolis. Double back towards Agios Georgios for a view extending towards Lycabettus ill that brings the city’s landmarks to almost eye level.
A traffic ban in 2003 transformed this from one of the city’s noisiest and busiest streets to its most charming promenade. Linking Hadrian’s Arch to Philopappou Hill, Dionysiou Areopagitou is popularly described as an ‘open air’ museum but ‘living monument’ is more apt for its lively, spontaneous street life. Here you can literally stroll between ancient and modern Athens: Dionysiou Areopagitou is lined on one side by ancient monuments like the Theater of Dionysus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus and on the other by outstanding modern architecture, from the gorgeous art deco apartment building at No. 17 to the neoclassical Meropeio Foundation and church of Agia Sofia.
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Dionysiou Areopagitou
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A traffic ban in 2003 transformed this from one of the city’s noisiest and busiest streets to its most charming promenade. Linking Hadrian’s Arch to Philopappou Hill, Dionysiou Areopagitou is popularly described as an ‘open air’ museum but ‘living monument’ is more apt for its lively, spontaneous street life. Here you can literally stroll between ancient and modern Athens: Dionysiou Areopagitou is lined on one side by ancient monuments like the Theater of Dionysus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus and on the other by outstanding modern architecture, from the gorgeous art deco apartment building at No. 17 to the neoclassical Meropeio Foundation and church of Agia Sofia.
Koukaki holds a special place among Athens’ inner-city neighbourhoods. Wedged between the ancient glory of the Acropolis hill and the rumbling traffic and sex shops of Syngrou Avenue, it’s a district of intriguing contradictions. A blend of cultural kudos, green oases and interesting architecture that happily accommodates both the locals who live here and the tourists who love it, without sacrificing its true self. As one of the most rapidly-evolving pockets of central Athens, cool Koukaki combines intimacy with authenticity.
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Koukaki
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Koukaki holds a special place among Athens’ inner-city neighbourhoods. Wedged between the ancient glory of the Acropolis hill and the rumbling traffic and sex shops of Syngrou Avenue, it’s a district of intriguing contradictions. A blend of cultural kudos, green oases and interesting architecture that happily accommodates both the locals who live here and the tourists who love it, without sacrificing its true self. As one of the most rapidly-evolving pockets of central Athens, cool Koukaki combines intimacy with authenticity.
Politics has been front and centre at Syntagma (Greek for ‘constitution’) ever since an 1843 revolt forced King Othon to give in to the demands for a national constitution. The square’s location facing Parliament has since established it as the main site for demonstrations and election rallies. Like Athens itself, Syntagma Square has changed through the centuries. The luxury hotels on the northern side preserve the glamour of Othon's time and some of the spirited café life of the 1970s. Today, it’s less a destination and more a meeting place. Even Athenians arrange to rendezvous at Syntagma, usually referred to simply as ‘the centre’, as this is where the city’s main streets and public transport routes converge. And that's what the city's planners, Eduard Schaubert and Stamatis Kleanthes, intended in the 1830s when tasked with designing the capital of newly independent Greece. Stand atop Syntagma Square, on the stairs leading up to Amalias Street, look down and imagine the city they envisaged—not enclosed by walls as in antiquity, but open, with grand sweeping boulevards leading here.
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Syntagma Square
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Politics has been front and centre at Syntagma (Greek for ‘constitution’) ever since an 1843 revolt forced King Othon to give in to the demands for a national constitution. The square’s location facing Parliament has since established it as the main site for demonstrations and election rallies. Like Athens itself, Syntagma Square has changed through the centuries. The luxury hotels on the northern side preserve the glamour of Othon's time and some of the spirited café life of the 1970s. Today, it’s less a destination and more a meeting place. Even Athenians arrange to rendezvous at Syntagma, usually referred to simply as ‘the centre’, as this is where the city’s main streets and public transport routes converge. And that's what the city's planners, Eduard Schaubert and Stamatis Kleanthes, intended in the 1830s when tasked with designing the capital of newly independent Greece. Stand atop Syntagma Square, on the stairs leading up to Amalias Street, look down and imagine the city they envisaged—not enclosed by walls as in antiquity, but open, with grand sweeping boulevards leading here.
Less touristically inclined than Monastiraki, the Thissio and Petralona districts are where the locals go to people-watch and eat out. On weekends, staking a table at the cafés along Iraklidon Street in Thissio can be a Herculean task—fitting for a street named after the hero’s descendants. But it’s not for a lack of seating: patrons here and on adjacent Akamantos Street like to linger over their drinks and meze as they deconstruct the latest film, book, or political development. Both modest neighbourhoods with working class roots, Thissio and Petralona gentrified in the early 1990s, attracting students and young professionals with their prime location, elegant townhouses and handsome period apartments. This gradual influx helped preserve the sense of community. Locals socialise at the many neighbourhood tavernas, running the gamut from cheap to post-modern, and cocktail bars offering variously angled views of the Acropolis. Exploring these adjacent neighbourhoods yields delightful rewards: old tram tracks, oddball architectural gems, and the newly-discovered section of an ancient road linking Athens to Piraeus.
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Thiseio
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Less touristically inclined than Monastiraki, the Thissio and Petralona districts are where the locals go to people-watch and eat out. On weekends, staking a table at the cafés along Iraklidon Street in Thissio can be a Herculean task—fitting for a street named after the hero’s descendants. But it’s not for a lack of seating: patrons here and on adjacent Akamantos Street like to linger over their drinks and meze as they deconstruct the latest film, book, or political development. Both modest neighbourhoods with working class roots, Thissio and Petralona gentrified in the early 1990s, attracting students and young professionals with their prime location, elegant townhouses and handsome period apartments. This gradual influx helped preserve the sense of community. Locals socialise at the many neighbourhood tavernas, running the gamut from cheap to post-modern, and cocktail bars offering variously angled views of the Acropolis. Exploring these adjacent neighbourhoods yields delightful rewards: old tram tracks, oddball architectural gems, and the newly-discovered section of an ancient road linking Athens to Piraeus.
Twilight is the best time for exploring Gazi and Keramikos, for the area’s subtle charms fade under the glare of the noonday sun. The half-light of the late afternoon awakens a wanderlust deepened by the sight of the rusted railway lines on the industrial side of Ermou Street and for an instant, your thumb twitches to hitch a ride from one of the trucks trundling towards the city’s exit. In this dusky light, the ancient cemetery of Keramikos is one of the most beautiful spots in Athens. Like Gazi, the Keramikos and its neighbouring Metaxourgio district come to life as darkness descends. Chinese discount shops and clothing wholesalers give way to more hedonistic pursuits—from cocktails and dancing to traces of the area’s legacy as the red light district. Alekos Fassianos’ The Myth of Neighbourhood installed in Metaxourgio metro station is a subtle nod to the area’s rebirth. Old warehouses have been transformed into cavernous clubs, cosy bars, experimental stages, and Michelin-starred restaurants that set the trends the rest of the city follows.
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Gazi
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Twilight is the best time for exploring Gazi and Keramikos, for the area’s subtle charms fade under the glare of the noonday sun. The half-light of the late afternoon awakens a wanderlust deepened by the sight of the rusted railway lines on the industrial side of Ermou Street and for an instant, your thumb twitches to hitch a ride from one of the trucks trundling towards the city’s exit. In this dusky light, the ancient cemetery of Keramikos is one of the most beautiful spots in Athens. Like Gazi, the Keramikos and its neighbouring Metaxourgio district come to life as darkness descends. Chinese discount shops and clothing wholesalers give way to more hedonistic pursuits—from cocktails and dancing to traces of the area’s legacy as the red light district. Alekos Fassianos’ The Myth of Neighbourhood installed in Metaxourgio metro station is a subtle nod to the area’s rebirth. Old warehouses have been transformed into cavernous clubs, cosy bars, experimental stages, and Michelin-starred restaurants that set the trends the rest of the city follows.
Kolonaki may be the city’s poshest neighbourhood, but there’s delicious irony in the fact that under Ottoman rule it was largely grazing lands. Many of its earliest inhabitants chose to settle at the foot of Lycabettus hill because it reminded them of their mountain village. Kolonaki’s star may have waned in recent years, but it’s still the place moneyed Athenians go to shop and socialise. And just as the city’s centre of gravity has shifted so has Kolonaki’s, moving from Agios Dionysios to Kolonaki Square, with the cafés on its lower side and along Kapsali street siphoning off its cachet. But Kolonaki never goes out of style—and is in fact reclaiming its own. The high street retailers that sprouted like weeds in the 1990s have beat a retreat, leaving space for a new crop of Greek designers to move in.
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Kolonaki
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Kolonaki may be the city’s poshest neighbourhood, but there’s delicious irony in the fact that under Ottoman rule it was largely grazing lands. Many of its earliest inhabitants chose to settle at the foot of Lycabettus hill because it reminded them of their mountain village. Kolonaki’s star may have waned in recent years, but it’s still the place moneyed Athenians go to shop and socialise. And just as the city’s centre of gravity has shifted so has Kolonaki’s, moving from Agios Dionysios to Kolonaki Square, with the cafés on its lower side and along Kapsali street siphoning off its cachet. But Kolonaki never goes out of style—and is in fact reclaiming its own. The high street retailers that sprouted like weeds in the 1990s have beat a retreat, leaving space for a new crop of Greek designers to move in.
Pangrati is the quintessential middle-class neighbourhood with a definite artsy aura. The home address of musicians, writers, directors, academics, and journalists, past residents include composer Manos Hatzidakis and poet George Seferis. This makes for a lively café culture radiating from two hubs, Platia Proskopon and Platia Varnava. Shops, restaurants, small bars, and green spaces—plus a couple of galleries, an art house cinema, and a theatre—reflect the locals’ cosmopolitan outlook. Opened in October 2019, the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art boosted the area’s profile among visitors, already drawn by the Kallimarmaro stadium and Athens First Cemetery. The unique vibe undulates between edginess and convention. This is one of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods, and finding an apartment in the Pangrati or Mets areas has always been hard, as people move in but rarely move out. Though technically right in the city centre, the mood here is decidedly detached from it: Pangrati isn’t where change is sparked, but where it settles in.
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Pangrati
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Pangrati is the quintessential middle-class neighbourhood with a definite artsy aura. The home address of musicians, writers, directors, academics, and journalists, past residents include composer Manos Hatzidakis and poet George Seferis. This makes for a lively café culture radiating from two hubs, Platia Proskopon and Platia Varnava. Shops, restaurants, small bars, and green spaces—plus a couple of galleries, an art house cinema, and a theatre—reflect the locals’ cosmopolitan outlook. Opened in October 2019, the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art boosted the area’s profile among visitors, already drawn by the Kallimarmaro stadium and Athens First Cemetery. The unique vibe undulates between edginess and convention. This is one of the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods, and finding an apartment in the Pangrati or Mets areas has always been hard, as people move in but rarely move out. Though technically right in the city centre, the mood here is decidedly detached from it: Pangrati isn’t where change is sparked, but where it settles in.
Despite the large numbers of transients Exarchia attracts, this jumble of pre-war townhouses and ageing post-war apartment buildings preserves a strong sense of community and tradition, with publishing houses, bookbinders, the city’s liveliest farmers’ market, rembetiko tavernas, punk boutiques, old-fashioned coffee houses, bars, a self-managed park, the National Archaeological Museum and delightful Epigraphic Museum, all within its boundaries. Inexpensive rents account for the district’s popularity among students and anti-gentrification fifty-somethings who bask in the memories of their own rebelliousness. Built into the slopes of Lycabettus Hill, Neapoli, the city’s second oldest neighbourhood after Plaka, acts as a buffer zone between Kolonaki, disdained by Exarchia’s denizens as the bastion of the bourgeoisie. (Keep in mind that confrontations with police do erupt spontaneously at times in Exarchia, and protests can flare into street clashes.)
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Exarcheia
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Despite the large numbers of transients Exarchia attracts, this jumble of pre-war townhouses and ageing post-war apartment buildings preserves a strong sense of community and tradition, with publishing houses, bookbinders, the city’s liveliest farmers’ market, rembetiko tavernas, punk boutiques, old-fashioned coffee houses, bars, a self-managed park, the National Archaeological Museum and delightful Epigraphic Museum, all within its boundaries. Inexpensive rents account for the district’s popularity among students and anti-gentrification fifty-somethings who bask in the memories of their own rebelliousness. Built into the slopes of Lycabettus Hill, Neapoli, the city’s second oldest neighbourhood after Plaka, acts as a buffer zone between Kolonaki, disdained by Exarchia’s denizens as the bastion of the bourgeoisie. (Keep in mind that confrontations with police do erupt spontaneously at times in Exarchia, and protests can flare into street clashes.)
A mere 100 years ago, Kypseli was nothing but picturesque countryside with vineyards and pastures, only two kilometres away from the Greek capital. A few mansions and farmhouses existed at the time, and the area was delineated by two flowing streams. When urban development began in the 1930s, the streams were built over and the first apartment buildings were erected in the Bauhaus and Art Deco styles popular at the time. By the 1950s, Kypseli was an exclusive upper-class neighbourhood, attracting artists and the intelligentsia. As the city centre became more densely populated, spreading beyond its initial borders, the elite retreated to the suburbs, and Kypseli shared the fate of other nearby areas and slowly degenerated. Drawn by the dropping rents, immigrants from the Balkans, Africa and Asia began to settle in Kypseli from the 1990s. Today, Kypseli is one of the city’s most multicultural neighbourhoods, with about 50,000 residents. It’s so densely built, that urban legend had it that it was the most densely populated place in Europe (in fact, Athens is the third most densely populated city in Europe). The nearby Pedion tou Areos park is a much-needed green oasis for the district, but Kypseli’s affluent past is nowhere more visible than in the stately apartment buildings and old cafés on Fokionos Negri Street. The younger crowds have discovered St. George’s square as their new favourite hangout, and even residents from other areas are regulars here.Kypseli is not all about urban history and ethnic grit. It’s also about the open-air markets and the feel of a small, inclusive neighbourhood. It’s the 24-hour grocery stores and families in their Sunday best leaving mass. It’s the whirring of the trolleys going up and down Kypseli Street and crowds chatting outside the many theatres on Kefallinias Street. It’s the names of forgotten poets and actors written on plaques outside old apartment buildings. It’s the rows of ornate mansions and pre-modern townhouses on Drosopoulou Street. It’s the alteration from hubbub to silence as you walk from one street to the next, and the constant feeling that, not far from the grandest Athenian monuments and the gravitas of ancient Greek history, the city’s past meets the present in a different way: quiet, undramatic, unannounced and very, very human.
Kypseli
A mere 100 years ago, Kypseli was nothing but picturesque countryside with vineyards and pastures, only two kilometres away from the Greek capital. A few mansions and farmhouses existed at the time, and the area was delineated by two flowing streams. When urban development began in the 1930s, the streams were built over and the first apartment buildings were erected in the Bauhaus and Art Deco styles popular at the time. By the 1950s, Kypseli was an exclusive upper-class neighbourhood, attracting artists and the intelligentsia. As the city centre became more densely populated, spreading beyond its initial borders, the elite retreated to the suburbs, and Kypseli shared the fate of other nearby areas and slowly degenerated. Drawn by the dropping rents, immigrants from the Balkans, Africa and Asia began to settle in Kypseli from the 1990s. Today, Kypseli is one of the city’s most multicultural neighbourhoods, with about 50,000 residents. It’s so densely built, that urban legend had it that it was the most densely populated place in Europe (in fact, Athens is the third most densely populated city in Europe). The nearby Pedion tou Areos park is a much-needed green oasis for the district, but Kypseli’s affluent past is nowhere more visible than in the stately apartment buildings and old cafés on Fokionos Negri Street. The younger crowds have discovered St. George’s square as their new favourite hangout, and even residents from other areas are regulars here.Kypseli is not all about urban history and ethnic grit. It’s also about the open-air markets and the feel of a small, inclusive neighbourhood. It’s the 24-hour grocery stores and families in their Sunday best leaving mass. It’s the whirring of the trolleys going up and down Kypseli Street and crowds chatting outside the many theatres on Kefallinias Street. It’s the names of forgotten poets and actors written on plaques outside old apartment buildings. It’s the rows of ornate mansions and pre-modern townhouses on Drosopoulou Street. It’s the alteration from hubbub to silence as you walk from one street to the next, and the constant feeling that, not far from the grandest Athenian monuments and the gravitas of ancient Greek history, the city’s past meets the present in a different way: quiet, undramatic, unannounced and very, very human.
Ambelokipi means ‘vineyards’. But it’s hard to believe this downtown district was once a leafy village. Today five of the city’s main avenues cross Ambelokipi. No street more vividly illustrates how modern Athens evolved than Vasilissis Sofias Avenue—an architectural chronology of Athens. The neoclassical style gives way to the 1950s avant-garde, epitomised in the Hilton hotel. With its geometric forms, the US embassy, designed by Walter Gropius, sets the tone for later experimentation, like the Athens Concert Hall. This break with tradition reflected wider social changes, as Athenians moved away from their families' scrutiny into new neighbourhoods like Ambelokipi in the 1960s and ‘70s. Affordable, modern housing attracted non-Greeks to the area too, enhancing the casually cosmopolitan air. With a high concentration of cinemas, cinephiles still head to Ambelokipi for first-run films.
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Ampelokipoi
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Ambelokipi means ‘vineyards’. But it’s hard to believe this downtown district was once a leafy village. Today five of the city’s main avenues cross Ambelokipi. No street more vividly illustrates how modern Athens evolved than Vasilissis Sofias Avenue—an architectural chronology of Athens. The neoclassical style gives way to the 1950s avant-garde, epitomised in the Hilton hotel. With its geometric forms, the US embassy, designed by Walter Gropius, sets the tone for later experimentation, like the Athens Concert Hall. This break with tradition reflected wider social changes, as Athenians moved away from their families' scrutiny into new neighbourhoods like Ambelokipi in the 1960s and ‘70s. Affordable, modern housing attracted non-Greeks to the area too, enhancing the casually cosmopolitan air. With a high concentration of cinemas, cinephiles still head to Ambelokipi for first-run films.
Step inside and you’ll instantly realise why this café-bistro is named Melina. It’s dedicated to the life of Melina Mercouri, the legendary Greek minister of culture and actress best known for “Never on Sunday.” The owner, Andreas Martzaklis was originally a waiter at the café inside the Greek Parliament and maître d’ at the Prime Minister’s office. Having met Mercouri and got to know her well, Martzaklis felt the need to create a tribute to her accomplishments. Photographs of Melina and her friends hang on the walls and you can leaf through books about her life. Café Melina is open all day. The outdoor tables are set under one of the most photographed bougainvilleas in the city. By day, it’s always abuzz with people sipping coffee, devouring chocolate cake or a bowl of fresh fruit with yoghurt. In the evening, head indoors as the sweet sounds of jazz take over the softly lit bistro. 22 Lisiou, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 324 6501
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Cafe Melina
22 Lisiou
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Step inside and you’ll instantly realise why this café-bistro is named Melina. It’s dedicated to the life of Melina Mercouri, the legendary Greek minister of culture and actress best known for “Never on Sunday.” The owner, Andreas Martzaklis was originally a waiter at the café inside the Greek Parliament and maître d’ at the Prime Minister’s office. Having met Mercouri and got to know her well, Martzaklis felt the need to create a tribute to her accomplishments. Photographs of Melina and her friends hang on the walls and you can leaf through books about her life. Café Melina is open all day. The outdoor tables are set under one of the most photographed bougainvilleas in the city. By day, it’s always abuzz with people sipping coffee, devouring chocolate cake or a bowl of fresh fruit with yoghurt. In the evening, head indoors as the sweet sounds of jazz take over the softly lit bistro. 22 Lisiou, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 324 6501
It’s likely that you would have read about Agias Irinis Square in at least one city guide of Athens and it is definitely the place to be if you want to mingle with the cool crowd. The surrounding area, which is close to Monastiraki, is also home to the textile trade. Tailor Made opened its doors in 2011 and remains a firm favourite with locals. Vintage sewing patterns decorate the walls giving a nod to the area’s heritage. By day, it doubles as a ‘micro roastery’ and draws in a late afternoon crowd with their delicious coffee blends and freshly made desserts. By night, the bar is pumping out first class cocktails in gorgeous crystal glassware at very reasonable prices. This is a great place to kick off a night out in Athens.
Agias Irinis
It’s likely that you would have read about Agias Irinis Square in at least one city guide of Athens and it is definitely the place to be if you want to mingle with the cool crowd. The surrounding area, which is close to Monastiraki, is also home to the textile trade. Tailor Made opened its doors in 2011 and remains a firm favourite with locals. Vintage sewing patterns decorate the walls giving a nod to the area’s heritage. By day, it doubles as a ‘micro roastery’ and draws in a late afternoon crowd with their delicious coffee blends and freshly made desserts. By night, the bar is pumping out first class cocktails in gorgeous crystal glassware at very reasonable prices. This is a great place to kick off a night out in Athens.
Ποτό
Even if you haven’t been here yet, you’ve definitely seen a photograph of this bar. Stacked to the rafters with colourful, backlit liquor bottles, it’s a Plaka landmark. Something between a dive bar, distillery and wine bar, Brettos has been around since 1909. Grab a seat at one of the wooden barrels and leaf through the encyclopedic menu. Choose from the brandies, 50 flavours of liqueur (ranging peppermint to watermelon), ouzos, rakomelo (hot raki with honey and cinnamon). Of course, you could just go for a glass of Greek wine. But if you’re up for something more complicated, tell the bartenders if you’re a sweet or sour person, what spirits you prefer, and they’ll shake you up a delicious cocktail. 41 Kydathinaion, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 323 2110
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Brettos
41 Kidathineon
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Even if you haven’t been here yet, you’ve definitely seen a photograph of this bar. Stacked to the rafters with colourful, backlit liquor bottles, it’s a Plaka landmark. Something between a dive bar, distillery and wine bar, Brettos has been around since 1909. Grab a seat at one of the wooden barrels and leaf through the encyclopedic menu. Choose from the brandies, 50 flavours of liqueur (ranging peppermint to watermelon), ouzos, rakomelo (hot raki with honey and cinnamon). Of course, you could just go for a glass of Greek wine. But if you’re up for something more complicated, tell the bartenders if you’re a sweet or sour person, what spirits you prefer, and they’ll shake you up a delicious cocktail. 41 Kydathinaion, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 323 2110
Homemade tarts and pies are this café-bistro’s claim to fame. Packed day and night, the setting is so quaint and Plaka-esque, you could sit there for hours just taking it all in. The interior feels village-like, adorned with wood, plants, a mish-mash of vintage furniture, and a country-style kitchen. The tightly packed outside seating spills onto the stone steps of Mnisikleous Street, that seem to be running straight up to the Parthenon. There’s more seating up on the tumbledown roof garden. If you’re craving something sweet, go for the traditional baklava with olive oil and honey or the chocolate and biscuit mosaic cake. If you’re in the market for breakfast or brunch, there’s a full vegetarian buffet. For a light lunch or dinner, there’s an array of traditional Greek dishes, from beetroot salad with yoghurt, green apple and walnuts to roast pork with plums. 23 Mnisikleous, Plaka, 105 55 +30 213 041 7937
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Yiasemi
23 Mnisikleous
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Homemade tarts and pies are this café-bistro’s claim to fame. Packed day and night, the setting is so quaint and Plaka-esque, you could sit there for hours just taking it all in. The interior feels village-like, adorned with wood, plants, a mish-mash of vintage furniture, and a country-style kitchen. The tightly packed outside seating spills onto the stone steps of Mnisikleous Street, that seem to be running straight up to the Parthenon. There’s more seating up on the tumbledown roof garden. If you’re craving something sweet, go for the traditional baklava with olive oil and honey or the chocolate and biscuit mosaic cake. If you’re in the market for breakfast or brunch, there’s a full vegetarian buffet. For a light lunch or dinner, there’s an array of traditional Greek dishes, from beetroot salad with yoghurt, green apple and walnuts to roast pork with plums. 23 Mnisikleous, Plaka, 105 55 +30 213 041 7937
Although a relative newcomer to the neighbourhood, Drupes & Drips has a real local vibe. There’s no better place for an early aperitif. It’s where hip Athenian worker bees go to relax after a long day over a spritz and bruschetta. The bar opens from early morning for coffee and pastries (sourced from Takis bakery opposite, owned by the same crew). Coffee, aperitif or wine—whatever your poison, make it quick because Drupes & Drips closes early for Athens, at 10 pm.
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Drupes & Drips
20 Zitrou
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Although a relative newcomer to the neighbourhood, Drupes & Drips has a real local vibe. There’s no better place for an early aperitif. It’s where hip Athenian worker bees go to relax after a long day over a spritz and bruschetta. The bar opens from early morning for coffee and pastries (sourced from Takis bakery opposite, owned by the same crew). Coffee, aperitif or wine—whatever your poison, make it quick because Drupes & Drips closes early for Athens, at 10 pm.
If you want to tap into Koukaki’s trendy bar scene, make your last stop Meerkat. It’s located on the strip towards Syngrou Avenue, which used to be full of car mechanics. There’s a garage right across the street from the bar. Enjoy the jungle-style decor and trust seasoned French bartender Romaine Krot to create a cocktail that satisfies your cravings. No need to remember the peculiar names on the drinks list, there’s definitely a cocktail for everyone and Romaine knows exactly what that is.
Safari Disco Club
7 Vizantiou
If you want to tap into Koukaki’s trendy bar scene, make your last stop Meerkat. It’s located on the strip towards Syngrou Avenue, which used to be full of car mechanics. There’s a garage right across the street from the bar. Enjoy the jungle-style decor and trust seasoned French bartender Romaine Krot to create a cocktail that satisfies your cravings. No need to remember the peculiar names on the drinks list, there’s definitely a cocktail for everyone and Romaine knows exactly what that is.
More than any other public space, Avdi Square captures the vibe of Athens. It’s not the trendy cafés, restaurants or bars that give Keramikos and Metaxourgio their energy. It’s the intersection of old and new, laid-back and restless, in the mix of activities from street parties and avant-garde art to social activism and skate bowls. From a historical perspective, the area’s rise merely reclaims its rightful status as the proposed site of the royal palace when Greece’s modern capital was established in the late 19th-century. Vestiges of those intentions dot the surrounding area: an ornate marble fountain, the Negroponte Residence which housed the first British Embassy, lavish mansions (many now crumbling) built for nobles. The silk mill that gave Metaxourgio its name (metaxi means silk in Greek) currently houses the new wing of the Municipal Art Gallery.
Avdi square
9 Giatrakou
More than any other public space, Avdi Square captures the vibe of Athens. It’s not the trendy cafés, restaurants or bars that give Keramikos and Metaxourgio their energy. It’s the intersection of old and new, laid-back and restless, in the mix of activities from street parties and avant-garde art to social activism and skate bowls. From a historical perspective, the area’s rise merely reclaims its rightful status as the proposed site of the royal palace when Greece’s modern capital was established in the late 19th-century. Vestiges of those intentions dot the surrounding area: an ornate marble fountain, the Negroponte Residence which housed the first British Embassy, lavish mansions (many now crumbling) built for nobles. The silk mill that gave Metaxourgio its name (metaxi means silk in Greek) currently houses the new wing of the Municipal Art Gallery.
In a district known for its hip cafés, Odeon is the outlier, located just out of range of the Varnava Square cluster. This bistro-like corner café with marble-topped tables and soft lighting has been a Pangrati fixture since 1989, long before ‘vintage’ became a fad. The café has a beatnik intensity: it’s hard to imagine anyone here not having a book tucked into their bags. Reading the Sunday papers over coffee is an enduring ritual for many habitués, but Odeon’s mood best reflects the twilight—that sliver of the day between light and night made for sipping an aperitif. The upright piano in the corner isn’t décor: Odeon often hosts live music, mostly jazz. The perfect venue for a mellow evening out.
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Odeon
19 Mark. Mousourou
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In a district known for its hip cafés, Odeon is the outlier, located just out of range of the Varnava Square cluster. This bistro-like corner café with marble-topped tables and soft lighting has been a Pangrati fixture since 1989, long before ‘vintage’ became a fad. The café has a beatnik intensity: it’s hard to imagine anyone here not having a book tucked into their bags. Reading the Sunday papers over coffee is an enduring ritual for many habitués, but Odeon’s mood best reflects the twilight—that sliver of the day between light and night made for sipping an aperitif. The upright piano in the corner isn’t décor: Odeon often hosts live music, mostly jazz. The perfect venue for a mellow evening out.
Stepping into Superfly is like stepping back in time. Pinball machines, comic books, toy cars, action figures, early game consoles, even tape reels and video cassettes are crammed on the bar, shelves, even table tops. The memorabilia adds to the chummy atmosphere of this café-bar whose offerings match its mood. The vibe matures from thick milkshakes and funk by day, to jazz, soul, and beers (bottled and on tap) in the afternoon, moving onto cocktails, named after 1980s or 1990s blockbuster films, by night. Superfly is Pangrati’s coolest bar, and though just a few steps off Platia Varnava, under-the-radar for trend-seekers crowding the lower half of Embedokleous.
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SUPERFLy
28 Empedokleous
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Stepping into Superfly is like stepping back in time. Pinball machines, comic books, toy cars, action figures, early game consoles, even tape reels and video cassettes are crammed on the bar, shelves, even table tops. The memorabilia adds to the chummy atmosphere of this café-bar whose offerings match its mood. The vibe matures from thick milkshakes and funk by day, to jazz, soul, and beers (bottled and on tap) in the afternoon, moving onto cocktails, named after 1980s or 1990s blockbuster films, by night. Superfly is Pangrati’s coolest bar, and though just a few steps off Platia Varnava, under-the-radar for trend-seekers crowding the lower half of Embedokleous.
This hole-in-the-wall bar is proof that size doesn’t matter. It holds its own against formidable neighbours like Ohh Boy!, Trigono, and Musique Café, as well as Small 8 and the equally diminutive Pink Freud at the other end of the Archelaou Street strip. Its secret: to-die-for cocktails and a roster of killer DJs. Coffee, herbal teas, and juices are also on offer, along with bagels and snacks. But Mint is at heart a cocktail bar; a place where you stop in for pre-party or post-movie drinks for a perfect Mojito or Negroni, as you groove to eclectic electropop, funk, and more.
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Mint Music Bar
30 Archelaou
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This hole-in-the-wall bar is proof that size doesn’t matter. It holds its own against formidable neighbours like Ohh Boy!, Trigono, and Musique Café, as well as Small 8 and the equally diminutive Pink Freud at the other end of the Archelaou Street strip. Its secret: to-die-for cocktails and a roster of killer DJs. Coffee, herbal teas, and juices are also on offer, along with bagels and snacks. But Mint is at heart a cocktail bar; a place where you stop in for pre-party or post-movie drinks for a perfect Mojito or Negroni, as you groove to eclectic electropop, funk, and more.
If you’re after a quiet drink on lively Kallidromiou Street, come back in the evening when Enikos, a classic drinking haunt from the early 1990s, opens its doors. The music is subtle enough to foster meaningful conversations and the walls are decorated with prints, photographs and book covers, many donated by the writers and artists who congregate here.
Ένοικος - The tenant
70 Kallidromiou
If you’re after a quiet drink on lively Kallidromiou Street, come back in the evening when Enikos, a classic drinking haunt from the early 1990s, opens its doors. The music is subtle enough to foster meaningful conversations and the walls are decorated with prints, photographs and book covers, many donated by the writers and artists who congregate here.
For French flair, Alexandrino, an all-day joint flanked by restaurants, has a cosmopolitan vibe that’s a far cry from your average Exarchia bar. An established spot for people watching, it enjoys a reputation for great service and cocktails, including a mean pisco sour. To fully enjoy the long list of drinks and wines, you’ll have to get lucky and snare a stool at the long wooden bar. If you do manage to grab one of the coveted tables, settle in to savour the jazzy ambience and enticing selection of sweet and savoury snacks.
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Alexandrinó
69a Emmanouil Benaki
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For French flair, Alexandrino, an all-day joint flanked by restaurants, has a cosmopolitan vibe that’s a far cry from your average Exarchia bar. An established spot for people watching, it enjoys a reputation for great service and cocktails, including a mean pisco sour. To fully enjoy the long list of drinks and wines, you’ll have to get lucky and snare a stool at the long wooden bar. If you do manage to grab one of the coveted tables, settle in to savour the jazzy ambience and enticing selection of sweet and savoury snacks.
Another great all-day choice, Warehouse offers a refreshing combination of relaxed sophistication and industrial design, where you can choose from a lengthy list of wines by the glass. The food menu is short, but includes dishes that give classic recipes a touch up, like the striploin steak and buttery bulgur, making the place an established favourite of the locals.
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Warehouse
41 Mavromichali
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Another great all-day choice, Warehouse offers a refreshing combination of relaxed sophistication and industrial design, where you can choose from a lengthy list of wines by the glass. The food menu is short, but includes dishes that give classic recipes a touch up, like the striploin steak and buttery bulgur, making the place an established favourite of the locals.
This main artery connects the former suburb of Patissia with the city centre. In the 1960s, it was one of Athens’ most upscale shopping streets. Patission Avenue is perfectly aligned with the Parthenon, because the 19th-century city planners wanted it to lead straight to a palace that was never actually built. To get to Kypseli, you’ll probably take the train to Victoria Station, a listed Art Deco building named after the British monarch, and then walk for a few minutes along Patission—in which case you might want to pick up a coffee at The Rockers. A couple of blocks away is the imposing neoclassical edifice housing the University of Finance, and just around the corner you’ll find the inconspicuous Colourful Planet, the city’s only LGBTQ+ bookshop. Nobody should leave Kypseli without a nightcap at Au Revoir, a bar that opened in 1958 and has been dubbed “the oldest bar in Athens”. Opt for the whiskey or any other unmixed spirit and mingle with the local crowd until late.
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Au Revoir Bar
136 28is Oktovriou
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This main artery connects the former suburb of Patissia with the city centre. In the 1960s, it was one of Athens’ most upscale shopping streets. Patission Avenue is perfectly aligned with the Parthenon, because the 19th-century city planners wanted it to lead straight to a palace that was never actually built. To get to Kypseli, you’ll probably take the train to Victoria Station, a listed Art Deco building named after the British monarch, and then walk for a few minutes along Patission—in which case you might want to pick up a coffee at The Rockers. A couple of blocks away is the imposing neoclassical edifice housing the University of Finance, and just around the corner you’ll find the inconspicuous Colourful Planet, the city’s only LGBTQ+ bookshop. Nobody should leave Kypseli without a nightcap at Au Revoir, a bar that opened in 1958 and has been dubbed “the oldest bar in Athens”. Opt for the whiskey or any other unmixed spirit and mingle with the local crowd until late.
For decades, Mavili Square has been the after-hours meeting point for Athenian party-goers. Enjoy a thin crust pizza with top-notch toppings and home-made tomato sauce at Flower Pizza, followed by a Manhattan or a Dry Martini at Kyrios bar. Theatrically decorated with velvet drapes, leather stools, and shiny marble bar, it’s like something from a James Bond movie—here, the cocktails are stirred, not shaken. Open all day, it’s a lovely spot for a quiet coffee too. There’s live jazz on Monday nights. Next door, Briki is a classic neighbourhood bar. The narrow space is always packed with a crowd of all ages; there’s just enough space to tap your feet to the funk and soul tunes.
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Mpriki
6 Dorileou
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For decades, Mavili Square has been the after-hours meeting point for Athenian party-goers. Enjoy a thin crust pizza with top-notch toppings and home-made tomato sauce at Flower Pizza, followed by a Manhattan or a Dry Martini at Kyrios bar. Theatrically decorated with velvet drapes, leather stools, and shiny marble bar, it’s like something from a James Bond movie—here, the cocktails are stirred, not shaken. Open all day, it’s a lovely spot for a quiet coffee too. There’s live jazz on Monday nights. Next door, Briki is a classic neighbourhood bar. The narrow space is always packed with a crowd of all ages; there’s just enough space to tap your feet to the funk and soul tunes.
The Clumsies has been voted three times in a row as one of the world’s best 50 bars for 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Drinks International Magazine. Located in a beautifully restored neo-classical building, The Clumsies is an all day bar offering high-end cocktails and premium spirits. It attracts a cool crowd of all ages and offers an extensive unpretentious menu from breakfast through to dinner, making it a quasi restaurant and a great spot for a coffee break during the day.
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The Clumsies
30 Praxitelous
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The Clumsies has been voted three times in a row as one of the world’s best 50 bars for 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Drinks International Magazine. Located in a beautifully restored neo-classical building, The Clumsies is an all day bar offering high-end cocktails and premium spirits. It attracts a cool crowd of all ages and offers an extensive unpretentious menu from breakfast through to dinner, making it a quasi restaurant and a great spot for a coffee break during the day.
This hidden all day bar with its vintage theme is located close to the popular night spots of Kolokotroni Street and has been a hit with the locals from the day it opened. Paying homage to old “blue eyes”, this long narrow bar sees patrons spilling out onto the pavement, where additional tables and chairs are set up and are well serviced. Its décor and cocktail list are inspired by the ‘50s and ‘60s and has a fun relaxed atmosphere. Many start the night here before moving on to the next hotspot.
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Drunk Sinatra
16 Thiseos
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This hidden all day bar with its vintage theme is located close to the popular night spots of Kolokotroni Street and has been a hit with the locals from the day it opened. Paying homage to old “blue eyes”, this long narrow bar sees patrons spilling out onto the pavement, where additional tables and chairs are set up and are well serviced. Its décor and cocktail list are inspired by the ‘50s and ‘60s and has a fun relaxed atmosphere. Many start the night here before moving on to the next hotspot.
you can enjoy a beer from a list that includes 200 bottled labels with a focus on Greek microbreweries.
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Barley Cargo
6 Kolokotroni
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you can enjoy a beer from a list that includes 200 bottled labels with a focus on Greek microbreweries.
The Bank Job, is a small ex-bank vault that is now a polished and sophisticated bar, with funk and soul music. It is so hip and happening right now, you’ll struggle to find standing room inside.
Bank Job
13 Kolokotroni
The Bank Job, is a small ex-bank vault that is now a polished and sophisticated bar, with funk and soul music. It is so hip and happening right now, you’ll struggle to find standing room inside.
Booze Cooperativa offers a bit more grit and you can spread out at their communal tables and listen to the resident DJ or be lucky enough to catch a live music performance.
B.O.O.Z.E (K.O.T.E.S)
Booze Cooperativa offers a bit more grit and you can spread out at their communal tables and listen to the resident DJ or be lucky enough to catch a live music performance.
Noël which can be found in Kourtaki Arcade, set back slightly from Kolokotroni, is one of the newest additions on the street and the city’s signature lounge bar. With a hip crowd and festive inspired décor, it is Christmas everyday at Noel. You will find delicious pizzas and sexy cocktails on the menu.
NOEL
Noël which can be found in Kourtaki Arcade, set back slightly from Kolokotroni, is one of the newest additions on the street and the city’s signature lounge bar. With a hip crowd and festive inspired décor, it is Christmas everyday at Noel. You will find delicious pizzas and sexy cocktails on the menu.
A few twists and turns away from Syntagma Square near the hip and happening Romvis St, you’ll find Baba au Rum that was established by Thanos Prounarous, a pioneer in the Greek bar scene. Having won several awards over the last few years and listed as one of the best rum bars in the world (The Rum Society) this eclectic bar has become renowned for its premium selection of rum and other spirits. Exotic drinks are mixed with organic herbs and unexpected spices. Non-alcoholics will appreciate an impressive list of homemade artisanal sodas. Baba au Rum definitely has the secret recipe to remain part of Athenian society for quite some time.
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Baba au rum
6 Klitiou
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A few twists and turns away from Syntagma Square near the hip and happening Romvis St, you’ll find Baba au Rum that was established by Thanos Prounarous, a pioneer in the Greek bar scene. Having won several awards over the last few years and listed as one of the best rum bars in the world (The Rum Society) this eclectic bar has become renowned for its premium selection of rum and other spirits. Exotic drinks are mixed with organic herbs and unexpected spices. Non-alcoholics will appreciate an impressive list of homemade artisanal sodas. Baba au Rum definitely has the secret recipe to remain part of Athenian society for quite some time.
Six d.o.g.s is an all day and night cultural space located on a side street close to Monastiraki. The owners recently established their own record label and so it’s no surprise that this nightspot is a hub of live music with guest DJ’s and concerts by local and international musicians. A pumping bar serves drinks until very late or early into the morning. This is a one of a kind hotspot in Athens that also supports the local art scene with regular exhibitions and art installations.
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six d.o.g.s
6-8 Avramiotou
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Six d.o.g.s is an all day and night cultural space located on a side street close to Monastiraki. The owners recently established their own record label and so it’s no surprise that this nightspot is a hub of live music with guest DJ’s and concerts by local and international musicians. A pumping bar serves drinks until very late or early into the morning. This is a one of a kind hotspot in Athens that also supports the local art scene with regular exhibitions and art installations.
The bar that made the galleries fashionable is none other than "Bartesera", which in 2005 gave life to the Praxitelous Gallery. Fourteen years later, it remains in the top all day destinations, maintaining the arty character in the renewed "urban exotica" aesthetics of its space. It is worth trying its menu, with original suggestions in fingerfood and brunch, but also its delicious cocktails, which have been awarded at the Athinorama Bar Awards.
Bartesera
25 Kolokotroni
The bar that made the galleries fashionable is none other than "Bartesera", which in 2005 gave life to the Praxitelous Gallery. Fourteen years later, it remains in the top all day destinations, maintaining the arty character in the renewed "urban exotica" aesthetics of its space. It is worth trying its menu, with original suggestions in fingerfood and brunch, but also its delicious cocktails, which have been awarded at the Athinorama Bar Awards.
Φαγητό
One of the newest arrivals in the Plaka neighbourhood, L’Audrion brings a touch of France to old Athens. We’re talking escargots, beef tartare, and duck confit. There’s also an extensive selection of French cheese and charcuterie, not to mention the delicious desserts that make you feel like you’re in a Parisian brasserie. But the main attraction here, as you would expect from any decent French restaurant, is the wine. Ask the sommelier to help you pair your wine with your food and you won’t be disappointed. The location, right on Plaka’s main square, makes for lively people-watching. The indoor space is non-smoking and the upstairs terrace is divine in the warmer months—and since this is Athens, that means most of the year. And there’s a bonus. Just a few steps away is Cine Paris, an outdoor movie theatre where you can catch a flick before or after dinner. 3 Filomousou Eterias Square, Plaka, 105 58 +30 210 324 1193
L'Audrion
3 Pl. Filomousou Eterias
One of the newest arrivals in the Plaka neighbourhood, L’Audrion brings a touch of France to old Athens. We’re talking escargots, beef tartare, and duck confit. There’s also an extensive selection of French cheese and charcuterie, not to mention the delicious desserts that make you feel like you’re in a Parisian brasserie. But the main attraction here, as you would expect from any decent French restaurant, is the wine. Ask the sommelier to help you pair your wine with your food and you won’t be disappointed. The location, right on Plaka’s main square, makes for lively people-watching. The indoor space is non-smoking and the upstairs terrace is divine in the warmer months—and since this is Athens, that means most of the year. And there’s a bonus. Just a few steps away is Cine Paris, an outdoor movie theatre where you can catch a flick before or after dinner. 3 Filomousou Eterias Square, Plaka, 105 58 +30 210 324 1193
In Greek, platanos is a plane or sycamore tree and you guessed it, this taverna is named after the trees that stretch their leafy branches over the tables on a peaceful square. This place is as old Plaka as it gets, with classic dishes and a lot of history; it’s been around since 1932 and the likes of Henry Miller and Patrick Leigh Fermor have enjoyed a meal or two here. Inside, karagiozi (shadow puppet) figures and old photographs line the walls, chequered tablecloths cover the tables and delicious aromas swirl through the air. Go traditional, even cliché here. Dip your bread into tzatziki, drown your Greek salad in olive oil and crush in the feta, and choose from the roll call of combinations that come with beef or lamb. For the non-meat eaters, there’s plenty to devour, from gigantes (giant beans cooked in tomato sauce) to gemista (tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice and herbs). And since you’re going all-out cliché, order the house retsina. This Greek wine is making an international comeback; at Platanos, it’s as authentic as can be. 4 Diogenous, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 322 0666
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Taverne Platanos
4 Diogenous
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In Greek, platanos is a plane or sycamore tree and you guessed it, this taverna is named after the trees that stretch their leafy branches over the tables on a peaceful square. This place is as old Plaka as it gets, with classic dishes and a lot of history; it’s been around since 1932 and the likes of Henry Miller and Patrick Leigh Fermor have enjoyed a meal or two here. Inside, karagiozi (shadow puppet) figures and old photographs line the walls, chequered tablecloths cover the tables and delicious aromas swirl through the air. Go traditional, even cliché here. Dip your bread into tzatziki, drown your Greek salad in olive oil and crush in the feta, and choose from the roll call of combinations that come with beef or lamb. For the non-meat eaters, there’s plenty to devour, from gigantes (giant beans cooked in tomato sauce) to gemista (tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice and herbs). And since you’re going all-out cliché, order the house retsina. This Greek wine is making an international comeback; at Platanos, it’s as authentic as can be. 4 Diogenous, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 322 0666
The magic of this place is its location. The little tables are separated from the Ancient Agora by a thin green fence. During the day, you can sightsee right from your seat, with an iced coffee and a slice of freshly baked pie. At night, you can gaze at the lit-up temple of Hephaestus over an ouzo and meze. The lunch and dinner menus are pretty basic, from a souvlaki platter to makaronia me kima (the Greek version of spaghetti Bolognese). It’s all about the laid-back atmosphere and incredible setting, rather than the food. Sit back and people watch, or join the locals in animated conversation. The Agora is, after all, where it all used to happen back in the days of the ancient Greeks. 13 Dioskouron, Plaka, 105 55 +30 210 321 9607
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Dióskouroi
13 Dioskouron
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The magic of this place is its location. The little tables are separated from the Ancient Agora by a thin green fence. During the day, you can sightsee right from your seat, with an iced coffee and a slice of freshly baked pie. At night, you can gaze at the lit-up temple of Hephaestus over an ouzo and meze. The lunch and dinner menus are pretty basic, from a souvlaki platter to makaronia me kima (the Greek version of spaghetti Bolognese). It’s all about the laid-back atmosphere and incredible setting, rather than the food. Sit back and people watch, or join the locals in animated conversation. The Agora is, after all, where it all used to happen back in the days of the ancient Greeks. 13 Dioskouron, Plaka, 105 55 +30 210 321 9607
Not everything in Plaka has to be about tzatziki and moussaka. Seafood is a staple of the city and this restaurant is right outside the Metropolitan Cathedral, with tables spilling out into the scenic square. Barbounaki (Greek for red mullet) is the fifth taverna in the city that chef George Papaionnou has opened. His upscale claim-to-fame is Papaioannou restaurant in Piraeus. At Barbounaki, he makes his culinary art accessible to all. Focussing on seafood mezedes (plates to share) rather than large fish on the grill or more complicated dishes, this place gives you the opportunity to try everything. What’s a must here is, of course, is the fried red mullet. The steamed mussels, grilled octopus, calamari, and haloumi cheese are all delicious. The sea bass carpaccio is fabulous and if you’re lucky and crayfish are in season, ask them to throw a few on the grill. 4 Mitropoleos Square, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 324 7700
Barbounaki Mitropoleos
4 Platia Mitropoleos
Not everything in Plaka has to be about tzatziki and moussaka. Seafood is a staple of the city and this restaurant is right outside the Metropolitan Cathedral, with tables spilling out into the scenic square. Barbounaki (Greek for red mullet) is the fifth taverna in the city that chef George Papaionnou has opened. His upscale claim-to-fame is Papaioannou restaurant in Piraeus. At Barbounaki, he makes his culinary art accessible to all. Focussing on seafood mezedes (plates to share) rather than large fish on the grill or more complicated dishes, this place gives you the opportunity to try everything. What’s a must here is, of course, is the fried red mullet. The steamed mussels, grilled octopus, calamari, and haloumi cheese are all delicious. The sea bass carpaccio is fabulous and if you’re lucky and crayfish are in season, ask them to throw a few on the grill. 4 Mitropoleos Square, Plaka, 105 56 +30 210 324 7700
One of the oldest kebab shops in Athens, it’s very much a family business. The original owner’s grandson took over a few years ago, but you still get the same classic taste. This is probably the most minimalist souvlaki you can have in Athens: just tomato and a kebab (a well-seasoned meatball) wrapped in pita bread. Usually they make it really spicy, with lots of red pepper. The first Lefteris was an immigrant from Asia Minor. The recipes brought over by these refugees have been so integrated into our cuisine that now we think of the kebab as a totally Greek thing. I hope the same thing will eventually happen with the other immigrant populations around here.
Lefteris O Politis
20 Satovriandou
One of the oldest kebab shops in Athens, it’s very much a family business. The original owner’s grandson took over a few years ago, but you still get the same classic taste. This is probably the most minimalist souvlaki you can have in Athens: just tomato and a kebab (a well-seasoned meatball) wrapped in pita bread. Usually they make it really spicy, with lots of red pepper. The first Lefteris was an immigrant from Asia Minor. The recipes brought over by these refugees have been so integrated into our cuisine that now we think of the kebab as a totally Greek thing. I hope the same thing will eventually happen with the other immigrant populations around here.
Loukoumades—deep-fried dough balls covered in honey and cinnamon—are a classic Greek delicacy. What’s special about these loukoumades is that they are really tiny and the syrup is put into the doughnut before it’s fried. It’s like a honey bomb. You have to eat the whole thing in a single bite. It’s really hot, crunchy and delicious. When you bite it, you get a honey explosion in your mouth.
Doughnuts Ktistakis
59 Sokratous
Loukoumades—deep-fried dough balls covered in honey and cinnamon—are a classic Greek delicacy. What’s special about these loukoumades is that they are really tiny and the syrup is put into the doughnut before it’s fried. It’s like a honey bomb. You have to eat the whole thing in a single bite. It’s really hot, crunchy and delicious. When you bite it, you get a honey explosion in your mouth.
Arguably the neighbourhood’s bedrock, it is an institution which has been going strong for almost a century. Although the eponymous Mr. Oikonomou still lives above the restaurant, business has been in the hands of the colourful Mr. Kostas Diamandis for two decades—a "they don’t make ‘em like they used to” Greek, with a dry sense of humour and a big, kind heart. In the open kitchen, the female cook, Garyfallia, dishes out no-nonsense family fare such as roast baby lamb with waxy-lemony potatoes, rabbit casserole, or stuffed cabbage leaves (beef and rice) in a silky egg and lemon (avgolemono) sauce. Don’t be shy to ask for wine from the “reserve” barrel in the basement, and make sure you try some of the amber-red quince preserve Kostas makes himself, for dessert.
Ikonomou
Arguably the neighbourhood’s bedrock, it is an institution which has been going strong for almost a century. Although the eponymous Mr. Oikonomou still lives above the restaurant, business has been in the hands of the colourful Mr. Kostas Diamandis for two decades—a "they don’t make ‘em like they used to” Greek, with a dry sense of humour and a big, kind heart. In the open kitchen, the female cook, Garyfallia, dishes out no-nonsense family fare such as roast baby lamb with waxy-lemony potatoes, rabbit casserole, or stuffed cabbage leaves (beef and rice) in a silky egg and lemon (avgolemono) sauce. Don’t be shy to ask for wine from the “reserve” barrel in the basement, and make sure you try some of the amber-red quince preserve Kostas makes himself, for dessert.
Much more than your average round-the-corner Thai, this is a place for rubbing elbows (the larger tables/benches are for sharing) with some cool characters from the Athenian arty milieu. Well-heeled customers from the northern suburbs also tend to flock here in search of neighbourhood authenticity and always end up paying a little more than they expected mainly because of the nice cocktails. (The wine list is in fact quite uninspired.) The food is always good and consistent. Sit at the bar and watch the action unfold in the open kitchen right behind, as a tableau vivant. Specials include elegantly presented red and green curries, a mean larb gai (shredded chicken and mint salad), and a very reliable Pad Thai.
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Blue Bamboo
24 Kidantidon
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Much more than your average round-the-corner Thai, this is a place for rubbing elbows (the larger tables/benches are for sharing) with some cool characters from the Athenian arty milieu. Well-heeled customers from the northern suburbs also tend to flock here in search of neighbourhood authenticity and always end up paying a little more than they expected mainly because of the nice cocktails. (The wine list is in fact quite uninspired.) The food is always good and consistent. Sit at the bar and watch the action unfold in the open kitchen right behind, as a tableau vivant. Specials include elegantly presented red and green curries, a mean larb gai (shredded chicken and mint salad), and a very reliable Pad Thai.
The 'grande dame' of Petralona, Mrs. Chryssa, used to run the best (and only) sophisticated restaurant of Ano Petralona, before it was cool. Following the lifestyle curve to nearby Keramikos, she moved her business to that grungier neighbourhood—only to return to Ano Petralona a couple of years ago. This time her restaurant is smaller and less ambitious, but she still offers a decent alternative to most commonplace tavernas nearby, with her gentle manners and light touch. Her best sellers include an elegant rendering of the chicken souvlaki, fava with capers and sun-dried tomato, and homemade cheesecake with honey.
Χρύσα Χρύσα - Xrysa Xrysa Restaurant
40 Eoleon
The 'grande dame' of Petralona, Mrs. Chryssa, used to run the best (and only) sophisticated restaurant of Ano Petralona, before it was cool. Following the lifestyle curve to nearby Keramikos, she moved her business to that grungier neighbourhood—only to return to Ano Petralona a couple of years ago. This time her restaurant is smaller and less ambitious, but she still offers a decent alternative to most commonplace tavernas nearby, with her gentle manners and light touch. Her best sellers include an elegant rendering of the chicken souvlaki, fava with capers and sun-dried tomato, and homemade cheesecake with honey.
This self-proclaimed 'punk bistro' serves food as creative (if slightly over-complicated) as the term suggests. (The restaurant’s name literally translates as “The Holy Billy Goat”, borrowed from a poem by Yiannis Skarimbas.) If all that sounds a little too hip, bear in mind that the establishment is well priced and the innovative menu is short and changes regularly. A little stuffy in the summer, it is a nice option for a date on a winter night, with a glass of wine by an independent Greek producer at the bar, and some 'punk’d' dishes (like organic chicken with banana, chestnut and sage or custard with sharp Naxos cheese, caramel and almonds) to share.
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Το Θείο Τραγί
36 Kidantidon
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This self-proclaimed 'punk bistro' serves food as creative (if slightly over-complicated) as the term suggests. (The restaurant’s name literally translates as “The Holy Billy Goat”, borrowed from a poem by Yiannis Skarimbas.) If all that sounds a little too hip, bear in mind that the establishment is well priced and the innovative menu is short and changes regularly. A little stuffy in the summer, it is a nice option for a date on a winter night, with a glass of wine by an independent Greek producer at the bar, and some 'punk’d' dishes (like organic chicken with banana, chestnut and sage or custard with sharp Naxos cheese, caramel and almonds) to share.
I always take visitors to this restaurant and they always love it. In the summer, you can sit outside on Platia Avdi, a huge square that’s the heart of the neighbourhood. Be patient; you may have a long wait for your food, but it will be worth it. They serve Greek dishes with a twist, including an amazing selection of Greek cheeses. Seychelles is open for lunch or dinner but do book ahead—it’s packed even on a Monday night. You can always have a drink at Ble Papagalos, a café-bar across the square, while you’re waiting for a table.
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Seychelles
49 Keramikou
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I always take visitors to this restaurant and they always love it. In the summer, you can sit outside on Platia Avdi, a huge square that’s the heart of the neighbourhood. Be patient; you may have a long wait for your food, but it will be worth it. They serve Greek dishes with a twist, including an amazing selection of Greek cheeses. Seychelles is open for lunch or dinner but do book ahead—it’s packed even on a Monday night. You can always have a drink at Ble Papagalos, a café-bar across the square, while you’re waiting for a table.
After a week of feta and grilled fish, you might be in the mood for something spicier. This cosy, unpretentious Thai place, run by the lovely Angela, has great atmosphere and service. The green curries are divine.
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Tamarind Thai Kitchen
51 Keramikou
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After a week of feta and grilled fish, you might be in the mood for something spicier. This cosy, unpretentious Thai place, run by the lovely Angela, has great atmosphere and service. The green curries are divine.
Nowhere is ‘old’ Pangrati more visible than in Platia Proskopon, a pocket-sized, leafy quad closely bounded by buildings on two sides and a narrow street on the other. Cafés and restaurants crowd the space, with the spill-over snaking up Amynta and Archelaou Streets to form one nexus of Pangrati’s café scene. The confined space creates an intimacy that’s conducive to intense but leisurely conversation, as patrons pick over the latest political developments or new film over tsipouro and meze. It’s not unusual to spot politicians taking a breather at one of the tables and artists favoured the area long before Manos Hatzidakis made Magemenos Avlos his favourite haunt.
Platia Proskopon
Nowhere is ‘old’ Pangrati more visible than in Platia Proskopon, a pocket-sized, leafy quad closely bounded by buildings on two sides and a narrow street on the other. Cafés and restaurants crowd the space, with the spill-over snaking up Amynta and Archelaou Streets to form one nexus of Pangrati’s café scene. The confined space creates an intimacy that’s conducive to intense but leisurely conversation, as patrons pick over the latest political developments or new film over tsipouro and meze. It’s not unusual to spot politicians taking a breather at one of the tables and artists favoured the area long before Manos Hatzidakis made Magemenos Avlos his favourite haunt.
It’s hard to recommend Mavros Gatos (The Black Cat) for either its food or its ambience. Yet there’s something compelling about this taverna that has kept its clientele coming back for decades. Its charm may be in its insistence on remaining humble in both its menu—classic Greek casserole dishes and grilled meats—and its setting. Especially in the face of flashier, more fashionable offerings available just metres away at Mavro Provato, a popular modern mezedopoleio. But it’s homey and has a rare history: the whimsical murals of can-can dancers and, yes, a black cat in tux and top hat are the work of Doris (Mihalis Papageorgiou), a noted caricature artist and painter whose fluid style reflects 1930s Paris, where he paid for his meals with his art.
George (former Black Cat)
4 Polemonos
It’s hard to recommend Mavros Gatos (The Black Cat) for either its food or its ambience. Yet there’s something compelling about this taverna that has kept its clientele coming back for decades. Its charm may be in its insistence on remaining humble in both its menu—classic Greek casserole dishes and grilled meats—and its setting. Especially in the face of flashier, more fashionable offerings available just metres away at Mavro Provato, a popular modern mezedopoleio. But it’s homey and has a rare history: the whimsical murals of can-can dancers and, yes, a black cat in tux and top hat are the work of Doris (Mihalis Papageorgiou), a noted caricature artist and painter whose fluid style reflects 1930s Paris, where he paid for his meals with his art.
From workman’s taverna in the 1920s to trendsetters’ haunt in the 1990s, the celebrated Vassilenas has moved from its original Piraeus location to downtown Athens. A pioneer of creative Greek cuisine, it’s a symbol of Greece’s rebound from recession. The sleek black décor sets the tone for the stylised ‘traditional’ fare with a focus on fish and seafood: shrimp tartare, tomato risotto topped with sea urchin, pan-fried red mullet with a rosemary glaze. The wine menu has pride of place, with bottles arrayed in a massive rack that occupies almost an entire wall. Vassilenas is pricey, but upscale restaurants are as much a part of Pangrati as its old-time tavernas.
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Vassilenas - Βασίλαινας
13 Vrasida
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From workman’s taverna in the 1920s to trendsetters’ haunt in the 1990s, the celebrated Vassilenas has moved from its original Piraeus location to downtown Athens. A pioneer of creative Greek cuisine, it’s a symbol of Greece’s rebound from recession. The sleek black décor sets the tone for the stylised ‘traditional’ fare with a focus on fish and seafood: shrimp tartare, tomato risotto topped with sea urchin, pan-fried red mullet with a rosemary glaze. The wine menu has pride of place, with bottles arrayed in a massive rack that occupies almost an entire wall. Vassilenas is pricey, but upscale restaurants are as much a part of Pangrati as its old-time tavernas.
For an original culinary experience, head to Ama Lachei for lunch or dinner. Walk through the gate of this converted primary school and you immediately get an idea of what an old Athenian courtyard used to look like. On a sunny day, you can soak up the relaxed atmosphere watching the locals gesture their way through endless conversations, as they occupy the tables for hours. You can try a variety of meze dishes that use local delicacies. There’s a good selection of wines and it all comes at very reasonable prices.
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Ama Lachei
69 Kallidromiou
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For an original culinary experience, head to Ama Lachei for lunch or dinner. Walk through the gate of this converted primary school and you immediately get an idea of what an old Athenian courtyard used to look like. On a sunny day, you can soak up the relaxed atmosphere watching the locals gesture their way through endless conversations, as they occupy the tables for hours. You can try a variety of meze dishes that use local delicacies. There’s a good selection of wines and it all comes at very reasonable prices.
If Kolonaki is the heart of the city’s café culture, then Platia Mavili (Mavili Square) is the hub of the after-hours bar scene. Named after a minor Greek poet and originally designed as a traffic island, this triangular square has become an unofficial meeting point for barflies. The draw: a perimeter lined with small bars, with tables in the square and a steady clientele almost 24 hours a day. Many of these watering holes have ‘legendary’ status in the annals of Athens nightlife. The all-night food truck that serviced the clientele did so well it is now a fully fledged hole-in-the-wall selling vromiko (literally ‘dirty’) hot dogs and sandwiches until 7 am. The city’s ‘in’ spots may shift, but starting or ending the night at Mavili never goes out of style.
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Πλατεία Μαβίλη
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If Kolonaki is the heart of the city’s café culture, then Platia Mavili (Mavili Square) is the hub of the after-hours bar scene. Named after a minor Greek poet and originally designed as a traffic island, this triangular square has become an unofficial meeting point for barflies. The draw: a perimeter lined with small bars, with tables in the square and a steady clientele almost 24 hours a day. Many of these watering holes have ‘legendary’ status in the annals of Athens nightlife. The all-night food truck that serviced the clientele did so well it is now a fully fledged hole-in-the-wall selling vromiko (literally ‘dirty’) hot dogs and sandwiches until 7 am. The city’s ‘in’ spots may shift, but starting or ending the night at Mavili never goes out of style.
Housed in a mansion from 1897 set by a gorgeous garden, Balthazar is one of the most famous restaurants in Athens—and it’s somehow stayed in vogue since it opened in 1973. Christophoros Peskias, the head chef, is among the most established in Greece. His seasonal fusion menus always offer up something surprising and as beautifully presented as the pretty surroundings. There’s a separate sushi menu, too.
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Balthazar
27 Tsocha
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Housed in a mansion from 1897 set by a gorgeous garden, Balthazar is one of the most famous restaurants in Athens—and it’s somehow stayed in vogue since it opened in 1973. Christophoros Peskias, the head chef, is among the most established in Greece. His seasonal fusion menus always offer up something surprising and as beautifully presented as the pretty surroundings. There’s a separate sushi menu, too.
This old-school dairy and patisserie is a neighbourhood landmark. Everything is freshly made, including the yoghurt, vanilla custard and rice pudding, the latter served with a sprinkling of cinnamon. The secret lies in the milk which comes straight from a small farm in Thiva, north of Athens. Apart from the super fresh dairy treats, Balis is also prized for its Greek classics, including kids' favourite, the so-called "little mouse" or "pontikaki", a chocolate cake shaped as a mouse.
BALLIS EFTHYMIOS
8 Ifestou
This old-school dairy and patisserie is a neighbourhood landmark. Everything is freshly made, including the yoghurt, vanilla custard and rice pudding, the latter served with a sprinkling of cinnamon. The secret lies in the milk which comes straight from a small farm in Thiva, north of Athens. Apart from the super fresh dairy treats, Balis is also prized for its Greek classics, including kids' favourite, the so-called "little mouse" or "pontikaki", a chocolate cake shaped as a mouse.
A secret garden, located inside the modern landmark that houses the Ileana Tounta art space, among the most influential contemporary art galleries in Athens. Parked in the walled courtyard is a silver Airstream that produces sophisticated street food—burgers, tacos and chicken wings. Try their Navajo Burger with organic bison, smoked bacon, crispy onions and chipotle sauce infused with mescal. Wooden decks and picnic benches on different levels are surrounded by vegetable and herb gardens. The cocktails are adventurous, the vibe is lively, and the weekend brunch is highly recommended (but it’s very popular, so do book in advance).
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48 Urban Garden
48 Armatolon ke Klefton
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A secret garden, located inside the modern landmark that houses the Ileana Tounta art space, among the most influential contemporary art galleries in Athens. Parked in the walled courtyard is a silver Airstream that produces sophisticated street food—burgers, tacos and chicken wings. Try their Navajo Burger with organic bison, smoked bacon, crispy onions and chipotle sauce infused with mescal. Wooden decks and picnic benches on different levels are surrounded by vegetable and herb gardens. The cocktails are adventurous, the vibe is lively, and the weekend brunch is highly recommended (but it’s very popular, so do book in advance).
One of the top pastry shops in Athens. Remember to take some greek traditional Loukoumia!
PASTRY VOMVYLA
7 Theodoritou Vresthenis
One of the top pastry shops in Athens. Remember to take some greek traditional Loukoumia!
The best authentic italian pizza in Athens and one of the top 50 in Europe. Remember to go for a dinner. Its absolutely top.
La bella napoli
15 Omirou
The best authentic italian pizza in Athens and one of the top 50 in Europe. Remember to go for a dinner. Its absolutely top.
A restaurant that changes every day. With top chefs, greek seasonally products, its an experience. You must visit it.
ΦΙΤΑ
1 Ntourm
A restaurant that changes every day. With top chefs, greek seasonally products, its an experience. You must visit it.
Shopping
Malls increasingly draw shoppers to the city’s periphery, but Ermou Street retains its status as the crown jewel of Athens retail activity. On pedestrian Ermou, global brands have edged out local emporia, although smaller niche shops thrive in the side streets between Ermou and Aiolou—another retail enclave of family-run or discount stores. Here you’ll find everything from haberdashery and handmade lampshades to meditation crystals, feather boas, freshwater pearls, buckles, and beads. Window-shopping on Ermou is a popular Sunday pastime. But traffic is round-the-clock on the centre’s side streets: when the shops close, the district transforms into a hip strip of bars and ethnic eateries.
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Ermou
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Malls increasingly draw shoppers to the city’s periphery, but Ermou Street retains its status as the crown jewel of Athens retail activity. On pedestrian Ermou, global brands have edged out local emporia, although smaller niche shops thrive in the side streets between Ermou and Aiolou—another retail enclave of family-run or discount stores. Here you’ll find everything from haberdashery and handmade lampshades to meditation crystals, feather boas, freshwater pearls, buckles, and beads. Window-shopping on Ermou is a popular Sunday pastime. But traffic is round-the-clock on the centre’s side streets: when the shops close, the district transforms into a hip strip of bars and ethnic eateries.
Shopping for Lenten seafood, Easter lamb, or Christmas pork at the city’s central meat and fish market is a tradition among the city’s residents that dates back to the late 19th century. But even outside the holidays, the Varvakios Market is a modern incarnation of the ancient agora as vendors and shoppers haggle over sides of beef and politics as the sun rises. Be warned: this is not a place for the squeamish, so if you balk at the sight of the butcher’s knife, stick to the lanes surrounding the covered market where you’ll find stalls selling a cornucopia of cheeses, glistening green and black olives, chunks of sesame halva, wreaths of garlic, and hand-picked herbs. Hungry? Try one of the old-style mageiria (workers’ canteens) in or around the market.
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Varvakios Central Municipal Market
42 Athinas
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Shopping for Lenten seafood, Easter lamb, or Christmas pork at the city’s central meat and fish market is a tradition among the city’s residents that dates back to the late 19th century. But even outside the holidays, the Varvakios Market is a modern incarnation of the ancient agora as vendors and shoppers haggle over sides of beef and politics as the sun rises. Be warned: this is not a place for the squeamish, so if you balk at the sight of the butcher’s knife, stick to the lanes surrounding the covered market where you’ll find stalls selling a cornucopia of cheeses, glistening green and black olives, chunks of sesame halva, wreaths of garlic, and hand-picked herbs. Hungry? Try one of the old-style mageiria (workers’ canteens) in or around the market.
The whole area around Athens Central Marketis full of specialist shops selling everything from olives to tools. While you’re treasure hunting, pick up some seasonal produce from the fruit and vegetable market. I highly recommend the salami sandwiches from the second shop on the left. This is where the market traders buy their lunch. Alternatively, they head down to Diporto, one of the oldest tavernas in Athens. It has a real old-school atmosphere. The food is very simple, but really good. A word of advice: if you want cheese in your Greek salad, you have to bring your own. So first go and buy some cheese from Miran, a fantastic deli that stocks all sorts of unusual Greek cheeses and other hard-to-find produce. If you dare, try their pastourma, a kind of charcuterie with an intense smoked taste.
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Varvakios Central Municipal Market
42 Athinas
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The whole area around Athens Central Marketis full of specialist shops selling everything from olives to tools. While you’re treasure hunting, pick up some seasonal produce from the fruit and vegetable market. I highly recommend the salami sandwiches from the second shop on the left. This is where the market traders buy their lunch. Alternatively, they head down to Diporto, one of the oldest tavernas in Athens. It has a real old-school atmosphere. The food is very simple, but really good. A word of advice: if you want cheese in your Greek salad, you have to bring your own. So first go and buy some cheese from Miran, a fantastic deli that stocks all sorts of unusual Greek cheeses and other hard-to-find produce. If you dare, try their pastourma, a kind of charcuterie with an intense smoked taste.
If you’re renting a place with a kitchen, stock up on organic produce at this cute, bright orange store run by two brothers, Loukas and Stefanos Skoulikaris. I do all my grocery shopping here. Look out for the organic loaves from Betty’s Bread. The name of the shop means 'garden at the rear', and there really is a secret garden behind the shop. If you’re into fresh, local produce, do check out the farmer’s market every Tuesday.
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Στο Βάθος Κήπος
99 Keramikou
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If you’re renting a place with a kitchen, stock up on organic produce at this cute, bright orange store run by two brothers, Loukas and Stefanos Skoulikaris. I do all my grocery shopping here. Look out for the organic loaves from Betty’s Bread. The name of the shop means 'garden at the rear', and there really is a secret garden behind the shop. If you’re into fresh, local produce, do check out the farmer’s market every Tuesday.
Exarchia Square may be the hub of the neighbourhood’s (often riotous) activity, but Odos Kallidromiou is its heart—and you can feel this as you stroll its mulberry-shaded pavements. This street, which surges then sinks as it hugs the western incline of Lycabettus Hill, transforms itself according to day and hour with the ease of a person donning and shedding a wig. Even the street's name is the result of such whim: officially named Kallidromou after the peak that rises above Thermopylae, locals have stubbornly clung to Kallidromiou—the result of a typographical error. Every Athens neighbourhood has its weekly farmers’ market, but shopping at Kallidromiou’s laiki on Saturday morning is a tradition among urbanites, who haggle over artichokes with the same passion they argue the finer points of politics over an after-market raki at one of Kallidromiou’s coffee houses.
Kallidromiou
Exarchia Square may be the hub of the neighbourhood’s (often riotous) activity, but Odos Kallidromiou is its heart—and you can feel this as you stroll its mulberry-shaded pavements. This street, which surges then sinks as it hugs the western incline of Lycabettus Hill, transforms itself according to day and hour with the ease of a person donning and shedding a wig. Even the street's name is the result of such whim: officially named Kallidromou after the peak that rises above Thermopylae, locals have stubbornly clung to Kallidromiou—the result of a typographical error. Every Athens neighbourhood has its weekly farmers’ market, but shopping at Kallidromiou’s laiki on Saturday morning is a tradition among urbanites, who haggle over artichokes with the same passion they argue the finer points of politics over an after-market raki at one of Kallidromiou’s coffee houses.
Early on Saturday morning, hilly Kallidromiou Street is transformed into one of the best Athenian farmers’ markets (laiki), with heaps of seasonal fruits and vegetables from Greek producers laid out underneath bright orange tarps. The crowd is an odd mix of young and old Athenians, artists, migrants, and fashion models. Everyone finds time for a chat and politics is always on the agenda, but exchanges are frequently interrupted by vendors, shouting to drive attention back to the stalls. Market visitors will almost always look for a table in one of the cafes that line Kallidromiou Street, like Paraskinio, which serves good coffee and mini croissants on marble top tables.
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Laiki farmers' market
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Early on Saturday morning, hilly Kallidromiou Street is transformed into one of the best Athenian farmers’ markets (laiki), with heaps of seasonal fruits and vegetables from Greek producers laid out underneath bright orange tarps. The crowd is an odd mix of young and old Athenians, artists, migrants, and fashion models. Everyone finds time for a chat and politics is always on the agenda, but exchanges are frequently interrupted by vendors, shouting to drive attention back to the stalls. Market visitors will almost always look for a table in one of the cafes that line Kallidromiou Street, like Paraskinio, which serves good coffee and mini croissants on marble top tables.
Kypseli’s heart beats around Fokionos Negri, a pedestrianised boulevard that is built over a stream (it is still running, deep under the pavement). The street is lined with many cafés, bars and restaurants, where locals of all ages gather to chat and socialise under the trees. The open spaces and lawns along the 600-metre promenade are also popular with dog owners (fun fact: spot the dog statue from the 1940s). In its heyday, Fokionos Negri was one of the fanciest of Athenian streets and remains lined with impressive apartment buildings. In fact, Kypseli is full of interesting architecture from different periods and styles.
Negri Fokionos
Kypseli’s heart beats around Fokionos Negri, a pedestrianised boulevard that is built over a stream (it is still running, deep under the pavement). The street is lined with many cafés, bars and restaurants, where locals of all ages gather to chat and socialise under the trees. The open spaces and lawns along the 600-metre promenade are also popular with dog owners (fun fact: spot the dog statue from the 1940s). In its heyday, Fokionos Negri was one of the fanciest of Athenian streets and remains lined with impressive apartment buildings. In fact, Kypseli is full of interesting architecture from different periods and styles.
cafe
Take a coffee from here and go for shopping in the city centre
Coffeestop
25 Kolokotroni
Take a coffee from here and go for shopping in the city centre
Nice coffee and snacks.
Cultivos Coffee Syntagma
Nice coffee and snacks.
Just a few minutes away from the busy tourist neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Psyri you will find yet another old building that looks straight up abandoned. In fact, it looks like it’s about to collapse on itself. But keep an open mind, nothing is what it seems in this city! Crossing that front door will bring you to an interior garden, where The Art Foundation (TAF), an art coffee-bar, is waiting for you. This garden bar has a really friendly and cozy vibe to it, and it’s been a favorite of younger crowds’ for years now. The whole area is decorated with artifacts and relics, and inside the building that surrounds the garden, TAF often holds interesting exhibitions that you can enjoy during the day, before or after you try one of their artisan coffees. Don’t worry, we’re not sending you into one of those pretentious places that make you feel unwelcome - we mean it when we say TAF is a cozy place, it’s just interesting and different at the same time. Where to find it: Normanou 5, Athens Where to call: +30 21 0323 8757 When to visit: 11AM–3AM
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Taf Coffee
7 Emmanouil Benaki
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Just a few minutes away from the busy tourist neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Psyri you will find yet another old building that looks straight up abandoned. In fact, it looks like it’s about to collapse on itself. But keep an open mind, nothing is what it seems in this city! Crossing that front door will bring you to an interior garden, where The Art Foundation (TAF), an art coffee-bar, is waiting for you. This garden bar has a really friendly and cozy vibe to it, and it’s been a favorite of younger crowds’ for years now. The whole area is decorated with artifacts and relics, and inside the building that surrounds the garden, TAF often holds interesting exhibitions that you can enjoy during the day, before or after you try one of their artisan coffees. Don’t worry, we’re not sending you into one of those pretentious places that make you feel unwelcome - we mean it when we say TAF is a cozy place, it’s just interesting and different at the same time. Where to find it: Normanou 5, Athens Where to call: +30 21 0323 8757 When to visit: 11AM–3AM
‘Lies and hypocrisy don’t survive long’ reads the quote tacked near the cash register of this no-frills coffee house. Though profoundly political, the quote is about chess—the only ideology at the Panellinion. Tavli, or backgammon, might be a more pervasive pastime, but Greece has a solid tradition in chess. Even if it isn’t your game, Panellinion is the perfect place to soak up the genuine kafeneion atmosphere. Old tables, old photographs, and coffee choices limited to two—Greek or frappé—and an owner willing to whip up an omelette or meze in a heartbeat. Mornings are quieter, with older patrons engaging in leisurely matches; by afternoon, grey heads start to give way to man buns and beards as the younger crowd filters in. Double clocks on the table notwithstanding, time is elastic here, as Panellinion won’t close until the last game is over.
Σκακιστικό Καφενείο ΠΑΝΕΛΛΗΝΙΟΝ
16 Mavromichali
‘Lies and hypocrisy don’t survive long’ reads the quote tacked near the cash register of this no-frills coffee house. Though profoundly political, the quote is about chess—the only ideology at the Panellinion. Tavli, or backgammon, might be a more pervasive pastime, but Greece has a solid tradition in chess. Even if it isn’t your game, Panellinion is the perfect place to soak up the genuine kafeneion atmosphere. Old tables, old photographs, and coffee choices limited to two—Greek or frappé—and an owner willing to whip up an omelette or meze in a heartbeat. Mornings are quieter, with older patrons engaging in leisurely matches; by afternoon, grey heads start to give way to man buns and beards as the younger crowd filters in. Double clocks on the table notwithstanding, time is elastic here, as Panellinion won’t close until the last game is over.
Brunch
Beauty Killed the Beast is a great brunch option for just about anyone. They not only have some traditional options like shakshuka and savoury waffles, but chef Gabriel Nikolaidis has also come up with riffs on Greek classics like the stifado burger, slow-cooked beef and onions with the consistency of a pulled pork sandwich and a taste close to southern barbecue. The food is great, and while it can get a little crowded, it’s worth the wait. The restaurant (and at night, the bar) sits in a beautiful renovated house in Keramikos, and the interior decor is worth checking out. At the bar, you’ll find a glass floor over a verdant basement garden, and plenty of contemporary art on the walls. 14 Paramithias, Keramikos, 104 35 +30 210 524 0117
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BEAUTY KILLED THE BEAST
14 Paramithias
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Beauty Killed the Beast is a great brunch option for just about anyone. They not only have some traditional options like shakshuka and savoury waffles, but chef Gabriel Nikolaidis has also come up with riffs on Greek classics like the stifado burger, slow-cooked beef and onions with the consistency of a pulled pork sandwich and a taste close to southern barbecue. The food is great, and while it can get a little crowded, it’s worth the wait. The restaurant (and at night, the bar) sits in a beautiful renovated house in Keramikos, and the interior decor is worth checking out. At the bar, you’ll find a glass floor over a verdant basement garden, and plenty of contemporary art on the walls. 14 Paramithias, Keramikos, 104 35 +30 210 524 0117
This corner site in Koukaki (a former car repair shop) is perfectly placed for people-watching (or nursing a hangover), while you enjoy a flat white, detox smoothie, and croque madame. There are benches and tables outside in warm weather and the large, light-filled space is cosy and abuzz all year round. It morphs into a bar as evening falls, if you happen to end up spending all day here. 88 Falirou, Koukaki, 117 41 +30 213 032 6450
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ΜΠΕΛ ΡΕΫ ΣΝΑΚ ΜΠΑΡ
88 Falirou
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This corner site in Koukaki (a former car repair shop) is perfectly placed for people-watching (or nursing a hangover), while you enjoy a flat white, detox smoothie, and croque madame. There are benches and tables outside in warm weather and the large, light-filled space is cosy and abuzz all year round. It morphs into a bar as evening falls, if you happen to end up spending all day here. 88 Falirou, Koukaki, 117 41 +30 213 032 6450
When the weather is nice, make sure you go to Latraac for your brunch fix. Their menu is simple and mostly sandwich-focussed, but the ingredients feature Greek products like apaki (cured pork from Crete) and syglino (smoked pork from Mani), as well as kaseri and halloumi cheese. You’ll also find the standard brunch fare: scrambled eggs, pancakes, and boiled eggs. The café is really an add-on for the skaters who whizz up and down the half-pipe in the courtyard. If you go in the winter, call ahead; in theory, it’s open Friday-Sunday but the opening hours are a little erratic. 63-64 Leonidou, Keramikos, 104 35 +30 213 045 3377
Latraac Skate Cafe
63-65 Leonidou
When the weather is nice, make sure you go to Latraac for your brunch fix. Their menu is simple and mostly sandwich-focussed, but the ingredients feature Greek products like apaki (cured pork from Crete) and syglino (smoked pork from Mani), as well as kaseri and halloumi cheese. You’ll also find the standard brunch fare: scrambled eggs, pancakes, and boiled eggs. The café is really an add-on for the skaters who whizz up and down the half-pipe in the courtyard. If you go in the winter, call ahead; in theory, it’s open Friday-Sunday but the opening hours are a little erratic. 63-64 Leonidou, Keramikos, 104 35 +30 213 045 3377
A chic newbie on Kolonaki’s leafy Kapsali Street earning kudos for its excellent all-day brunches. The menu is packed with so many novel temptations that you may find ordering a struggle (or maybe that’s just us!). Yoghurt parfait with avocado, blueberries and thyme honey? Porridge banoffee with choc flake and peanut butter? Whole wheat crepes with flax seeds, organic eggs, prosciutto and asparagus? They’re just some of the possibilities. You’ll also find top notch smoothies (we loved the Greenμe with avocado, pineapple, kale, coconut water, lime and honey) or kickstart your day with a naughty-but-nice cocktail like the Breakfast Mojito. Half a dozen elegant tables fan across the pavement. Inside, there’s about the same number again, plus a cheery communal bench on blonde parquetry floors. The décor has the svelte and sunny vibe of an L.A. boutique. It’s a mainly local older crowd (cosmopolites and off-duty urban professionals) with prices befitting this posh neighbourhood. Booking ahead is a smart move on weekends. 10 Kapsali, Kolonaki, 106 74 +30 210 724 2588
me kolonaki
10 Kapsali
A chic newbie on Kolonaki’s leafy Kapsali Street earning kudos for its excellent all-day brunches. The menu is packed with so many novel temptations that you may find ordering a struggle (or maybe that’s just us!). Yoghurt parfait with avocado, blueberries and thyme honey? Porridge banoffee with choc flake and peanut butter? Whole wheat crepes with flax seeds, organic eggs, prosciutto and asparagus? They’re just some of the possibilities. You’ll also find top notch smoothies (we loved the Greenμe with avocado, pineapple, kale, coconut water, lime and honey) or kickstart your day with a naughty-but-nice cocktail like the Breakfast Mojito. Half a dozen elegant tables fan across the pavement. Inside, there’s about the same number again, plus a cheery communal bench on blonde parquetry floors. The décor has the svelte and sunny vibe of an L.A. boutique. It’s a mainly local older crowd (cosmopolites and off-duty urban professionals) with prices befitting this posh neighbourhood. Booking ahead is a smart move on weekends. 10 Kapsali, Kolonaki, 106 74 +30 210 724 2588
We’ve written about Stani before, and it’s a great option for a yoghurt-centric breakfast. But do check out Fresko if you’re based closer to the Acropolis. It features thick and rich Greek yoghurt sourced from local producers, and you can get it topped with honey, fruits, or spoon sweets—preserved fruits in syrup. If you want something you can consume on-the-go, grab a smoothie instead. 3 Dionysiou Areopagitou, Acropolis, 117 42 +30 210 923 3760
FRESCO & FRESCO
27 Tatoiou
We’ve written about Stani before, and it’s a great option for a yoghurt-centric breakfast. But do check out Fresko if you’re based closer to the Acropolis. It features thick and rich Greek yoghurt sourced from local producers, and you can get it topped with honey, fruits, or spoon sweets—preserved fruits in syrup. If you want something you can consume on-the-go, grab a smoothie instead. 3 Dionysiou Areopagitou, Acropolis, 117 42 +30 210 923 3760
ust behind a small park on Spirou Merkouri Street in Pangrati lies Hippy3. By "lies" we mean exactly that: this all day café-bar oozes a laidback, anything goes vibe that encourages lingering as long as you like over a coffee. But what we think the place is best for is its brunch. In a neighbourhood saturated with similar hipster-friendly establishments, Hippy3 is the real deal when it comes to eggs 'n' things. Their scrambled eggs, flatbreads, croque madame and pancakes are among the tastiest Pangrati has to offer—and the most affordable, too. Pair any of these dishes with a strong espresso or a mint flavoured lemonade as you work on your laptop along with the rest of the digital nomads in there. But whatever you order, do not leave Hippy3 without trying the carrot cake. 22A Spyrou Merkouri, Pangrati, 116 34 +30 210 725 1154
Hippy3
22A Spirou Merkouri
ust behind a small park on Spirou Merkouri Street in Pangrati lies Hippy3. By "lies" we mean exactly that: this all day café-bar oozes a laidback, anything goes vibe that encourages lingering as long as you like over a coffee. But what we think the place is best for is its brunch. In a neighbourhood saturated with similar hipster-friendly establishments, Hippy3 is the real deal when it comes to eggs 'n' things. Their scrambled eggs, flatbreads, croque madame and pancakes are among the tastiest Pangrati has to offer—and the most affordable, too. Pair any of these dishes with a strong espresso or a mint flavoured lemonade as you work on your laptop along with the rest of the digital nomads in there. But whatever you order, do not leave Hippy3 without trying the carrot cake. 22A Spyrou Merkouri, Pangrati, 116 34 +30 210 725 1154
All right, we’ll admit, there’s nothing like a real New York bagel, but New York Sandwiches provides a decent substitute, and lots of other options for hungry brunch-goers. It’s very classic and straightforward, including omelettes, several varieties of eggs benedict, and even steak and eggs. It has a location in Syntagma and another in Ambelokipi. They’re both open until midnight, so if your breakfast cravings hit you late, you’re in luck. 23 Nikis, Historic Centre, 105 57 +30 210 321 6000
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New York Sandwiches
3 Sinopis
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All right, we’ll admit, there’s nothing like a real New York bagel, but New York Sandwiches provides a decent substitute, and lots of other options for hungry brunch-goers. It’s very classic and straightforward, including omelettes, several varieties of eggs benedict, and even steak and eggs. It has a location in Syntagma and another in Ambelokipi. They’re both open until midnight, so if your breakfast cravings hit you late, you’re in luck. 23 Nikis, Historic Centre, 105 57 +30 210 321 6000
On the hunt for a good croissant? The best one in Athens is at Queen Bee in Kolonaki. It’s a little pricey, and fills up fast—especially on weekends—but it’s worth the splurge. Besides the croissants (which you should try no matter what), there are lots of other pastries, from pain au chocolat to feuillete. You’ll also find a mortadella sandwich with fleur de sel and the Queen Bee club, starring delicious prosciutto from San Daniele. There's a distinctly New York vibe to this place: the brunch menu was deigned by Sal Lamboglia of Bar primi and the For Five coffee beans come straight from Brooklyn. Oh, and the people-watching is excellent too. 45 Patriarchou Ioakim, Kolonaki, 106 76 +30 210 720 9933
Queen Bee Athens
45 Patriarchou Ioakim
On the hunt for a good croissant? The best one in Athens is at Queen Bee in Kolonaki. It’s a little pricey, and fills up fast—especially on weekends—but it’s worth the splurge. Besides the croissants (which you should try no matter what), there are lots of other pastries, from pain au chocolat to feuillete. You’ll also find a mortadella sandwich with fleur de sel and the Queen Bee club, starring delicious prosciutto from San Daniele. There's a distinctly New York vibe to this place: the brunch menu was deigned by Sal Lamboglia of Bar primi and the For Five coffee beans come straight from Brooklyn. Oh, and the people-watching is excellent too. 45 Patriarchou Ioakim, Kolonaki, 106 76 +30 210 720 9933
This Koukaki spot may be best known for its adventurous cocktails—thus its “cocktail safari” subtitle—but you can also find a French-inspired brunch here. You’ll find croissants, pain au chocolat, salmon galette and both croque madame and monsieur. Owner Romain Krot is French, so you know you can trust that the food is good. 7 Vizantinou, Koukaki, 117 41 +30 213 045 3390
Safari Disco Club
7 Vizantiou
This Koukaki spot may be best known for its adventurous cocktails—thus its “cocktail safari” subtitle—but you can also find a French-inspired brunch here. You’ll find croissants, pain au chocolat, salmon galette and both croque madame and monsieur. Owner Romain Krot is French, so you know you can trust that the food is good. 7 Vizantinou, Koukaki, 117 41 +30 213 045 3390
This jazzy bistro is located on the ground floor of City Circus, a slick hostel with huge personality. As well as a young, cosmopolitan crowd from the rooms upstairs, you’ll find local regulars who come back again and again for the great-value brunch. On Sundays, your eggs benedict, avocado toast, and smoked salmon bagels are served with a side order of live gypsy jazz. The Bloody Marys are good, too. 18 Sarri, Psirri, 105 53 +30 213 023 3244
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Zampano
18 Sarri
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This jazzy bistro is located on the ground floor of City Circus, a slick hostel with huge personality. As well as a young, cosmopolitan crowd from the rooms upstairs, you’ll find local regulars who come back again and again for the great-value brunch. On Sundays, your eggs benedict, avocado toast, and smoked salmon bagels are served with a side order of live gypsy jazz. The Bloody Marys are good, too. 18 Sarri, Psirri, 105 53 +30 213 023 3244
Another popular interior garden in the center of Athens, Black Duck is nevertheless a place you wouldn’t think existed unless somebody told you so. The entrance is on the side of a big building (one of those that are all over Athens, nothing to write home about), and once you walk through it, you get a brief ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feeling - it’s like you’re transported from the noisy, urban landscape of Athens to a peaceful and cool garden somewhere far away. Black Duck’s location is definitely its best asset, but the friendly staff is also a nice change from the attitude you get in so many other places. Apart from drinks and cocktails, you can also come here for coffee and a light meal during the day, although keep in mind the prices are a bit on the high side (this place is close to all the theaters, so its main clientele comes from there, including a few famous Greek actors every now and then). Still, the atmosphere is very relaxing, especially after a day of sightseeing, and so is the shade you sit under. If you visit during the winter, you can also sit inside - the interior is beautifully decorated and has a cozy feel to it, although it’s more of a cafe/restaurant than a bar. Where to find it: loannou Paparrigopoulou 5, Athens Where to call: 210 3252396 When to visit: 10AM–2AM
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Black Duck Garden
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Another popular interior garden in the center of Athens, Black Duck is nevertheless a place you wouldn’t think existed unless somebody told you so. The entrance is on the side of a big building (one of those that are all over Athens, nothing to write home about), and once you walk through it, you get a brief ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feeling - it’s like you’re transported from the noisy, urban landscape of Athens to a peaceful and cool garden somewhere far away. Black Duck’s location is definitely its best asset, but the friendly staff is also a nice change from the attitude you get in so many other places. Apart from drinks and cocktails, you can also come here for coffee and a light meal during the day, although keep in mind the prices are a bit on the high side (this place is close to all the theaters, so its main clientele comes from there, including a few famous Greek actors every now and then). Still, the atmosphere is very relaxing, especially after a day of sightseeing, and so is the shade you sit under. If you visit during the winter, you can also sit inside - the interior is beautifully decorated and has a cozy feel to it, although it’s more of a cafe/restaurant than a bar. Where to find it: loannou Paparrigopoulou 5, Athens Where to call: 210 3252396 When to visit: 10AM–2AM