Where to go in Athens

While Athens’ heart will take you back to the 5th-century BC, the rest of the Greek capital is very much in the 21st-century. This is a place that offers an idyllic mix of ancient and modern, home to iconic landmarks like the Parthenon and countless other treasures as well as a wide array of trendy sidewalk cafes, fine dining restaurants and buzzing nightlife.

While visiting Acropolis Hill is a must for every visitor, there are many different neighborhoods to visit, with something to suit every travel style and desire. No matter where you go, when you look up, you’ll see the Acropolis in the distance that will remind you this was the birthplace of western civilization.

You could spend a lifetime exploring this great city, but if you only have a short period of time, these neighborhoods are the top places to visit in Athens.

Acropolis/Makrigianni

Located between Thissio and Syntagma Square, the Acropolis, or Makrigianni neighborhood as it’s also called, is the one that most people envision when pictureing Athens. It’s one of the most central as well as being home to the city’s most famous attraction, Acropolis Hill and its 5th-century BC monuments like the Parthenon and Temple of Athena Nike. This is also where you’ll find Athens’ best museum, the Acropolis Museum, which holds countless artifacts from the Acropolis with two floors devoted to permanent exhibits and other two with multimedia galleries, temporary exhibitions, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Lively, pedestrianized Dionysiou Areopagitou street is here too, offering fabulous views of the Acropolis along with fashionable boutiques, designer jewelry shops, avant-garde art galleries and enticing cafes. It runs from east to west, starting from Amalias Avenue near the Arch of Hadrian, ending near Philopappos Hill.

Plaka District

Another one of the best places to visit in Athens that really shouldn’t be missed, Plaka is an oasis in this busy metropolis, with the feel as if you’re worlds away from the hustle and bustle. One of Europe’s most ancient settlements, it sits beneath the shadow of the Acropolis and has a history that dates back over 3,500 years. Colorful and charming, the cobbled streets and narrow alleyways are lined with Byzantine temples, neoclassical buildings, ancient ruins, and pastel-painted homes draped in bougainvillea. There are family-run tavernas where you can enjoy delicious traditional Greek fare and hundreds of shops, some that sell handcrafted artisan items, along with the usual kitschy tourist goods. Tucked into peaceful corners are some historic churches like the Church of Kapnikar and the Metamórfosis Church.

Monastiraki

This picturesque neighborhood in the heart of the city is famous for its ancient sites, neoclassical homes, and a famous open-air market. You can find just about anything here with the market and the entire neighborhood known for offering some of the best bargains in the city. There are rare antique dealers right alongside souvenir shops selling the usual tourist wares like t-shirts, along with fashionable clothing and jewelry. It’s also a hotspot for people-watching, worth visiting just to experience the atmosphere. Enjoy a glass of wine or another beverage in one of the hip cafes while sipping a drink at one of the cafes overlooking the ancient agora as you take in the scene with all the shoppers coming and going. There’s almost always street musicians to complete the experience too.

Psiri

Psiri

Psiri is the place to go for those who want to enjoy Athens’ renowned nightlife as the center of it all, particularly the area that surrounds Iroon Square. There’s almost always something going on here, with everything from parties at the clubs to live music in the bars and restaurants. As one might imagine, it attracts many young Athenians who enjoy the mis of modern and traditional character. It’s not popular among tourists, making it ideal for those who prefer mingling with the locals as well as being within close proximity to both Plaka and Monastiraki. During the day it’s enjoyable to wander the narrow streets with many unique, independent shops, tavernas and café, appealing to those who enjoy the off-the-beaten-path and delving into Greek culture.

Kolonaki

Kolonaki is known as the place where affluent Athenians live, dine, and shop, with lots of major international designer names along with Greek designers and jewelers here. Some of the top shopping streets include Pindarou, Solonos, Likavittou, Tsakalof, and Ippokratous but there are boutiques, shoe stores, and art galleries scattered about the side streets too. This chic neighborhood is also home to a diverse array of restaurants, including many Japanese, French, and Italian eateries. If you want to try authentic souvlaki, those in the know will direct you to Kalamaki Kolonaki. Have your fill without guilt by taking an energizing walk up Lycabettus Hill, with Kolonaki spread across the lower slopes. From here you’ll get an amazing view over the city, out to the sea and nearby islands. 

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