Are you visiting Athens soon and looking for ways to experience Athens like a local and avoid all the tourist spots? Well, we’ve got some great tips for you directly from our local Spotters in Athens!
These insider tips have been curated by our Spotters who live and breathe the city, and they offer a unique perspective on what to see, do, and experience in Athens.
Whether visiting a lesser-known historic site, trying traditional Greek cuisine at a hidden taverna, or exploring a neighbourhood outside of the tourist areas, these recommendations provide a true taste of Athens as seen through the eyes of its residents.
Art and Culture
Athens has a thriving art and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and cultural institutions showcasing the rich history and heritage of Greece, as well as contemporary art and cultural events.
Louka Nika Street – A street art gallery
“Street art springs from the life of a city. It is created by the most lively and restless part of society and reflects, in every period, the real soul of the city and the concerns of its inhabitants. Street art has developed mainly in large urban centres, and Athens is no exception. The Psirri neighbourhood in the city centre is inextricably linked to the history of street art in Athens. The narrow streets of Psirri are full of well-known works by foreign and Greek artists.
Louka Nika is a street that consists of two sections that form a corner in the centre of Psirri and run parallel to the Theater Ivi. The walls on both sides of the street are covered with unique street artworks representing various artistic currents and styles. However, as street art is a living art, no passage from Louka Nika is the same as the previous one.”- Antonis Tsapepas
Statues of Ζappeion Garden – Beauty made of marble
“Ζappeio is worth a visit by itself and is a famous Athens monument located right next to the Parliament. But who knows about the statues that are spread all over its garden in front of the Zappeio building itself? There are 23 statues waiting for you to discover and find the story behind them!
One of the most famous is the one of the Greek national hero Georgios Karaiskakis who took part in the revolution of 1821. There are others that are of rich people who became benefactors of Greece, like Konstantinos & Evangelos Zappas, whose names were given to Zappeio Megaro. There is also a statue of Lord Byron.”- Marilena Salamanou
Athens city museum – Here is the history of Athens
“Located in one of the first buildings of the city of Athens also known as “the old palace” is the Athens City Museum. The building belonged to the Satamatiou Dekozi Vourou family, was constructed in 1834 and was the first royal palace of the first royal family in free Greece. In 1843 the royal family moved after which the building was again used as a house. The Athens city museum was founded later in 1973 by Lampros Eftaxias and opened for first time to public in 1980. “- Andreas Papadopoulos
Freatida – Ancient walls next to the sea
“Freatida is a part of the Piraeus coastline between Peiraiki and Pasalimani. Although I have passed it by many times, I rediscovered it during the previous lockdown. Ever since, I consider it one of the most beautiful and strangest areas of Piraeus!
Why strange? Because there you can find pieces of the ancient wall of Piraeus located at the entrances of apartment buildings; you can drink a coffee overlooking the beach at its fancy bars (one of the most popular bars is called Pisina) or even swim (which people do, but I wouldn’t recommend!) in the sea of Freatida.”- Marilena Salamanou
Athens is home to a diverse and delicious dining scene, offering everything from traditional Greek tavernas serving delicious, hearty dishes to chic contemporary restaurants showcasing the best of Greek cuisine with a modern twist.
Prasini Tenta – The finest and greenest view
“Prasini Tenta (Green Tent) is named after the color of the awnings on the cafe’s terraces. Located on the top of Lycabettus hill, the highest spot of the city right in the center of Athens, it is a steep walk to reach Prasini Tenta, but just the view itself is worth the hike. Alternatively, you can take the cable car located in Kolonaki that takes you to the hilltop in 3 minutes or take a car and park a few meters from the cafe.
Many hiking paths can take you up to the hill; for those more adventurous, Lycabettus also boasts a small canyon. Here however I am focusing more on the self-awarded prize waiting for you at the end of your hike. Prasini Tenta is a quietly chic place, successfully blending with its green surroundings.”- Zoe Tziakou
O Lefteris – Dad-approved souvlaki
“So there are two souvlaki restaurants called Lefteris in this part of Athens: one in Kallithea (O-Lefteris) and another one in Nea Smyrni. Both have been around for the better part of a century, both serve souvlaki the real traditional way, the way our fathers and grandfathers prefer it (no gyros, just meat skewers or kebab – no fries or tzatziki, just tomato, onion and maybe parsley), and, apparently, these two Lefterises have nothing to do with each other.”- Dimitris Hall
Kottaroú – Taverna at its best
“If someone asked me where the most touristic place to have dinner in Athens was, I would answer quite vaguely “in a taverna” but in my opinion there are two kind of tavernas, so allow me to be a bit more specific about Kottaroú.
The authentic taverna is a haven, a small agora where thoughts are exchanged; it’s a place to express grief or happiness, where all people are the same, drinking the same inexpensive house wine. Up until the ’50s they were relegated to basements and usually were the perfect hangouts of outsiders, artists and/or outlaws. They were places full of stories.”- Javier Munoz
Athens is renowned for its lively bar scene, offering everything from traditional Greek tavernas serving up classic drinks to hip, contemporary bars and rooftop lounges with stunning views of the city.
Sfika – Nice place for drinks in Koukaki
“Koukaki has become a hotspot for bars in Athens, but a specific kind of bar. In just the last couple of years, all sorts of fancy spots have opened trying to ride the tourist and gentrification boom this classic Athens neighborhood currently enjoys. Not Sfika (“wasp”).
This little bar is just next to fellow Spotter Andreas’ sandwich heaven Guarantee and has been around for absolutely ages. If you’re looking for a place to grab some drinks with friends that has just the right kind of lighting (low and warm), look no further.”- Dimitris Hall
Strange Brew – For curious drinkers!
“Are you a beer collector/connoisseur? Do you meticulously update your discoveries on Untappd? Are local breweries the spots that top your to-go list when visiting a new city? Then Strange Brew is definitely for you.
I’m no beer expert, but I do have my preferences. I’m no big fan of bitter IPAs, for example; on the other hand, ever since I tried a fresh, citrusy sour ale in Bar Hop in Toronto, I’d been trying to find something similar in Athens. My quest had been fruitless… until yesterday.”- Dimitris Hall
Svejk – Beer garden
“Svejk is a Czech – Slovak beer house with the true feeling of a Czech traditional pub on the inside and a lovely Athenian garden on the outside. It’s ideal for summer beer drinking or a cold winter feast.
The variety in beers is huge, including bottled and some rare finds in draft beers. The food is also very tasty and very fat. The menu is a heaven of fried dishes which can only be consumed with the help of a large glass of draft beer. I like the fried cheese, fried potatoes with cheese and the schnitzel. The pork shank is a speciality, and it’s perfect if you are more than 3 people and order a couple more dishes to share.”- Angeliki Georgokosta
Relax And Unwind
Athens offers numerous opportunities for relaxation, including scenic parks, tranquil beaches, and rejuvenating spa and wellness experiences, making it the perfect destination for those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Anafiotika – The island inside Athens!
“Do you know that under the Acropolis there is a neighbourhood inspired by a Greek island that belongs to the Cyclades and called Anafi? And the name of this neighbourhood? Anafiotika of course!
It is a place you shouldn’t miss! When you wander at Anafiotika it feels like you are not in Athens. Small houses with their own gardens full of colourful flowers, white stone churches and cats running around. The vibe is so calm and all of a sudden you feel relaxed like being on holidays at a sunny island.
Although it is so close to Athens’ most famous sight, the Acropolis, it is still a hidden gem. Even people that have spent their whole life in Athens have never visited it!”-Marilena Salamanou
Peiraiki – Piraeus’ coastline
“If there is a place that I really love just a few kilometers from the center of Athens center that’s Peiraiki.
Peiraiki is the coastline of Piraeus that starts from the Chatzikyriakeio area and ends at Mikrolimano. In order to visit the area, just take the green line metro to the last stop (Piraeus) and then bus 904 can take you there. Or just grab a taxi outside Piraeus train station.
If you love discovering a city by walking and if you also love walking next to the sea, Peiraiki is the place to be! The ideal time to visit is before sunset in order to enjoy the orange sky and its reflection on the sea.”- Marilena Salamanou
Diomidous Botanical Garden – Oasis of Athens
“This is a spot that just a few Athenians know, whilst it is under their noses; just 8km from downtown Athens! This is the Botanical Garden of Diomidous, the largest botanical garden of the eastern Mediterranean. It was founded in 1952, and in 1975, after completion of landscaping, it was open to the general public. In its area of 470 acres, trees and bushes can be found from all over the world, as well as plants mentioned in Greek mythology and history, like the myrtle of Aphrodite and Socrates’ hemlock.
The Botanical Garden constitutes a special area of scientific research and education, dedicated to knowledge about the environment and raising ecological awareness, and also one of the best places for a savory walk through its landscaped parts; from the flower field, the tree field and the greenhouse to its paved paths and artificial ponds.”- Andreas Papadopoulos