Discover hidden gems and unusual activities in Athens, home to democracy and the modern heart of Greece. Here is our insider guide.
Don’t miss: the Athens Food Guide.
HIDDEN GEMS TO FIND DIFFERENT, UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL THINGS IN ATHENS
Athens should be easy to love, but sometimes it is not.
From ancient romance to skyscrapers to edgy street art, Athens is all the more suitable to be a city that is difficult to define.
It is a real city, a living city, a city full of character. But it takes a little effort to figure out the best of what it has to offer. When it comes to finding hidden gems in Athens, that’s not a cliché. You can literally find some hidden gems.
Here’s our insider guide to finding unusual activities in Athens based on the advice of the locals.
Disclosure – Some of these activities were organized by the locations mentioned, but not all. They were only included when I thought you enjoyed them! If you book through the links on this page, I can earn a small commission at no additional cost to you (this is called an affiliate link). Bottom up!
VISIT THE SEA SIDE: WAVE WATCHING AT PIRAEUS
One of the hidden gems of Athens is the coast. Hardly anyone ever thinks of going there. Go to Piraeus and take your time to walk along the coast. Watch the waves kiss the shore and local children chase their shadows. It is a quiet and beautiful place, a world outside the center of Athens with only 20 minutes at the wheel.
Suggestion for dinner: Varoulko seaside restaurant
Ah, this beautiful place. I want to tell you almost nothing about it! This fresh and modern restaurant is right on the water and offers the friendliest service of any Michelin-starred place I’ve ever visited. The menu is creative and combines syringes with olive oil with chopped langoustines wrapped in leaves. But even the humble cherry tomato tastes better here than anywhere else. When it comes to unusual activities in Athens, it is hard to surpass this unique and remote place.
See Athens with a local: “This is my Athens”
If you’re looking for a truly unique way to discover Athens’ hidden treasures, meet up with a local. How you do that? Well, program This is my Athens connects you with local volunteers who will help you discover everything you want! They are driven by a passion for their city and for meeting other people. And, boy, do you know the places to go?
Take Plaka, for example, the area near the Acropolis. I had dismissed it as too touristy, but my local guide found places that showed how wrong I was. Glittering interiors of hidden churches with ghostly stories. Handmade arts and crafts with the artists on site. Also some of the best places for coffee – and later for wine. Highly recommended.
Relax in the national garden and watch the open air cinema
- Dine on the outdoor terrace in the Aegli Zappeiou and then enjoy the open-air cinema.
Hidden gems in Athens: unusual and unique places to eat
Watch the sunset over the Acropolis
One of the best things about Athens is that its hilly structure offers many incredible views. It’s a unique way to spend an evening, and my hidden gem is dinner at the Electra Rooftop Garden Hotel.
Suggestion for dinner: the Electra Rooftop Garden Hotel. This magnificent hotel is dipped in cream and gold and, as the name suggests, there is a roof terrace with a view of the Acropolis. Now many places in Athens overlook the Acropolis this lives very close … and it serves a delicious pomegranate sorbet!
Drink wine and speak philosophy
Um This is also easy to do with one This is my Athens leader! In the up-and-coming wine bars in the Electra area you will find a mixture of cool and cozy hipster atmosphere. If you’re more interested in philosophy and less interested in wine, check out the Athens philosophy tours offered by academics. You can even visit Plato’s former academy.
Dine between recycled furniture
Check out the oh-so-peppery fresh olive oil NEW hotel restaurant. NEW is characterized by fresh, Mediterranean organic cuisine and the sculptures made from recycled furniture make a beautiful twist for the eye. Greek mezze has never tasted so good.
Hustle and bustle at the Varvakios Agora food market
Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and visit Varvakios Agora to experience the wild splendor of Athens’ large fresh food market. Walk past street vendors and baskets filled with plump shrimp, squeeze between the crowd to buy fresh fish and hanging guts, and then find a slow consolation amid the spice mountains outside.
Brunch in Lycabettus with a view of the Athens skyline
I’m not a stranger in a hotel with a view, but on the sixth floor of the St. George Lycabettus somehow defies the laws of physics.
Pine so close that you can touch it on one side and a shimmering acropolis on the other side. There is also another page that shows the houses stacked like staggered shoe boxes on the hills and the hustle and bustle of city life in Greece. And finally the view of the coast and the Saronic Islands. Blissful.
The Lycabettus Hill is one of the highest points in Athens in Kolonaki. It’s the well-heeled part of the city, a kind of sloane square with sunshine. After all, Daniel Day Lewis and Juliette Binoche both ate on the Grand Balcon (though not together, as far as I know).
Depending on your speed and comfort, you can walk to central Syntagma Square in 20 to 30 minutes or, of course, ask the concierge for a taxi into town. If you don’t plan to stay at the hotel, you can enjoy a brunch with a view on Sunday. Booking in advance is my suggestion.
Eat sushi with a view of the Acropolis
If the clouds or the cool rain have decided to move in, or if you long for a break from the traditional Greek taste, check out the selection of glittering lights and sushi in the Galaxy Bar, Hilton Athens.
It also offers great views of the Acropolis …
Drink in the oldest distillery in Athens
Drink your drink under the colored glass Brettos in Plaka. As the oldest distillery in Athens, it offers all the homemade, mysterious flavors that you should be afraid of. Cherry, Lemon and Mastiha Ouzo. You have been warned …
Classical activities in Athens
In your hurry to see the hidden treasures of Athens, don’t miss their unique classics:
THE ACROPOLIS AND PLAKA
Yes, everyone goes there, but there’s a good reason for that! These crumbling pillars are the tangible reminder of a civilization that gave us more than we can sometimes understand: the foundation of democracy, the spirit of the Olympics and even the word alphabet itself. Admittedly, there are other aspects that we might happy that the world forgot them (like training naked in the gym, I would say), but still.
Go up the hill early and look for plenty of shade.
The Acropolis Museum also has a sun-drenched terrace that serves super-strong Greek coffee
THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
Immerse yourself in the spirit of ancient Greece by following the Acropolis with it dazzlingly modern acropolis museum. Based on the Parthenon itself, this masterpiece uses a series of multimedia exhibits to bring the stones you see to life. (There is even a Lego exhibition: Who could want more now ?!)
- Don’t miss our Athens Food Guide either. Finding out where to eat in Athens is almost as important as figuring out what to do. Maybe more …
Hidden gems in Athens in the museum district
Like all the best cities in the world, Athens has a museum district. Ping-Pong path along Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to Syntagma Square and around to Panepistimiou Street and the Holy Trinity of Learning: the University of Athens, the Academy and the National Library.
Depending on your energy and enthusiasm, you may be able to fly around in any of these museums until the afternoon. However, there is a possibility that it is best to limit yourself to one or two. Especially when you realize how many of them have good cafes and restaurants in the background …
The Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum is something of an institution in Greece that brings its exhibits and ethos to the airport and the beach resorts of the south. It contains a number of Greek art and by prior arrangement you can hold some of the exhibits in your hands. Coming from the Benakis family’s private fortune, the museum also focuses on ultra-modern restoration programs and extensive training. A tour guide here is a must to bring history to life and have the artifacts preserved!
The Museum of Cycladic Art
The Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation Museum of Cycladic Art houses ancient art in a modern setting. The museum, founded in 1986, has one of my favorite cafés in Athens. But I suppose it would be a little more dignified to talk about art first. What is Cycladic art? It comes from the Greek Cyclades Islands in the Aegean and the most striking feature is the prehistoric figures and figures, especially women. Greek architect Ioannis Vikelas designed the building and it is a quiet and contemplative place to relax from the outside bustle of Athens.
The Zoumboulakis galleries
The Zoumboulakis galleries Bring private collections of contemporary art to 21st century Greece in a cool and bright white, airy gallery. It is often described as a diverse cultural space, with themed exhibitions and events aimed at bringing together a community of art lovers in Athens.
Numismatic Museum: The Real Hidden Treasures in Athens
Numismatic Museum – the Museum of Coins! Get an audio guide to translate and dive into stories of power and pomp through different currencies. Now these Find the hidden treasures of Athens here! Literally.
A coin collection may sound pretty boring, but it’s a fascinating revelation about how we handle money, which is ultimately just an idea. From seals to mints to jewels and hidden gems. It is one of my favorite things to do in Athens.
If you bring your passport to the National Library, you can enter and read the reading room! Perfect for book lovers.
Visit Plato’s Original Academy – outdoors!
One of the most unusual activities in Athens is going back to school. From thousands of years ago.
It is completely unique and completely off the beaten path, but it would be easy to miss it without a guide.
Plato and Socrates used to teach outdoors. And the students were often naked. Go here if you want to find out what it’s about and what it’s about Touch the ruins of Plato’s former academy.
Technically, anafiotics are part of Plaka and feel like another world. It is easily one of the best hidden gems in Athens. In the steep hills next to the Acropolis, it is almost impossible to describe how this area can be hidden and yet so close to the country’s main attraction.
It is also scary, spectacularly beautiful.
The mess of tiny white houses that seem to melt out of the mountain in hypnotizing white and blue owes its appearance to its inhabitants. Workers from the Greek islands like Santorini and beyond have been set up here in Athens in a similar style to help with construction in Athens.
AGIOS NIKOLAOS RAGAVAS CHURCH
Find a small piece of the 11th century alive and well in the heart of Athens. This still functioning church from the Byzantine era shimmers its gold through the dark. If you don’t have time (or inclination) to visit other religious buildings in Athens, you should pay a visit. It is easy to get to in Plaka and a beautiful hidden gem in Athens.
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More about traveling in Athens
Check out our ultimate guide to eating in Athens and check out the Athens Philosophy Tour: Why Are We Striving For Happiness?
More about traveling in Greece
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