Delve deeper into the heart of Athens with these 12 remarkable experiences

Athens is one of the world's great cities.

One of the world’s great cities, Athens is a place where ancient history and modern culture blend seamlessly. Known for iconic landmarks like the Parthenon and the Acropolis, this city has so much more to explore. Our list offers some under-the-radar experiences that will give you a unique perspective of what Athens is truly about.

Ascend to the heavens on a funicular

Embark on a scenic ascent to the summit of Mount Lycabettus aboard the Lycabettus Funicular. This journey offers not just a ride but an experience that captivates with its ascending path through the lush greenery, leading to the highest point in Athens. At the peak, visitors are greeted with a breathtaking panorama that stretches across the urban landscape to the Saronic Gulf. The view is particularly stunning at dusk, as the city lights begin to twinkle and the Acropolis stands out with its illuminated glory. It’s a moment of tranquillity above the bustling city, where one can reflect on the day’s adventures or simply enjoy the beauty of Athens from a bird’s eye view.

Ponder ancient philosophies at Plato’s Academy

Plato’s Academy, the revered site of ancient philosophical discourse, invites modern minds to wander through its historical significance. This park, once the cradle of Western philosophy, now offers a serene escape from the city’s pace. Visitors can stroll through the same grounds where Plato and his contemporaries once debated and taught. The adjacent museum provides a deeper understanding of the site’s historical context and the profound impact of Plato’s work. It’s a place that encourages contemplation and offers a tangible connection to the philosophical heritage that continues to influence thought across the world.

Savour the flavours of Athens in an underground taverna

Diporto, a hidden culinary treasure nestled beneath the vibrant Athens Central Market, offers an authentic Greek dining experience that harks back to simpler times. This underground taverna, unmarked and known mostly to locals, serves traditional Greek fare that is both hearty and soulful. The atmosphere is rustic and genuine, with wooden tables and wine barrels, evoking a sense of communal dining and shared stories. Here, one can savour dishes prepared with time-honoured recipes and local ingredients, accompanied by the robust flavours of house wine, all while soaking in the lively ambience of market life and Athenian culture.

Discover the urban oasis of Anafiotika

Anafiotika, a picturesque neighbourhood nestled on the northern slopes of the Acropolis, offers a tranquil retreat reminiscent of the Greek islands. Its narrow pathways and steps meander between whitewashed houses adorned with bougainvillaea, leading visitors on a journey through a peaceful enclave that contrasts sharply with the surrounding metropolis. This hidden gem provides a glimpse into the traditional island architecture and laid-back lifestyle, right in the heart of Athens. It’s a place where time seems to slow down, allowing for leisurely exploration and an opportunity to discover the quieter, more intimate side of the city.

Uncover cinematic history in an open-air movie haven

Hadrian’s Reservoir, an ancient structure with a storied past, has been transformed into a charming open-air cinema, offering a unique blend of historical ambience and contemporary entertainment. Moviegoers can enjoy a diverse selection of films under the Athenian sky, surrounded by reminders of history. The experience is enhanced by the gentle breeze and the starlit canopy above, creating an enchanting setting that merges the magic of cinema with the allure of ancient Greece. It’s an ideal way to spend a warm evening, immersing oneself in the narrative on screen while being cradled in the arms of antiquity.

Unlock the secrets of ancient Greek astronomy at the Magic Sphere of Helios

The Magic Sphere of Helios, a mysterious and captivating artifact, offers a window into the astronomical knowledge and practices of Ancient Greece. This enigmatic sphere, believed to have been used in celestial observations and rituals, is viewable at the Acropolis Museum which invites visitors to ponder the advanced understanding of the cosmos that ancient Greek civilizations possessed. The sphere serves as a testament to the ingenuity and curiosity of the ancients, who sought to unravel the mysteries of the stars and planets. It’s a place that not only showcases the historical significance of astronomy in Greek culture but also inspires awe and wonder at the early achievements in science and technology.

Navigate the twists and turns of the First Cemetery of Athens

The First Cemetery of Athens, a serene and solemn space, stands as a remarkable open-air gallery of funerary art. As the final resting place for many of Athens’ notable historical figures, it offers a unique perspective on the city’s cultural and artistic heritage. The cemetery is adorned with an array of intricate sculptures and elaborate mausoleums, each telling a story of the lives and legacies left behind. Visitors can meander through the peaceful avenues, reflecting on the artistic expressions of grief and remembrance that have been crafted with exceptional skill and emotion. It’s a place where art and history converge, providing a poignant exploration of Athens’ past.

Experience the tranquility of Kaisariani Monastery

Kaisariani Monastery, nestled within the verdant embrace of Mount Ymittos’ forest, offers a haven of tranquility and spiritual reflection. This Byzantine monastery, with its well-preserved architecture and frescoes, stands as a beacon of serenity and historical significance. Visitors can explore the monastic complex, absorb the peaceful atmosphere, and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding forest. The monastery’s setting provides a perfect backdrop for meditation or a quiet respite from the city’s energy. It’s a place that not only connects one to the spiritual heritage of Greece but also to the timeless beauty of nature.

Embark on a culinary journey at the vibrant Varvakios Agora

Varvakios Agora, the central market of Athens, is a bustling hub of gastronomic activity. Here, travellers can immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere where locals shop for fresh produce, meats, and an array of Greek specialities. It’s a place to discover the true flavours of Athens, from olives and cheese to herbs and spices. Take the opportunity to engage with friendly vendors, sample traditional delicacies and perhaps even learn a recipe or two. This market is not just about food; it’s about experiencing the lively spirit and rich culinary culture of Athens.

Relax by the sea at the tranquil Flisvos Marina

Flisvos Marina offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle. With its yachts gently bobbing in the harbour and the soft sound of waves lapping against the dock, this marina on the Athens Riviera is a haven for relaxation. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, indulge in a meal at one of the many seaside restaurants, or simply sit and watch the sunset paint the sky with hues of orange and pink. It’s an idyllic setting that captures the essence of coastal living and provides a peaceful interlude during your stay in Athens.

Explore the enigmatic streets of Psiri, Athens’ bohemian quarter

Psiri stands out as Athens’ bohemian quarter, a neighbourhood where art, music, and culture converge. By day, the streets are a quiet maze of eclectic shops and cafes. As night falls, Psiri transforms into a lively district with vibrant nightlife, filled with the sounds of live music and the buzz of conversation. It’s a place to experience the city’s creative pulse, discover street art, and enjoy the laid-back yet energetic atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir, a delicious meal, or a night of entertainment, Psiri promises an experience that’s authentically Athenian.

Take a reflective walk through the National Garden of Athens

The National Garden of Athens is a verdant oasis in the heart of the city. This lush retreat offers a tranquil space for a reflective walk among the myriad of plant species, ancient ruins and ornate fountains. It’s a place where locals and visitors alike can find respite from the urban environment, enjoy a picnic, or simply sit and read under the shade of towering trees. The garden’s winding paths lead to unexpected discoveries, making it a perfect spot for those seeking a peaceful moment amidst the natural beauty of Athens.

ENS Editors

Learn More →