Acropolis is a place, which anyone visiting Athens would want to be at least one time. It is the symbol of the city and one of the most famous monuments in the world. In this article we are going to suggest ten truly unique things you could do after your visit to Acropolis, besides the obvious visit to Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι) or Plaka (Πλάκα) (around Kydathinaion (Κυδαθηναίων) street), and Thisio Square (Θησείο).
1. Admire the view from an ancient court : What today looks like a rocky hill opposite of Acropolis, it was during the years of the Athenian Democracy, the seat of one the highest courts, called Areios Pagos (Άρειος Πάγος). Murders, arsons and religious crimes were put on trial here. Also around 51 Α.D. Apostle Paul taught here for the first time the word of God to the citizens of Athens. Today it is a wonderful place to sit, especially during sunset and admire the impressive view of Acropolis, Lycabettus, Monastiraki and the whole city.
2. Relax at the yard of an iconic church : Just across the entrance of Acropolis and on your way to Pnyka (Πνύκα), you will meet the beautiful and historic church of Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris (Άγιος Δημήτριος Λουμπαρδιάρης). Its construction took place during the 9th century and it suffered great damages during the Turkish Occupation. In 1955 it was restored by the famous Greek architect Dimitrios Pikionis by using parts of ancient buildings. Pikionis was responsible for the reconstruction of all the areas surrounding Acropolis. Today you could relax and take a breath, in its always quite and peaceful yard (not during summer weekend evenings, because it is a very popular place for weddings).
3. Discover the “secret” neighbourhood : Anafiotika is a “secret” neighbourhood, part of the old historical neighbourhood of Plaka. It lies in the north-east side of Acropolis. The first houses were illegally built during the reign of King Otto, when workers from the island of Anafi, which were considered the best builders in Greece, came to Athens in order to work to the construction of the new king’s palace. The workers built their houses in the architectural style of Cyclades Islands. Get lost in the small maze of its streets and feel that you are walking in the streets of a Greek Island. For more info and where this neighbourhood is located check our previous article about Anafiotika.
4. Have a coffee at the stairs : While wandering at the usually crowded streets of Plaka, you probably come across the buzzing stairs of Mnisikleous (Μνησικλέους). It is one of the most photographed spots in Plaka, it is always crowded with tourists but at the same time it is a favourite place of the locals. At the cafes on the stairs, the tourists and the locals mingle together and become indistinguishable. The most famous cafe here is Giasemi (Γιασεμί), with excellent sweets, homemade pies, tea and many more delights. Sit at a table, ignore the noise and have a truly Athenian experience.
5. Watch a movie under the stars : Athens is one of the few European cities where you could watch a movie in an open air cinema. This kind of cinema is called in Greek “θερινό” (therino) which means summer and could be found in many neighbourhoods of the city. It has always been a favourite place of the Athenians for a summer night out . The movie is not always important, as long as you sit and watch while drinking a cold beer and eating a snack. Two of the most picturesque open air cinemas are located not far from Acropolis : Cine Thision (Θησείον) on Apostolou Pavlou Street in Thisio and Cine Paris on Kydathinaion Street in Plaka. They both offer a superb view of Acropolis hill.
6. Taste the best lamb chops in the city : If you feel hungry after your visit to Acropolis, head to Thisio and search for Eptachalkou Street. On this street at number 5 you will find the tavern To Steki tou Ilia (Το Στέκι του Ηλία), one of the best places in Athens to eat grilled meat and especially lamb chops. The tavern was established in 1981 and since then Ilias with his family serves his customers and keeps always the same quality. During the summer the small garden opposite of the tavern is a welcoming oasis, away from the ongoing traffic of Thisio, while during winter you could sit inside under the big wine barrels. The tavern has and a second location at number 5 Thessalonikis Street, just a few meters down the street.
7. Get lost in the world of books : Just a few meters from Dionisiou Areopagitou Street and near Acropolis Museum, you will discover a small cafe named Little Tree : Books and Coffee (5 Kavalotti Street). A group of friends created this cosy cafe and bookstore, as a gathering place for the inhabitants of the area. Books are everywhere in this place, which is always well informed about new editions. At the same time you could find here excellent coffee, tea, sweets, snacks and a carefully picked variety of wines. The secret is spreading in the city and now during peak hours it is sometimes difficult to find a table.
8. Surrender to the smell of fresh bread : Takis Bakery (aka Artopoiotis o Takis – Αρτοποιητής ο Τάκης) is something like an institution for the citizens of Koukaki neighbourhood. With a family tradition of baking bread since 1961 and actually being the first to introduce the “Koulouri Thessalonikis” to Athens, it is no wonder the people are lining up every day to buy bread (almost 30 different types) but also sweets, cakes and sandwiches. The interior is relatively small but well organized and the selves and baskets filled with all these delicacies are a sight for shore eyes. Some people consider it as the best bakery in Athens. It is located at number 14 Misaraliotou Street just a few meters from Acropolis.
9. Take a stroll around Koukaki : Just a few steps from Acropolis and its museum, and beside Sygrou Avenue (one of Athens busiest roads), lies the neighbourhood of Koukaki (Κουκάκι). Known until the 1980s as “Little Paris”, Koukaki was a middle class neighbourhood with a strong cultural identity, because many artists (musicians, actors, writers etc) were born, lived and worked here. The last decade the area has been gaining its lost charm and transforming into a lively neighbourhood, which many Athenians choose to live, due to its proximity to the city center and its neighbourly authenticity. You could find many original and cosy shops, cafe and restaurants here but the epicentre is the pedestrian Drakou Street (Δράκου). Our favourite places on Drakou Street are : Kalamaki Bar (for probably one of the best kalamali-souvlaki in town) and Riza – Riza (a cosy all day cafe restaurant).
10. Grab the best sandwich in town : If you are strolling around Koukaki and real feel hungry, come to Guarantee (41 Veikou Street), to taste the best sandwich in Athens. Mr Yiannis serves for the last 26 years the citizens of the city with big, tasty and extra fresh sandwiches. The difference here lies in the quality and the big variety of choices. There over 150 different things to choose from and make your own sandwich. The service is always friendly and extra helpful. Don’ t hesitate to grab one of these sandwiches, because a visit to Acropolis could be quiet tiring.
After the almost obligatory visit to Acropolis and depending on the hour of the day, choose to continue with one of these ten things, you won’t regret it.