An Unconventional Weekend in Athens: Beyond the Beaten Path

By Anni K February 26, 2024

Day 1: Hidden Gems and Local Secrets

Kick off your Athenian journey not with the usual sunrise crowd at the Acropolis, but by exploring the lesser-known Filopappou Hill. This tranquil spot offers a different vantage point of the city and the Parthenon, surrounded by greenery and ancient ruins without the crowds. Enjoy a peaceful morning walk and stumble upon the Socrates’ Prison, an off-the-beaten-path historic site.

For brunch, avoid the tourist traps. Venture into the residential area of Koukaki, where local cafes serve up Greek coffee and traditional pastries away from the hustle and bustle. Then, head to the Museum of Cycladic Art, a gem often overlooked by tourists, where you can admire prehistoric art in a serene setting.

In the afternoon, meander through the Anafiotika neighborhood, nestled on the slopes of the Acropolis. This hidden enclave, with its island-style white-washed houses and winding paths, offers a stark contrast to the busy city below and transports you to the Greek islands right in the heart of Athens.

As evening approaches, dine in the Exarcheia district, known for its bohemian atmosphere and vibrant street art. Here, engage with the local culture by eating at a taverna favored by locals, such as Ama Lachei at Nefeli’s. Cap off the night with a visit to a local kafeneio (coffee shop) for live music and a relaxed, authentic Athenian vibe.

image credit: Kylie Docherty / Unsplash

Day 2: Cultural Immersion and Seaside Escapes

Begin your second day with a visit to the lesser-known Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, which offers a comprehensive overview of Greek history in a more intimate setting than the larger national museums. Take your time exploring the collections without the rush of larger tourist groups.

Next, explore the neighborhood of Petralona, adjacent to the more famous areas of Athens but with a distinctly local feel. Enjoy lunch at a family-run taverna, where dishes are often unlisted and based on the day’s fresh produce.

In the afternoon, escape the city center and head to the Athens Riviera. Visit Lake Vouliagmeni, a natural thermal spa just outside the city, for a relaxing swim in its lukewarm waters, surrounded by rocky landscapes.

For your final evening, skip the typical tourist spots and head to a local open-air cinema in the Mets area – a favorite Athenian pastime during the warm months. Enjoy a classic film under the stars, rounding off your Athenian adventure with one of the city’s cherished cultural experiences.

image credit: Pramod Kumar Sharma / Unsplash

This itinerary aims to provide a blend of relaxation, culture, and local flavor, steering clear of the well-trodden tourist paths and offering a unique perspective on Athens.