13 Cool Places to Visit in Athens

cool places visit athens

People mostly associate Greece with beautiful islands and beaches. However, the ancient capital, Athens, is also not to be missed whenever you’re visiting Greece. 

There are many cool places to visit in Athens, places for history geeks, culture fans, food lovers, and pretty much any type of traveler. I asked some fellow travel bloggers to share their favorite places in Athens to fulfill the list. 

So, here you have 13 cool places to include in your Athens itinerary, recommended by travel bloggers: 

Little Kook Cafe

(recommended by Life Beyond Borders)

Greece is famous for mythology and the Gods, yes – fairytales, not so much.  But come to the Psirri district of central Athens, and a fairytale will come alive in front of your eyes, and it comes with delicious cakes too.

Little KooK is a themed café situated between Monisteraki and Thission metro stations.  It’s hard to miss: every month there’re different fairy tale themes with the front of the building elaborately decorated, literally resembling something out of Disney. Staff dress as a character from the theme; Alice in Wonderland or Cinderella (expect to see the Cheshire Cat or an Ugly Sister taking your order) and within this old building you can find various themed rooms.

The menu – written on Harry Potter style wizard scrolls – offers a variety of mouth-watering cakes and beverages – tip: the Strawberry Meringue is delicious.

Both young and old alike love coming here. Little KooK is more than just a café, it’s a ‘museum of fairytales’ which all can appreciate.

cool places visit athens

The Parthenon

(recommended by Travel Crusade)

Athens is famous for the pom pom parade happening across the city with guards displaying their show and Parthenon, which is a temple dedicated to Goddess Athena. The pom pom parade happening in the region is very famous and happens at the weekend with guards displaying their grandiosity and dedication towards the event.

The changing of guards takes place and people gather to watch the beautiful event taking place in the city premises. These guards gather together and start promenading across the region with colorful dresses and the show becomes really pompous and attracting and attracts a lot of procession lovers and parade activists.

The Parthenon is another striking attraction in the region with a lot to offer tourists and travelers coming to see the beauty prevailing in Greece.

cool places visit athens

Mama Roux

(recommended by Stephanie from Sofia Adventures)

I’m a huge fan of Balkan food, but whenever I’m in Athens, I head straight to Mama Roux’s for the best Tex-Mex in the Balkans. I fell in love with this place while I was staying in Athens for a month a few years ago, and I’ll tell any American or Canadian who will listen that they have to go there when in the city.  

I drool whenever I think about their burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and especially their guacamole. Located in the hip Monastiraki neighborhood, Mama Roux’s is an American foodie’s paradise, so if you’ve been traveling around Europe for long stretches as I have been, it’s amazing to have a place where the food is exquisite and tastes like home.

Besides Tex-Mex, they have amazing hamburgers, bao buns, fantastic ramen, and legitimately fluffy pancakes with maple syrup. European food is divine, but I can never find pancakes quite fluffy enough for my taste, and it’s even harder to find maple syrup. Sure, I’ll eat gyros, calamari, and souvlaki, but I always make sure to hit up Mama Roux’s one (or five) times.

cool places visit athens

Flea market district Monastiraki

(recommended by Travellers Archive)

When visiting Athens, you might need some time off the historic and ancient tourist spots that everyone ”needs to visit”. How about getting a glimpse of what daily life in Athens looks like?

Our favorite district of Athens is Monastiraki. This rather alternative is a true gem for everyone who is into flea markets and hip bars. During the week Monastiraki turns into something that resembles the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, with lots of shops selling similar stuff, but during Sundays, when most shops are closed, locals bring tables and carpets and start selling their individual stuff.

The best thing about Monastiraki? It’s full of hidden courtyards where locals and tourists meet to get their boozy Sunday going. It’s the perfect combination of shopping and simply enjoying the day with a nice glass of wine or beer. Our favorite? The Abyssinia Café, which is located right on Avisynia square. Tables and chairs are being put on the square at the right spot to watch the day go by.

cool places visit athens

Orizontes

(recommended by Foddie Flashpacker)

When my friends found out I was planning to visit Athens, more than one suggested Orizontes, mostly for the view rather than the menu. Orizontes is known for having the best view of any of the restaurants in Athens

Situated on the hill of Lycabettus, the highest peak in Athens, Orizontes has impressive panoramic views of the capital city. You’ll enjoy your dinner seated outdoors on their cliff-side terrace.

The menu features Mediterranean cuisine and is best known for its seafood dishes. The wine list features both Greek and international labels.

To reach the restaurant, you’ll have to ride a cable car that departs every thirty minutes from the corner of Ploutarhiou and Aristippou streets in Kolonaki.

This should be a must-visit for everyone going to Athens!

cool places visit athens

Exarcheia

(recommended by Alison from Sofia Adventures)

Many people skip Athens instead to go island hopping in Greece, but Athens is definitely worth some time on its own!

Athens is known for its Greek and Roman ruins, sure, but it’s also got a certain kind of ‘ruins’ in the crumbling anarchist neighborhood of Exarcheia. This neighborhood has long been home to political dissidents and radical intellectuals, and you can see its politicism in the art all over the walls of its decaying buildings.

Exarcheia has been the location of many protests and riots over the years. Despite its history as a home for anarchists, refugees, and political dissidents, it’s now becoming a bit of a hipster neighborhood, with trendy bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and shops spilling out into the parks. 

The best way to understand Exarcheia is to walk around its streets and absorb its street art. It’s quite literally everywhere, from graffiti’s names and tags to larger works and murals. Most of the themes are political in nature due to the anarchist history of Exarcheia, but there are also portraits and decorated shopfronts, and fun little details like flamingos on the street walls, also. It’s clear Exarcheia doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes it really fun to walk around and explore.  

cool places visit athens

Changing of The Guards

(recommended by World on a Whim)

While in Athens, you should absolutely make it a point to watch the Changing of the Guards Ceremony in front of the Parliament building at Syntagma Square.  The guards, standing in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier, change every hour on the hour.

After standing completely still for one hour, the Evzones, or presidential guards, change positions in slow, measured movements to protect their blood circulation.  The guards change positions by using extremely controlled, synchronized movements and impressive footwork. 

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony is the uniforms that the Evzones wear. They aren’t what you expect in terms of traditional military garb, yet they are so traditionally Greek and absolutely evoke a sense of pomp and circumstance. 

Also, the ceremony is absolutely free!  Sundays at 11:00 AM is the main ceremony or ”Grand Change” because more guards participate and it’s a more complex ceremony.  If you choose to go for the Grand Change on Sunday at 11:00 AM, anticipate that there will be crowds so get there early and expect people to try and push their way in. If you choose to go during the week, the ceremony and crowds will be much more low key but still a fascinating experience. 

cool places visit athens

Plaka

(recommended by Swedish Nomad)

Plaka is a historical neighborhood in Athens, and definitely one of the places that everyone should visit in Athens. It lies on the slopes of Acropolis, and here await cobblestones with shops, restaurants, and bars along the way. Yes, it’s touristy, but in many ways also authentic.

It’s still possible to experience a true ouzo tasting here, and you can still feel the history when you look at the historical monuments scattered around Plaka. It’s very central, yet it feels like a village within the city.

It’s great to combine the colorful and vibrant little area Anafiotika with Plaka as it’s so close to each other

Meliartos is a great place to stop for a coffee, and so is the place called Kimolia art cafe. If you want some food and are looking for a nice meal, head to Falafellas. It’s a hidden gem in Plaka, and not too pricey either. If you want a more upscale restaurant I suggest 2Mazi Restaurant.

cool places visit athens

Panathenaic stadium

(recommended by Show Them The Globe)

The white marble Panathenaic Stadium is a stunning sight and boasts the title of the world’s only entirely marble stadium. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and was the venue for the 2004 Olympics in Greece. 

The display of Olympic torches is a highlight of a visit to the stadium. Having been lit in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the Olympic flame travels to the Panathenaic Stadium before being delivered to the next country hosting the Olympic Games.

We ran a lap of the track, admired the collection of Olympic torches and climbed up to the top of the stadium imagining what it must have been like to watch the events from the pews!

cool places visit athens

Temple of Olympian Zeus

(recommended by Becoming You)

Aside from the obvious temple to visit in Athens (located on the top of the hill), this temple, located in the center of the city, is another temple not to be missed!

We spent only one day in Athens and it was our first stop after I had read a top tip from another blogger about buying an entry ticket to all the main attraction sites in Athens… and that the queues here were far more manageable than the ones for the same entry ticket at the Acropolis. This nugget of advice proved to be totally true!

We arrived at the nearest metro station and walked the short distance to the entrance… overshadowed by the towering columns, but not yet close enough to absorb their sheer scale.

Temple of Olympian Zeus is the site of the largest temple dedicated to the chief of the Olympian gods, Zeus.

The construction of this temple started in the 6th century BC. It now largely lies in ruins, but it’s worth a visit to marvel at the sheer size that this temple once was.

Originally this temple would have been constructed of 104 Corinthian columns of 17m high and 1.7m in diameter. Only 15 remain standing (and one has fallen).

This temple is very close to the Arch of Hadrian which was erected in 132 AD as a gate between the ancient city and the Roman city of Athens.

Start your visit to the temples of Athens from this temple and then wind your way up the 500m (albeit rather steep ones) towards the Acropolis through Plaka.

cool places visit athens

Temple of Poseidon

(recommended by Veggie Vagabonds)

Perched proudly on the cliffside of Cape Sounion is the Ancient Greek Temple of Poseidon. Built between 444-440 BC, this is one of the major monuments from the Golden Age of Athens and is less than an hour away from Athens. It really is an incredible sight to see on the horizon and is an even better place to watch the sun go down surrounded by history. As it’s not in the city if you go at the beginning or the end of the day you can quite often have the place to yourself!

The Temple of Poseidon is 70 km from Athens on the southernmost tips of the Attica Peninsula. It makes for the perfect day trip from Athens and all you have to do is follow the coastline East from Athens. The drive itself really is breathtaking, zigzagging in and out of coastal cliff sides with huge drops on your side into the perfect blue sea. It really is the bluest sea we’ve seen after all our travels. Although there is public transport going to Sounion it’s more convenient to hire a car and make your own way there. Then you can also explore the surrounding site before making your way back to Athens. 

cool places visit athens

Benaki Museum

(recommended by Time Travel Turtle)

It may not be the most famous of the museums in Athens, but the Benaki Museum actually has one of the most impressive collections in all of Greece.

What makes the Benaki Museum so interesting is that it traces the history and culture of Greece from the Bronze Age right through until the middle of the 20th century. In a city where so much is ancient, it’s a refreshing change to also see some modern history of Athens. It’s not just things like jars and statues, but also items like costumes and advertisements. It’s easy to spend a few hours going on a journey through thousands of years of history.

The museum still has its main collection in the former home of the Benakis family, who founded the institution in 1930. It’s easy to get to and is near to some other important museums in Athens. There are now also some satellite campuses of the museum, with the best one being the Museum of Islamic Art.

cool places visit athens

A for Athens rooftop bar

(recommended by me)

On my way back home from SE Asia, I spent one night in Athens. I’ve been to Greece before but never to the capital.

After an 11 hour flight from Singapore and almost no sleep, I spent my day in Athens exploring the Exarcheia neighborhood and a bit of the center.

In the evening, I wanted to find a nice place where I can have a great view of the city and a beer. The hostel where I was staying was supposed to have a terrace with a view, but unfortunately, it wasn’t working. Luckily, I meet some cool people from the same hostel and one of them, a Canadian guy, who was drunk the whole day, said that he will take us to the best place he knows. After wandering around, he didn’t manage to find the place, but in the end, we ended up in A for Athens.

This place offers an amazing view of the Acropolis and the Monastiraki square, plus, a good selection of cocktails and a cold beer. Nothing else to ask for.

Oh, yes, and if you’re traveling to Athens with your other half, you must go there – the atmosphere can be very romantic.

cool places visit athens

Where to stay in Athens

To find a place to stay in Athens, you can use the widget below, or check this list of recommended places of where to stay in Athens.

Thanks for reading, 

Bilyana

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