Many European countries have reopened their doors to visitors, including Greece. And while many people may head straight to the idyllic white houses and blue domes in Santorini or Mykonos, Athens should not be skipped!
It’s THE destination for Greek mythology nerds (must admit, I am one myself). There are also some amazing hidden gems for non-history geeks. Here are 3 places in Athens that tourists often overlook.
Ok, maybe the first place to visit isn’t exactly IN Athens, but it sure isn’t far away. Just one subway train and about 20 minutes from the Acropolis and you’re in Piraeus.
To get there, take the M1 subway train toward Kifisia – Piraeus (ΚΗΦΙΣΙΑ – ΠΕΙΡΑΙΑΣ) and get off at the last station, Piraeus. I was staying at an Airbnb near Thissio Station, so it’s about a 20-minute train ride to arrive in Piraeus.
The Piraeus marina is a superb place to enjoy a cocktail by the water around sunset. You can also just walk around the marina and enjoy the view.
On the way to or from the subway station to the marina, stop by Holy Trinity Church. It’s a beautiful Orthodox church and definitely worth a visit. On the day I visited, however, the church was closing around 5PM so I did not have much time to explore on the inside.
The primary reason I visited Piraeus was to find a fish taverna. I love eating fresh seafood and that’s exactly what you get at a fish taverna in Greece. We visited Zachos Kaminia, a local restaurant in a quiet residential area. It wasn’t easy to find, but this place is a true hidden gem! The friendly but non-English speaking owners even showed us to the kitchen where we could pick out what fish we wanted grilled greeted us.
Catch the Sunset on Lycabettus Hill
Lycabettus Hill is one of the highest point in the city and offers an outstanding view of Athens. The location is popular among locals who gather in crowds to catch the sunset by the Church of Saint George on top of this hill.
To get there from near the Acropolis, take the M3 subway train towards Agia Marina – Plakentias – Airport (ΑΓΙΑ ΜΑΡΙΝΑ – ΔΟΥΚ. ΠΛΑΚΕΝΤΙΑΣ – ΑΕΡΟΔΡΟΜΙΟ) and get off at Evangelismos Station. Then, it’s a 10-minute walk up the steep residential neighbourhood to the Lycabettus Hill cable car. You can choose to either take the 5-minute cable car ride or hike up the hill.
You might not be on the side of the hill facing the sun, that would be at the Church of Saint George, but you can still see how the orange sunlight colours the city and the Lycabettus Theatre at the bottom of the hill.
Visit Varvakios Central Market
Farmer’s markets (or in Greek, laiki agora – people’s market) are a common aspect of the lifestyle in Greece. If you’re a big foodie, you can’t pass up the opportunity to go to a market. And the closest one you can visit in Athens is the Varvakios Central Market.
To get there from the Acropolis Museum, take the M2 subway train towards Elliniko – Anthoupoli (ΣΤ. ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΟ – ΑΝΘΟΥΠΟΛΗ) and get off at Omonia Square. From there, it’s only a 5-minute walk to arrive at the market.
This market reminded me a lot of traditional markets in Vietnam, all vendors selling similar products just seem to have their stalls merged into one big aisle of fresh meat and poultry, fresh seafood, vegetables, dry nuts, or dairy, etc.
Even if you’re not buying grocery, this is a great place to visit if you want to stock up on snacks for your trip! And healthy snacks! You can find plenty of stalls selling fresh fruits and even buy nuts and seeds by the weight. My favourite is fresh pistachio!
And there you have it! Three lesser-known places to visit in Athens. This city is definitely not one to skip out on!