Unique things to do in the Greek capital, Athens

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Athens is very dear to me as I've spent four great years in the city while studying at university. Up until today, I've walked many many hours around the streets of the city.

Athens is world-famous about Acropolis and its sea links to the Cyclades islands. However, there are a lot of unique things that travellers shouldn't miss doing in this city and I have gathered here a list for you to give them a try. I've prepared this list with the eye of a traveller and I've asked fellow Greeks and Athenians who live abroad like me to give me their top places - they are the ones they can't find abroad or have this unique 'Greek' smell.

So besides visiting the ancient Greek ruins and eating souvlaki what else should you do in Athens?

Stroll around Plaka

One of my most-loved walks in the city is around Plaka. Start from metro station Acropolis and walk towards Monastiraki in a circle ending back at the same station. In this way, you get to appreciate the blue and white alleys of Plaka, do window or actual shopping in the tourist shops, do people-watching - there are great Greek characters to observe in these alleys, see beautiful bright pink bougainvillea flowers, enjoy great views of Acropolis and other ancient Greek ruins, explore the Anafiotika alleys, buy handmade jewellery from the local artists and listen to the musicians under Acropolis on Dionysioy Aeropagitou Road. However, be prepared to walk! This walk will take you between 1-1.5 hour and don't do it on heels - the alleys are mostly cobbled.

Ancient Greek ruins under Acropoli
Ancient Greek ruins in Anafiotika alleys right next to Monastiraki are (part of the circular walk)

Eat amazing desserts

Greek Mediterranean cuisine might be world-famous but often people don't know how amazing Greek desserts are! Athens city centre has some of the best dessert shops I've been to. My favourites are Serbetia in Psyrri area, where the chocolate pie is to die for (amongst other desserts) and while relishing it, you can people-watch too! This place is amazing at any time of the day but my ideal time in the summer is in the evening. My other special is Little Kook. Not only the desserts are awesome but the whole place is like you walk into a fairytale as you will see Mary Poppins, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Seven Dwarves amongst others. I fell in love with the walnut pie they serve with ice-cream!

Greek walnut pie
Walnut pie in Little Kook

Eat fish by the sea in Mikrolimano area

Mikrolimano means small bay in Greek and it's exactly what it is. If you'd like to eat seafood by the sea in the capital of Greece, then head to Mikrolimano where you will find a few small taverns that serve great fish. It's also easy to reach with public transport and a beautiful place to walk around.

traditional greek taverna
Traditional Greek taverna

Go on a day trip to Aegina or Agistri or Hydra

If you really want to experience a Greek island but don't have the time to go to one, you can still get a small flavour from a day-trip to one of the little islands close to Athens. Head to Piraeus, get a ferry to Aegina or Agistri or Hydra and in 1-2 hours you can be on a Greek island. Aegina is bigger than the other two and the closest of all. Hydra can be explored by foot but is further than the other two.