Experience Athens Like A Local: 5 Well-kept Secrets of Things Athenians Love to Do

I was born and raised in Athens, Greece, until the age of 17. I love this city and let me tell you – it has so much to offer! It is not all about Zorba the Greek and crazy nights filled with “opa” and smashed dishes – even though this does happen occasionally and it is quite fun!

Athens has something for every taste, even for the most demanding visitors. It is a city with an incredible amount of history, amazingly tasty cuisine and a nightlife you’ll never forget! We did invent the word “philoxenia” after all, which means hospitality. Even though as a Greek born and raised, I have to admit that the translation doesn’t really do it justice. Greek people have this simplicity and friendliness to them that makes you feel right like you belong there.

So, I have decided to share with you five well-kept secrets of things that Athenians love to do, and trust me, you will not be disappointed. You will experience Athens like a true Athenian!

Krinos

krinos donuts

This place its full of history. It has been open since 1855, and it makes the best Greek traditional puffy donuts called loukoumades. They look more like small deep fried pastry balls and you can choose your topping, even though the traditional way is warm honey and crossed walnuts. My grandfather used to take my father there and then my father used to take me. The moment you walk in you can really feel the history and vibe of it! As for the aroma…it will make your taste buds fly!

krinos storefront

Image via tripadvisor.com

Athena’s street central market

A word of warning, if you are not interested in food this is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you want to fully emerge yourself in the culture and see how real Athenias (my grandmother included) shop this is the place to visit. From spices, to fresh produce, meat and dairy, the central street market has everything! Let yourself get lost in the smells, sounds and views of another Athens. Again, for me this place has some personal value and plenty of memories since it was a staple in the walks I used to take with my dad almost every Saturday morning.

street market athens

Image via tripadvisor.com

Kalimarmaro Stadium

Kalimarmaro means beautiful marble and trust me it is indeed breath taking. This ancient stadium has been standing there since 144 AD and it is where the Olympic games were born. The atmosphere is humbling and the site is extremely big.

ellen athens marathon

This is where the original Athens marathon finish line is every year and having crossed it myself last year let me tell you, it is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G experience! The beauty, the history and the incredible architecture will take your breath away.

kalimarmaro stadium athens

Image from Spiros Paraskevopoulos

GazARTE

This is an amazing multipurpose art space in the newly gentrified central neighborhood of Gazi. It has a movie theater (usually shows independent productions), a bookstore, a “library lounge” upstairs (which is like the Library Bar at the Hudson Hotel in New York) and finally an adjoining outdoor area called “Taratsa,” which means terrace. There you can find an outdoor bar and seating scattered amongst pomegranate and tangerine trees. This is a cool, laid-back space where you’ll find a mixed crowd enjoying dinner and cocktails. It is one of the most well kept secrets for some one to enjoy a chilled out and fun night in town.

gazarte athens

Image via diojan on Panoramio.com

Plaka

Plaka is one of the oldest districts in Athens. It is the perfect place for an evening summer walk in the narrow streets, an after lunch coffee in one of the old “kafeneia” (it means coffee shops) and maybe a walk through the vendors in the flea market where you can find amazing treasures from another time. Melina is, to my opinion, one of the nicest coffee shops in Plaka and it is widely preferred by the locals.

cobbestone streets athens

Image from Spiros Paraskevopoulos

Finally, you should visit the Acropolis and the brand new Archaeological museum before you leave Athens for new adventures. I can assure you that leaving this amazing and vibrant city you’ll take with you incredible memories and you ‘ll be filled with music, taste and images of other older times…so, welcome! Or as we say in Greece “Kalos orisate”!

Many thanks to Library Bar at the Hudson Hotel for kindly providing most of the photos included in this post.

Ellen Sinopoulou

Author Ellen Sinopoulou

Hi, I'm Ellen. A neuroscientist who loves fitness or a fitness-nut who loves neuroscience. I'm 26 years young and currently pursuing my PhD in the field of repair and regeneration after spinal cord injury. Even though now I live in London, I have “tasted” the way of life in many other countries as well. I grew up in Greece, a beautiful country with warm people, good food and A-M-A-Z-I-N-G places to run! My amazing boyfriend (best friend, soul-mate, other half) and I moved to London in September 2015, but I am always in the lookout for new adventures! I totally love food and traveling and I want to see as much of the world as I possibly can! Happy travels!

More posts by Ellen Sinopoulou

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Jenny says:

    I’ve never visited Athens but I would love to go one day, it sounds amazing.

  • Wow what a beautiful place it seems like there is so much to see and do here! The Puffy doughnuts sound delicious too! x

  • Sarah says:

    I visited Athens as I child (apparently) but I was a baby, I’d love to go again! What a beautiful, unique place. Plaka looks gorgeous!

  • alisonrost says:

    A friend at work just got back from a trip to Athens and can’t stop raving about it. She talked about Central Market and all of the wonderful restaurants. I hope one day my husband and I will be able to go! ps: Congratulations on finishing a marathon .. my goodness, that’s an amazing feat!

  • shelley says:

    I would love to travel there and this guide is amazing, love not always seeing the touristy parts but what the locals get up to as well 🙂

  • Lynne Harper says:

    My mum has just returned from a trip to Athens and she absolutely loved it, somewhere I definitely want to visit in a few years when the kids are bigger and can appreciate it more x

  • Leah LS says:

    I have never been to Athens but this is just stunning, looks like somewhere I would love to explore. x

  • Tamsin says:

    Athens has always been a place I want to visit. Reading this makes me want to go even more.

  • I’ve wanted to go to Athens since I was a little girl. It sounds magical, almost mythical (I think it’s from when we studied the Greek gods) and I’ll make it one day! xx

  • Loredana says:

    Athens is Amazing! My husband visited it a few years ago, and we plan on taking a trip together there. I had no idea about Plaka – so useful recommendation!

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