A maze of narrow streets stretching east of Acropolis Hill, Plaka is Athens’ oldest district. Largely pedestrianized and undeniably touristy, Plaka feels like a village within a city; its cobblestone lanes are crammed with shops selling souvenirs and handicrafts while leafy plazas are encircled with café terraces. Stroll down the central Adrianou Street, admire the picturesque old buildings of Anafiotika, or visit museums such as the Children’s Museum, the Music Museum, and the Jewish Museum.
North of Plaka and the Acropolis, Monastiraki boasts a number of ancient monuments; among them are Hadrian’s Library, Tzistarakis Mosque, and the Stoa of Attalos. Best explored on foot, it’s most atmospheric on a Sunday when the Monastiraki Flea Market is in full swing, but shoppers can find a myriad of shops, galleries, and artisan workshops to browse any day of the week.
Once a rundown residential area, Psirri (or Psyrri) has been given a new lease of life in recent years, reinventing itself as one of Athens’ most youthful and dynamic districts. If you’re looking to party, Psirri is the place to be; a diverse selection of bars, live music venues, and nightclubs offer events every night of the week.
East of downtown Athens, Kolonaki is the neighborhood where well-heeled Athenians meet to shop, drink, and dine. In the shadows of Lycabettus hill—which affords panoramic views over Athens—Kolonaki’s wide avenues are lined with designer shopping boutiques, elegant bistros, and chic sidewalk cafés. Visit in the evening hours to enjoy some of the city’s most sophisticated nightlife.
Once the center of Athens’ political riots, Exarcheia was off-limits to travelers, but these days the neighborhood is a hub of alternative culture and a favorite hangout for students. You can browse vintage stores, admire street art, or watch a band play at a bar. While you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to visit the National Museum of Archaeology, home to some of Greece’s most important artifacts.