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Athens – hidden gems and recommendations

Athens is a great place to start if you’ve never been to Greece. It is like the whole city is a museum because between all the new buildings and modern restaurant you get statues, churches and ruins that gives you a sense of being a part of millennia of history. This is not a city you should read about but you should experience it with all your senses.

Athens is a go to destination for many tourists because the food is great, the people are friendly, and there is an endless list of tourist attractions to pick and choose between. But this has unfortunately given Athens a bad reputation over the years for being overcrowded. That is why we have found some hidden gems buried under the sea of tourists that you will love to discover while living in Athens. 

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Because if it’s long history there is an endless list of must see attractions and you’ll find just as many guides telling you to go see like the Acropolis, Ancient Agora & The Temple of Hephaestus, Hadrian library, Roman Agora, Kerameikos, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Aristotle’s Lyceum, each of them with a cost between €6 to €10, BUT and here’s the tip:

You can buy a combination ticket for €30 that includes all of the previously mentioned attractions, and even allows you to skip the ticket line (except for the first one, when you buy it)

Hidden Gems in Athens

Instead of giving you a list of all the top attractions. We want to give you some hidden gems that will make you never want to leave again. Those who decide to try and live in Athens often stay longer than expected because it is such a captivating city that has the perfect balance of ancient history and contemporary living. No matter the age, tastes or habits whether you like a chill evening or rather a party night out, Athens gives you what you want.

Athens is not only a beautiful city with their imponent attractions but also is one of the most ancient cities in Europe with more than 7.000 years of history, is the cradle of democracy, literature, political science and mathematics making it a perfect example of how History looks like at first sight.

There’s many gems about living in Athens thats suits all tastes but let’s try to cover some of them:

Top 3 places to visit off the beaten path

Benaki Museum

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Benaki Museum is an organisation with several locations dedicated to history, art, and design. If you don’t know which location to start with, Pireos 138 is a great choice. They exhibit contemporary visual and interactive art, and is probably the Athenian version of New York’s MoMa. So make sure to stay updated on the exhibition calendar. 

When you visit one of their locations you should also make sure to stop by their museum shops. You won’t find cheap statues of Parthenon or mass produced souvenirs. Instead you’ll find jewellery, ceramics, posters, ornaments and a lot of other handcrafted items made by contemporary Greek artists. This is the perfect place to shop for a birthday present or christmas gifts – if you don’t spend all your budget on yourself of course. The best museum shop might be at The Ghika Gallery where you can buy the most amazing handcrafted ceramics in Athens.

T.A.F. – The Art Foundation

This truly is a hidden gem which makes it difficult to find. It’s on Normanou Street No. 5 in what used to be an abandoned building so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see it right away. T.A.F. is a creative community dedicated to art. They have a gallery with contemporary art so make sure to check out their exhibitions, and even if you are not the artsy type, they also have a courtyard bar worth a visit every day of the week especially when they have live music.

Anafiotika

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Anafiotika is a tiny neighbourhood in the famous Plaka area. It was built by workers coming from Anafi island, so it has a unique island vibe with small narrow streets and some of the best views of Athens often overlooked by tourists. This is a small neighbourhood and there is no guide to what you should see because you have to explore it by yourself.

If you are a cat person you will also love this place because there are a lot of stray cats that locals feed and take care of. Most of them are very friendly but you can encounter angry cats so be careful before you pet them. When you are exploring this neighbourhood you should also stop by Brettos which is the oldest distillery in Athens. You should order Rakomelo which is a raki based cocktail that locals love. 

Sporty in Athens

Athens is a really active city with calistetich spots to work out at, and if you live in the centre you’ll probably be getting around on foot. But if you want to live an active lifestyle we have a couple of tips for you. Athens has a bunch of gyms that you can get a monthly subscription for and the average price is about €32/month. 

Panathenaic Stadium

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If you are a runner you should, at least once, join the morning run at the world famous Panathenaic Stadium from 07:30 am until 09:00 am. The stadium is completely made from marble and it has a history dating back to 330 BC. Over time it was abandoned but in the 1800-s it was excavated and used for the first modern Olympics in 1896. This of course makes it a really popular tourist attraction and not a hidden gem, which is why you should come early to avoid the crowd.

Extreme sports

If you are an adrenaline junkie or would just like to push your own boundaries you have to check out Athens Extreme Sports. They regularly arrange tours on the ground, under water, and in the air. You can go with them on rock climbing tours, even if you’ve never tried it before. You can also go snorkeling in some of the best spots around Athens or maybe go skydiving if that is on your bucket list. Not all their activities are for adrenaline junkees so you should still check them out if you are more into chill activities such as canoeing or horseback riding. 

They also arrange day trips to places such as Vouliagmeni Lake (picture to the right), Aigina island, and Ancient Corinth.You get picked up in the morning and have an English guide during the whole trip. Prices : 60 € per person for 5-6 participants  – 70 € per person for 3-4 participants – 80 € per person for 2 participants. More information

If you want to go away for an active weekend they also arrange several day trip. From may-september they arrange trips to climb Mount Olympus which is said to be the home of the old Greek Gods. The trip is 3-4 days and the altitude is 2,918m. It is definitely a good idea to be in good shape but you can still do it even if you’ve never climbed a mountain before. 

Eat & drink in Athens

Greek’s food is one of their flagships of their culture, it has centuries of history and it has evolved to be one of the best of the world for their attention to not only flavours but also essences to be a faithful representation of the country.

The LOVE for coffee

If you plan to travel to Athens, you must know that they love coffee, no matter the season you will find tons of people drinking coffee like water. A must to do in summer is try the Greek frappe, which is a cold coffee beverage with foam on the top.

There’s some beautiful places you must to visit to ensure a whole culinary experience in Greece:

Ariston

When you live in Greece you should get familiar with pita (not pita bread but Greek pie). Depending on the filling the first part of the name will change – tyropita (with cheese), spanakopita (with spinach), and so forth. You can buy them frozen in the supermarket and save them for hangover days or go down to Ariston by Syntagma Square and try them out freshly baked. But you should not go there if you are in a rush because Ariston is a tiny bakery loved by locals so you’ll often meet quite the crowd of Greek people. But the freshly baked pies are worth the wait. 

Varvakios Market 

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If you are planning a dinner party at home, you should do your shopping at Varvakios Market. They have fresh fruit and vegetables, all kinds of meat and fish, spices and a bunch of dry produce to choose from. This market attracts a lot of tourists but they rarely buy anything. So you should do like the locals and buy fresh calamari and try to make it by yourself. That will definitely be an experience to remember for you and your guests. 

When you are in the market you should stop by Oinomageireio H Epirus or known as Epirus Tavern. It is loved by locals, especially the older crowd and by the look of it, it might scare away most tourists because interior design is not their priority – the food is. You have to try the Magiritsa Soup which is made from lamb, lettuce and spices. Just like the tavern, it doesn’t look like much but the taste is wonderful and it is said to be a great hangover cure – or prevent hangovers if you get it on your way home from a night out. 

Couleur Locale 

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If you have discovered where T.A.P. is located it is also great to know Couleur Locale, because it is right next door. It is a great place to have brunch, have an afternoon coffee or cocktails in the evening in their rooftop bar with a great view of Acropolis. Even though it is right in the “tourist district”, most tourists don’t actually realize there is a rooftop bar but simply choose the restaurants on the street. So you get to be downtown but without a sea of tourists sitting by the table next to you. 

Joy and party days

Greeks are very enthusiastic, especially with their parties. Each sunday in the popular squares there’s a musical and theatrical performance, but beside that, the young people has that party spirit at the max level and for all tastes, you can see this in Athens with night spots open ‘till sunrise, live music venues to chill out, craft cocktail bars and beer spots, so no matter what is your party type, you won’t get bored in Athens.

However, Athens is a big city and each neighborhood has their own night spots, we will describe the vibe of the party ones as follows:

Exarchia

If you want to spend a chill night with friends then this urban reality and glamorous hipster-dom with that art and chill feeling included is the place for you, with many bars and coffee shops you will find a lot of drinking options so be careful, but also there’s elegant wine bars and bistros and bookstores that keeps the neighborhood alive during the night.

Gazi

The party district, the heart of Friday nights in Athens. This district has that rebel energy called Rebetiko, that includes a whole subculture in Greece with music, dress style and the entire vibe of this particular neighborhood. The hidden spots you need to see in this district are located down Gazi’s side streets with rooftop cocktail bars with an astonishing view of the Acropolis.

Koukaki

This is a bar place with a sophisticated vibe, this is really an underrated district in Athens but has a lot to offer with their art galleries, small bouzoki bars where you can sing and what seems like infinite coffee bars across the district.

The astonishing views

If you want to take different but incredible photos of your trip, you have to try with this little secret, many hotels offer rooftop restaurants and bars to have dinner and drinks with an excellent view of the Acropolis. One of the most incredible and not so popular one is the Couleur Locale mentioned above. With burgers, tapas and more, you can enjoy this place with the Acropolis View.

The prices are great in comparison to other options and the view is just perfect for pictures. As any other hidden place it’s quite difficult to find it since it doesn’t have a sign but you can guide yourself looking for a large building with some vintage furniture in the entrance in Normanou 3 next to Monastiraki Square.

If you want to see more hidden views in Athen just look for TheRoofTopGuide to find many other alternatives.

Hidden secrets near to Athens

Melissani Cave in Kefalonia island

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One of the best experiences in Greece is to visit Kefalonia island and this cave, with its cristaline water it reflects the color of the and the sunlight in the cave, which gives that magical feeling during the trip. This trip is about half an hour but it’s worth a lifetime for only 7. You can go there by buying ticket to Agrostoli Airport and then drive to the cave (about 50min)

Pro tip: If you go between monday to friday at 6am to 11am you can actually swim in the cave!

Skiathos Island

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With their beautiful beaches, peaceful ambience and crazy night life, skiathos have the perfect recipe for a wonderful weekend, just 30min from Athens by plane. This popular island and its scented smell of the sea and pines combined it’s perfect if you want to have lunch at the beach or get lost in their parties, it is not weird that it is so popular for youngsters.

There’s a lot of things to do in Greece that even a long vacation can’t cover up, this is why working and living there would give you all the advantages. If you want more info about how to work and travel to different places, you can visit here. Don’t hesitate to ask the JobSqd team if we have any opportunity available to work in Greece and start planning your adventure!