Plaka is the oldest neighborhood in Athens. It is the favorite one of all travelers visiting Athens since it is actually the old city of Athens. It is located below the Acropolis and feels more like a small village than a city center. Anafiotika neighborhood in Plaka actually is like visiting an island. People from, the island Anafi that came to Athens build their houses like the ones in their island and when you walk around Anafiotika you feel like you are in the Aegean!
Plaka the oldest part of Athens
Plaka is fun walking around since most of their streets are closed for cars which makes her even more graphic! It used to be the area with the most nightclubs and bars during the seventies but the government outlawed loud music in the area. It was a plan to keep the character of the old city and it worked. In Plaka you can find a large area with many restaurants, tavernas, Jewelry stores, tourist shops, and cafes. As you can understand the area is touristy but still has a lot of locals living there and the houses gives her the picturesque character that you will not find anywhere else in Athens.
Shops and Food in Plaka
Plaka is one of the most common places to eat lunch or dinner in Athens for the travelers. The tavernas are not very common anymore and you will mostly find tourist restaurants. Surprisingly the food is at a good level and you can safely eat at most of the places to have some traditional dishes or some mezedes. You must check though the menu before you choose one in order to avoid a large bill that you did not intend to pay.
Once you are in Plaka it will be hard not to check the numerous tourist shops. So if you are looking for souvenirs to bring home or for some gifts for your loved ones, then Plaka is the place to buy them. The variety is endless, from antiquity, to handmade from painted icons to wood carvings the list never ends. All you have to do is stroll in the narrow streets of Plaka and visit the shops that are everywhere.
Jewelry shops are very popular in Plaka. If you search a little bit you will be able to locate some artist-owned shops with real handmade pieces or with copies of jewelry that you have admired in the museums. The shopping there is more expensive but the items are unique! Greece is a good place to buy jewelry since the labor cost is cheaper. Therefore the prices are lower than other countries.
How to find Plaka
Plaka is located under the Acropolis hill and stretches to Syntagma Square. If you see the map you will understand that it is very easy to get to Plaka just walking around the city center or by Metro. There are two pedestrian streets that are the heart of Plaka. Kydathineon and Adrianou Street. You can easily find Kydathineon that starts from Nikis street just one block down from Syntagma Square. Just have the square on your back and walk down the Ermou Street (the pedestrian street across Syntagma Square). Take a left at the first street you will find (Nikis) or at the second one (Voulis). Walk straight ahead in Nikis and you will end up at a small pedestrian street at your right, this is Kydathineon. If you walk Voulis then you will find it easier since Voulis ends at Kydathineon.
Adrianou Street starts at Monastiraki Flea Market. You will “lose” it at the archaeological site of the Roman Agora and the Hadrian’s Library. It starts again behind the wall of the library and Plaka Square. Take the metro to Monastiraki Square or walk up Athinas street from Omonia square. Once you are at the Square turn left on Metropolis Street and then take a right on Aeolis Street. You will see a small square with a lot of cafes and tavernas and the giant ancient Roman remains of the wall of Hadrian’s Library. From there you will take a left on Adrianou and you are in the Plaka.
Some good tavernas that you can still find in the area is Saita and Paradosiako Oinomageirion (Elenis). Small tavernas with good food but they do not have a lot of tables. So have patience if you do not find a table. We are not talking about romantic restaurants but for real local experiences. Close to these tavernas are Souvlaki Costas, that has one of the best souvlaki in Athens. You will also find big queues there but it worth your time.
Now if you want something less local and without waiting you will find a lot of places in Plaka that you can order traditional dishes like Moussaka, Greek Salad, Tzatziki and Pastitsio. You will also find “tis oras” that is practically grilled meat or fish. Almost all tavernas in the area has table in the street or the sidewalk. You will notice that there is a waiter in front of the tavernas that will gently try to convince you to enter or to talk to you about the menu. These places are the classic tourist ones. Moussaka, pastitsio, souvlaki are always on the menu and even though they do not have high quality food you will have a meal that you will enjoy.
Plaka the cafes
Plaka is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Greeks loves their coffee and you can have pretty much everything you want. You can see our guide about the coffee in Greece. Most of them are a little pricey but you can have a lot of different spots. Some are on the sidewalks and other have great views at their terrace. It is a nice place to feel the pulse of the city and relax or rest.
One of Greece special things are the outdoor movie theaters. They are very popular during the summer (at winter they are closed) and a great place to watch a movie with a beer! The movies are in English with Greek subtitles and in the center of Athens will see that you are probably on a terrace and have a view to Acropolis. Now this is a way to watch a movie! If you are in Athens it is a good idea to enjoy a movie in an outdoor cinema and Cine Paris is the most known one in Plaka.
Shopping in Plaka
If you are interested in shopping you will go to Adrianou Street. You will see one tourist shop next to the other, jewelry shops, T-shirt store repeated again and again. Just walk around and buy some postcards or a worry bead (komboloi). Also you can buy ashtrays, religious icons Olympic paraphernalia, ancient replicas etc.
Beyond the classic tourist souvenirs you can also find a lot of shops with traditional Greek Products. You can buy here extra virgin olive oil. The best Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes from Greece but not a lot of it is exported. So this is a great chance for you to buy some. There are a lot of qualities. From the classic extra virgin oil to the new medicine olive oil that is extremely good for your health and more expensive. Malotira and Pantopoleio Mesogeiakis Diatrofis are two great places to buy olive oil with great varieties.
Beside olive oil you can find olives that are packaged for traveling, loukoumia and a number of other traditional sweets and local varieties of local wines.
Anafiotika an island in Plaka!
Anafiotika are located on the slopes of Acropolis above Plaka. We are talking about a small cluster of traditional houses with island architectural structure. The name of the area comes from the builders of Anafi that came to Athens to help build the city of Athens in the mid-19th century. Wander around the small streets and you will get to the entrance for Greece’s and one of the world most famous archaeological site and historic landmark, the Acropolis of Athens.
Monuments in Plaka
Plaka has a lot of archaeological sites both that you will find just walking around the old city. One of them is the Tower of the Winds which it is a part of the ancient Roman Agora. It was thought to be the grave of King Philip of Macedon the father of Alexander the Great. The reality was different. It was a meteorological station build at the first century b.C. by the Astronomer Andronikos Kyrrhestes. The Tower of Winds had hydraulic clock fueled from a reservoir on the south side. Inside there was a mechanical device representing the sun, the moon and the five then known planets.
Another monument from the Turkish occupation era is the Mosque. Build at 1458 A.C. on the grounds of the Roman Agora was named Mosque of Mehmed the Conqueror after the Sultan Mehmet who was a big fan of the ancient Greek philosophers. The minaret was demolished after Greece won its independence and the mosque became a school for teachers.
The Roman Agora
The area around the Roman Agora is now full with tourist tavernas. As you can understand where ever you look or wander around in Plaka you will find yourself surrounded with some monuments or sight of an ancient civilization. Inhabited not stop by locals for more than 4000 years gave her this unique character. Excavations of pavements are everywhere revealing to you ancient columns and houses.
Makrigianni is the in front of the new Acropolis museum. Also is the area from the Hadrian Arch to Acropolis. You will see the statue of a great Greek general of the period of the Greek revolution that names the area. Also, this is the place that you can find the Monument to Lysikratous. The monument is built to commemorate a series of plays. It is the last remaining of many which lined what is now Tripodon street.
Plaka in conclusion!
In conclusion no matter what you like to do in a City you will love Plaka. It is a unique place with so many sights and different places that needs 2-3 days to visit it! Therefor, the best way to describe Plaka in Athens is like an island of beauty in a city! Just walk around Plaka and find amazing off the beaten paths on your own! Just admire the architecture of buildings that stand for hundreds of thousands of years.
The best way to see Plaka in Athens is by booking a tour that combines Plaka with Acropolis or with a Food tour that takes place in the area. Also, it is important though to stay at a hotel close to the area. If you are not you will lose a great opportunity to live the old city. All you have to do is contact us to get a custom tour that you will never forget!