Top 7 Things to Do in Athens That’s Off The Beaten Path

Athens Off The Beaten Path 

I adore the city of Athens and it’s a place that I always keep coming back to. The city may be world famous for the Acropolis, but there are so many more cool things to to see and do, especially when it comes to eatingSo after you’ve visited the Acropolis and had a gryo, get a little off the beaten path in Athens with these Top 7 Things to Do!

Athens off the beaten path unique city view


1. Take a Walking Tour Around Athens 

Getting a tour of the city is the best way to start your visit in Athens. You get to see different areas, learn about the history and all the best spots to visit from your guide. I was lucky enough to experience the Delicious Athens Food Tour with Alternative Athens. 

 

Alternative Athens

Alternative Athens shows travelers the genuine side of Greece. They offer a number of different tours within Athens as well as other places in Greece. 

Within Athens, they have City, Food, and Nightlife Tours, Local Experiences, and Kids & Family activities. Alternative Athens separates themselves from other tour operators by having all tours based on what their team likes and not on the marketing hype.

I was on the Delicious Athens Food Tour which was a non-stop, mouthwatering, tasting experience.

Cost: 50 euros per person

Duration: 3.5 hours

My Athens Tour Guide

Tania was my guide on the tour and she was amazing! She’s from Athens and a passionate history major by education, so she has a plethora of knowledge on local life and food history. Best of all, before trying every new dish, Tania would tell us a story behind the history of each dish. It was both tasty and fascinating! 

For example, we got to try some amazing Baklava which is a delicious sweet pastry. The version we know today was developed long ago in Damascus. It has many layers of phyllo, nuts such as pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, and a drizzle of honey on top. A more modern version has chocolate. Either way, Tania says you should eat it upside down! 

We were taken to a very famous Baklava patisserie amongst locals in the city. The bakery was first founded in Istanbul in 1949 and then opened a second shop in Athens. Baklava is a beloved dish not just in Greece but also in Turkey and Cyprus. When the EU declared it to be the national sweet dish of Cyprus, Turkish citizens went out on the streets and protested! 

The best Baklava can be found at this hidden gem in Athens Greece.

 

My Tour Highlights

  • There is so much food to try on this tour and the best part is you get a large sample portion. My husband Jugo was able to join me on this tour and we would receive an entire dish that we would split between just the two of us. This reminded me a lot of our honeymoon in Italy where the portions were so large we could hardly finish one plate! 

Athens A Map, Fork & Cork

  • With all that eating, it was great to be able to walk it off and explore different areas of Athens. We were able to get out of the heavily packed touristy areas and visit some of the hidden gems of Athens, Greece which I would not have otherwise known.

Athens A Map, Fork & Cork

  • The tour also included walking through the Varvakios Market where we saw fresh seafood, meat, fruits, and veggies being sold. If you are staying in an Airbnb, I totally recommend taking a trip to this market and buying some fresh ingredients to cook your own meal at home.

Athens A Map, Fork & Cork

  • Best of all was the stop to a local pastry shop where we got to watch the pastry chefs make bougatsa. Bougatsa is the most delicious phyllo pastry with a cream filling and topped with icing sugar and cinnamon. The chef was flying the phyllo in the air like pizza dough, then spreading it on the table so thin you can almost see clearly through it. He would slather the phyllo with chunks of butter and the amazing cream before putting it in the oven to bake.


There’s a lot more to this tour, but I’ll leave it to you to try for yourself with Alternative Athens! 


2. Open Air Cinema in Athens

Open air cinema is one of the most fun things to do in Athens during the summer

This is one of the most fun things to do in Athens. From April to October, you can watch a movie outdoors! Not only can you catch a flick but these cinemas offer tasty things that go beyond popcorn and can of coke.

Open air cinema is a part of local Athenian life. Each cinema is known for the different foods they offer and the locals pick what place they go to not by what movie is playing but by what they feel like eating. One cinema specializes is souvlaki, while another does sushi and another has baked pies. Most places also offer alcoholic beverages from beer to cocktails.

There are many cinemas to choose from in Athens. For me, I like Cine-Thisio because you have a great view of the Acropolis lit up in the background.


3. Athens Fish Spa

Athens A Map, Fork & Cork

After walking all over the city, take a break and let some special fish work on your feet!

The Athens Fish Spa is not your regular spa, they offer a special fish pedi service. For just 15 euros, you can have live fish nibble the dead skin off your feet and leave them healthy and smooth as a baby’s bottom. Don’t worry, the fish have no teeth so it doesn’t hurt and may only tickle your feet a bit!


4. A Picnic on Filopappou Hill 

Filopappou Hill secret picnic spot in Athens

Catch a view of the city and the Acropolis without the hoards of tourists around by taking a walk up in Filopappou Hill (also known as Hill of the Muses). A secret spot in Athens, this place is perfect for a picnic during the day or sharing a bottle of wine and catching the sunset over Athens. Amazing photographing opportunities guaranteed!


5. Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens

For a truly off the beaten path experince in Athens, catch a performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This amazing ancient stone amphitheater is located just below the Acropolis and was built to fit 5000 people. It was first constructed in AD 161 by Herodes Atticus for his late wife Rigilla.

In ancient times, it was used for musical contests and now in the modern day, it has been hosting some of the world’s best performances including Frank Sinatra and Nana Mouskouri.

Performances run from May to October. You can see a full list of events here. Just remember to buy your tickets well in advance because they sell out fast. 


6. The Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Athens

Open daily from 8:00-18:00

Ticket cost: €8 or free with the Acropolis ticket 

Don’t miss out on seeing the ancient ruins of the Agora. The word agora means ‘open place of assembly‘ which is exactly what it was used for in ancient times. The agora served as a marketplace where open-air stalls sold pastries, sweets, fish, shoes, clothes, pottery and much more. It was also a place where locals would gather to discuss politics and social activities. Some of the greatest philosophers of all time taught and learned there including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. 


7. Dine at a Traditional Greek Tavern

I can’t stop talking about how great Greek food is. What makes it even better is when you have the chance to eat at a local tavern with a musician strumming the bouzouki (Greek guitar), serenading you with Greek music over a candlelit dinner. If you are traveling with kids though and looking for some good foodie options, click here.

One spot I love going to is Efxaris located in Monastiraki. They have a great atmosphere with an outdoor stone courtyard lined with fairy lights and live Greek music. If things get a little crazy, you may even see some Greek dancing!  Make sure to order the meat platter. The platter includes grilled sausage, fried meatballs, chicken, pork, cheese croquettes, potatoes, tzatziki pickles, peppers, and tomato all on one plate! 

Dining at a Traditional Greek Tavern with Live Music in Athens

If you are vegetarian, don’t worry, there are also a lot of great options for you too! Try the stuffed tomatoes, zucchini courgettes, baked feta cheese with tomato and paprika and grilled peppers stuffed with different cheeses.


Now that you’ve read the top off beaten experiences to have in Athens, what are you most excited to try? Interested in learning more about Athens? Click here.

Pin it for later! 

A big thanks to Alternative Athens for hosting me on the Delicious Athens Food Tour. As always, all opinions are my own.

 


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46 thoughts on “Top 7 Things to Do in Athens That’s Off The Beaten Path”

  • Any place with rich history and culture is an instant favourite with me. Walking tour appeals the most to me. Alternative Athens sound good. I would love to try that baklava too. It is my favourite. By the way, that amphitheatre is huge.

    • Sounds like Alternative Athens would be a perfect fit for you if you love a place rich in history and baklava! Hope you get a chance to go on one of their tours someday soon 🙂

  • Thats an awesome list there! Was there a few months ago and the most I remember it for is the Baklava. Ya I know odd. But there is so much to do in this city as you rightly point out that my three days didnt nearly seem enough!

    • Thanks so much Sreekar! I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ll have enough time no matter how long I stay in Athens. That city just has too many things to do!

    • Thanks Phil! It definitely was a lot of fun to see how bougatsa was made. Walking tours are definitely the way to go for an insiders guide to the city.

  • Your last line brought such a HUGE grin on my face!! Being a veggie the best part of Greek cuisine is, knowing that you won’t starve! 😀 eating in a local tavern is something I’d really like to do! 🙂 Makes the whole experience so authentic! 🙂 I am sold seeing the walking tour. So many experiences rolled into one. The phyllo making , the markets, the eating!! MY GOSH! 🙂
    And I thought Athens is all about the history!
    Being a history buff, I’d so want to visit this treasure! 🙂

    • Thanks so much Divyakshi! I could totally become a vegetarian in Greece because they truly do have so many tasty veggie options. Hope you get a chance to visit soon. The walking tour is an amazing, tasty experience that can’t be missed!

    • Hi Nicole, I was very lucky in stumbling on that spot! It’s great for catching the sunset and drinking some Greek wine 🙂

    • I took my mom to the fish spa and she was disturbing all the other guests with her commotion because her feet were so ticklish! I guess the fish aren’t for everyone but it definitely is a unique experience to have in the city. Alternative Athens is a fantastic option to choose for a walking tour. Hope you get a chance to try soon!

  • I’ve never been to Athens but a digital nomad friend of mine loves it and spent the whole summer there and in other Greek cities. She mentioned that there’s a very active language exchange group, can probably be found on Facebook. Those fish spas seem to be popular all over Europe now. There are quite a few in Prague and I’ve seen them in other cities, too, sometimes as part of a restaurant or café.

    • Hi Daniela, soo jealous of your friend being able to spend the entire summer in Greece. I never knew they have an active language exchange group in Athens so will definitely check it out on Facebook. That’s crazy about fish spa popping up in restaurants and cafes, not sure if feet and food are really a good mix! Thanks for sharing some great tidbits!

  • Love this post! There’s always so much to try in Athens. I’ve been, but I didn’t do the fish pedicure. Next time!!

  • I am not so much into a fish spa (we get that back home as well) But I have to agree, rest everything about Athens is magical. Walkable streets, so much and so many varieties of food to enjoy and lots of history and culture all over. This is a must visit city

    • Hi Neha, the fish is definitely not for everyone but that’s the great thing about Athens. There’s so much to do in the city that you’re bound to find something you love there 🙂

  • I can’t wait to get to Athens – I’ve heard from some people that it was a lot dirtier or a city than they were expecting, so they weren’t overly taken, but I’ve always been of the opinion that I need to visit myself to make my own opinions. Totally with you that a walking tour is a great way to introduce yourself to a new city – love that Alternative Athens shows you a genuine side of Greece. Food tours are always fab, because they usually also include sites along the way as well as historical context, and food plays such a huge part in almost every culture.

    Fish spa sounds like quite a unique thing to do!! My bggest reason for visiting Greece though would be the archeology side of me – so Oden of Herodes Atticus and the ancient ruins of the Agora are top of my list when I get to Athens.

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Hi Meg, thanks for your comment. I think when you compare Athens to a lot of other popular cities like Paris, London or Rome, it may not be as stylish but it’s definitely got it’s own distinctive charm that I love.

      I’ve been on a few food tours now and I thought Alternative Athens had the perfect balance of showcasing food, culture and history altogehter. It’s definitely a great way to start exploring the city.

      Athens is an archeologists dream where you can spend weeks looking at the ruins and learning about all the history there. If you get a chance to visit, you should definitely see the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis as well. They are amazing!

  • I was in Athens some 2 years ago. Could not get the most off the city as I just spent 3 days there. I fell in love with Monastiraki, the historic part of the city. I must admit that after reading your post I realise that I have missed quite a lot of things Filopappou Hill being one of them.

    • Everyone seems to visit the city as a base before jumping off to the Greek islands or other places so usually it is a short visit. There’s so much to do though, I don’t think any amount of time would feel like anough when visiting Athens. Thanks for reading!

  • I haven’t been to Athens but I love your photos – it feels as if I am there. I have found a new love for walking tours so I think that is a great idea for a city this large. Thanks for sharing!

  • I simply can not wait to visit Athens. I love the suggestion of the walking tour. Nothing like getting to know places and tasting food you wouldn’t have had otherwise in the tourist path. Also, thanks for thinking of us veggies! The food options sound amazing and you had me drooling with the trays of baklava!!

    • Thanks so much for reading! I was surprised on the tour to learn how many veggie options there are. And they taste amazing! I could totally be vegetarian if I ate Greek food all the time.

  • To be honest, the historical stuff is what I really wanted to do in Athens . I mean look at that amphitheatre….it is so amazing. However this post of yours has shown me a different side of Athens that I must definitely look at. Thanks for sharing it all.

    • Hi Ami, I’m glad you can see there’s so much more to Grece then just it’s history. Hope you get a chance to visit real soon! 🙂

  • I did a handful of these things when I was in Athens. However, I missed Filopappou Hill and I’m so sad. What an amazing view! I’ve seen the fish spa here in SE Asia a lot, but my feet are so ticklish! Haha

    • Hi Paige, It took me four times to visit before I discovered Filopappou Hill so don’t feel bad for missing out this time. Now you have a reason to return! Those fish are definitely not for the ticklish so watch out. Thanks for reading!

  • That was a confluence of history, culture and food. I’ve had baklavas in the middle east but these with a little chocolate over them sound absolutely delish. I love Greek food. It’d be awesome to sit at the Tavern and watch live music. I had a similar experience in Georgia. And to finally catch a live performance at the Odeon. Athens for sure is on my bucketlist. Great read.

    • Hi Johann, tt would be great for you to visit Greece and compare who makes the better Bakalava! Hope you get a chance to tick Athens off your bucketlist real soon. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Hi Crystal, then’s fantastic that you are in Athens now and you have the opportunity to try some of these experiences. I can’t recommend Alternative Athens enough so hope that’s on top of your list to try. Have fun in Athens!

  • You just highlighted my favourite part about Greece, those amazing al fresco evening meals. Hope you get a chance to return to Athens soon and eat your way through The Delicious Athens Food Tour. It really is an amazing and tasty exprience!

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