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Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Tourist Office

I'm as familiar with Athens as I am of my own home town, Vancouver, and consider it my 'second home'.  But as I was working on an Athens Guide e-book for an American publisher, the last time I went to visit I had to spend extra time exploring and making note of things that would be useful for a tourist.

Athens can be overwhelming but it isn't that difficult to find your way around, in particular since most tourists are most interested in the old part of the city and the ancient sites, all of which are walking-distance from most hotels if you are located near the Plaka or Syntagma Square areas of the city.

There is a very good tourist office located on Dionissiou Areopagitou pedestrian walk that runs along beside the Acropolis.  The New Acropolis Museum is nearby, across the road.  The entrance to the Theatre of Dionysus is right there and just up the street is the entrance to the Theatre of Herod Atticus (The Herodian) where you can see some outstanding performances during the summer months.
 New Acropolis Museum


Entrance to Herod Atticus Theatre.

The entrance to the Acropolis is through the area of the Theatre of Dionysus and the tickets include this site as well as the Ancient Agora on the other side of the Acropolis.

I used to live on Vironos Street (Byron's Street) that runs right into the Areopagitou.  Across the square where the roads cross are lots of good tavernas (on Makrigiani as well as on the Areopagitou. And this is where you can board one of the cute little tourist trains or perhaps take a ride on a horse and buggy. 
 Vironos Street

Gypsy Boy

I enjoy walking along Areopagitou to the end where it turns down past Filopappou Hill toward the area of town known as Thissio.  This is a popular part of the old city and one I will explore along with the newly gentrified parts of town called Psiri and Gazi.  There's lots to see here, new restaurants as well as places of interest. 

As you walk along Apostolou Pavlou Street, on the right hand side is a part of the Agora that is partially excavated with some interesting things to see as well as a great view of the Acropolis and Parthenon. On the left had side there are also some bits of ancient Athens that are often by-passed by tourists who don't know they exist.

View of Lykebettus from Thision.

Acropolis View 

Church built on site of ancient sanctuary

Entering Thissio there are several outdoor tavernas where you can sit and enjoy a cold frappe and the remarkable view of the Acropolis.  Then you'll come to the road that leads into Monastiraki, passing by the entrance to the Ancient Agora, into the flea market and bazaar.

 Thission Street cafes

Enjoy an iced frappe

 Street painting

Entrance to Monastiraki from Thission

Make your way through the busy shopping crowds to Monastiraki square where you'll see the big old Mosque that is now a museum. During the Ottoman occupation, this was mainly the Turkish part of town.  Some of the best souvlaki shops are in this area and my favorite is Bairaktaris, at the corner of the Plateia Monastiraki.  It's one of the oldest tavernas in the area and the walls are lined with photos of celebrity visitors and wine kegs setting up a real old-world atmosphere.  And the souvlakis are delicious!

 Mmm good gyro on pita!

 Guess who is in this photo? (Joan Rivers!)

Outside Bairaktaris Taverna

If you wend your way up the busy street past the Mosque you'll come to a different part of the Plaka, with several Roman ruins, including the Library of Hadrian and the Roman Agora.
This part of Plaka is one of my favorite places to browse, and if you're an archaeology/history buff like me you'll enjoy it too!  There are also many pleasant tavernas under the trees where you can enjoy a glass of krasi and a delicious Greek meal.

There's so much to explore in Plaka and you need to spend a couple of days here if you really want to enjoy it all.
You can tour around this area on the Fun Train! 

NEXT: Exploring the Roman and Turkish parts of PLAKA.


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Swathi said...

Nice post.Thanks for sharing this in your blog

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