15 hidden gems to explore during your trip to Athens. All the non-touristy things to do and comprehensive instructions so you don’t miss a thing.
Last updated: 18 Jan 2024
Apart from its famed attractions and rich history, Athens offers many treasures to discover during your stay.
If you want to get to know the city really well and avoid touristy places, the following 15 recommendations will save your day.
So, whether it is not the first time you visit Athens or simply love adding uncommon ideas to your trips, you are in the right place.
First, before you continue reading, make sure you check the step-by-step Athens in 4 days guide with the 37 top spots of the city.
Now, let’s start:
1. Play in an Escape Room Game
Why: One of the best Athens hidden gems is its Escape Room Games.
Did you know that the city has some of the best Escape Rooms in the world?
There is an increasing number of Escape Room Enthusiasts who travel to the city just to play, participating in 2, 3, or even 4 Escape Rooms daily!
Moreover, many operate after midnight, allowing you to visit them even if you are on a tight schedule.
2. Ride the Bike Path to SNFCC
Why: Athens does not have many bike lanes, and much of the city is hilly.
But suppose you like cycling and want to go from the center to the sea.
In that case, following the above beautiful bike path is an excellent way to do it.
It starts opposite Technopolis and ends at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).
3. Jog at the Facilities of the 2004 Olympic Games
Why: The Olympic Athletic Center of Athens “Spiros Louis”, also known as OAKA, was the “home” of the 2004 Summer Olympics.
You can find it in a convenient location, next to the metro station Irini, and its facilities are huge.
Nevertheless, unfortunately, until today, it has not been sufficiently exploited, showing signs of abandonment in some parts of it.
Even so, it remains excellent for cycling, jogging, skating, or just a walk among locals.
4. Attend a Performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Why: The Odeon of Herodes Atticus was built by the Athenian benefactor Herodes Atticus in 161 AD in memory of his Roman wife, Appia Annia Regilla, and it was renovated in 1950.
Nowadays, it hosts top names in music, dance, and theater from all over the world.
Watching a show here is a unique experience that you will remember forever.
Here you will find the 20 Must-Watch Events at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in 2023.
5. Watch a Movie at an Open Air Cinema
Why: Athenians know summer has arrived when the Open Air Cinemas start operating.
If you love cinema, experiencing this is a must.
Notably, since movies in Greece are shown with subtitles rather than dubbed, you can enjoy almost any film under the starry night sky.
Don’t miss my 10 favorite Open Air Cinemas in Athens.
6. Learn to Cook Greek Food
Why: I don’t have the best relationship with cooking – in fact, I hardly cook at all.
Nevertheless, the cooking classes I’ve attended have provided enjoyable experiences, and I would certainly participate in them again.
Thus, if you’re searching for a unique idea for your trip, consider an Athens cooking class focused on Greek cuisine, as it offers added value.
Not only will you savor the food you prepare, but you’ll also learn how to incorporate more Mediterranean diet nutrients into your daily life.
One workshop worth checking is the Athens: Food Market Visit and Cooking Class with Wine.
This four-hour class focuses on simple, everyday recipes rather than complicated lessons, which is an important feature.
For more potential hidden gems in Athens tours, check out the guide “Are Athens Tours Worth the Cost?“.
7. Have a Drink at a Rooftop Bar
Why: Athens’s nightlife is famous – one of the best ideas for a night out is to have a drink at a rooftop bar overlooking the Acropolis.
To help you choose the perfect spot for you, I’ve compiled a guide listing the best 10 rooftop bars in Athens.
8. Eat at the Taverns of Ano Petralona
Why: One of the Athenians’ favorite areas for their dinner is Ano Petralona.
Just outside the historical center, the neighborhood gives the feeling of old Athens and is full of quality and affordable taverns.
Moreover, it also offers plenty of bars to enjoy a relaxing drink.
Important notice: when we say dinner in Greece, we mean that food is served between 21:00 and 00:00 or even later!
Here you will find the dishes you should not miss tasting in Athens.
You can also find a list of the top 10 Authentic Greek Taverns, which have been local favorites for decades.
9. Visit the Museum of Cycladic Art
Why: If you love museums and ancient art, the Museum of Cycladic Art is another of Athens’ hidden gems.
It may be less known than the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum; however, it has unique beauty exhibits.
Here you will find one of the most comprehensive private collections of Cycladic art globally, with representative specimens of the world-famous Cycladic marble figurines.
Make sure to check our guide to the best museums of Athens for more lesser-known, but equally interesting, museums.
10. Visit Delphi, the Center of Ancient Greece
Why: Alright, to be fair, Delphi isn’t in Athens. However, its beauty is so captivating that I can’t help but mention it.
Furthermore, since you can visit Delphi in a single day, I’m not straying too far off-topic.
The archaeological site in the area remains breathtaking to this day and ranks among the best day trips from Athens.
It features the remains of the Temple of Apollo, home to the legendary oracle, and the Athena Pronaia sanctuary.
Additionally, there’s an ancient stadium, theater, and an Archaeological Museum.
So if you like history and want to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this guided day trip is a great choice.
I recommend this one as it departs from a metro station outside of downtown Athens, which can save you considerable time.
Take my advice; you don’t want to find yourself stuck in Athens’ morning traffic.
One more tip: the route from the entrance of the archaeological site to the temples is uphill. So, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
11. Stroll to Pasalimani and Marina Zeas
Why: Pasalimani and Marina Zeas are two excellent destinations if you wish to be by the sea without straying too far from Athens’ center.
Moreover, these locations serve as great stops if you are in Piraeus, given that the port is just a short distance away.
In the area, you’ll find numerous cafes and restaurants, which are bustling with people day and night.
12. Go Shopping in the Local Markets of Athens
Why: Athens is more than just the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
It’s a special place where East meets West, and you can see this mix in the colorful markets.
From the trendy shops on Ermou Street to the famous Monastiraki Flea Market and the food paradise of Varvakios Market, Athens offers an unforgettable shopping experience.
Find a detailed guide in ‘Shopping in Greece: Local Markets of Athens‘.
13. Slow down and Enjoy the Famous Athenian sunset
Why: Whether in the city center near the Acropolis or at the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio, Athens’ sunsets can be mesmerizing.
Select one of the nine amazing spots you will find in the sunset in Athens guide.
Take a moment to slow down and appreciate the unique colors of the Attic sky.
After all, some of the best things in life are, indeed, free.
14. Go Hiking in Kaisariani Park
Why: To visit Kaisariani Park, you must rent a car or take a taxi.
In any case, it’s a great destination if you like light hiking.
On your walk, do not miss to visit the Monastery of Kaisariani and relax at Kalopoula Refreshments.
15. Savor a Delicious Athenian Brunch
Why: A few years ago, “brunch” was almost an unknown concept in Greece.
Nowadays, the city center is home to great spots specializing in “breakfast + lunch”.
At their establishments, you can taste lots of eggs, and local dishes like Thessaloniki bun, Mykonos sausage, and aged graviera.
International options, such as katsu sandwiches and avocado toast, are also there, waiting for you.
Find all the top spots in the Top Brunch Places to Visit in Athens.
Hidden Gems In Athens: Summary
The above recommendations will help you move around the city like the locals and enjoy the hidden gems of Athens.
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Make Your Trip Easier
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.
If you want to get to and from Athens Airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use, as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.
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