The Plaka

My favorite neighborhood in Athens, in the shadow of the Acropolis, the Plaka is like a village within the city

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Acropolis and Plaka, Athens, Greece The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. Most of the streets have been closed to automobile traffic, though you should still keep a watchful eye for a speeding motorcycle or delivery truck. At one time it was the nightclub district, but most of these closed down when the government out-lawed amplified music in the area in the seventies in an effort to get rid of undesirables. The strategy was very successful and it is now an area of restaurants, Jewelry stores tourist shops, and cafes. Though it is quite commercialized it is still a neighborhood and arguably the nicest neighborhood in central Athens. Most of the restaurants are typical tourist places but the quality of food is not bad in many of them and if you follow my leads in the restaurant section of this guide you should have a few enjoyable evenings and not be unpleasantly surprised by the bill.

Plaka, Athens, Greece As for the tourist shops they are crammed full of stuff, some of it junk but plenty of interesting items if you feel compelled to bring back gifts to everyone you know. Most of the shops have pretty much the same stuff for pretty much the same prices but there are some that are more eclectic than others (like Coral on the corner of Voulis and Apollonos) that sell antiques, hand painted icons, wood carvings and paintings. Coral, in the photo on the right is one of the oldest of these. But if you wander around the Plaka you will find lots of other shops and even the regular tourist shops have amazing postcards that you can send home and make all your friends jealous. Personally I like the copies of old taverna and cafe menus and signs which seem to be pretty popular these days. There are lots of jewelry stores. Most of them buy from factories and have the same stuff for about the same price. But there are a couple that are artist-owned which have hand-made original pieces and also copies of ancient museum pieces. Gold jewelry in Greece is inexpensive, not because the price of Gold is any cheaper but because labor is. But generally the pieces that are hand-made by the artists will have more value then the mass produced pieces of the same weight. Of these artist-owned shops we like Byzantino Jewelery store. There are a few galleries and there are several museums in the Plaka of special note the Children's Museum, the Music Museum, the Greek Folk Art Museum and the Jewish Museum which is right at the entrance to the Plaka at Nikis and Kydatheneon streets. See Museums.

Finding the Plaka

First of all you need to get your bearings. The Plaka is under the Acropolis. There are two main streets: Kydatheneon and Adrianou. Kydatheneon begins at Nikis st, which is one block down from Constitution (or Syntagma) Square. If you have your back to the square walk down the large pedestrian street of Ermou and take your first left which is Nikis or your second which is Voulis. Walk up Nikis till you come to a small pedestrian street (Kydatheneon) and take a right. If you walk up Voulis it dead-ends at Kydatheneon.

Adrianou begins in the Monastiraki flea market but disappears in the Roman Agora before reappearing behind the wall of Hadrian's Library and Plaka Square. If you are coming from Omonia Square or the Attalos or Cecil Hotels, walk up Athinas street towards Monastiraki. When you get to the square, or the construction site that will soon be a square, take a left on Metropolis Street or on tiny Pondrossou street beyond. Take a right on Aeolis and when you come to a small square crowded with tables and the giant ancient Roman remains of the wall of Hadrian's Library take a left on Adrianou and you are there. Adrianou and Kydatheneon connect about a quarter of a mile up. Once you know these two streets you can wander around and always find your way back (hopefully).

Entering the Plaka from Kydatheneon

Cafe in Plaka, Athens, Greece If you are coming from Syntagma on Kydatheneon street you continue past a small Byzantine church on your right and the Folk-Art Museum on your left (worth a visit), you will come to the Saitos Taverna, one of the last of the basement restaurants that serves bakalairo (fried codfish) as well as grilled meats and a variety of cooked dishes and salads and excellent wine from the barrel. Unfortunately if you are here in the summer it is probably not open so just keep walking down Kydatheneon to where then action begins

Oionas Cafe, Plaka, Athens, Greece The Oionos Cafe is a nice place to hang out for a soda or a beer. It is on the small Square (which is actually the main square of the Plaka) near the Byzantino restaurant and the Cine Paris. Take a left on Geronda street. Great coffee, shady in the summer and in the winter there is a nice warm fireplace inside. If you are coming from the other direction up Adrianou you take a left on Kydatheneon street and then a right after the square. They make great coffee here. In fact all the cafes around the square are pretty good and nice places to pass the time anytime of day and no matter what the season is. If you order ouzo you may ask for a 'mee-cree pee-kee-lee-ah', which means a small snack (or assortment). If you don't ask for anything you will probably get a bowl of peanuts which is OK too. The whole art of drinking ouzo and living to tell about it is the eating of mezedes, snacks that keep body and mind relatively stable while drinking. You will very rarely see a Greek obnoxiously drunk. Drinking in Greece is a from of communication. I don't want to endorse the consumption of alcohol as a remedy for anything but when done in moderation there seems to be almost a spiritual dimension to it. For me anyway.

The cafes are generally a little pricey if they are on the main roads (Kydatheneon, Adrianou) and around the squares, but in a way worth it for the view. If you sit in one of these cafes long enough you will see that everyone who comes to Greece walks down these two streets. From famous basketball players to rock stars and nobel prize winners, these streets below the Acropolis are a major crossroads of civilization. Some people like to get right out, walking around and shopping as soon as they get to Athens. Personally I like to find a nice quiet outdoor cafe and have an ouzo and a snack or maybe a coffee so I can relax and get into my Greek groove.

You can see my page of my favorite cafes in the Plaka and other downtown areas which is also an entire guide to coffee drinking.

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You may notice that there are several restaurants with tables in the street. In fact it will be difficult not to notice because every time you pass one, a maitre'd, (I use the term loosely) tries to pull you over to see the menu. These restaurants are not bad. Typical fare: mousaka, pastitsio and souvlaki though they will encourage you to go for the giant shrimp and lobster because they cost more. But if you want to know where the locals eat go to the small park-main square on Kydatheneon. There is a kiosk (periptero) that sells everything from gum and postcards to English language newspapers including the ATHENS NEWS, USA TODAY and the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE. The owner of the Kiosk is named Thanasis. Say hello to him. This is where I buy my newspapers to read with my morning coffee. Surrounding the kiosk are tables that belong to the restaurant across the street. This is the Byzantino Restaurant. It used to be called Kostis and all the locals ate here. The owner of the building took it over, made it a little more upscale and though some might disagree, it's a better restaurant. The locals would say he spoiled it. It's one of the best in the plaka, especially for lunch, and the parade of people walking by make it an evenings worth of entertainment. You can sit on the street or under the trees in the park and this is a good restaurant to have your first Greek meal in since it is difficult to go wrong here. Just as good is the Plaka Taverna right next door. Both places feature good food and friendly service. There's a larger selection at Byzantino at lunch. In the evening there is more of an emphasis on grilled meats than oven baked food. See my Restaurant Guide for more places to eat in the Plaka and elsewhere.

The next cafe after the Byzantine restaurant is the Sikinos cafe. The tables are under the trees of the small park and it's another great place to settle down for a drink and a night, morning or afternoon of people-watching. It is a little expensive though no more then a similar cafe in New York or San Francisco. I usually get an ice coffee (Frap peh ) with milk and sugar ( meh trio), or a di plo es pres- so meh zes toe ga la ksekorees-ta . (Memorize this if you love strong espresso). Then I read my Athens News and watch people for an hour or two or get on my cell phone and call my friends on their's to see who is available and nearby and can come for a coffee. It's one of those spots where if you sit long enough you will see everyone you have ever known. Usually after an island trip I will hang out there and see people that I saw on the ferries or the beaches. I really prefer the Oionos or the Kydatheneon but you can't beat the view here. Whatever you do don't confuse it for a restaurant. A meal here will be costly . I usually sit at the table with the column underneath. It is a popular hang-out for the hearing empaired and many nights you can see them deep in conversation using sign language.

The Plaka is full of street musicians, flower sellers, photographers and people who sell beads or will write your name on a grain of rice for 1000 drs. My personal favorites are the moldable faces made out of balloons and the girl who sells the fuzzy marionettes. All the flower girls know me and seek me out because after a couple ouzos I love everyone and believe a woman should have a flower. Most of the flower girls come from the area of Xanthi in north-eastern Greece and are Greek Muslims. The gardinias smell incredible even when they look a little ragged.

Of the musicians I like the Albanian folk singer. My favorite song is his rendition of Stevie Wonder's 'I Just Called To Say I love You'. Don't be afraid to request it if he comes to your table though I have heard he is no longer around. One of my favorite street musicians is the accordian player on the corner of Kydatheneon and Voulis. He plays so beautifully and looks so sad I always leave him half a euro or so. If you see him why not do the same? He is usually there in the daytime. I always keep my change and give it to the musicians in the street. I rarely leave the hotel without a pocket full of change jangling and maybe that is why the flower girls find me so easily. One thing to keep in mind is that these people are not bums. Some of them are classically trained and performed in major symphonies in their home countries but have been exiled by war, poverty or other circumstances and now make a living entertaining in the streets of Athens. If you listen you will hear a very high level of musicianship, and giving half a euro for a few hundred notes is a bargain. They say that one of the kids who sang opera with his father on Ermou was discovered and sent to a well known music conservatory. There are a few Russian and Hungarian violin players wandering around who will astound you.

The Cine Paris, the best outdoor movie theater in Athens. Of course you haven't come to Greece to go to the movies but if you are not ready for a wild night out and just want to sit back and be entertained, you are in for a treat. Almost all the movies are in English with Greek subtitles and when you go inside you will discover that the theater is on the roof with a view of the Acropolis. Some nights you can see the colors change during the sound and light show. There is a bar and you can have a brandy and watch your favorite stars in the shadow of the Parthenon. This is also one of the best places to buy totally unique gifts because out front they sell the Greek versions of movie posters. You can find anything from the most popular contemporary films to posters from the sixties. Even if you don't buy you can spend an hour browsing through them all and in the end you will probably find something you have to have.

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As you continue down Kydatheneon street you will pass a gold shop, a tourist shop and a gelato-ice-cream store. Then on your left, above Domigos Bakaliarzidiko is Brettos Liquor store. But it is more than a liquor store. It is the oldest distillery in Athens. Go inside and admire the old barrels full of spirits and the colored bottles that line the walls up to the ceiling. He has a tiny bar where you can get drinks by the glass. If you want to try good ouzo have some of his. It's very mild tasting and a great before-dinner drink. Be sure to stop here before you go back home. His brandy is better then Metaxa. You can buy ouzo in metal canisters if you are worried about bottles breaking in your luggage and it's a gift that you can't find in America. If you take a taste test comparing his ouzo with commercial brands that are available in the USA you will be surprised at the difference. I have turned around many people who claimed they didn't like ouzo. They had never had good ouzo. Hopefully I haven't ruined their lives. Try his Raki too. Imported from Crete. You won't need more then a glass to loosen up. Last time I went there I ordered a case of his spirits and asked him to ship it to me. For $300 I got 4 bottles of ouzo, 4 bottles of Raki and 4 bottles of his 35 year old VSOP Brandy. It arrived 2 weeks later fully intact at my home in the USA. Mailing yourself booze makes a lot more sense than carrying it back with you on the plane, especially if you get a whole case.

Last summer when I went into Brettos it was crowded with people who had read this guide, all talking about their trips, some on the way in and some on the way out. I was very pleased by this for several reasons. First of all, before I put this info on the web the business was in trouble. Most people looked into the shop and admired the colorful bottles and barrels and perhaps took a photo, but then moved on. The business was in trouble because most of it's support was coming from the locals. As one of the last traditional businesses in the Plaka it would be a tragedy for Mr. Brettos to close his doors. This brings me to the second reason. My wife says the day Brettos closes his doors it will be such a tragedy that she will never come to Athens again. So be sure to visit Mr. Brettos, have a drink, buy a metal cannister of ouzo or a bottle of his excellent brandy and let him know how important he is to me. The third reason this pleased me is because everytime I walked in there someone bought me a drink. Even Mr. Brettos.

By the way Mr Brettos wanted me to tell the people who use my guide that he wants to sell the business but he will only sell it to someone who will not change it and will continue the traditonal methods of distilling. If this is your life dream you should go talk to him. If I had the money I would do it.

Just Beyond Brettos Kydatheneon meets Adrianou street, which is the other main street in the Plaka. If you continue on Kydatheneon you will come to the Taverna Thespidos, one of the better restaurants in the Plaka. It is the last restaurant on the street on a little square. Just before it on your right is a really great little shop that sells traditional products from the islands and villages. If you like to shop and stroll, make a right on Adrianou. Tourist shop after jewelry store after T-shirt store and then repeated again and again. Everybody who comes to Greece walks up this street and buys postcards, worry beads (komboloi), ashtrays, icons, you name it. There are also street venders selling nuts and refugees from what was once Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union selling the strange toys made from flour and balloons or offering to write your name on a grain of rice for a few euro.

George Dolkas and the Olympic Mascots Flivos and AthenaIf you are shopping for Olympic paraphernalia you have a lot to choose from. b I don't think there is anything the Athens Olympic Committee has not licensed and put their little official stamp on and these are sold in shops on Adriannou like the one at # 107 on the corner where Hill and Kekropos and Hatzimichali streets all meet. In fact, disguised as a fanatic collector of Olympic paraphenalia I went into the Olympic shop and convinced the owner, a very nice fellow named George (in photo posing with Flivos and Athina, the Official Olympic mascots), to let me photograph all the items for my collection since I could not afford to buy them all. Of course I then stuck them on my website for everyone to see since for some strange reason it is forbidden by the Olympic Committee to advertise these products. But I am not advertising them, I am revealing them. Or unveiling them. Anyway if you want to know what kind of Olympic merchandise will be available and if enough people go to this store maybe George won't be mad at me for fooling him. He also has the Swatch Shop next door which I know well. Not that I have owned a watch since I left mine hanging on a tree in the rain when I was 12 years old, but my daughter feels like she has to have a new one every year and can spend hours in the store. I suppose Olympic Swatches will be collectors items one day too. George says they are 'limited edition' which I guess means they may become valuable depending on how many were made, how many are sold and how successful the Olympics are. Keep in mind that thousands of Athens 96 Olympic T-shirts were printed up and sold before the games ended up going to Atlanta. I have several that I treasure and there are still some to be found in the shops of Athens. George may even have some. You can also read about the 2004 Olympic Swatch Mystery which I uncovered while previewing the line of Olympic Swatches.

The Byzantino Jewelery Store is on your left at 120 next to the ice-cream shop. This is where my wife buys her jewelery from because the prices are so low and the work is so good. (My wife is a goldsmith). They work primarily with 22K gold in a variety of styles, of which my favorites are those that are based on the ancient Greek designs or exact copies. Laura from California (left) works here. I go in sometimes and have her try on pieces of jewlery " to model for the website" I tell her. But I just like photographing her because she is so beautiful. This is one of the few jewelry stores that is artist-owned. In other words they make their own pieces rather than buy from a factory. If you are looking for something beautiful that will gain value then shop here. The jewelry stores are fiercely competitive and I have gotten e-mails from people who complained to me that they have walked into jewelry stores that claimed they were Byzantino, or made negative remarks about Byzantino in order to convince the customer to shop there instead. I suppose this is a bi-product of the popularity of this guide. If this happens to you, thank the shop owner and go to Byzantino and look at their work and talk to them. Then decide for yourself. By the way, Byzantino was chosen to create the jewelry worn by the women in the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and have official Athens 2004 jewelry too. They have also created their own line of Olympic Jewelry based on actual ancient pieces and victory wreathes. Personally, to me these look more interesting than the official pieces and will probably be worth a lot more since they are made in limited quantity and will only be sold in Byzantino.

Further down the street is the shop of Angelo the Ouzo King who prides himself on having more varieties of ouzo than any shop in Athens. If you want to know all about Ouzo he is the guy to talk to and his shop also has traditional products like olive oil, herbs, sweets, wine, soap and natural products from all over Greece. Continue down Adrianou until you come to Remember, the first punk-fashion store in Greece and an institution. Run by designer Dimitris Tsounatos this boutique has been visited by your favorite rock stars, actors, fashion designers and models and there is a photo album full of them to prove it. If you are looking for unique designs in clothes, jewelry and art, or if you just want to see something different from the tourist shops that line Adrianou then stop in at #79 Adrianou.

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If shopping for jewelry or ouzo does not excite you there is an alternative. Turn left up Hill Street (or Chill street, depending on which of the two street signs you look at) and follow the street as it becomes Scholiou and then Epiharmou Street. Stop and look straight ahead and up. It's the walls of the Acropolis and below it, where Epiharmou connects with Tripodon is an ouzerie known locally as Kouklis. You will see a building with a packed balcony and windows. Sit down and have a drink. Their specialty is flaming sausages and trout but most people come here to drink the day away. The food is decent and some travel-writers spend hours here thinking they have stumbled upon the real thing but actually a more authentic place with better food is To Kafeneon just below with its tables slanted so precariously that there is at least one food accident a night. Very cozy indoors in the winter with a fireplace and a warming glass of tsipura and their collection of mezedes from northern Greece. You won't see many tourists but at least one copy of the menu is in English.

Next door to Kouklis is a fancy ice-cream and milk shop called Amalfi. If you have a sweet tooth I encourage you to go inside. The small church next to Kouklis is St Nicholas and is one of the most popular of the old churches in Athens and a great place to go if you are in Athens for midnight mass on Easter Sunday. If you cross the parking lot and go up the steps and take a right you will come to another of my favorite restaurants, Psaras fish taverna, under new ownership but a nice place for a meal away from the crowds.

Anafiotika is the cluster of small houses built on the slopes of the Acropolis above the Plaka. It's like being on a Greek Island. It's named Anafiotika because the original inhabitants were stone masons who came from the island of Anafi to build Athens in the mid 19th century. Just continue up the steps between Kouklis and the Byzantine church of St Nicholas next to it. You can wander around the small streets and if you continue to your right (facing the acropolis) you can walk along the road that overlooks the city and leads to the entrance for Greece's most famous archaeological site and historic landmark, the Acropolis. If you continue walking past the entrance of the Acropolis and take a right when you get to the new pedestrial street Apostolou Pavlou street you will end up in Thission or you can continue on and take a right on Ermou and you are back in Monastiraki. (You can also get to Monastiraki by cutting through the Agora using the entrance next to the rock of Areopagos just below the entrance to the Acropolis.)   If you take a left instead you will be on the same street but called Dionissou Aeropagitou end up in Makrianni where you can take a left on Byronos street and find yourself right back in the heart of the Plaka again. Byron will take you past the Dirty Corner, a hangout for poets and musicians in bygone days, right in front of the Monument of Lysacratus. Believe it or not had the mounument not been property of the Capucian Monastery which used to stand here, Lord Elgin would have taken the monument apart and taken it back to England with the Parthenon Marbles and you would have to go to the British Museum to see it. 

If you are on Adrianou walking down towards Monastiraki you will pass a couple places of interest including the sponge shops, the traditonal milkshop on the left where you can sit down and eat all sorts of sweets, and a series of T-shirt shops and boutiques. Halfway down Adrianou they allow cars but traffic is sparse and unpleasant for any car that happens to get stuck among the pedestrians. Adrianou passes the Platia Plaka and the wall of Hadrian's library and the Roman Agora.

If you are interested in art don't miss the Frissiras Museum of Contemporary Greek and European Painting at 3 & 7, Monis Asteriou str. (tel. no. 210 3234678, 3316027). The Frissiras Museum is the only museum of its kind in Greece. It houses a private collection of contemporary paintings and drawings as well as temporary exhibitions of Greek and European artists, in two fully renovated neoclassical buildings of the 19th century.

Tower of the winds in the Roman AgoraThe Plaka is loaded with archaeological sites both large and small. The famous Tower of the Winds is just a block up from Adrianou on Aeolou street and it is a part of the ancient Roman Agora. It was believed by later generations to be a place of great magic and to be the grave of Phillip of Macedon but it was actually a meteorological station from the first century built by the Syrian Astronomer Andronikos Kyrrhestes. It had a hydrolic clock fueled from a reservoir on the south side and inside was a mechanical device that represented the sun, the moon and the five known planets. The freize which represents the winds and their personalities is the most interesting part of the building and deserves a closer look.

Mosque Mehmet the Conqueror in the snowThe Mosque on the grounds of the Roman Agora was called the Mosque of Mehmet the Conqueror, built around 1458 for the visit to Athens by Sultan Mehmet a fan of the ancient Greek philosophers. Later the Mosque was known as the Wheat Bazaar Mosque because it was next to the yearly wheat market. It was briefly a Catholic church during the five months that the Venetians occupied the city. The minaret was demolished after Greece won it's independence and the mosque became a school for teachers and then a bakery for the army. Now it is just used for storage by the archaeologists working on the Roman Agora.

The doorway of the MedresseAcross from the Tower is the doorway of the Medrese, originally a theological school founded in 1721 by Mehmet Fahri. During the War of Independence the Turks used it as a prison and hung many Greeks from the platanos tree and after the war the Greeks used it for the same purpose. In the minds of the Athenians it became a cursed place. The poet Achilleas Paraschos in 1843 predicted that one day it would be chopped up and used for firewood. He was right. In 1919 the tree was struck by lightning and the rest was chopped down and used for firewood. The building itself was demolished except for the door.

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The Tower of the winds was called Plato's Tent and it was believed to be magical, holding all the knowledge of the world inside it. Some say Phillip of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great was buried inside. In Turkish times it was a religious meeting house for the Howling Dervishes. The whole area around the Roman Agora is surrounded by tavernas, most of them catering to tourists, but in general they are all OK. It seems like everywhere you look in the Plaka there is evidence of some past civilization, being it Greek, Roman or Ottoman Turkish. In some places the pavement has been opened to reveal ancient columns and houses. Some say that in their zealousness, the archaeologists have sacrificed many of the beautiful old buildings of the 19th century to expose the ancient sites and have spoiled the area. In a way it is true because when I wander through the Plaka I wish there was more of it. I wish the whole city of Athens was like the Plaka. But I guess you can't have everything and the Plaka is certainly large enough so that it should take a lot longer then the time a tourist has to explore, to get bored with it.

Lysikrates Monument in the PlakaOn the Makrianni side of the Plaka is the Monument to Lysikrates built to commemorate a series of plays. It is the last remaining of many which lined what is now Tripodon street. The Jesuits had a house next to it which in 1658 was bought by the Capuchins who then bought the monument and used it as a chapel. The Capuchan Monastery was the closest thing Athens had to a hotel. Chateaubriand stayed there as did Lord Byron, where he wrote part of Childe Harold. Amazingly, Lord Elgin wanted to take the monument apart and reassemble it in England and was only stopped because it belonged to the Capuchans and for that reason the Turkish Viavode (Governor) could not give his permission. Just above the monument is a cafe that used to be the last Karagiozis Theater. If you take a right on Tripodon and walk with the acropolis on your left you will see the new Karagiozis school.

As many monuments and ancient buildings there are in Athens there is one man who can be blamed for there not being many more. That was Ali Hadji Haseki, the governor of Athens in the late eighteenth century. He taxed the people of Athens until they had nothing and reduced the whole area to poverty. In 1778 he and the small circle of rich Athenians, who also prospered off the work of the people, decided to build a wall around the city, supposedly to keep Albanians out but actually to keep the Athenians in. Some of the cities most ancient landmarks and buildings were demolished to build this wall including the bridge over the Illissos River, the Temple to Demeter and the facade of Hadrian's reservoir on Lykabettos. Finally Sultan Selim III took notice of what was happening in Athens and Haseki was beheaded on the island of Kos, his head taken and exhibited in the Topkapi Palace. The mansion of Ali Haseki is now the School of Agriculture.

Whether you like hanging out, shopping, eating, or wandering around, the Plaka is a great area to be in or near. From it you can walk to all the desirable parts of central Athens with a minimum of contact with the aspects of modern civilization many people find unpleasant: autos, pollution, noise and crowds. The Plaka is like a small island in the middle of the city and it was not very long ago that the Plaka was the city of Athens. If you have time to kill get off the beaten paths and walk through the back streets. Admire the architecture of buildings that have stood for hundreds of years or climb the hill and see buildings that have lasted for thousands. It is for that reason that I suggest finding a hotel in the Plaka or nearby. If you have a hotel actually in the Plaka you may never come in contact with the Athens traffic that so many people complain about. If you are staying in Makrianni or on Athinas you may have to cross a street or two. But if you are down Syngrou or way up in Ambelokipi you will need to take a hotel shuttle or a Metro to get to the Plaka and in my opinion it is much easier to walk out the door to your hotel any time of day and be in the Plaka then to have to make your way here. Keep this in mind when you are booking your hotel. If you are working with a travel agents in the USA or thinking about going on a package tour, find out where the hotels offered are located because it could make a big difference in your appreciation of the city of Athens. If none of the hotel choices are near the Plaka then be skeptical and ask them why. Your best option is to work with a Greek Agency in Athens that knows the city. Tell them you want to be able to walk to the Plaka if not be in it. The Plaka is minutes away from the Metro so you can easily get to Pireaus and to the islands. For recommended hotels in and around the Plaka see Hotels .

The Plaka in Athens, where to go in Athens, where to eat in Athens, Plaka restaurants, cafes in the Plaka, Old Athens, Athens Plaka, walking in Athens Plaka,Greece, Plaka, restaurants, cafes in the Plaka, nightlife in the Plaka, guide to Athens Plaka, tou Some people complain that the Plaka is not what it used to be, that it has been spoiled. You could say the same thing about Mykonos or Greenwich Village or Fisherman's Wharf too. Anything beautiful will be exploited. That is the nature of life on the planet. The Plaka has certainly changed. Artists who sold their paintings on the street now have their own galleries and musicians who played the small clubs now sell out stadiums in Greece and overseas. The working-class tavernas are gone or have become fancy, but there is still good food to be found. Plaka is no longer bohemian and that bugs a lot of people. But it is still fun and it is not only tourists who come here. Greeks hang out here too. It has changed but it is still the best place in Athens to go and not feel like you are in Athens and on a sunny weekend afternoon or evening much easier to get to than an island. So use the Plaka as your base and get to know it while venturing into other pleasant areas like the National Gardens and other green areas or as a place of refuge to return to from visits to Omonia, the Central Market,  and some of the wilder parts of Athens. And of course the Plaka is the best place in Athens to buy that perfect gift for someone special.

When in the Plaka visit the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and the Cultural Heritage at 28 Tripodon Street in the Plaka, just beyond the Lysicratus Statue. The center is not only a museum with a nice little bookstore, but it also has a restaurant that serves traditional food. The most impressive thing about it is in the basement where you can see the original ancient Tripodon Street and a 5th Century BC wall. Stop in and buy something or have lunch. It is for a good cause.

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