ATHENS - NEIGHBORHOODS
As the most famous part of the city, the Acropolis refers to the hill in the center of the city upon which Athens' most renowned ancient monuments, including the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Theater of Dionysus, the Agora Marketplace and, of course, the Parthenon, are found. Once the political center of ancient Athens, the Acropolis monuments tower over modern Athens from their perch in the center of the city.
Makrigianni is an upscale neighborhood at the southern base of theAcropolis, and one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens. Thelong pedestrian street Apostolou Pavlou passes in front of theAcropolis, Herodeion Theatre, the New Acropolis Museum and finallyreaches the Hadrian Arch. The small square where the statue ofMakrigiannis lies, the hero of the Greek Revolution, is found at thebeginning of this street in a small round square. Its architecturalbeauty and its historical significance make this quarter popular amongtourists and a favorite spot for Athenians to stroll around on a Sundaymorning. The most famous sights in Athens are found within walkingdistance from the Acropolis. Neoclassical buildings line the pedestrianstreet that house many institutions, galleries or embassies. Manytaverns, cafeterias and gift shops are available. Stay here if you wantto be as centrally located, but a bit out of the tourist crowds. Itborders with the picturesque neighborhood of Plaka from one side andthe region of Koukaki on the other.
Right below the Acropolis, Plaka is the most tourist heavy neighborhood in the city. Its maze of narrow streets, which have been inhabited for more than 5,000 years, twist their way through ancient sites, Byzantine churches, offbeat museums, and 19th century homes. Restaurants and cafes line many streets of this pedestrian neighborhood that is rich in history and character and is atmospheric, romantic, and nostalgia inducing. Also tucked away along Plaka's winding streets are popular sites like the 4th century Lysicrates Monument, the Roman Agora, the Museum of Greek Folk Art, the Tower of the Winds, the Temple of Zeus, the Acropolis and the Herodes Atticus. However, the most beautiful part of Plaka is definitely the settlement of Anafiotika with pretty Cycladic houses leading to the Acropolis. Feel free to lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets. The Plaka is found between Syntagma and Monastriraki and is easily accessed on foot from the center of Athens.
Aristocratic and elegant, this neighborhood, tucked beneath the slopes of Lycabettus Mountain, has long been the favorite address of the socialites. The streets (many pedestrian) are packed with boutiques, designer houses, art galleries, and restaurants and cafes. Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, which branches off at Syntagma Square's northeastern corner is known as Museum Mile because of the large number of world-class museums such as the National Art Gallery, the Byzantine Museum, which showcases artifacts from medieval Greece, and the Benaki Museum, which features artifacts highlighting thousands of years of Greek history. Be sure to enjoy a stroll around in the streets of Kolonaki, and then have a coffee in one of the cafes in the beautiful pedestrian areas. Then make your way to the top of Lycabettus Mountain for an extraordinary sunset with Athens laid under your feet like a sparkling map. If you walk down, you'll pass through some of central Athens' nicest and greenest streets winding around Likavitos' lower slopes.
There are several open air markets and picturesque restaurants that stay close to the Greek tradition offering a charming atmosphere. The area is located between Lycavittus and Syntagma square. Kolonaki gradually merges to the northwest with the university area, which is spread loosely between the 19th century university buildings (the Neoclassical University Complex, or Trilogy) on Panepistimiou and the Polytechnic some ten blocks to the northwest.
Northwest of Plaka along the base of the Acropolis, Monastiraki fringes the Agora and the Roman Forum, and is popular for its flea market even on non-market days. Monastiraki is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods of Athens with narrow streets and alleys crossing each other and occupied by numerous shops and street vendors. Many tavernas, cafes, and shops line the streets. Beautiful Adrianou street links Monastiraki to delightfully restored Thissio, with restored houses as restaurants and cafes on one side, the Agora on the other and Acropolis views as well. Athinas Street links Omonia and Monastiraki squares, and has Athens' Central Market. Here you can browse fish and meat halls, buy vegetables and fruit from all over Greece, sample cheeses from distant islands or buy a pair of shoes or sunglasses from a street vendor. Across from the markets, Varvakeios Square is now landscaped, has several cafes, and offers an opportunity to take a break from the frenzy of the market. Another nearby square, Klaftmonos has been redesigned and from it you can see the Neoclassical University Trilogy, another glimpse at grand and elegant 19th century Athens. The central square of Monastiraki, with a metro station very close, is a favorite hang out for the young crowd, who perch on the steps, the fountain, and many open air happenings take place here. The neighborhood is home to Athens' last remaining mosque (from Turkish times), Hadrian's Library, the Roman Agora and Tower of the Winds.
Just a short stroll northwest from Monastiraki, Psiri has become one of the most popular neighborhoods in Athens among younger travelers. Between Athinas and Ermou, Psiri is one of the city's hottest destinations after dark. Slick warehouse conversions, restored neoclassical houses, trendy restaurants, bars, cafes, tavernas, and mezedopoleia (establishments offering 'small plates') with live music, clubs, and galleries side by side as well as some remaining workshops and dilapidated buildings, this area comes alive in the late afternoon until the early morning hours, even though its outer pockets remain a bit gritty. The heart of Psiri is Plateia Iroon, surrounded by interesting shops, unusual restaurants, and small churches. At night, Psiri offers a lively music scene. The Thisio and Monastiraki metro stations are most convenient to Psiri.