Athens is known for archeological sites and history. If you want a break from history, Athens has much more to offer travelers.
You’ve seen the Acropolis, you’ve hit the museums and you’re trying to figure out if it is time to head to the islands. Wait! You’re missing much of the modern charm of Athens .
There is a conundrum with many historically significant cities. Guidebooks tend to send you off to every site with any potential historical significance, but leave out any mention of the modern attractions of the city. In the case of Athens , slavishly following your guidebook is a very bad choice and you’ll be the worse for it.
As with any city , there are two good ways to see the charms of modern day Athens . The first is to get out and just start walking. The second is to befriend some local residents and let them show you the city. Either way, you’ll do fine in Athens .
The charm of Athens is found in the hubbub of daily life on the streets. The city and residents exude energy and character. If you get off the tourist tracks, you’ll find little neighborhoods with outdoor cafes and no tourists. This is where the action is in true Athens . Just plop yourself down at a café and start people watching.
One particularly good spot is in the Plaka neighborhood. A nineteenth century quarter, Plaka has a mix of Turkish and Greek influences. From Plaka, you can head to the shopping bazaars found throughout the city. The bazaars in Athinas and Eolou are a bit touristy, but no excessively. With a mideastern feel, you can sit down and drink tea with local shop owners while they hock their wares.
From there, the city is wide open. If you dare, grab a taxi and tell the driver you just want to see the real city. It will be the ride of your life.