Our top ten things to do in Athens that are off-the-beaten-path take you into dark caverns, crumbling movie theaters, hidden urban passageways and famous cemeteries. We bet you don't come upon a lot of tourists in these Athens gems. First on our list is the Goulandris Museum of Natural History, an old mansion in the northern suburb of Kifissia stuffed with fine examples of taxidermy and geological discoveries. The Spathario Shadow Puppet Theater is nearby in Maroussi displaying the stud-jointed puppets that came by way of the Ottomans and became integral with Greece's culture. Keep heading north and you'll reach the base of Pendeli Mountain, a favorite of Athenian walkers, climbers, and mystics due to the mysterious cave inside, named after a famous thief. The other cave on our list, Koutouki on Hymittos Mountain, is better suited for those who appreciate guardrails, lights, and guided tours; the downside is that all of that maintenance gives it the short visiting hours typical to lesser-visited sites in Greece.
The artsy area of Exarcheia is well worth a turn off of the main streets of Athens. Wander up Benaki Street with its book stores, cafes, and colorful murals, all the way to Strefi Hill. The area is lush and green, mostly pedestrian, the hill giving you an interesting view of the adjascent Lycabettus Hill. While in the area, check to see if the Irida Theater is open and hosting a film night.
Over on Stadiou Street is a secret passage, the Stoa Orfeos, dedicated to books and the arts. The peaceful reading area and cafe makes a great spot for a break from walking. From inside you can cut through to Panepistimiou to take in the grand architecture of the "Trilogy": the National Library, Academy of Arts and Sciences, and old university. See one of the finest modern art museums in Greece at the Benaki, Piraeos Street annex, or see traditional art painted on found objects and old wood in the gallery and shop, Elleniko Spiti. The store is in a quiet street of Plaka, a neighborhood that rewards getting off the beaten path with romantic stone steps leading up winding streets, old churches and crumbling mansions.
Levidou Street 13
Ippokratous 15, Exarcheia
Free to film lovers and everyone else... read more
138 Pireos and Andronikou Streets
Impressive modern multi-story structure... read more
The Home of Saints, Nymphs, Goat-god, a Duchess, and a Thief... read more
Salvaged Furniture with Folk Art Flair... read more
More Photos * Add to Trip * Block enclosed by Panepistimiou, Stadiou
A hidden shopping mall and haven for bibliophiles...
Mount Imittos (4 km from Peania)