The largely pedestrianized area of Pláka, with its narrow lanes and stepped alleys climbing towards the Acropolis, is arguably the most attractive part of Athens, and certainly the most popular with visitors, a welcome escape from the concrete blocks that dominate the rest of the metropolis.
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Things to do in the Plaka
An attractive approach to Pláka is to follow Odhós Kydhathinéon, a pedestrian walkway that starts near the Anglican and Russian churches on Odhós Filellínon. It leads gently downhill, past the Museum of Greek Folk Art, through café-crowded Platía Filomoússou Eterías, to Hadrian’s street, Odhós Adhrianoú, which runs nearly the whole length of Pláka and on into Monastiráki and Thissío. These two are the main commercial and tourist streets of the district, with Adhrianoú increasingly tacky and downmarket as it approaches Platía Monastirakíou and the Flea Market.
The Plaka has scores of cafés, restaurants and shops to fill the time between museums and important sites such as the Roman Forum, it’s an enjoyable place to wander.
Anafiotika is a charming small cluster of homes built on the slopes of the Acropolis above the Plaka. To reach Anafiotika, continue up the steps between Kouklis and the Byzantine church of St Nicholas. Wandering the streets is a joy and if you continue to your right, you can walk along the road that overlooks Athens whilst leading to the entrance for the Acropolis.
A slice of old Athens: Anafiótika
The main arteries of Pláka, above all Adhrianoú, home of the Manchester United beach towel and “Sex in Ancient Greece” playing cards, can become depressingly touristy. For a break, climb up into the jumble of streets and alleys that cling to the lower slopes of the Acropolis. Here, the whitewashed, island-style houses and ancient churches of the Anafiótika quarter proclaim a cheerfully architect-free zone. There’s still the odd shop, and taverna tables are set out wherever a bit of flat ground can be found, but there are also plenty of hidden corners redolent of a quieter era. A particularly good view of this area can be had by following the paths that track around the base of the Acropolis, above the buildings.
Top Image: The Plaka, Athens © Kate_Rin / Shutterstock