Up close and personal with Plaka

Up close and personal with Plaka

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Visiting any major metropolis usually means checking out famous sites—the Colosseum in Rome, Buckingham Palace in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In Athens, places such as the Parthenon, Acropolis and the Theater of Dionysus are likely to get crossed off your bucket list. However, it’s not just ruins and landmarks which make up a city. Vibrant neighborhoods teeming with culture, history and, my personal favorite, food, mix together to create a phenomenal spot just waiting to be discovered. In Athens, this can be found just to the northeast of the Acropolis in Plaka.

Dating back more than 3,500 years, Plaka is one of the oldest settlements in not just Athens or Greece, but Europe as a whole. Walking through the steep, narrow cobblestone alleyways, is like stepping back through time. Although the area is arguably more gentrified and a bit touristy, it still retains its Bohemian nature and old-world charm.

What to Do

Dotting the hilly streets are plenty of jewelry and trinket shops to find the perfect one-of-a-kind souvenir or just marvel at the colorful blooms blanketing the rustic building facades. There are plenty of historical places to see without leaving the neighborhood. The Tower of the Winds, Doorway of the Medrese and the Mosque of Mehmet the Conqueror are all within short walks of each other. If the kids need a little entertainment, head to the Museum of Greek Children’s Art for hands-on and interactive exhibits. For a romantic date night, bask in the twilight at Cine Paris, an outdoor movie theater with breathtaking views of the city and the Acropolis.

Good Eats

Start the day by heading to one of the local cafes such as Oionos Cafe Bar or Kidathineon, both of which are perfect for people-watching at the park across the street, for a delicious latte and thick, creamy yogurt with locally sourced Greek honey. Or try a slice of spanakopita, a tasty spinach and feta mixture enveloped in flaky phyllo. Feeling a bit warm from the Mediterranean sunshine? Head to DaVinci Gelato or Coco’s Ice Cream for a refreshing sweet treat.

For dinner, head to Taverna Saita, a traditional Greek taverna off the beaten path which offers freshly caught seafood, savory souvlaki, mouthwatering moussaka and tantalizing baklava for dessert. A great spot for a light bite and dessert is Yiasemi, complete with tables perched on the stone steps outside. Offering a variety of tarts, pies, salads, cakes and an array of delicious imbibements, it’s a cozy and friendly place to reflect on the day.

While touring the well-known historical landmarks are a must-do, take a day (or two) and get up close and personal with the spaces and places surrounding the city. You’ll discover amazing sights and beautiful culture around every corner.

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