Athens Food Walking Tour, Athens

Athens Food Walking Tour (Self Guided), Athens

Traditional Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world, and prices in all but the flashiest establishments afford excellent value. The prevalence of vegetable and dairy dishes makes eating out a delight for non-meat eaters. Carefully selected appetizers (tzatzíki, dolmádes, kalamarákia) can constitute a full meal. Greece’s most famous slow-cooked oven dish, however, is probably "moussakás" – successive layers of sliced potatoes, eggplant and minced beef/lamb topped with a generous layer of béchamel sauce and seasoned with nutmeg. Join us on this self-guided walking tour to find some of the best, time-tested eateries in Athens offering something for everyone's tastes and pockets.

The very traditional Central Market (also called Varvakios) located between the Monastiraki and Omonoia squares is a must-see if you want to explore Greek culture and cuisine. A riot of color, smells and fresh food of all sorts, it also makes for a nice photo tour besides offering a peek inside all the various ingredients available on the capital city’s menus. Great way to start the creative thoughts of a foodie!

Nearby Evripidou Street is without doubt the most fragrant street of Athens, and the daily crowds gathered there are proof that Greeks love good food and will come from the most remote neighborhoods to choose the spices that enhance the flavors of their cooking. Digging deeper into the Psirri area, the pulsing pubs on Agion Anargyron Street are a great way to continue mingling with locals, especially when you factor in the classic tavernas that punctuate the whole stretch.

From the lively Monastiraki Square, our route will guide you to many other tantalizing places, equally worth exploring. If you have an adventurous palate and are keen to soak in some breathtaking views in Athens’ Psirri and Plaka neighborhoods, follow this self-guided walk!
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Athens Food Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Athens Food Walking Tour
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Central Municipal Market (Varvakeios Agora)
  • Evripidou Street Market
  • Psirri / Agion Anargyron street
  • Monastiraki Square
  • Adrianou Street
  • Anafiotika and Plaka Stairs
  • Kidathineon Street
1
Central Municipal Market (Varvakeios Agora)

1) Central Municipal Market (Varvakeios Agora)

If you're in need of a break from exploring Athens' historical sites, looking to save on dining expenses, or simply curious about the city's culinary scene, a visit to the busy Central Market along Athinas street is a must. Offering a sensory overload of exotic sights, smells and colors, it is simply an ideal location for capturing authentic snapshots of daily life.

On one side of the market, you'll encounter open-air stalls brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables, while tucked away at the rear are a few shops specializing in Eastern European foods. Across the street, the vast neoclassical covered market, constructed in the late 19th century and renovated in 1996, houses the meat market adjacent to the fish market. Here, you'll witness a surreal juxtaposition of suspended carcasses and glistening fish artfully displayed on marble counters. Head towards the north end of the market, to the right on Sofokleous street, to discover shops offering the finest selection of cheese, olives, halvah, bread, spices, and cold cuts, including 'pastourma' (spicy cured beef), available in Athens.

Finally, you may treat yourself to a freshly-cooked meal at one of the first-come, first-served grill areas, where you must try the grilled calamari. Additionally, consider visiting these two standout spots:

EPIRUS TAVERN ("Oinomageireio Epirus"; Filopimenos 4; Mon-Sat: 6 am–6:30 pm)
With a pleasant and laid-back atmosphere, you'll find a warm and hospitable team of staff and owners. This eatery serves up classic dishes that evoke the comforting flavors of your grandma's recipes, all expertly prepared and served in generously large portions. Try the tripe soup or goat soup for a more adventurous palate or stick to chicken soup or vegan options if you prefer.

KRINOS ("Κρίνος"; Aiolou 87; Mon-Sat: 8:30 am–8:30 pm)
Great spot for enjoying a snack of delicious "loukoumades", or Greek doughnuts, deep-fried to a perfect crispy brown, then drizzled with honey syrup and dusted with a sprinkle of cinnamon. For an extra burst of flavor, don't hesitate to request a serving of soft ice-cream, available in vanilla, chocolate, or a combination of both!

Tip:
While the market operates from early morning until late in the afternoon (Monday through Saturday), it's advisable to do your shopping here first before heading to dine at EPIRUS or KRINOS, as many market stalls and nearby shops start closing up around 3 pm.
2
Evripidou Street Market

2) Evripidou Street Market

Upon leaving Central Market, follow your nose to the rich scents wafting from nearby Evripidou Street, leading you to yet another colorful location on the food map of Athens. This street itself is split into sections, each with its own category: fresh fruits and veggies, dried fruits and nuts, dairy products, and an array of spices and herbs. There's no shortage of what you can find here, really!

One of the shops particularly worth checking out is ELIXIR at No. 41 (open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 3pm), where, apart from top-quality herbs and spices, you will find 'spatholado' – a miraculous deep-red oil with a history of being used by soldiers to heal wounds dating back to ancient times. Sitting next door is the venerable Armenian butcher shop, ARAPIAN, renowned for its marvelous sausages, pastourma, soutzouki, and the basterma specialty: a dehydrated meat (available in beef, camel, goat, or lamb) seasoned with a flavorful paste of cumin, fenugreek, garlic, and hot paprika, typically served in thin slices.

In continuation of the meat theme, the adjacent shop, MIRAN (at Evripidou 45, open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 8pm), also owned by Greek Armenians, is a paradise for cold cut lovers. Established in 1922, this place produces an impressive array of cured meats and cheeses, with around 30 varieties of salami, pastourma, soutzouki (their specialty), and other treats, along with a selection of loose spices and cheeses. A seated tasting area allows you to sample their products and, and they'll gladly vacuum-pack for travel takeaway.

As you explore further, you'll encounter several small eateries serving traditional dishes and 'patsa' (tripe soup); these stay open until the wee hours, making them popular choices for night owls and partygoers looking to alleviate their hangovers.
3
Psirri / Agion Anargyron street

3) Psirri / Agion Anargyron street

Psirri is a happening arty and bohemian neighborhood nestled between Athinas shopping area, Monastiraki and Agion Asomaton squares. Once working-class-industrial district turned scaled-down version of NYC Soho mixed up with the East Village, today's Psirri is an entertainment mecca renowned for its cool, relaxed vibe, but just as importantly for its vibrant food scene manifested in the myriad of small newly-opened cafes coexisting harmoniously with the unpretentious 50-year-old taverns, ouzerie-mezedopouleon-style eateries (Greek versions of tapas bars, reminiscent of 1960s luncheonettes) tucked away in the winding streets and smaller alleyways.

Situated right next to the picturesque yet overwhelmingly touristy Plaka district, Psirri charges just a fraction of its prices, for which it is much loved by the local students and other hip, young and restless flocking here in droves for affordable entertainment. Overall, the area resembles a theatrical show, where each person is an actor, seemingly casual while fully, if not say – happily, dedicated to their part. To share the mood of the crowd and to follow their rhythm, it is best to park yourself at one of the tables and chairs outside the many bars and coffee shops and enjoy some of their freshly made delights, heavenly delicious, served in generous portions.

As you head toward Plateia Iroon via Agíon Anargýron street, you'll pass through a relatively tranquil zone dotted with small cafes, all offering free Wi-Fi, ideal for a quiet breakfast or a leisurely moment to catch up on news and emails. The farther you go up the street, the closer you get to the main drag, and the louder and higher-key it becomes.

Down the road, you'll come across NIKITAS, likely the oldest taverna in the neighborhood, founded in 1967. They offer a short yet sweet menu, along with daily specials such as oven-baked cheese pie. Drink options are limited to beer or ouzo, and there are no desserts, but it's unbeatable in terms of value, especially when you're seated outdoors under the trees next to the Agíon Anargýron church.

At the very end of Anargýron street, you'll bump into another popular location – PAME PSIRRI restaurant, renowned for its live laika and rembetika performances, as well as its good portions of delicious food, particularly the meat dishes.
4
Monastiraki Square

4) Monastiraki Square (must see)

A gathering spot for locals and tourists alike, Monastiraki Square is worth a visit, if only for a few minutes, to soak up the lively and often festive atmosphere, that is as Greek as it possibly gets, and perhaps also indulge in local street snacks like "koulouri", a bagel-like roll sprinkled with sesame seeds. The adjacent flea market offers a choice of goods that can rival even the Grand Bazaar of Constantinople (particularly on Sunday mornings), while the surrounding streets are dotted with shops, taverns, bistros, cafes, and tea houses, luring visitors with a chance for a pleasant break.

Along Mitropoleos Alley, lively restaurants packed with local Athenians serve excellent, inexpensive food. At the entrance to Mitropoleos Square, you'll find the famous kebab joint SAVVAS, specializing in gyros, kebabs, lahmacun, and pastrami appetizers. The portions are generous and offer great value for your money, along with a wonderful view of the Acropolis from the rooftop terrace.

In contrast, CAFE AVISSINIA, located in Avissinia Square, stands out as the only establishment in the Monastiraki area where antiques are not for sale but are an integral part of the interior decor. Beyond being a mere eatery or watering hole, this tavern embodies Greek philosophy and culture. Originating as a small tea house in 1986, it has evolved into a timeless haunt that offers a variety of Greek delicacies, including moussaka, grilled calamari, and baked sardines, and most notably, live music to delight the diverse clientele! There are three seating areas, one of which has, again, a fabulous view of the Acropolis.
5
Adrianou Street

5) Adrianou Street

While the bustling artery of Plaka neighborhood has become quite commercialized these days, it does retain the feel of old Athens all the same. In fact, it’s divided into two distinct sections: the upper part, Adrianou Ano Plaka, runs right in front of the Acropolis complex, while the lower part, Kato Plaka, lies between Syntagma and Monastiraki.

The upper section is densely packed with sidewalk cafes, taverns, and restaurants offering visitors not only delicious food and coffee but also an excellent view of the Acropolis. It's a great spot for people-watching and engaging in some gossip, just as the Athenians do – with an espresso in one hand and a pastry or cigarette in the other. Apart from the magnificent views of the ancient ruins, especially at night, you'll be welcomed with friendly service while you enjoy your refreshments and light meals.

Don't miss the 33 ALL DAY restaurant/bar at No. 33, where you can have some of the best pizza in Athens along with a wide variety of Greek, Belgian, and German beers. Their extensive menu offers good-sized portions, and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, which combines traditional Greek flavors with a modern twist. The presentation and service here are top-notch.

Meanwhile, KUZINA at No. 9 may be sleek and stylishly decorated, but it's not just about appearances. The food, especially the inventive seafood and pasta dishes, ranks among the best in Athens. Plus, there's a scenic rooftop where you can enjoy delicious drinks.

Along the railway track, you'll also discover excellent 'rakadika' and 'ouzeri' – pub-like eateries that serve appetizers to complement beverages like 'raki' (a fiery spirit made from grape must), 'rakomelo' (a mix of raki and honey), ouzo, and homemade wine.

Tip:
No. 100 houses the unique "cultural goods" shop FORGET ME NOT, which has garnered a loyal following for its one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts. Here, you can purchase gifts featuring contemporary designs with a sense of humor, created by local designers. From bags that mimic fishmonger's paper to Plexiglass evil-eye charms, this shop showcases the best of contemporary Greek design.
6
Anafiotika and Plaka Stairs

6) Anafiotika and Plaka Stairs (must see)

Nestled in the shadow of the Acropolis and frequently likened to the charming whitewashed villages of the rural Greek islands, Anafiotika, located in the Plaka district, stands out as one of Athens' most delightful and idiosyncratic neighborhoods. Poetically described as a "breeze of the Aegean" in the heart of the city, it exudes a unique character and ambiance.

Originally settled by the descendants of Anafi stonemasons who arrived in the 19th century to work in the expanding capital, Anafiotika has retained much of its original charm. The area features simple stone houses, some of which are built directly into the bedrock, with many remaining unchanged over the years and others having undergone stunning restoration.

Cascades of vibrant bougainvillea and pots filled with geraniums and marigolds adorn the balconies and rooftops, and the prevailing tranquility provides a serene contrast to the bustling and noisy modern Athens. In antiquity, this district was abandoned because the Delphic Oracle claimed it as sacred ground. The original residents ingeniously constructed their homes overnight, taking advantage of an Ottoman law that granted ownership if a structure could be erected between sunset and sunrise.

Recently renovated, the Plaka Stairs area abounds in small cafes, bars, and restaurants scattered on the slopes of the Acropolis, particularly along Mnisikleous pedestrian street and its vicinity. Due to the hilly landscape, this street is designed in the form of steps, lined with cafes on both sides. Creative and often compact seating arrangements along the steps create a lively atmosphere filled with music and the cheerful voices of passersby. This unique dining experience can be enjoyed from early lunchtime until the evening.

Tip:
For those seeking a lovely spot for dinner and drinks, the Anafiotika Cafe-Restaurant, located on the narrow Plaka Steps, offers a spacious patio area and a rooftop terrace that's perfect for catching the sunset.
7
Kidathineon Street

7) Kidathineon Street

One of the two main streets in the popular Plaka neighborhood, Kidathineon is home the Folk-Art Museum and the Hellenic Children's Museum, as well as gift shops, street musicians, and a plethora of restaurants and cafes, particularly around the charming small square known as Platia Filomenon Eterias, often simply called Platia.

The cafes around the square are all quite decent and offer a pleasant place to spend time, no matter the time of day or season. TAVERNA VYZANTINO at No. 18 stands out as an excellent choice for a reasonably priced, flavorful, and traditional Greek meal while enjoying a front-row seat to all the lively activity.

For a more substantial dining experience, BYZANTINO at No. 120 is a local favorite. While it may not appear significantly different from other tourist-focused establishments from the outside, this restaurant serves genuinely delicious Greek dishes at reasonable prices. The atmosphere is enhanced by Greek music and friendly, attentive service, as well as by the regular visits of local Greeks.

Another excellent option for lunch in a cool setting is DAMIGOS at No. 41. This historic tavern is known for its signature dish, 'bakalarakia,' which features cod in crispy batter served with a flavorful garlic sauce.

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