Finding hidden gems in the places we visit has been a hobby of mine since I started traveling independently. There is a certain magic in finding places which are not on the tourist beaten track. And the best persons to show you these places are the locals.
I met my friend L. via Twitter and when I started to plan my trip to Athens I really wanted to get a chance to see the city from a local’s perspective. I was lucky enough to be guided to see…Anafiotika.
Perched on the slopes of Acropolis, high above the new city, is a very interesting area which makes you believe you’ve somehow ended up on a Cycladic Island, not in the capital of Greece.
The houses are white-washed, the windows are protected by blue or purple shutters, cats walk freely and flowers enchant the eyes. It’s Anafiotika, an area created by workers from Anafi – a Cycladic island – in the 1800s, who came to Athens to work as construction workers. Today only 45 houses are left in this charming area.
The view from above is amazing. You can see Mount Lycabettus , part of the archeological part near Acropolis and part of the new city.
Tips on visiting
First of all, make sure to wear comfortable shoes which deal well with the uneven and sometimes slippery terrain. If it rains, it’s very slippery. Also, if you decide to come to Athens during summer, the area is very busy.
If you want to have Anafiotika to yourself, then plan a visit in winter or early spring. I’ve been to Athens in March and although it was a bit cold and windy, it was a delight not to run into tourists (the city had its fair share of visitors). With a bit of luck you might end up meeting a local lady, who is also a writer and who walks in Anafiotika hoping to sell her book.
Don’t make any plans. Just grab your camera and a bottle of water. Sooner or later you’ll end up near a taverna where you can enjoy some of Greece’s great food.
How to get to Anafiotika
From Monastiraki square, start walking towards the Acropolis (northeastern side). Follow the narrow streets and keep going up. At some point the streets become so tiny that only one person can walk on them.
Going down, you are most likely to end up in Plaka.
By the way: maps are really useless here as the streets don’t have names. It’s a charming area which invites you to get lost. Eventually you will find your way to a square, or a taverna or the Acropolis.
The city of Athens is served by an airport which receives flights from all over the world. It might be worth it to fly into a larger European hub and hop on a low cost flight to Athens.
Photos by Traveling Cricket and cannot be used without permission.