top of page
  • Writer's pictureArtemisWrites

Athens: 7+1 Hidden Gems and best-kept secrets to uncover (Spring 2024)


The Acropolis

Athens, a city of a thousand years, is filled with magnificent architecture, archaeological wonders and popular places that gather people from all around the world. However, the capital of Greece hides secrets, in unusual places, that are unknown to mass crowds and are not included in the majority of travel guides.


So, in this article, I present to you 7+1 hidden gems of Athens (with more to come soon) 


I have also included the history behind the places, as it not only help you put them into context, but it will also show why they are so fascinating and intriguing. The first six secrets of Athens lie around the Acropolis. The rest, two, lie in the Athenian riviera.


Overview

1.Anafiotika

2.Church of Kolokynthis

3.The prison of Socrates

4.Thission Open Air Cinema 

5.Hadrian’s Reservoir

6.The gardens of Zappeion

7.Voula riviera and Beach

8.Lake Vouliagmeni


Part 1

1. Anafiotika

An island within Athens. Yes, you heard right! There is a neighborhood right under the Acropolis that is inspired by the Greek island of “Anafi”.


You see, back in the 19th Century, right after the Greek war of independence, workers from Anafi arrived in Athens, in order to help with the reconstruction of the city.  Inspired by their homeplace, they decided to build their homes in an islandic architectural style. The narrow streets, the little houses, the vine yards, are all remnant of a distant summer place. 


Almost 200 years later, Anafiotika is still standing! With some of the houses, still being occupied (not by the original tenants of course). As the neighborhood is nestled on the northern slope of Acropolis, once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the city.


On your way to the top, you will have the opportunity to get the “cycladean” feeling; the place is very quiet, filled with picturesque alleys-as if it was far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it one of the most magnificent hidden gems in Greece.


What to have with you

First of all, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you, as the hike up to the hill can be quite challenging. Moreover, since for the most part of the year the weather in Athens is sunny, make sure to wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Of course, don’t forget to have your phone or a camera with you, to capture the magnificent views!


2. Church of Kolokynthis

Due to its “introverted” architectural style, this quiet haven often goes unnoticed.  Located near Anafiotika, this place consists of a medieval church and a monastery that is assigned to the holy grave of Jerusalem. The inner courtyard, offers a peaceful and serene getaway from the city center.  On the benches under the trees and surrounded by flowers and other greeneries, one can sit and enjoy this quiet secret of Athens.

Interestingly enough, the verdant yard includes ancient ruins, a row of cells that belonged to the previous monastery, a well that is said to have been interconnected with other wells and houses of the neighborhood, and an old municipal gas lamp.



3. The prison of Socrates

The famous yet enigmatic philosopher, Socrates, lived in ancient Athens around 500 B.C.E. His teachings, as were later told by his students, acted as a catalyst for western philosophy. However, Socrates had many opponents and many accusations were made against him, leading eventually to his death.


Before his trial, Socrates is said to have been imprisoned on the slopes of “Filopappou” Hill, near “Dionisiou Aeropagitou” street. His prison, is among the many hidden gems of Greece that exist near popular streets.





Fun fact: The painting shows Socrates and his students. At the depicted moment he is about to drink poisonous hemlock. His students are sad, shocked and desperate about the situation. Socrates, on the other hand, has accepted his fate and the decision that was made against him, and gives one last lesson to his students.


4. Thission Open Air Cinema

Another secret place for tourists! Built in 1935, the Thission Cinema, is the oldest one operating in the city of Athens. It has been operating consecutively since that time, with a forced pause during WWII. Since it’s an open-air place, it’s closed during winter, and operates, depending on the weather, since April to October.


The cinema offers a wonderful screening area that overlooks the Acropolis and is surrounded by trees and plants. There is also a cafeteria available, offering snacks and ouzo-a traditional alcoholic beverage.  It’s a beautiful place that fosters tradition and offers an unforgettable experience in the heart of Athens.


The screening schedules, the ticket prices and the opening dates are all available on the Cinema’s website: https://cine-thisio.gr/en/info and social media.


5. Hadrian’s Reservoir

Hadrian’s reservoir is one of the most significant public works of the Roman Era in Athens. That is because the reservoir supplied Athens with water from 140 AD, when its construction was finished, until the beginning of the 20th century (with a long interval of being dormant). Interestingly, it’s one of the largest tunnels of the Roman era, with a total length of 25 kilometers.


Hiden gems for tourists in Athens, Archaeological finds unique and hidden
 The inscription and its surroundings

Nowadays, many parts of the ancient Reservoir are scattered around the city of Athens. A beautiful archaeological part that still remains, is the inscription that belonged to the “Propylon” of the original construction. The inscription now lies in the National Garden of Greece in a small open space, that is hidden by surrounding trees and plants.  


A magnificent hidden gem that seems like it’s straight out of a fairytale book! It’s definitely worth a visit, since you can also enjoy the peacefulness that the National Garden has to offer.


6. The gardens of the Zappeion megaron

The “Zappeion Megaron” is a palatial building of neoclassical architecture, and it’s the first one to be reported, worldwide, for serving Olympic needs. Τhe inauguration took place on 1888 and it has been an important part of the Athenian Community ever since. Nowadays, the building hosts conferences, concerts, product & service exhibitions and many more.


Angel by Georgios Vroutos zappeion garden
Angel by Georgios Vroutos

Its gardens offer a breath of fresh air with a plethora of plane, cypress, palm and eucalyptus trees, flowers and a multitude of other plants. Moreover, in front of the building there stands a magnificent fountain, whereas there are many sculptures that are scattered along the garden. The place also offers sitting benches, little alleys among trees, grass areas where you can have a picnic and a playground.









Lord Byron in zappeion halls, secret places for tourists
Lord Byron by Chapu-Falguire 1896

How to get to the afore-mentioned places

All of these places are easily accessible by metro. You can start your journey by getting off at “Syntagma” and use the “Acropolis” station for the places that are near-by. Of course, you can also follow the whole route on foot.


Part 2

7. Voula Riviera and Beach

Just a bus-ride away from downtown Athens, there lies the wonderful riviera of Voula. Palm and pine trees, along with green areas of grass and pebbled alleys make up the coastal road of Voula. Importantly, along the road there are benches facing the sea, and seaside restaurants and cafeterias offering all kinds of delicacies.


The wonderful beach called “Free Pikpa Beach” is near the coastal road and makes an ideal place to swim, relax and watch the sunset.



How to get there from Syntagma Station

Public Transport


The most convenient route is by bus; 

Near syntagma square, you can take the A2 bus, get off at the stop called “Pikpa” and walk for 1 kilometer.


Duration; 

Around 1 hour


Taxi;

The taxi will cost around 25 euros


Duration;

Around 30 minutes


8. Lake Vouliagmeni

Surrounded by myths and stories, lake Vouliagmeni is the jewel of the Athenian Riviera and a hidden gem that is not known to many tourists. Surprisingly, it's the only thermal spring in the whole region of Attica. It's also a rare geological phenomenon. That's because it has water from the sea, which comes from the rocks, and from an underground source, which is located in the sheltered cave of the lake.


The area is ideal, for someone who wants to use it for physical exercise, the water is at a very good temperature (almost constant) throughout the year, from 21 degrees in winter to 29 degrees in summer.



Lake vougliagmeni at night, hidden place for tourists
Lake Vougliagmeni at night

The balance between the rocks, the water and the plants make it an ideal place for day-dreaming. This quiet haven offers the opportunity to swim in the lake’s thermal waters, relax in a sunbed and enjoy the delicacies of the restaurant. You can also visit the restaurant in the evening, and enjoy your meal under the night sky, gazing into the dimly lit lake.



How to get there from Syntagma Station

Public Transport


The most convenient route is by Metro and Bus;

Take the red line to “Elliniko” and get off at the station called “Argiroupoli”. Then take the 122 bus and get off at the stop “Limne”.

Duration;

Around 1:30 hour


Taxi; 

The taxi will cost around 30 euros


Duration;

Around 30 minutes

 

Hopefully, you found this list useful and intriguing! Indeed, Athens and the Attica Region hide many magical and mystical places for you to discover! The good thing with this list is that the locations that I have included are close to each-other. Therefore, you can follow the first part of the list on one day, and the second one on another day. Also, as we saw, all the places are easily accessible by public transport!

 

Sources








50 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page