Places to visit in Athens: Monastiraki and Plaka

After our visit to the famous Acropolis, the third day in the Greek Capital was for exploring even more outdoor places to visit in Athens on foot.

We ate some bougatsa for breakfast near our apartment, then went to the subway. We got out at Monastiraki Square, a very lively and crowded area in the city of Athens. Therefore it took a bit of time to get our bearings and get on our way. You can see here how confused we looked that morning:

Mirela The Travel Bunny, Mathieu Letailleur and Doina Văduva in Monastiraki Square

Church of St. Mary Pantanassa, in Monastiraki Square

The church which is in the background of the image above is the Church of St. Mary Pantanassa. Believe it or not, it was once known as the Great Monastery. Over time, probably with the construction of greater religious establishments, it started being called the Little Monastery. Or Monastiraki, in Greek. So this small church is actually the source of the name of the entire area.

Places to visit in Athens left by the Romans

Monastiraki Square is the best place to start your walk if you wish to visit the remains of the buildings left by the Romans. You simply walk from the square in the direction of the Museum of Ceramics. Right next to it you will encounter the first Roman vestiges.

people walking by hadrian library in athens greece

Hadrian’s Library

Situated in the northern side of the Roman Forum, Hadrian’s Library in the city of Athens was named after the Roman Emperor who founded it. The Library was quite luxurious in its time, having not only an interior courtyard and a garden but also a swimming pool.

Today you can enter the archaeological complex to check out the ruins of Hadrian’s Library. The best-kept part is on the Western side, where you’ll also find the entrance. Here, you can admire the beautiful Corinthian columns, made out of Poros stone and marble.

The tickets are inexpensive, so you could check out Hadrian’s Library up close. You can also just take a stroll on Areos Street to admire the ruins from behind a fence.

Roman Agora archaeological site in Athens

Roman Agora

After the area surrounding Hadrian’s Library, you reach another fenced location with ruins: the Roman Agora. It’s actually a Roman Forum, smaller and less well-preserved than that the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy. But you’ll notice some resemblance.

In the first century BC, Athens was part of the Roman Empire. And Emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus funded the building of this Forum in the heart of Greece. After the Romans, though, the Venetians and the Ottomans raised their own buildings in the area of the Roman Agora, destroying most of it.

horologion of andronikos of kirrhosin the roman forum of athens greece

The Horologion of Andronikos of Kirrhos

Also known as The Tower of the Winds, the building is thought to be the first meteorological station in history. Besides various sundials and a wind vane, the Horologion of Andronikos of Kirrhos also houses a water clock. It’s an interesting visit, especially for engineers like Mathieu.

Mathieu Letailleur in Anafiotika, Athens

Places to visit in Athens for those who love the islands

Having seen everything my dad planned for the day, we found ourselves with nothing to do before lunchtime. And though we had already been to Anafiotika the day before, we thought it was a good occasion to go back and explore it some more.

As I said before, Anafiotika is like an island in the middle of the Greek capital. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Athens!

Wandering through the maze of Anafiotika

Anafiotika streets, one of the places to visit in athens

While my parents mostly stayed on the main streets, visiting nice little Orthodox Churches, we chose a different path. (Might also be because Mathieu kept asking me why the Orthodox Christians feel the need to make their churches so cramped.)

The two of us took a left or a right on all the stairs we found. Some of them took us to wonderful narrow streets between houses. Others, however, turned out to be dead ends leading to somebody’s doorstep.

Anafiotika is a true maze of streets that are worth getting lost on. At one point, we entered an area covered in graffiti, and some can be seen in the images below:

At another point, we ended up climbing and climbing, until finally reaching the highest streets of the neighborhood. After some nice glimpses of the city over the rooftops in Anafiotika, we tried to find my parents to continue together with our family trip to Athens.

street with taverns in anafiotika

Beer O’clock at the Old Tavern of Psaras

Once we found them, we all looked for a place to have a drink, as it was Beer O’Clock. Well, that’s the name my mom gave to the break we had around noon, to have a refreshing drink in the shade, before lunch.

It wasn’t always drinking beer, however. This time, only Mathieu and my dad went for beers. I chose a lemonade and my mom took a fancy frappé.

The setting was really nice. The street is actually a terraced stairway, with taverns and cafés on the steps and on the streets leading to the stairs. The Old Tavern of Psaras, where we had our drinks, also offers a nice view of Athens.

best buddies bell in athens greece

Friendship and inclusion in Athens

After our drinks, we wandered a bit in the rest of the Plaka. And, at one point, Mathieu pointed out to me that we were in an area where all the bushes had bells in them. We went to check them out and saw the following message attached:

Congratulations! You’ve just found out “Best Buddies Bell” & it’s yours! 
Help us spread friendship and inclusion for all. Post a picture of the bell to social media with the hashtags #LetsBeFriends #BestBuddiesBells #Filarakia.

I really liked the campaign of Best Buddies Greece, and finding the bell made me smile. (The bell is currently happily handing on my balcony now.)

church agia aikaterini, one of the places to visit in athens greece

Church Agia Ekaterini

Also in Plaka, you’ll find the Church of Agia Ekaterini (Church of St. Catherine). The religious building replaced an old Greek temple dedicated to the mother goddess Artemis.

Although the gates to the Church were locked, it’s still lovely to admire the construction and the garden surrounding it from a distance.

Afternoon coffee close to the apartment

Well, after all those places to visit in Athens, we felt tired and we went to take a nap at the apartment. Mathieu and I were the first to wake up, so we went to the nearby Victoria Square to have a coffee.

After some looking around, we chose one terrace without any football screens: Soureti Café. The service was really good and my coffee was nicely flavored. We waited there for my parents to wake up and leave together to have dinner.

taverna street monastiraki

Dinner in Monastiraki

In Monastiraki, there is Adrianou Street, which has lots of taverns one next to the other. If you’re lucky, you can even find a table with a view of the Ancient Agora.

We chose to eat at the Attalos Restaurant. I believe the proximity to the Ancient Agora is also what led them to take this name. The Ancient Agora Museum is housed by the Stoa of Attalos.

The food here was delicious and the service was amazing. Besides English, the owner also spoke a bit of Romanian, and he was very friendly. For the remaining days in Athens, my dad would prefer taking the subway for a few stations just to eat here!

24 Thoughts to “Places to visit in Athens: Monastiraki and Plaka”

  1. Looks like such a beautiful place to visit. Filled with history, isn’t it? I loved the idea of the best Buddies Bell. What a lovely idea and memento for you to keep.

    1. It was a lot of fun, Elizabeth! And yes, it’s Athens, of course it’s filled with a lot of history and there are a lot of places to visit in Athens to discover it.

  2. I’ve always wanted to visit Athens, and this post just fed my wanderlust! I especially love the “Best Buddies Bell” – what a cool experience!

    1. I hope you get to see all the wonderful places to visit in Athens soon, Beth! And yes, the Best Buddies Bell was a great idea, not just as a memento, but to raise awareness. I hope they’re still doing this kind of campaigns. I’m actually thinking of doing something similar, in Bucharest 🙂

  3. Jolie Starrett

    I love reading about all the places to visit in Athens!

    1. I’m glad you do, Jolie! There’s another week on articles about Athens just around the corner. And then, I’m taking you on other travels in Greece! It’s the country I’ve visited most often, so it only makes sense to write a lot about it 🙂

  4. Jessie

    Excuse me while I jot ALL of these places down! What beautiful place to visit.

    1. I hope you get to go soon, Jessie. There’s more coming about Athens this week. Then all of February is all about Greece! From the continent to some of the most incredible Greek islands. Stay tuned! 🙂

  5. Ali

    Monastiraki and Plaka seem to be great places to visit in Athens! You article made me consider traveling there. Thanks!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that, Ali! I’m sure you’ll end up loving Athens 🙂

  6. I have read about Athens in many novels & blog posts. Looks like a must-visit place. Your pictures are amazing! Good to see that you had a great time. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sanjota! The setting helps a lot when it comes to taking good photos 😉 I hope you visit Athens soon, you’re going to love seeing first hand all those places to visit in Athens about which you’ve only read so far!

  7. Athens is such a beautiful and historical place. It is on my top 20 travel bucket list.
    Your photos are beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Grace! I agree, Athens is a great historical place. It’s also beautiful in some parts, but its beauty is nothing when compared to the rest of Greece.

  8. Neil Alvin Nicerio

    .Athens has always been in my bucket list. This article just added why I should visit the place. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Visit Athens soon, Neil! I keep looking at recent photos and photos from several years ago of touristic spots. They seem to only get more crowded as time passes. So try to enjoy it sooner rather than later 🙂

  9. Cassie

    I’ll be adding these places to my bucket list

    1. Great, Cassie! I’m sure it will be a long list, as there are so many beautiful places to visit in Athens!

  10. Meredith

    Wow, it’s so beautiful! I’ve always wanted to visit Athens!

  11. Athens is on my bucket list. I love to visit all those places left by the Romans. Do you think 3 days is enough to visit all the historical places?

  12. I love the Romans so I’d love to visit Athens. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Athens is a beautiful place with rich culture and wonderful things to visit. Hope I could see it once. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Elizabeth O

    This place looks stunning in the above pictures. Thanks for sharing your experience and now I will sure plan to visit there.

  15. Woah this is a really detailed post with some great info. You’re photos are really cool and i LOVE the look of Roman Agora! thanks for sharing

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