If you’ve already visited Athens’ ancient sites and tourist areas or just looking for a more authentic experience in the Greek capital keep reading. This guide with best hidden spots in Athens is all you need for going off the beaten path and exploring the city like a local.
Akadimia Platonos (Plato’s Academy)
Akadimia Platonos is rarely included in the ‘top things to do in Athens’ lists, yet is a place of great historical significance.
In this neighborhood that lies in the northwestern part of Athens’ city center, the renowned philosopher Plato founded its academy in 380BC.
Nowadays, there is an archeological park signifying the place the historical figure used to teach his students as well as a small interactive museum.
Here visitors can learn more about the philosopher’s life and ideas and the entrance is free.
Punctuated with trees and benches, the park is also a hangout for people living in the neighborhood as well as locals from other areas.
Poulopoulos Hat factory
Located close to Thissio, the industrial building that once housed the oldest hat factory in the country is one of Athens’ best-hidden spots in plain sight.
Founded in 1886 by Ilias Poulopoulos, the renowned factory remained open for half a century and closed its doors a few years after the end of World War II.
Boasting a magnificent industrial architecture, the stone building has declared a monument and was restored by the government in 1988.
The remaining part of the former factory has now been transformed into a cultural center, which hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions.
The Queen’s Tower
The Queen’s Tower (Pyrgos Vassilissis) in Attica’s western suburbs is one of the most overlooked landmarks in the Greek capital.
The Gothic-architecture building was designed by the French architect Florimond Boulanger and its construction was completed in 1854.
A spectacular garden, which spans in front of the small-size tower is decorated with statues and fountains.
Both the garden and the tower are open to visitors and tours cost €5.
The Gennadius library
On Souidias Street 61 (map) in the upscale Kolonaki district lies one of Athens’ most important hidden gems: the Gennadius Library.
Founded in 1926, four years after Joannes Gennadius donated 26,000 documents and volumes, Gennadius Library is considered one of the most important libraries worldwide.
Nowadays, it houses over 138,000 book volumes as well as artworks, manuscripts and archives.
Aside from its remarkable collection, the Gennadius Library is well-known for hosting cultural events, concerts and exhibitions.
Athens Botanical Garden (Diomidous Botanical Garden)
Athens Botanical Garden is often falling under tourists’ radar as it’s the National Gardens of Athens right next to Syntagma square that draws all the attention.
And while no one can argue that the National Gardens is a sight to be missed, Athens Botanical Garden has its own unique beauty.
Situated at Attica’s western suburbs in the Haidari area, (click for map) Athens Botanical Garden spans for 186-hectares.
Home to over 500 species of flora including native plants mentioned in Greek mythology, the majestic garden is one of the largest of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean.
When you’re thinking of the hills that you must visit in your trip to Athens chances are that the first to come in mind are Lycabettus Hill and Philopappou Hill.
These are unquestionably two of the most beautiful places in the Greek capital and both of them are drenched in history.
If however, you’re looking for a peaceful place away from the tourist crowds you must look a bit further. And more precisely to Exarchia neighborhood where the beautiful Strefi Hill stands 150-meter above sea level.
Dotted with trees, paths and benches, Strefi Hill is the perfect spot for a tranquil walk away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Plus, the view from its summit is wonderful.
National Observatory of Athens
Those fascinated by astronomy should definitely add the National Observatory of Athens to their to-do list.
The National Observatory of Athens features three visitors centers located in Penteli, Kyronerion and Thission.
The latter is located on the Hill of the Nymphs in a building designed in the mid-19th century by the Danish architect Theophil Hansen.
A Geoastrophysics Museum and the library of the Observatory are open to visitors eager to explore the long history of Greek astronomy.
Different types of scientific instruments dating to the 19th and 20th century as well as the first optical telescopes of Greece are also displayed in the observatory’s hall.
The visitor center in Thissio is open from Monday to Friday (9 am- 2 pm) and the entrance fee is €5.
*The visitor center in Penteli is open around 4 times a month while the one in Kryoneri hosts open doors events or specific tour groups on specific dates throughout the year.
Even though many people have passed by Hadrian’s Reservoir few have noticed it or even know that it is an ancient hydrological landmark.
Set in Kolonaki area at the western base of Lycabettus Hill, Hadrian’s reservoir nowadays sits beneath the outdoor Cinema Dexameni.
When it was built though, in the 2nd century AD it was the largest infrastructure project to date providing water supplies to the area.
Today, there only two column bases remain at the site and visitors are not allowed to enter the reservoir building.
While Athens’ popular landmarks and hip neighborhoods should definitely be on your to-do list, there are numerous secret attractions that are worth your attention. From peaceful gardens to architectural masterpieces, these secret attractions are bound to impress you. Plus, it’s always nice leaving the tourist crowds behind for a while and seeing the city like a local.
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