Often brought to the limelight of both international and local media as a symbol of the Greek urban modernity and a place that sparks controversy, Exarchia neighbourhood in Athens has quickly risen to fame during the past years. Squabbles aside, everyone can agree on one thing – Exarcheia neighbourhood is one of the best places to visit in Athens.Its multicultural ambience, picturesque streets, unique food and bustling nightlife showcase the more alternative side of Athens that is bound to fascinate you.
Exarchia neighbourhood in Athens is nestled between the foot of the beautiful Lycabettus Hill and Pedion tou Areos, one of the largest parks in Athens.
It borders with the classy neighbourhood of Kolonaki and Omonia square on the south and it’s only a few minutes away from Syntagma and the Academy of Athens.
Within the confines of Exarcheia you’ll also find a small hill called Strefi where locals head to for a glimpse of nature amidst the densely built quarters.
The neighbourhood of Exarcheia submerged at some point during the late 19th century with the first buildings surfacing around the area where the main square stands today.
Similarly to the district of Plaka, Exarcheia were initially gradually inhabited by migrants from the Cycladic islands.
Still, the area only started developing its distinct identity a few years later when the University of Athens decided to relocate a few of its departments to the new district.
Consequently, Exarcheia started attracting a very specific crowd – students, academics and intellectuals that frequented its small cafes and quaint taverns to engage in lively discussions and delve into long social debates.
In the mid 1970’s, the students of Exarcheia were in the frontline of the city’s uprising against the regime which resulted in overthrowing the junta and further cemented the area’s character as being restless and rowdy.
Exarcheia neighbourhood in Athens, has retained this unconventional identity for decades now.
It’s still a place of social, political and artistic fermentation that bustles with people from all ages and all walks of life that flock its streets to visit that small corner of the city that never sleeps.
Indeed, today Exarcheia is an art haven in the center of Athens where you’ll find a myriad of concerts, theatrical plays, parties, events and various performances taking place throughout the year.
Lately, the neighbourhood has been rapidly gaining in popularity with international travelers whose visits to Exarcheia can arguably serve as an indicator that misconceptions and perceptions of the past are being constantly challenged to uncover the district for what it truly is – one of the most fascinating places to visit in Athens.
So, what to see and do in Exarcheia neighbourhood?
With so much activity and so many events, happenings and celebrations going on in the area, the possibilities are endless.
Start off your visit to Exarcheia by walking around the square and getting acquainted with its unique vibe.
Grab a bite at one of the numerous food spots that serve almost everything – from the traditional souvlaki and spanakopita to ethnic cuisine and high end fusion culinary treats.
Go treasure hunting at the vintage shops and record stores and then head off to explore the city’s art scene at one of the many contemporary galleries based in Exarcheia.
Kourd Gallery, Ileana Tounta’s Contemporary Art Centre and Gallery Can Christina Androulidaki would all be a great place to start.
After you’re done marvelling at the impressive exhibitions, climb Strefi Hill for a relaxing afternoon under the cool shade of pine trees with a refreshing drink.
Come sundown, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the majestic nightlife of Athens at one of the countless hip watering holes.
Exarcheia neighbourhood is located in the center of Athens and it’s easy to reach both by walking and commuting from almost any place in the city.
It’s very close to three different stations – Victoria Station (green line), Panepistimio Station (red line) and Omonia Station (red and green line), with the last one being the closest.
Read: Getting Around Athens
With so many things being said and written about Exarcheia, there can be no better way to discover the truth about this intriguing small neighbourhood of Athens than to witness its charms with your own eyes.
The alluring ambiance and sprightly attitude will undoubtedly enchant you.