The Greek capital has an abundance of must-see sites and places as well as vibrant hangouts where you’ll find the city’s night owls. There are those moments though when you want to escape the tourist crowds and discover the hidden and most authentic corners.
When the time comes, this guide with the top 10 secret attractions in Athens will definitely come in handy.
Theater Train at Rouf (To Treno Sto Rouf)
An old train station in Rouf, an area close to the city center has been transformed into a cultural space.
The train wagons have been decorated with different themes and each one has its own role.
The theater train at Rouf hosts performances and theatrical plays, the music wagon is known for its concerts and art events while a wagon bar and a wagon restaurant serve delicacies and refreshing cocktails in a relaxed, romantic atmosphere.
On the platform, you’ll find outdoor tables which especially during summertime brim with life.
A stone’s throw away from the vibrant Protogenous street where the hip Barrett café and bar lures hordes of locals and tourists you’ll find the equal hip but much quieter Melanthiou street.
The scenic little alley is located in the city center close to Monastiraki station and it became well known a few years ago when a trendy bike store popped up.
When the store’s owners decided to open the first cycle café in Athens right next to the shop, this little street became officially a hangout.
Bicyclists enjoy an ice-cold British Ale at The Handlebar café while their beloved bikes are fixed right next door.
Well, you don’t have to own a two-wheels vehicle to make a pitstop for refreshment at this hidden gem with the indoor and outdoor tables.
This green oasis in the heart of the city center is one of the least popular attractions hills in Athens.
The reason is probably that it is located in the Exarcheia neifghbourhood, the so-called anarchist area which many tourists are recommended to avoid.
However, this hidden gem is definitely worth being on your radar and it’s totally safe to go for a walk.
Strefi Hill offers a great view of the city and if you go for a visit in the morning you’ll notice many locals walking their dogs, jogging or brushing up their skills in basketball in the small public court.
Exostrefis, a local style tavern, is located on the top of the hill serving traditional dishes often accompanied by a live music concert.
Latraac Cafe & Skate Bowl
Nestled in a small street in the Metaxourgeio area, Latraac is Athens’ most popular skate bowl and café.
This cool spot is open every day except Monday from morning until night.
You’ll find skateboarders doing their tricks in the skatepark and habitués savoring a cup of coffee, the delicious brunch or a late-night drink at the long wooden tables.
Architecture buffs looking to explore the city’s history through its buildings should definitely leave Acropolis behind for one day and head to Alexandras Avenue where they’ll find a housing complex known as Prosfygika.
Prosfygika derives from the word “prosfygas” which translates to refugee and it has gotten its name because these settlements were built in the mid-30s for the refugees who came from Asia Minor during the Great Population Exchange.
The nowadays ruined blocks were once considered a modern architectural project with Bauhaus-style buildings covering eight blocks.
Athens Botanical Garden or Diomidous Botanical Garden
While a spectacular botanical garden is usually among a city’s top attractions, in Athens that is hardly the case.
The 186-hectares Diomidous Botanical Garden situated in the Haidari area is often overlooked making it one of Athens’s most beautiful secret attractions.
With more than 500 species of flora originating from all over the world, as well as native plants mentioned in Greek mythology, the flourished garden is considered to be the largest of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The fact that it isn’t located in the Athens city center and not many tourists have ever heard about it makes it the perfect destination for a relaxed walk or a Sunday evening picnic.
Akadimia Platonos (Plato’s Academy)
Another area that usually slips under tourists’ radar is Akadimia Platonos.
The historic neighborhood where around 380 BC the ancient Greek philosopher Plato founded the Philosophical Academy, nowadays features an archeological park and a digital museum focused on Plato’s life and philosophical ideas.
On a sunny weekend, you’ll see locals hanging out in the park, practicing their skills in yoga or just taking a stroll.
Housed in the former printing plant of the “Romantso” magazine in a narrow street close to Omonoia square, Romantso has now become an underground cultural center.
Art exhibitions, music concerts, workshops, and seminars take place in the building’s café, exhibition space and concerts/ theatre stage.
Aside from a cultural center, Romantso functions also as a co-working space providing offices, studios, and other facilities to its members.
The Valanari Waterfall
Even though this secret attraction isn’t located in the heart of Athens it is so special that is definitely worth to be included in this list with the Top 10 Secret Attractions in Athens.
The Valanari Waterfall is nestled close to the foothills of Penteli Mountain around 40 minutes from the Athens city center by car.
This small waterfall created by the Valanari river is the only one in Athens and its crystal clear waters, coming from Mount. Penteli creates a small shallow pool ideal for a dip.
Especially if you’re visiting Athens in the summer this hidden gem shouldn’t be missing of your itinerary.
The Greek film archive foundation (Lais)
What is a better break from sightseeing than watching a classic movie in an open-air cinema under Athens’ night sky?
Well, for cinema lovers probably nothing.
While there are numerous open-air cinemas in the city’s touristic areas such as Thiseio and Plaka, if you want to experience an evening like a real local you should head to The Greek Film Archive Foundation’s cinema, Lais.
Lais features two indoor cinema halls and a summer open-air cinema.
Don’t expect to find the latest blockbusters but instead some of the most significant in the cinema history film masterpieces.
Even if you’re visiting Athens for a few days make sure to fit into your itinerary both the must-see sites and Athens city’s secret attractions that will give you a proper taste of Athens city and will persuade you there are countless reasons to visit Athens any time of the year.