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Exarchia, Athens: Where to Eat & Best Things to Do

Exarchia isn’t the kind of place you’d find on a tourist’s travel itinerary.

This neighbourhood in the centre of Athens has a very gritty look, with graffiti filling every square inch of wall space. But it’s actually a warm and welcoming place, where you can mingle with locals and experience Athens beyond the main attractions.

In this guide, I share my top recommendations for where to stay and dine in Exarchia Athens. I also list some amazing things to do in this neighbourhood.

So, let’s dive right in!


What you need to know about Exarchia

Exarchia is a vibrant neighbourhood known for its rebellious character. It’s located in the heart of Athens, just outside the touristy area of Plaka.

Often referred to as an anarchist hub, Exarchia has a rich history of political activism and countercultural movements.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was a haven for artists, intellectuals, and activists seeking an alternative lifestyle and challenging mainstream norms.

Posters covering a wall in Exarchia Athens
Posters covering a wall in Exarchia. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

One of Exarchia’s distinctive features is its colorful street art and graffiti, which adorn the walls of buildings throughout the neighborhood.

Some of these murals convey messages of resistance, dissent, and solidarity.

The streets of Exarchia are lined with eclectic cafes, bookshops, and music shops.

In the evening, the neighbourhood is bustling with activity, as locals hang out at their favorite restaurants, eating and drinking outside.

And if you’re wondering: Is Exarchia safe? The answer is yes!

We felt very safe walking the streets of Exarchia at night. However, if you’re a solo female traveller, you might want to get a taxi back to your hotel if you’re out late.


Where to stay in Exarchia

Exarchia makes a great base if you want to explore Athens beyond the Acropolis.

Plus, it’s home to some of the best restaurants in the city, so you wouldn’t have to stray too far from your hotel to enjoy a nice meal in the evening.

We stayed at PAME Paradiso, a four-star accommodation in the heart of Exarchia.

Our room was quite big and comfortable, with a large bed, cozy bathroom, and a kitchenette with a living area. We also had a sizeable terrace overlooking the street.

The hotel is close to several good restaurants and cafes, including a place that sells amazing profiteroles!


Exarchia has an exciting food scene.

You’ll find restaurants that specialize in Greek and Cretan food, and others that serve more innovative dishes, blending flavors from different cuisines.

Here are my recommended Exarchia restaurants.

Rozalia

Located in a cosy alley, Rozalia serves popular Greek dishes, including seafood and meat-based meals.

I had a moussaka and it was so delicious and filling!

Moussake at Rozalia in Athens
Moussaka at Rozalia’s. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

You can dine in the restaurant’s garden, or sit at an outdoor table.

However, you might want to make a reservation as the place can get quite busy in the evening.

Salero

If you’re a wine drinker and enjoy Mediterranean cuisine, you’ll love Salero.

This colourful restaurant in Exarchia serves a mix of Greek and Spanish dishes. It also has a large selection of wines.

Make sure to get the goat cheese with jamon serrano as an appetizer – so good! They make a lovely Greek salad, too.

The restaurants gas indoor seating, as well as outdoor seating in sheltered yard.

Rakoumel

Rakoumel was recommended to us by the receptionist at PAME Paradiso.

We had our first meal in Athens at this place, and it was possibly the best food we had in the city.

Their specialty is Cretan cuisine, and the portions are quite generous. I recommend getting a variety of dishes to share, like the zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and the Cretan sausage.

The restaurant feels very homely. On a nice evening, you can sit at a table on the street and soak up the local ambiance.

Sorolop

A few doors down from Rakoumel you’ll find Sorolop, i.e. profiterole heaven!

This is another place that was recommended by the lovely receptionist at PAME Paradiso.

Profiteroles from Sorolop.
Profiteroles from Sorolop. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

This small ice-cream shop serves delicious profiteroles, with a choice of dark, white, or milk chocolate.

You get them in a sealed box with paper forks, so you can pick them up on your way back to the hotel after dinner.

I Cake You

This cute cake shop is located right next to PAME Paradiso. It serves all sorts of mouth-watering treats, including brownies, cookies, and cupcakes.

I Cake You is quite a small place, but you can sit at a table outside or get your cakes to go!


Best things to do in Exarchia Athens

Exarchia is brimming with exciting places, from museums and libraries to bookshops and record stores.

If you’re visiting Athens in October, you can even enjoy a nice stroll through the parks of the neighbourhood – the weather at this time of year is perfect for exploring the city on foot.

Here are some of the best things to do in Exarchia.

Go on a bookshop crawl

Exarchia is a book lover’s paradise. There are dozens of bookstores in the neighbourhood, including several shops selling unique second-hand items.

Of course, it can be difficult to find English titles at foreign book stores.

However, if you head to Bookstore Politeia or Polyglot, you’ll find a decent selection of books in English (and other languages).

Visit the National Archaeological Museum

Housed in a stunning neoclassical building, the National Archaeological Museum has one of the largest collections of artifacts from ancient Greece.

The National Archaeology Museum in Athens
The National Archaeology Museum. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

These include sculptures from the 7th century BC, ceramics from the 11th century BC and the Roman Era, and many other treasures.

Note: If you purchase the Acropolis combo ticket from GetYourGuide, it will include entry into the National Archaeological Museum.

Pop into the record stores

Exarchia is also a little haven for record collectors. You’ll find several stores that sell new and second-hand vinyl records.

Make sure to check out Le Disque Noir, near the PAME Paradiso hotel.

Le Disque Noir in Exarchia Athens
Le Disque Noir in Exarchia Athens. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

This shop has a large collection of vinyl records in a variety of genres, including classical music, industrial Goth, heavy metal, New Age, and rock.

And the guys that work there are super helpful!

Check out the Statue of Athena and Pan’s Grotto

If you need some respite from the commotion of the city, head to Pedion Areos.

This green oasis in Exarchia is one of the largest public parks in Athens.

Pedion Areos in Athens
Pedion Areos in Exarchia Athens. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

Here, you’ll find an impressive statue of the goddess Athena, which was erected as a memorial to the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Greece in the Second World War.

As you make your way around the park, keep an eye out for a hidden grotto. This manmade cave was created by a local sculptor in 1962, with faces and figures carved into the rock.

Walk around the National Library Park

On Panepistimiou Avenue, you’ll find a little green area with three stunning buildings: The National Library, the Academy of Athens, and the University of Athens.

The University of Athens.
The University of Athens. Photo by Daniela Frendo.

Built in the neoclassical style of the 18th and 19th centuries, these buildings are known as the Athenian Trilogy and stand against a backdrop of contemporary structures.

There are also two large statues of Athena and Apollo.

Until 2017, the National Library housed over two million books, manuscripts, and periodicals. Most of these items are now found in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.


Do you have any questions about Exarchia Athens? Ask away in the comments below!

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