Plaka is possibly the prettiest place in Athens, with cobblestone streets, neoclassical buildings, and lush bougainvillea.
It’s also a very touristy spot and popular shopping hub. You’ll find all sorts of souvenir shops and gift stores, and the dining options can be a little overwhelming.
To help you navigate Plaka, I’ve put together a guide with the best shops, restaurants, and things to do in this neighbourhood.
So, let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
What you need to know about Plaka
Plaka is a neighbourhood in the heart of Athens. It serves as the gateway to the city’s main attractions, including the Acropolis and the agoras.
A popular tourist spot, Plaka is teeming with people throughout the day.
However, if you’re visiting Athens in October (or during the winter months), you’ll likely be able to wander through this beautiful neighbourhood without having to jostle your way through crowds.
Plaka is built upon the ancient residential areas of Athens. Artifacts found in the region date back to as early as the 7th century BC.
During the Roman period, Plaka became a prosperous area. The Roman Agora was a bustling marketplace, and structures like the Library of Hadrian and the Tower of the Winds were constructed during this time.
In the 15th century, Athens fell under Ottoman rule, and Plaka became a predominantly Ottoman Turkish quarter. Some of the architecture in the area reflects this Ottoman influence.
Plaka played an important role in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829).
The neighborhood was a centre for revolutionary activities, and some of its buildings were used as meeting places and safe houses for the rebels fighting against Ottoman rule.
Plaka underwent significant changes in the 19th century, when Athens became the capital of the newly independent Greek state.
Neoclassical buildings were constructed, and the area started to transform into the residential and commercial district that we see today.
Shopping in Plaka, Athens
Plaka’s winding streets are lined with charming shops and boutiques, making it a perfect destination for souvenir shopping.
You can find handmade crafts and jewelry, local food products, and more.
However, you’ll also find places that sell tacky things and fake handmade products.
Some will even try to entice you with significant discounts (40-70 percent off) and a limited time sale. These shops are usually located near Monastiraki Square and Mitropoleos Square.
If you venture deeper into Plaka, you’ll encounter places that sell genuine products, made by local artisans.
Recommended shops in Plaka Athens
Looking for shops in Plaka that sell authentic products? Check out my top recommendations.
This family-run shop stocks handmade carpets from Crete, Greece, and Armenia. It’s packed to the rafters with gorgeous rugs and blankets, and the owners are very helpful. Plus, they can ship your carpets to your preferred destination – for free!
I fell in love with this shop the moment I stepped inside. It sells beautiful, handmade jewellery, including pendants, bracelets, and earrings. Every piece is unique and created by local designers.
Pagani is a lovely little shop that sells all sorts of quirky things, created by local artisans. You’ll find ceramic crockery, clocks, lamps, and many other items.
Eating out in Plaka
There’s no shortage of restaurants in Plaka. You’ll find anything from traditional Greek taverns, modern cafes, and cosy restaurants with outdoor seating.
Here are some Plaka Athens restaurants that you should definitely try!
Breakfast at Yiasemi
Yiasemi is a gorgeous cafe on the Mnisikleous stairs, with French-style decor and several seating options.
You can sit in the cosy courtyard, enjoy some sun on the roof terrace, or just plonk yourself on the steps outside. If the weather’s bad, there are several tables indoors.
Yiasemi does breakfast, brunch, and lunch. You can choose from a variety of homemade pastries and sweet treats.
If you’re not a brekkie person, you can just get some delicious Greek yoghurt instead.
Lunch at Efcharis
Efcharis is a wonderful restaurant next to the Ancient Agora. It may look like a tourist trap at first, but its dishes are fresh and hearty, and decently priced!
If you want something light for lunch, try the traditional stuffed peppers. They also serve fish and meat-based dishes, plus vegetarian options.
They provide both outdoor and indoor seating. You can also ask for a table in the garden.
Dinner at To Kafeneio
On a nice evening, you can enjoy dinner al fresco. Many restaurants in Plaka set up tables in the streets.
To Kafeneio is a traditional Greek restaurant that serves a combination of light and filling dishes, including salads, mezes, and lamb.
The restaurant is situated on a quiet lane. If you sit outside, you’ll get a view of the Acropolis all lit up!
Best things to do in Plaka
Plaka may be small, but there’s plenty to see and do in this Athens neighbourhood. Here are some of the best things to do in Plaka Athens.
Go for a stroll in Anafiotika
Anafiotika is a gorgeous area with a very Greek village look and ambiance. It’s situated just below the Acropolis and above Plaka, and offers some beautiful views of Athens.
Anafiotika provides some respite from the busy streets of Athens.
You can stroll the path that winds through white-washed houses, or just sit on the cobbled steps and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Explore the agoras
Plaka is home to the agoras: open spaces used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for commercial and political purposes.
You can start by exploring the Ancient Agora, then head to the Roman Agora next door. If you purchase an Acropolis combo ticket, you’ll get access to both sites.
These archaeological sites are dotted with ruins and structures.
Make sure to check out the Temple of Hephaestus (Ancient Agora), where you’ll get some sweeping views of the Acropolis and its surroundings.
There’s also the well-preserved Tower of the Winds (Roman Agora), an octagonal Pentelic marble that dates back to at least 50 BC.
The agoras are also home to wild tortoises and friendly cats!
Wander around Monastiraki Square
Located on the fringes of Plaka, Monastiraki Square is a hub of activity all day long. It’s a popular meeting place surrounded by shops and flea markets.
Whilst you’re in Monastiraki, take a walk through the antique market.
Here, you’ll find shops brimming with all sorts of vintage items, from furniture and ornaments to books and vinyl records.
Visit Hadrian’s Library
Another interesting site in Plaka is Hadrian’s Library.
Built by Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, this ancient site served primarily as a library, but also held music and lecture rooms.
At this site, you’ll also see the remains of two churches built in the 7th and 12th centuries.
Check out the Benizelos Mansion
The Benizelos Mansion is the oldest surviving house in Athens.
The oldest part of the building dates back to the 16th century, while the rest of it was built in the 18th century.
This used to be the residence of Saint Philothei of Athens, an Orthodox sister who was persecuted during the Ottoman era.
The house still contains traces of its Ottoman origins.
See the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Church of the Virgin Mary
The Metropolitan Cathedral is an architectural marvel, with two imposing bell towers and a domed basilica that measures 40 metres long and 24 metres high.
The cathedral contains tombs of two saints killed during the Ottoman period: Saint Philothei and Patriarch Gregory V.
Next to the cathedral, you’ll find the Little Metropolis. This small Byzantine church is built on top of the ruins of a temple dedicated to the goddess Eileithyia.
The church’s interior was originally decorated entirely with frescoes.
Unfortunately, only one of these survives today: an image of the Panagia over the entrance apse.
Frequently asked questions about Plaka
Not sure about visiting the Plaka neighbourhood in Athens? Let’s answer some common questions.
Why is Plaka famous?
Plaka is a picturesque neighbourhood in the heart of Athens, home to ancient sites and neoclassical buildings.
It’s a popular tourist spot, with restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.
Is Plaka Athens worth visiting?
Yes. Plaka can get very busy in summer, but you’ll find a lot of good restaurants in this area.
Plaka has a very laidback ambiance – and a Greek island vibe!
Can you see Acropolis from Plaka?
Yes! Plaka is located at the foot of the Acropolis.
Some restaurants also have rooftop terraces with views of the Acropolis.
What’s the best way to see Plaka?
On foot! It’s a very walkable neighbourhood, and you don’t see many cars on the streets.
What attractions are near Plaka?
Plaka is home to several attractions, including the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora, and Hadrian’s Library. It’s also the gateway to the Acropolis.
Best Plaka Athens tours
Want to explore Plaka and its ancient sites with a guide? Here are my top recommendations.
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