The Foodie’s Guide to 24 Hours in Athens

There’s more to the Greek Capital than the Acropolis and Ancient History. Follow my guide to discover Athen’s culinary heart and soul.

8 AM – BREAKFAST AT STANI’S

Presenting.. the most delicious taste to ever pass my lips!! Sheep’s milk yogurt served the traditional Greek way, on a plate with honey and walnuts. No words do justice to the taste of the yogurt, which is so thick that at points is almost solid. Coming from a small farm near Athens and sold at Stani, a favourite with locals for more than 80 years…if you only have time for one dish in Athens, make it this!

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Address: Marika Kotopouli 10, Omonia (only a short 10 minute walk from Athen’s centre square or catch the metro to Omonia station)

Telephone: +30 210 523 3637     Hours: Mon.-Sat. 6:15am-11pm; Sun. 7:30am-11pm

TAKE A STROLL THROUGH VARVAKEIOS

If you take a short five minute stroll from Stani in Omonia you will run right into the middle of what is in my opinion, the most fascinating and lively area of Athens. Varvakeios, the central market of Athens is one of the largest of it’s kind in Europe and is a foodie’s paradise. In operation since 1886, this chaotic fish and meat market is an assault to the senses; you don’t know where to look, the smells are over powering and you can’t make sense of what you hear as the vendors all vie for your attention. Surrounding the markets, the streets are full of bakeries, fresh fruit and vegetable stalls and the coolest deli’s you’ll ever see, all packed full of incredible Greek produce from barrel-aged feta to spices, air-dried cured beef, salted dried cod and if you’re like me, so many olives you’ll lose your mind. Definitely make the time to have a wonder around to ‘taste test’ all of the amazing produce and pick up a few goodies to take home.

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MIDDAY – LUNCH AT KOSTA’S

I managed to eat my weight in souvlakis while in Athens. I tried Gyros (meat roasted on those huge vertical spits) souvlakis and Kalamaki (skewred meat) souvlakis, and the kind of souvlakis that only taste good after a bottle of ouzzo at 3 in the morning.

The good news is that it’s difficult to find a bad souvlaki in Athens. The better news; I found the BEST souvlaki in Athens.

I entered the unassuming shop, unsure if I had the right address and asked, “souvlaki?” A nod of approval was accompanied by curious looks from what were obviously regular customers.  “So.. how did you find out about us?” All of the customers listened intently as I explained I had spent a good part of two weeks on the ground doing my research. “The best souvlaki in all of Athens” one of the customers proclaimed holding up his lunch with the same enthusiasm as an Olympian carrying his medal. There was a resounding agreement from everybody else in the shop, and I have to say, I can’t disagree.

Kosta’s souvlaki is fresh, light and juicy without being greasy. The pita bread is stuffed with Kalamaki meat, thin slices of red onion, plenty of fresh tomato and parsley and topped off with full-fat strained yogurt. It’s small enough to not leave you feeling like you need to take what I like to call a ‘PSN’ (post souvlaki nap), but enough to leave you satisfied.

Address: Penetelis 5 (intersection with Mitropoleos), Plaka/Syntagma (near the Syntagma Metro station or a ten minute walk from Monastiraki)

Hours: 9am – 3pm, closed Sunday

6PM – DINNER AT DIPORTO

Hidden behind a fruit market in downtown Athens, are two small well-worn doors, which if you’re not looking carefully enough for are very easy to miss. With no signage, you would never suspect that there behind the doors, below ground level lies one of Athen’s oldest Tavernas that will leave you feeling like you’ve somehow travelled back through time.

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With it’s vintage marble sinks, fading mosaic floor and wall covered in wine barrels, which, unlike most Athenian tavernas are actually used to store wine, it doesn’t look like much has changed since the Taverna first opened in 1887. Everything from the dim lighting, to the plump white mustached owner to the table of eccentric old men, drunk and singing to each other, the atmosphere will make you feel like you’ve stepped into an elaborate movie set.

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Within seconds of sitting down, rustic peasant bread is on your table along with a jug of the house white, Restina, a cheap but fine wine that’s been produced in Greece for more than 2000 years. There’s no menu and the staff don’t speak a word of english, but the open plan kitchen overflowing with pots and pans makes it easy to choose from the 5 or so dishes available on the day. Diporto’s home-style cooking is the real kicker, and their specialty, a comforting dish of chickpeas so perfectly cooked that they almost melt in your mouth are almost enough to distract you from what almost seems as an orchestrated show happening right there, in what I can only describe as the perfect Greek restaurant.

Address: Sokratous 9 and Theatrou (a short 5 minute walk from Monastiraki (central square) or Omonia metro station.

Hours: 8am – 7pm; Closed Sunday    Telephone: 210 321 1463

9PM – DESSERT AT AIGAION

As McDonalds would say, there are things that make you go “mmm”, but then, sometimes, you come across something that makes you say “Dear mother of god! What the fuck is this and where has it been all my life?”

Aigaion began as a traditional coffee shop in 1926, but their real claim to fame are their Loukoumades. Deep fried balls of dough soaked in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, a treat so naughty you might want to take a spare pair of underwear.

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Address: Panepistimiou 46 (corner of Harilaou Trikoupi). A few minutes walk from Omonia metro station.

Telephone: +30 210 381 4621-2

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-10:30pm; Sat. 10am-11pm; Sun. noon-10:30pm (Sept. 1-May 31);

closed weekends June 1-July 31 and all of August

Posted in Greece, Uncategorized, Year 1
23 comments on “The Foodie’s Guide to 24 Hours in Athens
  1. Wolfgang says:

    Yummy! ;)

    Sounds great. Would like to follow your guide if I were in Athens. I have never been there so far. Hope I will be there soon…

    Greetings vom Hannover
    Wolfgang

    • Jess says:

      Thanks Wolfgang! You should definitely try and visit Athens soon! If you do find yourself there soon, don’t hesitate to flick me any questions. I have friends there that can help with any questions you might have!

      Thanks for reading :)
      Jess x

  2. Anoushka says:

    Well to be honest this reeks of a standard tourist blog, not original, nothing new just the same as every other article on Athens. Everything you mention would never be ventured to by an Athenian so I would say this is not a good starting point if you want to discover the true Athens.

    Athenians don’t eat in Monastiraki or go to the places you’ve mentioned as these places are very catered for tourists and visitors alike…..I’m sure your recommendations are great and worth a visit but none of you will ever discover the true Athens unless you get out of the centre.

    HINT: You want the best souvlaki in Athens……..DON’T GO TO Monastiraki……no way….go to Kifissia or Glyfada….There are so many great restaurants in Athens that remain undiscovered because the Greeks have no idea what so ever on how to advertise their city.

    Areas to visit in Athens:

    North Athens – Kifissia, Kefalari, Nea Erythrea & Politia. All have great restaurants and fantastic night life can be found in Nea Erythrea.

    Central Athens – Thessio, Plaka, Hilton District, Gazi, Syntagma, Pagrati, Anafiotika, National Gardens etc.

    South Athens – Vouliagmeni, Voula, Glyfada, Kavouri, Palio Faliro. Best beaches in Athens are in Vouliagmeni and you should visit the lake too called Lake Vouliagmeni.

    Hope you enjoy Athens as much as me…

    Yours,

    British Expat who knows the hidden gems!

    • Jess says:

      Hi British Expat,

      Thanks for your feedback and recommendations on places to visit whilst in Athens.
      While I appreciate your opinion that, like any city, it is better to venture from the centre, this post was designed for people who have a limited amount of time in Athens, hence: 24 hours in Athens. The blog is designed for people to maximise their time by visiting and experiencing locations that are within close proximity of each other.
      I can also assure you that when I, along with my Athenian local visited Stani’s, Kosta’s and Diporto’s I was the only tourist in sight! All were packed full of locals and what could only be Greek tourists. Also, just a note: Kosta’s souvlaiki is NOT in Monastiraki.

      Thanks again for the tips! I’ll be visiting Athens again soon and will take the time to check out some of your suggested “hidden gems”

      Cheers!
      Jess

  3. Natalie Roos says:

    HOLY SHIT I am using this when I get to Athens. Thanks for what is basically the perfect guide to my perfect day in Athens.

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    • Jess says:

      Thank you!! So great to hear that this has inspired you to begin your own blog! Please make sure that you send me the link so I can follow your journey :) Jess x

  5. Love how you took photos of the food. More post about Athens :)

  6. eleana says:

    I’m a devout Athenian, born and raised in Athens! I have to say one thing : I would have recommended the exact same places! I now live in London but I always return to these * classics* ! good job ! I send your article to all friends that plan to visit Athens! another really cool website is culinary backstreets – there is an athens section too!

    • Jess says:

      Hi Eleana!Thank you :) So awesome to hear that you would recommend the same places!Thanks for sending the article to your friends too :) Do you have any tips or recommendations on where to find great Greek food in London?! I’m moving there this year!x

  7. Neringa says:

    There’s hardly a better thing to eat while in Greece than Greek yoghurt with walnuts and honey. Surely you can make it at home, but it’s not quite the same.

  8. This is my kind of travel guide. I will be in Athens for about 14 hours later in the month and I will spend my time following your guide – mmmm, I can’t wait!!

  9. eleana says:

    Dear Jess,
    I read your article again as I’m heading down to Athens in a few days. Sorry that I’m replying so late hope you’re still in London :)
    hmmm greek food in London..
    I have to recommend the Greek Larder in King’s Cross and Opso in Marylebone. A lovely greek deli with great cheeses and wines would be Isle of Olive off Broadway Market.
    Also if you come down to Brighton ( where I’ve moved) I will take you to Pop Pie for some bougatsa and greek coffee.
    Eleana

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