Exarcheia gets a lot of bad press: an anarchist playground, a punk Disneyland, the anti-conformist stronghold of Athens. Exarcheia certainly does wear many faces. But this is your chance to explore it, so let us take you on a tour of this infamous neighborhood and discover the many things to do and see in Exarcheia.
Stay at Athens Quinta Hostel
If you love all things vintage, then Athens Quinta is right for you. Located in Exarcheia, this charming little hostel is totally furnished with vintage finds. The owners joke that the only thing new are the dust bins, since they didn’t manage to find vintage bins. Athens Quinta has private and shared rooms, shared showers as well as a common lounge area and a quaint courtyard. Convenient and affordable, Athens Quinta is your new home away from home.
Athens Quinta Hostel, 13 Methonis, Athens, Greece, +30 21 3030 5322
Visit the National Museum of Archaeology
Undeniably one of the best museums in Greece, the National Museum of Archaeology houses the largest collection of antiquities from all over Greece, with no less than 11,000 exhibits. Offering a wide panorama of Greek civilization ranging from Prehistory to late Antiquity, the museum is housed in a stellar example of neoclassical architecture designed by Ernst Zeller.
National Museum of Archaeology, 44 Patission, Athens, Greece, +30 213 214 4800
Don’t forget the Epigraphic Museum
Many people are not aware that Greece has an Epigraphic Museum, which is also in Exarcheia (actually in the south wing ground floor of the National Archaeological Museum). One of a kind, the museum hosts a 14,000-artefact-strong collection of inscriptions carved on stone or marble. The artefacts cover a wide range, from early historical times to the late Roman era, mostly in Greece, although there are a small number of Latin and Hebrew inscriptions as well.
Epigraphic Museum, 1 Tositsa, Athens, Greece, +30 210 823 2950
The entrance of the Epigraphical Museum, in the right wing of the Archaeological Museum of Athens | © Hoverfish/WikiCommons
Dine like a king
Exarcheia offers countless options for great dining. Of course, you can always opt for souvlaki but if you are looking for something more refined, we recommend heading straight to Rififi. There, you will enjoy Greek dishes remastered and infused with a modern twist. Want to savour a delicious meal in a unique setting? Then pop into Ama Laxei. Housed in a former primary school, this restaurant is ideal for long summer dinners al fresco in the verdant courtyard. But don’t worry, even in the winter, the indoor dining area is equally whimsical. Finally, for a delicious dinner on the cheap without skimping on quality, Rakoumel is the top choice. Serving Cretan fare and delicious ouzo, it is one of the many places where you are sure to eat and drink well but spend little. And who could argue with that?
Rififi, Emmanouil Mpenaki & Valtetsiou 69, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0330 0237
Ama Laxei, Kallidromiou 69, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0384 5978
Rakoumel, Emmanouil Mpenaki 71, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0380 0506
Take a street art tour
You are in one of the alternative neighborhoods of Athens, and there, street art is sovereign. While many may find it overwhelming, it is still definitely an interesting place to check out. Stroll around Exarcheia and take the time to admire its walls. You will see works of well-known street artists and lesser-known too, such as iNO or Wild Drawing (WD).
Visit the Navarinou Park
Exarcheia is home to numerous self-managed community centers and grassroots organizations. One is responsible for the creation of the Navarinou Park, a former parking lot that locals reclaimed and repurposed into a park. Populated with plants that the residents take turns in watering and taking care of, the small park is a little oasis in the heart of Exarcheia.
Drop by Solaris for comics
A veteran store in Exarcheia, Solaris is a comic bookstore where you can find vintage and new comics, manga and memorabilia. Rediscover old-school comics and get acquainted with local comic artists all in one place. The owner definitely knows her stuff and and can guide you through your search.
Solaris, Botassi 6, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0384 1065
Go shopping at Yesterday’s Bread
Vintage and second-hand lovers will have a field day at Yesterday’s Bread, one of the vintage stores in the area. Shop vintage Converse sneakers, 1950s dresses, leather jackets and boots or find that Hawaiian shirt you didn’t know you wanted. Yesterday’s Bread is the best example that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Find forgotten gems at Sound Effect
There is nothing like finding a forgotten item after hours of browsing through cases of vinyl and CDs. Sound Effect is one of the many record stores in Exarcheia, but it is also more than that. A proper record label and record distribution establishment, Sound Effect should be the first place to go to when you are on the lookout for vinyl and records. Covering a wide range of music genres, including psychedelic rock, world music, dance and electro, hip-hop, classic and alternative rock, as well as indie and heavy metal, the store is a true Ali Baba’s Cave for music lovers.
Sound Effect, Kallidromiou & Spyrou Trikoupi, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0825 9883
Explore the world of musical instruments
Exarcheia is known for its many instrument stores, but our favorite is Amola Kalimba. This small store boasts a vast collection of instruments from across the world. Here you will find everything from Tibetan cymbals, clapper spoons, whistles of all sorts, desktop synthesizers and rare instruments.
Amola Kalimba, Didotou 34, Athens, Greece, +30 210 651 7005
Have it all at the White Rabbit
Get your sugar fix at White Rabbit, a coffee shop known for its extensive range of ice cream flavors (we hear the Lila Pause flavor is to die for). But there is more to it than that: White Rabbit is a multifunctional space. Given the high percentage of students and intellectuals in the area, it is also a great place to sit down and read your favorite book or discover new authors, as it also houses an on-site library. So, grab a book off the well-stocked shelves of the Volanakis library and settle in the courtyard, perfect for the summer months. White Rabbit also boasts a small theater stage on the second floor, called the Rabbit Hall (see what they did there?) where live music, movie projections, photo exhibitions and writing seminars are held. What more could you ask for?
White Rabbit, Solomou 12, Athens, Greece, +30 21 0330 0423
Open your eyes and explore
From small boutiques, publishing houses, ethnic stores and a plethora of bars and cafés, Exarcheia is an interesting area to explore. Have a coffee in Exarcheia Square for some people watching, walk up to Kallidromiou Street to shop for fresh produce at the Saturday market, wander the streets of Neapoli, a small district on the border of Lycabettus Hill or have a morning stroll on Strefi Hill. There are so many things to discover, see and do in Exarcheia so grab your camera and take the time to discover its many faces.