Downtown Athens is made up of many neighborhoods. Grab a map and venture behind the Old Olympic Stadium, through Mets, with its lovely restored neo-Classical buildings, gentle hills and winding streets, where a turn may afford an amazing glimpse over the National Gardens, of Mount Lykavittos and of the Acropolis.
Wander towards Imittou Street, more of a boulevard with one side pedestrian, lined with cafes surrounded by trees, street venders, a rooftop cinema – take an afternoon “volta” (stroll) with locals enjoying a gelato or a frappe, the national drink of Greece. Wander the side streets, discover little boutiques with prices half of what you’ll find in the Plaka, or visit a local butcher shop, cheese shop or “fournos” (bakery). Look for the lovely “cavas” (liquor stores) tucked away just off the main drag – you’ll find freshly roasted nuts and a fine selection of Greek liquors and wines, perfect for snacking, picnicing or bringing back as gifts.
Detour behind the Old Olympic Stadium, through Mets, into the walls of the Athens First Cemetary. Anyone who was anyone in Greece is buried there, and you’ll be amazed by the beautiful carved tombstones and sculptures.
Escape the heat of the summer sun in the Pagrati Alsos, or Little Forest of Pagrati – a cool escape beneath the tall pine trees, just down the street from the Old Stadium (Kalimarmaro) or circle behind Kalimarmaro Stadio and go for a stroll on Ardittos hill, where each twist and turn tempts you with glimpses of the Parthenon, leading you further along until you find that perfect Kodak moment where the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus and the Parthenon all line up, framed my the deep green pine trees and the cloudless Greek blue sky.