by Katherine Poseidon
Athens is full of little corners waiting to be discovered, and plenty of unique things to do- beyond the historic centre, which can keep you busy all on its own with great restaurants, top bars, local attractions and fun activities, we’ve given you our guide to the posh central neighbourhood of Kolonaki, and now it’s time for another of our favourite areas. The neighbourhood of Mets is, strictly speaking, a small section of the central suburb of Pangrati, but it has a charm that is all its own. Though it’s less than a 10 minute walk to Syntagma Square and to the Acropolis, strolling its backstreets or through the park you’ll feel like you’re a world away from a bustling European capital, with all the associated cultural offerings.
This is a great neighbourhood to consider looking for an AirBnB, or just a great place to go for a leisurely walk to relax after trying out a city tour or before heading out to explore Athens' bars. A little Brooklyn, a little Paris, Mets is really not a tourist spot at all, but still close enough to all the main tourist attractions - explore this very ‘real’ neighbourhood for one of the best things to do in Athens.
For Coffee Lovers: Chelsea Hotel
One of the hippest places to be in the area, Chelsea Hotel is where the cool crowd goes to chill out and lounge with a coffee by day and a cocktail by night. It has an unpretentious vibe, despite being packed from morning 'til late, with tables spilling out onto the pavement all around. The prices are low but that’s just a perk of the neighbourhood. The drink selection is wide and they also have some ‘meze’ selections for nibbles. Bonus: they offer fuzzy blankets to wrap up in if you’re sitting outside on a chilly day.
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For the Art Student: First Cemetery of Athens
While it may seem a little Halloween-y for us to send you to visit the First Cemetery of Athens, one of the most quirky things to do, we promise there’s a good reason. In addition to being an urban oasis all its own, this cemetery is the oldest in the city, and is the eternal resting place of some of Athens' most illustrious residents. Accordingly, their tombs are a sight to be seen, with some of the most impressive Greek sculpture work that can be found outside a museum - don’t miss the ‘Sleeping Girl’ statue, by the renowned sculptor Yannoulis Halepas.
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For the Hummus Lover: Baba Ghanoush
The newly renovated Varnava Square is not just a great place to chill and people watch, but it also houses a number of new cafés and restaurants that are popping up all the time. One of the best things to do there is a visit to Baba Ghanoush, which has jumped on the recent bandwagon of falafel places also sprouting up all over Athens. This is actually one of the great places to eat in Athens though - their falafel is consistently delicious, and the rest of their menu is small but mighty. Its location right next to the square also makes it kid friendly, so it’s a great place for a family outing (for more ideas of things to do with kids in Athens, see here!)
Looking for fun things to do with kids? We've got you covered!
For the Vintage Aficionado: Superfly Café
A coffee at Superfly is a whole lot more than just a coffee. Once you step into the door, you’ll find yourself transported to a vintage wonderland, full of nostalgia for the best of the 80s. From the vintage decor to the comics to the working Atari hiding in the corner, this place is a total escape from reality (and from the present day). Stop here for a little reminiscing, and one of the best things to do with friends.
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For the Carnivore: Colibri
You may not think of burgers as the first thing to eat in Greece - after all it’s not exactly a staple of traditional Greek cuisine - but since we devoted an entire post to the best burgers in Athens, you may be surprised by the delicious choices the city offers. For one of the best, try Colibri. The restaurant is so busy they have recently opened two other spots nearby, including one purely for delivery. Their burgers come in a variety of combinations, but the meat is always good quality, and they also offer yummy salads and pizzas too. You definitely won't go hungry!
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For the Archaeologist: Panathenaic Stadium
Mets isn’t exactly a historical area like the ancient centre of Athens, but while you’re here it’s worth checking out the Panathenaic Stadium. This is one of the main landmarks of Athens and a major Greek tourist attraction - another to add to the list of 'Athens' must see' and ancient monuments to explore beyond the Acropolis. This is the only fully marble stadium in the world, refurbished for the first modern Olympic Games in 1864, and it's also home of the Athens Classic Marathon finish line! (Here's some inspiration to get in the marathon mood or recharge after the race!)
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For the Hipster: Kain
One of the more recent openings in Mets is the all day café/bar Kain, located perhaps a little too close to the cemetery but it’s totally alive, we promise. They’ve recently celebrated their first year in operation, and from the looks of things they’ll be here for many more. Kain is always busy with friends meeting up for a drink or a coffee to catch up, and they often bring in DJs for some live beats. You can check their Facebook page for the most recent line up, or just grab a coffee on your way through.
For the Musician: Half Note
For a slightly more chill vibe, Half Note is a club that hosts a variety of artists, mostly playing jazz, blues or some eclectic mix. Both Greek and international artists play here, so it is well worth checking out the lineup, especially if you’re in the area. Don’t be put off by its location right across from the First Cemetery either - the atmosphere inside is warm and intimate and the music is always good. Check out the upcoming shows to see if you can find something to your taste!
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For the Hippie/Foodie: Mystic Pizza
Another slightly eclectic choice for Greek food purists, but a delicious one nonetheless. Mystic Pizza offers seriously delicious and rather unique cuisine, specialising in pizzas and pastas made with hemp flour, along with rich salads. This is their second location, and it also serves authentic Greek flavours alongside more alternative choices. If you want a little help, our guide to healthy food in Athens can decode a little of the menu, while we’ve also identified the 15 Greek foods you need to try before you die so you can cross off a few while you're here!
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For the Budding Hemingway: Odeon
Mets has the reputation of being something of a haven for artsy types, and Odeon exemplifies the vibe. The neighbourhood is small enough that there are plenty of regulars who frequent this cosy but sophisticated little place - during the day it’s a chill and light space to burrow into a book or generally get creative, and at night it’s also a low-key spot for a drink with friends. Every so often you might catch some live music too, and it really captures the authentic vibe of the neighbourhood.
For the Bookworm: Periplanisis
While you’re enjoying your coffee at Odeon or generally exploring the leafy backstreets of Mets, it’s hard not to be inspired to dive into a book - or at least flip through something literary. For some inspiration, Periplanisis (‘Wanderings’) is the neighbourhood bookstore of your dreams. For the Greek-speaking audience, they often host author events, readings, and children's storytime, but their selection is diverse and includes English books and a curated selection of gifts for every bookworm. There is also a secret courtyard through the back of the shop, which is a wonderful peaceful escape from the bustle of the city.
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For the Late Night (or Any Time) Munchies: Elvis
There is nothing more classic than the Greek souvlaki, and Elvis offers some of the very best (we have a full ‘Souvlaki 101’ post here). This is the second store of the same name in Athens, and it never, ever disappoints. The offerings are few - just grilled meat of various types, including pork, chicken and sausage, served on the skewer with french fries on the side. No frills but always delicious, this is a great solution for when hunger strikes at any hour!
For the Athlete: Panathenaic Stadium
We mentioned the ancient Olympic stadium, commonly called ‘Kallimarmaro’ already, as a great place to explore for a taste of Ancient Athens (for more ways to time travel to Ancient Greece, see our guide!) but this stadium offers more than just a glimpse into the past. Behind the stadium in the park up on the hill, there is a secret track for athletes to get into the Ancient Olympic Vibe (featured in our guide to running in Athens) and there is also a lovely green space with incredible views over the city, including the Acropolis. Grab some munchies from Elvis and head up here to enjoy one of the best green spaces in Athens (we have more for you here!)
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For the Gourmand: Spondi Restaurant
Last but definitely not least, Mets is home to one of Athens’ Michelin starred restaurants (with two stars no less!). Spondi is the one of the best places to eat in Athens, tucked in an unassuming side street off Varnava Square. Conceived by creative restauranteur Apostolos Trastelis, the cuisine is Mediterranean (with lots of French influence), and the setting can't be beat. A magical courtyard draped with flowers and an impressive wine list set up an unforgettable dining experience (and a romantic one too! More ideas for dates in Athens can be found here!)
Ultimately, Mets is one of the best places to explore in Athens. Totally off the tourist track, it's a great way to balance adventures tours or serious sightseeing with truly local flavours and the rhythm of everyday life in Athens.
As always, these opinions are all our own, and nothing is promotional.
Here's all you need in a map of Athens' Mets Neighborhood
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...and if we forgot your favorite place in Mets, we can't wait to hear all about it!