Athens – An unexpected foodie paradise

Norman cocktail bar athens

During the early planning stages of this trip a visit to the Greek Islands was a non-negotiable on Tess’ list of places to see. Naturally, stopping via Athens seemed to be the most logical choice with a large international airport and easy access too the islands by ferry. With this in mind we expected a short, relatively unremarkable stay in Athens – maybe a cheeky Acropolis view – then planned to quickly move on to greener pastures. What we got however couldn’t have been more different!

Athens was a hive of activity. Around every corner was another cool bar, cafΓ© or pop up store. We were so impressed by the hospitality of the locals and effortlessly cool vibe of the city. The focus of this article is more on the atmosphere we enjoyed and a few bar & restaurant recommendations (apologies if you’re after recommendations for some of the cities historical sites).

We stayed in the area of Omonia which on first glance seemed a little ‘sketchy’. We read the stock standard warnings about keeping a close eye on your belongings and watching out for pick-pockets. Of course while you should always remain vigilant when travelling, especially in some of the larger cities, for the most part we felt very safe here.

Only a 5-10 minute walk from our accommodation we stumbled across the achingly cool neighbourhoods of Monestiraki, Plaka, Psirri (Heroes square is a must to check out here) and Syntagma. The people were friendly, the food was great and the prices even better. We can safely say the Athens food and bar scene is underrated!

Some recommendations for Athens: restaurants & cafes

*Please note: this is not an exhaustive or β€˜best of’ list, more a few places we think you should definitely check out when you visit Athens!


With absolutely no signage or even a hint of life from the outside this place is very easily missed. We most definitely wouldn’t have thought to check it out if it hadn’t come so highly recommended. Once you clamber down the stairs leading into the restaurant you’ll be quickly directed to the closest empty table (if there is one) and brought a carafe of the house white wine stored in the barrels on the wall directly behind you. Too bad if you didn’t want it, there’s literally only wine or water to choose from. When it comes to the menu… well there isn’t one. We were served up the same 3 dishes that have probably been served there for decades. But hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right? We devoured a delicious spread of stewed chickpeas, Greek minestrone soup? (again, without a menu we didn’t quite know what we were eating, but trust us it was good), and sardines. Paired with bread to mop up the flavours and the most authentic setting we could have possibly imagined, this place was an absolute standout.

THE CHEAP: Bougatsadiko Psirri

If you’re travelling on a budget Bougatsadiko Psirri definitely hits the mark. We ate there three times, opting for the spinach pie, and meat filled Bougatsa. For only 2-3 euros a pop (depending on whether you want to eat in or take away) you really can’t go wrong. Situated just off Heroes Square it makes for a great spot to grab a quick bite before hitting up some of the neighbourhood’s many bars and tavernas.

THE COFFEE: Dope Roasters

If you’re in need of serious caffeination look no further than Dope. With a light and airy stripped back aesthetic, artisanal baked goods and excellent coffee you really can’t go wrong. We only wished we stayed longer so we could have visited more than once! This was one of the best coffee’s on our Europe travels!

THE GRILLED MEAT: To Paradosiako

With its name translating to ‘The Traditional’, this place serves authentic Greek grub at great prices. With a mix of tourists and locals spilling out onto the street we knew we were onto something good here. We enjoyed the chicken and pork gyros with a Greek salad which was a massive amount of food for only around 20 euros. The food was great and the street atmosphere also hit the mark. If you’re after a filling value feed this is a good choice!


Norman was actually recommended to us by a fellow traveller we met while savouring our coffees at Dope Roasters (see above). We figured if we shared great taste in coffee we might as well check it out. Nestled into a little alleyway, Norman packs a punch when it comes to rum based cocktails and your classic spritz. While the bar itself is small, we chose to enjoy our drinks out on the street and soak up the summer vibes.


Have a read about our stay in Naoussa and the island of Paros!

Want to do another great day trip on Paros? Consider a visit to Lefkes!

Take a look at travel content from Greece! And follow all of our travel moments here!

Heading to Dubrovnik? Don’t miss our tips and gallery from walking the walls of Dubrovnik!

Keen for a short trip from Kotor and Dubrovnik? Consider heading to Mostar in Bosnia, one of our favourite stops yet!

Check out further highlights from our time in the Europe! Take a look!

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