If you feel you’ve been there, done that and are craving some unique things to do, we have some ideas. You probably won’t find these insider suggestions in any typical tourist guide—but who wants to be a typical tourist?
Does the paranormal tickle your fancy? Hop on the metro and take the red line to Peristeri, the city’s largest municipality. There, on the second floor of 4 Ikarias Street, the smell of rosewater will lure you into Séance. Illuminated solely by candlelight, the shadowy space is dotted with an array of reptiles in formaldehyde jars. Here, you can spend two hours making contact with spirits. This interactive experience will leave you wondering if what you’ve just witnessed was reality or a well-orchestrated show.
If you’re travelling with friends, and have some time to kill, you may want to engage in some old-school gaming. Kaissa Café, a huge space spread across two floors, is a great hangout for lovers of board games. With communal tables, coffee, and an endless selection of board games, this is a great place to unplug and connect.
Because we all have an appetite for destruction, even on the most relaxing of vacations, take yours and put it to good use at Limba (Greek slang for ‘Smashed’) in Psirri. This rage room allows you to smash anything from wine bottles to actual TV sets. You’ll be provided with the necessary protective gear, including a helmet, gloves, and goggles. Take your pick and let it all out, and for under five euros. Priceless.
If you’re a creative soul and like the sound of making your own piece of classical Athens to take home with you, head to 13Mosaic Studio. In a cheery, air-conditioned art studio, tucked above the hurly burly of Ermou Street in Syntagma, you can embark on a three or five hour mosaic-making workshop hosted in English by the lovely Laura, a mosaics artist who studied in Ravenna, Italy, and her business buddy Marina, a local interior designer. Kick off by hearing about the history and modern manifestation of this popular artform. Next, pick your own pattern to create from a selection that includes mosaic samples from historic Athens sites (like the National Garden or Byzantine Museum). Colour-rich Greek marble is cut by hand and hammer at the studio using the traditional ancient technique. Not only does a self-made mosaic make a novel souvenir, it’s also a great way to carve out some chill time away from the city beat—especially in August. The kids will love it too (it’s suitable for nines and up).
Want to do like the ancient Greeks did? Ponder on the meaning of life, freedom and happiness? Pop in for a free Dialogue Soirée every Thursday at the Academia Hotel (7pm). Yannis Vogiatzis, a philosophy professor, is there to guide you in a discussion of everything Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and engage you in a dialogue with your peers. You don’t need to be a philosophy whiz to participate, the conversation is yours to steer in whichever way you choose. “Ancient Athenians had a habit of talking, making it a pillar of Greek culture, which we still have,” says Yannis. Ok, so maybe instead of walking through the Agora, you’re sitting back on a couch in Plato’s Bar, but you’re surrounded by marble busts of the great ancient Greek thinkers, their most famous quotes inscribed on the walls.
If you think the only things you’ll find in the city’s museums are classical statues and remains of ancient vases, think again. The one and only Hellenic IT Museum is home to archaic computers from the ‘70s to the ‘90s, a 1MB hard drive from the ‘60s, a wooden mouse, and the first laptop. After a visit here, you’ll have a whole new level of appreciation for your smartphone. Just think what life would be like without it. Especially on a holiday.
What if you were in the mood for a makeover with a bit of a modern German air, and had to find In Berlin in a heavy atlas? The owner of this hairdresser has been known to hang customers from the bannisters to cut the right layers that’ll give your hair the movement it deserves. A bit strange, you may think, but worth it in the name of looking good.
If you’re not into vanity on your vacation, and would simply like to learn or create something, stroll on over to the Stereolab and print your own keychain, using their state-of-the-art 3D printing machines.
For those of you looking for more romantic or traditional travel inspiration, Cosmic is definitely worth a visit. As you’re exploring the small side streets of Psirri neighbourhood, look out for the shop with a window packed with globes. Small, large, old, new, yellow or blue, the owners of this store have been making handmade globes and maps since 1951. (The site is in Greek, but here’s a quick look at what they do.)