From the best shops in the Central Market to one of the city’s oldest tavernas, Vassilis Haralambidis takes you on trip through the gritty and diverse Historic Centre of Athens.

The bright interior at Romantso.

Courtesy: Romantso

This neighbourhood is the oldest part of modern Athens.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

In the web of newly pedestrianised alleys above Athinas Street, hip bars and boutiques are peppered among the traditional textile, hardware and haberdashery shops. But Gerani is still distinctly ungentrified. “It’s like a forgotten area of the city. It’s very vibrant, a little decadent, with a mix of old-school shops and cheap Chinese knock-offs that give the area a unique vibe,” says Haralambidis. “There’s a big Pakistani population here. I like to eat at places that I call ‘Athens exotica’—ethnic food joints where few tourists or even Greeks venture.” These are Haralambidis’ other favourite hangouts.

“It’s like a forgotten area of the city, very vibrant, a little decadent."

Stani

The area around Omonia used to be full of dairy shops—they were the cafés of the day. This is the last dairy shop in downtown Athens. If there’s such a thing as a Greek breakfast, it’s Stani’s sheep’s yoghurt slathered with honey and walnuts. They use fresh milk to make all their products right here on the premises. Other delicacies are the bread rolls with freshly churned butter and honey, and the anthogala, fior de latte served in a sundae glass and topped with walnuts.

Lefteris o Politis

This minimalist souvlaki is also some of the city's spiciest.

Photo: Eleni Veziri

Ktistakis in Historic Centre, Athens.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

Ktistakis

Athenée

A mannequin at Athenee looks out over the street.

Photo: Georgios Makkas

Row after row of produce at the Varvakios Farmers Market.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

Varvakios Fruit & Vegetable Market