Every neighbourhood in Athens lucky enough to have a view of the Acropolis thinks that theirs is the best in the city. But you really can’t beat Thissio to appreciate the majesty of the Parthenon. My favourite thing about living here is walking up the footpath behind the Church of St. Marina and past the National Observatory of Athens up to Pnyx Hill (just the birthplace of democracy, you know…), where you’re greeted with a spectacular perspective on the entire ancient city.
While most views of Athens reveal a sun-bleached concrete jungle, from this tree-lined summit you see how the historical centre is really a green island. After a long day exploring the city, venturing up at sunset is a great way to unwind. If you ever grow tired of staring down on the Propylaea, the main entrance to the Acropolis, and the temple of Athena Nike, you can always turn around and look out towards the sea, Piraeus harbour, the ships coming to and fro, and the islands that dot the horizon.
Thissio today is one of the most sought-after and well-situated neighbourhoods in Athens. As it includes the pedestrianised Apostolou Pavlou street that rings the Acropolis, you'd expect Thissio to be far more touristy—much like nearby Koukaki or Monastiraki. But all you have to do is walk a few doors down from the main drag and you’ll find yourself in the midst of a calm and authentic Athenian middle-class neighbourhood with many cultural and edible treasures.
This is one of the best brunch spots in Athens. It has the wide range of painstakingly-sourced coffee options you would expect from the best third wave coffee shops, from single origin blends to ethically-sourced brews. In a beautiful restored neoclassical building, it’s the perfect start to a day exploring the neighbourhood on foot. Pedestrianised Iraklidon Street leads to the city’s ancient fortifications and is lined with restaurants, bars and greenery.
A personal favourite, this cute little taverna serves meze (small sharing plates) inspired by Greek cuisine from Asia Minor (Mikra Asia in Greek). Occupying a tranquil spot on pedestrianised Iraklidon Street, this laid back and great value eatery really is a community hub. Highlights include the roasted peppers and flogeres, pastry cigars filled with cheese and covered in honey.
To Steki tou Ilia
One of Thissio’s best kept secrets is the pedestrianised Thessalonikis Street, which begins at Agios Athanasios church. With stellar meat dishes, To Steki tou Ilia appeals to committed carnivores—and is famous for its lamb chops by the kilo. Tables are set in the church yard and stretch along the pavement in summer. Cafe Loux just along the street is great if you’re just looking for drinks or a nightcap to wash down all your overindulgences.
The heart of Thissio is the little square where Nileos, Iraklidon, Akamantos and Apostolou Pavlou Streets come together. You’ll find tourists and Athenians rubbing shoulders long into the night at the restaurants and kafeneia (cafés) that surround the square. Slightly hidden down some steps, this is a typical local kafeneio that serves up great coffee and spirits, with tasty snacks—like tirokafteri (spicy cheese dip), fava or dakos. Just be careful about making plans afterwards, because sitting down for a quick drink here often turns into hours of boozy discussion with friends and locals.