10 Unusual Things to Do in Athens (Part 1)


When most people think of visiting Athens, Greece, the first things that come to mind are the iconic Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the bustling city center. While these are certainly must-see attractions, the Greek capital has so much more to offer beyond the well-trodden tourist trail. From quirky museums to unique dining experiences, Athens is full of hidden gems and offbeat activities that allow you to discover the city’s more unconventional side.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 unusual things to do in Athens that will take you off the beaten path and give you a taste of the city’s quirkier, more eclectic offerings. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor, these unconventional experiences are sure to make your trip to Athens truly memorable.

1. Visit the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

Located in the heart of Athens, the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments is a hidden gem that celebrates the rich musical heritage of Greece. This unique museum showcases a vast collection of traditional instruments, from the iconic bouzouki to the lesser-known lyra and laouto.

As you wander through the museum’s galleries, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history and cultural significance of these instruments, as well as the various musical traditions they represent. Many of the exhibits feature interactive displays that allow you to listen to the instruments being played, giving you a deeper appreciation for the role they’ve played in Greek culture.

What makes this museum truly special is the opportunity to attend live performances by talented Greek musicians. These intimate concerts provide a chance to experience the beauty and diversity of Greek folk music in a truly immersive setting.

2. Explore the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

While Athens is renowned for its ancient Greek and Byzantine heritage, the city also boasts a rich Islamic cultural legacy. The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art is a testament to this history, showcasing an impressive collection of artifacts and artworks from the Islamic world.

The museum’s galleries are housed in a stunning neoclassical building, which itself is a work of art. As you explore the exhibits, you’ll be transported to the vibrant and diverse world of Islamic art and culture, with displays ranging from intricate textiles and ceramics to stunning calligraphic manuscripts and metalwork.

One of the highlights of the museum is the opportunity to attend specialized workshops and lectures, where you can delve deeper into the fascinating history and traditions of Islamic art. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or simply curious about this lesser-known aspect of Athens’ cultural landscape, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art is a unique and enriching experience.

3. Discover the Quirky Monastiraki Flea Market

Nestled in the heart of Athens, the Monastiraki Flea Market is a bustling and eclectic open-air market that offers a glimpse into the city’s vibrant street life. Unlike the more polished and tourist-oriented markets, Monastiraki is a chaotic and authentic wonderland, where you’ll find a diverse array of vendors selling everything from antique furniture and vintage clothing to handmade crafts and curiosities.

As you wander through the maze of stalls, you’ll be captivated by the lively atmosphere and the opportunity to interact with the local vendors, who are often eager to share the stories behind their wares. Whether you’re in search of a unique souvenir or simply want to soak up the bustling energy of the market, Monastiraki is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a true taste of Athenian culture.

4. Visit the Archeological Site of Kerameikos

While the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora are well-known archaeological sites in Athens, the Kerameikos is often overlooked by visitors. This ancient cemetery and residential area offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily life and death rituals of ancient Athenians.

As you explore the site, you’ll discover a wealth of well-preserved ruins, including the remains of ancient workshops, homes, and the famous Dipylon Gate, which served as the main entrance to the city. The site also features a small but informative museum, where you can learn more about the history and significance of the Kerameikos.

What makes this archaeological site truly unique is the opportunity to wander through the ancient streets and imagine the lives of the people who once inhabited this vibrant neighborhood. With fewer crowds than some of the more popular sites, Kerameikos offers a more intimate and immersive experience, allowing you to connect with the rich history of Athens in a more personal way.

5. Explore the Unusual Exhibits at the Museum of Cycladic Art

While the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are well-known highlights of Athens’ cultural landscape, the Museum of Cycladic Art is a lesser-known gem that deserves attention. This museum is dedicated to the art and culture of the Cycladic Islands, a stunning archipelago that played a significant role in the development of ancient Greek civilization.

The museum’s collection is particularly renowned for its impressive display of Cycladic figurines, which are characterized by their distinctive minimalist and abstract forms. These enigmatic statues, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC, have captivated art enthusiasts and historians alike, and the museum’s exhibits delve deep into their cultural significance and artistic legacy.

Beyond the Cycladic figurines, the museum also features a wide range of other artifacts, including ceramics, metalwork, and jewelry, all of which offer a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Cycladic Islands. Whether you’re an art lover or simply curious about the lesser-known aspects of ancient Greek history, the Museum of Cycladic Art is a unique and rewarding experience.

This article has a Part 2: Click here to read it!

I'm a musician from Apulia with a big passion for Athens, travelling and digital communication. You can find me on Linkedin or at iunco.jobs@gmail.com!

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