In the heart of the Athenian city
- 1 Falling in Love with Quirky Koukaki
- 2 A Little History of Koukaki
- 3 Koukaki Neighbourhood Highlights
- 4 Coffee Culture in Koukaki
- 5 Shopping in Koukaki
- 6 Where to Eat in Koukaki Athens
- 7 Nightcaps & Cocktails in Koukaki
- 8 Places of Interest in Koukaki
- 9 Where to Stay in Koukaki
- 10 Is Koukaki Safe?
- 11 How to Reach Koukaki
Falling in Love with Quirky Koukaki
Here, tourists and locals alike sit outside quirky coffee shops, sipping
As you venture around the Greek capital on your Athens itinerary, it’s likely that your schedule will lead you along the ancient winding pathways of Plaka, to the crumbling sun-bleached ruins of the acropolis, and to the bustling central square of Syntagma. You are unlikely to spend any real amount of time in Koukaki unless you book accommodation here which is a shame because it is one of the most delightful areas in Athens.
If you have a little longer to spare in Greece, my recommendation is that you spend a lazy day or two exploring the various Athenian neighbourhoods at a more relaxed pace (Koukaki, Pagrati, Kolonaki, etc).
Each area of the city has its own distinct personality, and a little urban wandering can be much more rewarding than a simple crossing off of a touristic to-do list.
A Little History of Koukaki
Today, Koukaki is fast-emerging as one of the hippest and most artistic neighbourhoods in Athens. It wasn’t always that way though. Once upon a time, this district was mostly industrial.
Koukaki has very humble roots. It was affectionately named after George Koukakis – a Greek businessman who opened up a shop selling metal beds and mattresses. After the industrial trade in the area folded up, many of the neoclassical houses in Koukaki were transformed into elegant coffee bars and eateries. In the 1980s, the area was nicknamed “Little Paris”.
The lower rent in Koukaki encouraged artists and aspiring entrepreneurs to set up their shops and galleries here. This artistic vibe has flourished, and Koukaki remains one of the most creative districts in central Athens today.
Koukaki Neighbourhood Highlights
- Koukaki possesses a laid back ambiance during the day, with
Filopappou hillbeing a wonderful place for a scenic afternoon stroll.
- Atmospheric squares and piazzas where young and old Athenians come to socialize, dine at tavernas and sing at small bouzouki bar.
- Incredible restaurants boasting cuisines and
flavoursfrom across the globe.
- A seemingly infinite number of quirky coffee places perfect for a peaceful afternoon of people-watching.
- Art galleries, eccentric shops and antique stores
- A perfect location that places you close to the main sights of Athens without being in an over-priced touristic area.
Coffee Culture in Koukaki
Coffee culture is huge in Greece in general. If there was a national sport, sitting around sipping freddo espressos would probably be it.
Koukaki is jam-packed with quirky coffee places that are perfect for a spot of brunch or an afternoon spent people-watching. As a writer based in Athens, my schedule allows me to discover a different coffee place almost every day. Perfect, eh?
If you’re done seeing the Acropolis and want to stop for a quick cup of Joe without the crowds, venture outside of Makrygianni and into one of the popular below haunts in Koukaki.
Little Tree Books & Coffee
Where: Kavalloti 2, Athina 117 42
Providing a quiet retreat away from the boisterous coffee shops that occupy central Athens, Little Tree Books & Coffee is an adorable local coffee shop whose setting feels almost like something straight out of a movie. Every wall, nook, and cranny is filled with piles of books, old and new. Though most books are in Greek, the coffee shop is worth a visit for the old-world library atmosphere alone.
Nestle down into one of the comfy, oversized armchairs as you sip a cappuccino and sink your teeth into one of the cafe’s delightful homemade cakes. The only downside? Little Tree Books & Coffee is approximately the size of someone’s living room and so it can be a little tricky finding a seat here at times.
Lotte Cafe Bistrot
Where: Tsami Karatasou 2, Athina, 117 42
The Lotte Cafe Bistrot is a charming little spot that is tucked away down a tree-lined residential street in Koukaki. The cafe walls are painted in delicate pastel shades, and the vintage Parisian-inspired decor transports patrons back in time to Montmartre in the early 20th century.
A mishmash of shabby chic decor, and antiquities scattered inside make this the perfect place to stop for a pot of tea.
Where: Falirou 48, Athina 117 42
Kinonó Koukaki boasts a very zen, minimalistic and relaxing atmosphere. The recycled wooden furnishings, the tall ceilings, the grand ceiling to floor windows and the spacious interiors create an altogether pleasant ambiance for typing away here on your laptop, enjoying brunch with friends, or cosying down with a good book and a strong coffee.
Where: Mark. Mpotsari 49, Athina 117 42
Regarded by locals as serving up one of the very best brunches in Koukaki, Monsieur Barbu is equal parts adorable, quirky, and eccentric.
The cosy space makes patrons feel as though they have been invited into someone’s home. The pale blue walls are cluttered with knick-knacks and artwork pieces, and the mismatching furnishings add to the shabby chic ambiance.
For enjoying great conversation with friends while digging into the perfect eggs benedict on a lazy Sunday, Monsieur Barbu is the place to go.
Where: 42 Dimitrakopoulou, Athina 117 42
Fourteen is a chic, upscale place to grab coffee, lunch or cocktails in Koukaki. In the summer months, the outside tables provide a perfect vantage point for observing local life as you look out to quaint Greek piazzas.
Inside, the theme is reminiscent of an elegant New York lounge – with plush furnishings, moody lighting and the gentle undertones of rhythmic jazz music.
Shopping in Koukaki
Though the main draw of Koukaki is not the shopping, there are some adorable places and boutiques here that are very worthy of your time.
Koukaki antique dealers sell an array of weird and wonderful trinkets, while independent apparel stores such as
It’s worth wandering the streets and narrow passageways of Koukaki to browse through the various vintage and offbeat clothing stores for one-of-a-kind pieces that are unlike anything else.
Where to Eat in Koukaki Athens
A selection of some of the best places to eat in Koukaki is detailed below. You will find everything from traditional tavernas selling classic Greek dishes, to international cuisines.
Where: Drakou 15, Athina 117 43
If you are looking for a taster of all of the things that make Greek cuisine so wonderful, Koukaki’s Kalamaki Bar is the place to stop by. Think sumptuous marinated meats, fresh salads, decadent feta drizzled with organic oil, and so on.
The special thing about the Kalamaki bar is that not only do the chefs marinate the meats, they also marinate their skewers too! The skewers are marinated for a minimum of 12 hours to ensure a maximum taste impact.
The traditional taverna style eatery prides itself on its modern, contemporary approach to traditional Greek classics. The design of the place is charming in itself – simplistic white furnishings are accompanied by pale blue decorations mirroring the shades of the Greek flag.
Tuk Tuk Thai Street Food
Where: Veikou 40, Athina 117 42
Though there are few authentic Asian restaurants in Athens, Tuk Tuk Thai boasts authentic Thai cuisine with a team of chefs from the land of smiles. For a change of flavour, dig into some sumptuous chicken satay sticks, a delicately spiced green curry, or a filling massaman, then wash it all down with a bottle of Chang, Thai beer.
The best part of this place? Tuk Tuk has been designed like an Asian hawkers market. Patrons sit on wooden stools overlooking the kitchen as the chefs do their magic. Expect a short wait to get a table, but know that it will be well worth it.
Where: Geor. Olimpiou 5, Athina 117 41, Greece
O Lolos is a quaint mezedopoleio and cafe that is beloved by locals. You will see Athenians use O Lolos as a rendezvous-point and sit here for hours chatting among friends and enjoying tsipouro.
Meze restaurants like this one specialise in small, tapas-style dishes. You will find a diverse range of options on the menu – everything from Santorini fava bean puree with warm pita, to keftedakia meatballs just like yiayia makes. Throughout the week, O Lolos hosts several live music events, making for the perfect quintessentially Greek evening.
The Fabrica of Euphronios
Where: Anastasiou Zinna 34, Athina 117 41
Escaping the eyes of most tourists, the Fabrica of Euphronios is a tasty secret that Athens locals have kept for themselves. The establishment is a Greek taverna with a twist – much like the innovative menu that it boasts.
The intimate setting, decorated with wooden furnishing and shelves stacked full of wines from across Greece, is given an eccentric vibe with the sprawling Salvador Dali style unusual art pieces and paintings that decorate the walls.
The menu too is not quite as it seems. The eatery is renowned locally for its excellent meat dishes, however, it also boasts an array of more ‘daring’ and adventurous platters.
Raw carpaccio style meats make an appearance on the menu, as does crab, and even scorpion. A visit to such a unique place does not have to break the bank either. Tapas style dishes can be purchased here from between 3-9 euros.
Dyo Dekares I Oka
Where: Anastasiou Zinni 29, Athina 117 41, Greece
Dyo Dekares I Oka is a charming little spot that has been purposefully designed to look like an old-fashioned cafeteria. Dining here provides a journey back in time.
Pull up a chair and order a light bite or some lunch beside old-timers playing backgammon and sipping Ellinikos Kafes. The menu options here focus on light snacks and pastries – warm spanakopita, tiropita pies, etc.
Where: Drakou 12, Athina 117 42
If you do not consider yourself as much of a meat eater, dining at Skoumbri makes a nice alternative to visiting the Kalamaki Bar. The two places are in fact owned by two brothers – Antoni and Christos.
Where Kalamaki prides itself on its meat dishes, Skoumbri (meaning mackerel in Greek) specializes in fresh fish and seafood dishes.
Athens may seem like a built-up, cosmopolitan city but in reality, the sea is in fact just a stone’s throw away and the fish served up at Skoumbri are the latest catches. The seafood menu here is diverse, and the place is decorated with adorable nautical touches that seemingly transport you to an old Greek fishing village.
Where: Falirou 10, Athina 117 42
Locals and tourists alike consider Mani-Mani as being one of the very best restaurants in Athens. The Greek cuisine served up here is a little different compared to what you may have come to expect in Athens.
The restaurant owner comes from Mani in the Peloponnese. As such, the menu focuses on Mani delicacies and utilizes ingredients that have been freshly sourced in this region.
Meats from Areopolis are lovingly marinated and prepared in dishes alongside handmade pasta and organic dairy produce from Gythio. The exquisite wines come from Laconia, an area close to the sea that is renowned for its wonderful vineyards.
Hopefully, your Greek travels will eventually take you to Mani, however, if they don’t, a stop by Mani-Mani in Koukaki Athens is a good way to transport your taste buds there in the meantime.
Nightcaps & Cocktails in Koukaki
The eccentric, quirky personality of Koukaki is mirrored in the district’s bars. A selection of the best nightlife spots in the area are detailed below.
Where: Porinou 10, Athina 117 42
Hitchcock Tales is a Koukaki cocktail bar with a twist. As the name suggests, the bar has been named after the man, the myth, the legend himself – Alfred Hitchcock.
Sprawling pop art style paintings decorate the walls and exterior, depicting scenes from Hitchcock’s best-loved movies such as Psycho.
The cocktail menu offers both the classics, and an array of house recipes that are affectionately named after Hitchcock movies, and often served with some kind of prop or gimmick.
Meerkat Cocktail Safari
Where: Vyzantiou 7, Athina 117 41, Greece
Meerkat Cocktail Safari is a popular Athens nightlife spot and the brainchild of expert French mixologists. Keen francophiles will be interested to note that numerous French-themed events are often hosted here.
The bar combines exquisite cocktails with lively international music, and a bold, eclectic African decor (hence the “safari” name tag). Meerkat’s food mantra is “toast only”, however the bar serves a range of yummy sandwiches and paninis.
Ρίζα Ρίζα (Riza Riza)
Where: Drakou 19, Athina 117 42
If you were looking for a real “local” place to sip cocktails and hang out with hip Athenians on a Friday or a Saturday night in Koukaki, Riza Riza would be it. This wonderful day to night bar has a charming, homely atmosphere during the day and is a popular spot to grab a spot of lunch or dinner.
Come nightfall, Athenians flock here in their dozens to enjoy Greek-style cocktails infused with local liquours such as ouzo or raki. It is not uncommon to walk by Riza Riza and find that it is so crowded that people are spilling out onto the street clutching their drinks.
Where: Falirou 68, Athina 117 41, Greece
Materia Prima is a little slice of paradise for the aspiring wine connoisseur. The bar boasts a selection of more than 300 exquisite wines that are sourced from all over Greece and Europe. Tastings and events are hosted here regularly.
Don’t hesitate to ask the staff for recommendations and be sure to sample some sweet Greek wines. One of the best ways to enjoy the wines is to combine them with a charcuterie board, and a selection of smoked cheeses, cured meats, and fresh vegetables.
Places of Interest in Koukaki
Stroll Around Filopappou Hill
Filopappou Hill does not make it onto most touristic guides to Athens. It’s a shame in some ways since it is a nice place to stop by. In others, it’s a good thing, since it means you have the beauty of the place to yourself.
Filopappou Hill is a grassy, pine tree-shaded woodland area that is situated just a few blocks away from the Acropolis. The major draw of visiting here is the fact that you have an incredible view out to the Acropolis and across Athens from the peak.
As you make the ascent, you pass by several notable shrines, churches and historical sites, such as the Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris which houses numerous beautiful frescoes, and Socrates prison.
Note: Though Filopappou Hill is a beautiful place to watch the sunset over the Acropolis, it has been the location of several violent muggings in recent years, and so I would advise that it is best to make your visit here during the day.
Check Out the Koukaki Art Scene
Koukaki’s offbeat personality is reflected in the number of independent art galleries that have sprouted up here in recent years, showcasing everything from contemporary style art, to surrealism pieces.
The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) is nearby, as are several independent galleries. One spot well worth stopping by is the “State of Concept” gallery which introduces non-mainstream Greek and International artists. In addition, e
Where to Stay in Koukaki
Koukaki was recently named as being one of the best Airbnb
Many of the hotels and accommodations in Koukaki reflect the
A selection of some of the best-rated hotels in Koukaki are detailed below. These have been organised to suit a variety of budgets
AthensWas Hotel (Luxury Choice)
Where: Dionysiou Areopagitou 5, Athina 117 42, Greece
AthensWas is a five-star design hotel that sits on the busy pedestrianised promenade of Dionysiou Areopagitou. The stylish rooms have been created with contemporary, modern designs.
Each room and suite boasts a private terrace and views over either Dionysiou Areopagitou or the Acropolis. The piece de resistance of AthensWas is its rooftop Sense restaurant – one of the best fine dining spots in town. You can check the latest room rates and availability at AthensWas here.
Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel (Mid Range Choice)
With rooms starting from just $50 per night, the Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel offers a luxury stay without the luxury price tag. Rooms are clean and tastefully decorated, and a stay includes a hearty breakfast.
The Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel boasts the perfect location. From here, you are just a short walk away from the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Hadrian’s Arch. You can check the latest rates and availability here.
Is Koukaki Safe?
Koukaki is indeed, a very safe neighbourhood. When you wander around this district, you will realise that Athens is a true night owl.
You could be walking around the cobbled streets of Koukaki at 2 am and you will notice that the neighbourhood is filled with locals sitting outside of tavernas and ouzerias sipping raki or listening to bouzouki music.
How to Reach Koukaki
Koukaki is very central. You can reach this district within 5 minutes of walking from the Acropolis, or 15 minutes from Syntagma.
Two metro stations service Koukaki: Syngrou Fix (metro line 2), and Acropoli (metro line 2). Syngrou Fix station is arguably closer to most of the restaurants and nightlife options.
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