The neighbourhood of Psyrri has undergone a complete transformation since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. It is no secret that Greece went through some hard times in the last decade, with the domestic economy being at the forefront of media globally and the refugee crisis hitting the country headfirst. It has been a rough and long journey for the locals, but finally, they seem to be fighting their way out of this vicious cycle.
Amongst them are the people of Psyrri, who in turn, seek to regain their neighbourhood’s natural glow. We have witnessed the locals here create new opportunities, for themselves and future generations, with a plentiful of quirky bars, cool restaurants, innovative designer shops and eye-catching galleries opening up to cater to the growing needs of both travellers and locals alike.
Psyrri is a haven for all things artistic, antique and authentic. During the day it thrives as the area of handymen and leather craftsmen jostling to grab your attention as you walk byz the junk stores, and spice shops that flood the neighbourhood. At dusk, the scenery transforms completely; the cafes, bars, and restaurants spread their presence on to the streets by aligning plenty of tables next to each other – welcoming passers-by in for some ouzo and food. Parking lots are turned into dining areas, and run-down streets are lightened up by the impressive artwork of well renowned international but also local artists, who find it hard to hide their love and connection to these streets that inspire them.
One good thing about this area is that, like many others in the centre of Athens, it is so dense that every corner hides something new, something different that is bound to surprise you. Ok so, with no further ado, get ready to spend a day out in Psyrri.
In Athens, like in other Mediterranean cities (e.g Barcelona), the pace is slow and you must respect that, both as a local and as a traveller. Breakfast here doesn’t end at 10:00am, lunch isn’t served at noon and dinner is most definitely not eaten before 19:00pm. Whether you’re an early bird, or if your day starts after 11:00am, Psyrri’s shop and restaurant owners won’t kill your vibe. You can get those runny poached eggs on warm avocado toast, or that granola that sinks into the muesli with the low-fat Greek yoghurt – at any time of the day here! And these are the best places to do so:
This translates to “Our house”, and as the name suggests the team have designed this spot to embody that homely vibe. The decorations resemble more of a living room than a restaurant, so you’ll feel comfortable and right at home. It is small, warm and cosy – with the staff being super friendly and the fruit and veg being picked cool and fresh, straight from the garden. With the option to have breakfast in a bed, or just lie down and take a nap, this is definitely not your usual restaurant.
Details: Navarchou Apostoli 10, Athina 105 54| Open Mon-Sat: 9AM-4PM.
Zampano is the locals’ favourite place for Sunday brunch. With a rustic façade and live gipsy bands playing inside, this breakfast place is ideal to kick off your day. Not only is the grub great, but you get plenty of brekky for your buck. For 6 Euros you can get: Fresh bread, butter, home-made jams, honey, tea, coffee, orange juice, 2 eggs (scrambled, boiled or “kagiana”), greek sausage, tomatoes, smoked cheese, oat muffin and yoghurt with fresh fruit”. Although a popular breakfast spot, they have an eclectic menu, with a good range of eggs, appetizers and lunch options. A must visit if you’re in town.
Details: Sarri 18, Athina 105 53| Open Mon-Sat: 9AM-4PM.
Slap bang in the centre of Psyrii, Iroon Square is a beautiful open space that has become a hotbed of activity, home to some amazing restaurants, and a favourite amongst local creatives. This spot has become some sort of a local hub, with locals gathering here to hang out and talk to each other about their nights – a perfect way to start the day. Lots of cafes and taverns have grown to be successful here due to the location, with five different roads unfolding from this point and getting lost in the deep, dense grounds of Psyrri.
Nancy’s Sweet Home (Σερμπετόσπιτο) is one of the spots at Iroon Square that you have to check out. An institution amongst Athenians and beyond, this sweet palace is the perfect place to stop by to quench your thirst, or sugar cravings if you have a sweet tooth. They have an amazing selection of desserts and ice cream flavours for you to choose from, you’ll literally be like a kid in a candy shop. If you are looking for something more traditional, pass by Bougatsa Thessaloniki, a local eatery that has an amazing selection of bougatsa, a local delicacy consisting of cream-filled pies.
Although you might be overwhelmed by the colourful buildings, the bustling local crowds and the plants that are hanging over the streets, remember to look up and gaze upon this masterpiece of a mural that was created by Alexandros Vasmoulakis.
The Afternoon Art
This time of the day is the most challenging, especially if you find yourself in Psyrri during the hot summer months. With hopefully a full belly by this point, you will definitely want to walk it off, and Psyrri is the perfect place to do so. The area has undergone an epic artistic facelift with street art, murals, installations, and colourful buildings at every corner you turn and look.
Hope dies last
This masterpiece was created by a famous international artist known as WD (Wild Drawings). This piece of street art from 2015 is called “Hope Dies Last” and is a prime example of the photorealistic technique that WD uses in his work which almost makes it come to life. It is a wonderful drawing that livens up the face of the city and delivers a powerful message to the people that pass by.
Also known as Vagelis Hoursoglou, his artistic footprint has been left in cities all around the world, including Brazil, Denmark, China, Switzerland and more. Apart from a very talented artist with incredible pieces spread throughout Athens, Woozy is also the founder of Carpe Diem – a collective of graffiti artists founded in 1995. Since it’s inception, it has published magazines capturing the artistic evolution of Athens throughout its history.
This is a very interesting and famous art installation on Pittaki street, in the heart of Psyrri. Colourful umbrellas appear to be floating above the bustling crowds. The two teams behind this project were Imagine the City and Beforelight, whose collaboration came together to transform this former dodgy, industrial alley people would avoid, to a loved Athenian highlight. Not only is this installation beautiful, but has bought heavy foot traffic helping local businesses thrive.
The Evening Eateries
Psyrri is famous for its traditional local restaurants that are proud examples of the rich and quality gastronomic culture of Athens. Don’t expect fancy restaurants with shiny cutlery and different types of glasses depending on the wine you choose. No, this is a selection of small, independent, traditional and family-run businesses that have been around serving the most delicious, mouth-watering and authentic food.
No question one of the most authentic taverns in Psyrri and possibly the whole of Athens. Diporto Tavern is a family-run restaurant, situated in what some might call a cellar, this gem of a place is hard to spot if you don’t know where you are going. Two open rusty doors on the side of the pavement invite passers-byes to walk down a small, narrow staircase and enter the tavern. The rudeness of the staff contributes to the authenticity of the place, and they only serve a specific selection of food – but it’s bloody delicious.
Details: Sokratous 9 &, Theatrou, Athina 105 52| Open Mon-Sat: 8AM-7PM.
Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani
This restaurant inside a butcher shop is the ideal location to enjoy some meat over a few drinks. You can also buy the products on display which are sourced directly from their in-house suppliers from Drama, located in the northern part of the country. Very friendly atmosphere and cosy vibes, and a great selection of rarer wines and craft beer.
This perfect, traditional gem of a place surely creates a very authentic gastronomic experience. The well-priced menu offering hot and cold meze dishes, deli meats, aged Greek cheeses, and more sizable meals too like sausages with pita and yoghurt.
Details: Sokratous 1, Athina 105 52| Open Mon-Sat: 8AM-11PM.
Combining family values, French culture with a pinch of traditional Greek, Marika is here to show you the best colours, smells and tastes as you get lost in the streets of Psyrri. It has special labelled beer and wine for you to check out and it is also a vegan’s paradise, as it offers a good variety of organic and vegetarian products. The strawberry and lemon cheesecake is a must-try if you do pop by.
Details: Pallados 4, Athina 105 54| Open Mon-Thu: 10AM-8PM, Fri-Sat: 10AM-10PM.
The Umbrellas hanging above Pittaki street have brought a lot of footfall to the surrounding businesses as crowds rush to see this art installation, a prime example of such a business being the famous Little Kook. This desert serving hotspot, apart from delicious cakes and pancakes the interior is themed with fairies, princesses and unicorns.
Details: Karaiskaki 17, Athina 105 54| Open Mon-Sat: 10AM-12AM.
Stay tuned for more neighbourhood guides uncovering the coolest spots in the most hipster neighbourhoods of Athens! If you can’t wait, download the LikeLocals app, now live in athens, to uncover some more awesome places in the Greek capital. Available on both iOS and Android devices.