European Cities have wonderful squares – open areas where people gather to talk, eat, and visit. Houses in the city are often small so the squares are like living rooms where people spend time relaxing.
These gathering places are fun to get a flavor of the city you came to visit. Get out and see what the locals see. Get a snack or a drink and sit a minute to look around and rest your tired traveling feet. Look around and listen.
In this particular square in Athens, you’ll get an amazing view of the Acropolis which is especially cool at night.
Why Monistraki Square was a surprise.
Monastiraki Square is just a 2-minute walk from the AthensStyle Hostel where we stay during our first visit to Athens. It was such a cool spot. We spent a lot of time there and we got breakfast each morning at the local bakery. We tried most everything, but I especially enjoyed the spinach pie! My Greek friend told me that because we were there in the summer it was most likely not made with spinach but rather other greens like leeks. All I know is it was delicious and I’d love to have one right now.
When the taxi dropped us off I was initially pretty surprised at the volume of graffiti on the walls. It literally covered every surface from the ground to about 8 – 10 feet up. I wasn’t sure to make of it because I knew from my research this area was a good one and very safe.
At home in the US, graffiti is the mark that an area is ‘unsafe’ and ‘bad’ so I thought perhaps I had made a terrible mistake with my choice of hotel. Prior to choosing this hotel I had interviewed several travel agents in Athens and read on several websites that handle Greece travel exclusively that this area near Monastiraki Square was safe so honestly, I was a little confused.
Does Graffiti = Bad Area?
No, graffiti does NOT = bad area. As it turns out, graffiti in Athens is common and does not automatically mean the area is unsafe. Read that sentence carefully and take it to heart because of Graffiti in Athens in EVERYWHERE.
*****When you visit Athens, or any other city, remember you are NOT IN KANSAS anymore.****** Let that sink in. You have spent a lot of money and are taking your precious little bit of vacation to see this place. Take a deep breath and really see it. Don’t prejudge by interpreting everything by the norm at home. You are not at home right now.
Why Monistraki Square is a great place to stay.
Visit the Plaka
Monistraki Square has wonderful eateries and is the jumping off point for seeing the Plaka area. Just walk into the square and head toward the shops. Enjoy walking the narrow pedestrian ‘street’ and see what there is to see!
While this is very much a tourist activity – to see the shops – I think it is a must do. Why? Because you mingle with the locals. Listen to them and enjoy what they have to offer. Buy some trinkets to support the economy and remember this wonderful place. I have worry beads hanging from my van rear view mirror and I smile every time I see it!
What to buy
olive oil soap
shirts (We bought shirts and then had the kids’ names ironed on the back – in Greek. This is a super cool souvenir.
key chains (I have mine hanging on the travel-themed Christmas tree every year.)
View of the Acropolis
You get an amazing view of the Acropolis from this spot. Buy a sweet from the local bakery and enjoy the view of it lit up at night.
Also, the hotel right on the square has a bar at the top for enjoying the view!
Right in the corner of Monastiraki square, you’ll find a station for public transportation. This is super handy!
Famous Poet Sandal Maker
Want a really cool souvenir? The poet sandal maker to the world’s ‘stars’ is just off the square. It is cool to peek in the window, but honestly, I bought amazing sandals literally two doors down from this guy and enjoyed the experience so much!
To see the famous poet sandal maker you must squeeze into a tiny and very crowded sitting room. The famous sandal maker sees SOO many customers daily that you are hustled through surrounded by tourists from all over the world.
Two doors down you’ll find a spot that has amazing handmade sandals where you can shop in peace and quiet. We love our sandals!
Oh, my goodness the food. We ate just off the square for breakfast every day but also a few times in the evening. My husband likes to try lots of new things, but I find something I like and eat it all the time. I could eat the stuffed peppers every single day, I think!!
We had our first experience with a hostel here right off Monastiraki square. A hostel experience is interesting and you should try it at least once in your life! Hostels have private rooms and even family rooms. This hostel reminded me of IKEA – bare bones of necessities. It was inexpensive and in the best possible spot for exploring the city. BUT, it is very bare bones so keep that in mind.
If you like plush, western style comfort you would hate it.
If you are wondering where to stay in Athens, consider Monastiraki Square or further north in the Kifissia area. We loved both!
Need more information about Greece?
Read before you go! Get the kids ready for Greece.
Natalie, The Educational Tourist