Exploring Exarcheia: A Vibrant Blend of Culture, Coffee, and Counterculture

Exarcheia Graffiti


Exarcheia is renowned as the epicenter of anarchy in the capital, a reputation rooted in reality rather than urban legend.

During periods of heightened political or socio-political tension, the area often witnesses tear gas, Molotov cocktails, and incidents of window breaking. Enlivened by an intellectually active student and youth culture, Exarcheia boasts record stores, bookshops, a community-created park, artistic graffiti, and trendy bars and coffee shops. On an ordinary day, Exarcheia offers an intriguing exploration with its eclectic stores, somewhat neglected neoclassical architecture, and a palpably edgy yet vibrant cultural atmosphere. Here, we highlight some of the best places to visit in this district nestled between Omonia, Kolonaki, and Lycabettus.

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 Coffee

Exarcheia's cafe-bar culture has extended far beyond the main square and a few obscure corners from a decade ago. Virtually every street now hosts an artsy and cozy spot to enjoy coffee while observing the world. Kaldicafe is an excellent starting point, offering freshly ground coffees, teas, and delicious homemade treats. Warehouse Specialty Blends is another notable cafe, serving sophisticated coffee varieties and quality yet unpretentious wines. For a youthful atmosphere, Cusco or Karagiozis, with a traditional Greek music theme, are outdoor options. Paraskinio Cafe offers intellectual stimulation along with a cup of java, hosting literary gatherings, while Mavros Gatos provides live DJ sets and cool grooves.

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Graffiti in Athens Exarcheia 2 @ Ashish Kothari 4 of 4

 

Shopping

Exarcheia is famed for its quirky stores, featuring specialty products such as vinyl records, old books, puzzles, modeling-set equipment, and musical instruments. Plastikourgeio stands out as a store emphasizing alternatives to plastic, with its own plastic-upcycling lab. Philippos Nakas and Amola Kalimba offer a range of musical instruments, while Paradise Waterfalls provides unique wooden games, accessories, crystals, and decor items. Vintage record stores like Sound Effects Records, Kasseta Records Shop, and Le Disque Noir cater to music enthusiasts. Yesterday’s Bread and Hotsie Totsie offer second-hand clothing for a distinctive non-commercial style.

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Food

Yiantes remains a popular choice for traditional-with-a-twist Greek food, using fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients. Ama Laxeitoo offers a delightful selection of meze dishes, especially enjoyable in the summer. Pink Elephant provides a pan-American and authentic Indian cuisine, respectively. Frumel and Oxo Nou serve delicious, authentic Cretan food.

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Nightlife

After dinner, the vibrant nightlife of Exarcheia comes alive. Chartes offers a relaxed atmosphere for wine, conversation, backgammon, and snacks. Blue Bear and Alexandrino provide cocktail options, each with its unique ambiance. For American rock n roll, head to Beatniks Road Bar, while O Aggelos offers a Greek experience with traditional home cooking.
Fans of punk, rock and metal are spoiled for choice in Exarchia. For dirt-cheap drinks and a lively atmosphere, head to AlcoHole, a hidden hole-in-the-wall bar with 5-euro cocktails and music that goes on until the early hours.

Nearby Locomotiva is cooperatively run, in keeping with the neighborhood’s independent spirit, and serves a wide selection of local craft beers.

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Other Notable Places

Apart from the mentioned highlights, don't miss the National Archaeological Museum, the Saturday Kallidromiou food market, the Shrine to Alexis Grigoropoulos, the Navarinou community park, and a trek to Strefi hill.

 

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