European cities have wonderful squares – open spaces where people gather to talk, eat and visit. Houses in the city are often small, so squares are like living rooms where people spend time relaxing.
These gathering places are fun to get a sense of the city you came to visit. Go out and see what the locals see. Have a snack or drink and sit down for a minute to look around and rest your tired feet. Look around and listen.
In this particular square of Athens, you will have an amazing view of the Acropolis which is especially cool at night.
Why Monistraki Square was a surprise.
Monastiraki Square is just 2 minutes walk from AthensStyle Hostel where we are staying on our first visit to Athens. It was such a cool place. We spent a lot of time there and had breakfast each morning at the local bakery. We tried almost everything, but I particularly enjoyed the spinach pie! My Greek friend told me that because we were there in the summer it probably wasn’t made with spinach but rather with other greens like leeks. All I know is that it was delicious and I wish I had one now.
When the taxi dropped us off, I was initially quite surprised by the volume of graffiti on the walls. It literally covered every area from the ground to about 8 to 10 feet high. I wasn’t sure if I would because I knew from my research that this area was good and very safe.
Back home in the US, graffiti is the mark that a neighborhood is “dangerous” and “bad”, so I thought maybe I made a terrible mistake in my choice of hotel. Before choosing this hotel, I had interviewed several travel agents in Athens and read on several websites that deal exclusively with Greece travel that this area near Monastiraki Square was safe, so honestly I was a bit confused.
Does Graffiti = bad area?
No, graffiti is NOT = bad area. It turns out that graffiti in Athens is common and does not automatically mean that the area is dangerous. Read this sentence carefully and take it to heart because of the graffiti in Athens EVERYWHERE.
*****When you visit Athens, or any other city, remember that you are no longer IN KANSAS.****** Let that sink in. You spent a lot of money and take your precious little vacation to see this place. Take a deep breath and really see it. Do not 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 restaurants and is the starting point for visiting the Plaka area. Just walk in the square and head for the shops. Take a stroll down the narrow pedestrian “street” and see what there is to see!
Although a very touristy activity – seeing the shops – I think it is a must. For what? Because you mingle with the locals. Listen to them and enjoy what they have to offer. Buy trinkets to support the economy and remember this wonderful place. I have worry beads hanging from the rear view mirror of my van 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. That’s a super cool souvenir.
keychains (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 place. Buy a sweet from the local bakery and enjoy the illuminated view at night.
Plus, the hotel right on the square has a bar at the top to enjoy the view!
Just around the corner from Monastiraki Square you will find a public transport station. It’s super practical!
Famous poet, sandal maker
Want a really cool souvenir? THE sandal-maker poet to the “stars” of the world is right next to the square. It’s cool to peek out the window, but honestly, I bought some amazing sandals literally two doors down from this guy and enjoyed the experience so much!
To see the famous sandal-maker poet, you have to sneak into a very crowded little living room. The famous sandal manufacturer sees SOO many customers daily among which you are jostled surrounded by tourists from all over the world.
Two doors down you will find a place that offers beautiful handmade sandals where you can shop in peace. We love our sandals!
Oh my god the food. We ate right next to the place for breakfast every day but also a few times in the evening. My husband likes to try a lot of new things, but I find something I like and eat it all the time. I could eat the stuffed peppers every day I think!!
We had our first experience with a hostel here right next to 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 – the bare bones of necessities. It was cheap and in the best possible location to explore the city. BUT, it’s very simple, so keep that in mind.
If you like plush Western-style comfort, you’d hate it.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Athens, consider Monastiraki Square or further to the north in the region of Kifissia. We loved both!
Need more information about Greece?
Read before you go! Get the kids ready for greece.
Have a good trip,
Natalie, the educational tourist