My Alternative Street Art tour of Athens, Greece! Urban Adventures: Bohemian Tales walking tours, murals.
When you think of Athens, Greece… does “ancient” come to mind?
Then let me blow away your expectations, and reveal the unexpectedly creative, modern side of the Greek capital!
I got an insider view of the city, thanks to Athens Urban Adventures. They took me on their Bohemian Tales of the City walking tour, which avoids tourists sites and focuses on hidden, indie neighborhoods.
Athens Urban Adventures customizes excursions according to your interests. I wanted to see local street art, alternative shops and cafes — and take photos with intriguing backgrounds — and that’s exactly what they delivered.
● Outfit Details ● I’m wearing an Iron Fist Bone faux fur coat, and Wishbone Halo Skirt (click the links to get these exact designs). My Ouija top is from Long Clothing, and the fishnet stockings are similar to these.
There’s a new, young generation of Greek creatives that are launching startups, and expressing themselves through progressive art.
I got to see this for myself as we strolled through Athens’ hippest districts: Exarchia, Plaka, Anafiotika, Monastiraki and Syntagma. As you’ll see, the city has a colorful, playful, punk spirit that you’ll glimpse in the most unexpected corners.
Our fabulous Urban Adventures guide, Nikoleta, met us at our Pi Athens hotel (I’ll write about our stay soon). We immediately clicked: she’s a photographer, and shares my passion for youth / underground culture.
It was a joy to see Nikoleta’s favorite spots in the city — she answered all our questions with a smile, and took us to hidden places that we would have never found on our own.
Urban Adventures works with guides who are true local insiders, which makes the tour feel more like a hangout session with friends. Nikoleta was excited to show us her favorite streets filled with graffiti. (Photography by Joey Wong).
Look up: art is everywhere. Residents of the neighborhood contributed lamps, birdcages and other interesting objects, which were strung up above this narrow pathway. All throughout Athens, districts that were once run-down and gritty have been rejuvenated.
We saw tons of old, “ugly” facades transformed through street art — which formed the perfect photo backgrounds.
I’m wearing this Iron Fist skeleton bones jacket and Wishbone silver iridescent skirt, which pop in front of these painted shutters. My Ouija board shirt is by Long Clothing, and I have fishnets similar to these. (Click below for more items:)
The indie posters tell a story of a city that’s brimming with artistic events. Concerts for Blonde Redhead, Greek experimental theater productions, subculture club nights, you get the picture.
In a city as ancient as Athens (dating back about 5000 years), the layers of history are visible wherever you go. But the modern incarnation stands out: you can feel the energy in the street murals.
There’s a cheeky, ironic playfulness to many of the works. I love how the drab grey side of a building gets turned into a fantastical scene. On the left, the rainbow walls are accompanied by text: “This is a great hipster Instagram opportunity.”
Nikoleta from Urban Adventures took us to a variety of artistic venues. I’m in front of the secret Embros Theater, which is housed in what used to be a newspaper factory. Local groups manage the space, and put on free productions.
Unlike some cities in Europe, Athens fully embraces urban expression. Citizens encourage street art, and some small businesses commission pieces for their walls, or donate space for events.
We popped into the alternative multi-purpose art space, metamatic : taf. The inner courtyard looks like a stable — but these were actually interrogation holding cells! Today, TAF is an active social space that is accessible to anyone, encouraging dialogue and collaboration.
We were fans of the slightly bizarre installation art inside Metamatic Taf. The lips on the right have a Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Rolling Stones vibe.
One of the most prominent Greek street artists is Sonke. His distinctive swirls and melancholic girls are found all over Athens. I think my style goes rather well with his aesthetic, don’t you?
Even the fonts on cafe boards caught our eye. The Greek written language is itself a work of art.
Nikoleta brought us to Gazi, the gay district and home of Technopolis (a large cultural venue and industrial museum). Look close, and you’ll see binary code inside this eye-popping mural.
From Madonna to Nintendo figures, Greece’s urban art draws upon every possible type of inspiration.
There’s so much talent to be glimpsed through a walk — and this is a side of Athens that not many travellers know about.
The Bohemian Tales of the City tour includes a few tastings (and Athens Urban Adventures also offers food tours, and other themed activities).
We stopped at Lukumades for a sweet treat. As you can see in this Instagram video, loukoumades are Greek donuts that we got in the traditional style (dripping with honey and cinnamon). There are other toppings available, such as nuts or ice cream.
After a long winter, I was thrilled to relax outside under the sun. Athens is all about taking it easy, and having a leisurely coffee or snack outdoors with friends.
Quite a few of these stylish cafes also have DJ dance nights and live music…
… such as Six Dogs, a local favorite. I couldn’t resist the swing in the outer courtyard!
My friends and I took part in the Athenian coffee ritual: savoring a cappuccino frappe or freddo, made with thick Greek coffee.
The Monastiraki and Psirri neighborhoods are filled with cool restaurants and music venues. There’s an air of passion and optimism in these parts of the city.
A snap of the Little Kook cake and tea shop, which has a fantasy Alice in Wonderland theme. I’ll have to return and visit it soon.
We were having so much fun that we extended the tour (it usually is 3.5 hours). So much to see in Athens, from flea markets to vintage shops.
Ziggy Stardust and cats — these twee designs were up my alley. My sunglasses are Moat House.
Since I love Gothic / horror, Nikoleta brought me to this illustrated pillar of Edgar Allan Poe. She also told us the tale of this haunted balcony… one day, this dangling telephone cord appeared without any reason. It remains hanging mysteriously today!
Athens, a city that blends the ancient and hip, is truly a joy to explore on foot.
No need to adjust your glasses: that’s indeed a mummified figure, looking out from the balcony!
The new face of Athens is an exhilarating one. I hope this story gives you a different view of the city.
I leave you in front of an “All dogs go to heaven” tribute to Loukanikos, the stray dog that barked at police officers during the anti-austerity riots, and became a symbol of the people.
What’s next? We’ll visit the Acropolis, dine like Greek gods, and bask in the Mediterranean sunset… Stay tuned.
Are you surprised to see this contemporary, creative scene in Athens?
For more about Greece, check out the Discover Greece portal, which has tons of insider travel tips. And please support my stories with a Share / Tweet / Like (you can click the buttons below) – I am very grateful.