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The historic Plaka district might be one of Athens’ most popular tourist destinations, but there’s another part of the area that visitors rarely see, one where the city’s ancient heart beats a little louder. Under the shadow of the Acropolis, this is the place that saw the birth of classical Greek and Western civilization and also the turbulent arrival of Christianity. There are traces here of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans, found in the ruins, churches, local houses and – most importantly – in the food.
On this walk we will explore the Plaka’s culinary diamonds in the touristy rough while at the same time getting a sense of how this ancient district shaped the growth of modern Athens. Our first stop will be in one of Athens’ finest bakeries, where we will try handmade goods that have been part of the Athenian diet since ancient Greek and Ottoman times. From there we will make our way into the backstreets of the Plaka, beyond the throngs of tourists and into an area that is one of Orthodox Christianity’s biggest religious centers. We will visit an establishment where priests from all over the world come to buy their vestments and then move on to a hidden house verandah where we will sample fragrant Greek coffee along with kollyva, a unique dish that has been served to lighten the mood at funerals since antiquity.
Crossing the outcrop of the Acropolis, we will visit the scenic neighborhood of Anafiotika – a jumble of whitewashed homes built in the 19th century by refugees from the Greek islands – where we will stop by a family-run store that stocks hard-to-find seasonal products from across Greece and drop into a local institution famous for its meatballs bathed in a cumin-scented tomato sauce. Moving on to nearby Syntagma, a market area since Roman times, we will get a taste of Greek kebab, made with tender loving care by the same family for three generations, and will then go behind-the-scenes at an old-fashioned tradesmen’s canteen, where the local workers choose their food directly from the many pots in the kitchen. We will finish our walk on a sweet note: at one of Athens’ oldest patisseries, where we will try classic desserts based on recipes from the island of Hydra. Like everything else tasted on this walk, these are dishes with ancient roots, yet they are still alive as ever in today’s Athens.
Note: This walk includes a few hills and stairs. Though punctuated by plenty of stops, it can be strenuous at times.
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price. A limited selection of alcohol is served on the walks and is included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work?
Once you have made a reservation, we require the full $135 fee to be paid in order to complete the online booking. Our online booking system uses Stripe to process secure payments.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at email@example.com if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans?
We do not recommend this activity for vegans but vegetarians and pescetarians will only have to pass on a few offerings. In general, our Downtown Athens walk is more flexible in terms of dietary restrictions.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?
Our Downtown Athens walk is suitable for gluten-free needs, but the Plaka route is not.
How physically demanding is the Plaka walk?
This walk includes a few hills and stairs. Though punctuated by plenty of stops, it can be strenuous at times. Our Downtown Athens is less physically strenuous.
Can children join the walks?
Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we do not charge for children under the ages 6 and under.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
How much food will I get to try?
This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.
Is Athens safe these days?
Yes, despite the current economic instability, Athens is still a safe place to explore. Though demonstrations are a regular occurrence, they are largely peaceful and focused in certain parts of the city. In the area where we spend most of our time – the old market streets of downtown Athens – it’s business as usual.
Greek cuisine must be one of the world’s most underrated, and Ijoined a walking tour offered by Culinary Backstreets to experience the real deal along the little-visited backstreets of the atmospheric Plaka neighborhood. An insightful and delicious experience for first-timers and return visitors, it offered us all kinds of trivia from our highly knowledgeable and passionate chef/guide. Read more
The Greek capital is famous for its souvlaki stalls, which sell cheap kebabs for when you’re on the hop, but it is a city packed with must-eats that tourists rarely discover, unless they book a Culinary Backstreets tour. Read more
Our purpose is twofold. Yes, we want to get you to some good places to eat. But, we also want to make sure that some of these spots and the artisans making food there – unsung heroes who are sometimes forgotten or taken for granted at home – find a new audience and get the recognition and support they deserve.” Read more