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From downtown Athens, one’s eyes rest on the timeless vision of the Acropolis up on the hill, looming grandly above this ancient Greek city. But in the bustling market streets below, another classic, though less well-known, Athens exists.
Here, people line up for a proper souvlaki done in the style of Northern Greece, older gentlemen sit down for a bowl of authentic Greek yogurt covered in honey and walnuts, the smell of fresh ground coffee wafts over neoclassical Kotzia Square, and a Cretan accent booms out of a humble kitchen that turns out the rustic yet utterly delicious food of that Mediterranean island. It is clear that in this part of town, life is lived by the bite.
On this walk we will explore the culinary backstreets and secrets of downtown Athens, in search of the soul of this historic yet always vibrant city. We’ll visit an old-school dairy bar and a hidden gem of a loukoumades joint. We’ll sample souvlaki, and a kebab made according to a recipe brought to Athens by refugees from Constantinople. The walk will explore the hidden seafood eateries of the stoa, the arcades that are among downtown Athens’ most unique architectural features. There will be artisanal cheeses and honey and even a few sips of homemade spirits, accompanied by an unforgettable bite in the center of the main fishmongers’ market. At once rough and beautiful, ancient and modern, the culinary backstreets of downtown Athens live on and tell the story of this city in a way few other landmarks can.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, and vegans?
This walk can be altered for vegetarians and pescetarians, however, we do not recommend this activity for vegans.
Are your walks suitable for a gluten-free diet?
Our Downtown Athens walk can be completely modified for gluten-free route.
How physically demanding are the walks?
The walk is about 2KM (1.25 miles) of fairly flat terrain, broken up into almost a dozen stops. The streets and sidewalks of Athens are quite well kept but we do recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes.
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.
There’s a yellowy crust, a puddle of honey and a scattering of walnuts, and it’s quite the most delicious yoghurt I’ve ever tasted. … A trained chef, Caroline is passionate about Greek cuisine and expertly weaves a path through the Central Market, pointing out the best fish, pork and tomatoes, before leading us to a tiny stall selling herby sausage patties with salad, olives and a glass of tsipouro (a pomace brandy). Read more
Greece may be plagued by financial woes but it is also in the middle of a culinary renaissance, and this has wide-ranging ramifications for travelers.”The culinary scene has been influenced by the crisis as many Greeks have retreated from global culinary trends to the comfort of Greek cooking,” says Despina Trivolis, who runs the Athens branch of the global network Culinary Backstreets . Read more
Un nouveau monde de fromage Vous le savez sûrement déjà, j’adore faire une visite guidée culinaire quand j’arrive dans une nouvelle ville pour me donner une petite idée de la scène gastronomique locale. J’ai fait la même chose à Athènes avec Culinary Backstreets pendant la Culinary Secrets of Downtown Athens Tour. À part plus de six heures de bouchées exquises, ai-je besoin de vous dire pourquoi je recommande la visite avec eux? C’est d’ailleurs pendant la tournée que j’ai découvert qu’il existe plusieurs sortes de fromage feta et que c’est un monde à part entière qui m’était jusque-là totalement inconnu. Attention, c’est cochon! Read more
There was far more to our Culinary Backstreets walk in central Athens. Starting with breakfast, we ate, walked, talked, photographed and ate even more around central Athens with our guide, the lovely Despina. I thought I knew Greek food, having eaten a lot of it during my life. And I did. It looked familiar, but in reality it was completely different. It was Greek food, but not as I knew it. And I loved it! Read more
Everyone else on my tour loved their time in the meat market and I absolutely loved the tour as a whole. I would heartily encourage anyone visiting Athens to give it a try. Read more
A Tailored Gluten-Free Card for Greece Read more