There’s a hidden part of Athens that had always eluded me. I had never been able to find it! Anafiotika is the neighbourhood, a hidden island village located under the northeastern side of the Acropolis Hill, part of historical Plaka. It’s like an island on the mainland. It forms part of my Insider’s Guide to Athens as a recommended place to take the time to find when you come.
- See the INN Athens Boutique Hotel as a recommended place to stay in the capital
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History of Anafiotika – the hidden island village in Athens
The neighbourhood came into being in the reign of Otto of Greece – the Bavarian prince who in 1832, became the first modern King of Greece. Construction workers were needed to work on the King’s Palace, and they came from the island of Anafi, a tiny island in the Cyclades chain and with a population in 2011 of 271.
Up until 1922, inhabitants of Anafiotika were from Anafi island, then this tiny neighbourhood saw immigrants from Asia Minor start to arrive.
For archeological reasons, in 1950 many of the little houses were destroyed, and in 1970 the Greek state started to buy them.
Anafiotika – a hidden island village in modern times
Today there are only 45 houses remaining. However, wandering through the alleyways and seeing this unique neighbourhood – planned so that it resembled a Greek island – really does make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Away from the noise and hustle bustle, I loved it there – and am glad I finally found it!
Up, keep walking up
I was instructed. Yes, more than once locals would wave their arm in a vague motion that is so typical to the Greeks, in the direction of the Acropolis Hill. This time – my third attempt I might add – I did just that, I found ways to keep walking ‘up.’ Not knowing if I should be walking through certain streets, I stumbled across more street art:
until I realised I was going in the right direction when I turned the corner and saw this:
So let’s take a look at the simplistic beauty of this neighbourhood: a village within a city.
As I mentioned before, finding Anafiotika isn’t very easy. Asking locals will be met with vague directions, so I hope you may find this map helpful:
Have you found Anafiotika, the island paradise in a capital city? Where’s your city island paradise?
And don’t just take my word for it, check out Trip Advisor’s recommendations for Anafiotika and walking tours that you can take.
Want to know what to pack when you come for your Greek vacation? Read my Greek islands all round packing guide to help you. Also see my Top Things to Eat and Drink in Athens, Greece for advice on the best food and where to eat it.
LOVE Anafiotika! It reminds of the small island villages, except it’s in the middle of Athens. What a beautiful surprise to stumble across when walking through the city.
Also, I completely second your opinion on directions from Greeks. The number of times I’ve heard “keep going up” or “head down” or “it’s further on”, when in reality you have to make 7 turns after heading in that general direction to get to wherever “there” is…sigh. We have many wonderful traits as a people, that is not one of them.
I’m so glad I didn’t offend you with my flippant comment about directions! I found it funny tbh – I’ve lived here long enough now to take most things in my stride, and ihad no particular agenda that day, so it was with delight that I found Anafiotika by walking ‘up’
Anafiotika is one of our favorite places in Athens. Each time we go to Athens we go to Anafiotika. With its white-washed houses, narrow lanes and lovely views of Athens you’ll never realize you are in a city of millions. If I were to live in Athens then it would be in Anafiotika . . . if you can find anything for sale!
Forgot to mention how hard and/or easy it was to find Anafiotika. The first time in Athens we “thought” we found it, but it just didn’t seem right. The following year we asked a local taverna owner how to get to Anafiotika and he said to go just a little ways up ahead and take a right. We went a little ways up ahead and there was a right . . . but it looked like something one wouldn’t want to venture into, but we did. We followed a narrow lane with graffiti on the walls and some grundgy stuff on the ground but eventually it opened up into the white-washed homes, narrow lanes, container gardens and a small-island atmosphere. Now that we found it we know to get to it every time we go back. There are other areas to enter but this one seemed the easiest, albeit, “scary” entrance to it. Not to worry, you are as safe if not safer there as you would be at home.
Glad you also have an affection for Anafiotika Tom. I know the entry point you mean for it – it’s actually been done up with some amazing street art now, check out my post for photographs.
Anafiotika is one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Athens that still survive! And it is truly hard to find if you visit Athens for the first time.
Thanks Manos. Yes, it is hard to find, but so worth it when one does.
I love this part of Athens! It really does feel like a Greek island.
Thanks Tiffany – it is pretty hidden yet special isn’t it