After our first awesome food tour experience in Penang, Malaysia, we were excited to taste and learn our way through Athens with Athens Food on Foot. Food is one of the things we love the most about travelling and a good food tour not only allows you to taste the local foods, but the culture and history of the city as well. It is a tour within a tour: a walking tour where you get to eat along the way!
We spent our first full day in Athens with our tour guide Anna, owner and guide of Athens Food on Foot and it was a wonderful introduction to the city. As we wandered through the unique neighborhoods of Athens, Anna took us to local institutions to sample Greek foods beyond Greek salad and moussaka. In addition to making numerous stops to eat, we strolled through the picturesque neighborhood of Anafiotika, the main market of Athens, and the flea market of Monastiraki. We were so engaged, we didn’t even notice the many kilometers we had walked.
Why Take a Food Tour in Athens?
Do I really need to convince you that a food tour in Athens is a good idea? Greek food is world renowned for its use of fresh ingredients. When visiting Athens many of the restaurants in the charming Plaka neighborhood popular with tourists are very touristy restaurants. It is hard to get a truly bad meal in Greece, but you can certainly get very mediocre food at premium prices in these restaurants catering solely to foreigners.
A food tour in Athens allows you to see and feel more authentic food experiences. Food on Foot will take you to places that have been around for hundreds of years and popular with locals. You will also get to try a much wider variety of Greek foods than the tourist staples. The local shopkeepers made huge fusses over our kids and were so kind in teaching us about the different types of olives or what constitutes extra virgin olive oil, etc.
In addition to filling our bellies with wonderful Greek foods, we learned so much about the foods we were trying from Anna. We learned what makes Greek yoghurt different, the differences between ouzo and raki and how the Greek treat hangovers with a special soup. Food is an entry point into culture and our Food on Foot tour was the perfect introduction to Athens.
Athens Food on Foot Tour
We started our tour at 10 am at the Acropolis metro station and met up with our guide, Anna. Our first stop of the day was for the most delicious yoghurt I have ever had in my life: creamy and thick Greek yoghurt with a generous amount of honey and nuts. I knew from that very first stop that this was going to be a fantastic tour. Anna’s easy going and casual manner made us comfortable right away as she wove interesting bits of knowledge into the tour.
Our stomachs got a chance to digest as we headed into the Anafiotika neighborhood on the side of the Acropolis hill. The small homes perched on the hill make you feel like you are in a small village on a Greek island. That is because this area was founded by islanders from the Cycladic island of Anafi that came to Athens to work on the King’s construction projects. It is an incredibly peaceful area with narrow walkways, flowering trees and cute little homes.
We skirted around Plaka to the shopping streets of Syntagma where we stopped at a non-descript bakery for Greek pies. Known to us as “spanakopita”, these pies were originally eaten by peasants with whichever ingredients they had on hand: cheese, spinach, herbs. They may not be low-cal, but they are extremely delicious, especially when they are still warm from the oven
Greek food is synonymous with olives, so our next stop was very appropriate. Here we sampled and learned the difference between extra-virgin olive oil and regular olive oil and learned how the micro-climate of each region affects the taste of the product.
Next stop was to one of the oldest bakeries in Athens that produce koulouri, a circle shaped bread snack covered in sesame seeds that are sold throughout the streets of Athens. This simple food is surprisingly delicious and is a great kid-friendly local snack.
We then wandered through the Psyri neighborhood with local shops selling spices, legumes, and teas. We stopped at a local deli and cheese place that had the most delicious foods!
The next part of our tour saw us wandering through Athens central market. We couldn’t believe how cheap the fruit and vegetables were – we bought 8 peaches for 1.50 euros! I love visiting markets wherever we travel and it was great to see all the fresh produce, fish and meats. Our next stop was a restaurant located right in the middle of the market serving up simple Greek staples, including the special soup made from tripe stock that apparently cures hangovers. As vegetarians we didn’t sample that dish, but did have the most amazing stewed vegetables, Greek potatoes and sardines. We also loved people-watching in this bustling restaurant filled with locals.
The last stop of the day was a huge hit with the kids. Here we saw ice cream made before our eyes with fresh goat milk, the best chocolate, ginger, and berries. The kids were completely enthralled with the process and it was a nice sweet treat to finish on. Our bellies were completely stuffed and we absolutely couldn’t eat any more!
Is it Kid-Friendly?
Definitely! Since it was a family-themed tour, Anna planned food stops that the kids and adults would enjoy. Our kids love to eat and are fairly adventurous eaters, so they really enjoyed trying all the different foods. It was a very hot day in August when we did our tour, but Anna planned lots of stops so that the kids didn’t get too tired. The tour does involve a fair bit of walking, but the pace was leisurely and there were lots of stops to break it up.
The Logistics of a Food Tour
Food on Foot offers a number of tours to suit all travellers. One of the things that stood out for me the most when I found their website was that they also offered tours tailored to families and vegetarians. Their tours are generally 3-4 hours long and occur in the mornings.
Tours are priced at 52 euros/person which represent great value since they definitely cover your breakfast and lunch meals of the day. In fact, I had trouble even eating dinner after our tour because I was still full! Kids 6-11 pay half price (25 euros), while kids under 6 are free.
Vegetarian Food Tour in Athens
As vegetarians, it can be hard to fully sample the cuisine of a country. Athens Food on Foot caters to vegetarians with a vegetarian tour where you won’t feel like you are missing out. Greek food makes excellent use of fresh vegetables and we sampled a huge range of vegetarian foods for the adults with some meat thrown in for the kids.
What I Loved About Food on Foot
I love supporting small businesses when we travel and we love the passion behind Athens Food on Foot. They offer a wide variety of small-group tours to suit any traveller. We felt like we were eating like locals and really appreciated the insight from our tour guide into Greek culture. Athens Food on Foot was really generous with the food samplings and our bellies were stuffed by the end of the tour. In addition to a wonderful tour, the food you eat on the tour will cover you for at least two meals, making it great value.
We are hooked on food tours since they combine two of our favourite things: food and cultural learning. Athens Food on Foot was a fantastic way to learn more about Athens and food culture in Greece. I think we are training little foodies, because food tours have become one of our kids’ favourite things to do when we travel.
Disclaimer: We were hosted on the tour by Athens Food on Foot, but as always all opinions are our own.
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