The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens. Most of the streets have been closed to automobile traffic, though you should still keep a watchful eye for a speeding motorcycle or delivery truck. At one time it was the nightclub district, but most of these closed down when the government outlawed amplified music in the neighborhood in the seventies in an effort to get rid of undesirables. The strategy was very successful and it is now an area of restaurants, Jewelry stores, tourist shops, and cafes. Though it is quite commercialized it is still a neighborhood and arguably the nicest neighborhood in central Athens. Most of the restaurants are typical tourist places but the quality of food is not bad in some of them and if you follow my leads in the restaurant section of this guide you should have a few enjoyable evenings and not be unpleasantly surprised by the bill or wake up with a gastro-intestinal disorder on the day you were supposed to visit the Acropolis.
As for the tourist shops they are crammed full of stuff, some of it junk but plenty of interesting items if you feel compelled to bring back gifts to everyone you know. Most of the shops have pretty much the same stuff for pretty much the same prices but there are some that are more eclectic than others that sell antiques, or actual hand painted icons, wood carvings and paintings.If you wander around the Plaka you will find lots of different types of shops and even the regular tourist shops have amazing postcards that you can send home and make all your friends jealous. Personally I like the copies of old taverna and cafe menus and signs which seem to be pretty popular these days. There are lots of jewelry stores. Most of them buy from factories and have the same stuff for about the same price. But there are a couple that are artist-owned which have hand-made original pieces and also copies of ancient museum pieces. Gold jewelry in Greece is inexpensive, not because the price of Gold is any cheaper but because labor is. But generally the pieces that are hand-made by the artists will have more value then the mass produced pieces of the same weight. Of these artist-owned shops we like Byzantino Jewelery store. There are a few galleries and there are several museums in the Plaka of special note the Children’s Museum, the Music Museum, the Greek Folk Art Museum and the Jewish Museum which is right at the entrance to the Plaka at Nikis and Kydatheneon streets.