- For other places with the same name, see Athens (disambiguation).
Athens (Greek: Αθήνα, Athína), is the capital city of Greece with a metropolitan population of 3.7 million inhabitants (2020). It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization. It is a place where modern Greek culture business and social life flourishes amidst ancient monuments. Athens has turned into a large and bustling city, but as a result it also suffers from congestion, pollution, and poverty.
- See also: Ancient Greece
According to mythology, the Greek Gods Poseidon and Athena wanted to claim the city for their own. To persuade the people to accept them, they granted gifts. Poseidon struck his spear into the ground and produced running water. Athena gave the city olive trees - which provide food and economic prosperity through trade. The people were then asked to vote for the Gods, and Athena won by a single vote - resulting in the city bearing her name.
The first pre-historic settlements were constructed in 3000 BC around the hill of Acropolis. According to legend the King of Athens, Theseus, unified the ten tribes of early Athens into one kingdom in around 1230 BC. This process of synoikismos – bringing together in one home – created the largest and wealthiest state on the Greek mainland, but it also created a larger class of people excluded from political life by the nobility.
By the 7th century BCE, social unrest had become widespread, and the Areopagus appointed Draco to draft a strict new law code (hence "draconian"). Still, the Draconian laws were a big advancement, as they codified crime and punishment unlike the previous arbitrary judgments of the rulers. When Draco's system failed, they appointed Solon, with a mandate to create a new constitution (594). This was the great beginning of a new social revolution, which was the result of the democracy under Cleisthenes (508). When Roman historians wrote the history of their own republic, they fudged the date so that their republic would be older than Athenian democracy, but today's scholarly consensus is that Rome "got inspiration" from the Greeks.
In the 5th century BCE, Athens reached the peak of its fame. It was the most powerful Greek city-state, and the center of Greek cultural life, hosting perhaps the greatest cultural advances in all of human history. Fields of study like science, philosophy, history, and medicine were developed for the first time by Athenian scholars in the timeframe between 480 (the battle of Salamis) and 343 (when Aristotle went to Macedonia to assume teaching duties to Alexander the royal heir), known as Athens' "golden age" - although political dominance came to an end after the Peloponnesian War (431-404), most famous because of its History written by the Athenian general and scholar Thucydides, the "Father of scientific History".
Later on, Athens became part of the Macedonian empire under Alexander, and still later part of the Roman Empire. While it was no longer politically significant, its intellectual reputation gave it a special status, until, in the year 529, Emperor Justinian issued an edict imposing a perpetual silence on all its schools, and the empire's intellectual center moved to Constantinople.
Athens was thriving and prosperous during the Crusades, actually benefiting from the Italian trade during this period. However, this fruitful period was short-lived, as Greece suffered badly under the Ottoman Empire, only to recover in the 19th century as the capital of independent Greece. In modern times, the Athens urban area has grown to a population of 3.7 million.
Modern Olympic Games
Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. The entire urban area of Athens underwent major lasting changes that have improved the quality of life for visitors and residents alike. Aside from the new transportation infrastructure that was completed in time for the 2004 Olympics (from new freeways to light rail systems), the city's historic center underwent serious renovation. Most notable among the city's facelift projects are the Unification of Archaeological Sites (which connects the city's classical-era ruins and monuments to each other through a network of pleasant pedestrianized streets) and the restoration of the picturesque neoclassical Thissio and Pláka districts.
The men's and women's shot put competition was held at the restored stadium of Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games took place from 776 BCE to 394 AD. This was the first time in history that women athletes competed in this venue. It is a lengthy day trip from Athens to visit Olympia, but quite interesting.
Athens was just a small provincial city when it was chosen in the 1830s to serve as the national capital of the modern Greek State. Although it had a prestigious past, the city's political, economic and cultural importance had declined over the centuries, leaving behind only its classical ruins as a reminder of better times. With the decision to move the national capital from Nafplio to Athens, architects and city planners were hired to build a new city next to the classical ruins, with grand neoclassical homes and public buildings, large city squares, green spaces, and wide avenues, making a conscious, decisive turn from the city's Ottoman past. The city regained its importance in Greek civilization, and by 1900 had evolved into a very attractive cosmopolitan city, with abundant neoclassical architecture harking to the nation's past.
The 20th century however, marked the rapid development of Athens. The city suffered minor damage during World War II, and suffered extensive urban planning in the decades that followed, as the nation rapidly industrialized and urbanized. In the 1960s and 1970s, many 19th century neoclassical buildings, often small and private, were demolished to make way for office buildings, often designed by great Greek architects. The city also expanded outward through rash development, particularly towards the west, as its population grew by absorbing job-seekers from the provinces. With the onset of the automobile, public officials reduced the city's public transportation services without foreseeing the traffic gridlock and smog that would menace the city by the 1980s.
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city's reality led to a rude awakening among local and national officials and, coupled with the country's new found remarkable prosperity, large scale projects began to slowly regenerate the city and undo some of the damage of previous decades. Over the course of the next 15 years, money was poured into new transportation infrastructure projects, the restoration of surviving neoclassical buildings, the gentrification of the city's historical center and the renovation of many former industrial areas and the city's coastline. The restoration of charming neoclassical buildings in the city's historical center has been accompanied by the construction of attractive post-modern buildings in newer districts; both of which have begun to improve the aesthetic essence of the city. Athens today is ever evolving, forging a new identity for the 21st century.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Spring and late autumn are the best times to visit Athens. Summer can be extremely hot and dry during heatwaves, but this rarely happens. Winter is definitely low season, with the occasional rainy or snowy day, but also an ideal time to save money while enjoying the city without countless other tourists.
Whilst peak traffic hour can be a bit smoggy on the main roads, on most sunny days the skies are azure blue. The main reason attributed for the pollution of Athens is because the city is enclosed by mountains in a basin which does not allow the smog to leave. The government's ban on diesel vehicles within Athens and the early 1990s initiatives to improve car emissions have greatly contributed to better atmospheric conditions in the basin.
The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by Mt. Ymettos, Mt. Parnitha and Mt. Pendeli; whilst inside Athens are twelve hills [the seven historical are: Acropolis, Areopagus, Hill of Philopappus, Observatory Hill (Muses Hill), Pnyx, Lycabettus, Tourkovounia (Anchesmus)], the Acropolis and Lykavittos being the most prominent. These hills provide a refuge from the noise and commotion of the crowded city streets, offering amazing views down to Saronic Gulf, Athens' boundary with the Aegean Sea on its southern side. The streets of Athens (signposted in Greek and English) now melt imperceptibly into Piraeus, the city's ancient, and still bustling, port.
Places of interest to travellers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city centre at Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicentre is surrounded by the districts of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki to the west, Kolonaki to the east and Omonia to the north. Further afield is the port of Athens, the Piraeus.
The Acropolis is the ancient high city of Athens, a prominent plateaued rock perched high above the modern city with commanding views and an amazing array of ancient architecture, mostly from the Classical period of Ancient Greece, the most famous of which is the Parthenon. A visit to Athens is not complete without visiting the Acropolis; hundreds of tourists each day accordingly make the pilgrimage.
Gentrified during the 1990s and now very popular with tourists, Plaka is a charming historic district at the foot of the Acropolis, with its restored 19th-century neoclassical homes, pedestrianized streets, shops and restaurants, and picturesque ruins from the city's Roman era. Thissio, to the west side of the Acropolis, is very similar and now houses many restaurants and cafes. Between the two is Monastiraki, a very bohemian district increasingly popular with tourists, with stores selling a variety of items including antiques, cookware, souvenirs, arts and crafts, movie posters, punk culture, funky clothing, and pretty much anything you can think of. Another part of Plaka is Anafiotika and is on the northernmost place. There you will find the first university of Athens before it was relocated in central Athens. Its an oasis of calm and quietness, and there are many green spaces which are part of the green space of Acropolis.
Plaka's boundaries are not precisely defined. Clear borders are the Ancient Agora and Plateia Monastiraki on the west, the Acropolis and Dhionysiou Areopayitou street on the south, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Leoforos Amalias on the south-east, and the west part of Mitropoleos street, up to the cathedral on the north (but Mitropoleos street and Leoforos Amalias, though boundaries, shouldn't be considered part of Plaka, since they have a modern and fairly non-descript atmosphere). The north-eastern and eastern boundaries are a bit less well defined, but if you're south of Apollonos street and west of Nikis street you'll probably feel like you're still in Plaka.
Syntagma Square is named after the Greek constitution (syntagma) that was proclaimed from the balcony of the royal palace that overlooks the square on 3 September 1843. The former palace has housed the Greek parliament since 1935.
Syntagma Square is a good point from which to begin your orientation in the city, and has been beautified within the last few years ago, and the manic Athenian traffic has been re-routed. it contains cafes, restaurants, fast food outlets, a new metro stop, airline offices.. The square serves as an occasional rallying place for demonstrations and public celebrations.
Omonia Square (Plateia Omonias) is the centre of Athens, and is composed of the actual square together with the surrounding streets, open areas and assemblage of grand buildings that include banks and offices. The neighbouring area of Exarcheia (Εξάρχεια) to the north, dominated by the Athens Polytechnic and its famous band of anarchists, is a bohemian district with lots of bars and clubs visited by students, intellectuals and people who are into alternative culture. Kolonaki is near Lykavittos Hill. The district's borders are not very sharply defined; it covers the south and southeast slopes of Lykavettos Hill north of Vassilisis Sofias Avenue. Kolonaki is the posh area of central Athens. Traditionally the home of the in-town rich, it's the location of a number of embassies and several prominent archaeological schools, including The American School and The British School. It also has the city's greatest concentration of trendy fashion boutiques, and many, mostly upscale, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Athens airport is a major hub in the Aegean, Balkan and East Mediterranean regions. American, Air Canada, Air Transat, Delta, Emirates, Norwegian Air Shuttle and United maintain non-stop flights from North America (some are only seasonal), while a large number of European carriers fly direct into Athens.
1 Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH IATA) (27 km (17 mi) east of the city centre near the suburb of Spáta). Opened in 2001 as part of the infrastructure improvements in preparation for the Olympics, and is now one of the more attractive and efficient major European airports, though some old Athenian hands say they miss the messy atmosphere of the old Hellenikon. The airport has the usual array of food stands, duty-free shops, lounges, and other airport services. Free Wi-Fi used to be time-limited, but now is free to use for unlimited time. Luggage storage, run by Pacific Travel, can be found in the end of left-hand wing, arrivals level. Storage time varies from 6 to 36 hr, no automatic lockers. There is also a locker facility at Syntagma Square, central Athens (Leaveyourluggage.gr).
There is a tourist information office in Arrivals, they can provide information about Greek ferries.
There is also a small museum on the top floor with an interesting history on Athens, and a space for temporary exhibits.
- By Metro to the city center, €9 one way. Group tickets (2 or 3 persons) are also available and they provide some discount (see below). The airport Metro line is an extension of Line 3 (blue line) that takes you to the central Syntagma and Monastiráki stations.
- At the airport, both metro trains and suburban trains pass from the same platform. If you are travelling to the city centre, you should take the metro trains.
- Don't forget to validate your ticket before going down to the platform and boarding a train (there are validation machines at the top of the escalators in the ticket hall). Failure to validate your ticket at the start of the journey can mean a fine of up to €200. The ticket inspectors are rigorous and won't hesitate to call for police assistance if you start to object.
- Not all Metro trains from Athens go to the airport; typically the airport trains run every half hour, while trains in the intervals don't go the whole route. Airport trains are indicated on the schedule and by an airplane logo on the front of the train, they are also announced by the signs on the metro platform. It's useful to go to the Metro station the day before, explain to the agent (most speak English) when you need to be at the airport, and ask what time you should catch the airport train from that station. You can also get this information at the airport metro station, which has a desk staffed most hours by someone who speaks English. It's possible but not necessary to buy your ticket in advance; buying in advance though means you won't risk missing your train if you find at the last minute you don't have change for the ticket machines and have to stand in a line to buy it from the agent.
- By Suburban Railway to the city center, €9 one way. From Airport station to Athens central station (alt name Larissa or Larissis Station) via change at Ano Liossia station. A change at Ano Liossia to Athens central station (connection to Metro Line 2 "Larissa station") can take you to The Omónia and Syntagma stations; trains to Northern Greece and the Peloponnese depart from Athens central station. From Airport station to Monastiraki station via change at Nerantziotissa. A change at Neratziotissa suburban station (connection to Metro Line 1 "Neratziotissa station") can take you to The Monastiraki station. Or change at Doukissis Plakentias to Line 3 (blue) of the metro to get to Monastiraki and Syntagma stations. Suburban trains run more sparsely than the metro.
- By express bus: X93 to Kifissos Coach Station, X95 to Syntagma Square (Lines 2 and 3 and tram), X96 to Piraeus Port (Line 1) and X97 to Elliniko metro station (Line 2) for €5.50. It takes 45 min to 1½ hr depending on traffic. Buses, unlike Metro, operate 24 hours a day. When leaving to the airport early from Syntagma (before the metro opens), tickets can be bought at a kiosk next to the bus stop.
- By local bus: an unnamed bus departs frequently in front of the Sofitel Hotel to Koropi metro station (€1.80, 15 min). From there you can take the metro to city center (€1.20), from Koropi to airport the ride is €5.5 but from Koropi station direction to city center is the normal ticket price €1.20. You can also take local bus 308 from Koropi metro for the same price.
- By taxi: if you take a taxi be careful. Taxi rides to the centre cost €40 during the day and €60 during the night. Prices are fixed and includes toll costs.
Regional coaches (KTEL) connect Athens to other cities in Greece. The fleet of buses has been upgraded, which makes the journey pleasant and safe. For some destinations one can also use the buses of the railroad company (OSE, see next paragraph) that might be international, but can also be used for in-country transport. At times there are collaborations with companies from adjacent countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, so it's advisable to ask on both the bus and the train companies about the available options.
There are two KTEL coach stations, one at Liosion Avenue, 2 Liosion Ktel Station (near Aghios Nikolaos station on the Green line) and the other at Kifissou Avenue, 3 Kifissou Ktel Station Bus routes X93 (Athens International Airport), 051 (Athens center), 052 (Elaionas Metro station), 420 (Piraeus port).
Several travel agencies offer bus service between Tirana and Athens, also stopping at several other cities in Albania. Cost is usually €30 between Albania and Athens (same cost regardless of the city in Albania).
- Alb Trans, ☏ [email protected], €25, http://www.albtrans.net stops in the following cities: Tirana, Durres, Kavaje, Rrogozhine, Lushnje, Berat, Fier, Ballsh, Krasta, Memaliaj, Tepelene, Athens. ,
- Albatrans, albatrans.com.al, [email protected], ☏ , €30
- top-lines.al, Albania: ☏ [email protected], Greece: ☏ [email protected]
- Papadakis Bros S.A., ☏ (Athens), ☏ (Tirana)
- Osumi Travel, ☏ [email protected] (Athens), ☏ or ☏ (Tirana), €30, or €25 between Gjirokaster and Athens,
- Alvavel, ☏ (Tirana), ☏ (Elbasan), ☏ (Korca), ☏ (Durres), ☏ (Athens), €30
The national rail service, Hellenic Train, connects Athens to other cities in Greece. However, the national railroad system is limited compared to other European countries, in effect having only two lines. One goes south to the Pelopponese. The other goes to the north, connecting Athens with the second major city in Greece, Thessaloniki and Larissa, the capital city of Thessaly region. From there the line continues further to the north and all the way to the east, passing through many other cities of northern Greece and eventually reaching Istanbul. 4 Athens Central Railway Station (alt name Larissa Station) is accessible by Larissa station of the red line (line 2).
There are two types of train you can use; normal, slow, type of train equipped with beds, and the so-called new 'Intercity' type which is more expensive because of a 'quality supplement fee' that grows with distance. For example, travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki by the 'Intercity' type will save one hour at most, but the ticket will be almost twice the price. 'Intercity' tends to be more reliable, yet more 'bumpy' than the normal train. As of late 2014 there are international trains to Belgrade, Serbia and Sofia, Bulgaria via Thessaloniki.
The chief sea port of Athens is the 5 Piraeus. It is served by many ferries. Cruise ships also regularly visit, especially during warm months. Generally, pedestrian ferry users will be closer than cruise passengers to the Metro station providing access to central Athens; walking distances can vary considerably. Cruise passengers on larger ships usually reach the main cruise terminal by port shuttle bus; otherwise, it can be a non-trivial walk. Smaller ships (e.g., 1200 or fewer passengers) may dock near the terminal...an easy walk. From the terminal, pedestrians face a safe, level walk of over a mile to the Piraeus Metro station; taxis are readily available to go there, but are not inexpensive.
The simple €1.20 ("integrated") ticket lets you travel on any means of transport—metro, suburban trains, trams, trolleybuses, buses—with unlimited transfers anywhere within Athens (except the metro airport line east of Doukissis Plakentias and the airport buses) for 90 minutes, and you can also get a €4.10 ticket valid for 24 hours, a €8.20 ticket valid for 5 days or a 72-hour "tourist" ticket for €20 that includes one round-trip to the airport.
The Athens Metro is efficient and attractive, and generally the only pleasant way to get around Athens. Many metro stations (e.g. Syntagma) exhibit artifacts found during construction. Eating and drinking is forbidden in the metro system. During rush hour, it can become very crowded. There are three lines:
- Line : Piraeus – Kifissia, connects the port of Piraeus and the northern suburbs of Athens (Kifissia station) via the city centre. Be sure that you keep an eye on your personal stuff when using this line, and be prepared for people getting in the train and asking for money.
- Line : Anthoupoli – Elliniko connects western and southern Athens via Athens centre.
- Line : Dimotiko Theatro– Doukissis Plakentias – Airport connects Piraeus and the western suburbs with the eastern suburbs (Halandri and Doukissis Plakentias stations) and the International Airport.
The standard metro fare is €1.20 (as of September 2022) for trips between all stations except the Airport line, east of Koropi Station. This allows travel with all means of public transport and unlimited transfers for 90 minutes. A 24-hour ticket for all public transport in Athens, apart from the Airport line, costs €4.10.
The standard fare to or from the airport is €9 each way (as of September 2022), and this includes the full journey between any point in the Athens public transport system and the airport.
Validate your ticket at the validation machines upon entering the station by beeping your ticket at a ticket validation machine or a ticket gate. Failure to do so will entail a hefty fine if you are caught by ticket inspectors.
There are often several entrances to the stations and often they go straight to the platform, so remember which entrance is for which. It is open from 05:00 to midnight.
By suburban railway
The Athens Suburban Railway (Proastiakos in Greek) is operating by Hellenic Train. There are 3 Proastiakos lines. From Piraeus to Airport, from Piraeus to Aigio and from Athens Central Station (Larissa station) to Chalkida.
The Athens Tram connects the city centre with the southern suburbs and has connections with the metro lines. There are three tram lines:
- Line : Peace and Friendship Stadium – Asklipeio Voulas Hospital connects Faliro with the southern suburbs and runs along the coastal zone.
- Line : Syntagma– Neos Kosmos – Peace and Friendship Stadium connects the city centre with Faliro.
- Line : Syntagma – Neos Kosmos – Asklipeio Voulas Hospital connects the city centre with the coastal zone and the southern suburbs.
Ticket prices are the same with Athens Metro (€1.20 for 90 minutes). The tram accelerates quickly, so make sure to be careful and hold on to something when it leaves a stop.
Athens is served by a network of diesel buses, natural gas buses and electric trolleybuses run by the Athens Urban Transport Organisation. The integrated ticket costs €1.20 and allows for multiple trips within 90 minutes, including transfers to the Metro or Tram and it's available in most kiosks. Trips to the Airport cost €5.5. You only need to validate once, before first use. Buses will not stop unless you signal the driver by raising your arm. Most central bus stops have smart displays that show bus arrival times and transport announcements.
Canary yellow taxis are a common sight in Athens and are a reasonably priced way of getting around (if you can avoid the traffic jams). The starting fee is €1.19, after which the meter ticks up at €0.34/km ("rate 1") or €0.64/km ("rate 2"), with a minimum fare of €3.20. Rate 1 applies through Athens city limits, including the airport, while rate 2 applies outside the city and from midnight to 05:00. Legal surcharges apply for calling a taxi by radio (€1.60), trips to or from the airport (€3.20) and heavy bags (€0.32). Tipping is not necessary, although it's common to round up to the nearest full euro.
Taxi fare fraud is not as widespread as it used to be, but it still happens, so insist on the meter and make sure the rate is correct. At busy tourist locations, drivers try to con with a set rate that is ridiculously high (e.g. €20 for a short trip). In these cases, it is best to find another and again insist on the charge shown on the meter. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171.
Taxi drivers rarely obey the rules of the road. Expect that if you are leaving Athens on an early flight the driver will drive aggressively to get you there as quickly as possible.
Taxis are considered to be fairly cheap in Athens. Therefore, you can expect to share the ride during rush hours if you can find one, and at night after the Metro has shut down. If you hail a taxi which is already occupied (occupied taxis have a brightly lit TAXI sign on top of the car) the driver will ask where you want to go to before letting you in to join the other customers. Strikes by cabbies and public transit are common, so be prepared and watch the local news.
You can rent a car at the airport where most of the major international companies have a presence. There are also several large local companies which will deliver the car outside of the airport.
Athens is not a friendly city for cyclists, as it does not have many bicycle lanes, and the car drivers tend to drive quite aggressively. Nevertheless (or maybe because of this) riding a bicycle in Athens has become lately some sort of a political (counter-)action, especially by young people with an alternative lifestyle. In general, tourists not familiar with the terrible Athenian traffic are not advised to use a bicycle as a principal means of transport. But within the network of pedestrian streets in the historical city centre, rides are safe and can be quite enjoyable. A bike hire scheme is at its fledgling stages; its bike station is in Technopolis.
The "My City with a Bike" initiative, taken by the General Secretariat for the Youth[dead link] and several NGOs, offers free conducted tours with free bikes every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00 all year round except for the rainy days. Booking 10 days in advance is required, either by email ([email protected]) or ☏ .
With the exception of touristy streets, walking in Athens is a little challenging. Athens' traffic can make crossing the street in some areas difficult, and walking down some very urban streets is an unpleasant experience due to noise pollution. The humidity of summer is exhausting, and there are parks to provide an escape from it. Fortunately, much of the traffic-plagued area of the city can be avoided by the use of the new Metro, which goes most places a visitor would want to see or walk around in.
However, several central streets have been pedestrianized. A mostly car-free archeological walk starts at Vasilisis Amalias Street, passes in front of the New Acropolis Museum, Acropolis, Herodion Theatre, Thiseio (Apostolou Pavlou Str), Ermou Street and ends at the popular area of Kerameikos (Gkazi) where there are many bars and clubs. Pleasant walking can also be had in Plaka, especially its upper reaches, and in much of Kolonaki. The National Garden can provide a welcome respite from the heat and noise of the city centre. Wear comfortable shoes with good traction, and make sure that you leave home any high heels or similar shoes. Some sensitive archeological sites have banned heels because the pointed heels damage the soft, slippery marble that you're walking on. Also the Mayor of Athens announced a big plan to pedestrianize, modernize and rebuilt a lot of central roads in order to offer more accessible walking routes to citizens and tourists.
- Please see this section at the country level for a full discussion
While Greek is the official language in Greece, many Athenians speak English and those in the tourist industry are likely to also speak French and German. Almost all signs are written in Greek and English.
As in the rest of Greece, students get heavily discounted entry to most tourist attractions in Athens (EU students get free entrance, non-EU ones pay half price). The Acropolis and the main archaeological sites follow this practice, but require national student cards which explicitly mention 'University of ...', most other places accept ISIC cards. Cards are examined and any out-of-date will be rejected. Besides, all state owned archaeological sites and museums offer 50% discount from November 1st until March 31st.
Most attractions in Athens offer free or discounted admission for disabled people living in the European Union (badge or card required). The discount is not advertised and you have to ask staff to get the information. You will also be offered assistance and lifts access if necessary.
At first glance, Athens seems entirely to be composed of nasty, four- to six-story concrete buildings, lacking character and badly in need of a paint, but if you look beyond that, you will find little gems tucked in among the grey. The areas at the foot of the Acropolis, Anafiotika, Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio are home to many wonderful Neoclassical buildings, trendy and traditional cafes and shops, narrow winding streets, and incredible views of the Acropolis. Little Greek Orthodox churches are tucked in among the concrete, often in the most unexpected places. These are usually beautifully decorated with icons and brass fixtures inside, but make sure you're appropriately dressed (no short sleeves or bare legs is a good rule of thumb, as a mark of respect).
The 1 Acropolis of Athens was the ancient fortified town of Athens, dating back to the Late Bronze Age. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic role and the many iconic buildings of the Greek Classical age, among them the Parthenon, the Erectheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. The key landmark of Athens, visible from afar, Acropolis dominates the Athenian sky and symbolizes the foundation of modern culture and civilization. Many portions of the site are undergoing major, needed renovations. Some views will be marred by scaffolding.
The Acropolis is open daily, 08:00-19:00 during summer, 08:00-17:00 during winter. ☏ online, the ticket is then sent by email with a QR code which will be scanned at the entrance gate. There are also a limited number of free days for the public listed each year - check Acropolis' website.. The normal entrance price is €20. The price is discounted or free for many categories of individuals, such as under-18s and European university students. A €30 ticket can be purchased which also provides admission to various other Athens historic sites (Acropolis and Slopes, Kerameikos and its museum, Ancient Agora and its museum, Roman Agora, Hadrian's Library, Olympieion, The Lyceum) within five days. If possible, arrive early to avoid heavy crowds, and summer heat when relevant. The queue to buy tickets can be very long - expect to wait more than an hour. If you can, buy tickets
Entrance is from the west end of the Acropolis. From the Akropoli metro stop and New Acropolis Museum, walk west along Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and take the first right on to Theorias; from the Thissio metro stop west of Monastiraki, walk west to Apostolou Pavlou Street, turn left on it, and walk south to turn left on Theorias. From Plaka, you can walk south up steep Mnisikleous Street as far as you can go and turn right on Theorias. Following European regulations, disabled access to the Acropolis can be gained by means of special paths and a purpose-built lift on the north face of the hill, only for the use of those in wheelchairs.
A canteen with a wide range of food and drink is reached before you get to the ticket kiosk - but beware: refreshments are available only at exorbitant prices. You will definitely need a bottle of water with you in the hot summer, so either bring it with you or buy it from the kiosk on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, just outside the entrance. There are water fountains within the site, but the water isn't always cold.
Guides can nearly always be found offering to show you around - at a price - at the point where tickets are checked. As an alternative, ask for the free leaflet published by the Archaeological Resources Fund, which includes a ground plan of the site and valuable information on the various monuments.
Additional historic sites and artifacts at the foot of the Acropolis are also included in the admission ticket. Most notably:
- 2 Theatre of Dionysus. Classical Athens' main theatre, the first theatre ever built. Many of the great Greek plays were performed here for the first time. According to Plato's Symposium, it could hold an audience of 19,000 spectators. Aristophanes' The Clouds, mocking Socrates, was first performed here, and Plato considered this play to be a contributing factor in Socrates' trial and execution.
- 3 Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This theatre, built in 161 CE, is still used for concerts and plays. The stone backdrop is still preserved to a remarkable height of 3 stories, because it was incorporated into a later fortification on the site.
Archaeological sites around Acropolis
- 4 Pnyx (Ancient Greek: Πνύξ; Greek: Πνύκα, Pnyka) (500 m (1,600 ft) west of the Acropolis). If Athens is the birthplace of democracy, then Pnyx is its cradle. Around 507 BC this rocky hill, overlooking the Akropolis, became the meeting place for the ekklesia, Athens' early democratic assembly. This site thus witnessed addresses by Pericles, Aristides and Alcibiades during the "Golden Age" of Athens, and had a capacity for 6000 to 13,000 hearers. The site was redesigned several times, creating three distinct phases in its history, until the ekklesia moved to the Theatre of Dionysos some time during the first century BC. During the Roman era Pnyx was instead used as a sanctuary of Zeus. Free.
- 5 Ancient Agora (just to the west of Plaka and easily walked to by following the pleasant section of Hadrian (Adrianou) Street leading west from Hadrian's Library). Tu-Su 08:30 - 15:30, M 10:00-15:30. The site of the Ancient Agora in a green space with a beautiful view of the Acropolis. From the agora you can walk towards Acropolis. Extension of the agora is the Roman Forum. €8, reduced €4, tickets valid for the archaeological site and the museum of the Ancient Agora.
- Contains the following sites:
- 6 Temple of Hephaestus. The best preserved ancient Greek temple, 5th century BC.
- 7 Stoa of Attalus (Museum of the Ancient Agora). This reconstructed ancient building is used as a museum housing relics found in the Agora.
- 8 Church of the Holy Apostles (Agias Apostoli). One of the oldest churches in Athens (11th century).
- 9 Roman Agora (Roman Forum) (at the western end of Plaka). 08:30 - 16:00. It houses the Tower of the Winds, an eight-sided tower with a different wind deity on each side, the remains of ancient shops, and a fountain. €6, reduced €3.
- 10 Kerameikos. 08:30 - 16:00. The site of the ancient cemetery of Athens. It also houses the Dipylon Gate, where the Panathenaic procession would begin. Its museum showcasing many of the grave stele and other archaeological items found on the grounds. The site has more than 20 tortoises, so be sure to watch your step and not trample on them. €6, reduced €3.
- 11 Temple of Olympian Zeus. Only the ruins remain today. The column that has fallen and can still be seen in pieces was brought down during a thunderstorm about a century ago.
- 12 The Lyceum (Λύκειο, Lýkeio). An ancient temple here hosted lectures by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and early meetings of the Athenian Assembly. Aristotle made the temple the home of his school, the Lyceum. It hosted the world's first zoo and botanical garden, as well as a library which preserved classical Greek works for centuries afterwards. Rediscovered in 1996, the site can now be viewed outdoors. Entrance is from the north, from the same entrance as for the Byzantine and Christian museum. €4, reduced €2.
- 13 Plato's Academy. This house of study was founded by the famous philosopher Plato. His equally famous follower Aristotle studied here for 20 years before leaving to found a school of his own. The site is an outdoor free park where you can see the excavated ruins. The ruins are not well explained or particularly impressive. The exact coordinates given here are for a sign which best explains the various ruins in the park. The site is a long walk from all other historic sites, or a single bus route which runs slower than walking on the busy streets.
- 14 Hadrian's Reservoir. Now the base of a summertime outdoor cinema, you can view the remains of the reservoir that was the terminus of an aqueduct that transported water for Roman-era Athenians from Parnitha to the base of Mount Lycabettus. Unfortunately, you can only peer through windows and are not able to descend into the reservoir itself. Free.
- 15 Panathinaiko Stadium, Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, ☏ , [email protected]. The stadium that housed the first modern day Olympic Games of 1896. Earlier versions of the stadium date as far back as 330 BCE. It's an enormous, white, marble stadium, with a horseshoe configuration. €10 entry / €5 concession.
- 16 Lycabettus Hill. A 200-m hill bordering the Kolonaki district. You can reach the top by walking (the path starts 15 minutes from Evangelismos metro stop, and will take 30 minutes to walk up the winding, but paved and not steep, path) or by a funicular railway (€8 single/€10 return trip). From halfway up looking towards the sea there are astonishing views of the Parthenon with the blue of the sea glimpsed between its columns. And from the top you can see the whole city, the port of Piraeus and, on a clear day, the island of Aegina and the Peloponnese. Have a drink at the cafe there, and pay a visit to the chapel of St George.
- 17 Olympic Stadium (Eirini Station (Metro Line 1)).
- 18 National Theatre, Agiou Konstantinou 22. A low but imposing building erected between 1882 and 1890 by architect Ernst Ziller in the eclectic style of that age, commissioned by King George I.
- 19 Syntagma Square. Check out the Parliament building and the newly restored Grande Bretagne Hotel. Also, catch the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament every hour on the hour. Their uniforms and walking style are very fun to see. Make sure you don't stand on the wrong side of them if you want to take a picture. If you accidentally do so, they will knock their gun and, as they are not allowed to speak, someone else from the guard will kindly ask you to change position. A more elaborate version of the ceremony takes place at 11AM every Sunday, when it is accompanied by a marching military band.
- 22 Daphni Monastery, Athinon avenue, ☏ , [email protected]. Tu and F 08:00-15:00. An 11th-century Byzantine monastery and UNESCO World Heritage site. Damaged by an earthquake in 1999, but has now been fully restored. Free admission.
- 23 Kaisariani Monastery and Gardens, Kaisariani Monastery (It's easiest to take a taxi), ☏ . A nice escape from the city in the foothills of Mount Hymettus. Walking trails. There's a functional monastery one can walk in, and several ruined chapels or basilicas up on the walks.
Museums and galleries
Because of its antiquity and influence, Athens is full of museums and galleries. The major ones are the National Archeological Museum, the Acropolis Museum, the Benaki and Museum of Cycladic Art, the Agora Museum, and the Kanellopoulos and Folk Art Museums.
- 24 National Archaeological Museum of Athens, 44 Patission Street, ☏ , [email protected]. This is the largest and most popular of Athens' many museums, and is usually very crowded. Its vast collection includes treasures unearthed from Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann; a staggering array of sculpture including the earliest known Greek figurines dating from around 2,000 BC; frescoes from the volcanic island of Santorini; and remains of Antikythera mechanism, the oldest known mechanical computer. Plan to make several visits to absorb it all. Apr 1—Oct 31: €10, Nov 1—Mar 31: €5, 3-day special ticket package: full €15, reduced €8, valid for National Archaeological Museum, Epigraphic Museum, Numismatic Museum and Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens.
- 25 Acropolis Museum, Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, ☏ , [email protected]. This long-overdue replacement for the musty old museum opened in 2009. Its design looks very "modern" from the outside, but on the inside it's very intuitive. The top floor is a clever reproduction of the Parthenon with all the sculptures in the right places (and impressive views in every direction). Lower floors contain other finds from excavations, beautiful and interesting and well explained. in Makryanni just below the Acropolis, the museum is easily accessed from the Acropolis metro station. €10, reduced €5.
- 26 Kanellopoulos Museum, 12 Theorias & Panos Streets (Plaka), ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Su 08:00-15:00. A small but excellent museum displays artifacts from Mycenean Greece on, and includes some wonderful Persian artifacts. Apr-Oct: €4, €2 reduced; Nov-Mar: €2.
The visual arts have a big role in the Athenian life. Next to big institutions such as the National Gallery and the Benaki Museum, many small private galleries are spread across the city centre and the surrounding areas, hosting the works of contemporary visual and media artists. Bar galleries have sprung up, where you can have a drink or a coffee while visiting an exhibition.
- 27 Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, 1 Koumbari St. & Vas. Sofias Ave. W F 10:00-18:00; Th Sa 10:00-00:00; Su 10:00-16:00. Visit the beautiful Neoclassical main building which houses collections of Greek art, from ancient times through the Byzantine period and the modern state. Open late and for free on Thursday evenings. The museum shop is a good place to buy souvenirs. There is a small selection at high prices but the quality is excellent. €9, students, seniors, people with disabilities and teachers €7; temporary exhibitions €7/€5; €25 Benaki Museum Experience ticket entitles the visitor to one entrance per exhibition in all the Benaki Museum buildings, valid for 3 months.
- 28 Museum of Cycladic Art. M W-Su 10:00 to 17:00, open till 20:00 on Th. Holds the second largest collection of Cypriot antiquities in the world outside Cyprus, after the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Some of the most popular exhibits include the Cycladic figurines, the idols from Early Bronze Age Cyclades, whose style greatly influenced modernist work in the 20th century, and Cypriot pottery and Ancient Greek artifacts, especially the ‘Scenes of Daily Life in Ancient Greece’ display, which is popular with families. They also sell great souvenirs, and lunch is available at the elegant Aethrion Café. If you are lucky, there may be a quirky temporary exhibition too (with no extra entry fee), as they hold archaeological, modern and contemporary art exhibitions. €7, on Mondays and students - €3.50.
- 29 National Gallery, Michalakopoulou 1. It's one of Greece's main art institutions and features paintings and works of art from some of Greece's and Europe's best from the 19th and 20th centuries. Emphasis is given to popular Greek contemporary artists including Giannis Tsarouchis, Domenikos Theotokopoulos (a.k.a. El Greco), Theodors Vrizakis, Nikolaos Kounelakis, Nikiforos Litras, Konstantinos Parthenis, Maleas, Giannis Moralis and others.
- 30 Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, 22 Ag. Asomaton & 12 Dipilou Streets – Kerameikos. Th F Sa Su 10:00-18:00. An excellent collection which anyone interested in Islamic art will want to see. The museum was opened in 2004 as a branch of the Benaki, but is in a different part of town in two connected buildings. €9; students, seniors and teachers €7.
- 31 Museum of Greek Folk Art, 22 Panos str., Plaka. M W-Su 08:00-15:00. An excellent museum of its type. Too often neglected by visitors to Athens, even though it is in the heavily touristed Plaka neighbourhood. Displays include artefacts, tools, primitive painting, folk pottery and interior decor. It is particularly strong on costume and embroidery. €2; students from non–EU countries, senior citizens from EU €1; under 19, students from EU (with ID), and people with disabilities free.
- 32 Athens Municipal Art Gallery (Pinakothiki), Pireos, 51 (near Koumoundourou square), ☏ . M-F 09:00-13:00 and 17:00-21:00. Paintings of Greek painters of the first half of the 20th century are displayed.
- 33 Vorres Museum, 1 Parodos Diadochou Constantinou St., Paiania, Attiki (Public transport: Metro Line 3 to Nomismatokopio, then bus 125 or 308 to 1st Agias Triado stop. Alternatively: Metro Line 3 to Koropi, then bus 307 to 2nd Agias Triados stop). Sa Su 10:00-14:00, weekdays by appointment only and for groups of at least 20 people. A diachronic museum of folk and contemporary art in Paiania, East Attica, Greece. Its grounds cover 320,000 m2 (80 acres) including several buildings, gardens and courtyards. Its collection includes over 6000 pieces covering 4000 years of Greek history and art. The museum was donated by the Vorres family to the Greek state. €5, students €3.
- 34 Museum of Ancient Greek Technology Kotsanas - A very interesting museum that should not be missed. Excellent demonstration of some fantastic inventions of the ancient Greeks. Most models are functional and can be interacted with. It's a relatively small museum, but if you take the time to read everything, it will take several hours. A "must see".
- 35 National Historical Museum (Old Parliament), ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Su 08:30-14:30. In the old parliament building on Stadiou Street a little northwest of Sytagma Square, this museum contains a large collection of historic documents such as the first constitution of Greece, furniture, equipment from the revolution. If you are lucky you may see the old session room. €3.
- 36 Numismatic Museum. Situated just north of Syntagma Square, the building of the museum is one of the most beautiful in Athens, and was built by Ernst Ziller and was used as the residence in Athens of Schliemann. The collection contains thousands of ancient coins and ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval figurines.
- 37 Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments. 1-3 Dioyenous, Plaka. A very interesting museum which includes exhibits of traditional Greek musical instruments, with recordings of most of them.
- 38 National War Museum, 2 Rizari, ☏ , . Nov-Mar: 09:00-17:00, Apr-Oct: 09:00-19:00. Not in Kolonaki, but just across the street, the National War Museum is the only significant surviving public project of the military dictatorship which ruled Greece 1967 - 1974. The museum's displays are old fashioned and biased towards the more successful periods of Greek military history. The tanks, artillery guns and aircraft on display outside the museum form the most interesting part of its collection, and can be visited for free. €4.
- 39 Park of Maritime Tradition, Palaio Faliro. Including the historical warships Georgios Averof, Velos and a replica of an ancient trireme.
- 40 Hellenic Air Force Museum, Palaio Faliro. A number of old planes from as far back as the 1930s can be seen here.
- 41 City of Athens Technopolis (At Peiraios Avenue & Persefonis Street, next to the Kerameikos metro station). An industrial museum of incomparable architecture. The centre has assisted in the upgrading of a historic Athens district.
- 42 Spathario Museum (Karagiozis Museum), Mesogeion & Voriou Ipirou 27, ☏ , . M Tu Th F 09:00 - 14:00. The first and unique museum of shadow theatre in the world, dedicated to the famous Greek shadow theatre character "Karagiozis". Free.
- 43 Cultural Centre Hellenic Cosmos.
- 44 Hellenic Motor Museum (near Pedion tou Areos and Victoria Metro Station (Line 1)).
- 45 OTE Telecommunications Museum, ☏ , . Free.
- 46 Michael Cacoyannis Foundation cultural center, ☏ .
- 47 Planetary Evgenidio Foundation, 387 Syggrou Ave. (entrance 11 Pentelis st Palaio Faliro, Athens 175 64).
- 48 Onassis Cultural centre.
- 49 Epigraphical Museum, 1 Tositsa Str, ☏ .
- 50 National Museum of Contemporary Art.
- 51 Digital Museum Plato.
- 52 Museum of Mineralogy and Petrology.
- 53 Gounaropoulos Museum.
- If you're lucky enough to be in Athens for the Easter Weekend, you'll see the spectacular sight of hundreds of people making their candlelit way down the hill on Easter Saturday night as part of the Easter Vigil procession.
- Every weekend you can join a free bike tour of the old area of Athens. To take part in this, you should contact the NGO Anthropos or ☏ but you can just turn up if you aren't able to contact them in advance. Groups meet at 10:40 outside Thissio metro station.
- If the weather is good, head out of town on buses A2, B2 or E22 from metro station Sygrou, or the tram from Syntagma to the beaches in south Athens. Just get off wherever the sea takes your fancy. Beach-side cafes can hit you hard with prices of food and drinks. If you are the only person getting on the bus, you must flag the bus down to get it to stop or it will just fly on by.
- 3 National Gardens, behind the Parliament building (Between the Parliament and Zappeion buildings.). dawn-dusk. A Peaceful and beautiful park in the centre of Athens, easily the coolest place to hide from the summer sun. Wander around, check out the quirky art that seems to sprout up every now and again, look on in disbelief at the "zoo", sit on one of the benches, enjoy the luxuriant flowers and vegetation, marvel at the turtle and duck ponds, have a frappe in the cafe, and spot one of the resident tortoises exploring... it's a fun place to hang out.
- 4 Pedion tou Areos (Field of Mars). Covers 27.7 hectares, near the National Archaeological Museum.
- 5 Dionysiou Aeropagitou street. This landmark street starts from the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, continues under the southern slopes of the Acropolis near Plaka, and finishes just beyond the Temple of Hephaestus in Thiseio. The street has been pedestrianised, forming a scenic route. The entire route provides visitors with views of the Parthenon and the Agora (the meeting point of ancient Athenians), away from the busy city centre.
- 6 Parnitha National Park. Well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves do the protected area. Hiking and mountain-biking in all four mountains remain popular outdoor activities for many residents of the city.
- 7 Lake Vouliagmeni, Vouliagmeni. Α rare geophysical formation is to be found that gave the Vouliagmeni suburb its modern name: Lake Vouliagmeni ("Sunk Lake"), a small brackish water lake fed by underground currents seeping through the mass of Mount Hymettus. It was once a large cavern that collapsed following an earthquake, probably during the early Middle Ages. The outline of the collapsed cavern roof can be clearly discerned from a distance. The lake stands at a 40 cm elevation. It continues deep inside the mountain in an underwater cave never fully explored, as its end seems impossible to trace even by employing sonar detection. Many underwater expeditions have been carried out in order to chart it, and a few amateur divers have drowned trying. Because of its constant and comfortable water temperature (24 degrees Celsius year round), the lake functions as a year-round spa, there is an entrance fee. In the area operates a restaurant-bar. €8, children under 5 for free.
- 8 Attica Zoological Park. €18, children 3-12 years old €14, children under 3 for free.
- 9 Sea Turtle Rescue Society Archelon, Glyfada (50 min by tram from central Athens). They are regularly looking for volunteers who are willing to work on their own costs and are able to take care of injured sea turtles.
- 10 Kavouri Beach. Free entry beach with beautiful nature.
- Football: The Greek men's national team play home games at Agia Sophia Stadium (capacity 32,500 all seated), aka Opop Arena. Completed in 2022, it's in Nea Filadelpheia 10 km northwest of city centre. The next UEFA Europa Conference League final will be played there on 29 May 2024.
- Athens has four soccer clubs playing in Super League (Σούπερ Λιγκ), the top tier:
- AEK Athens play at Agia Sophia Stadium.
- Atromitos play at the 9000-seater Peristeri Stadium 3 km northwest of Syntagma.
- Olimpiacos play at the 33,300-seater Karaiskakis Stadium in Neo Faliro, 1 km east of Pireaus ferry port.
- Panathinaikos play at the 16,000-seater Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, 1 km northeast of Syntagma.
- Lower placed clubs are Apollon Smyrnis at Georgios Kamaras Stadium 5 km north of Syntagma, and Ionikos at Neapolis Stadium 10 km west.
- Basketball: Athens teams playing in the Greek Basket League, the top tier, are Olympiakos at Peace and Friendship Stadium in Neo Faliro, Panionios and Ionikos at Sofia Befon Palaio Faliro Indoor Hall, Peristeri at Peristeri indoor hall (next to Atromitos) and AEK and Panathinaikos both at Nikos Galis Hall.
Theatre and performing arts
Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other city in the world.
- Athens Festival (Athens-Epidaurus Festival). Runs from May to October each year. Offers a wide spectrum of events covering almost every taste. Outside Athens, try to attend a performance at the ancient theater of Epidaurus – a truly unforgettable experience.
In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens plays host to a variety of romantic, open air garden cinemas.
The city also supports a vast number of music venues, most notably:
- 12 Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre (Politismou Idrima Stavros Niarchos) (Leof. Andrea Siggrou 364, Kallithea 176 74), ☏ . 06:00-20:00 (gardens open till 22:00 in summer; National Library open 06:00-00:00). This complex in the seaside suburb of Kallithea has stunning views from its terrace all the way to the Acropolis on one side and of the coast on the other. Evening concerts and other cultural events take place here. The building, gardens and complex alone are worth a visit, and a free shuttle bus is provided from Syntagma Square. Check the web site for the free (optional) tours in English. The collection of the National Library of Greece is being transferred here, and one wing of the building contains an opera house (this part can only be visited as part of a free tour, if you are not attending an event in the auditorium). Free.
Although a huge city, Athens has relatively few shopping malls or large department stores; the small, family run shop still conquers all. Souvenirs are of course available everywhere that tourists go. Other shopping opportunities are antiques, museum reproductions, embroideries and other folk art goods, and Greek food and drink products. Here is an overview of the Athens shopping scene:
- Plaka is lined with souvenir shops, most of them selling cheap souvenir knick-nacks, though there are a few higher-quality shops. Prices can be high for good quality items.
- In Athens, the Flea Market has two meanings. The sign next to Monastiraki station at the beginning of Ifaistou Street claims that you are entering "the Flea Market of Athens." The street is lined with second-hand and surplus shops of every description. Few of them are of much interest to the visitor, though towards the west end of the street there are some interesting shops selling old books, posters, and Greek and other music recordings. The real Flea Market is held on Sunday mornings in Plateia Avissinia at the western end of Ifaistou Street. There is incredible assortment of used objects, antiques, and junk.
- Vrettos distillery (see below, under Drink) sells bottles of its own ouzo and other liqueurs.
- Among all the souvenir and second-hand stores in the area, Martinos at 50 Pandrossou (☏ ) stands out as a genuine antique shop, offering top quality items from Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean. Prices are also top of the line, so this is a shop for knowledgeable antique buyers in the market to do some serious spending. Remember that taking antiques out of Greece and into your own country may be subject to the laws of both countries and be sure you're familiar with them before taking anything old home.
- Kolonaki is the upscale, hip, and artistic shopping area. Kolonaki offers the usual range of shops for an upscale neighbourhood; art galleries, hip clothing boutiques, and antique stores are common. The area is small and along with the small streets north of it, including Skoufa, Anagnostopoulou and the pedestrianized Tsakaloff, are ideal for simply wandering around. 1 Plateia Kolonaki(Kolonaki Square) There are also plenty of shops along Patriarchou Ioakim and Haritos streets and their cross streets.
- Another area is Kifissia.
- For a more reasonable price tag, try Ermou Street, beside Syntagma Square. Turn right off Ermou at the MAC makeup shop and you'll find yourself on Aghiou Markou and other small streets which have a wide range incredibly cheap shoes, bags, jewellery, gifts and homewares.
- Street vendors, with their wares laid out on blankets on the pavement, can be found in many places where tourists congregate, especially in Plaka and Monastiraki. Their goods are mostly forgeries, cheap knock-offs, and illegal CDs. These vendors are unlicensed, which is in violation of Greek law, and you may notice them vanishing as soon as a policeman is in sight, to reappear the instant the police have gone. They are best ignored. (This warning doesn't apply to vendors of fruit, nuts, etc., from street carts, who are usually legitimate.)
- Laiki (People's market), Divaki Pindou and Ioanni Theologou, and in several other places in Athens neighbourhoods. A fruit, vegetable and fish market. Good fun.
- 2 The Mall Athens (Neratziotissa station (Metro Line 1 and suburban rail)). The biggest shopping mall in Athens with a large variety of shops, cafés and restaurants and one of the most "hi tech" cinemas in the city.
- 3 Golden Hall. A shopping mall at Kifissias avenue in Maroussi. It has shops with luxury brands, luxury cafés, bars, and restaurants.
- 4 Athens Heart. A shopping mall close to the centre of Athens.
- 5 Athens metro mall, Par. Leof. Vouliagmenis 276, Ag. Dimitrios 173 43. A shopping mall in Vouliagmenis avenue close to Agios Dimitrios station (Metro Line 2). The food court on the top level offers a nice view of the city and the sea.
- 6 McArthurGlen. The biggest discount village of Athens.
The districts Kolonaki and Plaka are especially good areas for dining out.
For quick, decent and low-budget meals that do not fall into the commercialized fast food category, try a souvlaki (pronounced soo- VLAH-kee), mainly grilled meat (pork or chicken) vegetables (tomato and onion slices) and Greek tzatziki (pronounced tzah-TZEE-khee) which is yogurt enriched with garlic and cucumber. All the above (often accompanied by French fries) are wrapped inside a thin slice of pan bread, named pita (PEE-tah). Prices of souvlaki vary according to the confidence and/or nerve of the cornershop owner, but usually cost from €1.70 to €2.20, and another €5 for drink, salad and French fries for a total no more than €7. Take away is cheaper than if you sit at a table. You can get souvlaki just about everywhere, especially in tourist areas. The best souvlaki stands in central Athens are both in Monastiraki, adjacent to each other and just off the main square in front of the Metro stop: Savvas at Mitropoleos 86-88 and O Thanasis at Mitropoleos 69.
If you're interested in a sandwich, cheese pie, spinach pie or the equivalent of a fast snack, try Grigoris (Γρηγόρης) or Everest, two chains of fast food in most districts of Athens and the rest of Greece. Goody's is the Greek equivalent of McDonald's and offers a fair variety of tasty meals, including pasta, different salads, burgers etc. McDonald's is the same like everywhere, but here it has a slight Greek slant.
At the end of Mitropoleos, just around the corner from the Metro station, is a trio of famous souvlaki shops — Thanasis, Savvas and Bairaktaris (Μπαϊρακτάρης) — which are, depending on who you ask, the Zeus or the Hades of souvlaki lovers. At any of the three, if you take a seat and ask for a souvlaki, you'll be served a plate with meat, pita and chips for around €9. But, if you ask cashier for a pita-souvlaki, you'll get the same stuff in a sandwich to take away for around €1.70.
Adrianou, which runs along the north side of the Acropolis from Thissio in the west to Plaka in the east, is packed with tavernas. Many are touristy and a little on the pricy side, so try to pick one that also has locals as customers. Expect to pay a little extra at any place that has views of the Acropolis.
There are several budget-friendly restaurants in the centre.
- 1 Σουβλάκι Κώστας 1950 συνταγμα (Kostas), 5 Pentelis (take Metropolis from Syntagma Square, turn left on Pentelis). Kostas was recommend by a local as "the best Souvlaki in Athens." It's authentic, friendly and fast.
- 2 Vegan Beat Athens, Perikleous 56. Vegan street food restaurant. Tasty food and nice people that work there. A good place for all vegans and even non-vegans. The true Parthenon of the vegan scene of Athens. Excellent vegan souvlaki.
- 3 The Traditional, Kolokotroni 59. Traditional Greek food. If you want to eat in a quality village tavern in the center of Athens, you will come here. Great roasted food, salads and appetizers! The food is handmade.
- 4 Krasopoulio tou Kokkora, Esopou 4. Among the best traditional Greek restaurants in Athens downtown. The owner is smiling, polite and very keen to assist. A wonderful casual lunch or dinner spot. Fresh ingredients and substantial portions.
- 5 Aspro Alogo, Apollonos. An excellent little Greek restaurant well worth finding. Everything is fresh and delicious and the service is great. The owner is a helpful and generous guy. Attentive and familiar treatment.
- 6 Atlantikos, Greece, Avliton 7. Nice little place with great seafood selection. The meals look simple and are delicious. The portions are quite large and the quality price ratio is very well balanced. One should go in time and expect quite some waiting time to get a table on a small alley. Best local fish tavern with crunchy anchovies and perfect frying without being oily.
- 7 Kafeneio Ivis, Ivis 10. Very authentic Greek tavern, frequented by locals. Great value for money. Warm welcome, nice terrace and fast service.
Around the Alexandri Square (Gardenia)
- 8 The 2 Brothers (Τα δύο αδέλφια), Leof. Stratarchou Alexandrou Papagou 81. The best souvlaki in this part of Athens. A giro will cost around €2.
- 9 Lefka, Mavromiháli 121, ☏ . A long-established traditional taverna with spacious outdoor seating. Closed Sundays.
- 10 K Filippou, 19 Xenokratous, ☏ . A long-established taverna serving some of the best and most authentic food in Athens. Seating is indoors and outdoors, though it's hard to find a seat in the latter during pleasant weather.
- 11 Karavitis, Pafsaniou 4 (near Pafsaníou), ☏ . a severely traditional taverna where the speciality is stamnaki, or beef, potatoes and cheese cooked in tomato sauce in an individual clay pot. The fried zucchini here are also always good. Mostly patronized by Greeks, but there is an English-language menu.
- 12 Το Κιούπι (To Kioupi), Acharnon 255, ☏ . Known among some expatriates as "the hole in the ground," this is a basement taverna serving authentic, inexpensive traditional Greek fare.
- 13 Platanos Taverna, 4 Dioyenous (Plaka), ☏ . One of the oldest tavernas in Plaka with a pleasant outdoor terrace under a huge plane tree, though some old Athens hands have complained that the food has become lacklustre.
- 14 Zeus Xenios (pronounced and sometimes spelled Zefs in modern Greek), Mnisikleous 37 (at the very top of Mnesikleous Street), ☏ . literally in the shadow of the Acropolis, offers quieter and less expensive dining than the many touristy tavernas lining Mnesikleous whose touts will try to snare you as you walk up the hill. The view isn't as spectacular as you might expect, but the outdoor seating is very pleasant and the traditional Greek dishes include some unusual ones, like grilled peppers in yogurt sauce. The price includes a bottle of water, an appetizer plate and garlic bread.
- 15 Pame Psirri (Πάμε Ψυρρή), Katsikogianni 5, ☏ . On Agii Anargiri square -- Psiri. A "mezedopolio" where local singers sing rempetika music.
- 16 O Morias (Ταβέρνα Ο ΜΩΡΙΑΣ), Eirinis 56, Ag. Paraskevi 153 41. Greek restaurant
- 17 Voskopoula (The Shepherdess) (Βοσκοπούλα), sivoron 87, 111 42. Greek restaurant
- 18 Τaverna Μanolis., Samou 1 Chalandri, ☏ . Greek restaurant taverna.
- Rosalia, Valtetsiou 58 (Exarxeia), ☏ . A tavern that serves simple, traditional Greek meals.
- Giántes, Valtetsiou 44 (Exarxeia), ☏ . A tavern with a garden serving organic dishes.
- 19 Kostarelos Cheese and Dairy, 46 Pentelis Avenue, ☏ .
- Orea Penteli (On Psiri square), ☏ . Another "mezedopolio" with live music in an old restored building.
- 20 Cafe Avissinia, Kinetou 7, ☏ , [email protected]. A remarkable restaurant, serving refined and creative innovations on traditional Greek dishes in a chic setting. It is on the square of the same name which is the venue of the main Athens flea market. This is an interesting place to come for lunch, where you can sit enjoying the upscale food and ambiance while looking out on the gritty bazaar of the Flea Market. Moderately expensive, and unfortunately no open wine, though they do have a short but well-chosen list of Greek bottled wines. Open for lunch and dinner. Those considering walking there for dinner from Plaka or the Monastiraki Metro should be aware that the intervening area, while fine by day and not known to be particularly dangerous even at night, it does take on an uncomfortable "Bladerunner" atmosphere after dark.
Athens has only one kosher restaurant, Gostijo, a Sephardi restaurant in Psiri.
- Greeks love to socialize, and Athens buzzes long after its other European counterparts have laid their heads down to sleep. 20:00 is the earliest most Greeks will consider going to eat out, and clubbers start to get ready at about midnight. Many Athens clubs relocate to the beach during the summer months. Cafes spill onto the streets and the sound of lively conversation is everywhere in the evenings.
- Have a frappé, the delicious Greek version of cold coffee. It is nothing like the frappé you find in other countries. Served sweet, medium, or without sugar, with or without milk. Delicious with Bailey's too.
- A 'club zone' is in the coastal district, running to the east- if you go there and you are lucky, you can actually get to listen to non-Greek music. There are also many clubs and pubs in the center of Athens.
- Go to the Psyrrí area (Monastiraki or Thissio station, Lines 1 and 3 and Line 1 respectively) for a number of smart bars and small clubs. It is the area immediately north of Ermou street between these two metro stops.
- There are more and better bars in the area north of Ermou street between Monastiraki and Syntagma than there used to be. Aiolou and Kolokotroni streets offer a fair variety of cafés and bars. Magazé, six dogs, Booze and all the bars on Karytsi square (a small square at the end of Christou Lada street, behind Klafthmonos square on Stadiou avenue) can get very busy on Fridays and Saturdays, with visitors having their drinks even on the streets outside from spring through autumn, when the weather is nice.
- The area around the Kerameikos station, called Gazi (Γκάζι, gas) has been the gay village of Athens for quite a few years. Since the opening of the metro station, in 2007, the neighbourhood has attracted all kinds of crowds. This is a home to dozens of bars, cafés and clubs, gay or not, and to small theatrical scenes, the latter one especially to the northeast of the area, towards Metaxourgeio.
- Balux, Vassileos Georgiou B No. 58 Asteria, Glyfada. One of the best bars in Athens for the specific style, to call it a bar is an understatement. Balux is large complex set right on the water in Glyfada, one of the trendiest areas of the city. It is open during the summer for swimming in the ocean or pool all day and turns into a lounge and full club at night. Where Athens' wealthy go to party.
The Plateia Exarcheia square and nearby streets like Solomou have lots of clubs and bars.
- Taximi, Cnr. Harilaou Trikoupi and Isavron, ☏ .
- Rebetiki Istoria, 181 Ippokratous, ☏ . One of best rebetica clubs, often open in summer when most others are closed.
Kolonaki Square (Plateia Kolonaki; its official name is Plateia Filikis Etaireias, but no one ever uses it) is bordered with cafes whose customers tend to be mature Athenian movers and shakers for whom the area is the traditional in-town home. Most of these cafes serve desserts, light meals and drinks, and most of them are expensive. They tend to be liveliest late at night. One of the best established, and most prestigious, is Lykovrisi. Not many foreigners visit these cafes, but the visitor may find they make for interesting people-watching.
- Showroom, Milioni 2 & Irakleitou. Nice cafe/restaurant. €5 for a beer.
- Oréa Ellás ("Beautiful Greece") with two entrances 59 Mitropóleos and 36 Pandhróssou, Monastiráki (but just a minute's walk from Plaka; the cafe is upstairs) is a combination cafe and gift shop. The cafe, open all day but not after 18:00, offers coffees and alcoholic drinks and a limited range of snacks and sweets, in a wonderful old fashioned setting with stunning views of the Acropolis out the windows. The shop, called Kendro Ellinikis Paradosis (Centre of Greek Tradition) is an excellent place to buy souvenirs, which are more expensive but vastly better than the knick-knacks offered by the cheek-by-jowl tourist shops lining the street outside.
- Ydria, 68 Adhrianoú, ☏ . This sprawling cafe-restaurant that takes up a large part of Platía Paliás Agorás along Adhrianoú St. at the western end of Plaka, is a good place for daytime coffee or a before or after dinner drink. They also serve food, though if you're there for a meal you'll be directed to a different seating area, so tell the waiter when you arrive if you just want a drink. This is the most pleasant cafe in a square packed with them; despite the Plaka location it's relatively quiet, with snatches of views of antiquity from the mostly outdoor seating. Particularly popular with younger Greeks, though all ages and nationalities will feel comfortable. Prices average or slightly below for Plaka, which still means not cheap, though the ouzo comes in hefty shots, and if you order the giant "ouzo platter" (€25) of appetizers with them, it will easily suffice for three people.
- Vrettos at 41 Kydathineon, Plaka is a very atmospheric 100 year old distillery which makes its own ouzo, brandy and liqueurs, and sets up a bar at night where you can order them by the glass. They also offer wine tastings selected from 100s of Greek wines between 10:00-16:00.
- Costa. Standard stuff, but has a nice air conditioned and quiet upstairs seating area overlooking the square. €3-€4 for a coffee.
- 1 Metamatic_taf (Taf), Normanou 5, Monastiraki (close to Monastiraki Square and metro station in Normanou street), ☏ , [email protected]. 10:00-04:00. Independent space organising and hosting cultural events related to all forms of artistic production, and a point of social gathering. Great cocktails and a variety of jazz/soul music.
- Playce, Str. Papagou 128. A really nice cafe where you can play board games whilst drinking your coffee. Very popular.
- Filion Cafe. Start the day with a double shot of dark espresso at this cafe in the Kolonaki neighbourhood, just north of Syntagma Square.
Clubbing & night life
Athens is famous for its vibrant nightlife. The Athenians like to party and will do so almost every night of the week. The choices are plenty and they appeal to all tastes and lifestyles. In general, things get started pretty late: after midnight for bars and clubbing and after 22:00 for dinner at the city's tavernas, Athens Restaurants and bar-restaurants.
Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Exarcheia, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki. Traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka.
Many of Athens' hottest clubs and bars are in Psirri. Gazi has changed tremendously. Most of the galleries, mainstream bars, restaurants, clubs and Greek nightclubs here (featuring live Greek pop singers) are trademarked by their industrial design, as many of them are housed in remodelled—and once abandoned—factories. Gazi is one of the trendiest areas of Athens nightlife. You can get there by metro line 3 at Kerameikos station.
Plaka - Monastiraki are two ancient, historic and all-time classic Athenian neighbourhoods popular with visitors, they do not have many big dance clubs and bars, but offer lively, traditional places to enjoy Greek culture year-round, and several rock and jazz clubs.
You will find plenty nightclubs with live Greek music along Syggrou Avenue and at the industrial strips of Iera Odos and Pireos Street in Gazi. In the summer months, the action moves to Poseidon Avenue and the coastal towns of Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni. Kolonaki is a staple dining and entertainment destination, catering to the city's urban working professionals who enjoy an after work cocktail at many of its bars that are open - and busy - until after midnight, even on weekdays. The clubs here are also very chic. Exarchia is where to go for smaller more bohemian style haunts that cater to artists and college students. At the foot of Strefi Hill is where you will find most of the bars and clubs, many of which play rock music. An alternative option of Athens nightlife.
Athens has a wide variety of accommodation options, from camping and hostels, right up to 5 star luxury hotels. For listings of specific hotels, see the individual district sections.
- 1 Dionissotis Camping (on the road that leads to Varibobi/Tatoi (Parnitha)), ☏ , , fax: , [email protected]. It has a hall for breakfast, a minimarket, a swimming pool and a playground for the children. 115 places for tents. €6 per person, €4 per small tent, €6 per large tent/caravan.
- 2 Athens Backpackers, 12 Makri Street - Makryanni, Athens, ☏ , [email protected]. Standard backpacking hostel offering clean and comfortable beds, 24 hr reception access, and discounted wifi access. Great spot to meet other travellers.
- 3 Athens Psiri Hotel, 32 Sofokleous street (next to Monastiraki metro and Plaka), ☏ . Check-in: 13:30. Fully renovated in 2020. All rooms include private bathrooms, free wifi, air conditioning and heating. €35.
- AthenStyle, Ag. Theklas 10 Monastiraki (2 mins from Monastiraki metro station), ☏ , [email protected]. Studios and hostel beds within walking distance of the metro. Each dorm has lockers. Artists have painted murals in the reception and some of the rooms, and there's a basement lounge with art exhibitions, pool table, home cimena and internet corner. The small rooftop bar is ideal for evening drinks. It produces a weekly art and culture guide. Yellow and green building. €16-50.
- 4 Hotel Dioskouros Athens, 6 Pittakou Street, Plaka, Athens, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Offers simple clean accommodation in a central location. €15-20 per person in high season.
- 5 Tony Hotel, 26 Zaharitsa Str., Koukaki, ☏ , [email protected].
- Hostel Aprodite (Aphrodite), 12 Einardou and Michail Voda corner 65, Athena 10440, Greece, ☏ , [email protected]. Low-budget backpackers' hangout not too far from Larissa train station and Victoria Square, a bit north of the Omonia district. €12 for a 6 bed dorm, €14 for a 4 bed dorm, and more. Air conditioning €3 extra per person.
- 6 Orion, 105 Emm. Benaki & Anexsartisias str, ☏ , fax: . This small hotel is next to Strefi hill, offers nice view from its terrace and is in a calm area. Freshly renovated rooms and breakfast in communal kitchen. Internet included and sister hotel offers nice breakfast at the terrace, too. from €28 double.
- 7 Hotel Elite Athens, 23 Pireos str Athens, ☏ . 10 minutes walk from Monastiraki; simple, decorated rooms with air conditioning and TV. There is also a bar and coffee shop on the ground floor.
- Acropolis View Hotel Athens, Webster street 10, Athens, ☏ . Attention to detail is catered for in this hotel, with most rooms having a fresh lick of paint on them every year. Rooms have central heating and A/C, private baths and mini fridges, and some have balconies. Price from €88 for a single room in high season.
- Hotel Acropolis House, 6-8 Kodrou, Plaka, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected]. The staff are very friendly and the hotel will hold your luggage if you are departing later in the day. Some of the older, more expensive rooms are very atmospheric; others are rather drab. bathroom ensuite is €87 (includes breakfast).
- 8 Athos, ☏ . Patrou 3. Nice hotel in Plaka with roof-garden with a view of the Acropolis.
- 9 Central Hotel, Apollonas St 21 (Plaka), ☏ . Designed by architect Stelios Demos, this hotel fuses modern art design with a classical Greek touch. Restaurant, daily buffet breakfast. Priced from €128 for a standard room in the high season.
- 10 O&B Athens Boutique Hotel. A small boutique hotel in the center of Athens, close to sightseeing, shopping, and entertainment.
- 11 Hotel Omiros Athens, 15 Apollonos Str, Athens, ☏ . Each of the 40 rooms features air conditioning, a television and a mini fridge.
- 12 Holiday Inn, Attica Avenue 40.2 km, Peania (between exits 17 & 18), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Close to airport offers stylish rooms with Wi-Fi internet. Hotel houses the Ruby Restaurant and Golden Bar. Hotel offers complimentary gym, the sauna, indoor pool and the jacuzzi to its guest and free shuttle bus service to the airport daily but at a specific timetable. €100.
- Fresh Hotel. A superb designer hotel within easy walking distance of the Acropolis in the centre of Athens. The rooftop bar and swimming pool has breathtaking views of the Acropolis - the perfect way to end the day's sightseeing or business.
- Periscope Hotel, 22 Charitos Street. An upscale (with prices to match) hip boutique hotel in Kolonaki with glossy, minimalist decor. This hotel used to be the Athenian Inn, and that name may still be found in some Athens hotel listings in guidebooks, but the former hotel has been so completely refurbished that it is now a totally different establishment.
- Mirabello, Geraniou 49, ☏ , [email protected].
- 13 Radisson Blu Park Hotel, 10 Alexandras Ave, Athens 10682, ☏ . 5 star hotel offering high speed internet access and express mail, late check out and foreign currency exchange.
- 14 The St George Lycabettus Hotel Athens, 2 Kleomenous Street, 106 75, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Located in Kolonaki. This boutique hotel offers great views of the Acropolis.
- 15 Hilton Athens, Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias 46, ☏ , [email protected]. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 12:00. Just south of the Kolonaki district, this is the biggest hotel with the biggest pool in Athens. Fifteen floors and wonderful views everywhere you look. Also the "Milos Restaurant" is on site.
- 16 President Hotel Athens, 43 Kifissias Avenue, 11523, Athens (Nearest metro station is Ambelokipoi, which is on Alexandras avenue. 5 min walk from Alexandras avenue is Kifissias avenue, and the hotel is 5 min walk from that junction.), ☏ . Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. A 4-star hotel renovated in 2004 with a lovely terrace bar and pool, 3 restaurants with view of the Lycabetus hill, and very accommodating personnel. The hotel is in an ideal location for catching the bus or the metro for the north suburbs of Athens (Kifisia, Marousi, Chalandri etc). Acropolis, Lycabetus hill, Syntagma square are all within 5 to 15 min taxi drive. ~€80 per night for a double bed room.
- 17 Royal Olympic Hotel, 28-34 Diakou Athanasiou, ☏ . In front of the Temple of Zeus and a few steps away from Plaka. Outdoor swimming pool, rooftop garden restaurant. Free wi fi and conference room available.
- 18 Electra Hotel, 5, Ermou str. Syntagma Square, ☏ . A 4-star property in the heart of Athens. Within walking distance from all major historical sites and the business and commercial districts.
- 19 Grande Bretagne Hotel, 1 Vasileos Georgiou A' str (North edge of Syntagma square), ☏ . Traditionally the "best hotel in town," this historic luxury hotel with gilded woods, fine fabrics and chandeliers in the public areas has long been the accommodation of choice for visiting diplomats and power players. Prices from €300.
- 20 King George Palace, 3 Vassileos Georgiou A' St, Syntagma Square, ☏ . Some rooms have a view of the Acropolis, and the Royal Presidential Suite has a private outdoor pool. The Tudor restaurant on the 7th floor has views of the Acropolis.
- 21 Holiday Inn, Attica Avenue 40.2 km, Peania (between exits 17 & 18), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Close to airport, it offers stylish rooms with Wi-Fi internet. Hotel houses the Ruby Restaurant and Golden Bar. Hotel offers complimentary gym, the sauna, indoor pool and the jacuzzi to its guest and free shuttle bus service to the airport daily but at a specific time table. €100.
- 22 Hellenic Vibes, Agias Irinis 7, Athens 105 51 (straight down the road), ☏ , [email protected]. Hellenic Vibes Smart Hotel is a brand new 5-star hotel right in the heart of rebranded Athens, with a capacity of 35 rooms and exclusive suites, is located behind the doors of an impressive neoclassical facade of the 19th century, only a few steps from Monastiraki and Agia Irini Square. €150.
As of Sept 2021, Athens has 5G from Cosmote and Vodafone, and 4G from Wind Mobile. Wifi is widely available in public places.
100 Hellenic Police
166 Hellenic Emergency Center
199 Hellenic Firefighters
112 European number of Emergency
11888 Phones menu
While Athens is generally a safe city, there have been a huge number reports of pickpockets on the Metro (especially at the interchanges with the line from the Airport), buses and in other crowded areas, including Plaka. You will notice that natives travel with their hands on their bags and pockets and keeping their bag in front rather than on their side or back, which unfortunately is not without reason. You will probably be warned about pickpockets by hotel staff and friendly waiters, but this may be too late. Be extremely cautious and divide all your documents, cards and money into different places. Street crime is rare; when it happens, it's most commonly purse-snatching from women walking away from banks and ATM machines. Violent crime against tourists is rare.
The friendly stranger bar scam has been reported from areas of central Athens frequented by tourists, including Omonia, Syntagma, and Plaka. There have been some reports of fraud. Usually, someone will stop you and ask for directions. A couple of other men then arrive claiming to be police, showing a badge (obviously a fake one). They ask if you were getting drugs from the other man and then ask for your passport and wallet for verification. While you are busy trying to convince them that your passport is valid, one of them sneaks out some money from your wallet.
Be aware of people offering you bracelets who are typically of West African (Senegalese, Gambian) origin. They will force bracelets onto your wrist or throw them at you and demand payment, typically €5. They generally congregate at the Monastiraki Square area, especially in front of Hadrian's Library. To avoid them, walk fast and away from them while avoiding eye contact and watching your hands.
Another danger is pickpocket gangs operating in buses and metro trains, especially on the Airport Express buses, at metro interchanges, and in the city-centre section of Metro Line 3 (Airport - Nikaia). As people are boarding the vehicle, a large group travelling together (who are often reported to be of various non-Greek nationalities) will divide itself into two, with half of them going on board and then stopping in the aisle to cause a jam-up among passengers trying to board through the door behind them, the other half then offering to help the jammed passengers lift their luggage on board. Just before the vehicle leaves, the half of this group on the bus gets off. Then, joining the other half outside the door, they all quickly disperse.
What has happened, of course, is that the passengers who were being "helped" with their luggage by some in this group were being pick-pocketed by others. The theft is particularly effective because it's directed at those leaving the country who are thus not likely to report it—many victims won't realise they've been robbed until they get to the airport or even until after they have got on the plane. Some visitors have claimed that certain bus drivers are party to these crimes by neglecting to open the rear door of the bus for boarding passengers, thus ensuring a tighter and more confused crowd of jammed passengers trying to board through the center door, making the criminals' job easier.
A variation of this is found in the Metro and its escalators where a gang moves in to block a part of a group so that they cannot exit the train, leaving one or two members behind and separated from the rest, thus causing confusion and giving the gang an opportunity to steal valuables. The gang may also try to split the group into individual people by "helping" with luggage or simply forcing themselves in between people on the escalators. This way, the tourists are focused on the person standing between them, trying to make sure he doesn't steal anything, while in fact there is only one gang member stealing items from the person last on the escalator.
A similar method is also used by pickpockets on the metro, where gangs of pickpockets will deliberately obstruct the path from the centre of the vehicle to the exits, and sift their hands through passengers' pockets and luggage as they attempt to push through the pickpocket gang to the exit. Pickpockets using this method generally do not distinguish between locals and tourists, and so all travellers are warned to be vigilant at all times.
It is best to wear pants with tight pockets, keeping all valuables in the front pockets. Carry all bags on the front. Inside the bag, valuables should be kept at the bottom with a piece of rustling plastic wrapper on top of the items in the bag, so that anyone reaching into it would cause noise. Zip up everything and lock if possible, and avoid bags with smooth zips, so when the gang tries to open the zip, you would feel movement.
Athens is one of the most political cities in Europe. Demonstrations and riots are common and accepted as part of everyday life and democracy by most Athenians. Keep abreast of news of demonstrations, and avoid them if you don't want to run the risk of being arrested or tear-gassed.
The football rivalry between local club Panathinaikos and Piraeus-based Olympiacos is notoriously intense, and has on occasion resulting in violent confrontations between opposing fans. To be safe, avoid wearing Olympiacos shirts while you are in Athens, especially during matchday, or it could result in you being harassed or even singled out for violence by opposing fans.
Anarchist and leftist groups often target police, government, and corporate targets during the night mainly in Exarcheia. It is unlikely that tourists would be hurt, as the anarchists usually take care to damage only property as opposed to people. Nonetheless, parking by a McDonald's, police station, or bank could result in your car being damaged.
Athenians hold negative perceptions for the areas around Omonia Square and locals advise you to avoid these areas late at night. Omonia is notorious for pickpockets and prostitutes, so keep an eye on your belongings.
There are many people who use drugs in the open even during the day and this can be a harrowing sight for those not used to it.
There are beggars and homeless people who walk around the streets asking for money or food. Often they use children as sympathy tools. A common scheme was observed when the beggar (usually a woman or a child playing some popular melody on a makeshift instrument) would deliberately use a transparent plastic container for their donations and place it unusually far from themselves causing pedestrians walking by to accidently hit it with their foot scattering all the money around. The embarassed victim is usually volountarily giving the beggar €5-10 as an apology, effectively doubling or tripling the amount of money in container. If you find yourself in such situation dont be anxious and walk away, your good manners are being abused.
Places to avoid are Vathis Square (can be populated by druggies using even at 17:00), the roads on the right of the National Archaeological Museum (almost a gathering place for the beggars of the city) and the south end of 3 September Street.
The Philopappou Hill area should be avoided at night.
The back streets of Piraeus are probably also places where its unwise to wander around late at night. Sofokleous Street (a major street south of Omonia), especially the western part near Pireos Street, has developed a reputation for crime and drugs; some Athenians will advise you to avoid it even during the daytime. Some may also argue that wandering around the Zappeio gardens and the Pedion Areos parks at night time may not be wise.
Embassies and representative offices
- Armenia, 95 Konstantinou Paleologou Ave, Khalandri, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Australia, Level 6, Thon Building, Kifissias & Alexandras Ave, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Austria, Vass. Sofias Avenue 4, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Brazil, Platia Filikis Eterias 14, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected].
- Bulgaria, Stratigou Kallari 33A, Psychiko, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Canada, Ioannou Gennadiou 4, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- China, Dimokratias 10-12, Psychiko, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Colombia, Kyprou 40, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. (Consulate).
- Croatia, Tzavela 4, Psychiko, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Cyprus, 2A Xenofontos Avenue, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Denmark, Mourouzi 10, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Egypt, 3, Vassilli Sophias Avenue, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. 08:30-16:00.
- Estonia, Messoghion Ave, Athens Tower Bldg 2-4, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Finland, Hatziyianni Mexi 5, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- France, Vass.Sofias Ave 7, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Germany, Karaoli & Dimitriou 3, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Hungary, Karneadou 25-29, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- India, Kleanthous 3, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected].
- 1 Indonesia, 99, Marathonodromon Street, 15452 Paleo Psychico, PO.BOX : 65181, ☏ , , toll-free: , [email protected].
- Ireland, Vass.Constantinou Ave 7, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- 2 Israel, Marathonodromon 1, Psychiko, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Italy, Sekeri 2, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Japan, Ethnikis Andistaseos 46, Chalandri, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Malta Embassy, Vass.Sofias Avenue 96, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Netherlands, Vass.Konstantinou Avenue 5-7, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Republic of North Macedonia, Papadiamanti 4, P. Psychico, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Norway, Vass.Sofias Ave 23, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Portugal, Vass.Sofias Ave 23, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Romania, Emmanouil Benaki 7, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected]. M and Th 9:00-15:00; Tu-W 12:00-18:00; F 9:00-13:00.
- Russia, Nikiforou Litra 28, Psychiko, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected].
- Saudi Arabia, Marathonodromon 71, Psychiko, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Serbia, 106, Vassilissis Sophias Ave, Consulate 25, Evrou St, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected].
- South Africa, Kifissias Ave 60, Maroussi, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Spain, Dionissiou Areopagitou, 21, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Sweden, Vass.Konstantinou Ave 7, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Switzerland, Iassiou 2, ☏ , , , fax: , [email protected].
- Taiwan, Leof. Marathonodromon 57, Psichiko 154 52, ☏ , [email protected].
- Turkey, Vass.Georgiou II 8, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ploutarchou 1, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- 3 United States of America, Vass.Sofias Ave 91, ☏ , , fax: , [email protected].
- Piraeus - the harbour of Athens, and Rafina (on the east coast of Attica) are the departure points for a large number of ferry services to the Greek Islands and other destinations in the eastern Mediterranean, including ports in Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Cyprus. Fast hydrofoil, catamaran or helicopter services also take you to the Greek Islands. Italy is easily approached by boat from Patras (take a train or a bus to Patras).
- The port of Lavrion in southern Attica is being increasingly developed as a ferry port, especially for (some) Cyclades routes. Rafina and, especially, Piraeus remain the main hubs for the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.
- The closest islands, suitable for a day trip from Piraeus, are in the Argosaronic (or Saronic) gulf: Hydra, Aegina, Poros, Spetses and Salamina. Kea (also pronounced Tzia) is a very nearby destination, too, less than two hours from the port of Lavrio. If what you are thinking is an island further away from Piraeus, like Paros, Naxos, Ios, Santorini or any of the Dodecanese or Northern Aegean isles, you should probably consider with extra days off Athens because of their distance from the mainland. Flying is also an option to the more distant islands.
- Day trips to the Corinth Canal, the ancient theatre at Epidaurus and to the ancient sites of Olympia, Delphi and Mycenae are easy with a rental car. Other towns along the Peloponnese such as Nafplion are charming and worthwhile.
- Sounio, Ktel bus starts from central Athens and also stop in some areas in south Athens, the ticket from the starting point costs €5 and some cents. There is one bus per hour during a day. 1 hour from central Athens by car.
- Thessaloniki, second biggest city in Greece, Larissa, Karditsa, Trikala, Kalampaba and Katerini. Tickets can be booked online in advance. From Thessaloniki, you can travel onwards to North Macedonia and Bulgaria.