Where to stay in Athens? One of the best things about Athens is that it is made up of a variety of lively neighborhoods full of local color for you to explore. It offers places to stay to suit every interest, budget, and style, with everything from Exarcheia´s urban chaos to streets full of classy cafes in Kolonaki.
Where to stay in Athens: Best areas and neighborhoods
1. Syntagma, best place to stay in Athens
This historical neighborhood offers you much in a place to stay in the ancient center of Athens. Here you will come across Syntagma Square where Greece’s parliament proudly stands. You can feel the national importance and pride of this neighborhood still.
The Syntagma Square is a center of great importance to modern day Athens and all of Greece for other reasons too. It is frequently the place where political rallies as well as protests occur. As such tourists visit the square as often as local Athenians do.
The square has many functions.The Syntagma area is also a gate to the city’s National Garden. A vast parkland filled with flowers and natural beauty, the National Garden provides visitors and locals alike with a much needed getaway from the non-stop action of Central Athens.
Within it you will encounter an impressive array of flora, a sprinkling of archaeological ruins, and a children’s library oozing with charm.
This neighborhood is recommended for historians, backpackers, active travelers, families, culture vultures, couples, first time visitors, and short stay travelers.
Besides the Syntagma Square, the classical parliament building, and the National Garden, other highlights of the neighborhood include the Zappeion, Botanical Museum in the National Gardens, the Statue of Lord Byron, Ancient Antiquities Third Ephorate, the Jewish Museum (of Greece), and the National Historic Museum .
For places to eat, drink, and stay, the area offers a mixed bag. There are a variety of hotels here ranging from simple accommodations to high end hotels. This gives you a decent range of choices for where to stay in Athens. It is not a great place to eat out though.
A few bistros and cafes front Syntagma Square. For a good drink with a great view of the Acropolis, you could go to the Roof Garden Bar found in Hotel Grande Bretagne.
2. Plaka, the most charming area to stay in Athens
An ideal location to stay in Athens as a first time traveler in the ancient city of Athens is the neighborhood of Plaka. The district lies under the Acropolis Hill’s eastern slopes and is old Athens’ heart.
Naturally this is also an extremely touristy area that is populated by many average quality tavernas and souvenir shops.
The area is also a delightful place to walk around, to wander through the narrow lanes, and to admire the pastel-colored houses. Adrianou Street, which basically separates Plaka from another district, Monastiraki, has the best shops.
For places to eat in Plaka, the oldest restaurant (self-proclaimed) is Psaras. They offer an enormous menu featuring fish and typical classic Greek dishes. The view takes in the charming steps that lead to little neighborhood Anfiotika nearby.
There are a few good boutique styled hotels here which provide you with walking distance accommodations to the impressive city attractions.
3. Kolonaki, upscale, exclusive, luxurious shopping, restaurants and nightlife
Kolonaki means the little column in Greek. This high end neighborhood offers you the best parts of all Athens’ surrounding central districts. It shares a great number of the obligatory landmarks of Syntagma, has Exarcheia’s uniqueness, and offers Psiri’s nightlife. Most every traveler will fall under the spell of the Kolonaki for a place to stay in Athens or simply to visit.
Kolonaki also offers the highest end, most sophisticated bars in the entire city. After you have finished admiring the historical attractions by day, you will want to stop back by your room to dress up and enjoy the area’s nightlife.
One beloved cocktail bar here is called Minnie the Moocher. It serves up a fantastic offering of jazz each night. Greece has developed its own version of blues called rembetika, and among the most popular area bands perform regularly in Kolonaki.
This area is ideal for couples, culture lovers, those who travel like a local, off the beaten path visitors, party people, and longer term travelers. With its area highlights, it offers a little something for most everyone.
This makes it a great place to stay in Athens. These area attractions include the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Lycabettus Hill, the Hellenic Children Museum, Adrianeos Tanks, Benaki Museum, History of Greek Costumes Museum, and Gallery 7.
Accommodations here are often pricier with luxurious, lavish hotels. There are also a number of apartments available for short term rent here that may be easier on the budget (and more suited to backpackers).
4. Monastiraki, close to everything
Monastiraki is the most ideal neighborhood base for visitors who want to learn more about the old and new Athens all at once. It is famous for its casual places to eat and flea markets, providing you with a more all inclusive picture of Greece’s capital today. This is where you can experience a more realistic slice of life for Athenian locals.
Shopping is the strength of this district. You will be awed by the number of stores and shops in Monastiraki. It is an excellent place to do your shopping for your needs while you are here as well as for keepsakes.
The best shopping day to visit Monastiraki is on Sunday. This is when the Monastiraki flea markets take over. Local venders appear in the main square and hawk their various offerings to tourists passing through.
The neighborhood also provides you with some atmosphere of ancient Greece. It is a mere 10 minutes by foot to the Acropolis and the Plaka historic district.
In its own rights, Monastiraki boasts many historical attractions based here including the Tzistarakis Mosque, Hadrian’s Library, and the Stoa of Attalos for starters. You also have the Fethiye Mosque, Andronikos of Kyrrhos’ Horologion, Monastiraki Square (and Flea Market), and the Temple of Hephaestus.
This neighborhood is most ideal for couples, historians, city and culture lovers, first time visitors, families, shopaholics, food lovers, and short stay travelers.
It provides a variety of mid-range hotels here, making it more affordable for budget conscience travelers who still want to be close to all of the great ancient Athens attractions.
5. Psiri, best area to stay in Athens for nightlife
For those who love the late nightlife, Psiri is the most ideal place to stay in Athens. The center of parties and nightlife in Athens lies surrounding Iroon Square in Psiri neighborhood’s heart.
Another appeal to Psiri for those who are only here for a day or two is that it is adjacent to Thiseio. This makes it near a great number of the must see attractions of Athens.
Psiri always has something going on as the capital’s most exciting night spot neighborhood. This ranges from live band performances in bars to special guests or parties at the various nightclubs.
The district also offers you scores of unique shops to explore. You may decide that the Monastiraki Flea Market is too ordinary for your tastes. The independent stores here will undoubtedly provide you with something more unique.
As the nightlife center of Athens, Psiri’s bars and restaurants remain open late into the night (which is the Greek way in any case). By day or night, Psiri always feels laid back and relaxed.
This is what makes it ideal for people who love to party, travel like a local or off the beaten path, enjoy culture and city life, and who enjoy adventures or backpacking.
Neighborhood highlights in Psiri include the Emporikon Theater, Iroon Square, Theatro Kofon Ellados, Boiler Bar, Spinster Bar, Athens Escape Room, The Clumsies Bar, Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea, Museum of Greek Gastronomy, and the Statue of Pericles.
Another appeal of Psiri is that it offers a variety of budget options for accommodations. These range from basic and affordable on up to boutique styled hotels. Psiri could be one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Athens, particularly if you love the nightlife scene.
6. Exarchia, bohemian atmosphere and affordable accommodation
The district of Exarchia lies just outside of the historical center of Athens yet definitely remains in the downtown area. Exarchia has the enduring reputation as the place where the Athens Polytechnic Uprising occurred in 1973. Yet today, the neighborhood has changed completely.
It is clearly holding on to its unique and powerful personality though. Today Exarcheia has embraced the cafe culture in favor of the old anarchist movements. You can still participate in one of many graffiti tours through the district that show off the rough past of the area alongside the flourishing talent of its artists.
There is also a farmer’s market held on the weekend in Kallidromiou Street. This is an excellent location for mixing with the local inhabitants and witnessing their way of life. The street remains the cultural center of this neighborhood. Many friends meet here to go out.
Exarcheia has a number of area highlights like the Epigraphic Museum, the Farmer’s Market, Kallidromious Street, Strefi Hill Park, the National Archaeological Museum, Opap Play Casino, Navarinou Park, and the Street Art Tours.
It is ideal for adventure loving travelers, backpackers, culture and city lovers, travel like a local visitors, off the beaten path visitors, couples, and digital nomads.
Anyone who may be staying in Athens longer term who does not want to live like a tourist for their stay will feel comfortable here. For them it is an ideal place to stay in Athens. The district also offers many affordable accommodations, including mid- range hotels and choices of short term to long term rental apartments.
7. Koukaki and Anfiotika, charming areas in Athens near the Akropolis
Koukaki and Anfiotika are two unique and contrasting areas. The neighborhood of Koukaki is a university and residential area. This makes it comparatively quiet to many of the more bustling Greek capital neighborhoods.
The Philopappou Hill Park allows for you to enjoy a climb atop a hill to take in fabulous views of the city of Athens.
Anfiotika is often called a neighborhood in a neighborhood. Constructed in the 1800s, its settlers arrived from the Anafi Island in the Cyclades Islands group. They arrived in the capital seeking work and built up their own little part of Athens resembling the Cyclades more than the capital.
This includes whitewashed boxy appearing houses that front streets which are more like staircases winding their way along the Acropolis slopes.
As a university area and residential area, Koukaki offers more rental apartments than hotels for travelers. It proves an ideal base for those who want to take in a more typical slice of Greek capital life that is also quieter than many other areas.
8. Gazi, great nightlife
A rival to Psiri for nightlife, Gazi has a dual personality. During the day it is post-millennial art, design, and techno neighborhood. At night, its wilder side shines late through the night.
Technopolis is based here. This is a one-time gasworks that was converted into a multi-use arts and entertainment center. You will find countless bars, restaurants, and dance clubs here in and around the Technopolis. The streets are alive with the celebrations of partiers long past dark.
Gazi lies within the Kerameikos district, so it uses both names interchangeably. There is also an ancient world Greek/Roman cemetery here that was utilized through the 500s AD (but only rediscovered within the 1800s).
This spot offers great peace for walks and a little museum. The name Kerameikos stems from the long-time connection to industry. The area got its name from potters who established themselves here more than 3,000 years ago.
Gazi more recently acquired its name from the gasworks that the city abandoned back in the 1970s and turned into an unusual center for revels.
There are a variety of places to eat and stay here. Besides franchise restaurants and overcrowded bistros, Kanella offers a modern styled taverna that provides typical Greek specialties along with the copious amounts of alcohol. It is home cooking styled food.
You could also spend a fortune at the two-Michelin star restaurant the Funky Gourmet. It is modern cuisine at its best.
Hotels here range from budget to higher end. This makes it an affordable place when you are looking for the best areas to stay in Athens.
9. Glyfada, great area to stay in Athens in sommer
Glyfada is something unique as an upper class Athens Riviera resort. This resort town counts Greek politicians, tycoons, and foreign oligarchs among its visitors. They come here for the sun, sand, and sea that lie only a brief drive away from Athens the capital.
The resort is really luxurious. It offers a number of private beaches, a golf course, trendy cocktail bars, and luxury shops and boutiques. The enclave also delivers enough restaurants, shops, and nightlife to keep you from having to go into Athens proper at all (except to see the sights of course).
Glyfada really delivers if you are shopping for something special, particularly for a smaller resort enclave that still offers massive selections of stores. Among the brands you will easily find here are Zara, H&M, Gap, Boss Menswear, Mango, Tommy Hilfiger, Marks & Spencer, Sephora, Pull and Bear, and Claire’s to name a few.
They are sprinkled in with the local designer shops and boutiques. When you are ready for a break from the dazzling array of shops, you can try visiting the Sea Turtle Rescue Center here.
You can also easily access neighboring towns from Glyfada if you get bored. Nearby lies Vari with its enormous restaurants featuring grilled meat. Vouliagmeni has developed into a spa resort along its beautiful natural lake. It enchants visitors who take the time to come see it.
Hotels, restaurants, and bars are all very chic and expensive in Glyfada as you might reasonably expect. The choices of accommodations are mostly limited to high end, luxury resorts and boutique hotels. Tourists who are used to luxurious surroundings will find this an excellent choice for where to stay in Athens.
10. Piraeus, great seafood restaurants
Long ago, Piraeus was Athens’ naval port. Today’s modern city is within the Athens’ conurbation. In fact it only takes a short metro ride to reach Piraeus from Athens proper. The waterfront of Piraeus features two round natural harbors containing narrow, protected openings.
Modern buildings run back from the harbors. You can still take in some of the ancient shipyard ruins by walking to the Bay of Zea. This is a stark contrast to the immediately adjacent luxury yachts floating beside them.
A site to take in here to learn more about Piraeus’ past is the Archaeological Museum. This is world class, with its ancient theater ruins and stunning bronze statues that they rescued from the water off the coast of the town back in 1959. It promises to delight visitors of all ages.
Piraeus retains its thousands of years’ role as the primary destination port for Aegean Islands. If you want to go on a day trip to the islands, you can board one of the fast hydrofoils to reach three of the closer island destinations such as Hydra, Aphaia, and Seriphos.
Besides this, Piraeus offers routine ferry routes and service to over 20 individual Greek islands from its port (Port of Piraeus).
The town is also justifiably famous for its seafood offered. Athenians think of the town first when they are looking for fresh seafood or fish. The downside is that seafood here is expensive.
The choices come from all across Greece and daily arrive into the port. The many restaurants in Piraeus and Athens look to the port for their fresh seafood offerings.
An excellent spot in Piraeus to go for seafood choices is Mikrolimano. Here the seafood restaurants are lined up, and the waiters compete to interest you in their place. It is important to know that the restaurant prices here are generally high.
If you are trying to eat on a budget and still want good seafood, you can go to Kastella on its hill overlooking the harbor. Another affordable alternative is Chatzikiriakio, a little quarter that is next to the naval academy (and southeast of the port).
Dishes that you should try are barbounia (fried red mullet), lavraki (grilled whole bass) cooked in lemon, gavros tiganitos (fried anchovies), and sardines served on Greek grilled sourdough bread.
Piraeus also has several other interesting attractions that will delight many visitors. There is an electric railway museum here and the Hellenic Maritime Museum.
When you are looking for a respite from the traffic ridden streets of Piraeus, you should make it a point to visit the Kastella neighborhood. This enchanting area lies to the northwest of Mikrolimano.
Visitors find this to be the most beautiful part of Piraeus. Kastella lies on a hillside and features lovely mansions dating back to the 1800s. You will quickly see that this area had a financially successful past.
Going up such charming streets as Vaileos Pavlou, Irakleous, Falireos, and Foskolou you will be able to take in refreshing views of the sea and Piraeus spread below.
The view from the Church of the Prophet Elias allows you to see almost 20 miles (around 30 kilometers) down to Vouliagmeni the coastal town. The pine and olive trees around the church make you feel like you are walking through a little garden.
Piraeus offers a range of hotels from which you can choose from mid to higher end. There are not many budget friendly options here, but some rental apartments will be more affordable. Still this is an interesting choice for a different kind of place to stay in Athens.
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