Athens is the capital of Greece and it’s one of the oldest cities in the world. Staying in Athens will give you the opportunity to explore some amazing museums, neighborhoods and some of the best cultural events in Europe. But if you are wondering where to stay in Athens, then this is your ultimate guide with the best hotels and neighborhoods.
With a history of more than 5000 years, Athens is one of the most culturally and history rich cities in Europe with lots of cute neighbourhoods, picturesque restaurants and lots of interesting things to do and explore. But as in every big city, you need to know where to stay so that you make your trip as efficient as possible and maximize your time in such an interesting city.
I was born in Athens and lived there for more than 25 years, so I will give you all the secrets and tips below.
So…let’s dive in or click below quickly:
- Best Area Overall
- Best Area For Sightseeing
- Best Area for Families
- Best Area for Young Couples
- Best Area on a Budget
- Why Stay in Athens afer all?
- How Many Days Do You Need in Athens
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VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW ABOUT ATHENS
- Best Area To Stay in Athens: Plaka is the best area to stay in Athens (see hotels in Plaka) but also Kolonaki, Petralona, Monastiraki and Koukaki are all great and safe areas to stay. Plaka is definitely the most touristic area but it is also the most picturesque of them all. Avoid areas such as Exarcheia, Gyzi, Plateia Vathis, Kypseli, Omonoia Square as they are considered less safe.
- Best Hotel in Athens: Coco-Mat Athens BC
- Best Luxury Hotel in Athens: Hotel Grande Bretagne
- Best Budget Hotel in Athens: Plaka Hotel
- Best City Villa in Athens: Athenee Residence by K&K
- Safest place to stay in Athens: Plaka, Kolonaki, Koukaki, Monastiraki and all the areas around Acropolis (Thission, Petralona, Filopappou) are considered super safe. Syntagma Square is not so safe as it is usually the epicentre of demonstrations and riots. Also, Exarcheia, Kypseli, Gyzi and Omonoia are less safe. They are definitely worth your visit though!
- How many days do you need in Athens: if you are in a rush, 2 nights in Athens should be ok, but if you want to explore the city more, then I suggest you spend 4-5 nights. But in general you will be better off visiting a greek island and spend more time on the beach!
- How to Move Around in Athens: if you stay in Plaka, Monastiraki, Koukaki, Petralona, Thission or Kolonaki then everything will be in 30 mins walking distance but if you really want to move around then you should hop on the Athens Metro which is very safe, clean and reliable
- Best Neighbourhood in Athens: Plaka, Monastiraki, Kolonaki, Petralona, Koukaki, Filopappou and Thission
- What is the best area to stay in Athens on a budget: You can find excellent amazing budget hotels even Plaka or even around Acropolis temple. Athens is a very budget friendly city and you can find a great appartment / flat in the center of Athens with less than 50 euros per night! Kolonaki and Plaka areas in general are more expensive though.
- What is the best area for nightlife in Athens: Gazi and Keramikos are the nightlife centres of Athens but you will find lots of cute bars and wine restaurants behind Syntagma Square (Kolonakiou Square)
- Where to Stay in Athens with family: Plaka and Kolonaki are great options as they are both very safe and quiet residential areas
- Is it safe to walk in Athens at night? Yes, in general it is as long as you avoid certain areas (Areas around Omonoia Square, Gyzi, Exarcheia, Syggrou Street etc). I have never felt threatened in Athens but common sense should be applied everywhere you travel…
So, let’s start with the basics…
Why would you want to stay in Athens?
There are 2 main reasons why you would want to stay in Athens for a few days:
- It has some of the most significant archaeological sites, museums and cultural events in the world
- You are frlying from outside of Europe (like the US, Canada or Australia) and Athens is your stop before taking a flight or a ferry to an island like Santorini, Mykonos or Crete
How Many Days do you really need in Athens?
Athens is a city of more than 4 million people and it will be quite naive to think that you can explore all of its neighbourhoods and areas in a few days.
So, here is my suggestion for Athens:
- If you are heading to one of the greek islands (like Santorini or Mykonos), this is your first time in Greece and you only include Athens because your flight doesn’t go directly to an island then you only need to stay 2 nights in Athens. You will then see the basics like Acropolis, Plaka, Monastiraki and Syntagma Square and then…you will be off to a marvellous sunny island!
- If you really want to dive into the history of Greece and Athens while visiting more areas and neighbourhoods then I suggest you stay at least 4 nights in Athens. You will then be able to visit less touristic areas, visit more hidden museums and also take a ride to the marvellous Athens Riviera seaside areas (southern suburbs like Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, Varkiza)
- If you are really NOT interested at all in visiting museums, archaeological sites, cultural events (such as the famous summer Greek Festival) and you can’t wait for the time you will be next to a pool or a beach bar then DO NOT STAY AT ALL in Athens. Yes, it’d be nice to spend a few days there but you will be bored to death and at the end it will feel like a waste of time since you will only have limited time in Greece in total. You should rather spend more days at an island or any oher beach side resort.
I will be honest with you and admit that Athens is not the most beautiful city in the world. Yes, there are beautiful neighbourhoods (like Plaka, Monastiraki, Anafiotika, Psyri etc) but the city was developed wthout any proper planning and urban design back in the 50’s , 60’s and 70’s. Also, bear in mind that apart from the areas that are directly linked to archaeological sites and/or museums the centre of Athens hasn’t seen much love and it is surprisingly the less developed area of the city and it would feel degraded and abandoned if it wasn’t for the tourists… To understand that you need to ask any young greek living in Athens why nobody actually would choose to live in downtown Athens but everyone prefers the suburbs. Most big businesses are also outside of Athens.
1. Best Area To Stay In Athens (overall): Plaka
The best area to stay in Athens is Plaka neighbourhood.
Plaka is situated very close to the famous Acropolis temple, the Acropolis Museum, Syntagma Square, Ermou shopping district, the bars and clubs of Gazi and Syntagma Square and of course the greek Parliament.
If you have ever seen a picture from Athens, then chances are it was from Plaka…
The thing with Plaka is that you won’t find large chain hotels and resorts but rather smaller (and cuter) boutique hotels and apartments.
While staying in Plaka, you will be in 20 mins walking distance from all major attractions in Athens, so location wise it is perfect.
Other safe and cute areas in Athens that you can definitely stay and explore:
- Kolonaki: the oldest residential posh area in Athens with lots of boutique shops and bars
- Monastiraki: a buzzing square close to Plaka with lots of greek restaurants and small shops
- Koukaki: a quiet residential area very close to Acropolis but less touristic (lots of modern b&b’s in Athens are here)
- Syntagma Square: the main Athens square opposite the greek parliament that traditionally has some of the most luxury hotels of the city (I do not recomment staying there as most of the riots and demonstrations take place there)
- Psiri: it used to be full of brothels and of-laws but it’s now a very casual place full of theatres and boutique restaurants (people call it the “Soho of Athens”)
- Gazi / Keramikos: once the Gas Production factory of the city it’s now a hippy area where lots of artists prefer to live; it is also the neighbourhood with the liveliest clubs and bars of Athens
2. Best Areas to Stay for Sightseeing in Athens
The great thing about Athens is that all major attractions are within 30 mins walking distance between each others. So…that’s great!
If you stay in Plaka, Koukaki, Syntagma, Kolonaki, Psiri and around the Acropolis Temple in areas such as Thission, Filopappou or Petralona then you are within 20-30mins walking distance from any major attraction in Athens.
The main attractions in Athens are (in no particular order):
- Acropolis temple (Google Maps)
- Acropolis Museum (Google Maps)
- National Arcaeological Museum of Athens (Google Maps)
- Syntagma Square & the Greek Parliament (Google Maps)
- Walk on Ermou Street (Google Maps)
- Wander in Plaka neighbourhood (Google Maps)
- Walk at Filopappou Hill (Google Maps)
- Thission and Ancient Agora (Google Maps)
- Nightlife in Gazi (Google Maps)
- Nightlife behind Syntagma Square (Google Maps)
- Benaki Museum (Google Maps)
- Museum of Cycladic Art (Google Maps)
- Panathenaic Stadium (Google Maps)
- Cape Sounion (Google Maps)
3. Where To Stay with Family in Athens
Plaka neighbourhood is also the best area to stay in Athens with your family. It is super safe, very quiet and you will have everything at your doorstep.
Apart from Plaka, other great areas to stay with your family in Athens are: Kolonaki and Petralona. They are both safe and quiet residential neighbourhoods.
4. Best Area For Young Couples in Athens
Plaka is considered the most romantic and cute neighbourhood but it may feel very touristic sometimes.
The perfect area to stay in Athens for a young couple is Plaka and the Filopappou area. This is becasue they are both very cute, quiet nad in close proximity to all attractions and romantic walks.
BUT if you are not the romantic type and you just want a chilled area that won’t break the bank then stay at Koukaki area (see it on Google Maps).
Koukaki doesn’t have the cute alleys that Plaka has but it has lots of perfect flats with even 30-40 euros per night and it is very close to all main attractions and museums. It is also a safe residential area with lots of good restaurants around.
Apart form the romanic dinners under the stars with Acropolis views one of the most romantic things you can actually do (only in the summer months though between June – September) is to watch a movie under the stars at an Open Air Cinema. This is one of the most famous ones in Athens:
5. Best Area To Stay in Athens on a Budget
The best area to stay in Athens on a budget is Koukaki. The area is not that touristic as Plaka is and it has hundreds of available flats you can book on booking.com.
Koukaki is a safe and quiet residential area in the centre of Athens. It has lots of cute traditional greek restaurants to eat from (though not the cutest or with the best views) but most importantly it will give you the opportunity to walk everywhere.
You can literally walk to the best bars of Athens and you can go back home without calling an UBER!
How cool is that for a European capital?
The prices there are considerably lower than in Plaka and Kolonaki and you can easily find a 1-bed flat for about 40 euros per night even during the high season (May-October).
Athens is an amazing city with a million things to do and amazing cultural sites with thousands of years of history.The best area to stay in Athens is Plaka neighbourhood which is also the most touristic but also the cutest of them all. You can also stay in areas such as Koukaki, Kolonaki, Monastiraki, Petralona or Filpappou. If you want to stay at one of the most unique hotels in Athens then stay at Coco-Mat Athens BC. If you only have limited time in Greece then don’t spend more than 2 nights in Athens and that only if it’s your frst time in Greece. Yes, I love Athens as it’s my birth city but I truly believe that you will be better off if you spend your precious days on a greek island.
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