Is Athens Safe to Visit? A Local’s 2022 Guide

Is Athens Greece safe? Safety is likely to be one thing at the forefront of your mind when planning a trip to any new city and visiting the Greek capital is no different.

In short, Athens is a very safe place to visit provided that you use the same common sense here as you would when traveling around any other city. But safety is a very personal thing and keeping safe in Athens is a little more complex than a simple yes/no answer.

This article covers everything that you need to know to ensure that your trip to the Greek capital is wonderful and trouble-free. It has been written by someone who has lived in Athens for close to five years (me!) and who knows the city and its various districts extremely well.

Falling in Love with Athens  

Is Athens safe?

Athens is arguably one of the most underrated cities in Europe. It offers a wonderful blend of old meets new with its world-famous archaeological sites, contemporary museums, a varied nightlife scene, incredible Athenian restaurants, and modern city living.

Most people that visit the Greek capital barely scratch the surface in terms of all the things it has to offer. You could easily dedicate an entire week (or two!) to exploring Athens and its surroundings.

However, for most people, Athens is a place to spend a couple of days before jetting off to the Greek islands. Not only are Athenian landmarks and historic sites such as the Acropolis, the Roman Agora, and Anafiotika Plaka a must-visit, it is the different neighborhoods of Athens, each with their unique personalities, that give the city its charm.

If you want to hang out in a leafy, artsy neighbourhood beneath the shadow of the Acropolis, where the streets are lined with independent art galleries and quirky coffee shops, head to Koukaki. This area was recently voted as being one of the very best Airbnb neigbourhoods in the world and is known locally as the ¨Little Paris¨ of Athens due to the artsy creative vibe it exudes.

If you are looking to shop at luxury boutique stores owned by local Greek designers and renowned global fashion houses, head to Kolonaki. This area is known as the Beverly Hills of Athens and is one of the most upscale districts in the country.

There is so much more to Athens than initially meets the eye. Millions of people venture here every year and the vast majority of visits are trouble-free. For the most part, Athens is a safe city. 

Athens Safety Statistics

The New Acropolis Museum, Athens
The New Acropolis Museum, Athens

Greece is a very safe country to travel to. Tourists are very unlikely to experience any major crime or violence and instances of violence and sexual assault in Greece are low.

Crime rates have been in decline since 2010. When you review the data, the risks of being a victim of crime in Athens are very low considering the city’s size. 

The biggest issue in Athens is petty crime, rather than anything sinister. There are certain parts of the city where the risk of being a victim of crime is heightened.

You should be extra vigilant in the neighbourhoods of Omonia, Exarchia, Monastiraki, Syntagma, and Patissia – especially at night. People committing acts of petty theft often work in groups.

One person will try to get your attention by showing you some trick or another while their accomplice sneaks into your bag. This is something to be aware of.

However, this is something that exists in virtually every large city and isn’t something that is exclusive to Athens. Always watch your bag and your personal belongings on the metro and in crowded marketplaces such as the Varvakios Agora.

Is Athens Safe?

Is Athens safe?
Beautiful Anafiotika, Athens

For the most part, Athens is a very safe city. A few things to consider before your trip, as well as a few tips on how to make sure your Athens vacation is safe and trouble-free, are detailed below.

Consider taking a walking tour

Is Athens safe?
Is Athens safe?

A walking tour is a good way to get your bearings in any new city. In Athens, this can help you get a feel for the Greek capital and its various neighborhoods.

You will discover places that you would likely not have stumbled across while walking around independently. Similarly, having an Athens expert guide on hand means that you have someone to ask for recommendations on the best places to eat, drink and hang out in Athens.

A selection of reputable Athens tours is detailed below for your consideration. It is a good idea to reserve your spot online in advance to avoid disappointment.

Demonstrations and political protests in Athens

Is Athens safe?
Is Athens safe?

Political protests and demonstrations are regular occurrences in Greece. In 2018, 1300 protests were documented in Athens and its vicinity.

Most demonstrations are peaceful. However, you should avoid them where possible, and leave the area if you note a crowd gathering. 

There are a couple of annual demonstrations that you should be aware of. These events have a tendency to turn violent.

Anarchist groups often clash with the police in a sea of Molotov cocktails and tear gas. You should avoid Omonia and Monastiraki on the 17th of November, which marks the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising.

If you can, avoid the entire city centre (including Syntagma) on the 6th of December. This date marks the anniversary of the shooting of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Exarchia and usually sees clashes between the Greek police and members of the public.

The terrorism threat in Athens 

Is Athens safe?
Is Athens safe?

Official sources state that the terrorist threat in Athens is moderate but this is an overall generalisation for Europe, rather than a concern about the risk of terrorist activity taking place in Greece. In recent years, there have been a couple of incidents where IEDs have targeted political embassies, large companies, and centres of economic importance.

These attacks have not targeted tourists. Although the risk of a terrorist attack targeting tourists and locals cannot be ruled out, it is extremely unlikely.

Driving in Athens

Is Athens safe?
Is Athens safe?

You may want to rent a car in Greece if you want to take day trips from Athens to nearby areas. For instance, cape Sounion, Delphi, or Nafplio.

Driving in Greece gives you a lot of freedom. However, you should keep in mind that road safety in Greece is a different ballgame from that in the US or the UK.

Greece has one of the highest rates of road fatalities in Europe. It is not uncommon to see drivers that do not wear seatbelts or motorcycle riders without helmets.

Speeding, driving drunk, and the use of mobile phones while driving are frustratingly common. You should be extra mindful of other drivers if you plan on exploring Athens and its surroundings by car.  

If you are only planning to explore Athens and the Riviera during your trip, it is not really necessary to rent a car. Public transport here is excellent and getting around congested Greek cities can be a nightmare.

You only really need a car if you are planning to venture out further afield across the Greek mainland. Always purchase insurance and inspect the vehicle when you pick it up.

Tourist scams do happen occasionally 

Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens

Tourist scams in Athens are not unheard of. Tricks and scams are especially common in touristic areas such as Plaka, Thissio, and Makrygianni. 

Restaurant Scams 

If you dine at a tavern in central Athens, always double-check the prices. Never sit at a restaurant where the menu doesn’t have prices displayed as the owner will make them up on the spot! Sometimes the final bill comes to a completely different amount. 

Being overcharged or short-changed is not uncommon in tourist areas. If you find that an item that you haven’t ordered has found its way onto the table, send it back! You will be charged for that too. 

Taxi Scams 

Athens is rife with taxi scams and the local authorities are really trying to crack down on it. Order cabs via the BEAT app if you can, rather than hailing a yellow cab on the street.

If you take a street taxi, make sure that they use the meter. It is not unusual for Cab Drivers to take you on a roundabout route through the city. 

Scams at the Roman Agora 

The “New” Acropolis Museum

You will find a lot of toots loitering around the Roman and Ancient Agoras. They will offer to show you a magic trick or make you a bracelet then demand money. Give them a firm NO and be on your merry way. 

A few common-sense considerations to keep in mind for your Athenian adventure are detailed below. A lot of this advice is good practice for wherever you travel. 

Always watch your belongings 

Is Athens safe?

The main safety concern that you will face in Athens is the risk of pickpocketing. Always be mindful of your possessions – especially in crowds, when taking the metro, or in the neighbourhoods of Omonia and Exarchia. 

Don’t flash your cash and keep your expensive belongings out of sight. That means no fancy DSLR camera hanging around your neck, and no phone hanging out of your pocket on the metro. 

If you are alone in a coffee shop or a bus/train station and you need to use the restroom, ask a waiter or a station guard to watch your things. You can also consider purchasing specific anti-theft bags and luggage that boast additional zips, locks, and RFID technology.

Backpacks and money belts like those offered by Pacsafe boast safety factors that other backpacks simply do not have. They come with TSA-approved locks and are made from materials that are both splash-proof and waterproof.

Most pickpockets are looking for an easy grab. As such, theft-proof luggage gives you extra peace of mind. 

Ensure that you have comprehensive travel insurance 

It is prudent to ensure that you have comprehensive travel insurance before you travel anywhere. Athens is no exception.

It is an unfortunate reality that accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere. The cost of medical treatment overseas is usually exorbitant. 

What to look for in insurance policies

Look for a travel insurance policy that offers at least $ 1 million worth of medical coverage. You should look for policies that also include repatriation and cancellation.

Make sure that you always have your travel insurance details with you – even if you just write down the policy name and reference number. If you need treatment or assistance, you will be asked for your policy number first and foremost. 

Know which areas are less safe

Is Athens safe?
Is Athens safe?

There are a few areas in Athens that require extra vigilance. As a tourist, it can be hard to know when one district starts and another begins. Try to avoid Patisia, Exarchia, and Omonia at night.

Many unsavory types loiter in Monastiraki square in the evenings so be aware of your surroundings. Never walk alone at night, especially after drinking. 

Exarchia has a bad reputation and is often linked to anarchist groups. By day, this is quite an interesting alternative district.

The streets of Exarchia are filled with rock bars, vinyl record shops, and politically motivated street art. By night, it is best avoided. Exarchia should be avoided during political demonstrations. 

Make a note of important contacts 

Is Athens safe?
Is Athens safe?

Most visits to Athens are trouble-free. Hopefully, your trip will be too!

Regardless, it is always worth noting down emergency contacts “just in case”. Useful contact information is detailed below for your reference.

  • Emergency services – 112

  • Hellenic police – 100

  • Athens tourism police – 1571 

  • Domestic violence hotline – 15900

  • Racial crime reporting – 11414 

There is a strong police presence in Central Athens. Tourism Police have a uniform that specifies “Tourism Police” on their uniforms. 

Note down your embassy’s contact details 

It is always worth noting the details of your country’s embassy when you travel. The embassy information for British and American travellers is provided below. 

British Embassy in Athens 

Address: Ploutarchou 1, Athina 106 75, Greece

Embassy Reception:+30 21 0727 2600

American Embassy in Athens 

Address: Leof. Vasilissis Sofias 91, Athina 115 21, Greece

Embassy citizen services: +30-210-720-2414

Embassy Reception: +30-210-720-2490

Carry a copy of your passport 

Travellers to Greece should carry a form of identification with them at all times. If you prefer not to keep your passport with you all day, consider making a photocopy.

Keep a photocopy of your passport in your handbag, and keep the original locked in your hotel safe. It is worth making a couple of copies just in case. 

Be careful with your money and bank cards

Businesses in Greece are required to have a POS machine. However, cash is still the preferred payment method.

Try to limit how much cash you have with you. Divide your funds between your hotel safe, and your backpack.

Ensure that money is kept in a secure wallet or money belt. It is a good idea to carry one card with you and keep the other, and some emergency funds, hidden deep in your suitcase.

Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, the National Bank of Greece, and HSBC are the main banking chains in Greece. Try to use official ATM machines where you can.

Non-official machines may have been tampered with. Keep a copy of your card numbers handy, and write down your bank’s lost/stolen card helpline.

It is good to always be prepared for “worst-case” scenarios. Opting to travel with a borderless bank account can prevent you from having to pay fees every time you make a purchase or a withdrawal.

Download the BEAT Taxi App for emergencies 

Athens has an excellent public transport network. Trains and buses run to all areas of the city.

The network even extends to Piraeus, the Northern Suburbs, Vouliagmeni, and the Athens Riviera. That said, in case of instances where you are lost or miss the last train, it is worth having BEAT installed on your phone. 

BEAT is Greece’s answer to Uber and it is a quick and convenient way to call a taxi. This is arguably the best way to order taxis as the app tells you the price upfront. That way, you don’t have to negotiate with the cab driver and you have less chance of getting ripped off.  

Avoid Filopappou Hill at night 

Filopappou Hill
Filopappou Hill

Filopappou Hill boasts incredible city panoramas and Acropolis views. The walk to the top is pleasant during the day and takes you past some other notable sites.

Socrates’ prison and the quaint church of Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris both sit on the slopes of Filopappou. The latter is one of the most quirky and unique churches in Athens.

By day, the Filopappou complex is fine. You will see a lot of Athenians meeting for an alfresco coffee and an afternoon stroll on their lunch breaks.

By night this area should be avoided. There have been several incidents and robberies reported here in recent years. 

Carry a business card from your hotel 

It is always useful to carry a business card from your hotel. This will contain the property’s hotel and address.

You can show this to cab drivers when you need to order a taxi. Most Greeks speak a good level of English but this is useful in case there is any confusion when communicating your address.

Enjoy your trip 

Is Athens safe?

It is easy to worry about safety matters when you travel. Athens does experience some petty crime but that is no different from other cities.

Take all of the advice above into account, but focus on drafting out your itinerary and enjoying your trip. You are travelling to the birthplace of ancient civilization, and one of the most beautiful and welcoming countries in the Mediterranean! 

Is Athens Greece Safe? FAQs and Additional Considerations 

Do you still have any questions or concerns about safety in Athens, Greece? Hopefully, you will find the answers that you are looking for below. 

Is it safe to walk in Athens at night?

As a rule of thumb, you should generally avoid walking alone at night in any major city. However, Greece has a very unique nighttime culture that differs from that found in other parts of Europe. 

For instance, Greeks will often go out for dinner as late as 10 or 11 o’clock at night. Athenians make the most of their evenings and free time and you will find people sitting outside of cocktail bars, tavernas, and coffee shops until as late as 1 or 2 am on almost every night of the week. 

So, the city is much more alive in the evenings and at night. It isn’t the same as walking down desolate, empty streets at night in other cities when everything is closed.

Still, you should be cautious. If you are walking around the main streets in areas like Makrygianni, Ermou street, Koukaki, and Thissio in the evening, you will notice that there are always lots of people around.

If you are anywhere in the city alone after having a few drinks, you should call a cab using Taxi BEAT. Areas like Omonia, Exarchia, Metaxourgio, and Patisia are a little rough around the edges and although you can find some low-cost accommodation options here, you should never walk alone at night.

Similarly, you often find gangs of undesirable types hanging around Monastiraki square and Psiri in the evenings. Use common sense, and you will be fine.

Is Athens safe for female tourists?

Athens is very safe for female tourists. As is Greece in general. (This entire website is written by a solo female traveller based in Greece).

Violent crime in Greece is very rare and most people that you will encounter are warm, friendly, and hospitable. Since Athens is such a major tourist destination and a popular jump-off point for a wider Greece itinerary, it is very easy to meet other travellers here.

Greece is a patriarchal country and some people do have outdated views of women and gender roles. However, that is not something that is likely to affect you as someone who is just spending one or two days in Athens.

Greek men are often more forward than men in some western countries and you may experience people looking at you or approaching you. Generally, though, this is far from aggressive and people do not have bad intentions. If you let them know you are not interested, they will leave you be. 

Is walking around Athens safe?

Walking around Athens is very safe. When you visit the city, you can base yourself in one of the central districts (like Psyri or Koukaki) and explore the entire city centre on foot without having to take cabs or public transport.

There are no dangerous, no-go areas in Athens. You don’t have to worry about accidentally walking into a sketchy area. There are also lots of great hikes in Athens that you can do – both urban trails and treks through the local woodlands to hidden waterfalls, quaint monasteries, and abandoned mansions. 

What is the safest part of Athens?

Athens on the whole is very safe. You will be safe here whether you choose to stay in a quiet residential neighbourhood or in a central district.

Still, there are a few places that stand out above the crowd when deciding where to stay in Athens. Namely, they are Makrygianni, Petralona, Koukaki, Kolonaki, Kifissia, Paleo Faliro, and Thissio. 

Are taxis in Athens safe?

Taxis in Athens are very safe. The only thing that you need to be concerned about is that some drivers may try and overcharge you because they assume that as a tourist, you do not know the correct prices. 

If you take Greek taxis that you hail on the street or at the airport, always make sure that the driver has the meter on. (If they do not turn it on, they will probably make up some exorbitant price at the end of your journey).

The Taxi BEAT app is good. It connects you with local licensed cab drivers and displays the price and route before you get in the vehicle so there are no surprises.

Can we drink tap water in Athens?

The tap water in Athens (and most of Greece) is safe to drink. Most locals drink and cook with it and using it works out more economical (and better for the environment) than purchasing bottled water.

Is Athens safe to visit alone?

Anafiotika Athens
Anafiotika Athens

Provided that you use the same common sense as you would when travelling anywhere, Athens is a very safe place to visit alone. You can use platforms like Meetup, Couchsurfing, and Bumble BFF to meet fellow travellers, or even create a post in a Greek travel Facebook group.

Plenty of people travel to Athens independently and similarly, plenty of international ex-pats live in Athens and wider Greece. Locals are accustomed to seeing independent male and female travellers so rest assured, you will neither stand out nor be hassled for visiting the city solo.

Where to Stay 

Is Athens Safe?

This comprehensive guide on where to stay in Athens details all of the various neighbourhoods in the city. It discusses what they have to offer, and the best hotels in the area for each budget. 

If you are limited on time, or you are visiting the city for the first time, opting to choose a hotel with a central location means that you are in the heart of the action. Not to mention, this way you don’t have a long trek to reach tourist sites like the Acropolis. 

The neighbourhoods of Psiri, Plaka, Makrygianni, and Koukaki are all good choices in central Athens. Try to avoid staying in Monastiraki, Omonia, or Exarchia if you can as these areas are not ideal for walking back to your hotel at night.

Psiri and Plaka place you in the heart of the old part of town, surrounded by lively tavernas and bouzouki bars. Koukaki and Makrygianni sit in the shadow of the Acropolis, however, they are more low-key and peaceful.

Here you can find quaint coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, and crowded piazzas filled with locals sipping Elliniko kafes (traditional Greek coffee). In recent years, Koukaki has been recognised as being one of the very best Airbnb districts in the world.

That being said, it is not overly gentrified. From a safety perspective, this gives you some additional assurances as there are always plenty of people around, day and night.

A selection of some of the best places to base yourself is provided below. There is something in Athens for every budget. 

Luxury Choice:
AthensWas Hotel 

Where: Dionysiou Areopagitou 5, Athina 117 42, Greece

The AthensWas Hotel is a great choice if you want to travel in style. The contemporary design hotel sits on Dionysiou Areopagitou street.

This is one of the main pedestrianised streets in the city that is filled with excellent shopping and dining choices. From here, you are just a five-minute walk from the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus.

Each of the rooms at AthensWas is tastefully decorated with plush modern furnishings and pieces of Greek art. Guests can enjoy a generous a la carte breakfast from their private balconies.

The Sense bar and restaurant that sits on top of AthensWas is one of the best rooftop bars in town. Furthermore, the views across to the Acropolis from here are second to none.  

You can browse the latest availability and room rates at AthensWas here

Budget Choice:
Zappion Hotel

With rooms starting from just 60 euros per night including breakfast, the Zappion hotel is a great choice if you are visiting Athens on a budget. The rooms are simple yet stylish, spacious, and clean.

The location is perfect. The Zappion hotel is situated right beside the Kallimarmaro stadium. This is a great base for sampling the eclectic coffee shops and restaurants of quirky Pagrati.

You can reach Syntagma square and the nearby attractions within 10 minutes of walking. Click here to review the latest prices and availability at the Zappion hotel.

Is Athens safe? Conclusion

Is Athens Safe?
Is Athens safe? Exploring quaint Anafiotika

Is Athens safe? Yes! Just follow the advice instructed above and you should have no problems.

If you still have concerns or worries about planning your trip to Greece, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I have been living here since early 2017 and I’m happy to assist if I can.

Safe travels. Geia sou! Melissa xo 


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

9 thoughts on “Is Athens Safe to Visit? A Local’s 2022 Guide”

  1. Hi Melissa,

    Great article thanks. We are planning a trip to Athens next year (2020) and had heard all kinds of stories about safety.

    Much of what you suggest was the same advice I lived by when I arrived in Athens as a solo traveller in June of 1987. I loved Athens so much that I stayed for 10 years. Mind you, 8 of those years I lived in Voila.

    We will be staying for 2 full days to see the usual attractions and definitely want to enjoy our evenings out too.

    Thanks,

    Amanda

  2. We are looking at travelling to Athens beginning October and were looking at an apartment in Aiolou St Athina which I gather is the city centre area. Is this area safe at night?

    • Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks for your comment. This area is not unsafe but it’s close to a lot of bars and nightlife places in the centre. You should just be careful when walking around at night. There are also a lot of rough sleepers around Monastiraki station. Again, not unsafe, but just to be aware of.

  3. HI…..I’m trying to decide about taking an Organized group tour of Greece in Sept/Oct. 2022 (total of 10 days (most on a bus and stopping here and there) ….including a 3 day cruise of the islands. At my age of 82….in fairly good health(no arthritis except low back pain)….although walk rather slow because I don’t want to fall …..how much walking should I expect? In 2019 toured Isreal, Palistine, Jordon….with no trouble. Over the years I’ve travel extensively and lived in Kenya….so aware of the “rules” when traveling/living …anywhere!

  4. Truth is,,,crime,,,is not a GREEK condition,,by GREEKS,,,but rather by the sewer “foreigners” who have invaded the country for decades now,,,such as British who are constantly an issue for being “drunk” and causing problems, and other 3rd world migrants who are what you describe re the REAL CRIME, and who should not be there to begin with. Please distinguish these categories properly…every ethnic group has it’s “negative qualities” and, CRIME IS NOT ONE WHICH IS INHERENT IN “”ETHNIC GREEKS””. Athena –

    • I suggest you assess your own ignorance Athena. This entire blog is dedicated to promoting Greece so by no means is it implied that crime is a Greek condition. But that is obvious and you are clearly just looking for arguments on the internet or have nothing better to do.

      The article was simply written for travellers who may be wondering if Athens was safe. Such terrible xenophobia on your part. You should be ashamed by the way you refer to foreigners as sewers and ¨third world¨ or ¨drunkards¨. I am British, and not all of us drink alcohol. The funny thing is that you accuse someone of stereotyping or making accusations when they are not, and yet you go and do the same thing yourself when you speak about foreigners! I suggest you open up your mind in an attempt to become less ignorant and obnoxious.

  5. Great advice, thank you!

    Any recommendations of bars that wouldn’t be too daunting to go to as a solo female traveller? (Ideally Glyfada way!) Or where to find friends?! 😆

  6. I’m staying in Athens for 4 months and I’m a little worried because my house will be near Kato Patissia metro station and I’m going to work near Ano Patissia metro station. This aren’t the best places in terms of security, are they?

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