“Is Athens safe?” is likely to be one of the questions at the forefront of your mind when planning a visit to the Greek capital. I have lived in Athens for the past three years now and I can tell you that yes, Athens is absolutely safe. Provided that you are always mindful of your surroundings and follow your common sense, you will have a wonderful, trouble-free time. This is true of travelling anywhere in the world
- 0.1 Falling in Love with Athens
- 0.2 Is Athens Safe? The Statistics
- 0.3 Is Athens Safe? 4 Key Things to Consider
- 0.4 12 Local Tips for Staying Safe in Athens
- 0.4.1 Always Watch Your Belongings
- 0.4.2 Ensure that You Have Comprehensive Travel Insurance
- 0.4.3 Know Which Areas Require Extra Vigilance
- 0.4.4 Make a Note of Important Safety Contacts
- 0.4.5 Note Down Your Embassy’s Contact Details
- 0.4.6 Carry a Copy of Your Passport
- 0.4.7 Money Matters
- 0.4.8 Solo Female Travel Considerations
- 0.4.9 Download the BEAT Taxi App for Emergencies
- 0.4.10 Avoid Filopappou Hill at Night
- 0.4.11 Carry a Business Card from Your Hotel
- 0.4.12 Enjoy Your Trip
- 0.5 Where to Stay
- 1 Is Athens Safe? Conclusion & Parting Words
Falling in Love with Athens
Athens is set in a magnificent juxtaposition of ancient culture meets modern contemporary living. Here, you will see the sun-bleached ruins of ancient monuments sit beside modern apartment complexes and chic, upscale bars and restaurants.
It is a shame that most visitors to Athens barely scratch the surface of what the city has to offer. While popular touristic sites such as the Acropolis, the Roman Agora, and Anafiotika Plaka are well worth visiting, Athens is so much more than that. The various neighbourhoods of Athens each have their own unique personality and character. If you are not pushed for time, there are plenty of opportunities to go off the beaten track in the Greek capital.
Is Athens Safe? The Statistics
The biggest issue in Athens is petty crime, rather than anything sinister. There are certain neighbourhoods 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.
Rates of violent and sexual assault in Greece are low. The number of occurrences has 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.
Is Athens Safe?
4 Key Things to Consider
A few things to have on your radar before your trip to Greece are detailed below.
Demonstrations and Political Protests
Political protests and demonstrations are regular occurrences in Greece. In 2018, 1300 protests were documented in Athens and vicinity. Most demonstrations are peaceful, however, you should avoid them, 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 below dates.
- 17th November – the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising
- 6th December – the anniversary of the shooting of Alexandros Grigoropoulos in Exarchia
The Terrorism Threat in Athens
The terrorist threat in Athens is moderate. In recent years, there have been a couple of incidents where IEDs have targeted political embassies, large companies, and centres of economic importance. No attacks have targeted tourists, however, this risk cannot be ruled out.
You may want to rent a car in Greece if you want to take day trips from Athens to nearby areas such as Sounion, or Delphi. Driving in Greece gives you a lot of freedom. However, you should keep in mind that road safety in Greece is a different ballgame to 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 is frustratingly common. You should be extra mindful of other drivers if you plan on exploring Athens and its surroundings by car.
Tourist Scams Do Happen Occasionally
Tourist scams in Athens are not unheard of. Tricks and scams are especially common in touristic areas such as Plaka, Thissio and Makrygianni.
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. 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.
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
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.
12 Local Tips for Staying Safe in Athens
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
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 site – 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. Most pickpockets are looking for an easy grab, so this 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.
Look for a travel insurance policy that offers at least $1million worth of medical cover. You should look for policies that also include repatriation and cancellation. I always use World Nomads. You can get a no-obligation quote for them here.
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 Require Extra Vigilance
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 unsavoury 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 neighbourhood – the streets 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 Safety Contacts
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.
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.
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.
Solo Female Travel Considerations
Solo female travellers are a common sight in Greece. Greek people are warm, friendly and hospitable and you do not have to worry about harassment from local men.
In the three years that I have lived in Greece, I have travelled all over the country by myself – from the Saronic islands to the Cyclades, and from Northern Greece to the Peloponesse. I have never encountered any problems.
It is an unfortunate reality that women travelling alone anywhere in the world need to practice heightened vigilance but don’t let this fill you with worry. Just practice the same common sense as you would at home or when travelling elsewhere. Be wary of over-friendly strangers and if someone bothers you, don’t hesitate to inform a local business owner.
Download the BEAT Taxi App for Emergencies
Athens has an excellent public transport network. Trains and buses run to all areas of the city – even to Piraeus, the Northern Suburbs, 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 our answer to Uber and it is a quick and convenient way to call a taxi. I prefer to always order my taxis this way 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 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 – including Socrates prison and the church of Agios Dimitrios Loubardiaris. This area should be avoided at night as 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.
Enjoy Your Trip
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. People always associate Paris with glitz and glamour for example, yet my friend and I caught someone trying to steal her bag on the metro!
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!
Where to Stay
I have written this comprehensive guide on where to stay in Athens. This details all of the various neighbourhoods in the city, 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, and you don’t have a long trek to reach touristic sites like the Acropolis.
The neighbourhoods of Psiri, Plaka, Makrygianni, and Koukaki are all good choices in central Athens. I would generally advise you to avoid staying in Monastiraki, Omonia, or Exarchia 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 still 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.
A selection of some of the best places to base yourself is provided below, with something for every budget.
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 are 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, and the views across to the Acropolis from here are second to none.
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 Zappion hotel.
Is Athens Safe?
Conclusion & Parting Words
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
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