Where to Stay in Athens: Written by an Athens Resident

Where to Stay in Athens

Where eclectic coffee shops and chic cocktail bars have been built around crumbling ancient ruins and historic boulevards, the Greek capital of Athens is a magnificent juxtaposition of ancient culture meets modern lifestyle. It can be difficult for first timers to establish where to stay in Athens. It is an easy assumption to make to assume that the more central the location, the better, however a lot of the city’s beauty and magic lies in the relatively unexplored suburbs. With equal measures of grace and grit, Athens possesses an edginess that is unparalleled in other European capitals.

I moved to Athens by accident. I came to the Greek capital in October 2017 with the view to stay here only six weeks as a Digital Nomad however I ended up falling in love with the city and the people and have lived there ever since. As I kept extending my time in the city, I moved from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, exploring every nook and cranny this cultured European capital has to offer.

 

Where to Stay in Athens

Where to Stay in Athens: Koukaki
Koukaki

This guide runs through the best neighbourhoods for a comfortable stay in Athens highlighting the best features that each area has to offer and suggesting Athens hotels which suit any budget during your Athens itinerary.

If you prefer to travel like a local, I would also strongly recommend that you consider travelling via airbnb. I rent an airbnb apartment to myself everywhere I travel and it gives me a lot more freedom and flexibility as compared to staying in hotels – for one thing, I love that I can prepare my own meals and not eat at restaurants constantly! If you are new to airbnb, High Heels & a Backpack readers can receive a generous $40 discount off their first airbnb stay by signing up here.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Koukaki

Where to Stay in Athens

Bursting with personality and creativity, the orange tree lined promenades of Koukaki are home to some of Athens most creative spaces. At first glance, Koukaki looks to be a somewhat sleepy Greek residential neighbourhood with its uneven cobbled streets and overhanging palm trees. However a little exploration in Koukaki uncovers the heart of Athens art scene and some of the city’s most quirky themed bars and cafes.

Where to Stay in Athens

Where to Stay in Athens
Koukaki

The heart of Koukaki can be found at Koukaki Square on Georgaki Olympiou Street. With tropical shrubbery hiding the facades of the locals bars and restaurants, and oriental style lanterns and fairy lights illuminating the trees, Koukaki feels like a little tropical paradise (even in the winter months) and gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “concrete jungle”.

The bars here follow all sorts of weird themes – from New Orleans style jazz bars to Noah’s Ark style eccentric cocktail lounges. Koukaki is also the best place for international cuisine in Athens, with restaurants here serving up authentic dishes from around the globe including Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisine.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Pagrati/Vyronas

Where to Stay in Athens

Where to Stay in Athens: Pagrati
Pagrati

If you love getting off the beaten path when you travel, away from the tourist hordes and into the heart of authentic neighbourhoods among the locals then the neighbourhoods of Pagrati and Vyronas are perfect for your stay in Athens.  

A stay in Pagrati or Vyronas offers an authentic Greek experience in neighbourhoods where tourists seldom venture, where the streets are filled with farmers markets selling fresh local produce, quaint coffee shops where Greek men play backgammon and sip freddo espressos until the early hours of the morning and traditional bars where live Greek musicians sing to the reception of locals dancing on the tables.The two neighbourhoods practically merge into one.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Syntagma

When deciding where to stay in Athens, Syntagma is a good choice if you wish to stay somewhere that places you right in the very heart of the action. The area is centred around a piazza which hosts many events and festivities during the year such as live musical performances, artisanal markets and food markets.

Syntagma is within a short walking distance to all of Athens main attractions – the Greek parliament building lies opposite and a few minutes on foot will take you to the main shopping streets of and , the botanical gardens and the magnificent acropolis.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Makriyianni

Where to Stay in Athens
Where to Stay in Athens

Adjoined to Koukaki, the upscale neighbourhood of Makriyianni is a perfect place to spend your Athens vacation – especially if you only plan to be in town for a couple of days or so. Makriyianni is the neighbourhood that houses the Acropolis and the glittering glass structure of the Acropolis museum.

Given the neighbourhood’s proximity to Athens main tourist attraction you may assume that Makriyianni is crowded with tourists however its leafy promenades remain relatively quiet and undisturbed.

After a busy day of Athens sightseeing, weary travellers can enjoy a pleasant evening walk along the tree-lined Dionysiou Areopagitou where buskers play acoustic and traditional Greek songs, and where pop-up craft stalls are a common site. The artsy neighbourhood is a popular hang out spot among locals and boasts dozens of patisseries, independent boutiques, art galleries and upmarket eateries.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Kolonaki

Where to Stay in Athens
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Kolonaki is to Athens what Chelsea is to London or what Beverly Hills is to Los Angeles. Situated on the slopes of Mount Lycabettus, this upscale neighbourhood is the most chic in the city – oozing effortless elegance and sophistication at every turn.

People watching while sitting beneath a cabana at one of the local coffee shops is a pleasant way to pass the time in Kolonaki, as is sipping ouzo and locally sourced wines at exclusive cocktail bars and champagne lounges frequented by Greek celebrities.

The polished storefronts of the shops in the Kolonaki area belong to some of the most luxurious designer brands (think Gucci, Louis Vuitton, et al) as well as a mixture of independent boutique stores owned by trend-setting locals.

Kolonaki is home to some of the very best restaurants and bars in Athens and is situated just a short walk away from the centre of Athens. Getting from Kolonaki to Syntagma square on foot takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Psiri

Where to Stay in Athens: Psiri

Where to Stay in Athens

Centred around the lively Iroon square, Psiri is the central nightlife district of Athens home to restaurants, bars and bistros that remain open until the early hours of the morning.

Though this is one of the most bustling neighbourhoods in central Athens, if you choose a hotel in Psiri that is tucked away within the neighbourhood’s back streets then you don’t have to worry too much about noise and disturbances.

Psiri has something of a punky underground feel to it. Many of the bars and pubs here are teeny tiny hole in the walls big enough to house just a handful of people or centred around a particular alternative music scene. Greek microbrews and ales are popular in this district, as are independent beers from around the globe. Night owls and party animals can take a short walk from Psiri to Gazi – the heart of Athens club scene.

Where to Stay in Athens:
Plaka


The charming neighbourhood of Plaka is one of the oldest and most historic in Athens. The labyrinth like network of narrow cobbled streets here lead you up towards the acropolis and some of the best views over the Greek capital. If there was to be a neighbourhood of Athens labelled as the tourist district then Plaka would be it, however it is so charming and pleasant that it is quickly forgiven. The bars in Plaka host numerous traditional performances for the benefit of tourists – from plate smashing, to traditional Greek music and the chance to participate in a zorba dance. Sitting outside one of these bars with a homemade sangria and a good book is a perfect way to spend a relaxing evening in Greece.

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Where NOT to Stay in Athens

Where to Stay in Athens

Though Athens is generally relatively safe, as with any city there are a few neighbourhoods that are a little grittier and should not be your first choice. When you are trying to figure out where to stay, of course you may not know where these are since hotel booking sites are never going to disclose them to you, however I have enclosed some information here for your consideration should you find a cheap deal in one of the below neighbourhoods.

Omonia and Monastiraki

Monastiraki is a popular nightlife spot, however it is also rife with petty crime like bag snatchings and muggings and I would not recommend walking there alone at night. The majority of the homeless/refugee population sleep rough here and practically every surface and shop entrance will be occupied come nightfall. Omonia is considered the worst neighborhood in Athens for crime and is synonymous with drug use

Exarchia 

Whether you choose to stay in Exarchia is up to you. The graffiti laden streets are home to a host of edgy alternative bars that would please those that enjoy the Rock/Punk music scene however the neighborhood is also the site of frequent clashes between rioters and the police. The general public can travel in Exarchia relatively undisturbed however police are unwelcome.

Since organising your accommodation is a big part of planning a trip to Greece, I’d recommend booking in advance where possible to secure the best deals.

 

Have any questions about where to stay in Athens or Athens travel in general? Feel free to reach out to me via the comments below.

Disclaimer: This guide may contain affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase through one of the links on this page I will receive a small amount of commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me to keep up with the costs of running this site, and to continue to provide free travel content. 

 

 

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