Deciding where to stay in Athens is likely to be one of your main concerns when planning a trip to the Greek capital. At first glance, the city looks like a vast urban sprawl.
It can be overwhelming to review all of the various districts and suburbs of Athens. Choosing the best place to stay in Athens can be a source of many headaches.
- 1 Where to Stay in Athens
- 2 Where to Stay in Athens:About this Guide
- 3 The Best Athenian Neighbourhoods
- 4 Athens Neighbourhoods
- 5 Getting Around Athens
- 6 Alternative Accommodation Options
- 7 Parting Words
Where to Stay in Athens
The historic city of Athens is arguably the most underrated capital in Europe. The city seems gritty and edgy at first. However, scratch beneath the surface and Athens has far more to offer than meets the eye.
Athens attractions such as the Acropolis, the winding streets of old Plaka, and the Roman Agora are a highlight of any Athens itinerary. However, it is the quaint Athenian neighbourhoods that steal the hearts of many visitors.
Quintessentially Greek districts such as Koukaki, Glyfada, and Paleo Faliro are bursting with charm and character. Each district has its own personality and central square. Making a thoughtful choice about where to stay in Athens enables you to experience the city like a local – all while supporting local businesses.
Where to Stay in Athens:
About this Guide
I have lived in Athens for more than three years. I moved to eclectic Pagrati in 2017. Since then, I’ve gotten to know the city like the back of my hand.
This guide discusses the best areas to stay in Athens. It describes what you can expect in each district, and then provides some suggestions for Athens hotels and accommodation options in each one.
This guide is fairly comprehensive. It covers everything from Athens’ well-known central districts, to overlooked areas that only the locals are aware of. Feel free to use the Table of Contents above to navigate to the most relevant sections.
The Best Athenian Neighbourhoods
Each of the Athenian neighbourhoods discussed in this guide offer all of the necessary amenities to ensure that your trip to Athens is a comfortable one. They are also very safe, and suitable for all types of travellers (solo females, families, older couples, etc). I would just advise you to be more careful when walking at night if you stay in the central districts of Monastiraki, Syntagma, Psiri or Plaka.
You can expect excellent public transport links from each of these districts to Athens centre and Eleftherios Venizelos airport. Homely local tavernas, cosy coffee shops, evening entertainment, and bars are abundant in each area. If you want to feel “like a Greek” during your trip, it is advisable to stay a little further afield than the most central areas.
Overview of Athens’ Best Districts
- Koukaki – Quirky stores, bars and art galleries under the shadow of the Acropolis
- Nea Smirni – Quintessentially Athenian district whose central plaza boasts many excellent tavernas and coffee shops
- Pagrati – Local markets, charming coffee places, and a great local vibe
- The Mets – A leafy, sleepy Athenian district loved by artists and intellectuals
- Plaka – Quaint houses and narrow streets that intertwine in the city’s historic centre
- Psiri – Street art, eclectic themed bars, and an edgy alternative vibe
- Vouliagmeni – Beautiful coastlines and pristine beaches
- Kolonaki – Stylish neighbourhood with swanky nightlife and designer shopping
- Kifissia – Chic upscale neighbourhood with tree-lined boulevards and relaxed vibes
- Hilton – Sophisticated neighbourhood with award-winning restaurants and upscale bars
- Syntagma – The main central district of Athens
- Monastiraki – Central neighbourhood with ample shopping and entertainment options.
- Paleo Faliro – Off the beaten path upscale coastal area with wonderful beach bars
- Glyfada – Elegant shopping and nightlife district in the Athenian Riviera
- Gazi– Athens’ main nightlife and entertainment district
- Zografou – Cheap and cheerful student district filled with coffee shops and dive bars
- Piraeus – Bustling port area filled with tavernas, shops, and restaurants.
- Exarchia – Alternative nightlife scene, and thought-provoking street art
- Metaxourgio – Great neighbourhood for budget travel and street art. Emerging art scene
- Neo Psychiko – High-end, quiet residential district with many classy bars and restaurants
- Voula and Vari – Peaceful beach towns away from the maddening crowds
The Mets is a tiny, leafy suburb that sits between Pagrati and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Blink and you’ll miss it.
This area is so small that most tourists are not even aware of its existence. However, Athenians consider the Mets as one of the best places to venture for evening drinks and coffees.
When the sun goes down, join the locals for an evening tipple at Kain. Alternatively, head to Skyfall for moonlit cocktails on a rooftop overlooking the Acropolis.
Those looking for the best place to stay in Athens that is away from the chaos of the city centre will certainly enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and elegant ambiance of Kifissia. Kifissia is often referred to as being the Beverly Hills of Athens. Like Kolonaki, Kifissia attracts a well-dressed crowd.
The tree-lined promenades of Kifissia are home to swanky cocktail bars, chic coffee places, and upscale stores. Stepping into Kifissia feels like stepping into another city altogether. The best part about this neighbourhood? Virtually no international tourists know about it!
Kifissia is well-linked to the centre, but it has its own nightlife and social scene. This is a wonderful place to spend your Athens vacation if you want to get away from the crowds.
Budget Hotels in Kifissia, Athens
Mid Range Hotels in Kifissia, Athens
Luxury Hotels in Kifissia, Athens
The orange tree-lined promenades of Koukaki are home to some of Athens’ most creative spaces. This looks like a relatively nondescript residential district at first. However, a little exploration uncovers Koukaki as the heart of the Athens art and culture scene.
The centre of Koukaki is its namesake Koukaki Square on Georgaki Olympiou Street. Tropical shrubbery hides the facades of the local bars and restaurants, while oriental-style lanterns and fairy lights illuminate the trees. Koukaki feels like a little tropical paradise, even in the winter months.
The bars here follow all sorts of weird themes. You can find everything 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. Restaurants here serve up authentic dishes from around the globe.
Budget Hotels in Koukaki Athens
Mid Range Hotels in Koukaki Athens
Luxury Hotels in Koukaki Athens
Gazi has blossomed over the last few years. This district has fast emerged as Athens’ premier nightlife and entertainment district. By day, Gazi exudes a laid back, boho air.
Young, trendy Athenians sip coffee in the eclectic coffee shops that surround Avdi square and dine at the area’s contemporary modern restaurants. By night, the streets of Gazi come alive.
This is the place with the highest concentration of bars and clubs in central Athens. Gazi boasts a little something for everyone.
Budget & Backpacker Choices
Zografou sits to the south of central Athens. It is located close to Pagrati, Hilton, and Kolonaki. The area attracts a youthful crowd on account of its proximity to the Kapodostrian University of Athens.
This is one of the most affordable places to stay in Athens and a popular spot among students. Drink beers with locals at one of the dive bars here, or smoke shisha at one of the many Arabian style smoking lounges. Staying in Zografou also puts you in close proximity to Mount Imettus and Kaisariani Monastery – one of the best hikes in Athens.
Luxury Hotels in Zografou
Mid Range Hotels in Zografou
Vouliagmeni is a beautiful coastal area that sits just 20km south of downtown Athens. This pine-clad peninsula boasts cerulean waters and incredible views over the Saronic.
Vouliagmeni is essentially Greece’s very own Cote d’Azur. It is beloved by a well-heeled crowd who spend time at the private beach clubs, and fine dining restaurants by the coast. The likes of Frank Sinatra and Brigette Bardot are the caliber of people who have vacationed here over the centuries.
If you want to combine luxury beach travel with a city exploration, Vouliagmeni may well be your perfect Athenian base.
Luxury Hotels in Vouliagmeni
- The Margi (read my Margi review here)
- Azur Boutique Hotel
- The Four Seasons Astir Beach
- Grand Resort Lagonissi
- Somewhere Boutique Hotel Vouliagmeni
Mid-Range Vouliagmeni Hotels
Piraeus is a great place to base yourself in Athens if you are planning on visiting the Greek islands. Ferry routes from Piraeus port take you to the Cyclades and the Saronic islands in just a couple of hours.
Metro Line 1 (Green line) takes you from Piraeus to central Athens in less than an hour. You can easily get to and from the Acropolis, Syntagma, and other central attractions in a day.
Enjoy an afternoon stroll around the colourful Kastella district. Spend your evening sipping cocktails in upscale Mikrolimano, and haggle your way through the eclectic Piraeus flea market.
Mid-Range Hotels in Piraeus
Hotel prices tend to be cheaper in Piraeus. This is a perfect place for budget travellers.
Budget Hotels in Piraeus
The coastal town of Glyfada is situated just thirty minutes out of Athens city centre. It is easily accessible via the metro or the tram. Glyfada is referred to as the “Hellenic Hamptons” and is a popular hangout spot for the Athenian elite.
Boutique shopping, glamorous international eateries, and beachfront cocktail bars make Glyfada a perfect base. This area also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches close to Athens.
Mid Range Hotels in Glyfada
Luxury Hotels in Glyfada
Everything about the Hilton area exudes class. The district gleans its name from the nearby Hilton hotel.
Some of the finest restaurants in Athens can be found here. Opting to stay in the Hilton district places you just a short walk away from the central Syntagma square and upscale Kolonaki.
Budget Hotels in Hilton, Athens
Mid Range Hotels in Hilton, Athens
Luxury Hotels in Hilton, Athens
Pagrati and Vyronas are perfect for your stay in Athens if you want to experience a truly Greek suburb that is bursting with local life.
Antique shops, independent art galleries, and boutique stores run down the main promenade of Filolau. The two adjacent neighbourhoods practically merge into one. Head to Plateia Varnava on a Friday or Saturday night to enjoy bouzouki music and ouzo with the locals.
Mid Range Hotels in Pagrati, Athens
Luxury Hotels in Pagrati, Athens
Syntagma Square is the beating heart of central Athens. The city’s main subway station can be found here.
Syntagma’s piazza hosts many events and festivities during the year such as live musical performances, artisanal markets, and food festivals.
All of Athens’s main attractions are just a short walk away from here. The Grek Parliament building sits directly opposite Syntagma. The Acropolis, the National Gardens, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus are all just a few minutes away.
Backpacking Hostels in Syntagma Athens
- Athens Backpackers
- The Student & Travellers Inn
Budget Hotels in Syntagma Athens
Mid Range Hotels in Syntagma Athens
Luxury Hotels in Syntagma Athens
- Hotel Grande Bretagne, A Luxury Collection Hotel
- King George, A Luxury Collection Hotel
- The Plaza Hotel Athens
- Electra Palace Athens
Makriyianni is the Athenian neighbourhood that houses the Acropolis and the glittering glass structure of the Acropolis museum. You may assume that a place so close to the main tourist attractions would be incredibly crowded. However, Makriyianni’s leafy promenades remain relatively quiet and undisturbed.
After a busy day of Athens sightseeing, you can enjoy a pleasant evening walk along the tree-lined promenade of Dionysiou Areopagitou. Here, buskers play acoustic and traditional Greek songs, while street performers do magic tricks.
This artsy neighbourhood is a popular hangout spot among locals. It boasts dozens of patisseries, independent boutiques, art galleries, and upmarket eateries.
Budget Hotels in Makrygianni Athens
Mid Range Hotels in Makrygianni Athens
Luxury Hotels in Makrygianni Athens
- AD Athens Luxury Rooms and Suites
- AthensWas Hotel (Read my review of AthensWas hotel here)
- Divani Palace Acropolis
Kolonaki is to Athens what Beverly Hills is to Los Angeles. Situated on the slopes of Mount Lycabettus, this upscale district is the chicest in the city. Kolonaki oozes effortless elegance 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. The exclusive cocktail bars and champagne lounges here are often frequented by Greek celebrities. Jazz in Jazz and Minnie the Moocher are particular local favourites.
The polished storefronts of the shops in the Kolonaki area showcase both luxury fashion (Gucci et al), and the works of high-end Greek Designers.
Budget Hotels in Kolonaki Athens
Mid Range Hotels in Kolonaki Athens
Luxury Hotels in Kolonaki Athens
Paleo Faliro is an upscale coastal district. It is located halfway between Alimos and the Athenian Riviera. Few tourists know about Paleo. This makes it a perfect place to base yourself if you want to be off the beaten path.
Elegant storefronts line the streets of Paleo, along with fantastic tavernas and seafood restaurants that attract a well-heeled crowd. There are many wonderful beach bars and clubs in nearby Alimos. Head to Bolivar Beach Bar or Nalu for all-night beach parties and live DJs.
Luxury Options in Paleo Faliro
Mid Range Options in Paleo Faliro
The little neighbourhood of Psiri is hidden behind Monastiraki square. It centers around Iroon Square and is arguably one of the city’s most vibrant districts.
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. Alternatively, they are centered around a particular alternative music scene.
Psiri is one of the most bustling Athens nightlife districts. However, if you choose a hotel that is tucked away within its back streets, you don’t have to worry too much about noise and disturbances.
Mid Range Hotels in Psiri
Luxury Hotels in Psiri
The charming neighbourhood of Plaka is one of the oldest and most historic in Athens. The labyrinth-like network of narrow cobbled streets here leads you up towards Anafiotika and the Acropolis. From these points, you can enjoysome of the best views over the Greek capital.
Plaka has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. Ancient mosques and old Islamic ruins point th the area’s Ottoman past.
The bars in Plaka host numerous traditional performances for the benefit of tourists. You can find everything here from plate smashing to traditional Greek music and the chance to participate in a Zorba dance. Sitting outside one of these bars with homemade sangria and a good book is a perfect way to spend a relaxing evening in Athens.
Budget Hotels in Plaka
Mid Range Hotels in Plaka
Luxury Hotels in Plaka
Nea Smyrni is as quintessentially Athenian as it gets. The tree-lined Karillou and Aghia Fotinis Squares are a popular rendezvous point among young Athenians.
Although Nea Smyrni is home to plenty of coffee shops, boutique stores, and restaurants, the ambiance here is much less crowded and chaotic to the city centre. Both central Athens and the coastal areas of Paleo Faliro and the Athenian Riviera can be reached by tram that runs directly through Nea Smyrni.
Exarchia is Athens’ most alternative district. Virtually every inch of wall space here is covered in street art. Furthermore, much of Exarchia’s graffiti is politically-motivated.
Exarchia is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, that is not to say that it should be written off completely. Punky, edgy, and artsy, Exarchia is filled with alternative rock bars, stores selling old vinyl records, and homely tavernas.
You should be cautious when exploring Exarchia, especially during political demonstrations. Clashes between anarchist groups and the police do happen from time to time. If you choose to stay here, be mindful of your surroundings and don’t walk alone at night.
Luxury Hotels in Exarchia
Mid Range and Budget Hotels in Exarchia
Metaxourgio, like Exarchia, is an Athenian neighbourhood that does not have the best reputation. The area has worked hard to try and shake off its negative reputation.
In recent years, Metaxourgio has emerged as an “up and coming” art district. Dozens of independent art galleries line the streets and showcase the works of emerging Greek and international artists. The cheaper rent in this neighbourhood attracts young designers and entrepreneurs.
Metaxourgio is still not perfect. However, the hotels here are very affordable. This can be a good option if you are exploring Greece on a budget. Take a cab back to your hotel in the evenings, and avoid walking around in the district at night and you will be fine.
Luxury Hotels in Metaxourgio
- The Stanley Hotel
- Wyndham Grand Athens
- Wyndham Athens Residence
Budget & Mid Range Hotels in Metaxourgio
Getting Around Athens
Athens has an excellent public transport network of buses, trains, and trams, all of which run on a frequent schedule. Consequently, you should not be deterred from staying somewhere which is not incredibly central.
Getting a cab from one area to another is seldom more than a few euros. I would advise you to download the “BEAT” taxi app for finding cabs. This app displays the price of the journey before getting into the car and helps you to avoid being ripped off by the cab drivers.
Alternative Accommodation Options
If you prefer to travel like a local, you could also consider renting an Airbnb. This can give you a lot more flexibility during your time in Athens. It is also a good budget choice as you have the option to cook all of your own meals.
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.
What to Look for in an Airbnb
Athens is generally relatively safe. However, as with any city there are a few neighbourhoods that are a little grittier and should not be your first choice.
If you decide that you want to rent an Athens Airbnb, I would advise you to be extremely cautious when choosing properties in the city centre. Check the map to see the approximate location of your rental, and ask your host to clarify which neighbourhood it is in if you can.
There is a trend of Airbnb owners purchasing properties in Exarchia and falsely marketing it as a safe, hip area. While I do personally like Exarchia, it is prone to riots and clashes between locals and the police. As such I think everyone ought to know what they are truly going into.
Organising your accommodation is a big part of planning a trip to Greece. As such, I’d recommend booking in advance where possible to secure the best deals.
Do you have any further questions about where to stay in Athens or how to create a Greece travel itinerary? Feel free to reach out to me via the comments below.
I live in Greece and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Safe travels. Geia sou, Melissa! xo
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