Where To Stay in Athens

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Updated: June 5, 2020

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View of Athens from Acropolis

The city of Athens and Mt. Lycabettus, as seen from the Acropolis.

Best Places To Stay in Athens– Tips and Advice

What are the Best Areas to Stay in Athens?

The Parthenon of Athens

The Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens.

  • The Best Neighborhoods in Athens are Plaka, Monastiraki, Koukaki, Syntagma, Kolonaki, and Psirri. Those with early morning ferries may consider staying in Piraeus near the port, but staying in Athens is strongly recommended.
  • Best Places for Sightseeing: Most neighborhoods in Athens have at least a few attractions, whether museums or ruins, but Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods have the most. Both neighborhoods grew up around the ancient heart of Athens and are within short walking distance of the Acropolis. Plaka, Monastiraki, and Koukaki neighborhoods all sit at the base of the Acropolis and face toward the Parthenon. Several hotels, restaurants, and bars in the three areas have views of the Parthenon.
  • Best Places for Shopping: Monastiraki and Kolonaki are the best neighborhoods for shopping. Monastiraki is the better known and busier of the two, with its 1.5 kilometer-long shopping street Ermou, running all the way through the neighborhood, and with the Monastiraki Flea Market covering a few blocks along Ifestou Street. Kolonaki is a more upmarket neighborhood with its 2 main shopping streets, Voukourestiou and Stadiou, boasting luxury brand boutiques and the high-end department store Attica.
  • Best Places for Families: Plaka, Monastiraki, and Syntagma are the best areas for families. These areas are all very safe, offer easy transportation, and are walkable to Athens’ best dining and attractions. The farther north you go (away from Plaka and closer to Omonia) the uglier and sketchier the city gets. Stay south of Sofokleous Street to avoid the worst areas, though even these places are pretty safe.
  • Best Places for Living Like a Local: Koukaki and Kolonaki are wonderful, less touristy neighborhoods in Athens. Koukaki has plenty of local restaurants and cafes, while still offering stunning Parthenon views and easy walking to museums and sights. Kolonaki is a more upscale, residential neighborhood with high-end boutiques, restaurants, and museums; this area is walkable, but since it’s built on a hill, there is a good deal of stairs to navigate in parts.
  • Best Places for Dining and Nightlife: Monastiraki offers the best mix of quality food and charming atmosphere, with plenty of sidewalk cafes serving locals and travelers alike. Psirri is the nightlife hub of Athens, with tons of bars, clubs, cafes, and restaurants all radiating out from its central Hero’s Square (Plateia Iroon).
  • Best Places for Short Trips: Monastiraki and Syntagma are ideal for short trips of a day or two. Both areas are well-connected by public transportation. Monastiraki Station offers a direct train to Piraeus ferry port and the international airport. Syntagma Station has direct train links to the airport and the major sights of the city.


Staying in Plaka

The Metropolitan Church of Athens Evangelismos Theotokou in Plaka

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens Evangelismos Theotokou in Plaka.

Plaka (The Neighborhood of the Gods) is the oldest area of Athens. Having grown up around the Ancient Agora, Plaka is built directly over the residential streets of ancient Athens and has been continuously inhabited ever since. It is loosely bordered by the base of the Acropolis to the southeast and the Monastiraki and Syntagma neighborhoods to the west and east, respectively. Though Plaka is one of the most touristy areas, the neighborhood still bursts with charm with its cobblestone pedestrian streets, sidewalk cafes, and small shops. Toward the southeast end of Plaka, you’ll find Anafiotikia, a quaint tangle of lanes leading up to the Acropolis and featuring delightfully out-of-place Cycladic architecture – cubic, whitewashed buildings, and bougainvillea.

Plaka is one of the best neighborhoods in Athens and has a friendly, bustling atmosphere. Most of Plaka is designated for pedestrian use only. Some of the best restaurants and bars in the city are located here, including Psarras Tavern (fresh seafood, outdoor seating on the staircase or rooftop terrace) and Brettos (a 100+-year-old distillery and bar), though in general, it’s better to leave Plaka for more authentic dining with better prices. Sights include the Roman Agora, Tower of the Winds, Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, Hadrian’s Arch, and the Jewish Museum of Greece. Plaka is served by Monastiraki station on metro lines 1 and 3, which lead to Piraeus port and the Athens International Airport, respectively.

The Best Hotels in Plaka

Staying in Monastiraki

Ermou Street in Monastiraki

Shopping on Ermou Street in Monastiraki

Monastiraki is less touristy than Plaka but has a similar vibe with a mix of ancient ruins, Byzantine churches, and neoclassical architecture. This buzzing neighborhood sits at the base of the Acropolis, bordered by Plaka to the east and Psirri to the north. This is a great area for shopping, dining, and nightlife, centered around the sprawling Monastiraki Flea Market and with the shopping street Ermou stretching fully across it. “Flea Market” is a bit of a misnomer, as it is comprised mostly of brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants; Sundays are the only days of the week that the street vendors set up. Ermou Street is the main shopping street in Athens, with a mix of local boutiques and international brand stores. Major sights here include the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Stoa of Attalos, Hadrian’s Library, and the Orthodox Church Dormition of the Theotokou (the former monastery that gave this district its name).

Though the area is busy all through the day, Monastiraki really comes alive at night, when its sidewalk cafes and rooftop bars open up, many offering stunning views of the Parthenon. Food is outstanding here, with a great mix of casual tavernas and upscale restaurants serving traditional Greek and Mediterranean dishes. The area is served by the Monastiraki station (lines 1 and 3). Line 1 is a direct route to both Piraeus and line 3 goes directly to the Athens International Airport, making Monastiraki a good choice if you have an early ferry or plane to catch.

    The Best Hotels in Monastiraki

    Staying in Koukaki

    View toward Koukaki from the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

    View over the Koukaki neighborhood from the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

    Increasingly popular, the low-key area of Koukaki is emerging as one of Athens’ trendiest neighborhoods. Koukaki sits at the southern base of the Acropolis and Filopappou Hill (a short hike up rewarded with Acropolis views and the home of what is believed to be Socrates’ prison cell). Still largely undiscovered, this area offers plenty of tavernas and cafes situated on its squares and sidewalks, where you’re likely to be the only traveler. A farmer’s market sets up at the southwestern end of the neighborhood every Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Koukaki’s main attractions include the Acropolis Museum, Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, and the recently renovated National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in the old Fix brewery. This neighborhood is about a 15-minute walk to Plaka and 20-minute walk to the Acropolis or Syntagma Square. The Koukaki (and nearby Makrigianni) area is served by the Akropoli and Sygrou-Fix stations on metro line 2.

    The Best Hotels in Koukaki

    Staying in Syntagma

    Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square

    The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square.

    Syntagma is the name for the neighborhood surrounding Athens’ political and commercial hub, Syntagma Square (Constitution Square). The neighborhood is bordered by Plaka to the west and the National Garden and Kolonaki neighborhood to the east. The most important square in Greece, Syntagma was built shortly after Athens became the capital of the newly independent nation in the 1830s and was named for the constitution King Otto was forced to draw up a decade later.

    Syntagma Square is anchored by the Old Royal Palace, which now houses the Greek Parliament. Between the main square and the Parliament building is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in front of which the changing of the guard ceremony is performed every hour by the last unit of Evzones in the Hellenic Army, who serve as the Presidential Guard. The National Garden sits adjacent to the tomb and offers plenty of shade along with a botanical garden, ancient ruins, small zoo, and a children’s library. The National Historical Museum is just steps away. Athens’ best 5-star hotels, Grande Bretagne and King George, are located right in the square.

    Syntagma is a major transportation hub with a huge, renovated metro station served by train lines 2 and 3. Line 3 goes directly to Athens International Airport, but it takes a second train to reach Piraeus Ferry Port (line 3 to Monastiraki Station, then line 1 to Piraeus). The X80 bus to Piraeus Ferry Port and the X95 bus to the Athens International Airport also stop here, as does the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus, making this an ideal spot for visitors on short trips or those catching early flights and ferries.

    Staying in Kolonaki

    Sidewalk cafes in Kolonaki

    Sidewalk cafes in the Kolonaki neighborhood.

    Kolonaki is a wealthy neighborhood bordering Syntagma and located on the southern slope of Mt. Lycabettus, the tallest of Athens’ 7 hills. A funicular connects Kolonaki to the hilltop peak. Kolonaki is known for luxury shopping, museums, galleries, and chic dining and drinks. Many of its streets are pedestrian-only and brimming with Greek and international designer boutiques, haute-couture shoe stores, and trendy sidewalk cafés, especially along its main shopping streets, Voukourestiou and Stadiou. Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, which makes up Kolonaki’s southern border, is lined with neoclassical mansions converted into museums, including the Benaki Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Athens War Museum, and the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Several smaller museums and galleries dot the neighborhood.

    Kolonaki is very near Syntagma and abut a 15-minute walk from Plaka. Due to its hillside location, there can be a lot of steps depending on where you’re going. The neighborhood is served by Syntagma station on metro line 2 & 3 and Evangelismos on metro line 3.

    The Best Hotels in Kolonaki

    Staying in Psirri

    Heroes Square in Psirri, Athens

    Cafes and a mural at Heroes Square in Psirri.

    One of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens, Psirri sits northwest of Monastiraki and Plaka, and south of Kotzia and Omonia Squares. Psirri has a long, sketchy history – a favorite hideout of revolutionaries and thugs in the 19th century and the home of rebetiko and mangas into the early 20th century – though it has undergone a complete revival and is now known for its lively nightlife and authentic dining. This neighborhood is still solidly working class, with many artisan workshops filling all the lanes extending out from its main square, Plateia Iroon (Heroes Square). Neoclassical houses that were once abandoned have been renovated and converted into hotels, galleries, tavernas, cafés, clubs, and bars, many with live music. Street art and elaborate murals cover many of the buildings here, and several small shops sell vintage clothes, local spices, vinyl records, original artwork, and much more.

    Psirri is visited less by tourists and more by locals, despite being a less than 5-minute walk to Monastiraki Flea Market, less than a 10-minute walk from the Ancient Agora, and less than a 20-minute walk to the Acropolis. Psirri is served by the Monastiraki metro station, with lines 1 and 3 offering direct service to the port and airport respectively.

    The Best Hotels in Psirri

    Staying at Piraeus (Ferry Port)

    The metro station at Piraeus

    The metro station at the Piraeus Ferry Port.

    Piraeus is the main port of Athens, where most of the ferries to and from the islands arrive and depart. There is not a whole lot to do here for travelers, but it’s not entirely empty. There are 2 marinas, a small archaeological museum (though there are waaay better museums in Athens), a maritime museum, and a waterfront walkway that offers nice sunset views. Piraeus is safe with lots of tourists at the port at all hours during high season, but it’s not particularly pretty or interesting.

    People with early morning ferries may consider staying here, but it’s only a 30-minute metro ride from downtown Athens (on line 1) to Piraeus, so it’s highly recommended to still stay in Athens.

    The Best Hotels in Piraeus

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