Known as the capital of Greece, Athens has a compact city center with diverse neighborhoods. This can make it overwhelming when it comes to choosing where to stay in Athens especially for a first-time visitor.
In order to give you the best Athens neighborhood guide, we partnered with Athens expert Marisa Feyen. Having lived in Athens for over a year, Marisa has been able to explore so many different neighborhoods in Athens and shares the best of what she has learned in this article. Whether you are looking for the best 5-star hotels in Athens or budget accommodation this guide will show you the best areas to base yourself on your next trip to Athens, Greece.
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Best Places to Stay in Athens, Greece
There are quite a few different areas to choose from in Athens. Some, like Syntagma Square are in the heart of the city and others are only a metro ride or short walk away from most of the main attractions.
Depending what your budget is and what type of traveler you are will determine the area that is right for you. In order to make it easier to choose the right neighborhood here are my recommendations:
Gazi is the best area to stay in Athens if you are on a budget. Great selection of hotels and it is only a 20 minute walk to the main attractions
Kolonaki is the perfect place to stay if you have kids. Filled with great museums, as well as great shopping streets it is safe and quieter than other neighborhoods.
Psyri is the nightclub district of Athens. If you want to experience great greek nightlife then this is where you should stay.
Best Areas to Stay in Athens Greece
In a Hurry? Check out the Best Hotels in Athens. These are my recommendations for the top hotels in all of Athens.
- Best 5-Star Hotel in Athens: Hotel Grand Bretagne
- Best mid-range Hotel in Athens: Herodion Hotel
- Our Newest recommendation from our latest Athens Visit: Astor Hotel
- Best Budget Hotel in Athens: Evripides Hotel
1. Syntagma Square – Where to Stay in Athens for first-timers
Known as the heart of the city, Syntagma square is the most central place to in Athens. Day or night, there is always a buzz at Syntagma Square.
This is one of the most popular places to stay in Athens for first-time visitors because it is easy to get to Syntagma from pretty much anywhere in the city.
Syntagma Square is the most important square in Athens.
Many major events in its modern history happened here – political demonstrations, celebrations, and even battles.
Visit the Greek Parliament Building, the tomb of the unknown soldier, and the original marble Olympic Stadium (Panthenaic).
Syntagma also offers many great restaurants and trendy bars to keep you entertained all night long.
Where to Stay in Athens Near Syntagma Square
- Hotel Grand Bretagne – Ultra-luxury hotel with rooftop restaurant/bar/pool with the best view in Athens. Full-service spa.
- Emporikon Athens Hotel – Great location. Some rooms offer Acropolis or Lycabettus Hill views. Perfect for exploring.
- Check out Prices Trip Advisor
- Hotel Adonis – Great location near the Plaka. Roof terrace with outstanding views of Athens and the Acropolis.
Things to see near Syntagma Square
Parliament building – This building used to be the palace of King Otto after the 19th-century Greek Revolution. Now it is the houses the Greek democracy.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – The changing of the guard ceremonies draw tons of spectators (Top of every hour, large ceremony on Sunday at 11AM).
Panathenaic Stadium – The original stadium of the first modern Olympics in 1896. In the 2004 Olympics, it was the venue for the historic marathon finish and archery contests.
National Gardens – This public space is a great place for a walk or to find peace and quiet in the center of Athens. It contains some ruins, such as columns and Corinthian capitals.
Anafiotika – Want to get an island feel while you’re in the center of Athens? The original inhabitants of this neighborhood were islanders who brought the island vibe to Athens. Look for cats and eye-popping street art tucked in the nooks and crannies.
2. Koukaki – Athens Neighborhood for a Local Experience
This neighborhood south of the Acropolis has a local neighborhood vibe. If you are looking for a walkable locale where everyday Athenians live and hang out, Koukaki is the perfect place.
The key points of interest here are the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum. There are lots of pedestrian zones here and most things are within walking distance. On these paths, you can walk almost completely car-free in a 2-mile path around the Acropolis.
The heart of the neighborhood is the pedestrian street Drakou. Here you can sip coffee or grab a bite with the Athenians.
Further southwest is Olympiou, another pedestrian street with even more tavernas and ouzeries where you can get your fill of traditional greek food.
Where to Stay in Athens Near Koukaki
- Divani Palace Acropolis – 5-star luxury with rooftop restaurant with one of the best views in Athens. Great for photography and service.
- Herodion Hotel – Designer boutique with a modern rooftop restaurant/bar. Outdoor jacuzzis with Acropolis view.
- Athens Studios – Affordable accommodation near the Acropolis Museum. Studios or apartments. Convenient location.
- Check out Availability & Prices Trip Advisor / Booking.com
Things to See in Koukaki
Acropolis – Athens most famous monument, the Parthenon, is located here. Also on the site are the Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheum, Dionysos Theatre, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. On the west side of the Acropolis is Aeropagus/Mars Hill, where Apostle Paul preached to Athenians.
Acropolis Museum – This is one of the best museums in the world, with the highlight being a to-scale recreation of the frieze that surrounded the Parthenon.
Filopappos Hill – Come here for great views of Athens, the Aegean Sea and the Acropolis. It is a great place for a walk and is home to indigenous birds, like the Athenian owl and peregrine falcon.
Temple of Olympia Zeus – Remains of the largest temple in ancient Greece built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
National Museum of Contemporary Art – Housed in refurbished 1893 Fix Brewery Factory, the museum houses contemporary exhibitions from Greek and international artists.
3. Kolonaki – Where to Stay in Athens for Luxury and Shopping
If you are coming to Athens to shop, this posh area with designer shops and boutiques will be right up your alley. Kolonaki is located northeast of the Acropolis.
In addition, you’ll find Athens’ world-renowned art museums here. For example, the Benaki Museum contains a vast collection of the highest-quality Greek art from throughout its history. Or shop for high-quality souvenirs in its shop.
A walk up Lycabettus Hill will give you a great workout and a bird’s eye view of all the streets in Athens. If climbing is too difficult, you can also take a funicular to the top to see the great views.
You’ll love the fantastic energy on Tsakalof Street. Go for a coffee during the day or a cocktail at night. It buzzes at all times of the day.
Top Hotels Near Kolonaki
- Saint George Lycabettus – Luxury hotel with rooftop pool bar and panoramic views. Fitness center and full-service spa. Perfect for some pampering.
- Coco-Mat Hotel – Designer hotel with roof garden/restaurant with a city view, homemade breakfast, and free bicycle rentals.
- Athinais Hotel – Comfortable hotel in a neighborhood that has very few options for budget accommodation. Great location.
Things to see near Kolonaki
Lycabettus Hill – Go for the views all the way to the port of Piraeus and the Aegean Sea. You can hike to the top or take the funicular.
Benaki Museum – Stunning collection of artifacts from ancient, Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern eras. There is also a great gift shop if you are looking for higher quality souvenirs.
Museum of Cycladic Art – See the world’s largest collection of Cycladic art. Everything we know about the ancient islanders, we know because of this art.
Byzantine and Christian Museum – View artwork from the period of history when Greek culture dominated the eastern Christian world.
4. Metaxourgeio – A Great Central Location in Athens
I fell for Athens after an evening in rough-and-tumble Metaxourgeio. Historically, Metaxourgeio was a working middle-class neighborhood that started to decline in the 70’s. Today immigrants and artists take advantage of the lower rents here.
With the new tenants came an artsy vibe with many art galleries and trendy restaurants and cafes. The cultural center of Metaxourgeio is Avdi Square. It’s most lively in the evening when the bars and cafes fill up.
Most of the nicer hotels will be found on Karaiskakis Square, where the metro stop is located.
It is a 10-min walk to Avdi Square from Karaiskaki Square. Spend your time here in art galleries, such as the Municipal Gallery of Athens, Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Breeder Gallery, and the Vamiali Gallery. You will also find a lot of street art around Metaxourgeio.
Stay in Metaxourgeio if you are looking for an alternative locale. It is still a transition neighborhood and will not be to everyone’s taste.
Best Hotels in Metaxourgio
- Wyndham Grand Athens – Luxury hotel offers rooftop pool/bar with a full view of Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Spa and fitness center.
- Novus City Hotel – Stylish hotel with rooftop pool and bar with views of the Acropolis. A Great value.
- Hotel Katerina – Comfortable accommodation with an excellent location near the metro.
Things to See in Metaxourgeio
National Archaeological Museum – The world-renowned museum displays artifacts from as early as 7000 B.C. Highlights include rare bronze statues, the Mask of Agamemnon, and Classic-period sculptures.
Avdi Square – Park-like square, especially lively in the evening. Visit some of my favorite Athens cafe/bars and restaurants that are located on the perimeter.
Gazi – A lively, hip nightclub and bar area. A modern conversion of a 19th century gas plant known as the Technopolis is located here.
The Technololis hosts cultural events, a weekly artisan market, and a museum. It’s staged with red and purple lights at night.
Exarchia – This is an edgy counterculturist neighborhood. It has a long history of clashes with the police and is full of graffiti and street art. Although it is disruptive for police to enter this area, it is generally very safe for everyone else.
5. Psyri – Where to Stay in Athens for Nightlife
The streets in Psyri flood with people at night. Yet it is also extremely close to many sights, including the neighborhood of Thissio and Monastiraki Square. Psyri is the perfect place for you if you want to be close to the center, yet also in the middle of the action at night.
Psyri has an anti-establishment vibe from its history as a home to discontents. Recently, the area has gentrified after lots of quirky bars and artisan shops moved in. Yet it still retains its alternative mood.
Nearby are Monastiraki Square and its famous flea market, Athens Central Market, and the neighborhood of Thissio.
Best Hotels Near Psyri
- O&B Boutique Hotel Athens – 4 star hotel with hip restaurant/bar. Suites offer private terraces with Acropolis views.
- 18 Micon Street – A new modern boutique hotel in the center of Psyri. Some rooms have large balconies.
- Evripides Hotel – Comfortable hotel with a breakfast terrace overlooking the Acropolis. A great budget choice.
Things to see in Psyiri
Monastiraki Square – The city’s other main square. A string of souvlaki joints called Souvlaki Row is here (Note: you will find better souvlaki elsewhere). There is also a 12th-century Byzantine church, the Church of the Virgin.
Monastiraki Flea Market – Shop in the famous flea market. Antiques, books, jewelry, small appliances, artwork.
Athens Central Market – You can buy produce, fish, and meat here. The meat market is a sensory experience. You will find butchers at work as well as whole animals hanging, including the heads.
Library of Hadrian – 2nd century A.D. Roman-era ruins of a cultural center with a library, lecture halls, and art gallery. Today there are only 4 pillars still standing.
Monastiraki Metro Station – On your way through, check out the excavation inside the station. These ruins were found while digging the Blue line extension.
Roman Agora and Tower of the Winds – When the Romans controlled Athens, they built their own forum. Now it’s mostly ruins, but the Tower of the Winds has remained in tact.
Ancient Agora – Where democracy was born. The Ancient Agora was not excavated until the 1930’s. There are sparse remains, but the Temple of Hephaistos is well-preserved.
Thissio – A neighborhood west of the Ancient Agora with great views of the Acropolis. My favorite outdoor cinema is here. Watch a recent Hollywood flick or an old classic while stealing views of the Acropolis.
6. Plaka – The Best Place to Stay in Athens
This area has changed over the years and has become more and more popular with tourists. One of the reasons I recommend this area as the perfect place for first-time visitors is that it is in central Athens and is close to pretty much everything.
Known as the Old Town of Athens, the Plaka neighborhood is situated right at the the base of the Acropolis. With its colorful buildings, charming narrow pedestrian streets and great cultural history it is no wonder this is one of my favorite areas to stay in Athens. It may be a little touristy but I feel it hasn’t lost its old world charm.
With Plaka being in such a convenient location you can expect hotels and accommodation to be a little more expensive in this area of Athens.
Where to Stay in Plaka
- Electra Metropolis Hotel – This 5-star hotel has incredible rooms, amazing views of the Acropolis and the roof-top restaurant is one of the best in the city.
- New Hotel – Close to Syntagma Square and central to almost everything. Modern Rooms and a great restaurant.
- Hotel Phaedra – Located in the heart of Athens this hotel is super affordable and clean. Free Wi-Fi and close to the metro.
Things to see in Plaka
The Acropolis: With Plaka being at the foot of this ancient ruin, you are not going to want to miss this.
Parthenon: An impressive temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena
Temple of Olympian Zeus: This half ruined temple which consists of 104 columns that are 17m high is an impressive structure and worth a visit.
7. Gazi – Best Place to Stay in Athens on a Budget
Gazi may not be in the heart of Athens but most of the main attractions are only 15-20 minutes away by walking or public transit. Because of where it is located it is the perfect place to stay in Athens if you are on a budget.
You can get a lot more here for your money compared to places like Plaka and Syntagma. The Gazi neighborhood is centered around a place called Technopolis.
This old gasworks was converted into museum and cultural center making it the perfect place to check out the cultural and musical side of Athens. There is always something cool going on in the Gazi neighborhood so you will never get bored.
Where to stay in Gazi
- 47 Luxury Suites – Great rooms, centrally located and friendly staff. Everything you want in a luxury hotel.
- The House – Close to the metro, this hotel is a mix of old and new. The building has only 9 rooms but is full of charm.
- Chameleon Hostel – If you are on a budget in Athens this is a great place to stay. Clean rooms and a great location. Perfect for exploring the city.
Things to see in Gazi:
Technopolis: An old gas plant that has been turned into a cultural center. Live shows, museums and more are held here.
Stroll the Mural Filled Streets: Gazi is the new hotspot for street art. Get lost in the area and discover some great artists.
Gazarte: A cool bar with great views of the Acropolis.
Athens Quick Tips
Athens metro is affordable and very easy to use.
Purchase tickets at all Metro, Tram, and Suburban Railway stations. Many news kiosks will also sell tickets. The same ticket is used for all forms of public transportation.
A five day pass for all modes of public transportation only €9.
- This excludes transfers on bus or metro to the airport: A one way metro ticket to/from the airport is €10. A one way Express Bus ticket to/from the airport is €6.
- A 3-day tourist pass for all modes of public transportation AND roundtrip airport transport is only €22
Plan Your Athens Trip
Athens is on the Euro – $1USD = .85 Euro – For up to date conversions get the XE Currency Converter App Dress in layers and pack mix and match clothing. Athens can be extremely hot with intense sunshine. Bring sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin.
How to pack for a European vacation – We give our best tips for packing for Europe from what to bring and how to pack it. With video too!
Eagle Creek Plug Adapter – This all in one adapter is all your need for Athens and other European and world travels.
Athens is a city that you could visit again and again. There is so much history here and when you combine that with the incredible food and friendly people you have a world-class destination.
I have given you the information to go out an explore the best neighborhoods in Athens and all that they have to offer. So, put on your walking shoes and start exploring the ancient city of Athens
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