Given that it is one of the most ancient cities in the world, Athens is also one of the most interesting in the world to explore. Offering the modern day traveler a chance to experience what the world was like over 4,000 years ago, Athens has landmark after landmark to discover.
With its heart very much in 800 B.C, Athens’s head is very much in the 21st Century. From the urban anarchy of Exarcheia to the classy cafe-lined streets of Kolonaki, there is a neighborhood to suit every subculture and travel style in central Athens. Though it will always seem odd to be standing in front of a modern fast-food chain restaurant and look up to see the Acropolis off in the distance, this juxtaposition is what makes Athens such an exciting city to visit.
You could spend a lifetime exploring Athens and the world of the ancient civilizations who built this great city, but even in the space of a short visit you can get more than a taste for their opulent disposition.
Let’s take a look at where to stay in Athens so you can find a neighborhood to suit your style and ideal itinerary.
Many of Athens’ neighborhoods feel like villages set within the city streets. There is a strong community identity from one neighborhood to another, and this is certainly true of Plaka. With a distinct personality and a unique community feel, Plaka is an ideal place for first-time travelers to this ancient city.
This is one of the oldest areas of Athens and, due to the narrow streets, large areas of the neighborhood are pedestrianized. This helps strengthen the quintessentially Greek feel to the district. Travelers quickly sink into the slower pace of life and lazily wander the slim streets in search of an ancient treasure.
You don’t have to look too far to find evidence of the city’s ancient existence. Standing proudly at the heart of the Plaka neighborhood is the Tower of the Winds. Stop, stare and marvel – it’s the only thing to do in the presence of such grandeur.
Good For: Active Travelers, Backpackers, Budding Historians, Couples, Culture Vultures, Families, First Time Travelers, Whistle Stop Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, Roman Agora, Tower of the Winds, Plaka Anafiotika, Hellenic Children’s Museum, Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments, Frissiras Museum, Athens University History Museum, Museum of Pavlos and Alexandra Kanellopoulou, Museum of School Life and Education, Drapel GRECESC
- AthensWas Hotel – AthensWas Hotel is situated on one of the most scenic pedestrian streets in Plaka. With modern, bright and spacious rooms, the decor is trendy with a subtle nod to the city’s ancient roots. The restaurant offers amazing views of the Acropolis in the distance. WiFi is available throughout.
- Phaedra Hotel – Set in the heart of Plaka, Phaedra Hotel is an ideal spot for travelers who want to stay in the heart of the action. All rooms have a work desk, flat-screen TV and telephone. Private ensuite bathrooms come as standard and some rooms have their own balcony.
- Home and Poetry – A modern, boutique-style hotel in central Plaka; many of the major attractions are within a short walk of the hotel. A great breakfast is included in the room rate, as is WiFi. Slippers and toiletries are complimentary too. Home and Poetry is 300-meters from Plaka Anafiotika
When scouring the guidebooks seeking every last hint and tip for your trip to Athens, you will find the ‘Acropolis area’ almost everywhere. The Acropolis area has a very loose definition and many will refer to all of historical Athens as Acropolis, at least that part that falls within the shadow of the great palace. To save any confusion, Acropolis here refers to the symbol of the city and the immediate vicinity.
Acropolis is one of the most significant historical sites in western civilization. It has not only become the most iconic landmark in Greece, but possibly all of Europe. It is true – Athens sits in the shadow of this majestic ruin.
The Acropolis Museum is one of the most impressive in the city, and that’s saying something – there are nearly fifty in total. The Acropolis Museum houses fascinating ancient artefacts and helps to provide context for many of the historical sites you will visit in Athens.
Good For: Active Travelers, Backpackers, Budding Historians, Couples, City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Families, First Time Travelers, Whistle Stop Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: The Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, The Temple of Asclepius, Erechtheion, Theatre of Dionysus, Temple Of Rome And Augustus, Byzantine Cistern, Propylaea, Areopagus Hill
- Divani Palace Acropolis – Offering impressive views of the Acropolis from the rooftop terrace, Divani Palace is an excellent choice. The rooms are neutral in tone, and incredibly spacious. There are standard double rooms available as well as executive rooms, junior suite and executive suite. There is a restaurant and bar on-site.
- AD Athens Luxury Rooms & Suites – Modern, minimalist and offering guests ultimate levels of comfort, AD Athens is ideal for travelers who like to sleep in style. This is a family-friendly hotel – with a kids corner complete with books, board games and coloring pens. Family rooms are available, as are spacious suites.
- Herodion Hotel – Sitting right at the foot of Acropolis, you could not stay closer to the iconic palace if you tried. Herodion Hotel offers guests access to their hot tubs and gorgeous roof garden. Rooms are modern and light. The beds are incredibly comfortable and all rooms have air conditioning.
For travelers looking to gain insight into old Athens and new, Monastiraki is the best neighborhood for sure. Well known for its flea markets and laid back eateries, Monastiraki offers you the chance to experience a more encompassing vision of the Greek capital.
There are an overwhelming amount of places to shop here. If you have any euros to spare, be sure to stock them up and get spending. Time your visit on a Sunday to experience Monastiraki flea markets. This sees local vendors head out into the main square and bargain off their wares to passing tourists.
In terms of evidence of ancient Greece, there is a lot to explore in Monastiraki. Not only is it within a 10-minute walk of Plaka and the Acropolis, but it is home to a number of historical wonders all of its own – Hadrian’s Library, Tzistarakis Mosque, and Stoa of Attalos to name but a few.
Good For: Budding Historians, Couples, City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Families, First Time Travelers, Foodies, Shopaholics, Whistle Stop Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Hadrian’s Library, Tzistarakis Mosque, Stoa of Attalos, Monastiraki Flea Market, Fethiye Mosque, The Horologion of Andronikos Of Kyrrhos, Temple of Hephaestus, Monastiraki Square
- 360 Degrees – 360 Degrees is located right on Monastiraki Square. There is a rooftop bar and restaurant that offers views up to the Acropolis. All rooms have a modern and industrial feel in true hipster style. A breakfast buffet is included in the room rate that accommodates vegetarian and vegan diets.
- The Zillers Boutique Hotel – In a great location in central Monastiraki, The Zillers is a popular choice in central Athens. The hotel has a bar and restaurant, as well as a sun terrace that offers views of the Acropolis. All rooms have air-conditioning and WiFi. An airport shuttle can be arranged on request.
- Metropolis Hotel – This is a small and homey hotel close to Monastiraki Square and Syntagma Square. With only 21-rooms, there is a personal service afforded to all guests. The rooms are simple but charming and have all the facilities you could need – ensuite bathroom, air-conditioning and WiFi. Breakfast is an optional extra.
Sitting on the outskirts of Athens historical center, but still firmly within the downtown, Exarcheia is best known for being the site of the Athens Polytechnic Uprising in 1973. Fast forward 40-years and this neighborhood has undergone a total transformation.
Certainly retaining its strong and individual personality, Exarcheia is now home to a coffee culture rather than an anarchist movement. Travelers can opt to join one of the dozens of graffiti tours of the neighborhood that not only showcase the area’s thriving artistic talent, but also tells the tale of its turbulent past.
This is an ideal area for travelers who want to live like a local, or long-term travelers looking to gain a taste for life outside the tourist-orientated quarters.
The weekend farmer’s market on Kallidromiou Street is a wonderful place to mingle with locals and learn what makes them tick. Kallidromiou Street is the cultural capital of the Exarcheia, with groups of friends gathering here.
Good For: Adventurous Travelers, Backpackers, City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Couples, Digital Nomads, Off-the-Beaten Track Travelers, Like a Local Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Kallidromiou Street, Sunday Farmer’s Market, Epigraphic Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Strefi Hill Park, Opap Play Casino, Street Art Tours, Navarinou Park
- Athens Connection Apartments – Ideal for long term travelers or digital nomads who need their own space and a reliable WiFi connection, these apartments all have a flat-screen TV, air-conditioning and private bathroom. Basic kitchens are provided in the apartments but not the rooms. Apartments have their own private balcony.
- Jason’s Loft – A minimalistic apartment rental in central Exarcheia, Jason’s Loft features one bedroom, a private bathroom and a basic kitchen. There is air-conditioning and WiFi throughout the apartment. Jason’s Loft can sleep up to two people per night. There are a number of local favorite coffee shops within walking distance.
- Best Western Hotel Museum – Best Western Hotel Museum is a modern hotel in the heart of Exarcheia, just steps from the National Archaeological Museum. All rooms have air-conditioning and private ensuite bathrooms. Little touches increase value for money – like the complimentary breakfast and WiFi. The front desk is manned 24-hour for your convenience.
Sitting on the border of Athens’ historical center is the up and coming neighborhood of Thiseio.
A foodie’s paradise, Thiseio is home to some of the best bars and brunch spots in Athens. In the daytime, you can venture into the historical center – and then discover a whole new side of Athens at night, a little closer to base. Aloustínes is a firm favorite with travelers, who rave about their Raki. Raki is a traditional Greek anise-flavored alcoholic aperitif. A glass or two really should be tried while in Athens.
The beauty of Thiseio is that it is so close to yet more of Athens’ incredible historic sites. The Temple of Hephaestus is an Ancient Greek place of worship that sits just at the foot of the Acropolis. The Sanctuary Of Zeus is a fascinating archaeological museum, and the National Observatory of Athens is really rather impressive.
Good For: Adventurous Travelers, Backpackers, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Couples, Foodies, Like a Local Travelers, Whistle-Stop Travelers.
Neighborhood Highlights: The Temple of Hephaestus, Sanctuary Of Zeus, National Observatory of Athens, Themistoclean Ancient Wall of Pnyx, Areopagus Hill, Church of Agios Demetrios Loumbardiaris, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Ancient Agora of Athens
- Acropoli’s Luxury Apartment – A beautiful, stylish and incredibly spacious apartment in the heart of Thiseio, this apartment can sleep up to seven people, so is ideal for big family holidays or group trips. The apartment has a modern and fully equipped kitchen as well as cozy lounge area. WiFi is available throughout.
- Be My Guest Athens – Be My Guest is a modern and bright hotel on the border of the Thiseio and Petralona neighborhoods. All rooms have a 43’’ flat-screen TV, and tea and coffee maker. They serve an exceptionally good breakfast that is complimentary with some room rates. From the rooftop terrace you can enjoy views of the Acropolis.
- Thission Penthouse – Thisson Penthouse is a luxury apartment in a central location. Guests can enjoy the fully equipped kitchen and spacious living room area. The apartment comes with its own private hot tub and offers views of the Acropolis. Free WiFi is available throughout the apartment and there is a flat-screen TV.
Sitting just north of Plaka and just south of Exarcheia, the tiny neighborhood of Syntagma is often overlooked in favor of these two big personalities.
Syntagma is a historical neighborhood in the center of the ancient epicenter of Athens. Syntagma Square is home to Greece’s parliament, and as such holds great national significance even to this day.
You could spend your whole trip getting clued up about Syntagma Square alone and only just scratch the surface. Even in the modern era, Syntagma Square is often the location of choice for protests and political rallies. It is a multifunctional area visited as much by locals as it is by tourists.
Syntagma acts as a gateway to the beautiful and ever floral National Garden. This expansive parkland is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of central Athens and features a smattering of archaeological ruins, a charming children’s library and of course, a wonderful catalogue of flora.
Good For: Active Travelers, Backpackers, Budding Historians, Couples, Culture Vultures, Families, First Time Travelers, Whistle Stop Travelers
Neighborhood Highlights: Syntagma Square, Hellenic Parliament Building, National Garden, Botanical Museum of the National Gardens, Zappeion, Third Ephorate Of Ancient Antiquities, Statue of Lord Byron, Benaki Museum, Jewish Museum of Greece
- Niki Athens Hotel – Niki Athens Hotel is just 100m from Syntagma Square. There is a modern and minimalist boutique style to the hotel which will be appreciated by luxury travelers. All rooms come with a spacious wardrobe and well-lit bathroom. Guests can enjoy snacks or light bites at the restaurant throughout the day.
- Electra Palace Athens – Featuring classic, ornate decor, Electra Palace is an upmarket hotel that can be found in less than a four-minute walk from Syntagma Square. The ensuite bathrooms are notable, as are the fluffy bathrobes and soft slippers. They serve a traditional Greek breakfast each morning in the hotel’s dining hall.
- Arethusa Hotel – Arethusa Hotel is just a 50-meter walk from Syntagma Metro Station. The rooms are simple and comfortable, with enough room to spread out and relax. All rooms have a private ensuite bathroom, air conditioning and a city view. Breakfast is American buffet style and served in the dining hall. Free WiFi throughout the hotel.
Psiri is the best place to stay in Athens if you are a night owl. Athens’ nightlife scene centers around Iroon Square in the heart of Psiri.
What makes Psiri so great, particularly for whistle-stop travelers, is that it borders Thiseio, and in turn, many of Athens’ must-visit landmarks. What’s not to love?
As a modern and happening neighborhood in Athens, there is always something on in Psiri, be at a nightclub, or a live band in a bar. There are dozens of independent shops to explore in Psiri. If you find the offerings at Monastiraki Flea Market a little run of the mill, you will surely find something that will take your fancy here.
Psiri is a neighborhood for the night owls for sure. Both the eateries and the bars stay open late in true Greek style. Psiri retains its laid back feel come night or day.
Good For: Adventurous Travelers, Backpackers, City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Couples, Off-the-Beaten Track Travelers, Like a Local Travelers, Party People
Neighborhood Highlights: Iroon Square, Emporikon Theatre, Theatro Kofon Ellados, Spinster Bar, Boiler Bar, The Clumsies Bar, Athens Escape Room, Museum of Greek Gastronomy, Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea, Statue Of Pericles
- Athens Centre Square Hotel – Athens Centre Square Hotel is a great mid-range hotel close to some of Psiri’s best bars and clubs. The rooms are cozy and comfortable and have all the amenities you could wish for. Breakfast is included in the room rate and is noted to be one of the best around.
- Athens Lodge – Athens Lodge is a boutique-style hotel on the border to Psiri and Monastiraki, offering you the best of both worlds. Rooms are ultra-stylish and incredibly comfortable. Guests can make use of the spa complex or relax on the rooftop bar. WiFi is available throughout the property.
- Athinaikon – An affordable, basic accommodation option in Psiri, within walking distance of many historical landmarks. All rooms have a private ensuite bathroom and bed linen and towels are provided. Breakfast is an additional extra but there are a number of cafes neighboring the hotel should you wish to eat elsewhere.
In the Greek language, Kolonaki translates to mean ‘little column’ and this neighborhood ticks all the right boxes.
Kolonaki is an amalgamation of all of the best bits of Athens’ other central neighborhoods. With the nightlife of Psiri, the individuality of Exarcheia, and sharing many of the must-visit landmarks with Syntagma, it is hard to think of a type of traveler that wouldn’t fall for the charms of Kolonaki.
The bars of Kolonaki are some of the most upmarket and sophisticated in all of Athens. Once you have ticked off the historical hotspots during the day, there is just enough time to nip back to your hotel, get your glad rags on, and hit the town. Minnie the Moocher is a renowned cocktail bar that plays a great selection of jazz tunes every night.
Greece has its own brand of blues known as ‘rembetika’ you can find some of the hottest local bands in Kolonaki.
Good For: Adventurous Travelers, Backpackers, City Slickers, Culture Vultures, Couples, Off-the-Beaten Track Travelers, Like a Local Travelers, Long-Term Travelers, Party People
Neighborhood Highlights: Lycabettus Hill, Byzantine And Christian Museum, Museum of Cycladic Art, Hellenic Children’s Museum, Benaki Museum, Adrianeos Tanks, Gallery 7, Museum of the History of Greek Costume
- St George Lycabettus – St George is a lavish hotel in central Kolonaki, where guests are welcome to retreat from the busy city center. There is an extravagant rooftop terrace that features a swimming pool and sun loungers. Each floor of the hotel features a different theme reflecting Greek culture. All rooms have a fully stocked mini bar.
- V Residence – Set 200-meters from the door of Lycabettus Hill, V Residence is in a great location in Kolonaki. The apartment can sleep up to four people, and a continental breakfast is served each morning. The apartment has a cozy living room and a fully equipped kitchen complete with oven.
- Lux Central Apartment at Kolonaki Area – A luxury holiday apartment that can sleep up to six people across three bedrooms, Lux Central features WiFi and air conditioning throughout the property. Guests can make use of the fully equipped kitchen and dine at the breakfast bar or in the living room. The apartment has a sunny balcony.