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What is your favorite neighborhood in Athens?

I finally booked our tickets to Athens yesterday so am starting to firm up places to stay (I already have an itinerary put together thanks to some great advice from everyone here on a previous post). Athens is huge and there's a lot to choose from, what neighborhood do you recommend for a temporary stay and why?

My preferences: I prefer a neighborhood that has more local charm and great restaurants rather than something in the thick of the tourist attractions, we can always use public transit to get where we're going. We will be arriving in Athens on September 19.

And by the way: Turkish airlines is very well rated and they're having a Europe flight sale AND they have a non-stop to Istanbul from Seattle AND they have a program where you can add a stopover in Istanbul and they cover your accomodations, you have to book directly from their site for that option. I picked up 2 economy RT tickets for my husband and myself to Athens with a 3 night stopover in Istanbul on the return for $1480, which includes accommodations in Istanbul. Seriously wow!!!

Posted by
1466 posts

The Plaka neighborhood—Athens’ oldest district at the base of the Acropolis— is a good one not just for having character and being close to attractions, but because it’s been pedestrianized and is much more pleasant than others with too much traffic flowing through them, like Syntagma Square. The Kolonaki district just beyond is a posh neighborhood with boutiques and restaurants, but also seems devoid of charm and character. Choosing where to stay in Athens is not that vital since all these neighborhoods are very close to each other.

Posted by
1957 posts

How many nights will you stay in Athens?
In November, in your previous message in this forum you planned to stay there on arrival as well as before leaving (with a trip to the Peloponnese in between).

About neighborhoods:

My preferences: I prefer a neighborhood that has more local charm and
great restaurants rather than something in the thick of the tourist
attractions

Although Plaka is crowded and a tourist favorite as a whole, there are quiet corners isolated from the crowds. It can be a street or a whole area like "Anafiotika" a micro neighborhoord in Plaka, 100 meters from the Acropolis

https://youtu.be/2yr9f1GDY1s?t=68

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anafiotika

But the only accommodation you will find there is Airbnb type.

As kenko said in his answer, the local charm in Athens is also the noise, the traffic, the impassable sidewalks, the graffiti on the walls and the stifling heat at least 4 months a year (I love it as much as being isolated in the depths of an island). So be prepared!

Outside of Plaka you can look towards Koukaki neighborhood (south of the acropolis). The further south you go in Koukaki, the more you avoid tourists and find local life. You are 15-20 minutes walk from the Acropolis (and les than 10 minutes by bus)

There are other neighborhoods from which you will have to take buses or metro to visit the main sites (15 to 20 minutes journey maximum)

Gazi, Pangrati, Mets, Exarchia.

Some had a bad reputation a few years ago but gentrification has happened there. However, there are still a few areas to avoid around Omonia Square (this is where you will find cheap hotels). Gentrification and the real estate business are also underway.

In contrast, Kolonaki is the "chic" neighborhood of Athens, with art galleries and most embassies

See the official Athens website

https://www.thisisathens.org/neighborhoods

To stay in Athens, know that there are more than 13,000 Airbnbs (much more than hotels) and that there are cafes, taverns and restaurants absolutely everywhere.

Posted by
125 posts

Thanks so much for your replies! I was looking at the Plaka neighborhood so it's nice to have that confirmed. I'm still firming up exact number of nights in each location since I now have this 3 night stopover in Istanbul on the return that will shorten our overall stay in Greece. I am thinking maybe 4 nights in Athens up front and then no nights at the end because our flight from ATH to IST is after 3p so I think we could just go straight from the Peloponnese to the airport, drop the car, and leave. But again firming that up.

Regarding hotel vs Airbnb, I have conflicting feelings on that. I love a good hotel or traditional b&b where I have a host to help with directions, reservations, etc. and cleaning and safety standards are enforced. Additionally, I personally don't like what Airbnb has done to the housing prices in my city, it's unaffordable for many to rent let alone buy here. However, I usually travel for 3-4 weeks at a time and prefer to travel lighter, so renting 1 or 2 Airbnbs with a washer during that time is extremely valuable. It's more convenient to run a load of wash and hang it out while we're having breakfast than to spend a couple of hours at a laundromat. So I have some ethical concerns with using Airbnb, and I will steer away as I can, but I use them when needed. For Athens, since it will be our first stop, I would prefer a hotel.

Posted by
1957 posts

I understand your reluctance for Airbnbs. It's a choice.

The free washing machine in the apartment, the equipped kitchen, the possibility of having breakfast as you want, when you want, even other basic meals, or simply to rest for 1 hour in the living room of "your " apartment makes us prefer Airbnbs.

The problem is that a large part of the Airbnbs in Athens are now managed by professionals. On the Airbnb website in English USA language version you cannot see it, but if you switch for example to English Ireland language (among others) you will see this information. (Individual or Professional).

We had interesting encounters with some hosts. University professors, musicians, web designers, etc.

Always better than a real estate agency employee who comes to bring you the keys.

Some examples of Airbnbs in Athens:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/6uC1g2FgED8sXq8P6

Posted by
125 posts

I totally get that JoLui, I also appreciate everything you listed as pros for Airbnb. I have a love-hate relationship with the company 😂 And it's my experience that most are owned by companies now, too, which just contributes to the housing shortage and escalating home prices. We've used Airbnb all over the US as well as Italy, France, England and Scotland and had the same observation, most are owned by companies. It's nice that in other countries there's a way to tell that from the listing, I wish the US had that. Thanks for the tip on finding that!

I will also check out the Kolonaki neighborhood. Thank you!

Posted by
280 posts

We have been to Athens a few times in the last few years, most recently this past November.
We love the area south of the Acropolis Museum. It is close enough to the tourist areas but just a little outside of it.

Personally, I don't care much for the Plaka area to stay in as it is mainly Tourist Central. There are some nice areas for sure but the focus is tourists. Many people on this forum do however like it but for us we don't thrive in such as location. But then we like to walk and don't mine being a bit removed.

Last time we stayed in The Acropolis Select Hotel and loved the location. The hotel itself was fine, not fancy, a bit dated and had some construction going on across the street. There are other hotels in the area as well.

Posted by
125 posts

Thanks so much MA Traveler, it looks like that hotel is in the Kouklaki neighborhood which others have recommended as well. Thanks!

Posted by
464 posts

We enjoyed the Makrigianni area near the Acropolis. We stayed at the AthensWas hotel on Dionysiou Areopagitou street, a shady pedestrian street only 1 block from the New Acropolis Museum and 2 blocks from the Acropolis on the promenade. There are several restaurants nearby as well as the Fresko Yogurt Cafe. The Arcadia Restaurant and the Yard All Day restaurant were very good and convenient. You can walk to the Plaka area and Syntagma Square from this area. The Akropoli Metro is right there also for ease of transportation. Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
1 posts

I know I'm late to this, especially for the OP, but I loved staying in Koukaki. We especially thought the FOOD in that neighborhood was much better!

Posted by
1172 posts

I've found the Koukaki area a nice alternative to where most tourists stay like Plaka. It's more of a neighborhood feel and has shops, markets and tavernas that have a more traditional feel to them.

The Plaka is nice to wander around, especially further away from Monistiraki where it is 100% tourists oriented.

Ever since COVID ended I've seen a big increase in prices at hotels and my favorite is now to expensive!

I've switched to finding Airbnb accommodations that offer more for less money especially full apartments that include a washing machine.

There are a lot of options for Airbnb places in range of prices so if you are looking for an alternative to tourist-oriented hotels they may be a good option.

I've also stayed at Airbnbs in other parts of Greece and they have worked out fine.

As in all travels to other countries do your research, ask questions and do what's best for you.

Posted by
125 posts

Thanks all! It's been a while since I posted this and I decided on the Psyrri neighborhood. The art vibe and good restaurants in that area appealed to me. And I booked us into the Athens Center Square Hotel which is near the Varvakios Central Municipal Market, perfect for a couple of foodies.

Regarding Airbnb, I prefer hotels or traditional b&bs because they are more reliable and the staff are always on hand to assist and have been great with things like getting us a restaurant reservation, finding a place with live music, or calling a taxi. Additionally I hate what Airbnb has done to housing prices in my city, and I see this reflected across the globe. It is not my experience that they are cheaper than hotels, at least not the hotel price range I typically stay in. That used to be the case years ago, but not any more. That said, we travel for 3-4 weeks at a time when we go to Europe so I will generally book 1 or 2 stays into a flat with a washing machine at some point in that period. It's easier to run a load while we have breakfast and hang it to dry before we start our day than to spend hours washing and drying at a laundromat, and cheaper than using a hotel's laundry service. That's just my preference.