Posted: 6/3/2022 | June 3rd, 2022
Athens, the cradle of democracy and the foundation of Western civilization, is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Europe. Home to the iconic Acropolis, with its hilltop of millennia-old structures and ruins looming over this metropolis of three million people, Athens is one of the most-visited destinations on the continent.
But there is more to Athens than the Acropolis. In fact, this bustling Greek capital has a slew of great neighborhoods to explore, each one with its own distinct flavor and character, each one vibrant and buoyant in its own way.
While I don’t love Athens, the more time I spend here, the more I warm up to it. It’s huge, with a lot to offer — no matter your interest or budget.
To help you make the most of your trip (and save both time and money), I’ll show you exactly where to stay in Athens, so you can pick the best neighborhood based on your interests and travel style.
But before I get into the specifics, let me answer some frequent questions I get asked:
What’s the best neighborhood for budget travelers?
About 25 years ago, Psyrri was a kind of no-go zone, a neighborhood of ramshackle buildings and not-particularly-nice streets. But all that’s changed. Today it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods, a fun nightlife-centric district with a youthful vibe.
What’s the best neighborhood in Athens for families?
Kolonaki is quiet and subdued enough that a family can base themselves here and won’t have to worry too much about street noise. There are also a handful of museums here too.
What’s the best neighborhood in Athens for first-time visitors?
The area around Syntagma Square (just outside of Plaka) is crammed with hotels, shops, and subway and bus lines. It’s a good place to base yourself and get oriented to Athens if it’s your first time here. Plaka itself is also a good choice.
What’s the best neighborhood in Athens for partying?
If you’re looking to party the nights away, Gazi is the place to kick-start your revelry!
What is the best neighborhood in Athens overall?
If you spend even a day in Athens, ending up in Plaka seems inevitable. Located at the base of the Acropolis, its limestone streets are flanked by fun bars and taverns serving up traditional Greek fare.
So, with those questions answered, here’s a breakdown of each neighborhood, with suggested accommodation for each, so you know exactly where to stay:
Athens Neighborhood Overview
Where to Stay for Street Art: Exarcheia
Gritty and salt of the earth, Exarcheia, north of the National Archeological Museum, has a highly energetic vibe, as students swarm the place. It’s also historically home to the city’s anarchist set. The once-bare walls of Exarcheia are now bathed in street art, much of it intriguingly political. It’s also one of the more affordable places to stay in Athens.
Best Places to Stay in Exarcheia
- BUDGET: Nubian Hostel Athens – With murals and artwork in every room, this hostel fits right in with the neighborhood’s artsy vibe. There are mixed and female-only dorms, as well as private rooms, common areas, and a backyard patio. There’s also daily free breakfast and a free happy hour with wine every night.
- MIDRANGE: Dryades & Orion Hotel – Hugging a hilly park, this chill hotel has rooms with views of the Acropolis. Plus, it has a lovely roof garden in which to watch the sunset while sipping a glass of wine.
- LUXURY: Colors Hotel Athens – With spacious rooms (that include desks), Colors offers bright, cheery accommodations with free Wi-Fi, rainmaker showers, cozy bathrobes, and a tasty breakfast.
Where to Stay for Peace and Quiet: Kifissia
Sedate and affluent, Kifissia is in the north of Athens. It’s popular with families and couples who like to live on the quiet side of things. Shopping opportunities abound here, as there is a legion of upscale boutiques, and the restaurant scene is tranquil and sophisticated. Most of the accommodation options in Kifissia are on the periphery of the neighborhood.
Best Places to Stay in Kifissia
- BUDGET: Lida Hotel – With majestic mountain views, hot tub, and complimentary breakfast, Lida is a cozy midrange spot on the periphery of Kifissia (true budget accommodation is virtually non-existent here). Rooms are comfortable enough, with free Wi-Fi and large-screen TVs.
- MIDRANGE: Pines Hotel – The Pines’ large rooms are attractive: their hardwood floors, subdued hues, and soundproof windows make for a relaxing stay. For the warm-weather months, each room has a powerful AC. Breakfast is always included.
- LUXURY: The Kefalari Suites – This 4-star boutique hotel in the heart of Kifissia is housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century, neoclassical mansion. You can expect modern luxury amenities though, including marble bathrooms, private terraces/balconies, and a rooftop terrace complete with a hot tub.
Where to Stay for Nightlife: Psyrri
Bars and diminutive meze restaurants are awash in Psyrri (sometimes spelled Psiri). It’s a fun, vibrant neighborhood with a lot of verve. So bring your dancing shoes. Once a rather sedate, working-class part of town, Psyrri is now one of the best places to gravitate to at night for eating, drinking, and debauchery. It’s probably my favorite place in the city to spend time.
Best Places to Stay in Psyrri
- BUDGET: Pella Inn Hostel – Just a few minutes’ stroll from the Monastiraki metro station, Pella has private rooms with and without a private bathroom. Rooms have lockers, and some even have balconies. There are female-only dorms too.
- MIDRANGE: Athensred – This property has all the perks of a midrange hotel: a nice location near lots of fun bars and restaurants, free Wi-Fi, rooms with large flat-screen TVs, and friendly service.
- LUXURY: Lotus Inn – The spacious rooms of the Lotus Inn are bedecked with hardwood floors, plus-sized TVs, and upscale bath products. Some have balconies with views. There’s a hot tub on the premises too, in case you really need to relax after a day of exploring.
Where to Stay to Sightseeing: Plaka
Plaka, located right under the Acropolis, is unavoidable if you’re in Athens for longer than a few hours. Yes, every other tourist and visitor (and some locals) will be there too, which is why some people might avoid it. But it’s also an area where limestone-paved streets are flanked by fun bars, cafés, and restaurants. It’s another one of my favorite places in Athens.
Best Places to Stay in Plaka
- BUDGET: Student & Travellers Inn – This hostel smack-dab in the middle of Plaka is your classic backpacker hostel, with 4-8-bed dorms and its own bar for meeting people. The dorms are basic but comfy, and it’s the most affordable place to stay in the area.
- MIDRANGE: Athens Center Square Hotel – True to its name, this is in the center of absolutely everything, with great views of the Acropolis from many rooms, as well as the rooftop terrace. Rooms have flat-screen TVs and air conditioning, and a daily buffet breakfast included in the room rate.
- LUXURY: Plaka Hotel – Comfortable and friendly, the Plaka Hotel is in the heart of the neighborhood. Rooms boast flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and balconies — some with stellar views. The American-style buffet breakfast is complimentary.
Where to Stay for Partying: Gazi
Gazi is home to Technopolis, a fascinating industrial museum and cultural hub housed inside an mid-19th-century erstwhile gasworks plant. When the sun goes down, the neighborhood becomes abuzz with energy, as bars, cafés, and restaurants rev up. Much later, nightclubs pump until the wee hours of the morning.
Best Places to Stay in Gazi
- BUDGET: Iconic Athens Hostel – This hostel is comfortable, clean, and affordable. It has a shared lounge and terrace, and room options include small and large dorms, including female-only ones.
- MIDRANGE: Priamos Erato Hotel – This property offers a good number of perks for the price: each room has a balcony and comes with free Wi-Fi, soundproof windows, and plush bathrobes. Guests have access to the hot tub too!
- LUXURY: Athenaeum Eridanus Luxury Hotel – This sleek, minimal hotel just blocks from Gazi has luxury amenities, like marble bathrooms, LCD TVs, and a buffet breakfast, as well as a fully equipped gym with a steam bath. There’s also a rooftop bar and restaurant, plus a tranquil inner courtyard.
Where to Stay for Families: Kolonaki
Upscale, clean, and safe, Kolonaki is a lovely oasis. It’s also home to several great museums. In addition to being an excellent base for families, travelers who love to shop till they drop will like Kolonaki: the district is renowned for its upscale clothes and jewelry boutiques, shoe stores, and art galleries.
Best Places to Stay in Kolonaki
- BUDGET: Greek Gastronomy Center Apartments – Don’t let the name fool you. Or get you too hungry. This multiroom property offers comfortable private rooms and dorms for budget travelers. Some rooms have kitchenettes.
- MIDRANGE: Coco-Mat Hotel – Rooms in this design-friendly spot in the heart of Kolonaki are equipped with TVs with international channels, free and fast Wi-Fi, coffee machines, and upscale bath products. It’s located just steps away from great restaurants and bars too.
- LUXURY: St. George Lycabettus – The ultra-spacious rooms here are stylish and comfortable. Many have balconies; some boast panoramic views of the Acropolis. Rooms and in-room bathrooms are accented with marble; the rooms also have AC, minibars, and super-fast Wi-Fi.
Athens may be a bit grittier than other European capitals, but the city is bursting at the seams with delicious food, ancient history, and affordable activities. While Plaka and Psyrri may be my personal favorite districts to stay in, the mix of vibrant, eclectic, and fun neighborhoods ensures that no matter where you choose to stay in Athens, you’ll have an amazing time!
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Book Your Trip to Greece: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe, so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld, as it has the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com, as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancelations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (best for everyone)
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- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
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