Athens, Athens, Athens. What a city!

Often, people think of Athens as a pit stop before hitting the iconic Greek Islands (which I must admit, was me before I visited). But to think of Athens as just a pit stop is WILD. It is so much more than just a stopover location.

Athens is filled to the brim with ancient history, culture and cool, funky vibes. Whether you’re up for visiting the infamous Acropolis or hitting up the trendy cafes and eateries – there is something for every traveller in Athens. 

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world which makes it the perfect destination for you culture buffs. There are almost too many museums to count! You’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of which part of history you want to indulge in.

That said, Athens is neither tiny nor easy to navigate. While the newer areas have a grid system, many of the ancient cities maze about. So, you may have a tough time deciding where to stay in Athens.

There are certain neighborhoods that you’ll want to stay in for nightlife, tourist attractions, luxury hotels, or just somewhere you can chill out. 

I’ve written this guide on where to stay in Athens to help make your decision-making a hell of a lot easier. I’ll take you through the best areas (in my humble opinion) and what each has to offer.

So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.

view of the acropolis at sunset from rooftop
The view from my hostel rooftop. Un-bloody-real
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

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Where Is the Best Place to Stay in Athens?

Athens is one of those classic cities in Europe to visit alongside the likes of Rome, Paris and London. It’s a stalwart on any trip backpacking around Greece and makes a great city break for those on a shorter holiday. Whatever your travel style, there’s a place for you in this ancient metropolis.

Keep scrollin’ to find out my top recommendations for where to stay in Athens.

Athenaeum Grand Hotel | Best Hotel in Athens

Bedroom in hotel with a TV, comfy bed and window with view over the city

If you’re looking for where to stay in Athens with the best location and transport links, I’ve got you covered. You’ll be able to visit the city’s most popular attractions and Athens day trips with no hassle and minimal travel time.

The Athenaeum screams quality. Guests in this stylish hotel don’t need to worry about missing a single comfort. I recommend this modern hotel above any others because of its consistent top service.

Nubian Hostel | Best Hostel in Athens

Shared space in hostel with large artwork on the wall, comfy pallet sofa and table and chairs

This Athens hostel is far from your old, dilapidated dorm. Each funky bunk is decorated with urban artwork and even the social area has some impressive designs on the walls.

The sunny terrace and team of friendly staff endeavour to make the hostel a social and welcoming place. Where you can meet new people and relax in total comfort.

Acropoli flat Scandinavian-style | Best Airbnb in Athens

Scandinavian style dining area with high table and chairs

The clean, minimalist style of this beautiful apartment is second to none – and definitely one of the best Airbnbs in Athens. With the gorgeous decor, you’ll feel like you’ve been magically transported to an IKEA catalogue.

It sleeps up to three (with a double bed and a sofa bed), making it a total bargain for such a great location in central Athens. It’s also within easy walking distance away from the Acropolis Museum.

Athens Neighborhood Guide – Best Places to Stay in Athens

FIRST TIME IN ATHENS
Narrow streets of Athens at sunset
FIRST TIME IN ATHENS

Plaka

Once the nightlife district, the government shut down many of the bars to discourage seedy characters. Nowadays, it’s a light and bright area home to as many tourists as locals.

ON A BUDGET
Athens,,Greece,-,December,09,,2015:,Christmas,Fair,And,Market
ON A BUDGET

Gazi

If you feel Plaka may stretch the purse strings a little, head to Gazi. Not only is this neighborhood just a 20-minute walk to the key attractions, it’s an exciting place in itself.

NIGHTLIFE
streets of plaka with colourful bunting and cafe tables along the streets
NIGHTLIFE

Psyri

While Plaka is great for families and calmer sorts, if you love to let your hair down, you’ll love Psiri for its great nightlife.

ARTSIEST NEIGHBOURHOOD IN ATHENS
mural art in Exarchia in Athens Greece
ARTSIEST NEIGHBOURHOOD IN ATHENS

Exarchia

Exarchia’s history of political riots once put off tourists coming to the area. But with anarchy comes change and creativity, and today Exarchia is where the cool kids hang out.

FOR FAMILIES
FOR FAMILIES

Kifissia

Kifissia is a relaxed, leafy district in northern Athens. It really is the antidote to the bustling, busy streets of the centre which makes it a popular pick with families.

There are few cities where old and new sit so well together. Once the heart of Ancient Greece, the Athens landscape is peppered with reminders of the incredible civilization dating back to the 5th Century BC.

Tourists flock to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon – and for good reason! These iconic buildings tell the tale of empires, conquerors and defeats, and make Athens the historical capital of Europe.

Like many European cities, there are different neighborhoods, each with its own feel and flavour. Any two different visitors can have completely different experiences depending on where they stay.

Many people think Greece is expensive to visit. However, you don’t have to pay the big bucks to get the best out of Athens (as I’ll endeavour to prove). When planning your Athens itinerary bear in mind what kind of trip you want and where you really want to visit.

Most people looking for where to stay in Athens opt for Plaka. Guests are right on top of the key sites, and the pedestrianised area is a relaxed one to wander. If you’re after an easy first visit, Athens city centre is probably the neighborhood for you!

Four friends on the streets of Plaka surrounded by restaurants, lights and tress
Just 4 gals on the hunt for the best Moussaka in Plaka

However, if you’re looking for a more alternative base, you’ll also be well-catered for in Exarchia. Street art and hipster bars dominate the streets in Exarchia. It’s definitely one of the coolest areas in the city!

While Psiri is well-renowned as the nightlife district full of bars and clubs to boogie the night away. However, there’s still plenty of history and culture here too as it’s home to the National Archaeological Museum. This is one of the best things to do in Athens.

Many people travelling to Athens opt to skip the archaeological zone and stay in Gazi where they still have easy access to all areas of the city. Gazi is also home to some pretty EPIC nightlife – particularly for the younger crowds.

Families may consider Kifissia, which is a favourite with those looking for a relaxed pace of life. Family tavernas serve traditional Greek food and beer, and it’s a great place to browse for souvenirs and enjoy the parks.

Whichever area you choose, I’ve got your accommodation covered… let’s dive into each in more detail.

Athens Five Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Athens is a bustling, sensory maze. While some kind of grid system exists in the newer areas, the ancient streets of Athens city centre look like rabbit warrens from above. Many travellers describe this as being half the fun – you never know whether you’ll find a cocktail bar or a cathedral around the corner!

Luckily, public transport links are strong and a trusty map will ensure you find the best of the city’s neighborhoods. These include…

1. Plaka Neighborhood – Best Neighborhood in Athens for First-timers

Once the nightlife district, the government shut down many of the bars to discourage seedy characters. Nowadays, it’s a light and bright area home to as many tourists as locals.

When you want to take a break from seeing the archaeological sites on your doorstep, there are plenty of opportunities to browse the shops and explore the cafe and restaurant scene.

Some would say the area is a bit touristy; however, in a city as highly popular as Athens, this feels unavoidable. For the most part, Plaka does a fantastic job of blending the local culture with the needs of the tourists – with a few cheap, take-home masks of the Ancient Greeks for good measure!

Just next door to Plaka is a small area called Syntagma Square which is perfect for those who only have one night in Athens. Syntagma Square has direct public transport to both Athens National Airport Eleftherios Venizelos and the ports.

Narrow streets of Athens at sunset
Wander the old, narrow streets of Plaka
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

Adrian Hotel | Best Hotel in Plaka

Adrian Hotel

Soft sheets, stylish features and elegant details characterise Adrian Hotel. It is a great place to escape the busy city and enjoy a modern home away from home.

You can relax on the roof terrace and admire the spectacular city views from one of the best luxury hotels in the city. Athen’s most important sites are just a short walk from this centrally located hotel.

Athens Backpackers | Best Hostel in Plaka

Athens Backpackers

Looking for where to stay in Plaka and have fun? You can begin and end your search at Athens Backpackers. It offers a social hang-out to meet new friends.

Halfway between the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Acropolis Museum, the roof terrace looks out over both. As well as the fantastic location, they offer super fast free wifi and wonderful modern rooms.

Stunning Two-Bedroom Apartment | Best Airbnb in Plaka

Stunning 2 Bedroom Apartment

Why opt for a hotel room when you can indulge in an entire apartment? This is where to stay for a comfortable crash pad at the end of a long day.

At Toni’s place, you’ll make the most of the central location and the quirky character of her beautiful home. With two double bedrooms and a spacious lounge, it’s a real home away from home.

Top Things to Do in Plaka

  1. Take a tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum
  2. Marvel at the Parthenon temple dedicated to the goddess Athena
  3. Check out the other ancient sites including the Erechtheion and the Temple of Olympian Zeus
  4. Shop or browse the stores which sell everything from fridge magnets to authentic art and woodwork
  5. Explore the museums like the Children’s Museum, the Music Museum and the Jewish Museum
  6. Stick to Adrianou Street and Kydatheneon Street for rounds of lunch, coffee and ouzo (the most famous and boozy Greek spirit!)
  7. Take a walk down Ermou Street, the main shopping street of Athens.
  8. Head out for dinner at Plakas great selection of rooftop restaurants
  9. Check out the Byzantine and Christian museum
  10. Head to Syntagma Square to relax and watch the world go by
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2. Gazi Neighborhood – Best Area to Stay in Athens on a Budget

If you feel Plaka may stretch the purse strings a little, head to Gazi. Not only is this neighborhood just a 20-minute walk to the key attractions, but it’s also an exciting place in itself. Once the industrial site of the old city gas works, today the factory has been turned into a unique museum and cultural centre.

Gazi is also an EPIC spot for a night out. Recently, its nightlife has been on the rise as one of the best in Athens (Psiri has some competition!) After sundown, you’ll hear bangin’ base music and find the younger crowds of Athens hitting the town.

Many describe Gazi as the new cafe and restaurant district and others simply utilize it as an affordable base from which to explore Athens. Whichever camp you’re in, there’s a whole load going on…

Colourful streets of Gazi with bright lights and carnival activities at sundown.

Athenian Spirit | Best Hotel in Gazi

Athenian Spirit

Thanks to Athenian spirit, you’re able to enjoy the central location of Gazi from a comfortable base in this modern hotel. You’ll have a whole unit to yourself which includes a comfy bedroom and kitchen. You’ll also have access to a gorgeous balcony with a view of the Acropolis.

The location is fantastic, just a few steps from the metro station which is a direct line to the airport. There are great eateries seconds from the front door and plenty of fantastic bars close by.

Iconic Athens Hostel | Best Hostel in Gazi

Iconic Athens Hostel

Those looking for where to stay in Gazi without breaking the bank should 100% consider the Iconic Athens Hostel. The Hostel is equipped with private rooms, dorms (mixed and female) and private balconies. They also have a rooftop terrace with a STUNNING view of the Acropolis.

They have a fully equipped kitchen so you can save your pennies on dining out and make your meals at home. For you digital nomads (or travellers just needing to suss some admin), there is a great dining/ shared area to get some work done.

Holidays close to the Acropolis | Best Airbnb in Gazi

Holidays close to the Acropolis

Surrounded by bars, restaurants and amenities, this stylish base has everything you need and more. With a cosy double bedroom and comfy lounge area decorated with contemporary art, it’s ideal for couples, friends or solo travellers.

There’s a fully-functioning kitchen so you can even cut back on eating expenses should you wish to! Most importantly, it’s in a great location within walking distance of the Acropolis Museum.

Top Things to Do in Gazi

  1. Visit the Technopolis (former gas works) where you can catch outdoor shows, concerts, exhibitions and pop-up galleries
  2. Explore streets Iakou, Persephonis, Dekeleon and Voutado for cool cafes that turn into bars after sundown
  3. Head to Pireos Street to check out works by INO, Borondo, and other reputed artists
  4. Eat at The Butcher Shop – where you can tuck into grilled meats and traditional souvlaki
  5. Hang out at Gazarte, an arts complex with a cinema, music bar and views of the Acropolis
  6. Experience Gazi by night, head to the dozens of bars and clubs for a loose night out
  7. Take a street food and art guided walking tour through Gazi

3. Psiri Neighborhood – Best Area to Stay in Athens for Nightlife

While Plaka is great for families and calmer sorts, if you love to let your hair down, you’ll love Psiri for its great nightlife. It’s always been the area to reject authority and was founded on people from the island of Naxos migrating to the area.

They stirred up trouble and it was commonly thought that Psyri was the centre of the underworld. Today, it’s where to stay for cheap ouzo (which may as well be the same thing!).

Whether you want a hipster cocktail bar or an all-night rave, you’re bound to find it one of the best party cities in Europe.

streets of plaka with colourful bunting and cafe tables along the streets
The groovy alleyways of Psiri
Photo: @danielle_wyatt

360Degrees Pop Art Hotel | Best Hotel in Psyri

360Degrees Pop Art Hotel

Arty types will love 360Degrees. Adding a splash of colour to your ocean of plain hotels, this venue boasts a minimalist style and a little touch of marble. It’s no wonder it’s one of the top luxury hotels in Athens!

You’ll tuck into a tasty continental breakfast each morning, sip cocktails at the retro-inspired bar and have access to 24-hour reception. To summarize, you’ll be well looked after from start to finish!

Pella-Inn | Best Hostel in Psyri

Pella-Inn Athens

Pella-Inn Hostel is just a stone’s throw away from the Monastiraki metro station. Pella has private rooms with and without a private bathroom. They are female-only dorms too.

Rooms have lockers, and some even have balconies. With free WiFi and an epic roof terrace – your Instagram will be blowing up with views of the city!

Boutique Apartment & Terrace Rooftop | Best Airbnb in Psyri

Boutique Apartment & Terrace Rooftop

Enjoy the modern, light vibe in this lovely two-bedroom Greek Airbnb. It’s perfect for families, couples or friends. This Airbnb has a large terrace that you get all to yourself with views of the Temple of Hephaestus.

With easy access to all the highlights of the area and plenty of public transport links. This attractive flat is well-catered to almost any type of traveller. If you’ve overindulged at the bars, it’ll be a comfy base to relax and recuperate.

Top Things to Do in Psyri

  1. Party! Enjoy after-work drinks and jazz at Barrett, all-night dancing at Tranzistor and fruity cocktails at Cantina Social
  2. Take a tour of Kerameikos, a beautiful ancient cemetery and a fascinating part of the Athens archaeological site
  3. Pay a visit to The Poet Sandal Maker, a famous shoe shop full of history and frequented by many celebrities
  4. Enjoy the art scene and visit art galleries Sarri12 and AD Gallery
  5. Tuck into cakes, cupcakes and crepes at Little Kook (one of the best bakeries in the whole city!)
  6. Check out the local antique stores
  7. Take a stroll to check out the Monastiraki Flea Market
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4. Exarchia Neighborhood – Artsiest Neighborhood in Athens

Exarchia’s history of political riots once put off tourists coming to the area. But with anarchy comes change and creativity, and today Exarchia is where the cool kids hang out.

It’s a busy and chaotic area but second-timers to Athens will already be accustomed to the hustle and bustle of the city. Contemporary art spaces, street art and speciality coffee bars are popping up everywhere, much to the excitement of 20 and 30-something travellers.

More importantly, Exarchia feels vibrant. Creativity hangs in the air while tourists and locals stir their morning coffee and make plans for the day. Most importantly, it’s home to some of the best hotels in Athens for budget travellers!

Mural art and boarded up windows in Exarchia in Athens Greece

Kubic Athens Hotel | Best Hotel in Exarchia

Kubic Athens Hotel

At Kubic Athens Hotel, you’ll wake up at leisure in your comfy bed and roll over to see the stunning city views through your full-length window.

Next, you’ll indulge in a delicious breakfast cooked by the hotel chefs, and then… the day is yours! Whatever you choose to do and see, you couldn’t pick a more stylish and relaxing base to do it from. This is why I rate it amongst the best hotels in town.

Athens Quinta | Best Hostel in Exarchia

Athens Quinta

With a colourful terrace area and all the traditional charm and style of a boutique hotel, you’d almost forget Athens Quinta was a backpackers’ hostel. I love how artsy the hostel is; elaborate art decorates every room and even the furniture carries decorative elegance.

It’s based a minute from the Metro station, so you can choose to stay in the neighborhood or travel further afield. The city is really your oyster.

‘Dream studio’ is certainly a good way to describe this colourful apartment. One of the most attractive features is the gorgeous patio garden area overflowing with hanging plants and pretty lanterns.

On top of this, you’ll have a comfy bedroom/lounge area, a private bathroom and a fully stocked kitchen. The perfect base to chill if the busy district gets a bit much!

Top Things to Do in Exarchia

  1. Take a hike up Lofos Strefi, the neighborhood’s tallest hill. From here, you’ll have a fabulous cityscape view of Athens!
  2. Do a little vintage shopping at Yesterday’s Bread and Reset Thrift Shop
  3. Browse for records and second-hand books in the area’s vast selection of stylish stores
  4. Enjoy the nightlife at Warehouse and Black Cat, two of the most popular spots for cocktails and live music
  5. Get a tour of the National Archaeological Museum which has 11,000 exhibits, one of the most important collections in all of Greece
  6. Cooldown over ice cream at White Rabbit
  7. Take yourself on a street art tour and marvel over the amazing works of art

5. Kifissia Neighborhood – Best Neighborhood for Families

Kifissia is a relaxed, leafy district to stay in Athens. It really is the antidote to the bustling, busy streets of the centre, which makes it a popular pick with families. Or in fact anyone keen on a chilled city break.

There is a fleet of reliable buses to take you downtown, or you can even catch a Metro train all the way to the boats in the port.

The houses of the neighborhood are nothing if not elegant, and the streets are full of mansions and elaborate gardens. When you’re not admiring how the other half live, hit the shops – Kifissia is renowned for its boutiques and fashion stores.

Mansion and well-kept garden in Kifissia

Hotel Des Roses | Best Budget Hotel in Kifissia

Hotel Des Roses

While Kifissia isn’t set up with a backpacker hostel just yet, you can easily opt for a more budget-friendly hotel. Hotel Des Roses provides a cool and comfy pad to stroll the neighborhood from. without breaking the bank.

Grab a drink at the fully-stocked hotel bar or meander down to the Museum of Natural History which is just a few streets away.

Coco-Mat Hotel Nafsika | Best Luxury Hotel in Kifissia

Coco Mat Hotel Nafsika

Why stay in anything less than a luxury hotel in a neighborhood renowned for high-end elegance? At Coco-Mat, the friendly staff are determined to make your stay relaxing from start to finish.

Your pad will be so much more than a room – many feature full-length windows, stylish lounge areas and private balconies. The breakfast buffet also needs to be seen to be believed! Can you see why it’s one of the best hotels in Athens!?

Living with Art – Kifissia | Best Airbnb in Kifissia

Living with Art - Kifissia Athens

If you’re looking for a comfy base from which to explore Kifisia, look no more. This gorgeous Airbnb has a garden area to enjoy and two sizeable double bedrooms (perfect for the family).

The perfect combination of a historic building with modern facilities. The Airbnb has beautiful artwork that was created by artists who have lived and worked in the building for almost a century – so cool!

Better yet, the elegant neighborhood of Kifisia is all within short reach. Don’t keep those shops and patisseries waiting any longer!

Top Things to Do in Kifissia

  1. Pay a visit to Goulandris Natural History Museum – kids will especially love the lifesize animal replicas
  2. Watch the city bloom in spring during the annual flower show
  3. Sample some gourmet cuisine at the many highly acclaimed restaurants and patisseries in the area
  4. Shop at The Fashion Market for the latest styles, Perfume and Soap for beauty buys, and Martha’s for chocolate treats
  5. Visit the leafy Kifissia Park for lush greenery and impressive water features. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
  6. Take a stroll around Alonia, the oldest and most authentic part of Kifissia
  7. Catch an Outdoor Movie at the open-air cinemas
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FAQs About Finding a Place to Stay in Athens

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of Athens and where to stay.

What To Pack For Athens

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

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Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Is Athens worth visiting?

Abso-fucking-lutely! Athens is both a modern metropolis and a historical open-air museum — all at the same time. You’ve got the life, you’ve got the culture, and you’ve got the parties. Be ready.

Where is the best area to stay in Athens?

Plaka is my top recommendation for where to stay in Athens. It does a good job of blending the local culture with what travellers need. If you’re keen to brush up on some Greek culture before you go, check out our list of interesting books about Greece.

Where is the hipster area of Athens to stay in?

Exarchia is definitely the hippest part of Athens and is where all the cool kids hand out. It’s crammed full of EPIC cafes, eateries and art. If you’re after a bohemian, alternative vibe this is the area for you.

Where is the fanciest area to stay in Athens?

Kifissia is definitely the most up-market area. You can wander the streets and admire the huge mansions and beautifully kept gardens. There are gorgeous boutique stores and fashion shops here too.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Athens

And that’s a wrap (or maybe a Gyros…)

I hope this guide helped you to make sense of all the incredible areas to stay in Athens and which one is best for you. Athens is a truly amazing place, but choosing the right area is really important to make sure you get the most out of your trip. If you’re still feeling unsure here is a quick summary of the top picks. 

So, for first-timers – head to Plaka, it’s super central and is a very tourist-friendly area. Or, if you’re an Athens veteran and looking for somewhere a bit different, I’d recommend trying out Exarchia. It’s a quirky, up-and-coming area full of great coffee and art.

If all else fails, my favourite hotel in Athens is the Athenaeum Grand Hotel and the best hostel in Athens is Nubian Hostel. Locking in either of these is a pretty safe bet.

No matter where you end up staying in Athens, get ready for an exciting trip full of ancient history and delicious food.

Looking for more info on travelling to Athens and Greece?
group of travellers on a rooftop in athens at night with view of the acropolis lit up in the background
Lap up the views, night and day from all over the city!
Photo: @danielle_wyatt