Places to Avoid in Athens : Safety Guide
Are you considering a trip to Greece and curious about the safety of Athens? Indeed, safety concerns have increased in some European capitals in recent times. Therefore, it's wise to research and choose your accommodation location carefully.
We already know that Athens is Europe's Leading destination in 2023. The country is home to renowned archaeological sites, state-of-the-art museums, a lively nightlife, exceptional restaurants in Athens, and contemporary urban living. That’s why each year, Greece & Greek islands welcome over 30 million tourists, with the majority experiencing a delightful and problem-free stay. Incidents of violent crime, including homicides, assaults, or property-related offenses, are notably rare throughout the nation.
To understand how safe your holiday destination is, reviewing crime statistics can provide valuable insights. In Greece, crime rates have been on a downward trajectory since 2010, with a significant reduction evident in 2023's first half.
Based on statistics, Athens, with a population of around 3.15 million, has a commendable safety score of 43.92. With a crime rate registered at 56.08, Athens residents generally feel secure roaming the city solo. However, there's a growing unease about the rise in crime in recent years. Minor crimes (robberies, pickpocketing) and corruption remain areas of concern in Greece. As a tourist, corruption might not directly impact you, but it's crucial to be aware.
Places to Avoid in Athens
Certain neighborhoods in Athens are safer than others, and travelers should exercise caution in specific areas. Below are some of the districts where heightened vigilance is recommended:
- Patissia and Ano Patissia
- Monastiraki (especially at night)
Exarchia is a unique district known for its lively, politically-charged street art, rock bars, and shops selling books and vinyl records. Many tourists might miss this gem, but if you have some free time, it's worth taking the time to relax with a coffee and soak in the vibrant street culture.
Yet, Exarchia isn't just about art and music. Over the years, it has been a hotspot for clashes between anarchist groups and the police. While events like the Athens Polytechnic uprising in 1973 and the unfortunate shooting of an unarmed Greek teenager by a policeman in 2008 might seem distant, they continue to resonate. Protests, sometimes marked by tear gas and Molotov cocktails, can erupt, especially on the anniversaries of these events.
But don't let this deter you. As long as you're aware of these historical dates and avoid them, your visit should be pleasant. Still, for safety reasons, it might be best not to wander around Exarchia late at night.
Moreover, in recent times, Exarchia has seen a transformation. Today, it attracts a mix of hipsters and students, especially from the nearby Athens Law School. The ambiance is more relaxed than in previous years, and while you still should exercise caution due to occasional police presence.
Once an industrial heartland of Athens, Metaxourgio has seen its factories and warehouses decline over the years. This led to a phase where the district faced issues like crime, drug activities, and solicitation. However, its lower rent in recent times has attracted a wave of artists and innovators, turning previously empty spaces into independent art galleries and chic boutiques. Much like Exarchia, Metaxourgio is becoming known for its evocative street art murals that have been appearing in the recent past. While this area might not be the top highlight of the city, the burgeoning art scene is commendable.
However, for those considering a visit, it's wise to be cautious after dark in Metaxourgio. If you find yourself there in the evening, consider taking a taxi back to your accommodation, especially if it's nearby.
Omonia Square is home to a diverse population, including many refugees. While refugees themselves aren't the primary cause of crime in the area, people facing challenging circumstances might sometimes resort to desperate actions. While the square is bustling during daylight hours, extra caution is advised after dark.
During daytime, Omonia is a gateway to the vibrant Athens Central Market. However, as always in busy urban areas, it's wise to keep an eye on your belongings. The area has seen occasional muggings and pickpocketing incidents. Tourists have reported adverse encounters, emphasizing the importance of being vigilant, especially if navigating the area at night. If you do venture into Omonia in the evening, consider taking a cab back to your accommodation.
Using taxis in Athens is generally affordable, but tourists should be cautious. Some drivers, recognizing you as a visitor, might take longer routes or inflate fares. For context, rides from southern areas to the city center typically cost €6-8, while a journey from the airport to the city is about €40 during the day and €55 at night. Watch out for drivers claiming short trips cost €25 when they're closer to €5-10. If in doubt, know your route in advance and assertively request the driver to follow it; or use taxi app and always pay the fair price. More about taxi scamms → here.
Safe Places to Stay In Athens
Athens boasts diverse neighborhoods, each brimming with its unique charm and flair. Here's a snapshot of three standout areas:
Kolonáki. Athens' Epitome of Elegance - This upscale district resonates with sophistication. Dotted with neoclassical and modernist architecture, Kolonáki is a haven for luxury shopping and gourmet dining. If opulence is your style, this neighborhood should top your list.
Plaka. A Historic Gem - Nestled near the Acropolis, Plaka is Athens' oldest and most scenic quarter. Apart from its picturesque allure, its prime location makes it perfect for tourists looking to explore the city's rich history.
Monastiraki. The Vibrant Hotspot - A favorite among international visitors, Monastiraki is a lively hub of eateries, bars, shopping outlets, and ancient landmarks. If a bustling atmosphere coupled with cultural immersion appeals to you, Monastiraki is the place to be.
Is Athens safe for travelers?
More yes than no. While Athens doesn't present the same risks as places like Mexico or Rio de Janeiro, visitors aren't likely to face threats like kidnapping or severe violence. That said, travelers should be aware of minor crimes such as pickpocketing, bag-snatching, jewelry theft, mobile phone theft, and credit card fraud. As in every big city, stay alert. If you need to know more about the most common holiday scams, safety tips for traveling alone, or other safety-related topics, we encourage you to check our blog.
Is Athens safe for solo travelers?
Athens is welcoming for solo travelers across all ages and genders, with many venturing to Greece on their own. The city's locals are used to seeing solo explorers, so travelers can comfortably enjoy historical landmarks, art galleries, and museums without feeling out of place.
The renowned Greek hospitality ensures solo travelers don't feel uneasy dining alone or exploring the city. If you're looking to connect with others, hit some posts on Facebook groups to find companionship.However, like any city, always exercise caution when meeting new people; opt for public places and review profiles beforehand.