Athens is the capital city and the largest city in Greece. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, with history dating back to around 3,400 years ago. After the Olympic Games in 2004, Athens has had several different infrastructure projects funded in order to improve quality of life, such as a great metro system and a new motorway. In 2015, the city was voted the third best European city to visit by the European Best Destination.
Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
- Emergency Services: 100 (police), 166 (ambulance) and 199 (fire brigade)
- Language: Greek
- Currency: Euro
- Country Code: GRC
- Travel Visa: None required
- Population: 3,153,255
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- It is quite safe for women to travel in Athens, although be aware of “Kamakis” (men seeking tourist women for a short-lived relationship).
- If you are staying around Omonia, try no to be on your own at night particularly after 12pm. The National Gardens near the Zappion is unlit and for that reason it is not recommended to go there at night.
For the Emergency services just dial 100 (police), 166 (ambulance) and 199 (fire brigade)
Where can I keep up with local news?
Do you have any city safety tips?
Always be vigilant when walking around for motorcycle riders, who often use pedestrian streets as shortcuts.
On the metro, keep a close eye on your belongings. If possible, avoid people standing behind you by standing with your back against the carriage walls.
Are there any common crimes that I should be aware of?
Athens Street Scams. Be wary of women asking for a drink in bars – it could land you with a very pricey bill.
Beware of pickpockets in the Central Metro stations and bus-lines. They are known to target elderly people and tourists and will operate in groups of three to five to surround people and cause a distraction while one will take the possessions.
Occasionally groups of well dressed men will stand together on a Metro car so that you can’t get by them. Be careful if you need to push through as this is when they can target you for pick-pocketing.
Improve Your Personal Safety
Knowledge – the more you have the better equipped you are.
Awareness – the more you see the safer you become.
Response – the right reaction can change a situation.
Every culture has its customs and traditions, they have been handed down the generations and are always held in high regards by the local residents.
In restaurants, if a service charge isn’t already included, it’s the norm to tip around 10-15% on top. In taxis expect to round up by a euro or more depending on the total and in cloakrooms and restrooms it’s routine to leave small change for the attendants.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
March 25th marks Greece’s revolt from the Ottoman Empire and is a national holiday in Greece. Parades are held all over, with the largest in Athens.
The Feast of the Flowers
Held on May 1st to celebrate the beginning of spring, it is traditional for families to collect flowers to make a wreath to hang on the door of their home until the Feast of St. John when they are burned on a bonfire. The festival’s roots go back to festival of the goddess Demeter (Dimitra).
Celebrated on the 28th October to mark the day when Greece said ‘no’ to letting Italian troops come into Greece at the beginning of WWII. They day is celebrated with a military parades.
Are there any particular highlights in Athens?
A significant architectural landmark, the Benaki Museum exhibits contemporary art and design. Having undergone significant renovation, the building now covers an area of 8,220m2. At weekends it is open until 10pm.
The ancient centre, one of Greece’s most famous and significant attractions. Surrounded by olive groves on the lower slopes, edge your way up to see famous monuments such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike. It encompasses ancient Greek culture and artistic displays from the 5th century BC.
These ruins are where the centre of ancient Greece, where the public would gather for markets, elections and performances. Located in the heart of Athens, the well preserved ruins give an insight into the cultural and political world at the time of Socrates and Plato and where Western civilisation took shape.
This former gasworks precinct has had quite the revival. From a once undesired place to live, it has transformed with the opening of the Kerameikos metro stop as the place to be. Packed with bars, restaurants and shops, you can find great places to eat a late night dinner or just soak up the atmosphere in Athens’ coolest nightspot.
To enjoy the best views of Athens, take a hike (or funicular) up Mount Lycabettus. The best times to go are morning or around twilight when it is cooler. Once you have reached the top, you can enjoy spectacular views of the Attica basin and the Aegean. If the price doesn’t bother you, reward yourself with some well earned food at the Cafe.
What are some good days out?
A beautiful idyllic quarter on the slopes of the Acropolis hill. The picturesque houses were built by masons from Anafi, brought by King Otto and the neighbourhood has retained many of its descendants.
A family run business that makes stunning jewellery that replicates ancient Greek pieces. It was first established in 1987 by Kostas and Giorgos and is located in Plaka on 120 Adrianou Street.
The Monastiraki Flea Market is at its best and buzzing on Sundays. In this colourful wonderland, you find almost anything and everything from books and clothes to paintings. There’s also lots of opportunity to sample the local snacks one of the many tavernas. It is held at Avissynias Square.