When you think of Athens, the ancient ruins of the Parthenon likely come to mind, but explore the Greek capital further and you'll quickly realize that Athens is so much more than its historic architecture.
With 129 different neighbourhoods to explore — each with its own unique vibe — Athens offers more than a bit of history and a quick route to your Greek island-hopping adventures. In fact, it's worth adding in at least two nights here to explore everything.
From strolling Plaka's Instagrammable cobbled streets to dancing the night away in Gazi and nibbling on fresh fish in the seaport of Piraeus, Athens' thriving neighbourhoods provide a vibrant list of FOMO-inducing spots you won't want to miss.
Whether you're a foodie, a photographer or a culture vulture, you can plan your Greek getaway using this list to discover the Athens neighbourhood that fits how you travel.
The shopper: Monastiraki and Psirri
As a starting point for your Athens travels, Monastiraki (or "little Monastery") is an iconic neighbourhood and tourist hot spot with aesthetic views of the Acropolis. At the heart of it, you'll find a bustling flea market open every day where you can buy almost anything: knickknacks, clothes, antiques, baked goods, jewelry — you name it.
After dark, head to Psirri on the northwest corner of Monastiraki for some nightlife. Second-hand shops are replaced by trendy bars, and restaurants set out stools along the narrow streets for all the vibes.
The Instagrammer: Plaka
Ready to make all of your Instagram followers jealous? Grab your camera and get lost in the scenic, pastel-coloured streets in the photographer's dream of Plaka. Check out ancient ruins, browse lively shops covered in fuschia-coloured vines and walk up the winding staircases toward the Acropolis for a breathtaking view.
Of course, Athens’ prettiest neighbourhood is also its most crowded. Skip the herds of tourists by taking to the quiet, sleepy streets for photo ops in the early morning before the city wakes.
The culture vulture: Acropolis and Koukaki
Theatre nerds and sightseers won't want to miss out on one of the most central and historic areas of Athens. Head to the Acropolis Museum or visit the Dionysiou Areopagitou Promenade, where ancient ruins — like the Theatre of Dionysus — and modern gems — like art-deco apartment buildings — make for an IG-worthy backdrop.When you're done with all that, hit up Koukaki where you can go in on Athenian treats: drool-worthy handmade gelato, craft cocktails, decadent feta drizzled with olive oil and, of course, the Greek version of an iced coffee, the freddo espresso.
The bar-hopping social butterfly: Gazi and Keramikos
Calling all night owls. If you like to spend your vacations sipping on cocktails at trendy rooftop bars and dancing until the early morning hours with your friends, there's no better place to do it than Gazi and Keramikos: Athens' nightlife district.
With dance clubs and open-air bars offering everything from magical city views to live music, this spot’s got something to suit every taste.
For a before-sundown adventure, Avdi Square also boasts edgy art galleries and soulful restaurants while Technopolis in Gazi is a hot spot for art exhibitions, food fairs and music festivals.
The budget tripper: Exarchia
As one of Athens' most alt and exciting districts, best known for its academic vibes, Exarchia offers up youth culture and creativity on a plate to the many artists, writers and students who call this colourful neighbourhood home.
Graffiti-lined streets provide a beautiful backdrop to the artisan cafés, contemporary art galleries, vintage stores (looking at you, thrifters) and budget-friendly bars that make up a perfect day of exploring.
The luxury traveller: Kolonaki
In glam Kolonaki, you’ll share the tree-lined streets with high-heel-wearing locals as they sip on ice-cold frappés behind fashionable sunglasses.
This fancy neighbourhood is where people come to splurge in luxe boutiques, but if spending the afternoon in Gucci isn't your style, this chic district’s also got plenty of trendy cafés and museums, too. Top it all off with a sunset stroll up Lycabettus Hill for a truly Instagrammable view of the Acropolis and city below.
The foodie: Piraeus
Foodies — especially seafood foodies (seafoodies?) — will love Athens’ historic port of Piraeus. While most travellers only fleetingly stop here on their way to the Greek islands, it's worth taking the time to peruse this less-explored neighbourhood’s seaside cafés and cute restaurants.
Treat yourself at the lively Michelin-starred Varoulko Seaside for fresh seafood with a view of the water, or, if you're on a budget, check out the many small fish tavernas that line the port for a dining experience that's more affordable but just as delicious.
Obviously, you’re unique, so if your traveller type doesn’t fit with the seven listed above, don't fret: There's an Athens neighbourhood for you somewhere.
Each of the capital's 129 neighbourhoods has its own distinct personality, character and vibes to match your travelling style. So whether you prefer to marvel at ancient history, get your adrenaline pumping with adventure activities or simply wander beautiful Greek streets with an iced coffee and gelato in hand, you'll find it in Athens.
This article is for general informational purposes only. If you choose to travel internationally, check your destination's COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before travelling. Countries may have their own entry and exit requirements, including mandatory COVID-19 testing and/or proof of vaccination.