Where To Stay In Central Athens [Athens Neighborhoods – Part 1]

Athens neighborhoods

Athens Neighbourhood Guide, close to Green Metro Line 1

Omilo students booking a Greek course in Athens stay all over the city and commute by public transport to Maroussi (North Athens) where the Omilo school is located. For directions to the Omilo school, please click here

We very often get the question in which areas it is best to stay, book a hotel or an Airbnb. Athens is a very big city, and every neighborhood has its own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we wrote two articles for you, so you get a better idea and you can choose an area of your preference.

Below you will find out more about the neighborhoods in central Athens, around and south of Monastiraki metro station.

There are many hotels and options in Athens. We recommend choosing a hotel that is located close to the Monastiraki, Thissio, or Sintagma metro stations. This way, you can avoid spending a lot of time to travel to the Omilo school in Maroussi, which is located at 300 meters of the Maroussi metro station.

Take a quick look at the video below, to get a glimpse of the areas you will read about below:

For the areas mentioned below, it will take you between 30 and 45 minutes by metro to reach the Omilo Greek Language School.

(Note:  If you would like information about other residential areas, north of Monastιraki and closer to Maroussi, click here to read “part 2”! )

MONASTIRAKI

 

Lively and colorful, Monastiraki is set amidst the historical and commercial centres of Athens. Together with nearby Plaka, they are two picturesque – as well as touristy – areas of the Greek capital.

Situated on the north side of the Acropolis, the word Monastiraki stands for “little monastery” in Greek due to the large monastery that once stood on the main square of the neighbourhood. The monastery no longer exists so the only thing left to remind people of how the name of the area came to be is the small Byzantine church “Pantanassa” in the middle of the square.

The square now serves as a meeting point for Athenians and visitors alike and is always buzzing with energy – street vendors selling fresh fruit or “koulouri”, small coffee shops, street musicians, busy taverns selling souvlaki and other traditional dishes.

Next to the metro station (the old train station building), you will find the Tzistarakis Mosque that dates back to 18th century AD and nowadays houses part of the Greek Folk Art Museum’s collection. To the right of the mosque stands Hadrian’s library (1st century AD). Wander a bit further and you will come across the Roman Agora with the imposing Tower of Winds, as well as the Ancient Agora, the centre of the administrative, commercial, political and social life in Ancient Athens and the Temple of Hephestus.

Also next to the Monasteraki metro station, at the other side, you will see a large sign that reads “Athens Flea Market” and leads to a narrow street with numerous small stores that sell beads, souvenirs, old vinyl records, CDs, shoes, vintage clothes and antiques. If you need a break from all the shopping, take any road right or left and you will stumble across numerous bistros and cafes, most of which turn into bars in the evening.

Access: metro station Monastiraki
(green metro line, and connection to the blue metro line toward the airport)

Note: If you want Omilo to book a room for you (a minimum of 5 nights), we can do so in the Attalos Hotel, at 200 meters from the Monastiraki Metro Station. For more info click here: https://www.omilo.com/course-locations/accommodation-in-greece/#athens

PSIRRI

 

Psirri might be one of Athens’ most popular nightlife districts, but do not let this put you off. Besides an increasing number of Airbnb rentals, the area offers a great range of little independent stores, quaint restaurants, picturesque cafés and bars, which makes getting home after dinner or a couple drinks quick and easy.

The neighbourhood presents a good balance of creativity and old-time charm: right next to little ouzeries, the traditional Greek taverns that serve ouzo and mezedes (Greek tapas) there are art galleries and workshops. Other than that, one has the chance to explore one of the best “museums” in Athens, the open-air museum of street art, through the guided tours organised by local artists. If this sounds interesting to you, have a read at Omilo’s review of the 3-hour street art walk here.

Psirri is close to Monastiraki which allows for easy access to the green metro line whilst being more budget-friendly than its more well-known neighbouring areas. It’s also considered less touristy for the time being, so you’ll be hanging out together with the locals.

Access: metro station Monastiraki
(green metro line, and connection to the blue metro line toward the airport)

KOUKAKI / THISSEION

 

Until a few years ago, Thisseion and Koukaki were unassuming residential areas of Athens, despite its proximity to the historical centre of the city. However, it has since become increasingly popular as an Airbnb destination, with new listings appearing constantly, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Unlike its nearby Plaka that is buzzing with activity, Thisseion, as well as Koukaki is fairly quiet in the mornings – almost as if it was asleep. It is, nevertheless, a destination for people who are willing to venture out of the beaten path and discover the more contemporary cultural offerings of Athens.

At only 200 meters from the Thissio Metro station, you can also find the very nice Islamic Art Museum, part of the Benaki Museums. (https://www.benaki.org/index.php?option=com_buildings&view=building&id=3&Itemid=161&lang=el)
If you like more the ancient culture, then you can visit the Archaeological site of Keramikos, the Ancient Cemetery, also at 200 meters from the Thisseion metro station. http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_id=2392

In Koukaki, if you walk all the way to Herakleidon street, you will find the Museum Herakleidon (https://herakleidon-art.gr/en-us/) which combines modern art exhibitions of Greek and international artists with an interactive center for science and technology.

Another museum well worth the visit is the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (http://www.lalaounis-jewelrymuseum.gr/), which pays homage to the ancient art of goldsmithing. It is a stone’s throw away from the Filopappou Hill, which connects Koukaki with Petralona and offers beautiful views of the Acropolis. In this way, you can combine the visit to the museum with a little stroll around that area

Moreover, Koukaki caters for every mood and taste through an eclectic mix of independent cafés, thematic bars, little quirky boutiques, traditional bakeries and a plethora of restaurants.
Access: walking distance to Thission metro station (green metro line).
From Thisseion you need 35 minutes by metro till Maroussi.
Eventually it is also possible to walk to Acropolis Metro Station (red metro line).
Next to the Acropolis station, you will find the Acropolis Museum (https://www.omilo.com/the-acropolis-museum-in-athens-its-past-and-present/)

 

PETRALONA

 

Conveniently close to Thission and the Acropolis but still relatively unknown to the masses to be considered touristy, Petralona is quickly becoming one of Athens’ hippest neighbourhoods. It mixes old school charm, different architectural styles, quiet streets lined up with olive and lemon trees and plenty of graffiti. The number of Airbnb places in the area is growing rapidly but since it’s still a “hidden gem”, the prices remain budget-friendly.

Petralona is divided into two different areas: Ano Petralona (upper) cover the area from the metro tracks to Filopappou Hill, whereas Kato Petralona (lower) runs all the way to Pireos Street.

Initially a scruffy working-class neighbourhood, Petralona is going through a sort of “Renaissance”. Young creatives and entrepreneurs are defying the ongoing financial crisis and have taken advantage of the lower rents to open up alternative businesses, concept stores, bars, bistros, spaces for art enthusiasts and gig-goers right next door to traditional establishments that serve hearty, homestyle Greek food in rustic settings. Petralona might seem a bit chaotic but it makes up for it with its distinct character – it has something for everyone.

Access: metro station Petralona (green line)
About 40 minutes by metro to the Omilo School in Maroussi

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Note about some run-down areas around the
“triangle Omonia-Victoria-Larissa Stations”

omonoia triangle

It is often tempting to book a hotel around Omonia Square or its nearby areas around (Victoria and Attiki metro stations and Larissa Station), especially considering the variety of budget-friendly accommodation and proximity to the city centre. Even though the area is run-down but otherwise fine to visit during the day, in the nights it can be fairly dodgy as it attracts plenty of homeless people, pickpockets, drug users and illegal immigrants. It goes beyond saying that most cities have a rough area like this and that it is very unfortunate. From our Omilo students, we often hear mixed comments: some do not have a problem at all, others are scared. Compared to other big cities in the world, it might be not that bad, but for Greek standards, it is not considered a good or safe area. Therefore, we would strongly recommend opting for a different location so that you feel safer and more comfortable when returning home at the end of the day.

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PS. If you would like more recommendations about other residential areas, north of Monastιraki and closer to Maroussi, click here to read “part 2”!