Athens has recovered from a decade or so of gloom to become a thriving and exciting city in an enviable position in the central Mediterranean. But where should you look at buying property in Athens? Check out Athens’ best neighbourhoods for homebuyers.
Athens’ neighbourhoods favoured by expats include central locations, such as Kolonaki, Plaka and Thission. From these areas you can easily get to the Acropolis and other tourist spots in the city. Making them ideal if you want to rent your property to tourists. If you plan to live in Athens year round, the suburban areas of Kifisia and Glyfada are also popular.
Life in Athens
Athens’ neighbourhoods have beautiful areas, full of history, interesting architecture, great restaurants and shops. These are the places tourists are guided towards. However, like any other city, there are scruffy parts, and streets that are noisy with traffic and people. They might be just a couple of streets away from a beautiful street. Therefore, it is important to spend time in an area before deciding to buy a property.
You should experience the neighbourhood in the day and in the evening. What appears to be a safe area during the day, might feel unsafe when it gets dark and the nightlife begins. If a property has a low asking price, it might be an indication that it is in an undesirable neighbourhood. Like any capital city the prime locations will be asking the top prices. With so many airbnbs these days it is not so easy to find a long term rental either.
Let’s look at some of the neighbourhoods in Athens, and why you might want to go there.
Located below the Acropolis, the Plaka neighbourhood is the oldest in Athens. Due to its history, bougainvillea covered balconies and pedestrianised maze of tiny streets, Plaka has the charming feel of a Greek village. The Plaka is filled with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. It is always busy with tourists and locals.
In the Plaka neighbiurhood you are spoilt for choice when it comes to museums and historic sites. The Panthenon is a must-see and sculptures, ceramics, and other treasures from the Acropolis can be seen in the Acropolis Museum. You can also visit museums about Greek Folk art, folk instruments and see private art and antiquities collections.
Kolonaki is a glamorous neighbourhood, where wealthy Athenians go to shop and meet friends for coffee. In fact, Kolonaki square is considered the centre for “Café Culture” in Athens. Kolonaki is also where you’ll find chic boutiques of famous designers. Needless to say, to buy a property here you will need a healthy budget.
Kolonaki residents can look down on people, literally, from the top of the nearby hill. Rising to nearly 300 metres, Lycabettus Hill (Lykavittos to the locals) offers fantastic panoramic views of Athens. The quickest way up is by funicular railway, but a leisurely walk down offers some lovely views. Look out for the semi circular auditorium of the Lycabettus Theatre, which in the summer is used as a venue for concerts and shows.
Luxury apartment for sale in Kolonaki €410,000
Koukaki is right under the Acropolis. The arrival of the Acropolis Museum and the pedestrian walkway linking the city’s ancient monuments has seen this historic area emerge as one of Athens’ most fashionable neighbourhoods. Its authentic feel is enjoyed by locals and tourists, who frequent the souvenir shops, cocktail bars and restaurants.
Since the metro and tram hub was built at Syngrou, the now pedestrianised Drakou Street has become one of the liveliest bar scenes in Athens. In addition, students from the nearby Panteion University bring a youthful vibe to the area.
To escape the city you can climb up Areopagus hill. At the top you will be rewarded with a superb view of the Acropolis and city. While this is quite a rocky climb, there are also three forested peaks nearby.
Exarcheia at first appears to be a relaxed residential neighbourhood, full of coffee shops and places to eat. Visitors come to this part of town to visit the National Archaeological Museum and admire some of the best street art in Athens. It is a cheap area for property mainly due to its reputation for being a gathering place for anarchists and students. Bars and nightclubs often offer live music in the form of blues, jazz, and punk. However, street protests here can quickly flare up into confrontations with police in Exarcheia Square.
In it’s favour, Exarcheia does have a strong sense of community and tradition, with Kallidromiou street at its heart. The farmers market on a Saturday morning is a great meeting point for locals. Here they can haggle over the price of vegetables, and then talk politics in the café. Or they’ll head to Panellinion café for a game of chess.
The 7 floors of an eight-story building are for sale in Exarcheia €2,630,000
Old and new Athens comes together in Monastiraki. The metro brings passengers to Adrianou street, where they head to the Monastiraki Flea Market or local shops and restaurants. The narrow streets are a maze of endless alleys. On Sundays, there’s a festive air with live music from street bands. While being an interesting place to visit during the day, it is not considered one of the safest areas to walk at night.
This scruffy abandoned industrial area is making great steps to blossom into a trendy place to go for galleries and bars, especially for young people. Aside from a few seedy bars and a red light district you will find some nice tavernas, live music and the National Theatre of Greece. Gazi is considered very up and coming.
More than 900,000 visitors each year flock to a former gas works in the Gazi neighbourhood. Now called The Technopolis City, this former gas factory has been turned into a museum and cultural venue. There’s always something happening, from live jazz to concerts, children’s workshops, exhibitions and craft fairs. Check out the event calendar at the Technopolis.
Modern craftspeople are beginning to move to Psirri, producing leather sandals and souvenirs. Derelict buildings have been revitalised with extraordinary displays of street art. The traditional coffee houses and tavernas have been replaced by bars, student cafés, and craft shops packed along the five narrow streets radiating from the square.
Yet, the Psirri neighbourhood somehow has retained the flavour of old Athens. Platia Iroon, is partly pedestrianised and has a marble fountain, low buildings with old-style metal canopies, and a 1930s modernist building.
Block of 10 apartments in Psirri €1,600,000
Mets is one of the least touristy but prettiest neighbourhoods in downtown Athens. Tree-lined Markou Mousourou is the main street, and local life gravitates around its old-fashioned café. A wooded trail takes you up Ardittos Hill for lovely views of the Acroplis and the Panathenaic Stadium. The steep streets surrounding Ardittos are given character by century-old cottages with hidden courtyards, neoclassical mansions, and Bauhaus apartment buildings.
Iraklidon Street in Thissio is where the locals go to eat, chat with friends and people watch. Despite the neighbourhood encompassing the pedestrianised Apostolou Pavlou street that runs around the Acropolis, it isn’t overly touristy. If you venture further along you’ll find yourself in a calm and authentic Athenian middle-class neighbourhood with many cultural treasures. Iraklidon Street is pedestrianised and leads to the city’s ancient fortifications.
Petralona, is a low-key, residential neighbourhood in the foothills of Philopappou Hill. If you like to eat out this is the place to come. You’ll find old-fashion tavernas, new-style tsipouradika, and all-day cafes, all along Troon and Kydathinon Streets, and around Mercouri Square. You can even go into the kitchen to inspect the catch of the day at Therapeftirio, where the freshest seafood is served with huge salads and piles of chips. If you’re here during the summer, Zefyros is an atmospheric open-air cinema in Petralona.
Some of the leafiest and most upscale neighbourhoods, are located in Northern Athens. You can live in Kifisia and have a straight forward commute into central Athens on the Metro. For those with children Kifisia has a private International School that teaches in English and Greek. As well as designer brand shops, and modern restaurants, there is a park with beautiful sculptures and ponds. It’s reassuring to know that the General Hospital of Attica is nearby.
Two storey maisonette for sale in Kifisia €516,000
If you have children another option is Chalandri, which is approximately 10 kilometres from the city centre. In Chalandri everything you need is close by, banks, shops, libraries, schools and leafy pedestrian streets. This charming residential neighbourhood enables you to easily reach central Athens via a main road or the metro.
Getting around Athens
It’s easy to walk around the key areas of the city and there are many neighbourhoods well worth exploring on foot. There is also a very affordable public transport system. For just €1.20 you can travel for 90 minutes. Tourists can also choose to see Athens from a hop-on hop-off bus. This is a great way to get between the sights and see other parts of the city along the way.
Public transport in Athens
The Athens Metro system consists of three lines and connects to the tram, bus routes and suburban railway. Metro Line 1 is an overground train (known as ISAP) that runs from the northern suburb of Kifissia to the port of Piraeus. It connects to lines 2 and 3 at the Attiki, Omonia and Monastiraki stations. Airport Express buses operate on a 24-hour basis, connecting Athens International Airport with the city centre at Syntagma Square. More information about transport between the neighbourhoods can be found on the official Athens tourism website “This is Athens”.
Where people work in Athens
Many businesses are based in the city centre and the commercial district is located between three squares at Syntagma, Omonia and Monastiraki. These squares make up three corner points, hence the district being known as the The Commercial Triangle. Consisting of mostly pedestrian streets the area is full of old-fashioned shops, such as hardware and fabric stores. Many of the streets are linked by arcades full of unusual shops. There is also a financial district in the suburb of Marousi.
Athens does offer job opportunities for expats, especially for those who speak another language on top of English. Big multinational companies have begun setting up their multilingual hubs in Athens.
Experience the real Athens
Athens’ Tourist Department wants you to experience living like a local, so they have got together a group of people to answer your questions about life in their neighbourhood of Athens, and to take you on a themed walk. The themes include street art, architecture and food. These are people from various background who give their time for free to offer their personal perspective of Athens and show visitors where the locals go. When researching areas to buy property, these could be very useful.
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