Athens is a fantastic city to explore in Greece. As a solo traveler, it’s even more exciting. It is an easy city to navigate, and there are some excellent, safe, centrally located hotels that cater to single travelers. This Athens solo travel tips will give you some ideas on how to plan your trip and make the most of your time.
Arriving in Athens
Athens Airport, known as Eleftherios Venizelos, is located about 35 kilometers east-southeast of the city. There are several ways to get into the city from the airport.
From Athens airport by bus: Four bus lines leave from Athens airport and go to various parts of the city: Syntagma Square, Piraeus Port, Kifissos Ktel long-distance bus station, and Ellinikos Metro Station.
The bus is the longest way to get into the city or to the port, as the route can take up to 90 minutes. They all operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
From Athens airport by metro: Metro line 3, the Blue Line, operates from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm and stops at Syntagma, Monastiraki among other stops, before ending at Nikaia. It takes 40 minutes to get into Syntagma from the airport.
From Athens airport by taxi: A taxi is the most expensive way to get into the city, but it will take you from the airport to your hotel safely and in about 40 minutes.
Where to Stay in Athens
It is advisable to stay in Athens’ central tourist neighborhoods: Plaka, Monastiraki, and Psiri.
Plaka is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens and is located on the northeast slope of the Acropolis built on the ruins of Athens’s ancient town. It is a labyrinth of winding streets and is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city.
Monastiraki is adjacent to Plaka. It is an easy walk from there and is one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the city. It is known for its flea market, archaeological ruins, street vendors, and shopping. The most well-known street is Adrianou.
Psiri (or Psyri, Psyrri, Psirri), is northwest of Monastiraki, and until the 1990s was not a very good place to be. Today it is one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city.
We would recommend City Circus Athens, Attalos Hotel, and Hotel 14 Reasons Why.
City Circus Athens is a hostel and hotel in Psiri, only 300 m from the nearest metro stations. It has dorms and private rooms within a 19th-century building. It caters to solo travelers in Athens, couples, and groups, and its in a very safe and hip area with plenty of restaurants and shops nearby.
Attalos Hotel is a small 3-star hotel in Monastiraki with cozy modern rooms and a rooftop bar and restaurant with Acropolis views.
Hotel 14 Reasons Why is in Psiri. It is a chic lifestyle hotel with a sleek industrial feel and modern design. This hotel caters to adults and couples, but its upscale accommodation and spacious rooms and suites would be perfect for a solo traveler who craves a luxury travel experience.
Things to Do in Athens
There are many great things to do in Athens, whether you are interested in art and architecture, archaeology and history, culture and everyday life, or food and wine. Here are some great options for a solo traveler.
Athens solo travel #1 tip: Go to the Acropolis
The Acropolis is an absolute must-see in Athens. Rising high above the city and home to the ancient city temples and sanctuaries, the Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the ancients’ most important sites.
You can easily spend a half-day or day walking around the Acropolis and its nearby Agora. While you can go on your own and simply walk around, you will get the most out of the experience if you join a tour or hire a private guide.
Walk around the Plaka neighborhood
Plaka is the oldest neighborhood in Athens. It is built on the ruins of the ancient Athenian houses, and it is located on the slopes of the Acropolis.
There are lovely tavernas and shops in Plaka and some of the best museums in the country. Museums in Plaka include the new Acropolis Museum, the Jewish Museum of Greece, and the Museum of Greek Folk Art.
Watch the changing of the guard in Syntagma
The Parliament Building is located in Syntagma Square, not far from Plaka and Monastiraki. The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place daily on the hour, when the Evzones ceremoniously change.
The “big” show is on Sundays at 11 am when the guards wear ceremonial costumes and perform a more elaborate show.
Check out the Monastiraki Flea Market
The Monastiraki Flea Market on Ifestou Street is the place to be on Sundays when vendors take over and sell all sorts of interesting things.
The rest of the week, the Monastiraki Flea Market has mostly souvenir and tourist shops, though there are some hidden gems if you know where to look or are willing to explore deeper.
Be sure to take some time to sit at a local cafe for a coffee and pastry or pick up some gyros at a street stall.
Shop at Athens Central Market
Athens Central Market, known to locals as Varvakios or Dimotiki Agora, is located on Athinas street, between Monastiraki and Omonoia squares. This is where many locals go to purchase their produce, fresh meats and fish, cheeses, nuts, and more.
It is a great place to find inexpensive and fresh local foods. Most of the shops in the market have been operating there for decades, and they are open every day except Sunday. The Athens Central Market is a fantastic stop if you’re interested in seeing more of the Athenians’ daily lives.
Go around the Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora of Athens is one of the best-known examples of an ancient agora. An agora was a commercial and residential meeting place and would have been where any important political or social assemblies took place.
Some must-see monuments in the Agora are the Temple of Hephaestus, The Altar of the Twelve Gods, the Stoa of Zeus, and Stoa of Attalos. The Stoa of Attalos was excavated in the 1950s and then reconstructed.
Today it houses a museum dedicated to Athenian democracy.
Hike Philopappou Hill
Philopappou Hill is located southwest of the Acropolis in the very heart of Athens, Greece. It takes its name from the mausoleum of Philopappos, a benefactor of Athens who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, which is located at the top of the hill.
In antiquity, it was known as the Hill of the Muses and in the middle ages as Seggio Hill. Many locals and tourists hike Philopappou Hill for the views. It’s a relatively easy walk, but be sure to bring water if you’re doing it in the summer.
Best Day Trips from Athens for Solo Travelers
If you have more time to explore, take a day trip from Athens! Solo travelers can join a small group tour to many places in the surrounding areas.
Delphi was the center of the Greek universe and a very important sanctuary. A day trip to Delphi highlights the mountains and scenic landscape north of Athens, the temples and tholos at Delphi, and the oracle’s importance in Greek culture and history.
Tours are typically nine to ten hours (three to and from Athens) with time at Delphi and stop in small villages for lunch, coffee, or tea.
Go on a day cruise to Hydra, Aegina, and Poros
Another excellent day trip for solo travelers is a day cruise in the Aegean. Stop at islands like Hydra, Aegina, and Poros, and relax on the ship as it sails.
In Hydra, see the cobblestone streets lined with churches and mansions, where donkeys still do most of the transport. There are places to sunbathe or hike.
Poros is a small quiet island with plenty of great tavernas and bars. On Aegina, be sure to visit the Temple of Aphaia, the prototype for the Parthenon in Athens. You can see to the Acropolis in Athens and the Temple of Sounion south of the city on a clear day.
Athens Solo Travel Tips: How to Keep Safe in the Greece Capital
While Greece is a relatively safe country, Athens can be an unsafe city in places and at times. Here are some safety tips for solo travelers or anyone traveling to the city.
Be aware that pickpockets operate in the metro and crowded places. Keep a close eye on your belongings while in the metro and keep wallets and phones out of your back pockets. A cross-body bag with a hidden zip is a good bag to have. If you are sitting at a cafe, do not leave your phone out on the table.
Be confident when you are walking around, and if something feels wrong, leave.
Avoid walking alone around Omonoia, Larissis Train station, Attiki Square, and Vathis Square at night. Other places to avoid are Exarchia at night. Exarchia is a popular neighborhood, but at night or during political demonstrations, it can be unsafe.
Download the BEAT app for taxis. This is like Uber or Lyft, and it will tell you the price upfront, so you aren’t scammed by a taxi driver who tells you the meter is broken or they have to go this way because the streets are closed.
Athens is an excellent destination for solo travelers! Stay in the center of the city, join small group tours to the Acropolis or Delphi, take a food tour of Monastiraki, or relax on a day cruise to nearby islands.
The local hostels are perfect for meeting other solo travelers and heading out to explore the city together. And for those who prefer to wander aimlessly, Athens has any number of lanes and alleys in Plaka, Psiri, and other neighborhoods where you can find great food and coffee or local wine bars where you can sit and read a book.
Have you been to Greece? What other tips can you add for solo travelers?
Text by Chrysoula Manika. Photos by Aleah Taboclaon.
- Solo Travel Tips: Athens, Greece - October 15, 2020