Athens isn’t just about the Acropolis, you know. Yes, that mighty landmark is a must for first-time visitors. It shoulders its way above the metropolis with its 2,500-year-old temples and mighty Parthenon, heralding tales of the world’s first democracies and great wars that forged the map of Europe. But in the districts below – the whitewashed Plaka, quirky Koukaki – the Greek capital reveals its energetic streets, its cheese-sizzling tavernas, and fantastic museums. Beyond those are gritty ports and graffiti-strewn anarchist neighbourhoods, mystical Orthodox churches, bazaars, and big plazas that hum with the sound of chatter and clinking Greek coffees. What’s more, one boat or bus from this sprawling city could be a ticket to the gorgeous Saronic or Aegean islands, where glinting pebble bays unfurl before seas of azure blue.
There’s a whole mezze worth of Airbnbs in Athens for travelers to pick from these days. Luxurious penthouses with sweeping views over the Acropolis are listed next to budget-friendly hostel beds in shared dorms. Whatever sort of accommodation you’re after, this guide can help. It has insights into the town’s most enthralling neighbourhoods and even some curated Airbnb picks.
Airbnb works fine in Greece. There’s no law against it, so feel free to start searching for a bolthole in the Athenian suburbs or the lively districts around the Parthenon, whatever takes your fancy. There are now some restrictions in place regarding the amount of time individual properties can be rented out within each calendar year, and every host will have to go through a registration process. However, all those requirements are on the owners, not the traveler. For you, it’s just a case of clicking book and sliding in to get your fix of ancient history and potent ouzo!
Where should I stay in Athens Airbnb?
The Plaka(1) area of Athens is the main tourist hub, where tavernas and souvenir touts cluster beneath the soaring Parthenon. Koukaki(2) is a vibrant and more local spot that’s near to that, while Kolonaki(3) is arguably the capital’s chicest corner. Syntagma(4) might not be the prettiest part of the city, but it’s a hub for transport and awash with important state buildings. Then you have Monastiraki (5), balancing bazaars and nightlife. Finally, Vouliagmeni(6) is perfect for those after a taste of Greek sun, sand and sea on the Saronic Gulf.
History, history and more history
Fun – if inauthentic – Greek dining
A bit like a Greek theme park at points
You simply can’t miss the Plaka. Cascading down the front of the Acropolis, this is for a hit of whitewashed tavernas and bougainvillea-strewn cafés. It’s also Athens at its most touristy, so be ready to deal with crowds and touts if you choose to stay within. The charms are undeniable, what with so many saganaki-sizzling places to eat and souvenir shops on the doorstep. What’s more, history is everywhere – the Plaka hosts the soaring, half-ruined peristyle of the Temple of Olympian Zeus on its south side and the ancient Roman Agora on its northern side, not to mention the acclaimed Acropolis Museum for rare rainy days.
Wedged up to the base of the Parthenon on its quieter south-western side, Koukaki has risen to become perhaps the coolest district of downtown Athens in recent years. Its tree-lined streets host jazz bars and brunch spots that serve single-origin coffee and organic food. You’ll find oodles of chilled Greek wine bars and funky cocktail joints for that evening tipple. Proximity to the Acropolis is another major plus, but Koukaki also offers access to the pine-studded heights of Filopappou Hill, which boasts perhaps the best views of the monument and oodles of ancient ruins of its own.
Get your Gucci out and prepare to hit the haute-couture shopping, because Kolonaki is the upscale corner of downtown Athens. Handsome, white-painted 1920s and 30s buildings line the boulevards in these parts, while plane trees and olive trees sprout from the street corners to create somewhere green and leafy. The café culture is refined and upmarket, and you’ll find oodles in the way of creative, cutting-edge Greek cooking. Downsides? Kolonaki is unsurprisingly pretty expensive.
Syntagma is probably the closest modern Athens gets to a beating heart. This large square is surrounded by wide streets where cafés, delis and brunch spots spill out under the high-rises. It’s the political epicentre of the country, home to the great parliament buildings, not to mention regular protests and marches. Perhaps more than anything, Syntagma’s worth a look in for those Athens Airbnbs because of just how well-linked to the rest of the town it is – a major metro interchange lies just below.
Monastiraki is Europe with a taste of Asia. You’ll see what we mean when you delve into the tight-knit streets to discover ironmongers and workshops open to the roadside, along with flea markets that jumble together with everything from gold-leafed Orthodox icons to faux-ancient pottery. Within Monastiriki itself is the neighbourhood of Psyrri. That’s where the cafés coalesce, and the nightlife and the dining happens, amid a mix of shaded squares that have multi-ethnic eateries and bohemian dive bars alike.
There’s something totally different on offer to travelers who seek out their Airbnbs down in Vouliagmeni: Beaches and sand. Yep, you’re never too far from a taste of the sea in Athens and the best of the coastal hotspots near the Greek capital has to be this chic seaside resort. It’s a well-heeled hotspot for rich Athenians in the summer months, so expect stylish mansions and modern apartments galore on the rental front. The main attraction is a gorgeous curve of golden sand that’s popular with sailors and SUP boarders. For more secluded cove swimming, hike over to Varkiza to the west.
There is loads to love about this highly-rated Airbnb apartment near the buzzy bars and creative brunch spots of Koukaki neighbourhood. First off, its interiors ooze style and charm, with metro-tiled bathrooms and natural wood hues running through the white-painted lounge and bedroom. Second, you get a functional galley kitchen with a breakfast bar. Finally, the location puts you close to the Acropolis and the enthralling Plaka area.
Cosy Hideaway in the historic Anafiotika neighborhood
There’s hardly a more immersive part of Athens to be in than Anafiotika, an old neighbourhood of half-ruined cottages that cascades down the north-eastern edge of Acropolis hill. That’s where you get to with this stoop bolthole. It’s painted in a lovely pastel pink, has cobbled patios with views across the city, and an interior that’s worthy of an Airbnb Plus rating – think features like a SMEG fridge and Scandinavian-style furniture.
You can give the family a front-row seat for the majestic show of architecture that is the Athenian Acropolis by picking this 120-square-metre flat in the heart of the city. It can actually sleep up to nine guests, but the three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms make it the perfect arrangement for parents with the kids in tow. The top pull is surely the outdoor roof terrace, which touts hammocks and deckchairs in the gaze of the iconic ancient monument.
A private roof terrace, a private garden, five separate bedrooms and a trio of bathrooms – these are the stats that make this two-storey house capable of hosting groups of up to 15. Inside, you can expect simple and contemporary design throughout, along with welcome touches of art and nice communal quarters. Location wise, the pad is in the quieter districts to the south-west of the Acropolis, but still well linked to most parts of the capital.
Imagine dusting off a day of Greek food and ancient sites with a bathe in your top-floor plunge pool and views across the capital to the great Acropolis hill. Well, that’s precisely what’s on offer from this classy pad in cool Koukaki district. The luxuries don’t stop when you duck inside, either, where couples get a monsoon shower, individual spa robes, and free Netflix for cosy nights in together.
The Airbnbs in Athens have garnered a good reputation for value for money. Nightly rates in these sorts of stays tend to be less than in comparable hotels in the ancient city. But that’s not the only bonus. Bigger properties – some that sleep up to 15 or 16 – can help you cut costs by sharing the price of a trip with more people. Long-stay discounts are often applied to Airbnbs, too, meaning you can get reductions of up to 50% if you’re coming to Athens for more than a week. And that’s not even mentioning the euros you’ll save on eating out when you have access to your own kitchen.
Of course, hotels do come with frills that Airbnbs simply can’t match. Room service, daily housekeeping, on-site concierges, and luxuries like rooftop bars and swimming pools – these are things that will add just a tad extra R&R to a city break. For those, be sure to check out the Melia Athens Hotel. It’s a well-rated establishment and even has some ancient ruins within its grounds.
Tour the fascinating ruins of ancient Athens, devour olive oil-doused mezze and delve between the Orthodox domes and flea markets of Monastiraki, all before returning to a comfy Airbnb in the enthralling Greek capital.