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If you visited Athens before they hosted the Olympics in 2004, then you'll find it a very different city now. The historic centre, with cars banished, is more stunning than ever, and the regeneration going on in the lead up to the games hasn't stopped. So it's Europe's oldest city, but with so much gentrification, it's also one of Europe's freshest.
The Acropolis and the areas surrounding it have seen some of the most dramatic changes. Removing all the cars has made it cleaner, more open and more welcoming. So that the archaeological park has become more of a cultural and social hub again.
The Agora, heart of public life in ancient times, is still a wonderful place to start your visit. Admission to the Agora means you're admitted to the whole Acropolis, so that's the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, the Erechtheion… Etc. They give you two days on your ticket.
- King George Palace has stunning views of the Parthenon, especially from the restaurant and the roof terrace. If you're looking for luxury this is one of the best places to stay in Athens. Its five stars are for its opulence, but with a contemporary twist. This all adds up to make this one of the most romantic places to stay in Athens.
Anafiotika is the neighbourhood on the northern slopes of the Acropolis hill, and it's worth exploring for the white washed houses and tiny 19th Century streets as you pass through to go to the old bazaar.
Athens City Break
Pedestrianising great swathes of the city centre has helped deal with Athens' notorious pollution problem. And central areas like Gazi and Psyrri, which were clogged with cars previously, are now packed with cafes, restaurants and bars. Which suits the Athens lifestyle - one of making time to stop for coffee in outdoor cafes, and evening strolls and eating out late.
The gentrification in some areas has been led by the new galleries and leisure precincts opening up around town. Including the Benaki Museum.
If you're here on a Sunday visit the big flea market in Avissynias Square.
The public transport system also got an overhaul, as did the airport, so now it's a lot easier to get in and get around. Almost every hotel in the city got a facelift as well - dozens of shabby old drums reemerged as colourful, fun boutique hotels, which are now some of the best places to stay in Athens.
- A trendy boutique hotel, the Art Hotel Athens is one of the best places to stay in Athens of you're after a city break bolt hole close to all the major sights. Built in the Neo-Classical style of the 1930s, this hotel has been nicely renovated inside to favour pale colours and original art. It's also a good option if you're looking for a reasonably priced hotel.
- If you're after funky with a modern art twist then the Pallas Athena is one of the best places to stay in Athens. Rooms and public areas have themes based on graffiti and modern-urban artists, illustrators and graphic designers. It is definitely a quirky place to lay your head!
- For easy access to the airport and the centre of town one of the best places to stay in Athens is the Fresh Hotel. It's on the Metro line from the airport, in an area once sleazy and now regenerated. If you like your decor colourful in a 60s way then this is definitely one for you.
Athens for Families
Athens is open all year round - it even has its own beaches where you can comfortably swim until the end of October. But it's at its best in autumn and spring.
For a view over the whole city venture up Mount Lycabettus. You can hike up or catch the funicular.
If you want to stay somewhere with a view of the Acropolis look no further than St. George Lycabettus. Book yourself a south facing room, or visit the rooftop pool for some really spectacular views of the whole city. Because it's in an upmarket residential area this is also one of the best places to stay in Athens with a family.
Take a look at our selection of the best places to stay in Athens and start to plan your visit.
Best Hotels in Athens
Avra Hotel 29 rooms from $42Athens
A convenient and affordable stay, outside the bustle of the city centre. A great stopover hotel with comfortable rooms, off street parking, proximity to the airport and the ferry terminal. The sea views and beach action are a real plus!Value chic - Close to the beach, offering comfortable rooms, extensive breakfast buffet and very reasonable prices!Great walks - Wander along Perea Seafront and take in the sights and sounds.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Views - Great views from hotel
Art Hotel Athens 30 rooms from $52Athens
This 4* trendy and elegant boutique is in a great location and even better value. The building is a 1930s build, but rooms possess 21st Century elegance and mod-cons. Enjoy breakfast in your room before stepping out into Athens and exploring the ancient city.Local exploring - Within walking distance of Athens main sights and attractions, head out an explore this ancient city.Great walks - Wander the Plaka district, this old historical neighbourhood is bursting with lively cafes, tourist shops and sights.Sights nearby - Athens most famed sight, the Acropolis is within a few minutes walking distance.Views - Great views from hotelRecommended by - Frommers
Hotel Corali 15 rooms from 60Athens
Cheap, comfortable and convenient stopover hotel in Corali for ferries to Andros and elsewhere, as well as airport transfers. Simple rooms overlook lively town square. Close to the airport, and cheap.Value chic - This cheap and cheerful family hotel is within easy ditance of the port and being newly refurbished boasts all mod cons needed.Great walks - A sunset stroll to the towns main sight, the hilltop church Aghios Nikolaos, is highly recommeded for its picturesque views.Sights nearby - Check out the the ancient temple of Artemis Tavropolos in Rafina.Views - Great views from hotel
Hermes Hotel 45 rooms from $72Athens
A charming contemporary hotel in a great location, and great value. Doubles, triples, and family rooms all modern in style with private balconies. Wonderful roof terrace and walking distance to restaurants and sights around. A great choice for families and groups of friends on a shoe string.Value chicLocal markets - Pedestrian Plaka district where you'll find flea markets, souvenirs, leather goods, pottery, tavernas, cafés.Sights nearby - Acropolis citadel.Great walks - Filopappos Hill.Recommended by - I Escape
Pallas Athena 63 rooms from $113Athens (Kotzia sq.)
A hotel like no other. A luxury boutique filled with modern art works, individual designs, and an inventive restaurant to match. Rooms and suites range from chic to super chic, each different but equally modern. A hotel for those who like invention and creativity.Foodies - Unique presentations of traditional Greek food.Romantic BreakCity StyleBoutique
St George Lycabettus 154 rooms from $119Athens
Classic luxury meets 21st-century style at this Athens Grand Dame. Dignified and charming, with great rooftop pool and contemporary rooms. Some rooms have views of the Acropolis. Not super central so good rates, and in upmarket, quiet residential area.City Style - In the city's most exclusive neighbourhood, with excellent views of the Acropolis from the sleek rooms and hip rooftop bar.Swimming Pool - Outdoor PoolLively - Hip and happening.Full of characterRecommended by - Frommers, Fodors
Hotel Periscope 21 rooms from $122Athens
A smart boutique hotel with gorgeous rooms and a gourmet restaurant. Rooms and suites have shiny parquet floors, all the mod cons, lots of natural light, and private balconies. Wonderful restaurant and close to the main attractions and shopping area.Foodies - Michelin star chef.Views - Great views from hotelCity StyleRomantic BreakRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet
Fresh Hotel 136 rooms from $125Athens
Luxury meets minimal to make a statement at this colourful boutique hotel in the centre of Athens. Spacious and stylish rooms come with all the mod-cons. Admire the sunset from the rooftop pool and open-air bar. Top notch breakfast buffet at Magenta Restaurant. Great for romantics and explorers.Romantic Break - A hip spot for young couples- Tassos Zepos design interiors and achingly cool rooftop bar with pool and views of the Acropolis.Total relaxation - For those looking to unwind, take the suites featuring Zen Gardens and make the most of the Hammam, spa and steam rooms!Local markets - The food markets along nearby Athinas street sell herbs, honey, sweets, nuts and fresh fish, a lively and interesting sight.Great walks - Wander through the ancient Plaka district for flea markets, souvenirs, leather goods, pottery, tavernas and cafés.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Frommers, Kiwi Collection
Coco Mat Hotel Nafsika 22 rooms from $130Athens
Smart and sleek, Coco Mat Hotel Nafsika is a stylish, modern hotel on the outskirts of Athens. The comfortable rooms feature crisp colour schemes and minimalist furnishings. Downstairs guests can enjoy delicious Greek specialities in the restaurant. Perfect for a romantic break to Athens.Local markets - Visit the nearby local market at Zotos.
The Margi 88 rooms from $135Athens
A super luxury hotel in an upscale district on the edge of Athens. Boutique living areas, rooms and suites are sophisticated in style and have all the mod cons. Wonderful views of the sea, huge lounge areas and pool, easy access to the beach and into Athens. The best of both worlds!City StyleRomantic BreakBeach LifeLuxuryRecommended by - Tablet, Small Luxury Hotels
Kefalari Suites 13 rooms from $141Athens
Gorgeous boutique hotel with lots of character. Rooms and suites have around-the-world themes - from Jaipur to Paris. Each has all the mod cons, private balconies, and charming unique style. Rooftop jacuzzi and lovely terraces.Romantic BreakCity StyleLocal markets - 19-century Plaka district with its flea markets, souvenir stalls, leather goods, pottery, tavernas, cafés.Great walks - Filopappos hill or in the forests and gorges of Mt. Parnitha (45 minutes by taxi).Recommended by - I Escape
Life Gallery 29 rooms from $151Athens (Anixi)
A very special hotel. Modern chic design, contemporary art works, zen spaces curated specially for relaxation and meditation, a Michelin star kitchen, and a luxury spa. Rooms, studios and suites are romantic, contemporary, and sophisticated. A unique hotel for the luxury customer.Foodies - Michelin star chef.LuxuryRomantic BreakCity StyleRecommended by - CN Traveller
AthensWas 21 rooms from $172Athens
Classic modernism in the heart of ancient Athens. A sleek stay providing hard to beat views of the Acropolis and the city. Retro-chic rooms feature contemporary, marble-clad bathrooms and well-stocked minibars. Enjoy an indulgent breakfast before seeing the sights that lie on your doorstep.Foodies - The rooftop restaurant serves Greek-Mediterranean cuisine with French and Japanese influences, accompanied by spectacular views.Local exploring - Just metres away from The Temple of Olympion Zeus and many of Athen's sights.Sights nearby - The Temple of Olympion Zeus, Syntagma Square and many more sights are within walking distance.Great walks - Take a stroll along Dionysiou Areopagitou - the most scenic street in Athens.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
Semiramis Hotel 51 rooms from $174Athens (Kifissia)
5* designer hotel in quiet suburb of city. Eclectic interiors have eye-catching lighting features, white furnishings and quirky bathrooms, with floor to ceiling windows. Outdoor pool, spa, sauna and gym. Fusion Mediterranean cuisine in chic restaurant, buzzy bar lounge. Colourful, modern and unique.City Style - Über design hotel down to every detail and brimming with artworks gives a quirky twist to a trip to historic GreeceSights nearby - Thirty minutes from historic Athens' sightsDesigner - Karim RashidSpaRecommended by - Tablet, Kiwi Collection
O&B Athens Boutique Hotel 22 rooms from $177Athens
A small contemporary hotel with wonderful views of the Parthenon. Sophisticated black and white rooms and suites with all the mod cons and private balconies. Excellent restaurant, very friendly staff. A great choice for a weekend in Athens.Views - Great views from hotelCity StyleGreat walks - Filopappos Hill for excellent views over Athens.Local markets - Monastiraki flea market on a Sunday.Recommended by - I Escape
New Hotel 72 rooms from $181Athens
Cutting edge designer-chic hotel. Bedrooms and suites full of natural light have all the mod cons, private balconies, and quirky modern furnishings. Fabulous restaurant and spa with hammam. A luxury choice for the design conscious.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.City StyleSights nearby - 200m from Constitution Square and walking distance from all the city's major attractionsSpaRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
Sofitel Athens Airport 345 rooms from $197Athens (Spata)
For those arriving late or leaving early in or out of Athens International Airport or on ferries to and from nearby Rafina, the five-star Sofitel is the number one choice.Sailing - Yacht charter at nearby Porto Rafti marina.Sights nearby - Less than ten miles from Athens.SpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
King George Palace 102 rooms from $326Athens
A neoclassical grand dame hotel, in the historic Syntagma Square. Opulent interiors with hardwood floors, classical furnishings and stunning views of the Parthenon. Everything you would expect of five star luxury- with some contemporary twists.Views - Fantastic views of the Parthenon.Sights nearby - A short walk to the Acropolis, containing the remains of several ancient buildings, the most famous being the Parthenon.Great walks - Wander the labyrinthine streets of Plaka, absorb the beautiful neoclassical architecture in this ancient neightbourhood.Swimming Pool - OutdoorRecommended by - Frommers, Kiwi Collection, Fodors
Hotel Grande Bretagne 320 rooms from $417Athens (Syntagma Square)
A historic hotel in the heart of Athens. Find elegance in abundance throughout. Gorgeous rooms with high ceilings, large windows and filled with antiques. The marble clad bathrooms aren't bad either. A fine-dining restaurant and glamorous bar for nights of indulgence. Highly recommended.City Style - The height of glamour, this is a must stay for total indulgence.Local exploring - Well located for easy access to the city's main attractions.Sights nearby - Athens is famed for its historical monuments. Just a few of the must sees are the Parthenon, Acropolis and Byzantino.Swimming Pool - Outdoor and indoor pool.Recommended by - Tablet