Is Athens and neighborhoods are safe to visit?

Is Athens Safe To Visit?

The largest city and capital of Greece, Athens has a population comprising of 3.7 million people. It happens to be the most populous city in the nation, and happens to be the birthplace of the western civilization. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations and has many landmarks such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Acropolis Museum, The Ancient Agora and more. Thousands of people visit it every year for such landmarks and its contemporary attractions in the form of bars, hotels and restaurants. Is Athens Safe To Visit? Read on and find out.

What are the Safety Issues in Athens?

  • Petty crime – This is possibly the biggest problem for locals and tourists here. Risks of being a victim to such crimes are higher in some Athenian neighborhoods such as Patissia, Syntagma, Monastiraki, Exarchia and Omonia. Petty thieves lurk in these places at all times, particularly during the night. They usually work in groups. While some of them try to catch your attention with tricks or other activities, others try to get away with your bag or purse.
  • Political protests – Demonstrations and political protests are a regular occurrence in Athens and many other parts of Greece as well. Hundreds of protests were documented in Athens and the surrounding areas in 2018. While most of these occur peacefully, some often turn violent. Thus, if you see a gathering or a crowd, it is best for you to leave the place as soon as possible.
    Every 17th November and 6th December sees the anniversaries of violent events of the past and the demonstrations held during these times often get violent. It is often that Anarchist groups battle the cops with Molotov cocktails and in retaliation tear gas is used. For your own safety, avoid the areas of Monastiraki and Omonia during these two times.
  • Terrorism – There are moderate risks of terrorism in Athens. The last few years have witnessed a few incidents of terrorism where economic hubs, major companies and political embassies have been targeted by IEDs. Although tourists have not yet been the targets of terrorists, it is better not to take any chances. Always be on alert when you are in Athens.
  • Accidents – The country witnesses one of the highest numbers of fatalities on the road in Europe. You can often find motorbike riders or drivers not wearing helmets or seat belts. It is common to hear about using mobile phones while driving, driving drunk, speeding in the local news. If you plan to rent a car and drive on the roads here, you have to be careful while operating a vehicle.
  • Touts – Lots of touts roam about around the Ancient Agoras and a few other areas. You can find them showing a magic trick or two to you or demanding some money in exchange for making a bracelet for you.
  • Restaurant / Eatery Scams – Scams abound in this city and you have to be mindful of them. While dining in central Athens at any tavern, you need to double-check the rates at all times. Do not sit at any restaurant where you do not find the prices being displayed in the menu card. There is every bit of risk that the restaurant owner will make up the rates on the spot. The final bill might give you a nasty shock and soon you will be a part of a ruckus that compels you to part with the money demanded by the owner and staffs.
    It is also common to get short-charged or overcharged. In case you find that any item has been kept in your table that has not been ordered, immediately have it sent back. You would be charged for that food item as well.
  • Cab scams - These are also common in Athens, and although the cops are trying to address that problem it remains a major safety issue for tourists as well as locals. It is better that you download the BEAT app onto your smartphone and use it to order a cab, instead of calling up a yellow taxi that you can spot parked on the street. Even if you are compelled to hail a street cab for some reason, such as an emergency, ensure that the driver goes by the meter. Taxi drivers are often found to take tourists on roundabout trips through Athens and charging a very high price.
  • In case you feel that you are being overcharged by your taxi driver, you may always report the same to the tourist police after taking a photo of the registration plates and the receipt. Keep in mind that you can share a cab ride in Athens, a facility that cannot be found in other nations.
  • Sexual assault / violence – While these crimes are low in Athens, and in all of Greece as a whole, there are some neighborhoods where the problem exists in a major way. Stay away from nightclubs in neighborhoods such as Exarchia or the Glyfada Square nightclubs where you might easily get groped or assaulted or manhandled. Always be on high alert when moving about at night. Avoid staying out late into the night and come back to your hotel / lodge as soon as possible, preferably before 9 pm.
    The risks of getting kidnapped or mugged are very low in Athens. The city of course has some dangerous areas, and you have to check your travel guides to be informed about the same. Vigilance is important here, as in any other nation of the world.
  • Natural disasters – Earthquakes and other natural disasters striking this city are extremely rare. That said, there can be forest fires when the weather gets extremely hot in the summer season.

How to Stay Safe in Athens?

Try to stay away from all those areas which are regarded as risky in Athens, such as Exarchia – that has been listed as a risk-prone area by the US as a travel advisory to tourists, you can see a super article here explaining how is Exarchia. These are also the sites of demonstrations and protests that often happen close to the political centers.

You should also stay alert to not become a victim of petty thieves and pickpockets. These are the commonest crimes that tourists in Athens are the targets of. It is important to be particularly cautious in crowded spots, taxis and other public transportation facilities where passengers are scammed by drivers at times.

Remember that in Athens, the Government deems prostitution as legal. However, most of the prostitutes of the city work outside the purview of the law. This is because they usually do not take suitable medical precautions or are victims of human traffickers themselves. Never partake in prostitution and keep away from all those places that are regarded as seedy and where prostitution activities are rampant.

Athens is regarded as a very safe place in general, even for women who travel solo here. The rate of crime is extremely low and when you take regular precautions, you can be more or less safe in this city. Most trips to the place are free of troubles. However, the theft of wallets and passports are common in crowded tourist spots and in the metros.

Things to Remember While in Athens

Before going to Athens, you have to remember that you are not permitted to smoke here indoors even in public places and buildings. You might have to pay high fines for non-compliance with the law on smoking ban. In places such as the bar / café Booze Cooperativa, you can find art concerts and exhibits being hosted for the beautiful and hip crowd, in a smoke-filled environment of course. While traveling in Athens, the safest and best way is to use your debit and credit cards whenever possible. While trying to take out cash from the ATMs, it would be better to take out only as much as you require for the next few days. Ensure that you use just official ATMs that are connected to a bank, and try to avoid getting money out from those that are in night clubs.

In Athens, the men are more forward as compared to other countries and might invite you for a date. However, if you politely decline their advances, most of them are likely to move on. If you are a woman, try to exercise some amount of caution at night in this city - particularly in Mextaxourgio, Psirri, Omonia, Monastiraki or any other dim-lit region. Try to keep your stuffs really close to you at all times.

Whether you are in a train, bus, nightlife destination or crowded tourist spot, you have to take more care of your stuffs and constantly keep an eye on your belongings. Be especially vigilant in case it appears that anybody is attempting to distract you. Consider buying a backpack of slash-resistant fabric with a strong zipper and put your wallet always in your front pocket and not in the back.

With these things in consideration, you can always be safe when you are in Athens, Greece.