Is Athens Safe? Crucial tips for your visit in 2024!

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Is Athens Safe? Crucial tips for your visit in 2024!
Welcoming millions of tourists every year, the capital of Greece is one of the most famous European destinations. But how safe is Athens for tourists? Find out all you need to know about staying safe while visiting this spectacular city full of history and charm.
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From strolling around the picturesque streets of Plaka to staring in awe at the millennia-old Acropolis, you'll be overwhelmed by how many things you can see and do in Athens. In fact, most of the places in Greece that are frequented by tourists are breathtaking and full of history, so you won't regret deciding to make a trip out of this popular destination!

While getting lost in Athens is a great way to get to know its most charming and well-hidden spots, it's important to know Athens's do's and don'ts so that you can avoid trouble. Like many other European capitals, such as Paris or London, the Greek capital is overall a safe place to visit.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you should pay attention to as you explore the city. Find out whether Athens is safe plus several helpful tips to know while traveling to the capital of Greece!

Landmarks in Athens, Greece.
Photo by Arthur Yeti on Unsplash

Is Athens safe?

Is Athens safe for travelers? In short, yes!

Nearly 4 million tourists flew to Athens in 2021 alone. Before the pandemic, the city was in the top 10 most visited European cities, with over 6 million visitors in 2019. This means you can expect big crowds, especially if you're visiting during the high season. 

Just like any other major tourist destinations, if you stick to the popular tourist attractions and don't venture too far off the usual paths, you're most likely to be completely safe while exploring Athens! That being said, if you do prior research on navigating the city, you can safely venture off the usually popular attractions.

Just make sure to frequently have a family member or close friend check up on you while you're in Athens.

According to the 2022 crime rates, Athens ranks 66th in the world, with an average crime rate compared to other European countries. In comparison, Sweden ranks 54th while France ranks 44th.

Simply put, the lower the number, the higher the crime rate. At 66, Athens sounds pretty great!

Sunset in Athens City
Photo by Christos Papandreou on Upsplash

Pickpocketing in Athens

Although Athens is an overall safe tourist destination, as a foreigner, you'll likely be an easier target of minor crimes like pickpocketing and scams. But don't let the risk of an unlikely event dissuade you from exploring this stunning city. Most visits are incident-free!

Like in many major European cities, pickpocketing is one thing you must always be careful about in Athens. The risk is higher in crowded areas and popular touristic spots.

Pay attention if traveling by bus, train, metro, and other public transport. These are the most targeted spots as they can get crowded, making it easier for pickpocketers to do their business unnoticed. 

The trick is to make it harder to steal from you. Keep in mind that thieves are looking for easy targets. Avoid wearing your expensive camera around your neck and opt for a fanny bag or a cross-body bag that you should always keep in front of you. Maybe consider buying a money belt with RFID blocking for extra security! 

Needless to say, avoid keeping valuables in your pockets, especially in the back pockets. And for your peace of mind, leave your passport safely stored in the hotel unless you need it. 

The "bird poop" scam

A creative way of pickpocketing that is common in Athens is the so-called bird poop scam.

Someone will throw white paste on you, making you believe a bird pooped on you. They will then offer to help you clean up and use this as a distraction to pick your pockets or bag.

If some "kind" stranger suddenly offers to clean bird poop off you, decline politely and move away!

Athens city crowds and tourists.
Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash

What to do if you get pickpocketed in Athens?

In the unlikely event of falling victim to the pickpockets despite taking all these precautions, you must take care of a few things. Firstly, cancel or block any stolen credit or debit cards so they cannot be used. Secondly, report the incident to the police. 

The most complicated thing to deal with is replacing your documents if they get stolen. For support with this procedure, go to your country's embassy in Athens and explain your situation. If an embassy is not available, check if there is any consulate that can provide support.

Tourist scams in Athens

Overpriced taxis

Aside from pickpocketing, you should be aware of a few scams around Athens. One of the most common tourist scams is getting overcharged for a taxi ride. If possible, opt for Uber, Beat, or alternative apps.

If you have no choice but to catch a taxi, make sure they turn on the meter or ask in advance how much the ride will cost. Don't be shy!

Higher restaurant bills

Another way of scamming foreigners is to invite them to a bar or restaurant where they can get drinks or food at very reasonable prices. The goal is to present them with a much higher bill at the end. This may not always be a scam, but there's no way of knowing beforehand.

Always check the menu or ask about the cost in advance to avoid falling into these traps. Be particularly aware of this practice around Monastiraki and Syntagma Square. 

Avoiding ATM fees

Another unusual thing to pay attention to is anyone who offers to help you at the ATM to "avoid fees." This is usually a scam meant to get your card details, so don't fall for it.

Refuse any help and maybe consider going to a different ATM if they are insistent. And while you're at it, opt for ATMs connected to banks. Avoid ATMs that are "randomly" placed on the streets or next to bars or shops. 

"Free" gifts

Finally, watch out for people giving you "gifts" such as bracelets or small objects. As insistent as they may be in assuring you it's a gift, they will ask for money as soon as you grab what they offer. This usually happens in popular tourist spots.

If anyone approaches you with gifts, decline and keep walking no matter how much pressure they give you!

Athens Acropolis landmark.
Photo by Julianna Arjes on Unsplash

Tips for staying safe in Athens

With some common sense and predisposed knowledge about Athens, you can enjoy a safe stay in the Greek capital. Explore Athens and many impressive landmarks without incident!

Athens is also safe for solo female travelers, but do practice caution at night. While during the day you can safely visit any area of the town, you should avoid some neighborhoods at night, or at least be extra careful. 

Areas like Exarheia, Patisia, Omonia, and Monastiraki Square are safe during the day but can turn shady at night. Exarchia, for instance, is a lively and charming area during the day, with its cafès, bookstores, restaurants, museums, and the Saturday morning farmers' market. However, it's notoriously home to anarchist groups and drug dealings at night. 

Another way of avoiding unpleasant situations is trying to blend in as much as possible. Keep your camera in your bag when you aren't using it, and avoid walking around with a phone in your hand, looking lost. Instead, check your map in advance and put your phone away. 

While having a navigation app is excellent, don't rely on it constantly. Explore little alleys, look around, and don't be afraid to get lost (during the day!). You'll be surprised by how many fantastic spots you can find by just wandering around without following Google Maps. Not to mention you won't be such an obvious target!

Street in Athens at nigh
Photo by elCarito on Unsplash

Ready to travel to Athens, Greece?

So now that we've covered how safe Athens is and what to watch out for, it's time to start planning your trip. If you have no idea what to visit in the Greek capital, why not start with one of these Athens walking tours?

If you're ready to travel to Athens, make sure to plan your trip with Pilot! 

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Roxana Fanaru
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