The Plaka district, below the Acropolis, is the most touristy -- and picturesque -- area of downtown Athens.
Best For: Travelers who want to be near the historic sites, to lose themselves in long walks around winding medieval streets and explore the city's oldest district.
Drawbacks: It's full of tourists -- especially during high season.
The Monastiraki district is centrally located, close to all the sites, and busy 24 hours a day.
Best For: Travelers who want to be conveniently located but also in a "real" part of the city with all the frenzy, hustle and bustle of everyday city life. The area also has a large selection of inexpensive to moderate hotels to chose from.
Drawbacks: Surroundings get seedier the closer you get to Omonoia.
Psirri & Kerameikos
Psirri and Kerameikos are centrally located but a bit out of the tourist maelstrom and come alive as soon as the sun has set. Gazi, the undisputed king of downtown Athenian nightlife, is across the avenue from Kerameikos.
Best For: Travelers who want to be near some of the city's trendiest dining and nightlife options.
Drawbacks: Both areas are in the process of being gentrified. Outer pockets remain somewhat seedy.
Syntagma Square is the center and heart of Athens. It's bustling, elegant and hectic with a wide selection of hotels from classic old-timers to trendy newcomers and everything in between.
Best For: People who want to stay in the center of things.
Drawbacks: It's not a spot for relaxing, as the area is busy night and day and sometimes (say, during protest demonstrations), it can be a little too "busy."
Kolonaki has always been the posh section of downtown. Galleries, upscale shops, cafes, boutique hotels, and eateries line the trendy streets, many of them pedestrianized.
Best For: Travelers who want to be in a more cosmopolitan section of the city, ideal for shopping marathons and discovering some of the city's most eclectic dining and nightlife options. Also for those seeking to experience the city as locals do and away from most other tourists.
Drawbacks: The lack of budget accommodations and it's a bit away from the sites.
Embassy District (Museum Mile)
The Embassy district (or Museum Mile) near trendy Kolonaki, is home to some of the city's finest museums and galleries as well as the Athens Music Hall.
Best For: Travelers who want to be a bit out of the tourist frenzy but minutes away via Metro from the sites. It's also close to some of the city's finer smaller museums and the fashionable Kolonaki district.
Drawbacks: The lack of budget accommodations.
Koukaki & Makrigianni (Near the Acropolis)
The Makrigianni district is home to the Acropolis Museum and a stone's throw away from the Plaka and the Acropolis. Markigianni and Koukaki have a wide variety of accommodations, are largely residential and centrally located to all the sites.
Best For: Travelers who want to be conveniently located to the sites, the Plaka, and the Archaeologial Promenade and still feel as if they're locals.
Drawbacks: The area is becoming very popular with tourists. This might be an advantage or a drawback for some.
Outside Central Athens: Worth the Journey
The following selections are most likely to appeal to travelers seeking a different kind of Athenian experience, away from the downtown scene but not too far from the city center. The northern suburbs -- lush, aristocratic, and green -- and the coastal suburbs with their beaches and buzzing summer nightlife are two excellent options, depending which time of year you are in Athens. Kifissia is a 40-minute train ride from downtown on Metro line 1, and the coast is accessible by tram (up to Voula) and farther out (from the center or Glyfada) either by bus or taxi.
Kifissia -- Leafy, aristocratic Kifissia has long been the favorite destination of the rich and famous, and you'll enjoy its many elegant 19th-century neoclassical mansions found in tree-lined streets and squares, alongside modern mansions and apartment buildings.
Best For: Travelers seeking to bask in the elite Athenians' playground, shop all day, walk along tree-lined streets, wine and dine in posh and trendy surroundings with seldom another tourist in sight.
Drawbacks: It's a bit more of an effort to get to the major sites.
Along the Coast -- Clear waters, nice restaurants and beautiful open-air clubs and bars by the sea, as well as excellent shopping options, make the Athenian coast irresistible during the summer.
Best For: Travelers seeking to bask, shop, wine, dine, and party in the sun and the surf without a care (or an itinerary) in the world.
Drawbacks: You might never want to make the time to visit the sites.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.