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Exarchia Athens Safe Neighborhood

Before coming to Athens, a lot of people told us that the city started to be less and less safe few years ago. After visiting some online forums and reading some Tripadvisor’s reviews, we started to understand that there was more than just a problem in this city: drugs, refugees, a weak government, a lot of corruption and poverty. Unfortunately, these problems are not related only to Athens, but to all the biggest cities in Greece. On the contrary, we found that the Attica region was much more paradisiacal than Athens itself.

What and where is Exarchia?

When we arrived in Athens, we discovered that not far away from the city center and the Acropolis, in Exarchia (or Exarcheia), there was the highest concentration of problems of the city. In the years of the crisis this place started to be filled with squats and the anarchist movement of Athens became stronger and stronger. Before arriving in Greece, we documented ourselves about anarchy and the story of the city of the last 10 years reading this book. This helped us to better understand what was going on in Athens and prepared us regarding what we could have find in town. In fact, in the last years Exarchia became way less safe, until the point that police stopped entering in this area. On the main square of Exarcheia, drug dealing is done under the light of the sun 24 hours on 24. This situation started few years ago and this part of the city, before dangerous for anarchism, became dangerous and a lot less safe due to drug deal and use. Exarcheia, once a paradise for families and children, is today the paradise of syringes. 

Athens Graffiti Politics

“The Anarchist Soul Of Exarchia”

If you are planning your travel and you are searching for a hotel for your stay in Athens, Greece, delete Exarchia Square from your research. Even if it’s not far away from the Acropolis and it’s well-connected to the airport, you will not feel safe in any hotel in this area, especially if you are traveling with your children. Just imagine that the police is not even crossing the borders of Exarchia. We saved 25$ booking our apartment with Travala and thanks to it we stayed in a beautiful and safe neighborhood. If you are planning your stay and want some extra advice about the best Athens neighborhoods and the level of safety of Athens, we wrote these articles for you.

Is Exarchia really bad?

But is Exarchia really bad? During our hotels and apartments research, we almost took an apartment there, but luckily we found the right apartment thanks to Travala in the neighborhood of  Kypseli. Nowadays, after exploring every corner of Exarchia, we don’t know if we made the best choice. Why? Exarcheia can be really full of life, you can have interesting debates with people and, even if it there isn’t the Acropolis, it can be a nice place. 

If one day during your trip in Athens, you’re tired about the more mainstream Plaka, reach Exarchia by metro or foot and drink a coffee with the view on the omnipresent street art. Even if the government of the Attica region forget about it, we found some hidden gems. This article is for all of you typing on forums “Is Exarchia safe?” We lived it, we explore it and now we are writing this content to tell you everything about it.

Exarcheia Graffiti Athens

“A Lot Of Buildings Are Abandoned”

Graffiti Athens Exarchia

“Exarchia Has Graffiti Everywhere”

HOW IS THE ANARCHIST NEIGHBOURHOOD OF EXARCHIA?

When we first decided to visit Exarchia it was night and we were coming from the North of the city, from the neighborhood of Kypseli. We passed in front of Pedion Areos Park and we arrived right in Exarchia Square. In the last years, this area became less safe because of refugees tragic situation and the huge drug dealing. We passed in front of gypsy families, burned buildings, squats and a lot of despair. We saw at first sight that the neighborhood wasn’t filled with museum and nice hotels, but more with inappropriate tags on the walls and a lot of squats. Honestly, you will regret not having a thief-proof backpack. We use this backpack since 2 years and we feel 100% safe with it in every situation.

Once we arrived, we took a beer to see if the infamous square was really dangerous. We spent there some time, and we really didn’t feel safe. In 30 minutes we saw a crazy traffic of drugs and many fights between the different gangs. It was the first time we were facing something like this in Greece.

What we loved about Exarchia

Even if from our first impressions, this wasn’t the pride of Greek society, we decided not to give up and to see if the neighborhood had some nice hidden posts. We went then on the southern part of Exarcheia and we find another world: beautiful restaurants (our favourite was a really good Greek tapas restaurant called Rararou) and bars everywhere. We definitely said to ourselves that it was the perfect place for a night out. After dinner, we decided to have a walk around Exarchia and we came across a group of people seated around a table in the middle of the street: what a beautiful view! We found out later that was a communist neighbourhood associations. We had a really nice talk with them and we appreciated a lot their spirit: they were sharing everything, like a real community. Moreover, the atmosphere was the same as in ancient Greek forums. They were meeting every week to make Exarchia a better place. After the nice restaurants and bars, that was the first real contributor to make this area a better place.

Exarchia Buildings Athens

“The Buildings Between Omonia And Exarchia”

Taxi Athens Omonia Square

“Cabs Going To Exarchia”

9 REAL FACTS ABOUT EXARCHIA

1
Even if there are no museums and a lot of hotels, there's a lot of street art: we believe Exarchia is the Jerusalem of Greece and Attica for street art!
2
You can have a real debate in one of the modern forums in Exarchia. I'm talking about communist neighbourhood associations. You can talk with them about a better future and they will even offer you a beer. They share everything and they are so openminded. We really met some good people just walking by!
3
Every week, especially on Thursday, there are fights between police and anarchists. So maybe don't choose this day to visit Exarchia.
4
A lot of migrants hide themselves in Exarchia and every day they go to work outside Athens. Of course, everything is illegal: they live in squats and they work off the books.
5
In the worst areas of this neighbourhood, especially where people are consuming drugs, if you instigate them, there were some cases when drug users threatened passersby to plant an infected syringe if they didn’t give them money.
6
Police is not even entering inside this neighbourhood!
7
A lot of businesses in this area are closing because of the elevated number of thefts. That's far away from the reality you can find in Plaka.
8
Exarchia is losing its anarchist spirit because of drug dealing: even the local anarchists are not going there any more. The drug dealing is so huge that there isn’t any more space for revolutionary people.
9
A lot of people are leaving the neighbourhood because of safety conditions, so they sell their apartments at a very low price and drug dealers buy them to expand more and more inside the neighbourhood. In this way, they are building their own city with their rules.

WOULD WE SUGGEST YOU STAY IN EXARCHIA?

Even if after that lovely night we came back a lot of times in Exarchia and we discovered even more beautiful posts, we would not recommend you to stay here during your trip if you are a family. Why? Well, you never know what will wait you behind the corner and maybe your children will see something that will traumatize them. 

If you are a group of friends or a couple, we can advise you to go to the south of Exarchia and don’t go frequently to the North of the neighborhood. Even if it’s infamous, it’s still a central part of Athens and it’s well connected to the airport.

If you are a woman traveling alone or you are a group of women, we don’t suggest you spend your stay in Athens here. Even if you can find a cheaper hotel, you will jeopardize your safety.

In any case, remember that it is dangerous to have an inappropriate behaviour because you don’t know who is in front of you and you will not be saved from the police, who is literally banned from this area. 

But, even if police is not entering in this area and there’s a chance you bump into crazy people, the South deserves a visit.

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Is Exarchia Safe

Comments:

  • Vangelis

    December 15, 2020

    You both have clearly come from a prissy little privileged life. Exarcheia is the best suburb in the world but not for puff cakes like yourselves. Stay away. It’s the best for you and is.

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  • Simon the tourist

    July 25, 2021

    Totally disagree!
    Exarchia was the neighborhood I felt the most safe in all of Athens.. While in Plaka a random guy on the street tried to steal my phone and a spanish guy I met in the hostel in Plaka has his bike got stolen from inside the hostel and when he went to the police they refused to report it! Instead of trusting the corrupt police who don’t even care if a car alarm around the next corner goes off, they decided to take care by themselfs and help each other. Educate yourself about the killing of 40 civilians by the police and military in the polytechnic university in 1973. Educate yourself about 15 years old Alexis Grigoropoulos who was shot and killed by the police in 2008 and maybe you understand why they’re better of without them. At the protest after it, you could not just see the “evil” anarchist rioting but as well women in business dresses throwing stones in the police stations and grannys spitting them in the face and calling them murders!
    And about drugs: the only drug related thing I saw was a guy very politely asking if I need some weed and some people smoking a Joint. In fact the gangs were kicked out of exarchia by the activists themselfs and came back with some support from the police.
    About migration: While Greece and Europe in general failed in the refugee crisis and prefered to put them in dirty camps like animals, those humans found in Exarchia finally a home after years of war, terror and death..
    Ah and yes it’s safe for lone women or how do you explain a lot of them walking there in the streets in the night?

    It’s sad and a shame you call yourself open-minded!

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  • Nick

    July 31, 2021

    You’re the type of people who would complain about neighborhoods being dangerous and expanding public transit into the suburbs, only to sneak into said neighborhoods to enhance your street cred before moaning about it on the internet. Y’all are a bunch of creeps hiding behind glossy, filtered photos and fluffy captions and it shows

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