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Moving to Athens

Expats moving to Athens will find themselves in the historical capital of Europe. A city with a rich history dating back thousands of years, Athens is considered one of the most important cities in the foundation of Western civilisation. The Parthenon, which watches over Athens from the Acropolis, still stands as a reminder of this history and places modern Athens in contrast with the empire of old.

Athens is the capital city of Greece, located in the middle of the Greek mainland between continental Greece to the north and the Peloponnese region to the south. This makes it ideally situated for moving around the rest of Greece – from here, most other places in Greece can be accessed by train, plane, boat or bus.

The city centre in Athens is vibrant and busy and is where most businesses and government organisations are based; there is a good chance that expats moving to Athens will end up working in this area of the city. 

One of the advantages of living in Athens is that there is always a vast array of things to see and do. Athens is home to both ancient and modern attractions, offering a variety of sightseeing options and weekend getaways within easy reach. Athens also has myriad shopping opportunities, ranging from flea markets to luxurious boutiques, which are bound to satisfy shoppers of all ilks.

For expats moving to Athens with children, in addition to the standard Greek public schooling, there is a wide range of private schools in various languages which are spread out across Athens. Moreover, expats who choose to move to Athens will find themselves in a lively urban environment where residents are extremely proud of the place in which they live.

The city offers a good balance between urban and suburban life, and, in the space of an hour's drive, expats can find themselves surrounded by a completely new environment. Athens is a splendid destination for expats looking for a busy, diverse and ever-expanding place to call home.  

Weather in Athens

Sun worshippers will be right at home in Athens. The city has a subtropical Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine hours, and there is little rainfall throughout the year.

Based on its annual average temperature, Athens is one of the hottest cities in Europe, particularly during summer when temperatures regularly reach 35°C (95°F). Heatwaves occur frequently and can push the mercury up to 40°C (104°F) and beyond. Summer is from June to September, with July being the hottest month.

Winters are mild, although the nights can be chilly so it's best to have a sweater to hand. Some parts of Athens may experience snowfall, particularly in the north.

Lifestyle in Athens

The lifestyle in Athens is certainly one of the city's major perks. The city is a great springboard for travel throughout the country. During the warmer months, the Greek islands are popular for getaways, while the picturesque coastal towns and villages of the Peloponnese region are just an hour or two away. In the summer, the Athens Riviera along the city’s southern coast is packed with beach lovers who don’t have to travel far to enjoy a day in the sun.

There are numerous opportunities for entertainment and shopping in Athens too – the city has flea markets, modern malls, boutique stores, and a vibrant nightlife scene.


Shopping in Athens

For expats who love to shop, there are all kinds of shops in the centre of Athens, as well as some gorgeous boutiques in the Kolonaki area. For those who prefer large malls and outdoor shopping centres, there is Mall Athens, Golden Hall and Avenue Mall, all within minutes of each other in Marousi. Also, Athens' biggest flea market in Monastiraki is always worth a visit. 


Nightlife in Athens

Agia Irini Square

Known as the ‘new heart of Athens’, this picturesque square in Monastiraki used to be a flower and textile market. Now, it’s packed on the weekends thanks to a resurgence of trendy bars, cafés and restaurants.

Psirri

Squeezed between Monastiraki, Plaka and Omonia, Psirri attracts quite a crowd at night. The area hosts an array of venues offering Greek food, live music and local spirits like ouzo and rakomelo.

Gazi

Until the opening of its metro station, Gazi was a worn-down immigrant quarter characterised by the steely remnants of a defunct gasworks factory. Artistic minds then took over and forged a creative space that highlights the area’s industrial history. The area is now lined with restaurants, bars and clubs and in the thick of summer it’s difficult to walk around without bumping into anyone.

Kolonaki

One of the capital’s most upscale neighbourhoods, Kolonaki has its share of authentic tavernas, trendy bars, chic clubs, gourmet restaurants and atmospheric outdoor cafés. The cocktail bars on Skoufa are particularly popular with the after-work crowd.

Exarchia

The city’s alternative edge, Exarchia attracts artistic, student and bohemian crowds. The street art and graffiti-covered buildings house various grunge-chic bars and clubs, many of which play rock music. 

Kifissia

One of the most expensive suburbs in Athens, Kifissia has a distinct nightlife. The posh neighbourhood is dotted with upscale restaurants that are packed with a sophisticated crowd when the weekend comes around.

Southern Athens

The southern suburbs of Athens are just steps away from the sea, which is why summer is the best time to hit the area’s glamorous open-air clubs. Glyfada, a large, upmarket neighbourhood has numerous bars and restaurants that come alive on weekends. 


Sports and outdoor activities in Athens

The history of sports in Greece dates back to ancient times, and fans can still attend international events at one of the five major venues in the Athens Olympic Sport Complex. Among these is the Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro), which is where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.

Aside from this, riding clubs, football fields and basketball courts can be found throughout Athens. Mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners take to Mount Immitos to get lost in the lush and scenic trails on the east side of the city. Watersports facilities line the southern suburbs of Athens where the beaches are awash with people during the warmer months.

Shopping in Athens

For expats who love to shop, Athens is the place to be. With various shopping avenues available, there is something for everyone. From fresh produce to locally made goods, expats will be able to experience the authentic taste and culture of Greece.

Expats who revel in a good bargain and a vintage find should visit the abundance of flea markets. Conversely, those who prefer designer brands and high-end fashion will find Athens's shopping centres and boutiques highly satisfactory.

Below are some of the most popular shopping areas.

Monastiraki Flea Market

Monastiraki is located in Old Athens, where both locals and tourists love getting lost in the pedestrian streets. One section is tightly lined with shops selling souvenirs emblazoned with 'I Love Greece', while others are filled with fantastic antiques and vendors selling Greek handicrafts.

On Sundays, when most stores in Athens are closed, the streets off Avissinias Square become an open flea market where people sell antiques and bric-a-brac items off tables and carpets.

Athens Central Market

The Athens Central Market is one of the best and cheapest places to buy fresh food and provides a lively, colourful experience. Walking through the lanes, expats will find fresh meat and fish, bellowing vendors and endless Greek deli offerings.

Ermou Street

The largest outdoor shopping street in Athens houses recognisable international brands including Mango, Marks & Spencer, Zara and Sephora. These are interspersed with popular Greek shops like Tsakaris Mallas, Follie Follie and Hondos Centre.

The Mall Athens

When Athenians say ‘the mall’, there is only one they are referring to. The Mall Athens was built after the 2004 Olympic Games in the centre of Maroussi, an upmarket suburb in northern Athens. Situated close to the Neraziotissa station, its numerous levels contain plenty to keep shopping enthusiasts occupied, from clothing stores and department stores to entertainment facilities like the mall's cinema and food court.

Boutique shopping

Expats who prefer poking in and out of boutique shops over the indoor constraints of a typical mall are in luck. Lovely neighbourhoods such as Kifissia, Halandri, Kolonaki and Glyfada are well-known shopping destinations that feature designer shops and locally owned businesses. 

Kifissia and Halandri, in the northern suburbs, are popular for offering a day of shopping, eating and coffee drinking. Boutiques line the streets around Kolonaki Square and the Voukourestiou pedestrian walkway, which is especially famous for its succession of high-end shops. Lastly, Glyfada is the centre of shopping in the south of Athens. A few minutes from the sea, the streets of this suburb are flanked by dozens of shopping choices.

See and Do in Athens

A modern city built on ancient foundations, there is plenty for expats to see and do in Athens. Expats can discover the city’s history in its museums and monuments, but they can also experience it in their daily interactions. Becoming immersed in the various attractions in Athens is a great way for expats to get to grips with their surroundings and make themselves feel at home. 


Recommended attractions in Athens

Acropolis of Athens

Set higher than the rest of the city, the Acropolis is the heart of Athens. The perfectly sculpted ancient marble buildings and stunning views of the city provide a memorable experience. The most famous monument is the Parthenon which is a testament to craftsmanship during the height of the city's power.

Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum was built in the shadow of the Acropolis itself and is a landmark in its own right. The museum’s layout leads visitors along its walkways to discover ancient relics from the surrounding archaeological sites and provides panoramic views of the city. Thousands of fascinating artefacts are on display.

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens

The National Archaeological Museum is the largest of its kind in Greece and remains one of the world's most prominent Ancient Greek museums. With a rich collection of historical art dating back to the Prehistoric era, this museum is a must-see.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Construction first began on this remarkable ancient site in the 6th century BC. More than 600 years later, the 104-column temple was completed. During the Roman period, the temple was the largest in all of Greece. Though the temple later fell into disuse, it is still possible to visit the site of the ruin, where 16 beautiful Corinthian columns remain standing.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion

The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion was an important place of worship in Ancient Greece and is now a popular day-trip destination. Set on a cliff, this temple dedicated to the god of the sea provides suitably breathtaking views of the ocean below.