During the financial crisis, crime has risen in Athens. But this is a rise from almost zero, and violent street crime remains relatively rare. Nonetheless, travellers should be alert. Stay aware of your surroundings at night, especially in streets southwest of Omonia, where prostitutes and junkies gather, as well as by the Mavromateon bus terminal, as the adjacent park is a rather grim homeless encampment.
Favoured hunting grounds are the metro, particularly the Piraeus–Kifisia line, and crowded streets around Omonia, Athinas and the Monastiraki Flea Market. Don't leave your phone out on restaurant tables, as it might be snatched.
- Athens taxi drivers have a reputation for mistreating foreigners. Their practices have improved, but stay alert. Most rip-offs involve taxis hired from ranks at major transit points, particularly the port of Piraeus. Avoid the drivers at the port exit; hail one off the street.
- All the usual tricks are deployed: failing to turn on the meter; setting the night rate (tariff set to '2' rather than '1') by day; claiming you gave them a smaller bill than you did; taking the longer route. (But understand that Athens' one-way streets may require some detours.)
- To make your destination clear and monitor the route, use the mobile app from Beat (www.thebeat.co/gr) or Taxiplon – you can pay in cash.
- Scammers usually target solo male travellers around Syntagma, Hadrian's Arch and the Acropolis. The patter: friendly Greek asks the time or asks you to take his photo, reveals that he's from out of town too (or he has a cousin in your home country) and suggests going to a bar. Soon some women appear, more drinks are ordered and the conman disappears, leaving the traveller with an exorbitant bill. (Or, more sophisticated, the conman stays and pays his half – and gets it back later.)
- Some bars have street touts who simply lure intoxicated males with talk of sex and present them with outrageous bills.
- Some bars and clubs serve what are locally known as bombes, adulterated drinks diluted with cheap illegal imports or methanol-based spirit substitutes. They leave you feeling decidedly low the next day.
Strikes & Demonstrations
Strikes and demonstrations can disrupt public transport and close sights and shops, but they are almost always announced at least several days, and sometimes weeks in advance. They usually begin or end at Syntagma Sq; steer clear. Check www.livingingreece.gr/strikes for the latest.