The coolest Athens neighborhoods to invest in right now
The Athenian Riviera is where the real estate redevelopment action is, but the city centre and the neighbourhoods fringing it are enjoying a quiet renaissance, buoyed in large part by a thriving community of young creatives who’ve breathed new life into it. These bohemian districts are dotted with oft-overlooked 1930s art deco buildings and come with the added bonus of hidden courtyards or an Acropolis view. But best of all, they are all going through a resurgence, driven by local communities.
It is hard to believe that a mere 90 years ago, Pangrati, formerly known as Vatrahonissi, was an island on the banks of the river Ilissos, – and as its name suggests – inhabited mainly by frogs! The river, which used to flow along the path where the Vas. Constantinou road now runs, determined the eastern boundary of the city of Athens. While some of those grand plans of cementing a river might have been lamentable, its recent, more organic metamorphosis has made Pangrati a very desirable address indeed. Just a quick 15-minute walk to Syntagma and Kolonaki, this neighbourhood has an unapologetically Athenian feel, pock-marked with vegan eateries (see our article on vegan restaurants), cool bars, ceramic studios and designer boutiques alongside Michelin restaurants, long-standing tavernas and mom-and-pop run stores.
What we love: 1. Its family-friendly, safe vibe combined with an animated social scene 2. Its proximity to the Kallimarmaro (the ancient stadium), and to the Goulandris Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery, the National Conservatory, the War Museum and the Byzantine Museum. 3. Its pockets of green (the Alsos Pangratiou and Ardittou Hill are hugely popular with dog-walkers and joggers and the National Garden and First Cemetery is just a quick stroll away). 4. You can get everything here – from pet groomers to upholsterers, international bookstores like Lexikopoleio and organic mini-markets that stay open until midnight. 5. It is still affordable compared to Kolonaki, and if you’re looking for a cosmopolitan but quintessentially Greek neighbourhood, Pangrati it is.
Insider note: When looking to buy, remember that parking here can be a bugbear. On the flip side, you can walk to most places, and it is well connected by a metro service.
Possibly the area with the most beautiful building facades (that have been blighted by graffiti and other tell-tale signs of anarchic living) but if you look past the first signs of abandonment, there are still some amazing buys to be had. Exarchia will always be shaped by youth politics and an activist ethos – it is after all the district that houses both the Polytechnic and the Athens University. So, expect intense street art, but also lots of art supply stores and artist-run spaces and residences, discos, alternative bookshops, pop-up cocktail bars and venues where the indie music scene finds expression.
What we love: 1. Its edgy, urban vibe and profusion of creative entrepreneurs 2. Its proximity to Syntagma, Kolonaki and Omonoia – making it a very convenient location. 3. Kallidromiou market – this beautiful street comes alive every Saturday with florists and vegetable vendors hawking their fare to the hipster set. 4. Lofos Strefi is the perfect perch to take in views of the city below. 5. Ideal for those willing to restore some stunning gems and accept Exarchia for what it is.
Insider note: This is the epicentre of restless Athens so expect impromptu street protests and do not be put off by the heavy police presence or the tattooed walls. If you come here hoping either of those will go away anytime soon, don’t.
Home to some stunning examples of Bauhaus and Art Deco architecture, Kypseli has perhaps gone through more ups and downs in its fortunes than any other district. Once an upper-class neighbourhood peopled by Athens’ intellectual elite and artist community, it went through a long period of apathy. A drop in rents saw a new wave of immigration that has added to the colourful, cultural mix of the district with Ethiopian coffee shops and Syrian falafel shops vying for commercial space with legendary Athenian cafes and watering holes. Demographically, young creatives are finding their way back to Kypseli and reclaiming their heritage with urban activism. The Kypseli Municipal market is a hub for local entrepreneurs, artist residencies abound – artist-run spaces Snehta and Bhive are thriving – and Kypseli’s stately buildings are being rediscovered by architecture enthusiasts for its stunningly beautiful examples of urban design from the inter-war period.
What we love: 1. Fokionos Negri and Drosopoulou streets for its old world charm and handsome townhouses. 2. Its switched-on, inclusive, activist side as evident at the revamped Municipal markets that now hosts pop up exhibitions and communal brunches 3. Its proximity to arguably Athens’ most impressive museum, the National Archaeological Museum. 4. Its cultural pedigree as reflected in the profusion of theatres in such a small area 5. Its proximity to the lungs of the city, Pedion to Areos and its long promenade, popular with dog owners with pride of place being occupied by the statue of a local stray.
Insider note: For impatient investors, looking for a quick turnaround, this isn’t for you. Kypseli has always been about the long game. Restore, re-invest and recreate is the mantra for any serious investor.
Ideally located between central Athens and the coast, this lush, family-friendly neighbourhood of Nea Smyrni is attracting investors for its oft-ignored charms. Its many squares are host to an interesting history: the neighbourhood gained its name from the former Greek city of Smyrna, now Izmir, from where refugees settled the area in the 1920s. Car-free Nea Smyrni Square, one of the largest squares in Greece, is at the neighbourhood’s heart and is spectacular, with fountains, shops, restaurants, trendy cafes and bars to suit all ages, trends and budgets. The Church of Agia Fotini dominates the horizon, named after its namesake church, that was razed to the ground during the 1922 Asia Minor catastrophe. It boasts an identical bell tower as the original church and houses some of the icons and frescos. Also rooted in its Smyrna past, is the history of the oldest football club in Greece, the Panionios, founded in 1890. Venture beyond the square and you’ll find Nea Smyrni Alsos park, a large green oasis with Aleppo pines, cypress and stone pines with a jogging track, an outdoor gym, café and outdoor cinema! The cultural axes of EMST, the Onassis Cultural Centre and the SNFCC are all within easy reach as are an array of 5-star hotels that line Syngrou Avenue.
What we love: 1. Its down-to-earth vibe of a hard-working neighbourhood with distinct notes of their Asia Minor heritage. 2. Plateia life – there’s always something interesting going on here: from festivals with free entrance to hip new bars and restaurants rubbing shoulders with century-old kafeneia and tavernas. 3. The tram from Syntagma to Aghia Fotinis takes just 7 minutes or an easy 25-minute walk. 4. It makes for an easy getaway to the coast as well as to the islands through Piraeus. 5. Some of the finest examples of inter-war architecture can be found here – the Iosifoglou orphanage being a case in point and the Estia Neas Smyrnis, funded by the Onassis foundation, an impressive neoclassical building that that promote Smyrna’s rich cultural heritage including a collection of furniture and silverware from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Insider note: Nea Smyrni remains an affordable option and a safe neighbourhood straddling the best of both worlds – proximity to the city centre and the coast.
Kerameikos brings alive the storied history of this ancient potter’s settlement with an edgy urban aesthetic. Encapsulating the ethos of this gentrified district, it is surrounded by reminders of Athenian history – from temples to the ancient Gods to Pnyx where spirited orators like Pericles debated, the majestic dome of the National Observatory looming above the city, to the fiery red obelisk-shaped chimneys of the old gas factory. The streets are lined with theatres, hipster hangouts, art galleries, bars and nightclubs making it the de facto fun zone of Athens. Within walking distance are the Kerameikos Museum, the Jewish synagogue and Ottoman-style Hammam baths, all underscoring the cosmopolitan character of this vibrant neighborhood. Award-winning restaurants share space with wholesalers; the vibrant art scene finds expression in the stunning collection at the Municipal Gallery, where entrance to the public is free and galleries like The Breeder and the Rebecca Camhi gallery have made Kerameikos their base for over two decades. An attractive destination for the creative set, as rents and property prices are still extremely affordable, the vibe here is that of a large commune. Ingenious talent have made intelligent use of negative space such as LATRAAC which doubles as a Cafe and Skate Bowl and impromptu concert venue.
What we love: 1. The streets here are lined with theatres, hipster hangouts, art galleries,bars and nightclubs making it the de facto fun zone of Athens. 2. Within walking distance are the Kerameikos Museum, the Jewish synagogue and Ottoman-style Hammam baths, all underscoring the cosmopolitan character of this vibrant neighborhood. 3. Award-winning restaurants like CTC Resto share space with wholesalers and micro-breweries 4. The vibrant art scene finds expression in the stunning collection at the Municipal Gallery, where entrance to the public is free, at art spaces like The Breeder and the Rebecca Camhi gallery that have made Kerameikos their base for over two decades, and in the murals that have made Kerameikos a base for street artists. 5. An
attractive destination for the creative set, as rents and property prices are still extremely affordable, the vibe here is that of a large commune. Ingenious talent have made intelligent use of negative space such as LATRAAC which doubles as a Cafe and Skate Bowl and impromptu concert venue while Communitism encourages the réactivation of abandoned buildings.
Insider note: Kerameikos is still rough on the edges but it is poised for gentrification. Some of the most interesting real estate deals are to be found here. But you need a lot of patience and perseverance to pursue your real estate dreams.