Areas to avoid, Athens
There are very often questions about Omonia square and the round area.
Many tourists think that this area is dangerous but I can tell here that it is not so dangerous as some people want to claim.
In the day time it is full of people and it is a very interesting spot where Greeks come to make their shopping. There are big malls, and many shops in the round area.
I just want to advice to avoid Omonia when you are alone and try not to be out of the hotel after midnight. If you are in a hotel it is quite safe and you don't have to worry.
If you happen to retrurn to your hotel in this area after midnight, just be alert and try to avoid staring at people. Walk with a fast pace and don't panic.
Omonia is one the oldest squares in Athens and has been
rebuilt many times.Surrounding by cafeterias and fast food
stores is very dangerous place to be especially at night
because it is a hangout for junkies,deales and transsexual
When in Athens avoid going after 11:00 pm near Omonoia square. The square at that time is full of drug addicts , who may become aggresive. Also , i would advise you to stay away from Athinas Street at night (Athinas street connects Monastiraki with Omonoia) , as this is the street where prostitutes hang.
Beware of false policemen working in the Makriyanni district in the nice neighborhood!
I've seen a tourist being approched by a man asking for directions to Syntagma or something of that sort. As the tourist try to help a "undercover police man" equipped with a false policebadge turns up and warns the tourist not to talk to strangers and asking if the tourist has bought drugs, made illegal money transactions etc.
He will then ask to see the tourist's money, gives it back again and then some of the money are missing. These robberies are getting common in Athens, just as "the expensive ladies' bars" are getting more uncommon. I've been living in Athens for longer periods and have seen it happen or heard of it more than twice. So beware - insist to study the policebadge, ask to go to the policestation to get things sorted out or call for help.
Around the entrance to Evangelismos metro station. If you walk alone, especially if your face is japanese because Asian tourists are considered SHY, soft, and WEAK to be BULLIED. This FAKE policeman will pretend first to greet you 'Hello', 'How are you', etc. and then when you're not interested and try to walk by he will approach you saying that he is a police and will ask you some questions. When you ask him to show you his badge he will not be ready to show it to you but rather only flash you a folded piece of unknown paper (no visible writing of ID at all), but he will insist to see your passport and ask how long have you been in Athens, etc. If you look weak enough or show something that is not sufficient with papers he would try to extort from you as much belongings of yours as he can by manners of bullying and terrorizing. See this man does not look typically greek (likely foreigners, too, with dark skin), he does not speak greek well and his accent is certainly sure NOT greek. Make sure you are not alone. Don't hesitate to yell out HELP if necessary (VOITHEIA in greek).
There are a few things to keep in mind when passing through the Plaka district. One of them is that the shop and restaurant owners there are very eager to get you to buy their inventory. If you seen a hand -painted sign pointing a pathway to get to the Acropolis, don't expect it to really bring you directly there. Where it will really bring you is through some more tiny streets of souvenir shops!
Athens is way less dangerous than it gets credit for. It sells to talk s--- about the city lately, so oh well. You can be on tourist mode for as long as you want, it's just not a very good idea if you're on one of the streets crossing Omonoia Square from 1-4 in the morning. These so-claimed dangerous pickpockets almost exclusively act on tourists who look around as if they were in Iraq during a bombing (and 90% of the time it will be naive-looking asian tourists). Act cool and just dont be blind. As for those people pretending to be cops or friendly tourists?-> they aren't common but they smell of *** from miles and are the easiest to detect. Finally, junkies wont get agressive as someone said below, unless you go ask them questions into their little area-which is basically 3 or 4 streets from the whole city center and are truly bad at night-time. With the exception of one of those streets across a museum, the rest are streets you have nothing to do in really and would be pretty unlucky and map-lost to find yourself in. If anything, these junkies are as powerful as your 10 year old daughter so I wouldnt be too afraid even if you're so unlucky that you will have to hold a group of them back.
The most important thing to remember is there's no organized gangs or very intelligent pickpockets as in other capitals, and thus if you keep your eyes open and dont act like a scared lost soul you'll be fine. As for the stories you may have heard about the idiot fascists of Golden Dawn? Those stupid no-lifers are only after illegal immigrants, whom they can usually distinguish from tourists.
Do yourself a favour and ignore warnings about Exarchia, it's one of the hippest areas in the city and much safer than anywhere else really. The anarchists around are always happy to help in case a junkie bothered you, and lately they have managed to keep the area mostly clean of people looking to do harm with the exception of isolated streets where cheap ***ty drugs are dealt and taken but are not in the vicinity of the squares where there is cool places to hang out in.
Athens is generally a safe city - safer than many other major European and North American cities. Having said that, it is still imperative to take a common-sense approach to personal safety especially at night. The area north-west of Omonia Square around Metaxourghio Station is a rather rough area. I passed by this area by day and I felt uneasy. There were travel agencies selling long-distant bus tickets to neighboring Albania, Macadonia and Bulgaria. There are many eastern Europeans from these ex-communist countries staying and loitering around this area by night.
Avoid walking in this area alone at night especially if you are a single woman traveller. A happened to talk to a solo male traveller from China who stayed in a hotel in this area. While he was making a telephone call at night, he was accosted for money by two eastern Europeans.
Athens is generally safe and, according to the statistics, not so dangerous as other large european cities. As at any other place in the world, protect yourself by the normal safety rules.
Avoid to be alone during the night at the places nearby Omonia square (directions to Agiou Konstantinou str., Pireos str., Athinas str.), Vathis (Anexartisias) square or the dark and narrow streets of Piraeus around the port.
Pickpockets in the public transportation.
Central Metro stations and bus-lines are infested by foreign pickpockets and they target mostly elder people and tourists. They operate usually in groups of 3-5 persons. At least one of them is robust and ready to "give a lesson" to the victim or to another passenger who might come to help the victim. The others create a local congestion, they encircle the victim, the push and everything to distract his attention, while the one, possibly a woman or a smallish man, niks the wallet.
You can possibly recognise them if you are ethno-savvy. They are mostly Albanians, Romanians (some of them gypsies), Bulgarians, Georgians. While waiting the train or the bus they stay separate, so don't expect to see a group of crooks. When the train/bus arrives they all come together to the same door, usually last, after the other passengers. They push and quite often the go again without entering the train.
Avoid bulky wallet. They detect it (or your mobile, camera etc) by touching you "accidentally" or watching you while you pay your ticket. Separate your money from passports and other valuable documents.
Lots of junkies and shady types. If you are cool about it you won't be in any real danger, but I tend to believe that people who get paranoid about such things attract trouble so in their place I would try to stay away from this area late at night.
Violent crime in Athens is low but it is a big city and it still occurs. Take the normal precautions you would take anywhere. Pay attention to the area you are in at night, don't walk alone in a dark area, etc. Most crimes in Athens are petty crimes which occur everywhere, so look out for pickpockets and scam artists.
Around the city center, an area to avoid is Omonia at night. Also don't get caught in the western areas at night.
On April 5, 2011, my mother in a wheelchair had her purse stolen by a thief in mid 40s, dressed in suits and tie, right in front of 14 (yes, 14 and less than 30 meters away) Athens Municipal Police in black uniforms, white crash helmets and on enduro motos. This happened in pedestrian zone Aeropagitou at 2:30pm, between Makrigiani and Makri. This thief came out near the 1st restaurant on right side (coming from Acropolis Museum) introduced himself to be restaurant manager, inviting us to read menus and come in to eat. Policemen did absolutely nothing when we reported the theft. Ditto with a police van that showed up later. They only told us to go to Police station on Veikou to file a report. Clearly Athens Police know the heads of gangs operating in these areas. When I described the thief, I can see on Police's faces they know given this thief's age, he operates alone and passes himself as restaurant manager. We have traveled the world, defeated many thefts but this is our 1st encounter with this scheme. 2 Japanese tourists were subjects of theft in the same area around the same time (we met at Veikou). My mother losts 500 euros and her papers (ID, etc.). Few restaurants and even hotels in Athens and at islands (Santorini, etc) accept credit cards, they all want to be paid in cash. Tourists must exert extreme cautions and if possible avoid Acropolis/Aeropagitou as long as Athens Police chooses to do nothing with rampant crimes since 2009.
Your story of the lost tourist and the fake policemen is exactly what happened to my husband and I last Sunday, Nov. 18th 2007.
We were on Vouli Street walking toward the Electra Palace Hotel when a small man asked us for directions to the Acropolis. Out of nowhere, two "policemen" appeared, dressed in leather jackets and who flashed a badge.
The routine was the same. I handed them 1200 dollars and some euros. The big one handed me back my money, while keeping 9 one hundred dollar bills. I caught on to his scheme and grabbed him, while screaming "you are stealing my money, help, help." He dropped the money on the ground, saying "you dropped it, there it is".
The "lost tourist" stayed behind acting as though nothing happened.
I have been having nightmares ever since, wondering if they were really policemen.
I wonder why they didn't run off with my money. What scared them off? It was Sunday morning and there were no people around.
There is this gang of hobos dressed in yellow everytime i went to omonia square!
the hobo started gabbing at me and saying im a putz!
i was likei dont even know u and he is like you are my girlfriend from last year!
and i am like i wasnt even here last year i was in canada enjoying my time!
and so if you are heading to omonia square just beeeeeeeeeeeeware!~~~
he is one freeeky man..........
IF u come back and the same thing happens to u.... then write on here and tell me all about it!