..and you are near Syndagma (in particular) you can expect to see lots of police.
You may not (hopefully) see anything much else.
Whilst I was visiting the farmers (so I was told) were demonstrating. Riot police in full gear were in evidence for all the days of my visit, mostly standing around and smoking but on occasion closing or blocking Mitropoleos or adjoining roads.
If there are no problems, then you can just wander around as normal.
Take photographs with some caution and don't make it obvious.
If it looks as if trouble is beginning then I'd advise you to remove yourself pretty speedily. Bystanders can very easily get sucked in (exactly the same advice would apply in the UK or anywhere else).
If you are staying at a hotel in or near Syndagma you will hear the music/loudspeaker speeches etc from demonstrations. I didn't find it a problem as they had all gone home by 6pm.
It seems that demonstrations occur quite often in central Athens, and I almost got involved in once when I was walking towards Syntagma Squre. The demonstrators put up their flags and people started to gather around the square
Be aware that it's no fun being in the middle of a demonstration because when the demonstration police arrives, you might get beaten or hit by tear gas. So, I headed out of there ASAP and got safely into the metro instead
Mid June 2011. It's happening only at Syntagma square exactly in front of the Parliament building. The people are not happy with their government over the nation's huge debt. Every moment there'll be people there but it's safe, unless perhaps if it's really crowded - like happened few months ago. Special polices are around too. Other places are not affected. We passed through them and took pictures.
Another thing I’d like to mention is about the strikes that occur in Athens.The city has a tradition of strikes due to the liberate and restless character of the Athenians(but sometimes indifferent for the fuss that a strike causes to the rest of the citizens)and during winter a large number of strikes take place.A very unpleasant and...smelly strike was that of the garbage collectors.For many days the streets of Athens were teeming with…garbage.If you fall on a strike you don’t have to worry as the vast majority is peaceful.I just mentioned it for the traffic jam it can cause. The picture is from the great strike of Spring 2001,against the new pension-law.Don’t worry!Most strikes are far much smaller…
At first, these demonstrations are not as dangerous as one might think. Most of them occur in fixed dates and in specific areas, which are :
May 1st (labor day), usually around Syntagma Square (usually its rather peacefull)
November 17th (Polytechnic uprising), it starts near Omonoia Square and ends to the American Embassy.
Almost every year there are riots in some extend after its end (when most demonstrators have left) and happen usually outside the Parliament and near the old Polytechnic building (near Panepistio Metro Station) and around Exarchia.
December 6th (anniversary of the killing a young boy by the police), it starts from Panepistimiou St, goes to Syntagma Square and back.
During the above demonstrations, metro stations Panepistimio and Syntagma are usually closed for a few hours.
Besides these certain dates, demonstrations that might end up to serious riots happen ONLY when new austerity measures are passed, let say, once or twice per year. So you should be exremelly unlucky to find yourself near such an event. The rest demonstrations just cause traffic problems.
I came across a very useful, accurate and always up to date link to help all members of VT, tourists and travellers to Athens, get updates in case of up coming strikes in the city centre.