Safety in Athens: Is Athens Safe to Visit?

Greece is one of the safest destinations in Europe and  Athens is the largest city in Greece, with more than 3.7 billion inhabitants. The overall risk rate is meager compared to other tourist spots, and accommodation in Athens is hassle-free for solo and female travelers. Violent crimes like armed robbery and murder are still not that big a problem in Athens, but pickpocketing is multiplying in the city. The sky-touching monuments, the Greek architecture, entertaining nightlife, and outstanding scenic beauty make Athens the world's heartthrob. The city is strict concerning the execution of law and order and provides a haven for its visitors. This city offers a meager crime rate, but you should also be aware of petty crimes in public places. 

Petty Crimes and Pickpockets in Athens

Streets of Athens
Representational Image
Athens has an urban population of around 3 million, and it receives visitors of around 6 million every year. Naturally, there is a rise in petty crimes like snatching of goods and pickpocketing. Stay aware of public transport and always keep your travel documents safe. Keep your bags safe and secured. Especially in crowded areas, keep a close eye on your stuff.
Unfortunately, even if you become a victim of pickpocketing, you should first block your cards and immediately report the incident to the police. If your documents get stolen, try to get in touch with your embassy. If not possible, check in to see if any consulate can help you with the procedure!

Drinking in Athens

Drinking in Athens
The culture of Greece embraces social drinking as a part of everyday life. Legally, if you are above 18 years you can buy alcohol in Athens; however, always carry your ID cards just for safety. Athens is very strict about drinking and driving. You can be stopped in the middle of the traffic and asked to get a blood-alcohol content test done immediately. There is also an illegal practice in Athens to sell alcohol under unknown labels with pure alcohol. It is highly toxic to your health and might also bring in health hazards. 

Major Tourist Scams in Athens

Walk around and explore the city of Athens but keep your ears and eyes open. Don't fall into the trap of any of these famous travel scams in Athens - 
1. Bird poop scam
Suddenly, you see bird poop on your shoulder. Wondering where it came from? It is one of the most prevalent scams to fool tourists in Athens. Some random local might intentionally throw paste on your shoulder and come to your rescue. And in the meantime, when you are busy cleaning it, you won't even realize that you will be pickpocketed. Avoid such traps in the city.
2. Photograph scam
If you are traveling alone or with your family or friends and want to click a photograph together, try not to hand over your camera or mobile phone to any locals. Because you never know who can click a picture and just run off in a  second. Always depend on yourself to click pictures or rely on a dependable face. You can also find professional photographers to get a nice click in the city.
3. Guessing game scam
This is one of the most convenient ways for pickpockets to earn a fortune from travelers. You can see performers in the streets of Athens, showing games and asking the accumulated crowd which box he has placed the ball. As the crowd increases and entertainment attracts more passers-by, you can also come in contact with innocent-looking pickpockets, waiting patiently for the right moment. Be aware of that.
4. Friendly ATM Helper
Do you need some help with the ATM? Or are you trying to avoid the local bank fees by withdrawing some money from the ATM? Beware of such steps. There are scamsters looking for travelers like you who need to draw money from the ATM. They come to the forefront and help you withdraw money. In the meantime, with the help of the card skimmer kept in their pockets, these people can scan your card details along with the pin, which later they will use to drain out all your money at once. Stay aware of such help.
5. Overcharging Taxis
Like any other tourist destination, Athens also has a tradition of overcharging its travelers whenever possible. If you are availing a taxi, make sure that you ask your driver to turn the meter on. Also, to double-check the overcharging mechanism, keep your google maps open to keep track of the nearest route possible, avoiding the longest one. Keep yourself updated with information on a vehicle traveling in taxis.

Accommodation in Athens

One of the critical factors of Athens being a tourist magnet is its affordability by tourists from around the globe. You can witness that Athens is almost 70%  cheaper than New York destinations. The bustling city is one of the safest places for a solo traveler to enjoy the trip. If you are a first-timer visiting Athens, stay in the Plaka and Syntagma neighborhoods. Kolonaki is even better for families and kids, with a fantastic shopping complex. If you are traveling on a  budget, Gazi is affordable and also a safe area to live in.

Safety in Transportation Options in Athens

This tourist hub offers you many different travel conveyances that are safe and travel-friendly to all. However, do not forget to stay aware of all your belongings on this public transport. 
1. Metro
The metro system in Athens provides one of the most convenient and enjoyable public transportation options. Take the metro, open daily from 5:00 AM to 3 AM, to get where you need to go as quickly as possible. Even from the Athens airport, you can access the metro route. The public Athens Mass Transit System operates it, and the tickets are universal, meaning they may be used on other modes of transportation, such as city buses and trains. You can take help from the locals about the timings, as well.
2. Suburban Railway
Suburban Railway is another safe option for transportation in Athens. Travelers can travel to Attica and its surrounding regions, including Kiato, Chalkida, and Athens International Airport.
3. Trolley bus and regular bus
Buses arrive at predictable intervals, which is convenient for solo travelers and women. Many bus routes go through the downtown area, including some that go to the airport. The cost is the same as a 90-minute ride on the metro, which costs EUR 1.40. Visit the OASA website if you need assistance with the bus route or want to learn more about the area.
4. Tram
Travelers can ride aboard the Athens Coastal Tram for a leisurely and unhurried ride through Athens. It begins at Syntagma Square and travels to Glyfada and Voula Beaches. In 2004, this service was launched in Athens. This journey is leisurely and gradual, with a stunning shore view. The typical price for a 25 KM journey is about EUR 1. The neighboring neighborhood is traversed by the tram, which is not otherwise conceivable.
5. Car Rentals
Renting a car in Athens is much cheaper than in any other European country. Before renting a car, make sure you have a valid international driving permit, available from AAA or when renting the car. Many car rental companies are available in nooks and corners of the city. 
6. Taxi 
Taxi services are always available in Athens, especially in major tourist spots. However, being a tourist and traveling in a taxi can sometimes get tricky as you might get overcharged, or taxi drivers can take longer routes to earn more. 

Safety for Women Travelers & Solo Travelers in Athen

Greece is considered one the safest places in Europe to travel alone without worrying about difficulties. Athens is one of Greece's most visited tourist spots and has become more tourist-friendly. Solo travelers and women travelers can choose Athens but be aware of the common crimes in the city. Pickpocketing and ATM scams are widespread these days. If you are traveling alone, stick with public transport like bus, tram, and metro rather than relying on taxis.

Emergency Services in Athens

The best way to protect yourself when you are in trouble is to ask for help. There are active national and local emergency numbers to help you out in an emergency. Mark the numbers in your contact list for a safe and unhindered travel experience in Athens - 
National Emergency Services 
Medical Emergency - 112
Fire Service - 199
Ambulance Service EKAB - 166
Police - 100
SOS Doctors - 1016
Tourist Police - 171
Coast Guard - 108
Athens Emergency Services - 
Medical Information Services - +30 210 - 8983146
ELPA (Roadside Assistance) - 10400
Airport Police - +30 210 - 3536919
Traffic Police - +30 210 - 5284000
Athens Drug Squad - 109
Police Department (call center, Attica) - 1033
Children's Helpline (The Children's Smile) - 1056
Women's Abuse Helpline - +30 210 - 3317305
Citizen's Helpline - 1595

Some More Additional Tips and Tricks to Travel in Athen

  • Athens allows prostitution legally in the city. However, be aware that most of it operate outside the law system. Do not move around in areas where the practice is unsafe and unwelcome.
  • You can witness many protests in and around Athens during your stay. If you are aware of large gatherings, keep yourself safe and away from such uncontrolled crowds.
  • Avoid using ATMs in Athens due to the rise in skimming scams in the area. It depends only on reputable restaurants and hotels, even if you use them.
  • If you are buying souvenirs from Athens, be careful. There are a lot of pirated items available in the streets of Athens. 
  • Mobile phone theft and purse snatching are still quite common in crowded areas. Be aware of that.
  • To keep yourself safe from future troubles, keep your travel insurance time of need, you can also make a claim if needed, which otherwise will be difficult to achieve.
  • While traveling is the best medicine for all kinds of complexities, you cannot deny that responsible traveling is also a must. Whether you are visiting the epitome of Greek culture, Athens, or the country of diversity, India - do your fair share of research about the safety of traveling in your decided destination, measure the pros and cons and jump into the enjoyment!

This post was published by Sreyashi Paul

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