Thriving as nomads depends on a lot of things. Earning a sustainable income, securing suitable accommodation, figuring out the work-travel balance and – one of the biggest challenges that most non-nomads don’t think of – finding the right neighborhood to do it all.
Athens, Greece is a huge city that’s home to over 4 million people. Hundreds of neighborhoods make up the area, each with its own vibe, food selection, public transportation stops, and foot traffic. When we decided to stay in Athens for two weeks at the beginning of October, we knew we had a lot of research to do to find the right area for our preferences and lifestyle.
Here’s what we were looking for:
- Easy public transportation access to center
- Affordable apartment rentals
- Close proximity to restaurants/supermarket
- Not a late-night party area
It took some time, but we found just the right area for us.
Neighborhoods We Didn’t Want To Stay In
Narrowing our search involved ruling out quite a few neighborhoods. Here are a few of those.
The Athens Center is an incredible place. It’s lively, walkable, filled with ancient buildings, and has tons of great cafes and restaurants. However, it’s loud, expensive, and always crowded. The famous Plaka and Monstraki neighborhoods right North from the Acropolis are great for tourists making quick stops in Athens, but we were so glad we didn’t choose to stay there. Way too busy all the time.
Though the neighborhood a little further north, Exarchia, ticked the boxes for affordability, walkability, and public transportation, we read quite a few concerning details about the safety of the area. It seemed to be (and was confirmed by locals) a more bohemian area known for drugs and is directly next to the Omonia area, one of the most dangerous squares of the city.
We weren’t set on avoiding Exarchia completely, but we wanted to keep searching.
And then we found the perfect place.
Nea Smyrni, Our Athens Home
Our search brought us South of the center to Nea Smyrni. It checked all our boxes.
The suburb is located directly between a major road that goes straight to the center (easy bus access) and one of the tram lines (easy tram and metro access). We were never more than a five-minute walk from either transport option and the center was only 10-20 minutes away once you arrived at the bus or tram.
- Route 1 – 5 minute walk to bus, 15 minute ride to center
- Route 2 – 5 minute walk to tram, 12 minute ride to center
It was so easy, but on days when we didn’t feel like going very far, we didn’t have to.
Despite not being in the center, we lacked nothing. Plenty of restaurants, pharmacies, cafes, a supermarket, and the neighborhood’s beautiful green park are never more than a five-minute walk away.
The main Nea Smyrni Square, a ten-minute walk away from our apartment at the edge of the neighborhood, had hundreds of outdoor seats for restaurants, cafes, gelato shops, and bakeries. If you were hungry, you could find nearly anything you wanted. We even found some top-notch Mexican food!
Here were a few of the places we particularly enjoyed:
Every food establishment had reliable WiFi, which made for some great days working from cafes. We only got to try a couple places, but there were over a dozen cafes in the main square that we didn’t get to try but looked great for working. Like these…
There’s a great Google 360 view of the square here.
The area felt very local. We didn’t encounter any other tourists or foreigners in the area, which meant there were no restaurant waiters pestering us to sit down like there were in the center. We felt welcomed, safe, and at home.
Also, cats everywhere.
But Is It Really The Best For Digital Nomads In Athens?
Well, of course not. Everyone has their own preferences, but for us, Nea Smyrni was just right.
It was clean, walkable, friendly, connected to the center, filled with great places to eat and drink coffee, and not crowded or busy at all. In the midst of the crazy Athens hustle and bustle, it was our home away from home.