At the bottom of Syntagma is the
McDonalds which replaced the popular
Papaspyros. The cafe was the meeting
point for travelers to Greece going
east and west, since it was downstairs
from American express where everyone
got their mail and cashed their
travelers checks in the sixties and
seventies. It is also the beginning
, closed to auto traffic and Athen's
main shopping district which leads
down to the
Flea market at
. An important thing to remember, just
like in America when you are on the
road and you want to stop to use a
clean bathroom, the first place you
think of is McDonalds, the same goes
for Greece. But if it is too crowded
you can use this contraption on the right, one of
the new toili-tubes that are being
placed around Athens. The only problem
is there are other tubes that look
almost exactly the same that do not
have toilets in them. So before you
heave a sigh of relief in an emergency
situation, make sure the tube you are
using has a door. Anyway most cafes really don't care if you need to use the bathroom and you can even go into the luxury hotels since the lobbies have shops and restaurants and they really have no idea if you are staying there or not.
Keep in mind that when there is a demonstration against the government, chances are this is where it is going to be held, right in Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament building within earshot of the ministers. Since most demonstrations only last an hour or two this usually does not mean much more than a minor inconvenience, for example you may have to put off your visit to see the Evzones guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But the good thing about a demonstration
is that it can be easily avoided, unless of course your hotel is in Syntagma Square though since they are three of the best hotels in Athens they will make sure their guests can get in and out of the hotel without any problems. When the demonstrations end the city workers clean the streets and the cafes in the square fill up and life goes on as normal.
Check out Public, a huge electronics, CD, DVD and technology store at the bottom of the square. Also the cafes in the square itself are great for people-watching.
Syntagma Practical Information
There are a couple very good reasons to stay at a hotel in or around Syntagma Square. The first is that you can get there easily by the metro station, from the airport or from the port of Pireaus (though you have to change at Monastiraki or Omonia). The other reason is that the X95 airport bus goes to the square 24 hours a day. If you take the bus from the airport watch out for pickpockets who offer to help you with your luggage (or guys who act extra nice and invite you
to their bar). You can protect yourself from petty crime by reading my article Defeating the Pickpockets.
You are also within walking distance of just about everything including the Acropolis, the Plaka, Monastiraki, the National Gardens, Ermou Street shopping area, Kolonaki, The Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Panathenaic Stadium (the old marble one) and two metro stops from Gazi.
The 040 to Pireaus leaves from the corner of Filellinon and Metropleos streets. The X14 goes from the square to the New Olympic Stadium for concerts and athletic events. And the E22 goes from Amalias Ave all the way past the beach towns of Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni to Saronida(Anavissos) as does the KTEL bus to Sounion.
If you are booking with Fantasy Travel their office is one block from the square on Filellinon Street.
Hotels in and Around Syntagma Square
Besides the 5-star Hotel Grande
Bretagne there are two other major luxury hotels on the square: the
Plaza and the King
George. Syntagma is on the border of the Plaka and so any of the hotels on the back streets are close by. Within a block or two are the 3 star hotels Arethusa, Astor,
Central, Athens Cypria, Omiros and Hermes
The 5-star Electra
Palace is on a quiet street in the Plaka just a few blocks off the square and has two swimming pools and great views of the Acropolis. Other hotels in the neighborhood include the highly regarded 4-star Hotel Amalia, and the 4-star Electra Hotel which is right on the Ermou pedestrian shopping street
and as the sister hotel of the Electra Palace guests get to use the pool.
For budget travelers there are several choices including the 2-star Hotel Myrto and the Hotel Niki, both small family run hotels on Nikis Street and the Hotel Adonis right where the pedestrianized section of Voulis street begins
at the entrance of the Plaka. If it is booked try the Acropolis House right across the street. If these are not enough you can also Search Syntagma Square Hotels by catagory, price or whatever.
By the way many of these hotels are booked in advance by Fantasy Travel and Dolphin Hellas for their packages and you can often get bargain rates through the agency or even a room when other sources have told you the hotel is full.