How to Keep Your Personal Belongings Safe in Athens (and Avoid Getting Robbed)

It saddens me to read about travelers getting robbed in Athens. And it really bugs me when I read the story and realize that they do not take the time to think about the minimum safety of their belongings.

I hail from a country in the Balkans so I’ve been used to the hustle and bustle of the area since I’ve been a little girl. The first thing I’ve learned when I started going to school? Not to put anything of value in the outside pocket of my backpack. It has served me well, though, as I certainly apply this when I travel.

So, here I am, talking about useful tips to keep your personal belongings safe in Athens and thus avoid getting robbed.

Never keep your wallet in your pants’ pocket

The first rule of safety? Your wallet should not be easily accessible. So, it should never be placed in a pants’ pocket. The back pocket is the worst choice but so are the side pockets. In a crowded environment, you are inviting trouble.

Never keep your wallet (or any other valuables) in the outside pocket of your bag

Always keep your wallet and your cell phone in the inside pocket of your bag. The outside one is reserved for stuff like tissues or the map. You won’t cry over them when you are left without them!

The daypack stays in your front

…not back! No matter what you have in it, it invites trouble to keep it on your back in crowded places. Keep it in your front and you are good to go!

Never keep anything valuable in the outside pocket of your checked bag

Since you are dragging those big bags around you, it’s so easy for anyone to mess with the contents of your outside pocket. If you need to use that space, put stuff like tissues and maps in there.

Always keep cash in different places

So yeah, you have cash in your wallet but stash some in hard to get places such as tampons case, laundry bag, bra. If anything happens, you will have a backup.

Always keep your ATM cards in different places

Ideally, you should travel with two ATM cards. One stays in your wallet, but the other one should be hidden somewhere.

Keep a hard copy and a cloud copy of your documents

Before you travel, make some copies (photocopies) of your passport / ID card. If you end up without the original, it’s easier to get a replacement from your embassy.

Don’t forget to make a copy of your insurance card, itinerary, as well as accommodations address and phone numbers.

Also, use cloud storage and keep a copy there, as well. The choices are quite numerous (Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Asus Web Storage, etc). You can easily access them from your smartphone.

Never leave sight of your passport

This may be against of what hotels say – to keep the passport in a safe – but you can and will get carded by the police. Not having an ID with you is not the best thing that you can do. So, keep that passport safe and always with you. Many travelers choose to keep the passport in the safe and carry a copy.

Try not to look like a tourist

It’s not hard to be “spotted” as a tourist and thus a potential victim but, as much as possible, avoid the “standard tourist look” and try this: dark colored walking shoes, light colored jeans or normal pants, t-shirt or shirt. Get rid of the fanny pack. Bring the day pack or purse (which should be over your body, not on one shoulder).

Ladies have it easier: a summer dress and the daypack or purse are excellent choices. Or if the weather is bad, walking shoes, long pants, and a t-shirt (plug jacket) do the trick.

As much as possible, keep your camera in the bag until you use it. Same goes for your map. And if you use the navigation on your phone, keep it quiet (just glance at it as you walk).

>>read more about what to wear in Greece during summer and what to wear during winter

The emergency number is 112. All calls are answered in English and French, in addition to Greek. Alternatively, 100 is the Police number.

26 thoughts on “How to Keep Your Personal Belongings Safe in Athens (and Avoid Getting Robbed)

  1. Hi Cristina,
    I’m considering to do a trip to Greece and also Athens next year. So this is a great preparation. I think your tips are also valid for most “tourist destinations”. I live in Munich, which is a quite safe place and it’s always important to rethink the my usual behavior regarding safety when travelling, also in Europe. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers, Ricarda

    • Hi Ricarda,
      YAY for planning to go to Greece.
      I didn’t find it unsafe but it can get overwhelming in crowded environment, especially if you live in a country which is ..well, quite different in this regard haha
      Do let me know if you need any help planning your trip.

  2. On a two month solo trip, I wore a Scottevest, so I didn’t have to carry a bag at all. It’s got it’s drawbacks, but it was nice to have all my important items safely tucked away in inside pockets.

    • I had to google that haha Since I usually have either my DSLR or action camera with me, I need a bag with me. Plus I use it to carry water, jacket, etc.

  3. Solid advice! You don’t realise how important article and tips like this are until you’ve actually experienced the misfortune of being robbed whilst travelling. I had a dire situation in italy where everything (laptop, camera, passport, bank cards) were stolen. I’m much more switched on and savvy about the dangerous of not keeping your belongings safe but posts like this are so important! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    • So sorry to hear about your problems 🙁
      I hail from the Balkans so I am sooooo damn used to these things and I am glad the info helps

  4. Lots of good tips.
    I’ve never been robbed or assaulted in 30+years of travel but have always been cautious.
    ( ive also never used a hotel safe, as you say – keep your passport on you !)

    It also pays to take a photo of any important documents and/or use an app that stores passwords

    • Thanks, Sandy! Same here but , as you could read, I am cautious always. Let’s hope we haven’t jinxed ourselves haha

  5. Hey Christina! This is a great post. We accumulate all these tiny snips of knowledge after traveling for years but it helps people who are just starting out. I learned to be street smart during the eight years that I stayed in Bombay.

  6. Great tips! I follow many of these tips when I travel. It’s sad to hear about so many people being pickpocketed on their trips. It can be a huge damper on the trip.

  7. This was a great informative read and sometimes it’s good to be reminded of these thinga. I too photocopy my passport, cards and drivers license and we distribute things all over the place! I am even have to start listing and hiding a list where I leave everything!

  8. I especially love the idea of keeping everything in the cloud! I also keep copies with my parents in case I’m not easily able to access my own passport copies!

    • Yes, we also have copies with my parents! The cloud idea has been my husband’s and I still have digital copies on a flash card, too.

  9. Great tips, I’d also add to be careful on the train network and keep your bag safe as there have been reports of bag snatchers on there for a number of years now.

    • Yeah, the crowded environment includes the metro / train (I should probably make it a bit more obvious!)
      They do make announcements as they train leaves every station to pay attention to the personal belongings. Kind of gets old after 3-4 stations (and it’s 10+ from the airport to Syntagma lol)

  10. Really good tips and reminders! I was there in May and I felt really safe actually. Much more than in Rome, but still never carried anything of really value (except my camera which was always in my hand) You have to be smart and pay attention!

  11. I have been travelling in most parts of Greece really quite often and never had any problems of this kind. On the contrary: once I forgot my camera hanging on a chair in a taverna and could pick it up next morning on the same spot. Another time I forgot my small bag with money, passport etc. also in a taverna. It was safely put away by the owner where I could pick it up an hour later.
    But all this happened in the countryside. Athens is different, and one time a friend of mine was robbed of his wallet in a crowded subway. So, be careful in Athens – but rejoice the honest, warm-hearted Greeks.
    Hajo

    • Hi Hajo, I completely agree! But this is the same in all countries, to be honest. Large cities need an approach , whereas the countryside is a place where you can relax (although still be aware of your surroundings)

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