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Athens football teams: A guide to groundhopping in the Greek city

Often, people exaggerate the ferocity of football rivalries, but the derby matches between the Athens football teams have been passionate affairs for decades. Since 1927, 80 of the 87 Greek First Division titles have come from Athens. ‘The Big Three’ consists of AEK Athens, Panathinaikos, and Olympiacos, who have an intense rivalry on and off the pitch that has spanned decades.

For any groundhopping enthusiasts, Athens is a historic and passionate football city with a variety of teams to watch. This article will serve as your guide to Athens football teams in the Greek capital.

Athens football teams
Panathinaikos fans during a UEFA Europa League match – Photo by Icon Sport

A guide to Athens football teams

1. Panionios

Location: Nea Smyrni, Greece

Stadium: Nea Smyrni Stadium

Capacity: 11,700

Panionios were founded in 1890 in Smyrna within the Ottoman Empire, making them the oldest club out of all the Athens football teams. They were eventually moved to the Athenian suburb of New Smyrna in the early 1920s, following the Greco-Turkish War, where they have stayed since.

Their most notable achievements include winning two Greek Cups in 1979 and 1998, as well as being victorious in the 1971 Balkans Cup. Panionios also reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999. They recently gained promotion to the second tier of Greek football, winning the Gamma Ethniki as champions.

Nea Smyrni Stadium is steeped in history, having opened in 1939 and has an old-fashioned feel, even with the recent renovations to the main stand and hospitality facilities. It is an all-seated stadium that can hold nearly 12,000 spectators and has no stand at the northern end of the ground, giving it the look of a horseshoe. With their recent promotion, groundhoppers should try and take in a game at the Nea Smyrni Stadium for the upcoming season.

2. Atromitos

Location: Peristeri, Greece

Stadium: Peristeri Stadium

Capacity: 8,969

Atromitos have become a regular in the Greek Super League since their first promotion to the top flight in 2006. In line with the club’s recent success, there have been improvements to the stadium, including in 2012, when new seats were installed when they qualified for European football. Back in 2006, the West Stand was renovated, along with electronically controlled entrance gates.

The stadium is located in the suburb of Athens and is just over 5 kilometers north-west of the historic Athens city centre. Although there is a running track around the pitch, the ground maintains an intense feel for Atromitos home matches, meaning Peristeri Stadium is definitely worth a visit for groundhoppers looking to watch one of Athens football teams.

3. AEK Athens

Athens football teams
Greece national team now play their home matches at the OPAP Arena – Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Nea Filadelfeia, Athens, Greece

Stadium: OPAP Arena

Capacity: 32,500

Since opening in 2022, the Agia Sophia Stadium (also known as the OPAP Arena due to sponsorship reasons) has been the home of AEK Athens. In fact, since March 2023, the stadium has also been the home venue for Greek national team matches. On May 29, 2024, the OPAP Arena will host the UEFA Europa Conference League final.

AEK Athens are one of the ‘Big Three’ in Greece and have 13 Super League titles, along with Greek Cup victories. They play in yellow and black, which is symbolic of the club’s strong connections with Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire.

Having won the Greek Super League in the 2022/23 season, AEK are looking to secure back-to-back titles for the first time since 1994. If you’re looking for passionate fans, state-of-the-art facilities and high-quality football, then the OPAP Arena should be on your list of stadiums to visit while in Athens.

4. Panathinaikos

Location: 160 Alexandras Avenue, Ambelokipi, Athens, Greece

Stadium: Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium

Capacity: 16,003

Named after the former president of the Panathenaic Athletic Club (A.O.), Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium is the home of Panathinaikos. With a capacity of just over 16,000, the ground is located just 2 kilometres north-east of the Athens city centre.

Due to uncertainty around the building of a new stadium, Panathinaikos played various seasons at the Athens Olympic Stadium from 2005 to 2020. However, it was confirmed in 2022 that a new Votanikos Stadium will hopefully be completed in 2026. This will be the home stadium for Panathinakos FC and the other teams within the sports club, that includes basketball and volleyball.

When the new stadium is finished, the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium will be demolished. If you want to sample the famous Panathinaikos ultras in Gate 13 and experience one of Europe’s most intimidating atmospheres, then you should visit the ground as soon as possible before it is potentially demolished in the next few years.

5. Olympiacos

Athens football teams
Olympiacos have the biggest stadium out of all the Athens football teams – Photo by Icon Sport

Location: Piraeus, Attica, Greece

Stadium: Karaiskakis Stadium

Capacity: 33,334

Located in the Athens suburb of Piraeus is Olympiacos’ home ground, Karaiskakis Stadium. With a capacity of 33,334, it is the largest football-specific venue in Greece and the second-largest stadium in the country behind the Olympic Stadium.

The stadium was renovated to become an all-seater venue in time for the 2004 Summer Olympics. As a result, the stadium now has over 40 VIP lounges and suites, restaurants, cafes, a gym, and a museum showcasing the sporting achievements of teams within the Olympiacos multi-sport club. As well as hosting matches in the 2004 Olympics, Karaiskakis Stadium was the venue for the 1971 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final and the 2023 UEFA Super Cup.

Olympiacos are the most successful club in Greece, winning 47 league titles and 28 Greek Cups. Their most recent league title came in 2022, while they last won the Greek Cup in 2020. English fans will recognise the owner and president of the Greek giants, Evangelos Marinakis, who is also the owner of Nottingham Forest.

The stadium is well-known for its hostile atmosphere, which is intimidating for opposition players, especially in European matches. Fans can also find a monument outside the stadium, which commemorates the deaths of 21 Olympiacos fans who tragically died in “Gate 7” following a match against AEK Athens. There are also 21 seats painted in black among the red seats inside the ground to pay tribute to the fans who lost their lives.


Will Murray

Freelance football journalist. Experience writing for When Saturday, Comes, Goalkeeper.com, Elite Scholars and Total Football Analysis. Recently finished an MA in Sport Journalism at the University of Brighton. Long-time season ticket holder at the two-time European Champions Nottingham Forest.

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