He met with heads of state. He visited the Acropolis in Athens and the transit system in Doha, Qatar. And after catching a game at the World Cup, Mayor Eric Adams of New York sampled the local nightlife.
For Mr. Adams, his first extended foreign trip as mayor seemed as much of a vacation as an official trip for city business — and, to his credit, he had made no pretense about that.
The day before his departure, Mr. Adams told reporters that he would pay for his lodging in Qatar to lessen accusations of wasting taxpayer money.
“It’s on my dime,” the mayor said. “When I do my dime, I can do my time and I don’t want to hear anyone whine.”
The nature of the hastily arranged trip — a four-day journey to Greece and Qatar — made it difficult to track much of the mayor’s overseas adventure. His official press schedule, especially while he was in Qatar, made it all but impossible. None of his events there were open to the press, and his schedule did not list the precise location of where he would be or whom he would be meeting with.
Mr. Adams said in a phone call from Doha with reporters on Saturday that he had enjoyed attending the United States soccer match against the Netherlands — even though the U.S. team had lost — and that he was studying up ahead of New York’s role as one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup. Mr. Adams said he was impressed by Doha’s new metro system and express buses.
“It’s imperative to have a real safe and reliable system,” he said. “Because of their usage of the new system that they’ve built here, that allowed them to take vehicles off the road.”
Mr. Adams provided few details about his whereabouts beyond a few social media posts. On Saturday, he posted a photo of him smiling and giving a thumbs-up with the American team’s coach, Gregg Berhalter.
Mr. Adams, who is known to enjoy New York City’s nightlife and is frequently spotted at exclusive clubs late into the night, declined to say where he went on Friday night. Asked if he visited any clubs or parties, Mr. Adams responded that “the day life, nightlife, everything is alive here right now.
“This city has really grown a lot, with many fabulous restaurants and locations where you can go and enjoy even after the game, and I took full advantage of that as well,” he said.
On Friday, a photo was posted on Twitter by a Qatar news outlet of Mr. Adams meeting with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani — an event not listed on the mayor’s public schedule. Mr. Adams said it was a spontaneous meeting, and that he would not discuss the details of his private conversation with the emir.
“He walked by and stopped to say hello and good luck for 2026 when we host the event,” Mr. Adams told reporters.
While Mr. Adams was away, he faced growing criticism over his plan to involuntarily hospitalize New Yorkers with severe mental health problems. A group of left-leaning members in the City Council called the plan “misguided and dangerous,” and public defenders said that confining people without their consent was “policing and incarceration by another name.”
On a phone call from Greece with reporters on Thursday, Mr. Adams clarified that police officers were not going to force all homeless people into hospitals. He said they would focus on helping people with the most urgent needs, including those who were hallucinating or not wearing shoes in winter.
“There’s a small pocket of people that we’re going to get care for,” he said.
Mr. Adams has a passion for travel — he visited Ghana and Monaco last year — and has been criticized for past trips to China, Turkey and Azerbaijan while holding local public office.
Many of the comments on Mr. Adams’s social media posts were skeptical about the necessity of the trip, questioning his zeal for “mayoral perks” and urging him to return home to tend to New York’s many pressing challenges.
Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College, said the trip was part of Mr. Adams’s efforts to brandish his image.
“It appeared to be an ego trip, that here was the mayor of New York, the biggest city in the United States, the greatest city in the world, going to the premiere sporting event of the time,” he said.
In Qatar, Mr. Adams also attended a game between Portugal and Korea and was scheduled to meet with “World Cup leaders” and representatives from the Qatar Investment Authority, the country’s wealth fund that is fueled by its natural gas profits, according to his public schedule. Mr. Adams also planned to visit a museum in Qatar, but the tour was unexpectedly canceled.
The mayor planned to travel with Joel Eisdorfer, a senior adviser focused on Jewish outreach, and a police detail. Bruce Revman, the managing director of partnerships and sports at NYC & Company, was also in Qatar in preparation for the World Cup in New Jersey.
The New York and New Jersey region will be one of 16 North American locations to host the 2026 World Cup. Mr. Adams’s office said FIFA and Qatar invited officials from those locations to this year’s World Cup, though Mr. Adams may have been the only U.S. mayor representing a 2026 World Cup host city who personally attended this year’s event.
The mayor’s first stop in Athens was to headline a meeting about combating antisemitism — an issue Mr. Adams has talked about frequently in New York. Shortly after arriving in the Greek capital on Wednesday, Mr. Adams attended a glittering dinner hosted at the Grand Hyatt hotel by Greece’s president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
The next day, Mr. Adams made a brief appearance at an opening panel for a summit organized by a group called the Combat Antisemitism Movement. Then he was whisked away to City Hall in Athens for the signing of an agreement to make Athens and New York City sister cities.
Mr. Adams was given a public demonstration of the city’s new street-cleaning machines before Kostas Bakoyannis, the mayor of Athens, gave Mr. Adams a personal tour of the Acropolis. They also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Holocaust memorial near the city center and an event to switch on the Greek capital’s Christmas tree lights.
Mr. Adams was the most high-profile U.S. mayor to attend the antisemitism event, where he said he mingled with the mayors of Richmond, Va., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Mr. Adams said that he was impressed by Athens’s street-cleaning equipment — a problem he is trying to address in New York, where piles of trash have grown out of control.
Mr. Adams said he had visited Greece nearly three decades ago and recalled that it was filthy, but he said city leaders had since fixed the problem.
“The city is extremely clean now,” he told reporters on a call.
The mayor’s office said that the antisemitism conference’s hosts paid for Mr. Adams’s commercial flight to Athens and to Doha, and that the hosts paid for his hotel in Athens. In Qatar, the mayor paid for his own lodging. A spokesman did not say how much the police detail would cost taxpayers.
Reporting was contributed by Christina Goldbaum in Doha, Qatar; Niki Kitsantonis in Athens; and Dana Rubinstein in New York.