ATHENS FAQ`S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

The Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos is 17 miles northeast of Athens at Spata. The best way to get to downtown Athens is by Metro line 3. The trip takes roughly 40 minutes and trains run every 30 minutes from 6:30am to 11:30pm. From the city to the airport (leaving from Syntagma and Monastiraki), trains run from 5:50am to 10:50pm. Single tickets cost €10 and include transfers within 90 minutes of the ticket`s initial validation to bus, trolley or tram. You can also buy a return Metro ticket for two trip to the airport for under seven days (if you`re on a shorter visit) for €18.

The suburban railroad runs to and from the Larissa station, Doukissis Plakentias, with a connection to Metro line 1 at Nerantziotissa and from the airport to the port of Piraeus. Trains to the airport run from 4:30am to midnight, and trains from the airport to the city run from 5:00am to 1:20am. The suburban railroad has the same pricing as the Metro; the only difference is that the return ticket is valid for a month. This is the best option to get from the airport to the port of Piraeus with a total travel time of 65 minutes.

Another option is to take one of the 24-hour express buses, which leave from the Arrivals hall. Tickets can be purchased on the bus or at the info/ticket kiosk which is located outside the Arrivals hall between Exits 4 and 5. Tickets are €6 and the X95 gets you to the city center, which takes 70 minutes.

Taxis are readily available at the arrivals level of the Athens airport with a flat rate of €38 (5am-midnight) and €54 (midnight-5am) for travel to downtown Athens (Omonia Square and the Plaka/Makrigianni districts). Once you are in the taxi, make sure the meter is set on the correct tariff (see the section below on taxi travel). Depending on traffic, the cab ride can take under 30 minutes or well over an hour.

How do I get from the airport to the port?

Options at your disposal range from affordable, yet slow, and fast, but expensive. And these include taxis, metro, bus lines, and private transfers.

Traveling from Athens airport to Piraeus port by bus: Bus X96 provides direct transfers between Athens airport and Piraeus port. This bus line operates 24/7 at intervals between 20 and 40 minutes depending on time, day and season. The full price of the ticket is €6 (adults, between 18 and 65 years). Passengers between 6 and 18 years old and over 65 years pay half the price. Children under 6 travel for free.

You will find the bus terminal at the Arrivals gate on the airport, between exits 4 and 5. The other terminal is next to the main port of Piraeus. You can buy tickets from the bus driver.

The duration of the journey from the airport to the seaport depends on the traffic. In ideal circumstances, you will need around 90 minutes to cover the distance. In case of heavy traffic, the journey could last up to 2 hours, even longer sometimes.

From Athens airport to Piraeus by bus and metro via the Athens city center: If you have a lot of time before your ferry departs and little luggage, you may travel to Piraeus port via downtown Athens. In that case, take express bus X95 commuting between the airport and Syntagma Square. The bus departs every 15 or 20 minutes from the terminus between exits 4 and 5 at the Arrivals Level. In ideal conditions, it takes around 40 minutes for covering the distance. Keep your valuables well once you arrive in Syntagma Square because of pickpockets.

To continue your journey to Piraeus port, you need to get at the Syntagma metro station (exactly next to the bus terminal) and take the blue line towards Agia Marina and get out at the next stop at Monastiraki. There, you can catch metro line 1 (green), the world`s second oldest metro line towards Pireaus. Once you begin this leg of the journey, you will need approx. half an hour to get to the port.

One-way bus tickets cost about €6 for adults. A one-way metro fare for grown-ups costs about €1.40. Travelers aged between 6 and 18 and over 65 years pay half the price.

Theoretically, buses leave the airport for Piraeus every hour. The bus usually leaves passengers in Karaiskaki Square, several blocks from the harbor. The official daily schedule is: Spata-Piraeus (E96): Every 20 minutes from 5am to 7pm; every 30 minutes from 7pm to 8:30pm; every 40 minutes from 8:30pm to 5am.

Getting from Athens airport to Piraeus seaport by metro: Getting between the airport and the port by metro is also an option. The elevated pedestrian bridge connects the airport terminal to the metro station. You should cover the distance in several minutes at most.

Metro line 3 departs at 30-minute intervals between 6:33 am and 11:33 pm from Athens airport. It is a modern line that takes you to the Monastiraki station in central Athens. At the Monastiraki station, change the platforms and take line 1 towards Piraeus port. Metro line 1 starts operating at around 5 am. In general, the journey from Athens airport to Piraeus port should last between 1 hour/15 minutes to 1 hour/30 minutes. Line 3 travels around 40 minutes from the airport to the city center, while line 1 commutes around 30 minutes between the downtown and the port.

Note that metro line 1 is old and delays prolonging the journey are always possible. Also, secure your belongings well, especially during rush hours. A one-way metro fare for grown-ups costs about €10. Travelers aged between 6 and 18 and over 65 years pay half the price. If you don`t travel alone, you can additionally lower the price of the metro ticket. A two-person fare is about €18, while three persons pay about €24 for a single metro ride.

Taxi service between Athens airport and Piraeus port: For travelers in a hurry, taxi is the best option for getting from the airport of Athens to the port of Piraeus. Yellow taxis provide fast and reliable transfers.

Typically, taxis travel between the destinations is around 40 minutes. You can find the airport taxi station at the Arrivals section, exit 3. Cabs are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, and drivers speak English. Yellow taxis charge the flat rate of €54 during the day (5 am - midnight) and €70 during from midnight to 5am.

Boats to the islands leave from several different Piraeus harbors. Most ferryboats and hydrofoils (Flying Dolphis) for Aegina leave from the Main Harbor. If you don`t know which harbor your boat is departing from, tell your taxi driver your final destination and they can probably find out which harbor and even which pier you are leaving from.

Note: Regarding boat-to-plane connections, it is unwise (and even foolish) to allow anything less than 24 hours between your return to Piraeus by island boat and your departure by air, as rough seas can significantly delay the trip. We recommend you allow an overnight stay in Athens prior to your departure from the airport.

How do I get from my hotel to the port?

Athens`s main port, Piraeus, is located about 7 miles southwest of Athens. To get to Piraeus harbor, take the Green Line metro (Line 1) from central Athens (Monastiraki, Omonia, and Thissio Metro stations) directly to the station at the main port (about 15 minutes). Don`t miss the spectacular view of the Acropolis as the subway goes aboveground by the Agora. The subway runs from 5:00am to midnight and costs 1.40€. The harbor in Piraeus is a 5 minute walk across the footbridge from the Metro station.

Alternately, the radio taxi company, Piraeus (tel. 210/418-2333), is well worth the 2.80€ surcharge. Your hotel can call for you and make sure that the driver knows where you want to go.

How do I get from the port to my hotel?

To get from Piraeus harbor, take the Green Line metro (Line 1) to central Athens (Monastiraki, Omonia, and Thissio Metro stations). The journey takes approximately 15 minutes and the metro runs from 5:00am to midnight with a cost of about €1.40.The Metro station is a 5 minute walk across the footbridge from the harbor in Piraeus. The far slower bus (no. 040) runs from Piraeus to central Athens (with a stop at Filellinon, off Syntagma Square) every 15 minutes between 5am and 1am and hourly from 1am to 5am for about €1.20. The trip takes 25 - 30 minutes.

You may prefer to take a taxi in order to avoid what can be a long walk from your boat to the bus stop or subway terminal. The normal fare on the meter from Piraeus to Syntagma should be about €15 to €20, but many drivers offer a flat fare, which can be as much as €30. Pay it if you`re desperate or be prepared for serious bargaining.

If you arrive at Piraeus by hydrofoil (Flying Dolphin), you`ll probably arrive at Zea Marina harbor, south across the peninsula from the main harbor. Getting a taxi from Zea Marina into Athens can involve a long wait and taxi drivers usually charge exorbitant fares. Instead, you can walk up the hill from the hydrofoil station and catch bus no. 905 for around €1.20, which connects Zea to the Piraeus Metro station, where you can complete your journey into Athens (see above). You must buy a ticket at the small stand near the bus stop or at a newsstand before boarding the bus.

Note: If you arrive late at night, you may not be able to do this as both the newsstand and the ticket stand may be closed.

If you disembark at the port of Rafina, you`ll see a bus stop up the hill from the pier. The bus to Athens runs often and will take you to the Areos Park bus terminal, 29 Mavromateon in about an hour. The Areos Park terminal is one block from the Victoria Square Metro stop and about 25 minutes by trolley from Syntagma Square. From the bus terminal, there are buses to Rafina every 30 minutes.

The port of Lavrion (tel. 22920/25-249), 32 miles southeast of Athens, has taken over some of the itineraries from the port of Piraeus. A taxi to/from Lavrio port from downtown Athens has a flat rate of 38€ (5am-midnight) and €55 (midnight-5am). You can also get to/from the port by taking the express lines of the interurban buses (KTEL) `Koropi station-Porto Rafti/Avlaki.` The price of the ticket is around €5.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Trains from the south and west, including Eurail connections via Patras, arrive at the Stathmos Peloponnisou station about a mile northwest of Omonia Square on Sidirodromeon. Trains from the north and international trains arrive at Stathmos Larissis, just across the tracks from the Peloponnisou station on Deligianni. The Larissa station offers a currency exchange office and luggage storage. To get to your hotel, you can take the Metro (line 2) from Larissa metro station to Omonia, Syntagma, and Koukaki. The most central place to catch the Metro back to the train station is the stop in front of the Parliament building on Syntagma Square. You can purchase train tickets at the train station, but it`s easier to visit a downtown railway office at either the Omonia Square ticket office (1 Karolou) or at 17 Filellinon, off Syntagma Square.

Alternately, a taxi from the railway station to the city center should cost about 10€.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

The Metro is fast, cheap, and convenient and runs from 5:30am to midnight Sunday through Thursday; trains run until 2am on Friday and Saturday. All stations are wheelchair accessible. Stop at the Syntagma station for a map. A single ticket costs €1.40; a day pass costs€ 4.50. Make sure you validate your ticket as you enter the waiting platform and hang onto it until you get off or you may risk a fine. Metro and bus tickets are interchangeable, except for bus E22, that heads to the coast and costs about €1.60 more.

Note: Allow extra time when you catch the Metro in central Athens. The stations located at Syntagma Square, Monastiraki and Acropolis brilliantly display relics from the subway excavations in what are Athens`s newest small museums.

You can get almost everywhere you want in central Athens and its suburbs by bus, but it can be confusing to figure out which one to take as many bus routes are changing as new metro stations are opening. During the day, buses tend to run every 15 to 30 minutes with reduced service at night and on weekends. Buses run from about 5 am to midnight. Main bus stations are at Akadimias and Sina and at Kaningos Square. Check out the Athens Urban Transport Organization for directions, timetables, route details and maps.

Bus tickets cost €1.40 each and can be bought from periptera (kiosks) located throughout the city. Be certain to validate your ticket when you board and hold on to it. Inspectors periodically check tickets and can levy fines from €5 up to €60 on the spot!

Additionally, in central Athens, minibus nos. 60 and 150 serve the commercial area free of charge. And orange and white KTEL buses provide efficient service throughout the Attica basin. Most buses to the east Attica coast, including those for Sounion (€5.70 for inland route and €6.30 on coastal road) and Marathon €3.70), leave from the KTEL terminal in Pedion Areos.

Athens`s tram service connects downtown to the city`s coast. Although it`s not the fastest means of transport, it takes a scenic route along the coast and is perfect for those wishing to visit the city`s beaches and nightlife. The tram runs 24 hours a day Friday and Saturday, and 5am to midnight Sunday through Thursday; tickets are €1.40 and must be validated at the platform or inside the tram. Trams are comfortable and air-conditioned.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis are abundant in Athens but sometimes difficult to catch. When you get in, make sure the meter is set to `1` (the daytime rate); meters should only be set to `2` (the nighttime rate) when traveling between midnight and 5 am or at any time outside the city limits. Taxi fees start at about €3.16 per ride, with an additional €0.77 added for each traveled mile. Extra charges apply for baggage and pick-ups from ports, bus terminals and rail stations.

You can also get around Athens by using the Uber ride-sharing service. Note: Taxi drivers often pick up other people en route, but fares are not split. You (and your fellow passengers) are each responsible for paying the total fare minus any charges associated with drop-off detours for other riders.

Most drivers in Athens speak basic English; however your driver may have difficulty understanding your pronunciation of your destination. Taxi drivers know the major central hotels, but if your hotel is not as well known, show the driver the address written in Greek and make note of the hotel`s phone number.

Note: If you`re trying to make travel connections or are traveling during rush hour, a radio taxi is well worth the €3 to €5 surcharge. Ask for help at your hotel or destination to make sure that the driver knows where you want to go. Carry a business card from your hotel, so you can show it to the taxi driver on your return.

I will have a car in Athens, where can I park?

Unless absolutely necessary, we suggest that you don`t drive in Athens! Traffic is heavy and finding a parking place is extremely difficult. And even though a new network of ring roads has eased the city`s notorious traffic, it is still not an easy city to drive in; and if you are unfamiliar with the streets, it can be an absolute nightmare! If you are planning on taking any day trips or touring the Greek countryside then we suggest you pick up your rental car as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

Is Athens a walking city?

It`s easy to do your sightseeing on foot since most of what you`ll want to see and do in Athens is in the city center. Athens has created pedestrian zones in the Commercial Triangle (the area bounded by Omonia, Syntagma and Monastiraki squares), the Plaka and Kolonaki, to make strolling, shopping and sightseeing more pleasurable. Dionissiou Areopagitou, at the southern foot of the Acropolis, was also made a pedestrian zone with links to walkways passing the Ancient Agora, Thissio and Kerameikos.

Warning: Even on pedestrian streets, the city`s multitude of motorcyclists rarely respect the rules, and a red traffic light or stop sign is no guarantee that vehicles will stop for pedestrians.

Is Athens a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Athens is one of the safest capitals in Europe with few reports of violent crimes; however, pickpocketing is not uncommon, especially in the Plaka and Omonia Square areas, on the Metro and buses and in Piraeus. We recommend that travelers avoid the side streets of Omonia and Piraeus at night. It is also a good idea to be wary of Gypsy children and overly friendly strangers. Keep your money in your front pockets and leave your passport and valuables in a safe box at the hotel. Carry only a photocopy of your passport, not the original.

In an emergency, dial tel. 100. For help dealing with a troublesome taxi driver, hotel staff, restaurant staff, or shop owner, stand your ground and call the tourist police at tel. 171.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Greece is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATMs can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Greece by clicking here.

Note: It is not a good idea to rely on ATMs in Athens, since the machines are often out of service, particularly on holidays or during bank strikes.

I don`t speak Greek. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When do the hydrofoils operate between the islands?

Boat travel in Greece is common and relatively inexpensive. Timetables change according to seasonal demand and boats may be delayed by weather conditions, so your plans should be flexible. That being said, ferries/hydrofoils for the Greek Islands only operate between May and September due to annual weather changes including rough seas and high winds. For travel beyond these months, your itinerary will include transportation by flight between the islands.

Note: The Athens airport authority advises you to allow a minimum of 45 minutes to make a flight connection; which should be adequate if you arrive and depart from the main terminal and do not have to clear Customs. Allow at least 60 to 90 minutes if you have to clear Customs or if you arrive or depart from the satellite terminal. At present, many charter flights use the satellite terminal.

Should I be worried about strikes and museum closings?

Strikes can close museums and archaeological sites without warning. Decide what you want to see most and go there as soon as possible after you arrive.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Luckily, much of what tourists want can be found in the city center`s Commercial Triangle, bounded by Omonia, Syntagma and Monastiraki squares. Monastiraki has a flea market, which is especially lively on Sunday while the Plaka has cornered the market on souvenir shops, with T-shirts and reproductions of antiquities on everything from playing cards to coasters.

Pedestrianized Ermou Street is the prime shopping district in the city, with more stores than you can possibly visit. Kolonaki, on the slopes of Mount Likavitos, is boutique heaven; but, it`s a better place to window shop than to buy, since much of the merchandise is imported and heavily taxed. Here, it`s more fun to have a drink in one of the many cafes (maybe along fashionable Milioni Street) while enjoying some people watching.

What is the weather like and when is the best time to visit?

The climate of Athens falls within the subtropical Mediterranean classification, with moderate rainfall.

From mid-March through May, the weather is usually pleasant in Athens, although March winds can make it feel quite chilly. Between June and August, the temperature usually rises steadily, making August a month you may want to avoid. If you do come here in August, you`ll find that Athens, like Paris, belongs to the tourists: Some 60% of all Athenians take their summer holiday between the 1st and 15th of August. Stretches when it`s well over 100°F are not uncommon in August, when anyone with health problems such as asthma should be wary of Athens`s smog. Because the city can be hot and exhausting, make sure to take it easy. After all, you`re on vacation!

September is usually balmy, with occasional light rain, although it`s not unknown for August heat to spill over well into September. October usually offers beautiful summer/autumn weather, although with rain and some wind likely. It might even be intermittently chilly.

Most rain falls between November and February, when Athens can be colder and windier than you might expect. Average daytime temperatures range from 52°F in January to 92°F in August.

What is the Athens City Pass and what does it get me?

The Athens City Pass offers free admission to Athens main sights, museums, tours and the public transport and features also further discounts. It covers a free and fast track entry to the Acropolis and a hop-on-hop-of bus tour around the city. The amount of sights included depends on the version (Mini, Classic and Complete) with Complete covering the highest amount of attractions of the three available options. The Athens City Pass Classic and Complete feature even a practical map and a travel brochure.

What are the best areas for nightlife?

Athens is famous for its vibrant nightlife. The Athenians like to party and will do so almost every night of the week. The choices are plenty and they appeal to all tastes and lifestyles. In general, things get started pretty late, after midnight for bars and clubbing and after 9 pm for dinner at the city`s tavernas, Athens Restaurants and bar-restaurants. Clubbing usually goes on past sunrise, but bars and clubs may choose to close earlier if they are low on customers.

Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Exarcheia, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki. Traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka. A young group of locals have also started running a bar crawl through the most atmospheric areas in the city center, stopping for drinks in a variety of neighborhoods combined with local ghost stories, called the Athens Ghost Crawl.

Until recently at Psirri, some of Athens` hottest clubs and bars were to be spotted. During recent years Gazihas seen some tremendous change. Most of the galleries, mainstream bars, restaurants, clubs and Greek nightclubs here (featuring live Greek pop singers), are trademarked by their industrial design as many of them are housed in remodeled (and once abandoned) factories. Gazi is one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Athens nightlife. You can get there by metro line 3 at Kerameikos station.

Plaka - Monastiraki are two ancient, historic and all-time classic Athenian neighborhoods popular with visitors, they do not have many big dance clubs and bars, but offer lively, traditional places to enjoy Greek culture year-round as well as several rock and jazz clubs.

You will find plenty nightclubs with live Greek music along Syggrou Avenue and at the industrial strips of Iera Odos and Pireos Street in Gazi. In the summer months, the action moves to Poseidon Avenue and the coastal dictricts of Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni. Kolonaki is a staple dining and entertainment destination, catering to the city's urban working professionals who enjoy an after work cocktail at many of its bars that are open until after midnight, even on weekdays. The clubs here are also very chic. Exarchia is where to go for smaller more bohemian style haunts that cater to artists and college students. At the foot of Strefi Hill is where you will find most of the bars and clubs, many of which play rock music. An alternative option of Athens nightlife.

What are the business hours in Athens?

In winter, shops are typically open Monday and Wednesday from 9am to 5pm; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10am to 7pm; and Saturday from 8:30am to 3:30pm. In summer, shops are generally open Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 8am to 3pm; and Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8am to 2pm and 5:30 to 10pm. Most stores in central Athens, though, remain open all day. Department stores and supermarkets are open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 6pm Saturday.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

In an emergency, dial tel. 100 for the police and tel. 171 for the tourist police. Dial tel. 166 for an ambulance and the hospital. Athens has a 24-hour line for foreigners, the Visitor Emergency Assistance at tel. 112 in English and French. If you need an English-speaking doctor or dentist, try SOS Doctor (tel. 1016 or 210/361-7089). There are two medical hot lines for foreigners: tel. 210/721-2951 (day) and 210/729-4301 (night) for U.S. citizens; and tel. 210/723-6211 (day). Most of the larger hotels can call a doctor for you in an emergency.

KAT, the emergency hospital in Kifissia (tel. 210/801-4411 to -4419), and Asklepion Voulas, the emergency hospital in Voula (tel. 210/895-3416 to -3418), have emergency rooms open 24 hours a day. Evangelismos, a centrally located hospital below the Kolonaki district on 9 Vas. Sophias (tel. 210/722-0101), usually has English-speaking staff on duty.