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A Guide to Athens
Know Before You Go
- Save money by eating gyros. It's cheap, filling and only costs EUR 4. It's the best way to eat authentic Greek food while keeping your budget in check.
- Visit Athens top attractions without paying a dime. From November to March, all major sites in the city are free on Sundays. While there are more crowds than usual, you'll be saving EUR 25 on entrance fees.
- Book your flights, ferry tickets and accommodation in advance during high season. From June to August, the city is at its busiest as locals and travellers from elsewhere in Europe are on holiday.
- Drinking the tap water from mainland Greece is safe. However, if you're planning a trip to one of the islands, stick to bottled water.
- Don't throw loo paper in the toilet. The Greek sewage pipes are easily clogged and cannot support large quantities of flushed paper.
- Sign up for a free walking tour. It's a great way to get your bearings and learn about the city's history from a local guide.
Getting Around Athens
The best way to get around Athens is on foot. Most of the top attractions, restaurants and shops are within walking distance of each other, and it's an excellent way to keep your costs down.
But if your legs get tired or you need to get somewhere faster, the city has a range of public transport options:
- Take the metro. Three lines run across the city from 5:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. every day. Line 1 stops near the Ancient Agora, Line 2 ends within walking distance of the Acropolis and Line 3 will take you to Athens International Airport. Tickets start at EUR 1.40, and multi-day passes are also available from EUR 22.
- Go on the bus. Athens has an extensive downtown network as well as four expresses routes that service the airport A standard fare for rides within 90 minutes is EUR 1.40 and you can buy tickets from the blue and yellow booths next to central bus stations.
- Explore the city with the tram service. It's not the most convenient option for sightseeing, but you can use it to reach the Temple of Olympian Zeus and nearby beaches. Prices start at EUR 1.50, and you can buy your tickets from automatic machines at the tram stations.
- Hail a taxi. Due to Athens high traffic volumes, metered taxis aren't the cheapest or most affordable way to get around. Fares start at EUR 3.16 and go up by EUR 0.46 for each kilometre travelled. You can also use the ride-sharing app Uber to request a ride if you're struggling to flag a driver down from the street.
- Rent a car. If you're planning a few day trips, hiring a car is a great option. However, it's not advised for only navigating downtown Athens due to the lack of parking and expensive daily fees for car hires. You can expect to pay EUR 21-30 each day and EUR 1.50 for every litre of petrol.
When is The Best Time to Visit Athens?
The best time to visit Athens is during its two shoulder seasons. From March to May and September to November, temperatures are mild, and there's little chance of rain. The crowds are also thinner at top attractions like the Acropolis and hotel deals are easier to come by.
June to August is peak tourist season in Athens. Many of the smaller shopkeepers and restaurateurs close for the summer, and you may have a harder time finding a place to eat. But if you don't mind the heat and the crowds, you'll be in time for many of Greece's biggest festivals.
If you're travelling to Athens on a budget, plan your trip between December and February. The cold and wet weather keeps most tourists away, and many hotels and tour operators slash their prices during this seasonal lull.
Airports in Athens
Athens International Airport
Athens International Airport is the main gateway to the Attica region. It's the busiest airport in Greece and is a hub for Aegean Airlines and a focus city for Ryanair and Astra Airlines.
Getting to and from Athens International Airport
Take Metro Line 3 from the airport. It runs seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and connects passengers to the Syntagma station in the city centre.
If you're flying into Athens on a red-eye flight, take the 24-hour express bus. Tickets are sold at info desk outside of the Arrivals Hall between Exits 4 and 5 or onboard from the driver.
The suburban railway runs from the airport to the Plakentias station. The service departs every 15-25 minutes, and you can change trains on the same ticket to continue to the city centre.
The taxi stands are located at Exit 3 on the Arrivals Level. A trip into Athens should cost around AUD 35 from 5:00 a.m. to midnight and EUR 50 from midnight to 5:00 a.m.
If you prefer having your own set of wheels, you can hire a car from one of the rental desks at the airport.