Being the capital city of Greece is not the only thing that brings thousands of visitors to Athens each year. In fact, Greece was once home to a powerful empire and the city boasts 5th century landmarks, such as the Acropolis, for you to explore while here. Museums are scattered throughout the city centre, and you will find preserved sculptures and buildings too. When looking for the best time to visit Athens so that you can explore everything there is to know and love about Greece, aim for October – November or April – June. The weather is warm, but the heat is not scorching, and tourists are not as abundant.
For direct international flights from Canada, consider Air Canada and Air Transat. Other operators that have flights from Canada into Athens, Greece include Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Aegean Airlines, Alitalia, Air France, British Airways, and many more.
Athens International Airport (ATH) is a busy international destination. Bringing travellers here to see the waters of Greece and of course, to do business in Athens, you are in luck when it comes to public transportation options.
The airport has the Metro Line 3 “Aghia Marina. The line runs from the airport to city centre. Trains run every 30 minutes, 7 days a week. Pick up a train ride to city centre from 6:30 am – 11:30 pm. A one-way trip takes approximately 40 minutes and costs €10 EUR.
The Suburban Rail system enters the Port of Pireaus, Kiato, and Athens Central Railway Station. The fare is the same as the Metro for a 90-minute ticket.
The airport has 4 bus routes servicing it and all connect to the city centre. Take the express bus at the arrivals level between exits 4 and 5. You can catch Bus X95 which takes approximately 55 minutes and costs €6 EUR per person.
Taxi cabs are available at the airport. While they are the fastest way to reach the city centre, they are also the most expensive. Yellow taxis from the airport to city centre will cost approximately €38 EUR.
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Athens transportation is plentiful, but most of what you want to see in the city centre can be reached easily by just walking around. When you want to visit the attractions and historic sites out of the city centre, you will need some transport to get you there. Athens has been slowly integrating a metro system over the past few decades, but they have been careful to not disturb the existing historic sites. Luckily, that means you can use the metro lines or buses to get around and often be dropped at an attraction site.
Buses are available throughout Athens and run every 15 minutes in city centre. You can catch a bus from 5 am – midnight. A single 90-minute ticket costs approximately €1.40 EUR for all buses, trams, and trolleys in the area.
The metro has maps posted throughout the stations and they are all marked in English translations too. Trains run the same hours as the buses, but show every 4 minutes during peak periods and every 10 minutes during off-peak times. On Friday and Saturday nights, you have Lines 2 and 3 until 2:00 am.
The suburban rail links to neighbourhoods outside the city centre, including the northern Peloponnese. The airport Kiato line runs at €14 EUR per 90-minute trip and connects to the metro lines at Neratziotissa and Doukissis Plakentias.
The tram is slow, but offers a more scenic view of the city and coast. The trams run every 40 minutes on the weekends. You can purchase tickets at the vending machine on the platform. The fare for the tram is the same as the bus fare.
Athens is so rich in history that if you were only here for a weekend, you will not have enough time to explore all the attractions and soak up the history. Regardless of how much time you have here, put these attractions at the top of your list:
As with any big city and tourist attraction, you want to stay safe while you explore the wonders of Athens. Keep in mind that the temperatures fluctuate here, especially with the closeness to the water. It is best to bring along light layers so that you can add or decrease as needed to stay comfortable. Do your best to fit in and not look like a tourist. That will decrease the likelihood you run into problems in the city too. Greece is not a liberal city; therefore, it is not a LGBTQ-friendly area. You can, however, find bi-sexual and gay bars in the area just south of the Acropolis. Lastly, be cautious about taxi drivers. While most are honest, there are a few that will try to add on to the meter or even stop running the meter to estimate the fare in their favour.