How To Get Around Athens
Athens may still have ancient ruins and historic theatres, but it is a busy tourist town with a great need for reliable public transportation for the tourists as well as the locals.
Whether you are going out to dinner, to the city center, or downtown Athens to check out some of the sights, you can get there faster on one of the metro lines than if you were to wait for a taxi.
If you are coming from the Athens International Airport, you will find a variety of different choices from airport buses to car rental companies to get you to central Athens.
There are also metro stations and airport transfer services you can use, all provided by the Athens Urban Transport Organisation. Or head to the bus station and you can avoid the taxi fares as well as rush hour traffic.
There are plenty of metro stations all around Athens, especially near the city center and major attractions. In fact, there is a metro station near all of the tourist destinations around Athens.
The metro line travels all over central Athens as well, with the suburban railway and other public transport systems that can get you where you want to go in the city limits. But no matter where you are headed, you don't want to drag extra gear and luggage along. Instead, drop it at one of our Athens bag storage lockers to be footloose and fancy-free!
Athens International Airport
Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport
Also known as Athens International Airport, this is the main airport and transportation hub of Athens. Just northeast of downtown Athens in Spata, it is a large and modern facility with shops, eateries, and amenities for travelers' convenience.
This airport even has a small museum with ruins found during the construction of the building. The airport handles all international flights and domestic flights for Athens.
Here you can also find several bus stations and access points for the bus that can take you anywhere along the coast, the Greek islands, several beach areas, Ancient Agora, or you can enjoy a day trip on the bus for pretty cheap as well.
Central Athens Metro Stations
Metro Line 1
The Athens Metro is the easiest and fastest way for getting around the city. Syntagma station in downtown Athens is also a fantastic museum to visit. You can see all sorts of artifacts and historic items there.
The green line has been operating in Athens since 1869, which makes it one of the oldest underground systems in the world. Metros are available in three different lines, so they are easy to use compared to some other towns with more complicated systems.
The metro is located in central Athens on the outskirts of the city center and connects the station to the northern suburb of Kifisia and the airport. Another route takes you from Syntagma Square downtown Athens to the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
Metro Line 2
Line 2, also known as the red line, connects the airport to Elliniko and Peristeri as well as the Akropole metro station by the Acropolis. It also runs from Elliniko to Anthoupoli near the Sardonic Gulf.
The railway runs from midnight Sunday to late Saturdays, with the weekends running later than weekday trips. This is a fantastic choice for those who are just interested in sightseeing or visiting major attractions.
Metro Line 3
Also known as the blue line, if you want to visit Agia Marina in the western suburbs and Halandri past Athens center, Line 3 is what you need to choose from the airport. You can also get to Plakentias, and with a return ticket, hit Doukissis Plakentias.
To get to Port Piraeus, you can switch lines at the next stop after Syntagma, which is Monastiraki Station. And it is pretty fast, getting you from the Athens Airport to Monastiraki Station in the center of Athens in about 35 to 40 minutes. And once there, why not check out the free things to do in Athens?
This suburban railway connects the Athens Airport with central Athens as well as the National Railway network. You can get to Achaena, Euboea, Boeotia, and Attica from the city of Athens.
This also includes new routes to places like Kiato, Chalcis, and Aigio. The regular 90-minute ticket for the Athens region covers all of the Proastiakios trips from Piraeus to Koropi and Magoula Stations with different prices for more distant stations.
The tickets can be used in conjunction with other public transport methods. With this railway, you can get to Syntagma Square with beach access within 30 minutes.
There are actually five lines with 53 stations all over Athens. Line one takes you to the airport, line two goes to Kiato, line three goes to Chalcis, line four goes to Ano Liosia, and line five goes to Aigio.
Most of the city of Athens is covered by a wide bus network between 5:00 AM and midnight. The buses are great for tourists with screens that display stops and information in English as well as Greek.
There are no main published routes for the bus routes, but the routes appear on Google Map. Therefore, you should download the bus app or plan the route to your favorite site from a browser.
In addition to the regular bus routes, there are few express buses that have routes to destinations in outlying areas such as the airport and Piraeus Port.
Trolleys and Trams
There are bus stops that can be confusing, and you may need to talk to someone who works in the information center or just ask a local.
The bus trolleys operate similar to an airport bus but are powered by electricity and their signs are often yellow. A 90-minute metro ticket can be used for connecting with a bus, trolley, or tram.
The tram is a great choice for unlimited one-way travel. You are allowed up to five stops and can take up to 90 minutes on one ticket. That is plenty of time for shopping and sightseeing.
One thing to note is that you can only enter a bus from the rear entrance. However, this may be just for buses on certain routes and not the trams.
City Center Fare Information
Although each transportation mode has its own price, more or less, some of them use the same tickets for transportation. The tram is by far the least expensive with a 90-minute ticket for just over $1.50 that will get you just about anywhere you want to go.
The railway is the next cheapest with prices at about $1.60 per trip. You can ride any of the three lines for that price except for the airport, which is almost $10.
The Athena tourist card costs under $25 and includes a round trip to the metro and to the Athens International Airport. If you are only going to be in Athens for a short time, you can buy a three-day tourist ticket for just over $20.
These replace the old paper tickets that are no longer used. With this card, you can also get in free to many of the major attractions such as Athens museums like the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. It also includes an app with an audio guide.
Athens has a universal ticket system that allows users to travel by metro, bus, tram, or trolley on the same ticket. This is a paper ticket sold at the metro station and some bus terminals in ticket machines.
These can be used for single rides, multiple rides, or round-trip tickets. You get all that and it is still less expensive than taking a taxi. Speaking of taxis, they are next on the list.
Taxi Cab Service
You may wish to get a taxi rather than use public transportation like a bus or train. However, you should know that during busy times, the taxi drivers may carry more than one person so you may have to share.
Another issue is that these drivers may charge extra for baggage and tolls. To get a taxi, you can sometimes call them or just wave at them and tell them where you want to go.
They will offer you the ride if they are going in that direction or if it is not a busy time of day. If you share a ride, be sure to share the cost as well so you do not end up paying for yourself and everyone else in the taxi.
Nobody really enjoys driving in Athens, especially tourists. That explains why there are so many public transportation options. Not only is it hard to get around, but it is also hard to find a place to park anywhere.
Gas prices are pretty steep too, more than $6 per gallon. Not to mention, you will have to use Google maps and your GPS to figure out how to get around. But beware, GPS does not have many of the ancient ruins listed so using a map is a better idea.
Before heading off to rent a car at the airport, remember that you will need an international driving permit to drive legally in Athens.
In the metro station and at Athens airport in the borough of Athens, the city began a bicycle program for locals as well as visitors to rent a bike so they can get around Athens easier.
There are many places where walking or biking are the only options, and some parks have bike trails too. The city of Athens also has several bike tours that you can enjoy with a local tour guide.
One of these takes riders from Athens airport to the sea and back. In some instances, you can rent an e-bike from Solebike for a nice relaxing way to enjoy Athens without struggling to get up the hills.
Getting Around on Foot
With so many areas closed to automobile traffic, walking in Athens is very popular. In fact, most locals enjoy walking to and from shopping malls, restaurants, and local shops.
However, getting from the airport to any of the hotels or attractions typically requires some other form of transportation such as the ones listed above. Many hotels offer free shuttle service but there are no rideshare programs in Athens yet.
From Central Athens to the Sights
At the Athens Airport, you can talk to the airport services to find out where to go for the bus routes or for information on the transit system. They will also radio taxi services too for you if that is what you prefer.
Any kind of public transportation in Athens is less expensive than taxi services though. Also, do not forget that if you get the Athens Tourist Card, you get in free at many attractions.