Athens, the capital of modern Greece, has a better claim than most places to being the cradle of Western civilization. But along with the ancient traces of the past, modern Athens is a bustling metropolis where you can experience the vibrancy of Greek culture.
On an Athens stopover, there’s no need to kill time at the airport. Athens Airport has its own Metro station which connects it with the city via Metro Line 3, which calls at both Syntagma and Monastiraki stations in the center of the city. The journey takes around 40 minutes, and trains leave twice an hour at minutes 05 and 35. There are also buses and taxis that can bring you to the city if you’re concerned about trusting the Metro.
To make the most of your Athens Airport layover, drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Athens. The lighter you travel, the more you’ll be able to see, no matter how short your time in the city is.
6 hour layover in Athens
With only six hours to make your connection, it’s tempting to play it safe and just kill time in the airport. That would be a real shame. Even after you clear customs, pick up your luggage, drop it off at an Athens suitcase storage, and make your way to the city by Metro, you could still have an hour or two to spend in the Greek capital. While that’s nowhere near enough to really get to grips with the city, it could be enough to sample one of its many attractions.
Take the Metro to Monastiraki Metro station, and you’ll step out right into Athens’ bustling heart. Virtually across the street from the station, you’ll find the Ancient Agora of Athens. This impressive ruin is where ancient Athenians used to gather to shop, gossip, and discuss philosophy. The remaining ruins and the on-site museum do a great job of explaining the importance of this location to the ancient Greeks, and an hour or two is exactly the right amount of time to spend to do justice to this world heritage site.
- Take Metro Line 3 to Monastiraki station.
- From the station, the walk to the Agora only takes a minute.
- This was the heart of ancient Athens and is well worth exploring on a short layover.
8 hour layover in Athens
If you find yourself with a little more time to kill, you can expand your horizons. After seeing the sights of the Ancient Agora, take a short walk to the Plaka neighborhood. This is one of Athens’ oldest and most charming districts, full of whitewashed old houses and family-owned restaurants. After all that walking around the Agora, you’ll be in need of refreshment, so pick a place to eat and get ready for a journey through Greek cuisine. The restaurants here tend to be a little on the tourist trap side, but it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to dine under the shadow of the Acropolis, Athens’ most famous ancient monument. Plus, if you explore some of the charming back streets, you may find places with a more authentic vibe – and prices to match.
- Explore the Plaka neighborhood for interesting shopping and great dining.
- You can often avoid tourist trap restaurants by exploring quieter back streets.
- Greek cuisine is an attraction all by itself, not something you should miss while you’re in the capital.
10 hour layover in Athens
If your Athens layover allows you to spend 10 hours in the city, you’ll have more options of things to see and do. With 10 hours to spend, you could make the trek to the high hill above the city where the Acropolis stands. This temple complex is a symbol of Athens and of Greece throughout the world, and is one of the country’s most iconic places for a reason. However, exploring the Acropolis can take around four hours, so you’ll have to plan accordingly. Remember that Greek meals tend to be leisurely, so a 10 hour layover could mean exploring only the Acropolis and having a meal, foregoing the Agora to save time.
Still, you won’t regret it. History buffs will be in heaven, but even those who aren’t well-versed in the past will find the Acropolis a beautiful and atmospheric place to visit. Bring a bottle of water and prepare for a trip back in time.
- A longer layover gives you enough time to explore the Acropolis.
- It takes around four hours to do justice to this iconic site, so you may have to make cuts elsewhere.
- There’s very little shade on the Acropolis hill, so make sure you bring water and a hat, especially in summer.
12 hour layover in Athens
A 12-hour layover means you can really explore Athens. Once you’ve seen the Acropolis, you may want to explore its archaeological treasures in the state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum, which can easily eat up two hours of your time. Alternatively, if that’s enough ancient Greece for you, you could take a 15-minute walk to the National Garden. Here, you’ll be surrounded by plant species that are native to Greece, and the sprawling garden offers an oasis of calm in what can be a very busy and bustling city. If you like, you could even bring some food and drink with you and enjoy a picnic in the shade of the well-tended trees here. It’s something of a hidden gem, but easily a place where you could spend a couple of very pleasant hours enjoying the sunshine and recharging your batteries. Don’t forget to drop off your bags at an Athens luggage storage so that you don’t carry more than you need to.
- It’s a short walk from the Acropolis to the National Garden, which makes a great place to enjoy some peace and quiet.
- Bring a picnic and relax in the shade of the trees here.
- Recharge your batteries before heading back to the airport.
24 hour layover in Athens
A long layover doesn’t sound like good news, but in a city with as much to see as Athens, it can be. You’ll need a place to stay, and it’s a good idea to choose one that’s central so you don’t spend too much time traveling between airport, hotel, and tourist sites. But an overnight layover means you can take in some of Athens’ exciting nightlife and still see more of its top attractions.
If possible, try to get a ticket for a play in one of Athens’ ancient Greek theaters. Several of Athens’ best-preserved theaters host plays as part of various festivals through the year, and using these centuries-old locations the way they were meant to be used can give you a unique sense of traveling back in time. Or, you could plunge into a more modern side of Greek culture with a food tour of Athens. The city is home to not just fabulous Greek cuisine but also many other dishes from around the world, and a knowledgeable guide can take you to all the best places and explain where they fit in with the city’s changing culinary landscape.
Depending on the timing of your flights, you could spend the next day exploring the National Archaeological Museum. The artifacts here will help you understand more about the buildings you’ve seen on your trip, and you could easily spend two or three hours here. Then it’s time to head back to the airport for your flight, knowing you did justice to this fascinating city in the time you had.
- See a show at one of Athens’ well-preserved Greek theaters.
- Take a food tour to learn about the best places to eat in the city.
- Visit the National Archaeological Museum to see one of the world’s finest collections of ancient Greek artifacts.