ATHENS CITY ( capital of Greece ) Getting there
Athens airport is a major hub in the Aegean, Balkan and East Mediterranean regions. Continental, Delta and Olympic maintain non-stop flights from North America, while a large number of European carriers fly direct into Athens.
The new Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport 27 km (17 mi.) east of the city
center, near the suburb of Spáta, opened in 2001 as part of the infrastructure improvements in preparation for the Olympics and is now one of the more attractive and efficient major European airports, though some old Athenian hands say they miss the "Port Said" atmosphere of the old Hellinikon. The airport has excellent public transit connections to the city (see below) and the usual array of food stands, duty-free shops, and other airport services.
There is a Tourist information station in Arrivals that will have the latest literature put out by the Tourist Information Department; this is useful for getting information of arranged local festivities in Athens and Attica. They will also have a printed brochure of Ferries information from Piraeus and other Attica ports.
There is also a small museum on the top floor that has an interesting history on Athens as well as a space put aside for temporary exhibits.
You are going to need euro coins if you want a trolley for your luggage; trolleys are available at the airport, you will find them in the baggage hall on arrival and they use coins the same way supermarket trolleys do. You insert your coin, and you get it back by placing the trolley back to its original position.
If you stay in Athens for a short time, consider leaving part of your luggage in a baggage storage. It is run by Pacific Travel , and is located in the end of left-hand wing, arrivals level. Storage time differentiates between 6 to 36 hours and sizes vary from small to large. The only inconvenience is that the same queue is used for collecting and for leaving – allow extra time before your flight. No automatic lockers can be found in the airport. From the airport to the city
From the airport you can reach the city:
By Metro to the city center for €6. Group tickets (2 or 3 persons) are also available and they provide some discount (see below). The airport Metro line is an extension of Line 3 (blueline) that takes you to the downtown Sindagma and Monastiráki stations.
Don't forget to validate your ticket before going down to the platform and boarding a train (there are validation machines at the top of the escalators in the ticket hall). Failure to validate your ticket at the start of the journey can mean a fine of up to €1,50. The ticket inspectors are rigorous and won't hesitate to call for police assistance if you start to object.
Those taking the Metro from Athens to the airport should note that not all trains go to the airport; typically the airport trains run every half hour, while trains in the intervals don't go the whole route. Airport trains are indicated on the schedule and by an airplane logo on the front of the train, they are also announced by the signs on the metro platform. It's useful to go to the Metro station the day before, explain to the agent (most speak Eng.) when you need to be at the airport, and ask what time you should catch the airport train from that station. You can also get this information at the airport metro station, which has a desk staffed most hours by someone who speaks English. It's possible but not necessary to buy your ticket in advance; buying in advance though means you won't risk missing your train if you find at the last minute you don't have change for the ticket machines and have to stand in a line to buy it from the agent.
By suburban railway to Larissis Railway Station for € 6. Change from there to Line two of the subway that takes you to:
the downtown Omónia and Syntagma stations.
Northern Greece and the Peloponnese, by train.
By bus: X92 to Kifissia, X93 to Kifissos Coach Station, X94 to Ethniki Amyna metro station (subway Line 3), X95 to Syntagma Square (subway Lines 2 and 3), X96 to Piraeus (subway Line 1) and X97 to Dafni metro station (subway Line 2) for €3.90. It takes 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on traffic. Buses, unlike Metro, operate 24 hrs a day.
By taxi for € 35-40: If you take a taxi be careful. Make sure that the meter is switched on and shows tariff 1 (tariff 2 applies after midnight and is twice as expensive).
It is advisable to grab a free copy of city transport map in the airport – in the city it is extremely helpful.
By regional coach
Regional coaches (KTEL) connect Athens to other cities in Greece. The fleet of buses has recently been upgraded, which makes the journey pleasant and safe. For some destinations one can also use the buses of the railroad company (OSE, see next paragraph) that might be international, but can also be used for in-country transport.
At times there are collaborations with companies from adjacent countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria, FYROM and Albania, so your best move will always be to ask on both the bus and the train companies about your available options.
The national rail service, OSE, connects Athens to other cities in Greece -however, do not expect the diversity and complexity of railroads you usually find in other European countries; the national railroad system is
poor in Greece, in effect having only two train lines. One goes south to the Peloponnese and the other to the north, connecting Athens with the second major city in Greece, Thessaloniki.
From there the line continues further to the north and all the way to the east, passing through many other cities of northern Greece and eventually reaching Istanbul. Be advised that there are 2 kinds of train you can use; normal, slow, type of train equipped with beds, and the so called new 'Intercity' type which is more expensive because of a 'quality supplement fee' that grows with distance. For example, travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki by the 'Intercity' type will save you one hour at most, but the ticket will be almost double the price. 'Intercity' tends to be more reliable, yet more 'bumpy' than the normal train.
The port of Piraeus acts as the marine gateway to Athens, and is served by many ferries. Cruise ships also regularly visit, especially during warm months.
Generally, pedestrian ferry users will be closer than cruisers to the Metro station providing access to Athens, though walking distances can be non-trivial. Cruise passengers usually reach the main cruise terminal by port shuttle bus. From there, they face a walk of well over a mile to the Metro station; taxis are readily available from the port terminal, and are not inexpensive.