AthensAttica : Athens
- For other places with the same name, see Athens (disambiguation).
- Athens is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Athens (Greek: Αθήνα, Athína), is the capital city of Greece with a metropolitan population of 3.7 million inhabitants. It is in many ways the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization. The design of the city is marked by Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman civilizations.
The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by Mt Ymettos, Mt Parnitha and Mt Pendeli; whilst inside Athens are twelve hills [the seven historical ones are: Acropolis, Areopagus, Hill of Philopappus, Observatory Hill (Muses Hill), Pnyx, Lykavittos (Lycabettus), Tourkovounia (Anchesmus)], the Acropolis and Lykavittos being the most prominent. These hills provide a refuge from the noise and commotion of the crowded city streets, offering amazing views down to Saronic Gulf, Athens' boundary with the Aegean Sea on its southern side. The streets of Athens (clearly signposted in Greek and English) now meld imperceptibly into Piraeus, the city's ancient (and still bustling) port.
Places of interest to travellers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city centre at Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicentre is surrounded by the districts of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki and Thissio to the west, Kolonaki to the northeast and Omonia to the northwest.
- The Acropolis— The ancient "high city" of Athens, crowned by marble temples sacred to the city's goddess Athena.
- Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio— Charming historic districts at the foot of the Acropolis, with restored 19th century neoclassical homes, pedestrianized streets, shops and restaurants, and picturesque ruins from the city's Roman era.
- Kolonaki— Upscale residential area northeast of Syntagma with many cafes, boutiques and galleries.
- Metaxourgeio—The district of Metaxourgeio, located northwest of Psiri, has become a bohemian enclave as well as a haven for art and culture. As part of the area's continual transformation, the principal gallery of the city, The Municipal Gallery, was relocated in October 2010 to Avdi Square, which is the main square of the area. Avdi Square is a large, public space that is well suited to artistic expression of all kinds.
- Omonia— Commercial area with a busy metro and one of the city's main hubs. Seedy in parts.
- Exarcheia— Bohemian area and home to Greece's students, anarchists, artists and intellectuals, as well as the celebrated National Archaeological Museum.
- Pangrati and Mets— These adjoining pleasant residential neighborhoods south of Lycabettos and east of the National Garden are rarely frequented by tourists, but they do include a few hotels and a number of good traditional tavernas.
- Psiri— Former industrial district located north of Monastiraki, now full of trendy and alternative restaurants, cafés, bars, small luxury hotels and shops.
- Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos)— Dominated by the old Royal Palace, Syntagma Square is the business district of Athens, complete with major hotels, banks, restaurants and airline offices.
- Kifissia— Suburb at the northern terminus of Line 1 (Green), known for its high-end shopping.
- Nea Smyrni— Suburb about 5 km south of downtown Athens, known as a modern European district.
- Piraeus— The ancient port six miles southwest of Athens, Piraeus is known today as an independent, heavily industrial municipality, whose modern-day port serves almost all of Attica's ferry connections to Crete and the Aegean Islands.
- Zografou— Suburb 5 km east of downtown Athens on the slopes of Imitos, known for the many university (NTUA) buildings and several quirky bars and taverns sprinkled about.
- Glyfada— Suburb south of Athens connected by tram. Glyfada (Pronounced GLI'FADA) combines shopping with many small cafés and restaurants. Located along the ocean and sports some beaches and beach bars.
The first pre-historic settlements were constructed in 3000 BC around the hill of Acropolis. The legend says that the King of Athens, Theseus unified the ten tribes of early Athens into one kingdom (c. 1230 BC). This process of synoikismos – bringing together in one home – created the largest and wealthiest state on the Greek mainland, but it also created a larger class of people excluded from political life by the nobility. By the 7th century BC, social unrest had become widespread, and the Areopagus appointed Draco to draft a strict new code of law (hence "draconian"). When this failed, they appointed Solon with a mandate to create a new constitution (594 BC). This was the great beginning of a new social revolution, which was the result of the democracy under Clisthenes (508 BC). During the Middle Ages, Athens experienced a decline, but re-emerged under Byzantine rule. Athens was thriving and prosperous during the Crusades, actually benefiting from the Italian trade during this period. However, this fruitful period was shortlived, as Greece suffered badly under the Ottoman Empire, only to recover in the 19th century as the capital of independent Greece.
Athens was just a small provincial village when it was chosen in the 1830s to serve as the national capital of the modern Greek State. Although it had a prestigious past, the city's political, economic, and cultural importance had declined over the centuries, leaving behind only its classical ruins as a reminder of better times. With the decision to move the national capital from Nafplio to Athens, architects and city planners were hired to build a new city next to the classical ruins, with grand neoclassical homes and public buildings, large city squares, green spaces, and wide avenues, making a conscious, decisive turn from the city's Ottoman past. The city regained its importance in Greek civilization, and by 1900 had evolved into a very attractive cosmopolitan city, with abundant neoclassical architecture harking to the nation's past.
The 20th century however, marked the rapid development of Athens. The city suffered minor damage during WWII, and suffered extensive urban planning in the decades that followed, as the nation rapidly industrialized and urbanized. In the 1960s and 1970s, many 19th century neoclassical buildings, often small and private, were demolished to make way for office buildings, often designed by great Greek architects. The city also expanded outward through rash development, particularly towards the west, as its population grew by absorbing job-seekers from the provinces. With the onset of the automobile, public officials reduced the city's public transportation services without foreseeing the traffic gridlock and smog that would menace the city by the 1980s.
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city's reality led to a rude awakening among local and national officials and, coupled with the country's newfound remarkable prosperity, large scale projects began to slowly regenerate the city and undo some of the damages of recent decades. Over the course of the next 15 years, money was poured into new transportation infrastructure projects, the restoration of surviving neoclassical buildings, the gentrification of the city's historical center and the renovation of many former industrial areas and the city's coastline. The restoration of charming neoclassical buildings in the city's historical center has been accompanied by the construction of attractive post-modern buildings in newer districts; both of which have begun to improve the aesthetic essence of the city. Athens today is ever evolving, forging a brand new identity for the 21st century.
But, there is a piece of famous architecture in Athens, and it is named The Parthenon. The Parthenon sits at the top of the Acropolis, a very important hill in Athens, which now serves as the city center. The Parthenon was built to honour the goddess Athena/ Athene, patron of Athens and goddess of war, wisdom and crafts. She is a maiden goddess.
Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. While most of the sporting venues were located outside the city proper -in various locations throughout Attica- the entire urban area of Athens underwent major lasting changes that have improved the quality of life for visitors and residents alike. Aside from the excellent transportation infrastructure that was completed in time for the 2004 Olympics (from new freeways to light rail systems), the city's historic center underwent serious renovation. Most notable among the city's facelift projects are the Unification of Archaelogical Sites -which connects the city's classical-era ruins and monuments to each other through a network of pleasant pedestrianized streets- and the restoration of the picturesque neoclassical Thissio and Pláka districts.
Athens first appears on the pages of history around 1400 B.C., at which time it was already a major cultural center of the Mycenaean civilization. The Acropolis and remnants of the Cyclopean Walls attest to its status as a Mycenaean fortress city. In 1200 B.C., many Mycenaean cities were destroyed and resettled by invading bands of Dorians, but Athenian tradition maintains that Athens escaped this fate and retained a "pure Ionian bloodline." Beginning as early as 900 B.C., Athens became a leading trade center within the Greek world, owing to its central location, possession of the heavily fortified Acropolis and its quick access to the sea.
By the beginning of the 6th Century B.C., the foundations of democratic reforms were laid in Athens by Solon, and full democracy was achieved by 508 B.C. under Cleisthenes. By this time also, the Athenian navy had grown large and powerful enough to assist the Ionian regions of Asia Minor in their rebellion against Persian rule, which lasted from 499 to 493 B.C. The revolt ultimately failed, however, and Athens' support of the rebels incensed King Darius of Persia to the point of launching an all-out invasion of Greece in 492 B.C. Athens and Sparta led a coalition of Greek city-states against the invaders and defeated them, but Athens was nonetheless sacked twice by the Persians before the war's end.
Following the Greco-Persian War, Athens entered the Golden Age of Athenian Democracy, during which time it was the clear cultural leader of the Greek world. Philosophy, drama, history-writing, artistry, and political reform all entered their "heyday." Athens also became the head of the Delian League, which began as an alliance to continue the fight against Persia, but soon became little more than a tool by which Athens promoted its own imperial ambitions. Sparta soon chafed at this situation, and the two cities — once allies, now rivals — fought the lengthy Peloponnesian War between 431 and 404 B.C. Athens was finally defeated by the militaristic Spartans, and though it remained an important city-state, it failed to become the center of a great empire.
In 338 B.C., Macedonia defeated an alliance of Greek city-states and conquered all Greece, including the city of Athens. Athens remained under Macedonian rule until the Romans defeated them in 197 B.C. While under Rome, Athens was a free city with a much-admired school system and received special favor from Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd Century A.D.
Athens passed from Roman to Byzantine rule when the empire split in Late Antiquity, declined during the Middle Ages and benefited from trade with Italy during the Crusades. In 1458, it fell to the Ottoman Empire and did not again become part of an independent Greece until 1832. In 1834, it became Greece's capital, and in 1896, it hosted the first modern Olympics. In 1922, after the Greco-Turkish War, many Ionian refugees flooded into Athens, and the city also grew exponentially during the 1950's and 60's. Today, it is a metropolis and a major world tourist attraction.
The climate of Athens falls within the subtropical Mediterranean classification, with moderate rainfall.
Winters are mild and moderately rainy, though slightly cooler than other places in similar latitudes in the Meditteranean Sea, due to the city's proximity to Siberia. On the one hand there can be warm days when the wind blows from the south, bringing highs up to 20°C (68°F) and lows around 10°C (50°F). On the other hand when cold air masses arrive from Siberia, you should expect lows around freezing (0°C or 32°F) and highs not above 11/12°C (51/53°F). However, due to the urban heat island effect and being positioned in the sea, temperatures rarely bottom -5°C(23°F). The city is sometimes affected by, what's called, sea effect snowfall. The origins of cold fronts from Siberia are dry, but they gathers up moisture from the much warmer Aegean Sea so that they can bring moderate to heavy snowfalls in eastern Greece including Athens and the rest of Attica. Snow more commonly falls in the northern suburbs, but flurries reach the city center roughly every year. Major snowfalls are uncommon and happen every 5-6 years, but when they do, they can cause major disruption with the last occurence being on 9-10th January 2017.
Spring is probably the best time of the year to visit Athens. Temperatures are pleasantly warm with highs around 25°C (77°F) and lows around 15°C (59°F), and rainfall being scarce as summer approaches. However, keep in mind that isn't unheard for snow to fall as late as the end of March and there have been occurences of sleet in April with the last one being recently on 9th April 2015. On the other hand heatwaves may occur as early as the 1st May with temperatures topping, or even surprassing, 30°C (86°F).
Summer is hot and dry, with almost zero precipitation. Highs almost never fail to reach 30°C (86°F) and occassionally surprass 35°C (95°F). In spite of that, Athens isn't as hot as places in Greece's interior due to its position on the sea slightly cooling the city, so that 40°C (104°F) readings aren't reached every year. There is a rare posibility of afternoon thunderstorms.
Autumn takes the second place, behind spring, as the best time of the year to visit Athens, albeit being much rainier. Despite that, the heat normally persists through September with highs around 30°C and heat waves still being a possibility. Cold weather usually arrives by the end of October or early November with cool nights and heavy rainfall. Even then, warmer weather can still interrupt the cooling pattern bringing highs above 20°C (68°F). Snowfall is extremely rare in autumn.
Note: Whilst peak traffic hour can be a bit smoggy on the main roads, on most sunny days the skies are azure blue. The main reason attributed for the pollution of Athens is because the city is enclosed by mountains in a basin which does not let the smog leave. The government's ban on diesel vehicles within Athens and the early 1990s initiatives to improve car emissions have greatly contributed to better atmospheric conditions in the basin.
Precipitation and TemperatureEdit
Average annual precipitation in Athens is 16.3 inches (414 mm), which is somewhat lower than other parts of Greece and much lower than in western Greece. The Greek city of Ioannina, for example, receives 51 inches (1,300 mm), and Agrinio receives 31 inches (800 mm). Most of the rain falls between October and April, with July and August having the least amount of precipitation. In the winter, snow storms are not very common, but when they do occur, they can cause major disruptions to traffic and city life.
January is the coldest month, with an average high of 56 ºF (13 ºC) and an average low of 44 ºF (7 ºC). July and August have the hottest weather, highs of 92 ºF (33 ºC) and 93 ºF (34 ºC) respectively, with both months having average lows of 75 ºF (24 ºC). However, western parts of the city tend to be even warmer, and Athens' infamous heat waves often top 100 ºF (38 ºC). Interestingly, the World Meteorological Organization recorded the highest temperature on record in all Europe in Athens on July 10th, 1977- a scorching 118.4º F (48 ºC).
Industrialization, in combination with a geographical "heat enclave", has made Athens a city that suffers significantly from the "heat island" effect. Thus, the built up urban sprawl of Athens is a bit hotter than the immediately surrounding rural areas. This situation even leads to certain Athens-based meteorological stations having their readings thrown off, and it certainly increases energy usage and expense.
Smog is a major problem in Athens, although a ban on use of diesel-fueled vehicles within the city limits and various car-emissions initiatives implemented in the 90's have helped the situation somewhat. The main cause of the smog is that industrial and vehicular pollution get trapped inside the mountains surrounding the basin in which Athens in situated. On sunny days, the skies are blue and clear, but on certain days around rush-hour traffic time, the roads get rather smoggy.
The Greeks virtually founded all of Western literature, and ancient Athens was the center of this literary activity from very early on, though Homer's epics Iliad and Odyssey and Hesiod's poetic account of the Greek pantheon were written before Athens' rise to literary prominence.
The earliest example of a famous Athenian author is Thespis, an award-winning dramatist of the 6th Century B.C. who invented the style called Greek tragedy, but no clearly genuine example of his works survives. In the 5th Century B.C. came the Age of Pericles, wherein Athenian drama had its "heyday" and multitudes of new theaters were erected. The most famous dramatist of this era was Aeschylus, who introduced dialogue and character interaction to essentially create the modern idea of dramatic literature. Only seven out of dozens of his plays survive, including Agamemnon, The Persians, and Seven Against Thebes.
Other important ancient Greek writers of Athens include:
- Sophocles, author of Oedipus Rex, who was a rival of Aeschylus and did much to develop irony as a literary technique.
- Aristophanes, a comic playwright who led the "Old Comedy" style of ancient Athens. He wielded ridicule to the point that his contemporaries even came to fear him. Eleven of his 30 plays still survive.
- Menander, famous practitioner of "New Comedy" in Athens. He was extremely popular in both Ancient and Medieval times, though his over 100 works are now mostly fragments. His comic play Dyskolos, however, has survived largely intact.
For those who would like something more modern to read that connects to Athens, consider any of the following:
- Timon of Athens, by William Shakespeare, first published in 1623. This is a historical fiction about an Athenian named Timon, who was very generous but lost all of his money to corrupt people who bled him dry.
- Ashes, a novel published in Greek in 2007 and translated into English. It is set in Athens just before the 2004 Olympics held there, and is in the crime thriller genre. The author is Sergios Gakas.
- Tides of War by Steven Pressfield. This novel chronicles the Peloponnesian War but through the account of a fictional Athenian soldier, Polemides. Pressfield has written other classical history novels in the past, so this is from a seasoned author.
Also well known is the Biblical account of St. Paul's visitation to Athens and his speech concerning their superstitious belief in every god, to the point they even erected an altar to "the unknown God," whom Paul then preaches to them. The sermon is recorded in Acts 17 and involves teaching on the doctrines of Creation and the Resurrection of Christ. The latter doctrine led to many scoffing and a few converting. This was the beginning of the church in Athens, which is still a Christian city to this day.
Athens airport is a major hub in the Aegean, Balkan and East Mediterranean regions. Air Canada, US Airways and Delta maintain non-stop flights from North America, while a large number of European carriers fly directly into Athens. From June 2017, Scoot will start direct flights to Singapore and more other flights to Asia and Australia.
The new Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport  27 km (17 miles) east of the city center, near the suburb of Spáta, opened in 2001 as part of the infrastructure improvements in preparation for the Olympics when it became one of the more attractive and efficient major European airports, though it is now in need of renovation. 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 Ferry 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 Care4Bag , and is located in the end of left-hand wing, arrivals level. Storage time differentiates between 6 hours to 10 days 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. You can also store your luggage in Monastiraki station in the recently opened Athens Lockers-Left Luggage .There is also a locker facility at syntagma square Leaveyourluggage.gr.
If your schedule has you arriving on a long flight with some fatigue likely, you might use the decent Sofitel hotel at the airport, just a short walk from the arrivals hall. As a popular business hotel, you'd best reserve your room in-advance, and ask for a non-smoking room if important.
There is Free WiFi in the Airport, which is limited to 45 minutes, with no promise of security. However when your time is up you can just reconnect using the airports web portal
From the airport to the cityEdit
From the airport you can reach the city:
- By Metro  to the city centre for €10 (half price for under 18 or over 65, ticket good for 1.5 hours on other Athens transit); if you leave in less than a week you can get the two-way ticket for €14. Group tickets (2 or 3 persons) are also available and they provide some discount (see By Metro section below in Get Around). To catch the Metro from the airport arrivals hall, go through exit #3, cross the street, escalate to the sky bridge, walk to the station to buy tickets, and follow Metro signs down to the platforms.
- Be aware that tickets for the Suburban Trains (white tickets) are sold just next to the tickets for the Metro (blue tickets), so make sure you get the correct ones.
- 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 €120. The ticket inspectors are rigorous and won't hesitate to call for police assistance if you start to object.
- The airport Metro line is an extension of Line 3 (blue line) which takes you to the downtown Syntagma and Monastiráki stations. Note that at the airport train station, two types of trains - metro trains and suburban trains - arrive at the same platform. If you are travelling into the city centre, you should take the metro trains (2/hour, usually departs at :00 and :30, daily 6:00 to 23:30). From the Airport, the metro (blue) train takes 40 minutes to reach Syntagma and 43 minutes to reach Monastiráki.
- (If you are heading into Athens to see the Acropolis, you can use the Metro (blue) line to go from the Airport straight to Monastiráki station near the northern side of the Acropolis. An alternative is to go to Syntagma station, where you change from the blue line to the red line heading south, and get off at the first stop of Acropolis metro station which is at the southern more photogenic side of the Acropolis.)
- Those taking the Metro from Athens out to the Airport should note that not all trains on the blue line go all the way 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 aeroplane 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 English) 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.
- And of course be aware of pick-pockets.
- By suburban railway to Larissis Railway Station for € 10 via a change at Ano Liossia Station. Suburban trains are not as fast as the metro trains. Change at Ano Liossia to Line 2 of the subway that takes you to:
- the downtown Omónia and Syntagma stations.
- Northern Greece and the Peloponnese, by train.
- By express bus : X93 to Kifissos Coach Station, 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 €6 (€2.50 under 18 or over 65). Bus tickets are sold at the info/ticket-kiosk (located outside the Arrivals between Exits 4 and 5), or onboard (ask operator) at no extra cost. Buses, unlike Metro, operate 24 hours a day. Express bus X95  runs 3-5/hour and takes a little more than an hour depending on traffic to go from the airport to the final stop on Othonos street along the side of Syntagma Square. Boarding is not permitted at intermediate stops on trips from the airport.
- By taxi : taxis queue outside exit #3. According to a new law, taxis to the city centre cost € 38 during the day (5:00-24:00) and € 54 during the night (0:00-5:00). Be sure to ask if the flat fare includes toll costs and all fees.
A private airport transfer can be also booked in advance. This service is especially convenient for large groups.
- Athens Travel Serviceoffers luxury 7-seater mini vans fully equipped, with plenty of space for luggages at the flat rate of €80 from Athens Airport to Athens city center
- Easy Private Taxi has Athens Airport to the city centre at €115 for a minibus 12-seater, €150 for a minibus 18-seater and €187 for a bus 36-seater
- Holiday Taxis has Athens Airport to the city centre at £156.30 for a minibus 13-seater
Athens doesn't have services with local drivers such as Uber, Hailo or Lyft for the time being. However, there is a service, Welcome Pickups, that enables local Athenians to pick you up from the airport, drive you to your destination and give you a meaningful introduction to the city or a quick tour. It costs €38 flat and the price is fixed and pre-paid. It is advisable to grab a free copy of city transport map in the airport – in the city, it is extremely helpful.
By regional coachEdit
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,Serbia, 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, state owned, rail service, Trainose,  connects Athens to other cities in Greece. All services are via Athens railway station which is collocated with Larissa metro station. You should 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 Pelopponese 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. Be advised that there are two kinds of train you can use; the cheaper night train, that stops in most stations from Athens to Thessaloniki and nearly makes the trip in 6-6.30 hours, and various day trains that make the trip in 5.20 hours. Both offer first and second class seats, a snack bar wagon and safe luggage transport (for a small extra fee, ideal if you are carrying a lot of them). Beds or international trains are no longer available, yet there are international bus lines operated by Trainose. Tickets are available in the company's site, where there are occasionally offers of tickets with extra discount.
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 cruise passengers to the Metro station providing access to Athens; walking distances can vary considerably.
Cruise passengers on larger ships, docked near the recently expanded Terminal B, usually reach the main cruise Terminal A by port shuttle bus; otherwise, it can be a non-trivial walk. Smaller cruise ships (e.g., 1300 or fewer passengers) may dock near the Terminal A. From Terminal A, pedestrians face a safe, level walk north (harbor on your left) of over a mile to the Piraeus Metro station (look for the pedestrian overpass); taxis are readily available to go there, but are not inexpensive.
Public transport in Athens has improved by leaps and bounds in the last ten years. The regular €1.40 ("integrated") ticket lets you travel on any means of transport — metro, suburban trains, trams, trolleybuses, buses — with unlimited transfers anywhere within Athens (except the metro airport line east of Doukissis Plakentias and the airport buses) for 90 minutes, and you can also get a €4.50 ticket valid for 24 hours, a €9 weekly (5-day) ticket or a €22 tourist (3-day) ticket that also includes a Metro ride to and from the airport. Workers at the public transport are lately often on strike, causing major troubles on traffic of Athens. Make sure that you are informed before your arrival because there is a strong possibility that you reach the airport and have no means to go downtown, or vice versa.
Athens Metro system , opened in 2001 (and followed by a restoration of the old Line 1) and currently being extended. Some metro stations resemble museums as they exhibit artifacts found during excavations for the system (i.e. Syntagma). You are not allowed to consume food or drink in the subway system. During rush hour it becomes very crowded, you would have to leave your personal space at the door. There are three lines:
- Line 1 (Μ1 – GreenISAP): Piraeus – Kifissia, connects the port of Piraeus and the northern suburbs of Athens via the city centre. Note that line 1 is a rather old line going back to 1869 (lines 2 & 3 are the new subway system of Athens).
- Line 2 (M2 – Red Attiko Metro]): Anthoupoli – Agios Dimitrios connects western and southern Athens.
- Line 3 (M3 – Blue): Egaleo – Doukissis Plakentias – International Airport connects the south-western suburbs with the northern suburbs (Halandri and Doukissis Plakentias stations) and the International Airport.
Tickets: Metro uses the "integrated" ticket that costs €1.40 as of May 2016 (half price for seniors over 65 and youth under 18). Tickets can be purchased over manned booths or automated vending machines (some of which accept banknotes) in every station. You must validate your ticket prior to going to the platform. There currently are no turnstiles controlling access to the trains, so in theory you could try to ride for free, if however you're caught without a properly validated ticket you'll be asked to pay a hefty 60x the normal fare [currently €84]. Greece's latest economic misadventures have led into intensified inspections in a try to raise more cash; keep in mind that refusing to pay the fine on-the-spot guarantees that you will be escorted away to the nearest police station for a background check and potentially notify your home embassy.
From the moment of validating your €1.40 ticket, you can use it to ride any "Metro" train to every station (except the Airport) or any of the buses or tram (see below) for the next 90 minutes. It's perfectly fine to reverse direction of travel with the same ticket, as long as you are below the 90 minutes mark; if your last trip is expected to go beyond it, you must validate your ticket for a second and last time just before the mark. In more recent times, as a sign of solidarity to those most affected from the financial crisis, many Athenians elect to "drop" their still-good 90-minute tickets in convenient locations near the station entrance for the next person to pick. While you might feel tempted joining or trying to benefit from them, keep in mind that giving away or accepting an already-used ticket is illegal and you can get fined for fare evasion (see above) or station littering.
If you plan to do multiple trips within a day, it makes more sense to buy a 24-hour ticket (which again, works for all destinations except the airport) for €4.50. This needs to be validated only once, at the start of the first trip. The standard fare to or from the Airport is €10 (half price for seniors over 65 and youth under 18), €18 for a one-way trip for a 2-person group, and €24 for a one-way trip for a 3-person group.
Subway is daily from 05:30-00:00, except for Fridays and Saturdays when it runs until 02:00. Riding late at night is very safe (stations and trains are heavily monitored and policed) so you should not have a second thought about it.
By suburban railEdit
The Suburban Railway  (Proastiakos by Trainose) is a new addition to Athens's network. The main line starts from Piraeus, passes through the main line train station of Larissis in Athens, and forks at Neratziotissa west to Kiato and Corinth and east towards the Airport.
The new Athens Tram  connects the city centre with the southern suburbs and has connections with the metro lines. There are three tram lines:
- Line 1 (T1): Syntagma – Palaio Faliro – Neo Faliro connects the city centre with the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
- Line 2 (T2): Syntagma – Palaio Faliro – Glyfada connects the city centre with the coastal zone.
- Line 3 (T3): Neo Faliro – Palaio Faliro – Glyfada runs along the coastal zone.
A single ticket costs 60 cents.
Athens is served by a network of diesel buses, natural gas buses and electric trolley buses run by the Athens Urban Transport Organisation . As of 1st September 2014, there is no bus-only ticket. The integrated ticket has costs €1.40 (€0.60 reduced). The Integrated ticket allows for multiple trips within 90 minutes and is available in most kiosks and all metro stations. Use a €6 ticket (€3 reduced) to travel to or from the airport, which can also be bought from the airport bus driver. It is cheaper than the Metro airport ticket. If you tend to stay for more than a week then a weekly pass for €9 is the most cost-effective. It gives you unlimited rides on almost all public transit (bus, tram, train, subway) for 5 days. You only need to validate once, before first use. Buses will not stop unless you signal the driver by raising your arm.
Night buses. As of March 2006 the night bus routes are:
- X14 Syntagma Square to Kifissia.
- 11 Ano Patissia – Neo Pangrati – Nea Elvetia (trolley bus).
- 040 Piraeus to Syntagma Square.
- 500 Piraeus – Kifissia (night only).
- X92, X93, X95, X96, X97 (the airport buses).
At the airport you can pick up a multitude of public transport maps, especially for buses, tram and trolleys that cover the whole of Athens, and parts of Attica like Sounio and other ports. These maps can be found in display stands. They are blue and marked with big Numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in different colors.
Canary yellow taxis are a common sight in Athens and are a reasonably priced way of getting around (if you can avoid the traffic jams). The starting fee is €1, after which the meter ticks up at €0.34/km ("rate 1") or €0.64/km ("rate 2"), with a minimum fare of €3.10. Rate 1 applies through Athens city limits, including the airport, while rate 2 applies outside the city and from midnight to 5 AM. Legal surcharges apply for calling a cab by radio (€1.60), trips to or from the airport (€3.20) and heavy bags (€0.32). Tipping is not necessary, although it's common to round up to the nearest full euro.
Taxi fare fraud is not as widespread as it used to be, but it still happens, so insist on the meter and make sure the rate is correct. At busy tourist locations cab drivers can try and con you with a set rate that is ridiculously high (e.g. €20 for a short trip). In these cases it is best to find another and again insist on the charge shown on the meter. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171.
Be aware that the taxi drivers rarely obey all of the rules of the road. Expect that if you are leaving Athens on an early flight, that the driver will likely drive aggressively to get you there as quickly as possible.
Taxis are considered as fairly cheap in Athens. As such you can expect to share the ride during rush hours if you can find one, and at night after the Metro has shutdown. As such if you hail a taxi which is already occupied (Free Taxis have a brightly lit TAXI sign on top of the cab) the driver will ask where you want to go to before he will let you in to join the other customers. Strikes by cabbies and public transit are common so be prepared and watch the local news.
Athens is certainly not the city to go around with a bicycle, as it does not have much bicycle lanes and the car drivers tend to drive quite aggressively. Nevertheless, the historical center offers quiet areas where you can bike to selected routes. Infrastructure plans for bike lanes have been announced and a new bike lane, from the city center to the Athens riviera is already in use.
Riding a bicycle in Athens in the main streets, has become lately some sort of a political (counter-)action, especially by young people with an alternative lifestyle. In general, tourists not familiar with the terrible Athenian traffic are not advised to use a bicycle as a principal means of transport. Small rides are safe though in the long network of pedestrian streets around the Historical Centre of the city and can be quite enjoyable indeed.
BikeSurfAthens- Pay-what-you-want bike borrow, . edit
Athens offers some of the best and worst urban walking in Europe. Several major streets have been recently pedestrianized, and a mostly car-free archeological walk which starts at Vasilisis Amalias Street, passes in front of the New Acropolis Museum, Acropolis, Herodion Theatre, Thiseio (Apostolou Pavlou Str), Ermou Street and ends at the popular area of Kerameikos (Gkazi) where numerous bars and clubs are located. Pleasant walking can also be had in Plaka, especially its upper reaches, and in much of Kolonaki, and the National Garden can provide a welcome respite from the heat and noise of the city center. On the other hand, Athens' horrendous traffic can make crossing the street in many areas a hair-raising proposition, and even walking down many major streets can be an unpleasant experience of noise and pollution. Cars and motorbikes parked blocking the sidewalks (illegal but ubiquitous) can also make a stroll difficult. Fortunately, much of the traffic-plagued area of the city can be avoided by judicious use of the new Metro, which goes most places a visitor would want to see or to walk around in.
You can now visit the Acropolis, walk along the picturesque streets of Plaka or the hills around the Acropolis at your own pace, with i Pod Pocket tours audioguides. It’s informative and fun! They are available for rent at Athens Hilton Hotel, Sofitel Athens Airport, King George Palace and Baby Grand Hotel.
While Greek is the main language used in Athens, most Athenians speak English and those in the tourist industry are likely to speak French and German too. Notices, menus and road signs are written in both English and Greek.
At first glance, Athens seems entirely to be composed of nasty, four- to six-story concrete buildings, lacking character and badly in need of a paint, but if you look beyond that, you will find little gems tucked in amongst the grey. The areas at the foot of the Acropolis, Anafiotika, Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio are home to many wonderful Neoclassical buildings, trendy and traditional cafes and shops, narrow winding streets, and incredible views of the Acropolis. Little Greek Orthodox churches are tucked in amongst the concrete, often in the most unexpected places. These are usually beautifully decorated with icons and brass fixtures inside, but make sure you're appropriately dressed (no short sleeves or bare legs is a good rule of thumb, as a mark of respect).
- For the best views of Athens, head to the top of Lykavittos Hill. You can either walk from Kolonaki (the path starts 15 minutes from Evangelismos metro stop, and will take 30 minutes to talk up the winding, but paved and not steep, path) or you can take the funicular railway (7€ for a 2 way trip as of Aug 2012) from the top of Ploutarchou Street in Kolonaki. Either way, be sure to wear flat shoes, and bring lots of water in the summer! From the top you can see the whole city, the port of Piraeus and, on a clear day, the island of Aegina and the Peloponnese. Have a drink at the cafe there, and pay a visit to the chapel of St George.
- If you're lucky enough to be in Athens for the Easter Weekend, you'll see the spectacular sight of hundreds of people making their candlelit way down the hill on Easter Saturday night as part of the Easter Vigil procession.
- There is a ticket available at relevant sites that give admission to the most popular sites such as the Acropolis and Temple of Olympian Zeus for €30. If you're a student, almost all admission costs are halved; but the cards are properly looked at and one out-of-date won't pass. This ticket is good for five days, but re-entry is not allowed.
- Athens Open Top Bus Tour, Departs: Syntagma Square, . 90 minutes. If you wish to dedicate your sightseeing efforts to the centre of Athens then the standalone Athens Open Tour is just the ticket. This hop-on hop-off service provides unlimited, excellent value transport around the Greek capital's essential landmarks and attractions. €15.00. edit
- The Acropolis, a Unesco World Heritage Site,  was the ancient fortified town of Athens, dating back to the Late Bronze Age, and the site of the best buildings of the Greek Classical age: the Parthenon, the Erectheion, the Temple of Athena Nike. Acropolis dominates the Athenian sky and symbolizes the foundation of modern culture and civilization. As the most famous landmark of entire Greece, Acropolis is the eternal symbol of democracy, education and inspiration. If you attend a university in the European Union, bring your ID and you can enter for free. The normal entrance price to the Acropolis and its slopes, including the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus, is 20 euros, or 10 reduced (including non-EU students, as of May 2016--seems to be a recent price hike as much tourist literature provided in local hotels still has the old, much lower prices listed). A 30 euro ticket (15 reduced) also gives you entry to the Kerameikos, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, and Hadrian's Library, as well as Aristotle's Lyceum which is a little further away next to the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Also be aware that although the Acropolis is open until 20:00 in the summer, the other sites have earlier closing times; the 30 euro ticket is good for 5 days, but does not allow reentry to a previously visited site since the stub for each site is torn off of the large ticket when you enter; not all of the other sites offer the combined ticket, so if you plan to go to all of them, you should go to the Acropolis first. If possible, get to the Acropolis early to avoid heavy crowds, and summer heat when relevant. There are two entrances, the lesser-used one starting near the new Acropolis Museum and allowing you to climb up through the Theatre of Dionysus, but this is a little bit more physically taxing as the climb can get steep.
- The Ancient Agora— The site of the Ancient Agora in a very green space and a very beautiful view of the Acropolis. You will see the Temple of Hephaestus, the best preserved ancient Greek temple, the Attalos Stoa, the museum of the agora which is a reconstructed ancient building. From the agora you can walk towards Acropolis. Extension of the agora is the Roman Forum.
- Syntagma Square— Check out the Parliament building and the newly-restored Grande Bretagne Hotel. Also, catch the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament every hour on the hour. Their uniforms and walking style is fun to see but make sure you don't stand on the wrong side of them if you want to take a picture. If you accidentally do so, they will knock their gun and, as they are not allowed to speak, someone else from the guard will kindly ask you to change position.
- The Kerameikos— The site of the ancient cemetery of Athens. It also houses the Dipylon Gate, where the Panathenaic procession would begin. It has a museum showcasing many of the grave stele and other archaeological items found on the grounds.
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus— Only the ruins remain today. The column that has fallen and can still be seen on pieces was brought down during a thunderstorm about a century ago. The 1896 Olympic Stadium and Hadrian's Arch are located nearby,
- Panathinaiko Stadium— The stadium that housed the first modern day Olympic Games of 1896. Its an enormous, white, marble stadium, with a horseshoe configuration stadium.
- Lycabettus Hill—  A 200m hill bordering the Kolonaki district. You can reach the top by walking or by a funicular railway [7 euro]. There is a cafe-restaurant with a great view of Athens towards the sea. From halfway up looking towards the sea there are astonishing views of the Parthenon with the blue of the sea glimpsed between its columns.
Museums and GalleriesEdit
Because of its antiquity and influence, Athens is full of museums and galleries. The major ones are the National Archeological Museum near Omonia, the New Acropolis Museum by the Acropolis, the Benaki and Museum of Cycladic Art in Kolonaki, the Agora Museum near Monastiraki, and the Kanellopoulos and Folk Art Museums in Plaka. Details of these and others will be found in the district sections.
Arts and CultureEdit
The visual arts enjoy a big share in the Athenian cultural and everyday life. Next to big institutions such as the National Gallery and the Benaki Museum, a big number of small private galleries are spread within the city centre and the surrounding areas, hosting the works of contemporary visual and media artists. In recent years a number of bar galleries have sprung up, where you can have a drink or a coffee whilst visiting an exhibition.
- The National Art Gallery is located at Michalakopoulou Street, close to Evangelismos metro station and is one of Greece's main art institutions and features paintings and works of art from some of Greece's and Europe's best from the 19th and 20th centuries. Emphasis is given to popular Greek contemporary artists including Giannis Tsarouchis, Domenikos Theotokopoulos (a.k.a. El Greco), Theodors Vrizakis, Nikolaos Kounelakis, Nikiforos Litras, Konstantinos Parthenis, Maleas, Giannis Moralis and others
- The City of Athens Technopolis, an industrial museum of incomparable architecture - among the most interesting in the world, has been transformed into a multipurpose cultural space. The centre has assisted in the upgrading of a historic Athens district and the creation of yet another positive element in Athens' cultural identity. Technopolis is located at Peiraios Avenue & Persefonis Street, right next to the Kerameikos metro station (line 3).
Parnitha National Park has well-marked paths, gorges, springs, torrents and caves do the protected area. Hiking and mountain-biking in all four mountains remain popular outdoor activities for many residents of the city. The National Garden of Athens is a peaceful and beautiful park in the centre of Athens, where visitors can enjoy their walk and spend hours of relaxation. The Garden encloses luxuriant vegetation, plenty of flowers, some ancient ruins, two duck ponds and a tiny zoo, consisting of some parrots, ducks, geese, chicken, bunnies and goats. In addition, there is a children’s playground and a café as well. It's located between the Parliament and Zappeion buildings.The landmark Dionysiou Aeropagitou street has been pedestrianised, forming a scenic route. The route starts from the Temple of Olympian Zeus at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, continues under the southern slopes of the Acropolis near Plaka, and finishes just beyond the Temple of Hephaestus in Thiseio. The route in its entirety provides visitors with views of the Parthenon and the Agora (the meeting point of ancient Athenians), away from the busy city centre.The hills of Athens provide also green space. Lycabettus, Philopappos hill and the area around it including Pnyx and Ardettos hill are all planted with pines and other trees and they are more like small forests than typical urban parks. There is also Pedion tou Areos (Field of Mars) of 27.7 hectares near National Archaeological Museum which is currently under renovation.
Most attractions in Athens offer free or discounted admission for disabled people living in the European Union (badge or card required). The discount is not advertised and you have to ask staff to get the information. You will also be offered assistance and lifts access if necessary.
Athens is a city that offers the tourist a great variety of activities to take part in, many of them quite unique and memorable. While it would be nearly impossible to make a full list of things to do in Athens, we offer below a look at eight of the most popular options:
- Attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, which runs from May to October (all summer long) and includes a wide array of events. There will be many musical, drama, and cultural activities, and you should not miss seeing a performance in the ancient theater located in Epidaurus.
- consider picking up the Athens card. It includes tours, museums, the one day cruise and more, at a discounted price
- Relax on the more than 20 beaches of Attica. Most of them are located to the south of town, such as Vouliagmeni, Varkiza, Cape Sounion, and Legrena; but some also lie to the northeast, including Schinias and Marathon Beach.
- Watch a Greek basketball game. There are two teams in Athens, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, that rank among the elite basketball teams in all of Europe. You can buy tickets to either of their stadiums right in town and get a taste of how basketball is played in modern Greece.
- Visit the 'Panatheniac Stadium in Athens. It was built in 1896 to host the first modern Olympic games and is still the place where the torch-passing ceremony is held before every Olympics. It was reconstructed from the remains of an ancient stadium and is made entirely of marble. The stadium is sometimes used to honor victorious Greek athletes, to hold musical and dance concerts, and for other special events, so you may have a chance to visit it — though it's hard to predict what event will be held there at the time.
- See the National Garden, a public park that covers 38 acres in central Athens, just behind the Greek Parliament Building. Not only is there abundant and diverse greenery and a relaxing environment, but the garden also contains ancient ruins, busts of famous Greek politicians and poets, a duck pond, a botanical museum, a cafe and a children's area.
- Volunteer at the Sea Turtle Rescue Society Archelon in Glyfada, not far from Athens. You will have to work for free and at your own costs, but if you want a chance to see and take care of injured sea turtles, this is an opportunity to do so.
- Take a helicopter tour of Athens to get a panoramic view of such sights as the Stadium, the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Port of Piraeus. The tour can last from a half hour to an hour, and you will see Athens in a unique way "from a bird's eye point of view."
- Take off from Athens on a ferry cruise of the Greek islands. You will visit sandy beaches, sheltered coves, and whitewashed island houses on such Aegean isles as Syros, Santorini, and Mykonos.
Theater and Performing Arts
Athens is home to 148 theatrical stages, more than any other city in the world, including the famous ancient Herodes Atticus Theatre, home to the Athens Festival, which runs from May to October each year. In addition to a large number of multiplexes, Athens plays host to a variety of romantic, open air garden cinemas. The city also supports a vast number of music venues, including the Athens Concert Hall, known as the "Mégaron Musikis", which attracts world-famous artists all year round.
While exploring ancient ruins and viewing the scenic beauty of Athens may take up a good deal of your vacation time, the city also offers a wide selection of shopping opportunities. In general, you will find a large number of quaint shops selling specialty items like antiques, museum reproductions, embroidery, folk art and Greek-style snacks and drinks to keep you "well fueled" as you continue to shop.
To make it easier to know where to go for what, here's a brief overview of places to shop while in Athens:
- Malls and Department Stores While Athens has fewer shopping malls and large department stores than most other big cities, there are still a sufficient number. Some of the most famous establishments include: Athens Heart, a four-level mall containing 80 branded stores; Athens Metro Mall, with 90 stores carrying all major brands, 18 places to eat, five theaters, a supermarket, a bank, and a play area; and Attica, which is considered by many to be the most fashionable place to shop in the city.
- Plaka, an area of Athens with an overabundance of souvenir shops, numerous vendors selling wares out in the street, and occasional street performers. It's a popular gathering place at night, and there is a great diversity of goods sold along the streets, which are lined with one specialty shop right after the other.
- Kolonaki which is the most renowned of all Athens' shopping areas. It has many "chic" outlets selling top brands, upscale coffee shops, expensive boutiques, and fur coats and gloves on display in its Syntagma Square. There are also some bargains on ceramic, clay or bronze handicrafts and a number of good stops where you can sample Greek "luxury food." You can also schedule an appointment with the fashion designer Christoforos Kotentos if you want to buy designer clothing.
- The Ermou Walkway a street open only to pedestrians that is lined with shops on both sides. There are many branded clothes for sale, especially women's clothes, and the price is generally lower than in Kolonaki.
- The Monastiraki Flea Market in Monastiraki Square nearby the subway station. It is open every day, but Sunday is the day it gets especially crowded with bargain hunters. It's an open-air market that sells valuable antiques, unique souvenirs, and all manner of goods at all price levels. You can actually haggle over the price here without seeming rude, and the sheer size of the flea market means you can explore it for hours on end.
- Street Vendors in any part of town, but especially in Plaka and Monastiraki. Beware of forgeries, but there are also legitimate goods to be found. If the vendor seems to disappear whenever a policeman walks by, take that as a clue. There is no legality issue, however, with those selling fruits, nuts, and produce out of street carts.
There are few things the Greeks are more famous for than their food, and Athens is considered one of the best places to find authentic Greek food. Tourists, as they wander from point to point, will want to stop and refresh themselves with some delicious Greek cuisine, but for many, the food itself is one of the main reasons for coming.
One "must-try" Greek menu item, so common it has been called the "Greek hamburger," is a souvlaki. Souvlakia are grilled kebabs of beef, lamb, pork or chicken that are wrapped in pita bread with tomatoes, onions and lettuce. They are dipped in a yogurt flavored with garlic and cucumber called "tzatziki." Many of the best souvlaki shops in Athens are found along Mitropoleos Street.
Street foods of various kinds are also popular. Look for koulouri, a sesame-seed bread ring, galaktoboureko, a custard-filled pastry with icing on top and tyropitta, which are a kind of cheese pie. At a "psarotaverna," you will find all manner of seafood; at a "psistaria," you will encounter mostly grilled meats; "tavernas" give you an informal and inexpensive (but authentic) Greek meal; "estiatorion are the more expensive restaurants that serve full-course meals; and there are plenty of fast food and foreign cuisine places to eat as well. Finally, note that Greek food in general has an abundance of olive oil, fish, lamb and very distinctive spices.
A full-course Greek meal will begin with mezedes (hor d'oeuvres) both hot and cold, such as mashed eggplant, caviar spread, dolmadakia, meat/rice rolled up in grape leaves, and deep-fried squid or zucchini. Seldom is soup served as an appetizer, but some soups are full meals. Main dishes are usually casseroles, grilled fish, grilled meats or meat stews. Salads of vegetables or boiled dandelions will be served with the main dish, and vegetables will be cooked into the casseroles. Cheeses are served with bread, both regional cheeses and the more common feta, kasseri, graviera and manouri. For desert, look for baklava, a rich pastry with nuts and honey/syrup between the layers, kataifi, a delicate pastry with sweet syrup poured over it, or fresh fruits in the summertime. Also be sure to try Greek coffee and to specify you want bitter, sweet or semi-sweet when ordering.
Some of the most popular restaurants to try out in Athens include:
- Varoulko Seaside in Pireas Port, widely acknowledged as the best seafood place in the Athens area.
- Funky Gourmet, which offers "creative Mediterranean cuisine" like botargo (Greek caviar) with white chocolate.
- Trapezaria, just north of the National Garden, for traditional but seasonal Greek foods.
- Psarras in Plaka, which has been serving authentic Greek food since 1898 in a romantic setting near the Acropolis.
- Cafe Avissinia, which is Greek with some Anatolian influences.
- Tzitzikas kai Mermigas, or "Grasshopper and Ant," for modern Greek taverna food.
- Melilotos, set on a walking-only street only five minutes from Syntagma Square. You will find a different menu every day depending on which fresh ingredients are available.
- Traveller's diarrhoea is a concern shared by tourists everywhere and may compel them to buy bottled water. However, drinking bottled water is not essential because the tap water in Athens is safe to drink and has no undesirable flavours.
- Greeks love to socialize, and Athens buzzes long after its other European counterparts have laid their heads down to sleep. 20:00 is the earliest most Greeks will consider going to eat out, and clubbers start to get ready at about midnight. Note that many Athens clubs relocate to the beach during the summer months. Cafes spill onto the streets and the sound of lively conversation is everywhere in the evenings.
- Have a frappé, the delicious Greek version of cold coffee. Being a Greek invention, it is absolutely nothing like the frappé you find in other countries of the world. Served sweet, medium, or without sugar, with or without milk. Delicious with Bailey's too.
- A 'club zone' is located in the coastal zone, running to the east- if you go there and you are lucky, you can actually get to listen to non-Greek music. There are also many clubs and pubs in the center of Athens.
- Go to the Psyrrí area (Monastiraki or Thisseio stop, Lines 1 and 3 and Line 1 respectively) for a number of smart bars and small clubs. It is the area immediately north of Ermou street between these two metro stops.
- The area north of Ermou street between Monastiraki and Syntagma has seen a considerably rise in the number and quality of bars during recent years. Aiolou and Kolokotroni streets both offer a fair variety of cafés and bars. All the bars on Karytsi square (a small square at the end of Christou Lada street, behind Klafthmonos square on Stadiou avenue) can get very busy on Fridays and Saturdays, with visitors having their drinks even on the streets outside from spring through autumn, when the weather is nice.
- The area around the Kerameikos station, called Gazi (Γκάζι, gas) has been the gay village of Athens for quite a few years. Since the opening of the metro station, in 2007, the neighbourhood has attracted all kinds of crowds. This is a home to dozens of bars, cafés and clubs, gay or not, as well as to small theatrical scenes, the latter one especially to the northeast of the area, towards Metaxourgeio.
Athens is famous for its vibrant nightlife. The Athenians like to party and will do so almost every night of the week. The choices are plenty and they appeal to all tastes and lifestyles. In general, things get started pretty late: after 00:00 for bars and clubbing and after 22:00 for dinner at the city's tavernas, Athens Restaurants and bar-restaurants.
Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Exarcheia, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki. Traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka. A young group of locals have also started running a bar crawl through the most atmospheric areas in the city centre, stopping for drinks in a variety of neighborhoods combined with local ghost stories, called the Athens Ghost Crawl 
Until recently at Psirri, some of Athens' hottest clubs and bars were to be spotted. During recent years Gazi has seen some tremendous change. Most of the galleries, mainstream bars, restaurants, clubs and Greek nightclubs here (featuring live Greek pop singers), are trademarked by their industrial design as many of them are housed in remodelled -- and once abandoned -- factories. Gazi is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods of Athens nightlife. You can get there by metro line 3 at Kerameikos station.
Plaka - Monastiraki are two ancient, historic and all-time classic Athenian neighborhoods popular with visitors, they do not have many big dance clubs and bars, but offer lively, traditional places to enjoy Greek culture year-round as well as several rock and jazz clubs.
You will find plenty nightclubs with live Greek music along Syggrou Avenue and at the industrial strips of Iera Odos and Pireos Street in Gazi. In the summer months, the action moves to Poseidon Avenue and the coastal towns of Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni. Kolonaki is a staple dining and entertainment destination, catering to the city's urban working professionals who enjoy an after work cocktail at many of its bars that are open - and busy - until after midnight, even on weekdays. The clubs here are also very chic. Exarchia is where to go for smaller more bohemian style haunts that cater to artists and college students. At the foot of Strefi Hill is where you will find most of the bars and clubs, many of which play rock music. An alternative option of Athens nightlife.
You will find in Athens accommodation choices of every type: luxury resorts, 5-star hotels, budget hotels and even campgrounds. As Athens is packed with tourist from May through October, we suggest you book as early as possible.
Some of the safest and most centrally located Athens neighborhoods to stay in include the following:
- Plaka, with its ancient streets and numerous restaurants, shops, and hotels. Here, you will find the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Museum of Greek Folk Art and more.
- Monastiraki, which has more antique, craft, and clothing shops than does Plaka. You will also find a gigantic flea market open on Sunday mornings.
- Syntagma, the tourist hub of all Athens, has many 5-star hotels, highly-regarded restaurants and upscale shopping opportunities. The Greek Parliament building, National Garden and National Historical Museum are also in the area.
- Koukaki is more a "local" than a tourist zone, but it sits near the Acropolis and the Parthenon and has many local cafes on its streets and in its squares.
- Omonia is the location of several budget hotels, if you are not put off by its run-down appearance. You need to be prepared to look for food in other parts of Athens and exercise some precautions at night if you intend to stay here.
If you need to catch an early-morning ferry, there are good hotels near the Monastiraki Metro Station, which will take you direct and fast to the ferry port, including: Plaka Hotel, 360 Degrees, and Adrian Hotel.
If you are looking for a private style of accommodation in a luxury suite near Monastiraki you can choose the Heart of Athens  +302105789320
If you are looking for a budget hotel, some of the best of them are Phaedra Hotel in Plaka, A for Athens in Monastiraki, and Myrto Hotel in Syntagma.
If a good campground near Athens is your need, consider Greek Camping Touristiki, Camping Nea Kifissia or Campsite Athens.
For luxury hotels and resorts in Athens, these four are considered among the best:
- Grande Bretagne Hotel,  considered by many to be the most luxurious hotel in Athens, is situated on Syntagma Square right in the middle of the tourist area and within easy walking distance of most major attractions. The spa, bar and rooftop diner are especially well rated.
- Grand Resort Lagonissi, not in Athens but not far from it, is a top-level luxury resort set right on the beach. If you would rather "live" at the beach and make excursions downtown, instead of the reverse, this could be a viable option. Another option with the same basic set-up is The Westin Astir Beach Resort.
- Electra Palace Hotel Athens is the number one luxury hotel in Plaka. It has a pool in the basement and on the roof, offers panoramic views of the Acropolis, has very well kept grounds, and accommodates families with large, triple-sized rooms.
- Hilton Athens is a taste of the familiar in the midst of the unfamiliar. It gives you spacious rooms, a pristine swimming pool, and a staff that lives up to Hilton's reputation. It's 15 minutes from Syntagma Square and Plaka as well as nearby trendy cafes in Kolonaki.
- Heart of Athens, Nika Louka Street, ☎ +30 210 5789320, . If you need a private style accommodtion in a luxury suite near Monastiraki you can choose Heart of Athens edit
There are many free wireless hotspots across the city. Wi-Fi internet connection is available at Syntagma Square, Kotzia Square and Theseion. Recently, free internet access became available to a number of metro stations in Athens: Syntagma, Panepistimio, Omonia, Piraeus, Nerantziotissa and Doukissis Plakentias and even more stations will be added soon. Alternatively, you can go to one of the many internet cafés located in the center of the city. Many bars, restaurants and cafes offer free wi-fi for their guests.
Greece's mobile networks are second to none in terms of quality (one of the first countries to roll out LTE in Europe) and Athens is very densely covered. Prepaid connections from all major operators(Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind) are available in most stores and offer very reasonably priced voice and data packages; you will be asked to show a passport and have your details registered at the point of first purchase. Public phones are found all over the city and phone cards are available from most kiosks.
While Athens is generally a very safe city, there have been reports of pickpockets on the Metro (especially at the interchanges with the line from Airport), buses and in other crowded areas, including Plaka. You will notice that natives travel with their hands on their bags and pockets and keeping their bag in front rather than on their side or back, which unfortunately is not without reason. You will probably be warned about pickpockets by hotel staff and friendly waiters, but this may be too late. Be extremely cautious and split all your documents, cards and money into different places. Street crime is rare; when it happens, it's most commonly purse-snatching from women walking away from banks and ATM machines.
Sometimes groups of street urchins loiter around the ticket machines at metro stations near the Acropolis and may try to cancel your transaction and snatch the returned coins while pretending to assist you. Be aware and prepared to fend them off.
The friendly stranger bar scam has been reported from areas of central Athens frequented by travelers, including Omonia, Syntagma, and Plaka. Recently, there have been some reports of fraud. Usually, someone will stop you and ask for directions. A couple of other guys then show up claiming to be police, showing a badge (obviously a fake one). They ask if you were getting drugs from the other guy and then ask for your passport and wallet for verification. While you are busy trying to convince them that your passport is valid, one of them sneaks out some money from your wallet.
Another danger recently reported, especially by travelers boarding the Airport Express Bus in Piraeus X96, and at metro interchanges, is pickpocket gangs operating buses used by tourists. As the bus is boarding, a large group traveling together will divide itself in two, with half of them going on board and then stopping in the aisle to cause a jam-up among passengers trying to board through the door behind them, the other half then offering to help the jammed passengers lift their luggage on board. Just before the bus leaves, the half of this group on the bus gets off. Then, joining the other half outside the door, they all quickly disperse.
What has happened, of course, is that the passengers who were being "helped" with their luggage by some of this group were being pick-pocketed by others. The theft is particularly effective because it's directed at travelers who are leaving the country and are thus not likely to report it--many victims don't realize they've been robbed until they get to the airport or even until after they get on the plane. Some travelers have claimed that certain bus drivers are party to these crimes by neglecting to open the rear door of the bus for boarding passengers, thus ensuring a tighter and more confused crowd of jammed passengers trying to board through the center door, making the criminals' job easier.
A variation to this on Metro and escalators is when a gang tries to block part of a group from exiting the train so that one or two members are left behind and separated, thus the group is split and distracted for them to steal valuables. The gang may also try to help/split the group into individual people by helping with the luggage or simply forcing themselves in between at the escalators. This way, the tourists are focused towards the person standing between them making sure he does not steal, while another gang member you may not have noticed before would be stealing items from the last person in the group on the escalator. It would be best to wear tight pocket pants with valuables in front. Carry all bags forward. Keep values out of reach or very low in the bag with a noisy plastic wrapper on the entrances to the bag, so anyone reaching in would make lots of noise, zip up everything and lock if possible, and avoid bags with smooth zips, so when the gang tries to open the zip, you would feel a movement.
Athens is one of the most political cities in Europe. Demonstrations and riots are common and accepted as part of everyday life and democracy by most Athenians. Keep abreast of news of demonstrations, and avoid them if you don't want to run the risk of being arrested or tear-gassed.
Anarchist and leftist groups often target police, government, and corporate targets during the night. It is unlikely that tourists would be hurt, as the anarchists usually take care to damage only property as opposed to people. Nonetheless, parking by a McDonald's, police station, or bank could get your car damaged.
Likewise neo-nazi gangs, often supporters of the Golden Dawn party, have recently targeted attacks on immigrants from Asia and Africa. Also there has been few incidents of police arresting immigrant- looking people as illegal immigrants. While the incidents of tourists being mistaken as illegal immigrants have been just few, African or Asian looking people should be aware of this when walking in less tourist-populated areas of Athens, especially in the night-time.
In addition, you should be aware that Athens has many stray dogs. Though the large dogs are usually friendly, they may be alarming and unusual upon your first arriving into the city. Athenians feed and take care of them, and it is not unusual to see a shop owner offering plastic plates full of leftovers to the dogs on the street.
Many Greeks are high passionate with their football teams and there is hostility between the major football club fans. You should never wear a Panathinaikos t-shirt in Piraeus greater area or an Olympiakos t-shirt in the Ampelokipi, Zografou and Gyzi districts.
Athens has some particularly run-down and rough areas, but they remain out of tourist interest and most of them are located around Omonoia Square (Metaxourgeio, Vathis Square, Exarchia etc.). The areas around the square host large communities of migrant men and there are significant numbers of homeless people, drug addicts and people associated with the sex trade. Most of these areas, however, are usually fine and very busy during daytime but extreme caution should definitely be exercised at night. The areas around the National Archaeological Museum are still fine. Some of the shopping streets around Monastiraki and Plaka can be deserted after 9pm, however, the streets with restaurants, bars and tavernas are safe and busy till late at night, although Monastiraki Square may have pickpockets. Victoria and Omonoia Square metro stations, should also be avoided after nightfall. Exarcheia has occasional episodes between anarchists and police officers. The back streets of Piraeus as well as the National Garden and the Pedion of Areos park aren't good places to wander at night.
Embassies and consulatesEdit
- Australia, 6F, Thon Bldg, Kifissias & Alexandras Ave, ☎ +30 2108704000 ([email protected], fax: +30 2108704111), . edit
- Belgium, Odos Sékéri 3, ☎ +30 2103617887, +30 2103600314, +30 2103617886 ([email protected], fax: +30 2103604289), . edit
- Brazil, Platia Filikis Eterias 14, ☎ +30 2107213039, +30 2107234450 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107244731), . edit
- Bulgaria, Stratigou Kallari 33A, Psychiko, ☎ +30 2106748106, +30 2106748107, +30 2106748108 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106748130). edit
- China, Dimokratias 10-12, Psychiko, ☎ +30 2106783840 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106723819), . edit
- Croatia, Tzavela 4, Psychiko, ☎ +30 2106777033, +30 2106777037, +30 2106777049 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106711208). edit
- Egypt, 3, Vassilli Sophias Avenue, ☎ +30 2103618612 ([email protected], fax: +30 2103603538), . 8:30 AM - 16:00 PM. edit
- Estonia, Messoghion Ave, Athens Tower Bldg 2-4, ☎ +30 2107475660 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107475661), . edit
- Germany, Karaoli & Dimitriou 3, ☎ +30 2107285111 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107285335), . edit
- India, Kleanthous 3, ☎ +30 2107216481, +30 2107216227 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107211252), . edit
- Ireland, Vass.Constantinou Ave 7, ☎ +30 2107232771, +30 2107238645, +30 2107232405 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107293383), . edit
- Israel, Marathonodromon 1, Psychiko, ☎ +30 2106705500 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106705555), . edit
- Italy, Sekeri 2, ☎ +30 2103617260, +30 2103617261, +30 2103617262 ([email protected], fax: +30 2103617330), . edit
- Japan, Ethnikis Andistaseos 46, Chalandri, ☎ +30 2106709900 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106709980), . edit
- Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Papadiamanti 4, P. Psychico, ☎ +30 210 674 9585 ([email protected], fax: +30 210 674 9572), . edit
- Malaysia, 114, Leoforos Alimou, Argyroupoli, ☎ +30 210 991 6523 ([email protected], fax: +30 210 991 3423), . edit
- Malta Embassy, Vass.Sofias Avenue 96, ☎ +30 2107785138 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107785242). edit
- Netherlands, Vass.Konstantinou Avenue 5-7, ☎ +30 2107254900 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107254907), . edit
- Philippines, 26 Antheon St, Paleo Psychico 154-52, ☎ (+30210) 672-1883 (+30210) 672-1883, 672-1837, (+30-697) 968-2921,(+30-697) 968-2921 ([email protected]; [email protected], fax: (+30210) 672-1872), . edit
- Portugal, Vass.Sofias Ave 23, ☎ +30 2107236784, +30 2107290096, +30 2107257505 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107290955). edit
- Romania, Emmanuel Benaki 7, ☎ +30 2106728875, +30 2106728876 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106728883), . edit
- Russia, Nikiforou Litra 28, Psychiko, ☎ +30 2106725235, +30 2106726130 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106749708), . edit
- Saudi Arabia, Marathonodromon 71, Psychiko, ☎ +30 2106716911, +30 2106716912, +30 2106716913 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106749833). edit
- Serbia, 106, Vassilissis Sophias Ave, Consulate 25, Evrou St, ☎ +30 210 / 777-43-44, 777-43-55 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106749833), . edit
- South Africa, Kifissias Ave 60, Maroussi, ☎ +30 2106106645 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106106640), . edit
- Spain, Dionissiou Areopagitou, 21, ☎ +30 2109213123, +30 2109213237, +302109213238 ([email protected], fax: +30 2109213090). edit
- Sweden, Vass.Konstantinou Ave 7, ☎ +30 2107266100 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107266150), . edit
- Switzerland, Iassiou 2, ☎ +30 2107230364, +30 2107230366, +302107299471 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107249209), . edit
- United Kingdom, Ploutarchou 1, ☎ +30 2107272600 ([email protected], fax: +30 2107272723), . edit
- United States, Vass.Sofias Ave 91, ☎ +30 2107212951, +30 2107294301 ([email protected], fax: +30 2106456282), . edit
- Greek islands: During the summer (June, July, August), Greek islands are a must-go destination; the water is exceptionally beautiful and warm enough to swim. Also, a lot of touristic buisinesses (restaurants, hotels, nightlife) operate in the islands during this time. Boats depart from Pireaus.
- Saronic Gulf Islands: These islands are within close proximity of Athens and can be suitable even for single-day visits.
- Aegina is 40 minutes / 1 hour away from Athens/Pireaus via a boat. Huffington post named it "the most beautiful Greek island that you haven't heard of". In addition to enjoying the beach-type attractions, you can also find ancient Greek archaeological sites, such as the Temple of Afaia and the Kolona archaelogical site. Aegina has also been the first capital of the modern Greek republic (1826-1827). A lot of Athenians also visit Aigina on weekends throughout the year.
- Hydra & Spetses are 2 beautiful, picturesque islands that are 1.5 and 1.75 hours away from Athens with a "Flying dolpin" (faster vessels) or 3 hours away via bigger boats that also carry vehicles.
- Poros and Salamina are two other Saronic islands.
- Aegean islands: The most popular Greek islands are farther away, and it takes about 4-5 hours to reach them with a high-speed ferry and 6-8 hours with a regular boat. Nevertheless, you can also fly to them.
- Santorini is frequently referred by travel guides as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The island offers a unique setting with stunning views and sunsets, as its main towns are located on top of a high cliff right next to the sea.
- Mykonos is an Ibiza-like island that suits people seeking clubbing, posh or gay crowds.
- Paros & Naxos are also popular destinations and you can visit them by doing island hopping, on the way to Santorini.
- Rhodes is also a very beautiful island with a lot of attractions, but it is essentially the farthest away from Athens.
- Saronic Gulf Islands: These islands are within close proximity of Athens and can be suitable even for single-day visits.
- Arhaeological sites: Several important archaeological sites can be reached via the bus service or a rented car:
- Sounio is at the tip of the Attica Peninsula, about 1.5 hours away from Athens by car. There you can find the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, as well as beautiful coastal and sunset views.
- Delphi is an archaeological site where prophecies were revealed by Pythia. It was considered as the "centre of Earth" duing the ancient Greek era. It is about 2 hours away from Athens.
- In Epidavros you can find an amphitheatre were ancient Greek tragedies were played. The amphitheater is admired for its exceptional acoustics. During the summertime, modern actors re-play ancient greek tragedies. Epidavros is about 2 hours away and it can also be reached by boat.
- Olympia is the site of the Olympic games in Ancient Greece. It is about 3.5 hours away from Athens.
- Mycenae is an archaeological site reflecting one of the most important towns of the second millennium BC. It is about 1.5 hours away from Athens by car.
- Meteora is a unique site where Orthodox monasteries are built on top of almost inaccessible large natural sandstone rock pillars. Meteora are about 4 hours away from Athens by car.
- Kessariani: (9km from Athens). There's a road beyond the bus terminus climbing up the verdant slope. After 3 km the Kessariani Monastery appears on the right. The serene monastery was dedicatet to the Presentation of the Virgin; it is now deconsecrated. A recess in the outer wall of the monastery on the east side of the first counrtyard contains the famous Ram's Head Fountain, a sacred spring in antiquity that was celebrated by the Latin poet Ovid in his Ars Amatoria. Ancient fragments dot the inner court-yard. In the Middle Ages the 11C building on the left was the monk's bathhouse. The adjoining wing has a gallery at first-floor levele serving the monk's cells. The church is decorated with murals, those in the narthex date from 1682; Opposite the church are the convent buildings. Leave the Monastery behind and take the path up trhough the trees to a sanctuary. Fine views of Athens, Attica and the Saronica Gulf. Continue up the road past the 11C Asteri Monastery. There are views of Athens and the Saronic Gulf as far as the Pelopponnese to the west, and of the Attic peninsula (Mesogia), its eastern shore ad Euboea to the east. The summit is prohibited.
- Albania Private bus operators offer direct connections to Albanian cities from Theodore Dilligianis Street near Metaxurgio Metro Station. Bus Companies like EuroStar and Interlines offer direct overnight connections to the main Albanian cities of Tiranë, Gjirokastër, Berat, Shkodër, Saranda, Himare, & Korça. A one way ticket to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Gjirokastër is 25 Euro and takes roughly 8 hours, departing Athens at 8pm and arriving in Gjirokastër at 4am.
- On the weekends you can visity the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Glyfada from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Just take the tram to Glyfada and get off at Paleo Demarhio.
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