The new Athens International Airport (+30 210 353 0000/http://www.aia.gr) (ATH), located 17 miles northwest in Spata, opened in 2001 in anticipation of the 2004 Olympics. The sleek new airport has one massive main hall and a satellite terminal that looks like an architectural afterthought. Both facilities are stocked with shops and restaurants. A business center (+30 210 353 6416), numerous conference rooms and business lounges are also onsite. Major airlines include:
Air Berlin (+49 180 573 7800/http://www.airberlin.com) Air Canada (+1 800 776 3000/http://www.aircanada.ca) Air France (+1 800 871 1366/http://www.airfrance.com) Air Malta (+356 21 690 890/http://www.airmalta.com) Air Scotland (+1 44 141 222 2363/http://www.air-scotland.com) Air Transat (+877 872 6728/http://www.airtransat.com) American Airlines (+1 800 433 7300/http://www.aa.com) Blue1 (+358 20 585 6000/http://www.blue1.com) British Airways (+1 800 247 9297/http://www.british-airways.com) Condor (+1 800 524 6975/http://www7.condor.com) Delta (+1 800 221 1212/http://www.delta.com) Easy Jet (+871 244 2366/http://www.easyjet.com) Finnair (+1 800 950 4768/http://www.finnair.com) Iberworld Airlines (http://www.iberworld.com) Lufthansa (+1 800 645 3880/http://www.lufthansa.com) My Travel (+870 238 7710/http://www.mytravel.com) Singapore Air (+1 800 742 3333/http://www.singaporeair.com) Sterling.dk Airline (+457 033 3370/http://www.sterlingticket.com) Sun Express (+180 595 9590/http://server1.sunexpress.com.tr) Thomsonfly (+870 190 0737/http://www.thomsonfly.com) Transavia (+312 0406 0406/http://www.transavia.com) Virgin Atlantic (+1 800 862 8621/http://www.virgin-atlantic.com) Wizz Air (+48 22 351 9499/http://www.wizzair.com)
The Athens Urban Transport Organization (http://www.oasa.gr) provides 24-hour bus service to the downtown area. Four dedicated express routes are available: Line E94 deposits passengers at the Ethniki Amyna metro station. Rides exit every 15-30 minutes. Line E95 services Syntagma Square and departs every 15-35 minutes. Line E96 attends Pireaus Port, exiting every 20-40 minutes. Rides for all three lines take 45-60 minutes. Line E97 connects the airport with the Dafini metro station.
Taxis are easy to find outside the terminal. Rides, depending on traffic, last 30-60 minutes.
Taxi Reservations (+1 44 20 8123 3567/http://www.taxireservations.gr)
Rental Car Companies
Avis (+1 800 831 2847/ http://www.avis.com) Budget (+1 800 527 0700/ http://www.budget.com) Europcar (+49 069 697 970/ http://www.europcar.com) Hertz (+1 800 654 3131/ http://www.hertz.com) National (+1 800 227 7368/ http://www.nationalcar.com) Sixt (+30 210 353 0576/http://www.e-sixt.com)
Once you pick up the car (and a good street map) search out the Attiki Odos, the main thoroughfare into the city. From here you can link to most parts of town. Although it is a toll expressway and a menagerie of construction projects, it beats getting lost straight out of the gate. Toll free options are available starting with Lavirou Avenue with connects to the airport, but if you choose to go exploring, have a good map.
Rail travel in Greece compared to the rest of Europe is extremely antiquated and limited with most service confined to the northern and eastern halves of the Greek mainland. For information on specific routes and times check with the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) (+30 210 529 7777/http://www.osenet.gr). Trains arriving in Athens from the south and west operate out of the Peloponnese Station (+30 210 513 1601). Passengers can then catch a taxi or bus into downtown. Arrivals from the north depart at the Larissa Station (+30 210 529 8837), which conveniently connects to downtown via the metro's Line 2.
Greece's bus travel is handled by KTEL (Koino Tameio Eispraxeon Leoforeion), a conglomerate of privately operated companies. Its coverage is extensive, providing service to and from every town, regardless of how rural, on the mainland. Eurolines (http://www.eurolines.com), based out of London, also accesses Greece. Terminal A (+30 210 512 9233) handles buses from Peloponnese and northern Greece. Terminal B (+30 210 831 7096) focuses on bus traffic to and from central Greece.
All boat traffic arrives at the port of Piraeus (the largest in Europe), located six miles southwest of Athens. Ferries provide service to and from the Saronic Islands, Samos, Crete, Cyclades, northern Greece, and the northeast Aegean Islands. For faster service to the islands there are also hydrofoils and catamarans. However, they are also twice as expensive and dependent upon good weather. For more detailed information call the Piraeus Port Authority (+30 210 428 6842/http://www.olp.gr).
Bear in mind that Greece has one of the highest car-accident rates in Europe. Drivers treat red lights as optional and passing on curves and hills seems to be the norm rather than the rare exception. If you are not deterred, Athens can be reached by E75 from the north which hugs the eastern coast, and by E65 from the west.
Getting Around Town
The Athens Urban Transport Organization (http://www.oasa.gr) offers buses, trolley buses, and a subway system making it very easy to negotiate downtown and the surrounding suburbs without a car.
Its metro system (http://www.ametro.gr) is currently experiencing one of the biggest transportation expansions in Europe. In direct response to the 2004 Olympics it has bloomed from one line to three lines and now handles 470,000 passengers daily. Line 1 (ISAP) extends from Kifissia to the north to Piraeus harbor to the south. Major tourist stops include the National Archaeological Museum, Omonia Square, and the nightlife districts of Psirri and Thission. Line 2 (Sepolia-Dafni) includes the Acropolis and Syntagma Square. And Line 3 (Ethniki Amyna-Monastiraki) attends such major stops as the National Gallery and the Byzantine Museum. Stops are serviced every three minutes during rush hours, or every 10 minutes otherwise.
Blue and white buses offer more 300 routes in and around downtown Athens. Most stops are attended every 15 minutes. Service operates from 5a-12:30a. Attempting to decipher the bus routes is complicated, especially with new routes being constantly added in conjunction with the expanding metro system. Green and white buses service between Athens and Piraeus. If you are seeking comfort be aware that buses are usually packed.
There are 19 electric trolleybus routes most of which service downtown's main tourist areas.
Compared to most other European cities, Athen's taxis are inexpensive and honest. Hailing is inexplicably difficult, however, so it is best to call ahead. Some of the more noted companies are: Athina (+30 210 921 7942) Ermis (+30 210 411 5200) Ikaros (+30 210 515 2800)
Possessing a car in Athens is more of a hassle than a convenience. Traffic is frustrating and parking is so limited that locals park on sidewalks.
Most of Athens main tourist attractions are centrally located making it extremely convenient for walking. To encourage foot travel, new pedestrian zones have been added in the commercial triangle and in Plaka, the center of the old city.