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Stuck in Athens International Airport? Enjoy It!

Food, Local Flavor, Things to Do, Travel Tips — By Paige Moore on November 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm
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Ho-ho-ho-boy… you’re stuck in Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos for six hours. Well, lucky you. Born for the 2004 Olympic Games, this airport is modern, clean, and chock-full of ways to while away your layover. There’s so much, I’ve compiled an awards list to help you decide where to focus your energy.

The AIA is a manageably sized, modern airport which is impossible to get lost in.

The AIA is a manageably sized square, making it impossible to get lost.

Best Of Athens International Airport

Best Aromatherapy: Terkenlis bakery, baking traditional Greek breads and sweets right there in the airport. Try tsouréki, a braided sweetbread.

Best place for having a conversation: Puro Gusto. The atmosphere is fresh, the coffee is good, the chairs are comfortable, and it’s much less crowded than up at Departures so you’ll be able to hear the person across from you.

On the Arrivals level, directly between terminal A and B.

Best way to pamper yourself: Konstantinos Xatzis Salon offers makeup, haircare, and manicure treatments. Open from Monday to Saturday 8 t0 8, Sunday and Holidays 11am-7pm.  210.35 30 870-1.

Arrivals between terminals A and B

Best way to deal with idle hands: Komboloi (worry beads) are how locals funnel their anxiety into play.

Available at Presspoint on the Arrivals level, terminal B. €20-60.

Best Free Entertainment: 2board magazine is well designed, well written, and features spectacular places in Greece and the rest of the world.

Available on all levels and completely FREE. New edition every three months.

Most Educational Use of your Time: Go to the top level (dominated by McDonalds advertisements) and you’ll find a long wall dedicated to the Airport’s namesake and one of Greece’s most important leaders of modern history, Eleftherios Venizelos. Did you know he was greatly admired by Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill?

Top floor near McDonalds

There’s also a small museum displaying pieces from the New Acropolis Museum and all of the archaeological findings of the area around the airport excavated during its construction.

Top floor, just by the escalator.

Open from 6am to 11pm, very near the escalator on the second level.

Most Original Shopping

For something a little more interesting than the standard luxury name brands (Hermes, Hugo Boss, Diesel) and that found in Duty Free shopping, look for these stores:

Metropolis – Buy a CD of Greek music by composers Manos Hadjidakis or Mikis Theordorakis to add to your eclectic music library. Check out their music on the Local Flavor blog post “Athens Playlist no 1.”

On Arrivals level and first level of Departures

On Arrivals and Departures levels.

Papasotiriou Art Point – unique baubles and conversation pieces inspired by Ancient Greek artwork of all periods.

Found centrally in the common shopping area.

Korres Natural Cosmetics – the Greek line of cosmetics and skincare based on plants, herbs and oils, can be found next to “Accessorize” in the general shopping area.

Wild Rose Regimen - courtesy of Korres.com

Hellenic Gourmet is a last minute stop for Greek honeys, high grade ouzo and extra virgin Greek olive oil along with hoards of other specialty foods.

Free sample alert, people. Olive oil crackers with quince jam, anyone?

Mastiha Shop: What do candies, cookies, liqueur, chewing gum and mints, shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste have in common? In this case they’re all made with the regionally exclusive, miracle ingredient mastiha. A flight attendant friend of mine swears by the hard candies for helping with ear-popping, nausea, and digestive issues caused by the plane ride.

Image courtesy of mastihashop.com

Both Hellenic Gourmet and the Mastiha shop are found in terminal B past the “boarding pass only” zone.

Presspoint – Snacks, magazines, books on Greece, and the modern designs of Breathtaking Athens official souvenirs.

This canvas tote bag with the Ancient Greek spelling of "Athens for 12.90 is unique, ecological, and useful for holding new books.

Dining
When you’re on a budget – McDonald’s is up high with a great view.

The splendid dessert case at the espresso bar is not what one would not typically associate with the golden arches.

For a civilized meal – The Olive Tree is a regularly functioning restaurant set away from the hoi polloi.

Across from McDonalds, serves Mediterranean dishes and appetizers, wine and coffee.

Local Flavor: Inside “Food Village” is a Greek restaurant serving traditional meals. Try the vegetable briam for something light, mousaka for something weighty.

First level of Departures, centrally located. There is also sushi, pizza, and a salad bar.

Best way to “fly away” – Mini bottles of Greek spirits, tsipouro or ouzo, accompanied with olives and feta.

Salad Bar of "Food Village"

FOR THE BOLD

With six hours you can:

Go to the zoo. The city’s only zoo is in the same area as the airport.

Visit the Acropolis. Read how in the Local Flavor Post How to Get From the Airport to the Acropolis in One Hour.

Go to the beach. The Attiki Odos (Road of Attica) accesses the coastal highway quite easily. You only need half an hour before you’re at the beach. With one hour you reach the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio.

Most of these things (with the exception of the Acropolis) will require a car and driver, which can be arranged at the 24 hour travel desk of Pacific Travel. Expect to pay around €35 per hour on top of the transfer cost to and from the airport (usually €50 per way) but don’t forget to include time to get back unless you’re having such a good time you decide to spend the holidays in Athens.

Departure level, terminal A and open 24 hours. 30 210 3530 160

Tags: Airport Dining, Architecutre, art, Athens, Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, Books, Greece, Greek Music, Greek Products, Layover, Mastiha, Metropolis, shopping, Terminal

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