Our trip to India was sandwiched between two short stays in Greece’s capital. If you saw our shiny happy faces in my Athens episode, you know we had a great time.
Athens is truly a city for everyone. The city is walkable, laid-back, full of good food and kind people. I’m already looking forward to visiting again, hopefully with our van in tow in the coming year! Having spent just five nights there, I’m not an expert on the city by any means, but I still wanted to share some tips in case you’re interested in visiting Athens someday.
Transportation from the airport
Athens International Airport is located far outside the city centre so walking from the airport isn’t an option. We rarely use cabs since they tend to be pricey so we were left with two options: an airport express bus or the metro.
Save your euros! Take the bus.
We chose the bus because it was cheaper. Several 24-hour express buses run to and from the airport. If you are staying in the city centre, take bus X95 because it takes you right to Syntagma Square, smack dab in the heart of the city. From here you can walk to your accommodation.
(If you are staying far outside the city, check routes and timetables for other airport express buses here.)
Tickets cost €6 one-way and the journey takes around an hour. All buses depart from the Arrivals Level at the airport between Exits 4 and 5. You’ll never have to wait too long for a bus since they run every 30 minutes or so.
Express buses run 24-hours a day. Buy your tickets from stalls just outside the Arrivals Level in front of the bus stop and don’t forget to validate your ticket on the bus! Press it onto a blue card reader found inside the bus and it’ll emit a happy tone once validated.
If you’d rather take the metro…
A metro ticket from the airport costs €10 one-way. It is valid for a 90-minute journey plus a transfer to/from the airport.
You also have the option of buying a three-day tourist ticket for the metro (which includes two airport transfers) for €22. Regular metro tickets (also valid for one 90-minute journey) cost €1.40. The three-day tourist ticket only makes sense if you plan on using the metro several times during your stay.
To us, these tickets weren’t worth the price since we didn’t plan on using the metro at all. Athens is a walkable city so once you arrive at Syntagma Square, you can easily walk to all major attractions.
For more information about Athens transport tickets: https://www.athenstransport.com/english/tickets/
More airport tips
Athens International Airport is clean, comfortable and has all the modern amenities you need. With plenty of bathrooms, ample seating, Starbucks and free wi-fi, having a layover in the airport isn’t so bad.
I tried to get a latte from a local cafe inside the airport but they didn’t have soy milk (or any plant milk). Instead, they recommended their competitor, Starbucks. My latte did not disappoint! The only negative about this Starbucks is that they don’t offer real cups. Bring your own cup if you plan on a coffee break before your flight.
The only complaint I have about the airport (in reality, it’s more of a minor inconvenience) is that YouTube is blocked. C’est la vie. 😉
Where should you stay?
We booked Airbnb apartments in the city centre. Both apartments were clean, comfortable, well-equipped with kitchens, and conveniently located. We were less than a 30-minute walk from the Acropolis (score!) and had plenty of restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets nearby.
If you’ve never tried Airbnb before, feel free to sign up using my Airbnb referral link. You’ll get a discount on your first booking (around $30) and I’ll earn credit for my next trip. It’s a win-win!
The first apartment was located in the Metaxourgeio neighbourhood. This area isn’t bad but it wasn’t as “hip” as the second neighbourhood we stayed in, Exarchia. I preferred this part of town because of its colourful streets and high concentration of vegan-friendly restaurants and cafes.
Where to buy food
We purposely rent apartments with kitchens when we travel so we can cook most of our meals ourselves. We like cooking and it means we can spend less money on food. Eating out several times during a trip can quickly eat a hole through your budget, especially if you’re visiting a country that uses the euro as its currency, like Greece!
We bought groceries from several supermarket chains:
- My Market
- Ok! Anytime Market
We were never far from a supermarket so we had no trouble gathering all the staples and fresh produce we needed for our meals. Ok! Anytime Market is more pricey but it’s worth remembering since it’s open late and even open on Sundays.
This is important to note because most stores close on Sunday. Some restaurants and cafes stay open, but grocery stores will be closed. Plan your food shopping accordingly so you’re not left high and dry! 🙂
How many days should you spend in Athens?
Both of our visits in Athens were short (2-3 nights only) but I felt that this was enough time to preview the city. I’d recommend staying for two, perhaps three nights if you can.
When should you visit?
If possible, I’d recommend avoiding Athens in the summer because this is peak tourist season. Not only do you have to deal with throngs of tourists, but summertime temperatures in Athens can reach a sweltering 40°C. No thank you! We visited Athens at the end of January and during mid-February. I’m glad we did because the city wasn’t busy at all and the weather was perfectly cool and sunny.
Another benefit to visiting Athens in the winter: discounted Acropolis tickets! Tickets for the Acropolis normally cost €20 but from November 1 until March 31, tickets are half-price at €10.
What about things to do?
Check out my recommendations: 10 things to do in Athens. I also have a vegan guide to Athens on the way, so stay tuned for that. Thank you for reading!