In this article, you will find all the information you need to organise your trip to Athens as best as possible. Before venturing out to discover a new city with a different culture and many places to discover, our suggestion is to read about the essential stopping points, so that you can return home with the feeling of not having forgotten anything. In fact, whatever the time of your stay, if it is organised in advance, you will have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful capital as much as possible and avoid wasting time in long queues at the ticket offices or in less interesting places compared to more famous ones.
How to get there
There are various ways to get to Athens or more generally to Greece from Britain: by plane, by private car or by train. Probably, among all the solutions, the most comfortable one is by plane, since there are many affordable flights available. There are three airports in Greece: Thessaloniki Airport, served by Ryanair, Alitalia and Easyjet, although it is very far from Athens, about 400 km; Athens International Airport, served by Ryanair, Easyjet, Meridiana, Airone, Iberia, Vueling and the national airline Aegean Airlines, which is about 40 km from the centre of Athens; and Nea Anchialos Airport, about 300 km from Athens, which is served mainly by Ryanair.
Valid documents for entry to Athens are: an ID card (for E.U. citizens), or a valid passport. For residents of EU countries, no residence permit is required for a period of up to 3 months. In case the identification document expires or is lost during the stay, it will be necessary to ask for its renewal at the British Consulate in Athens, which is located in Ploutarchou 1, Athens. If, however, you decide to visit Athens with your own vehicle, it is essential to have a valid passport and up to date insurance which covers your journey for your stay in Athens. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, it is advisable to have an authorisation validated by the owner in the name of the driver for use abroad.
Safety in Athens, especially in the fully touristy areas, is guaranteed by the presence of local police patrols. If you surf the internet in search of more information, you may feel a little afraid due to past events, such as the financial crisis that has marked Greece in recent years, but in reality security, especially for tourists, has never been lacking in this wonderful cradle of civilization. As in any European capital, there is nothing to be afraid of, you just need to pay attention to your personal belongings in the busiest places.
Athens' official language is obviously Greek, but also knowing English will make it very easy for people to communicate, as most Athenians use it as a second language. Furthermore, it will not be difficult to find English people who have chosen to live in Athens, such as our trained tour guides. In fact, an excellent way to visit the capital of Greece is to book an English speaking guide in Athens, who will take you to the most beautiful places and museums.
Some commonly used phrases
- Good morning/Good afternoon= Kalimera/Kalispera
- Thanks/You're welcome = Efharistò/Parakalò
- Yes/No = Ne/Ohi
- Please = Parakalò
- Where is... = Pou enai to...
- How much does it cost? = Poso kostizi?
Watch out for the time zone...
Remember to set your watches to the correct time, because in Greece the time zone changes and you will be two hours later than in Britain. The newest generation of mobiles, in most cases, change automatically, but it is always better to check it so as not to waste the tickets booked in the museums, or worse, to arrive late at the airport. Our advice for airport transfers is to book a taxi from Athens Airport in advance. The driver will then know the time of the flight in advance and will arrange the pick-up time so that you will never be late arriving at the airport.
The weather in Athens: when it's best to go
Athens has a Mediterranean climate. The best months to go on holiday are from May to October, that is the months with the ideal temperatures. If you also want to save money, then we recommend May and October, as the flow of tourists is less intense and low cost flights and hotels can be found more easily. In summer the temperatures can go up to 33 degrees, but to cool down the day, the Etesian, a fresh and strong wind that comes from the Aegean area, often blows. The winter is mild and often sunny days with temperatures of about 15 degrees can be appreciated. In the summer season, light and cool clothing is recommended during the daytime, while at night it is advisable to wear a shawl or a sweater, as temperatures tend to drop considerably.
Public holidays in Athens
Many of the public holidays in Athens are common dates with Europe, such as Christmas, New Year's Eve, Good Friday, Easter and May 1st while in Greek tradition, we find dates such as March 25th, the feast of the Annunciation/Independence and October 28th, the Day of the No, when Greece said no to Mussolini's regime.
There are many attractions to visit in Athens, but some of them are really a must and it would be a shame to go home after the holidays without visiting them. Here are a few examples:
- Acropolis Museum
- Panathinaikos Stadium
- Temple of Zeus
- Dora Stratou Dance Theatre
The most prominent neighborhoods
There are many beautiful and charming neighbourhoods to visit in the splendid Greek capital, for example:
- Gazi: The coolest neighbourhood to go to for a meal or a bite to eat;
- Kolonaki: The most elegant district a few steps from the famous Benaki Museum and from the National Garden;
- Monastiraki: The shopping area;
- Piraeus: The neighbourhood that is home to the port;
- La Plaka: The historical heart of Athens
- Syntagma Square: The most important square in Athens and perhaps in all of Greece;
- Thissio: The nightlife district;
- Acropolis: Based on the rock formation that overlooks modern-day Athens. This ancient citadel is home to numerous other buildings of historical significance, among which are: the Parthenon, Propylia and the temple dedicated to the Goddess Athens.
Transport prices in Athens
Public transport in Athens includes: buses, trams, underground and trains. The ticket is the same for all and you can easily change the means of transport. Tickets for a 90-minute journey can be purchased at a cost of 1.40 euros, or a 24-hour day ticket (from the first validity) at a cost of 4.50 euros. For more information on airport transport, visit our dedicated section.
Schedules and Customs
Shops and businesses are usually open from 9:00 to 1:30/2:00 pm and from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. With the exception of gift shops, which generally close later, at around 9pm, and pharmacies which are open continuously from 8am to 4pm. The metro is active during the week from 5:00/5:30 am to approximately 00:30 am, while on Friday and Saturday nights it closes at 2:30 am.
Travel Tips, Tricks and informations
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