How To Reach Athens
Athens has its own airport, so the most popular way to reach the city is by flight. There are a host of airline options available from India, albeit with a stop along the way. Athens International Airport is lo-cated in the suburb of Spáta, about 27 km away from the city centre. It is the home of the national carrier, Olympic Air, as well as a regional hub that welcomes airlines from around the world. Most Indian departures are from big cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kochi. Domestic flights offer connectivity to these cities from other parts of the country. The top airlines to fly to Athens include Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Oman Air, Air France, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Egypt Air. Your choice will determine the location and duration of your layover, though the average time to reach is about 15 hours.
The Athens experience begins from the very moment of your arrival, with the charming little museum that gives you the first glimpses of its long and vibrant story. Meanwhile, a tourist information centre helps with planning your first steps into the city. You have the choice of taking the metro, train, bus service, taxi or private transfer, to get to the city centre or your hotel.
Just as with rail travel, reaching Athens by road is only a convenient option if you’re arriving from within the country. While there are taxi or bus services from a few international cities, the journeys are too long and unfavourable. From other parts of Greece, you can take a long-distance bus up to one of the city’s terminals at Liossion Street or Kifissou Street. The Athens Central Bus Station sees more regional operators that ply within the Attic region. Similarly, taxis or private vehicles can be hired to make the road trip to Athens, which costs more but ensures speedier travel times.
The only way to reach Athens by train is from other parts of Greece. The national railway service provides great connectivity with the Athens Railway Station that’s located within the Larissa Metro Station. There are two main lines, one goes south towards Peloponnese and the other goes north towards Thessaloniki, from where smaller lines diverge. You can ride first- or second-class compartments, as per your preference, for this scenic journey of around 4-6 hours.
The Port of Piraeus in Athens welcomes ferries and cruises from other destinations around Greece and some from international waters, mostly parts of Italy. If you’ve been enjoying the sun and sand of the Greek Islands and Athens is the next stop on your itinerary, taking the ferry is a memorable and affordable option.
If you want to get around Athens comfortably and without much walking, the thriving taxi services will serve you best. The bright yellow cars can be spotted from a mile away — not that you’ll have to look that far! They can be spontaneously hailed on the street or pre-booked by your tour operator or hotel. The latter is especially preferred for longer distances or day-long excursions, as there’s no worry of being overcharged. Popular taxi mobile app services also run in Athens.
The local bus services are colour coded and run on electricity, through the districts and suburbs of Athens. Bus stops are found at every major junction, while kiosks are available to easily purchase tickets. Smaller buses venture into the more crowded interiors, while trams run along the coast. Since time and planning is necessary to travel by local buses, it remains a preference for natives rather than tourists.
The Attiko Metro runs across the urban sectors of the city, with a red, blue and green line. The green line is the only one that has an above-ground passage. The metro is a quick and efficient way to access the main or central areas of the city, while at the same time being a cultural experience in itself! Many archaeological finds emerged from the digging of these metros and they are displayed at stations and on the coaches itself. 24-hour tickets can be availed, covering all your rides for the day.
Local trains are the preferred option for those who wish to travel to the suburbs or outskirts of Athens. It even has connections with the metro lines, so mapping out an affordable route around Athens is super easy.
The trams have limited routes, but they are a joy to ride on. They are eco-friendly, economical and ever-so-charming. Pick from 3 lines that run to and from Syntagma, Palaio Faliro, Neo Faliro and Glyfada — the ideal transport if you’re looking to get towards the coastal and beach areas of Athens.
Adjusting to the local traffic and driving style is difficult for tourists so hiring one’s own car isn’t generally recommended. However, there are countless rental services running in the city. Hiring a car is more enjoyable and logical if you wish to drive from Athens to another neighbouring city in Greece. While you’re here, simply sit back and let someone else do the driving.
Athens has some of the world’s best kept pedestrian-only zones, especially around the archaeology hub of the city and quaint districts like Pláka and Kolonaki. At the same time, its busier streets can have some of the worst traffic jams and high noise levels. So, walking remains a good way to explore only certain parts of Athens.