The Ultimate Guide to Athens 2014

by SantoriniDave – Updated August, 2014

Getting Started

The Athens Travel Guide

Q. What area of Athens should I stay in?

Here are the neighborhoods that are of interest to tourists. If you’re unsure of where to stay then find a hotel in the Plaka.

The Plaka – My favorite neighborhood in Athens. Yes, it’s very touristy but it also has a lively and friendly vibe. It’s a pedestrian-friendly warren of ancient streets nestled at the base of the Acropolis (the one must-see attraction in Athens). The Plaka is filled with restaurants, tourist shops, and hotels. Sights include the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments, and the Museum of Greek Folk Art. Served by Monastiraki station on metro lines 1 and 3. • Photos of the PlakaRecommended Hotels: Electra Palace Hotel AthensAthens Gate HotelNew HotelAva HotelAll Hotels in the Plaka.

Koukaki & Makrigianni – After the Plaka, this is my favorite area of Athens to stay. Like the Plaka the area looks up at the Acropolis. It’s an easy walk from here to the Plaka and Syntagma but has a more local flare and not so touristy. Lots of restaurants and cafes. The area is served by Akropoli and Sygrou-Fix stations on metro line 2. • Photos of Koukaki & MakrigianniRecommended Hotels: Divani Palace AcropolisRoyal Olympic HotelAthenaeum Intercontinental • All Hotels in Koukaki.

Kolonaki – A residential neighborhood northwest of Syntagma Square that’s filled with upscale shops, restaurants, boutique hotels, and cafes. Sights include the Benaki Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, and National War Museum. It’s walking distance from here to the Plaka and the Acropolis. Served by Syntagma station on metro line 2 & 3 and Evangelismos on metro line 3. • Photos of KolonakiRecommended Hotels: Periscope HotelSt. George Lycabettus HotelHilton AthensAll Hotels in Kolonaki.

Monastiraki – North of the Plaka and having a similar feel. The neighborhood is a little less touristy and has more antique, arts and crafts, and clothing shops than the Plaka. Also home to the large Flea Market every Sunday morning. Thissio is to the west and is quieter and greener still. The area is served by the Monastiraki station (lines 1 and 3) and Thissio station (line 1). Line 1 is a direct route to Piraeus making Monastiraki a good choice if you have an early ferry to catch. • Photos of MonastirakiRecommended Hotels: A for AthensCecil Hotel360 DegreesAll Hotels in Monastiraki.

Syntagma – The business and tourist hub of Athens. Here you’ll find 5 star hotels, restaurants, shopping, banks, airline offices, and the Greek Parliament buildings. Served by Syntagma station (lines 2 and 3). The National Historical Museum is located in the old Parliament building on Stadiou street and the National Gardens are a cool and shady retreat from the sweltering Athens’ summers. • Photos of SyntagmaRecommended Hotels: Hotel Grande BretagneKing GeorgeHotel Athens LycabettusAll Hotels in Syntagma.

Psirri – As you move north from Monastiraki you enter the trendy neighborhoods of Psirri and Gazi (an old industrial area that now teems with boutiques, galleries, shops, night clubs, and warehouses converted to upscale restaurants). The area is great for nightlife but 1 or 2 wrong turns can put you on some seedy streets so I wouldn’t recommend this area for a first time visitor to Athens (though it’s better than staying in Omonia).• Photos of PsirriRecommended Hotels: City Circus (budget hotel/hostel) • All Hotels in Psirri.

Omonia – North of all of the above neighborhoods is the rather grim district of Omonia which is best avoided at night (but fine through the day). You may find yourself here if you’re walking to and from the excellent National Archeological Museum in Exarheia. Omonia has many of Athens budget hotels (some are great value, others just very cheap). Served by Omonia station on metro lines 1 and 2. • Recommended Hotels: Hotel FreshAll Hotels near Omonia Square.

Piraeus – The port of Athens where the ferries arrive and depart for the islands. There’s not much here for tourists besides the ferries but if you need to catch an early ferry staying here is a perfectly fine option. In high season there are always tourists milling about the area near the port and the metro station so you need not fear an early morning departure or a late night arrival. It’s about 30 minutes by metro (on line 1) from downtown Athens to the port. • Photos of PiraeusRecommended Hotels: Triton Hotel Piraeus (close to the ferries for Santorini, Mykonos, and other Cycladic islands) • Piraeus Theoxenia Hotel (a block farther from the port than the Triton and the nicest hotel in Piraeus) • All Hotels in Piraeus.

Q. When is the best time to visit Athens and Greece?

For the Greek islands high season is from late June until the end of August. For Athens it stretches significantly longer as it attracts more visitors that are there for the sights as much as the sun. So look for big crowds starting in late April and early May and lasting until late October or early November.

The best time to visit Athens (to do sightseeing) is from April to June, September, and October. If you plan on visiting the Greek Islands and spend time on a beach then the best times to visit are June and September – the weather is great but without the big crowds.

Q. What are the best hotels in the Plaka (and near the Acropolis)?

  • Electra Palace Hotel – Awesome location in the Plaka. Fantastic rooftop pool with great views of the Acropolis. There’s also an indoor pool if you’re visiting in winter or need a break from the sun. The free buffet breakfast is very good. (Hotel phone: +30 21 0337 8000) • Reviews
  • New Hotel – Fantastically trendy and fun hotel between the Plaka and Syntagma Square. (p.s. They have a pillow menu.) (Hotel phone: +30 21 0327 3000) • Reviews
  • Ava Hotel Athens – Great hotel close to the Acropolis. All suites have kitchenettes. (Hotel phone: +30 21 0325 9000) • Reviews
  • The Athens Gate Hotel – Large triples and connected rooms for families. The rooftop restaurant has wonderful views of the Parthenon and breakfast is free. (Hotel phone: +30-210 9238 302-3) • Reviews

Q. What are the best hotels in Syntagma?

  • Hotel Grande Bretagne – A great hotel right on Syntagma Square. Hotel phone: +30 210 3330000 • Reviews
  • King George – Like the Bretagne, this is one of Athens’ best hotels and located on Syntagma Square. Hotel phone:+30 21 0322 2210 • Reviews
  • Hotel Athens Lycabettus – Good value hotel half-way between Syntagma Square and Kolonaki. Rooms are clean, most are small, but there are larger triple and family rooms. (Hotel phone: ) • Reviews

Q. What are the best hotels in Kolonaki?

  • Periscope Hotel – Located in the cafe-and-gallery neighborhood of Kolonaki and walking distance to Syntagma Square, the Plaka, and the Acropolis. A great pick for those who want to be close to everything but in a more authentic Athenian neighborhood. (Hotel phone: +30 21 0729 7200)Reviews
  • St. George Lycabettus Hotel – Up a steep hill (no walk here with luggage) and offering great views of Athens and the Acropolis the St. George is one of Athens’ most luxurious hotels. The rooftop restaurant is wonderful. (Hotel phone: ) • Reviews

Q. What are the best hotels near the beach?

Q. What are the best hotels in Athens for families?

  • Ava Hotel Athens – The service and amenities of a 5 star hotel with the friendliness of a family run B&B. A perfect location on a quiet street in the Plaka. Great breakfast and close to the Akropoli metro station. Some rooms have kitchenettes. (Hotel phone: +30 21 0325 9000) • Reviews
  • Astor Hotel – Great location. A very good breakfast is included and served on the rooftop restaurant with amazing views of the Acropolis. Large triples and quads are available for families. Furnishings are bit dated but the hotel makes a good mid-range choice near Syntagma Square and its metro stop. (Hotel phone: +30 21 0335 1000) • Reviews
  • The Westin Athens Astir Palace Beach Resort – Located outside the city on its own private peninsula. Wonderful beaches, pools, restaurants, and activities. Hotel phone: +30 21 0890 2000 • Reviews
  • Palmyra Beach Hotel – Good value hotel. 2-bedroom family rooms sleep 5. Nice pool and close to shopping, restaurants, and Glyfada beach. The tram to central Athens (30 minutes) is just outside the hotel. (Hotel phone: +30 210 8981183)Reviews
  • City Circus – Nice budget hotel/hostel with a large quadruple room perfect for families. Walking distance to the Plaka. (Hotel phone: +30 21 3023 7244)Reviews
  • Tropical Hotel – Budget hotel outside the city. Triples and family rooms available. Swimmable beaches are nearby. Easy access to airport and Piraeus ferries. Tram to central Athens is nearby. (Hotel phone: +30 21 0981 3993)Reviews

Q. What are some good cheap hotels in Athens?

Cheapzebra.com/Athens is pretty good at finding cheap hotels and last minute discounts. The best deals are not found at specific hotels but change depending on many factors (most notably whether a tour group is booked during your dates).

That said, here are 5 inexpensive hotels that are clean and good value.

Q. What is the best hotel near the Athens airport?

  • Sofitel Athens Airport – Large rooms with a nice pool, sauna, spa, and free wi-fi. Directly across the road from the international arrivals terminal. (Hotel phone: +30 210 354 4000) • Reviews

Q. What are the best beaches near Athens?

To the south and east of Athens lies a string of beaches and beach towns that grow progressively nicer as you get away from the city. The Athens Tram runs all the way along the coast to Voula (where there’s a nice beach). If you’re going farther than that you’ll need to hop on a bus.

Most beaches require a fee to enter. In return you get nicely groomed sand, a snack or restaurant, sun chairs and umbrellas, and sometimes access to restrooms, showers, changing rooms, beach gear, and water slides. There are small beach coves that dot the coastline as well. They offer smaller crowds but with few or no amenities. If you’ve rent a car you can drive along the coast and stop where ever you see a patch of sand. It will usually involved scampering down from the road above on a footpath wondering where the heck you’re going.

  • Kalamaki – The closest beach to Athens. Not the best beach but it’s decent. About 45 minutes by tram from Syntagma.
  • GlyfadaAsteras Glyfada is family friendly with a children’s playground and watersports (cost: €7.50). Take the tram to Glyfada and walk along the coast to Asteras.
  • VoulaVoula A beach is very family friendly with snack bar and water slide. Take the tram to the last stop and the beach is right there. (cost: €7).
  • Vouliagmeni – Astir Beach is hip and very nice (cost: €15). Take the tram to Glyfada and then take bus 114 to Astir.
  • Varkiza – One of the best beaches in the area complete with great sand, a water park, volleyball, and tennis (cost: €12.) Take the tram to Glyfada and then bus 116 to Varkiza.

Q. What are the best things to do in Athens?

  • The Acropolis and Parthenon – If you only have time to visit one attraction in Athens this is it. The Acropolis Museum is a short walk down the hill from the Acropolis and is a good complement to the main site.
  • Ancient Agora – Wander around the commercial and social hub of Ancient Athens. The Plaka and Monastiraki Flea Market are nearby and the 3 together make a good walking tour.
  • Athens Central Market – Tired of the ancient sites? Here’s a loud chaotic taste of modern Athens. A fantastic collection of olives, cheeses, spices, oils, and meats. Also called Varvakios Agora.
  • Mt. Lycabettus – The best views of Athens from the huge hill behind the Kolonaki district. Walk up or take the fun funicular tram to the summit.
  • National Archaeological Museum – Greece’s best museum is a 20 minute walk from the central sites. This is a must-do attraction.

Q. How Should I Book Hotels in Athens?

Booking.com/Athens is the best site for booking hotels in Athens. It’s reliable, easy to use, has the best rates, and offers free cancelation for most hotels.

If you’re visiting Athens between May and October you should book your hotel as soon as your plane tickets are booked – ideally at least 2 to 3 months in advance.

That said, many rooms are still available with little or no notice so there’s no need to panic if you’ve left it until the end. If you arrive without reservations and want to hunt for a place on your own then head for the Plaka (which has the highest concentration of hotels) and walk the streets popping into any place you see.

If you’re staying for longer than a week then renting an apartment or flat is a great idea. Flipkey.com/Athens is my favorite site though there are many good ones for renting vacation homes.

Q. What airlines fly to Athens?

For flights from North America you’re best to search on Kayak.com but for flights within Europe you’re better to book through a discount airline like the ones listed below. These discount, or charter, airlines generally won’t appear in a Kayak search. And they don’t offer flights outside of Europe so are not of interest to travelers from the US or Canada – unless they’re planning to stop in Western Europe on their trip to Greece.

  • Olympic Air – Flights from many European cities to Athens. Connecting flights to Greek islands available.
  • Aegean Airlines – Flights from many European cities to Athens. Connecting flights to Greek islands available.
  • EasyJet – The airline with the most flights to Athens from cities like Rome, Milan, Paris, London, and Manchester, as well as many more.
  • Air Berlin – Flights from Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, many more German cities, Paris, and Copenhagen to Athens.
  • FlyThomasCook – Flights from Manchester, London Gatwick, and Birmingham to Athens.
  • Thomson Flights – Flights from Manchester, Birmingham, and London Gatwick, and more UK cities to Athens.
  • Lauda Air – Flights from Vienna to Athens.
  • NIKI – Flights from London, Paris, Copenhagen, Munich, Berlin, Milan, Rome, Vienna, and more European cities to Athens.
  • Germanwings – Flights many European cities to Athens.
  • TUI Fly – Flights from many German cities and Vienna to Athens.
  • Transavia – Flights from Paris, Amsterdam, and many more European cities to Athens. to Santorini.
  • Norwegian – Flights from Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen to Athens. Connecting flights to New York City.
  • Meridiana – Flights from Rome, Milan, Verona, and Bologna to Athens.
  • Condor Air – Flights from Dussledorf, Hamburg, Bonn/Cologne, Frankfurt, and Munich to Athens.
  • Jetairfly – Flights from Brussels to Athens.
  • Edelweiss Air – Flights from Zurich and Geneva to Athens.
  • Air Baltic – Flights to Athens from Riga and other European capitals (though as of spring 2013 not showing many flights).

Q. How do I get into Athens from the airport?

Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport is 27km east of Athens and well connected to Athens by public transportation. This airport handles all international flights and domestic flights for Athens.

  • Metro – Metro Line 3 runs from the airport to the city center stations of Syntagma and Monastiraki. The trip takes 45 minutes and costs €8, €7 if in a group of 2 or more, and €14 return (good for up to 48 hours). The metro station is a 5 minute walk from baggage claim and elevators are available. There are both machines and ticket windows staffed with people. The metro trains and suburban trains run from the same platform and have different ticket windows – be sure to get metro tickets and get on the metro train if you’re going downtown or to the port (as most tourists will be). The train runs from 5:30am to 11:30pm (but times can change slightly with season). To get from the airport to the ferry port (Piraeus) by metro requires a line change at Monastiraki which makes the bus a better option. The airport ticket is good for all transit in the city for up to 90 minutes. Validate when first getting on the train, and then again if you switch to a different train or bus in the city. (There are big fines if you fail to validate so find the little box that stamps your ticket and insert the ticket into the opening.)
  • Bus – If you’re arriving or departing at night then the bus is a good alternative to the metro as it runs 24/7. It has several advantages over the metro. The bus is the cheapest way between the airport and downtown. It has much more space than the metro for baggage. The one drawback to the bus is that during the day it has to deal with Athens traffic which can slow to a standstill. The bus can get from the airport to downtown in 40 minutes in light traffic but can take up to 1.5 hours in heavy traffic. The heaviest traffic times are 7:30am to 9:30am and 4pm to 6pm All airport bus numbers start with an “X”. The X96 bus is the best and cheapest way to get from the airport to Piraeus as it goes direct and does not require a train change like the metro. Through the day you buy your ticket before boarding and validate your ticket on board. Late at night you’ll need to purchase your ticket from the driver on the bus.
    X95 – To Syntagma Square (€5) in 40 to 80 minutes. Also stops across from the Hilton. Every 15 to 30 minutes. The X95 looks like this.
    X96 – To Piraeus/Ferry Port (€5) in 45 to 90 minutes. Every 15 to 30 minutes. The X96 looks like this.
    X93 – To Kifissos Bus Terminal A (for buses to Peloponnese, Thessaloniki, Corfu) in 60 minutes. Every 30 minutes.
  • Taxi – Taxi from the airport to central Athens is done on a flat fee and cost €35 through the day and €50 from midnight to 5am. From the airport to Piraeus by taxi costs €40 through the day and €60 at night (but this is not flat fee so watch the meter or pre-arrange the rate with your driver). Taxis are found at Exit 3 on the arrivals level.

    Taxi fares should include all tolls and airport fees. If you’re asked to pay anything else tell them you’ll call the tourist police and they can help sort it out. Just dial 171 to contact the tourist police operator who should be fluent in multiple languages. (This number will work anywhere in Greece.)

Q. How do I get from Athens to the Ferry Port?

There are 2 ferries ports near Athens: Piraeus and Rafina.

To get to Piraeus is a 30 minute metro ride from Syntagma or 20 minutes by taxi (assuming it’s not rush hour). Metro costs about €1 and taxi costs €15 to €20. For the metro, the Green Line goes to Piraeus and the station is right across the street from the port. If you’re staying near Syntagma, the Plaka, or Kolonaki you’ll need to switch trains at Monastiraki to get on the Green Line (map of Athens metro). The metro runs from 5am to midnight. Many ferries leave Piraeus between 7am and 8am so the metro is running in plenty of time to make these departures.

From Athens to Rafina takes 1 hour by bus and costs €5. Using the Rafina port is a good choice if you’re coming from the airport and not planning to spend anytime in Athens. Otherwise, Piraeus is much easier to get to from central Athens and is the better choice for most travelers.

Q. How do I get from Athens to the Greek Islands?

  • Air – The quickest way to get to far flung islands like Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Samos, or Corfu. But for closer islands like Naxos, Paros, or Mykonos it can be quicker (when you consider getting to the airport, getting through security, and waiting for your plane) to take a ferry. Pretty much all islands are within one hour of Athens by air. Olympic Air has multiple flights every day to all the popular islands. Check the Olympic Air schedule. Aegean Air has a similar schedule with flights from Athens to all the Greek islands and also more flights from Thessaloniki. Check the Aegean Air schedule (pdf).
  • Ferry – The most popular and authentic way of getting to the islands. Buying and planning ferry trips before arrival is tricky (see below) but doing it after arriving in Athens is easy. Ferries rarely sell out so you can purchase tickets a day or two before (or even the morning of), take the metro to the ferry terminal and hop on board. However, if you want a cabin or need to take your car you should book well in advance. See Also: Athens to Santorini by Ferry
  • Bus – This is really bus and ferry – but if you buy a combo ticket the bus goes straight on board the ferry and you don’t have to deal with arranging the ferry portion of your ticket. Buses are primarily used for getting to the Ionian islands of Corfu, Kefallonia, Zakynthos, and Lefkada – as well as other cities on the mainland and Peloponnese. Travel times to the Ionian islands range from 6 to 10 hours. You can’t book bus tickets in advance so you need to go to the bus station and buy tickets. Buses are air conditioned but do not have toilets on board. There are stops about every 2 or 3 hours to have a snack and use the restroom. This is an old schedule of buses leaving from Athens. You’ll need to phone to find out the current schedule (Terminal A phone: 210 512 4910). In summer, show up at least 90 minutes in advance to ensure a ticket.

Q. Where do I buy ferry tickets in Athens?

If you’re arriving by plane into Athens and want to continue to Santorini by ferry you’re best to purchase ferry tickets at the airport. By booking right away it will give you the largest window of time before your ferry. If you’re planning to spend 2 nights or more in Athens then this should be plenty of time to ensure a seat on pretty much any ferry (high speed or catamaran) – as long as you don’t need a cabin or are taking a vehicle. The Amphitrion travel agency has a 24 hour desk on the arrivals floor at the airport that sells ferry tickets.

You can also buy tickets in the city. Travel agents that book ferry tickets are easy to find. But by waiting until you get into the city you’re losing a little bit of time. Maybe you go to your hotel, have a swim, grab a bite to eat, and then head out to buy your ferry tickets. By that time it’s evening and everything is closed. Now it’s the next morning before you’re buying them. Do it at the airport, get it done and out of the way – then no worries.

Lastly, you can buy tickets at the Athens port (Piraeus) just before you get on the ferry. Allow at least 2 hours to get to Piraeus, buy the tickets, and find your boat. It’s busy and a little chaotic around the port – especially in the morning when a majority of the ferries leave.

If you bought tickets in advance (on the internet) then you’ll likely have to pick them up in Piraeus. This is another reason why buying in advance is a pain. It’s essentially the same as buying in person but now you have to find the specific company as opposed to just buying from the first travel agency you see as you get to Piraeus. (Of course, you do have reserved seats or a cabin so that can be important – but as far as the hassle factor it’s probably worse having booked in advance.)

Q. How often do ferries depart for the Greek Islands?

Pireaus is the main port for Athens. Below is a list of routes that leave from the port for the Greek islands in the Aegean. Ferries for Corfu and the Ionian islands leave from Patra and Igmoumenitsa. Ferries for the Sporades (Skiathos, Skopelos, and Skyros) leave from Rafina.

The best website for ferry schedules is gtp.gr. Most people will find themselves on either the Blue Star Ferries or the Hellenic Seaways Ferries. To book online go to Blue Star booking and Hellenic booking pages for each company.

The Highspeed ferries (e.g. Hellenic Seaways) will occasionally sell out during the months of July and August (and especially the week of August 15). The larger conventional ferries (e.g. Blue Star) very rarely sell out – though once again, the week of August 15 can see some fully booked ferries. Outside of these times it’s fine to buy your ticket the day before traveling or even the morning of travel.

The following ferry frequencies are for high season.

High Speed Ferry Services from Pireaus to Select Islands

Aegina: 40min/€14/hourly
Chania (Crete): 7.5hr/€36/daily
Chios: 6-9hr/€32/daily
Folegandros: 3.5hr/€57/1-3 daily
Heraklion (Crete): 6.5hr/€40/daily
Hydra: 1.5hr/€26/8 daily
Ios: 3.5hr/€55/3 daily
Milos:: 2.5hr/€55/3 daily
Mykonos: 3 hr/€55/3 daily
Naxos: 4hr/€52/3 daily
Paros: 3hr/€50/6 daily
Poros: 1hr/€32/6 daily
Santorini: 5.5hr/€62/3 daily
Serifos: 2hr/€43/2 daily
Sifnos: 3hr/€50/3 daily
Spetses: 2hr/€35/6 daily
Syros: 2.5hr/€45/3 daily
Tinos4hr/€52/3 daily

Regular Ferry Services from Pireaus to Select Islands

Aegina: 1hr 10min/€10/hourly
Chania (Crete): 8.5hr/€27/daily
Folegandros: 7.5hr/€30/4 weekly
Heraklion (Crete): 8hr/€30/2 daily
Ios: 7hr/€33/5 daily
Milos: 7.5hr/€34/2 daily
Mykonos: 5.5hr/€32/2 daily
Naxos: 5.5hr/€31/5 daily
Paros: 4.5hr/€30/4 daily
Poros: 2.5hr/€13/3 daily
Santorini: 9 hr/€35/5 daily
Serifos: 5hr/€23/2 daily
Sifnos: 5.5hr/€31/5 daily
Syros: 4hr/€27/4 daly
Tinos: 2.5h4/€29/daily

The port is large and it can take a while to get from the metro station to where your ferry is boarding. Take a look at this map of the Pireaus port to get an idea. You’ll see the metro stop labeled Electric Railway Line 1 on the upper right side between E5 and E6. Ferries locations can change but as a general rule: E1 – Rhodes and the Dodecanese. E2 – Crete, Chios, Lesvos, Ikaria, Samos. E3 – Crete vehicle entrance. E6 and E7 – Cyclades and Rethymno. E8 – Saronic islands (Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Spetses, Salamis, and Angistri). E9 and E10 – Cyclades and Samos. E11 – Cruise terminal A. E12 – Cruise terminal B.

Q. Is Athens safe for tourists?

Athens is a big city and as such the usual advice for traveling abroad applies (be aware of what’s going on around you, put your money in a smart place, don’t fall for women who ask you into a bar to buy them a drink).

As for the riots and protests that periodically arise in the city – these are political rallies that are focused on the government. Tourists are almost never the target. The protests usually occur in the city center around Syntagma Square. They’re easily avoided. If you see a large crowd of chanting Greeks approaching, quietly move in another direction, and you should be fine.

Often when people ask, “Is it OK to travel to Athens?”, what they mean is, “Could my plans be compromised by a strike, protest, or riot?” And the answer to that is yes, it’s possible, but still not very likely.

The most likely threat to your travel plans would be a ferry strike that delays your trip to or from the islands. For this, the best remedy is to have a few days of extra travel time on either end of your trip. Ferries are more likely to be canceled due to windy weather than a strike or riot, but in either case, having an extra day or two (especially at the end of your trip) to rearrange your trip and ferry ride, should correct the problem.

10 questions and comments

  1. Fly or Ferry?

    If I’m visiting Athens, Santorini, and Mykenos for my honeymoon for 10 nights, in which order should I visit the islands and which mode of transportation (air or ferry) do you recommend for each? We fly into Athens. Thanks, Dave! Your sight is amazing and so helpful!

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Traveling into and out of Santorini by ferry is special – great views of the cliffs and caldera. But to and from Mykonos doesn’t matter much. Flying is faster … but it’s not very far from Mykonos to Athens so you’re not saving much by flying. I’d stick with ferries the whole way. The large ferries (e.g. Blue Star) are more enjoyable than the high speed ferries which don’t have open decks to walk about so I’d also recommend them. Cheers.

      Reply
  2. Island near Athens

    Hi Dave,

    Can you please suggest a very near Island to Athens, we would like to have a short sightseeing nearby Athens … just like Santorini, but Santorini is 8 hours via Ferry from Athens.

    Please recommend.

    Thank you,

    Regards,
    Kim

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Both Aegina and Hydra are wonderful islands not far from Athens. Aegina is 40 minutes to an hour by ferry from Athens. Hydra is 1.5 to 2 hours. Hydra is probably worth the extra effort. Ferries leave regularly from Piraeus and there’s no need to pre-book tickets.

      Reply
  3. Airport to Athens to Santorini

    Hello. My husband and I are going to Athens Sept. 10 for just four days before going somewhere else. What is the best/cost effective way to get from airport to Athens? We’d like to see Santorini and booked Kima Villa for one night. It was ranked well on trip advisor; is it okay? Given our limited time, we planned to ferry over to Santorini on Friday morning, and fly back to Athens Saturday night. We mostly just want to hike and see the views. Would it be better to just fly both ways to save time during the 2-day visit or just make it a day trip with flights both ways? Also, is there a shuttle from the ferry port to Oia directly, without having to change in Fira? And, is there a shuttle from Oia back to the airport? Thank you for your help. We’ve travelled a lot, but never this part of the world.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Both the metro and the X95 bus are cheap and easy ways to get from the airport to downtown Athens. The bus is better if you have lots of luggage or are arriving in the middle of the night (the metro stops between 11:30pm and 5:30am). The metro is better during rush hour as the bus can be a slow trip through heavy traffic. The bus is slightly cheaper. If you can get the early flight to Santorini and late flight back (not sure that’s still possible booking so late) then flying would be better. From Port to Fira by bus costs €2.2. Fira to Oia: €1.6. Taxi from port to Oia is €25-30. But there is nothing direct (nor to the airport).

      Reply
  4. Hotel Close to the Acropolis

    We would like to stay close to the Acropolis, preferably an area that has a view of the acropolis. What area of Athens should we be searching in? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Dave

      Both the Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods are right below the Acropolis and you can see the Parthenon whenever you look up (as long as there’s not a building in the way). They’re both very touristy (Monastiraki less so) but fun to explore. On the opposite side of the Acropolis (which sits on a large hill) are the neighborhoods of Koukaki and Makrigianni – which have a lively feel, lots of cafes and restaurants like the Plaka, but populated with plenty of locals. It’s an easy walk to the Plaka area and the historic sites found there. All 4 neighborhoods are great for being close to the Acropolis.

      Reply
  5. When to Leave for Piraeus

    I am taking a 7:25 departure from Piraeus. I plan to take the metro from Athens to Piraeus. What time should I leave Syntagma in Athens to arrive in good time for the ferry?

    Reply
    1. Dave

      It takes 30 minutes by metro to get from Syntagma to Piraeus. If you’re going to the Cyclades (Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Santorini, etc) those ferries are a 5 minute walk from the metro. Other destinations are a longer walk – some quite far. If you’ve already bought your ticket that’s easiest, buying in Piraeus can take 5 to 15 minutes. So, leaving Syntagma by 6am should be fine for anything destination and buying your ticket. A little later if it’s the Cyclades and you’ve bought your ticket already.

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