The Ultimate Guide to Athens for 2015

by SantoriniDave – Updated February, 2015

Getting Started

The Athens Travel Guide

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? 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? 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. 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 but for flights within Europe you’re better to book through a discount airline like the ones listed below. These discount, or charter, airlines historically don’t appear in a Kayak search (but this is changing and for the summer of 2015 more and more of the discount airlines are appearing in Kayak searches). And these budget airlines only fly within Europe so they’re 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 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 Aktina 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 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.

52 questions and comments

  1. Culture Activities In and Around Athens

    Terrific site! Thanks for curating it.

    My wife and I will be traveling to Athens in late March/early April to scout for a future food and culture study abroad program. Any must do/sees in this realm from your perspective? And, any suggestion for food focused island excursion from Athens? We typically like areas that are more traditional and that have fewer tourists. While distant islands would probably fit the bill more, closer sites would probably more efficient and economical considering our available time – a couple of days.

    Any guidance would be much appreciated!


    1. Dave

      The Central Market is a must for foodies. I took Greek language courses at the Athens Centre when I was in my 20s and loved it. Hydra and Aegina islands are both very popular with Greek tourists so have more of a Greek feel than some of the touristy islands. Both are a very short ferry ride from Athens.

  2. Small Group Tours of Athens

    We are interested in taking some day trips while staying in Athens in mid-May 2015. Do you have any recommendations for tour companies that offer small group tours? We want to avoid the herds of cruise ship travelers, but also join a small group. Private tours are very expensive so we are looking for high quality, small group offerings. Many thanks for all of your excellent information.

    Tripp Garick

  3. Fira to Airport/Day in Athens

    hi dave..
    hats off to u ..its such an incredible blog…i have two questions..

    1) We are a family of two adults and one 7yr kid..we are planning to take 8.20 morning Ryan air flight from santorini to athens in june..we will be staying in Fira close to the bus terminal..all the bus schedules that i have seen show that buses to monolithios(airport) starts only after 7am…are there any airport buses leaving fira before that ?

    2) We will be reaching Athens airport at 10 am ..our connection flight back is in evening 5.30…can you suggest any activities possible during this time??
    thank you so much

    1. Dave

      The 7am is the first to the airport that I know of. Taxis are cheap though.
      In Athens head for the Plaka area (either by train to Monastiraki, bus to Syntagma Square). If you get a taxi take it directly to the Acropolis Museum, then walk up to the Acropolis and down through the Plaka. You’ll have to start heading back to the airport by 3pm but you should be able to see a bit in that area.

  4. Hotel near Athens Train Station/ Hotel near Meteora

    Hi Dave,

    First, I just want to say how helpful your website has been. My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon to Greece this May, and all of your tips/advice have been incredibly helpful.

    My question is this: we are arriving early on Sunday, May 10th (12:45am) and plan to get on the train the next morning to Kalabaka (the 8:30am). Is there a safe, clean hotel near the train station that we could go to just to crash for the night before we get on the train? Even if it’s 15 minutes or so by cab. I’d rather have a driver pick us up than take public transportation or be walking too far that late at night, especially after an international flight.

    Also, any recommendations for hotels in Kalabaka (we won’t have a car, so a central location is best)

    Thanks in advance for your help

    1. Dave

      Hotel Oscar is right across the street from the train station. Good, clean, inexpensive. But there is also a metro station at the train station so you could stay at any hotel close to Syntagma Square (and station) and take the metro 4 stops in the morning to the train station. Syntagma Square is where the 24 hour airport bus stops.

      In Kalabaka the best hotel in the area is the Divani Meteora (great views of the Meteora) and for budget hotels there’s the very friendly Hotel Meteora.

  5. Nafplio – Hotels and Things To Do

    Do you have suggestions for Nafplion? Where to stay and what to do for a family with 2 preteen daughters? We would love to be within a short walk of the town and the beach, if possible. Snorkeling and/or water inflatable rides would be lovely. We have about 4 days to spend there. Thank you!

    1. Dave

      Nafplio is all about walking and exploring. The 2 fortifications are very impressive and have incredible views. This is a marvelous town and one of my favorites in Greece. Be sure to stay in town. There is great swimming at Arvanitia Beach in town (though it’s a small pebble beach). Karathona is 3km outside of town (walk, taxi or bus) and is a long sandy beach.

      Amphitryon Hotel is the best hotel in Nafplio and also has family rooms with sea views.

  6. Annie

    Dave, just wanted to say I am so appreciative for the thorough and practical advice you provided. I feel quite prepared for the trip in June to Athens and Santorini after reading all the information in your blog.


  7. Overnight Ferry from Athens to Santorini

    Hello Dave, Great Website!!

    We are thinking of taking a ferry from Athens to Santorini and then back a few days later, all in May. We are looking for overnight ferries with sleeping cabins. Are these available in May? Where would we best find these schedules?

    Regards, Jim Mair

    1. Dave

      There are no overnight ferries from Athens to Santorini in May. The closest is a evening Blue Star ferry that leaves Piraeus at 18:00 (on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday) and arrives in Santorini at about 1am. There are 2,3, and 4 berth cabins that you can get. From Santorini to Athens there’s a Blue Star ferry that leaves Santorini at 1:25am (on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) and arrives in Piraeus at 7:45am. You can book these online through the Blue Star website.

  8. Athens to Naxos to Santorini

    Hi Dave,

    This is the best site around! Thank you!

    My 18 year old son and I are traveling to Greece in June 2015. So far itinerary is 3 nights Athens(A is for Athens Hotel) 3 nights Naxos(TBA) and 4 nights Santorini(villa Illias). We are taking the ferry to Naxos and then again to Santorini. We will fly back to Athens from Santorini.
    My questions:
    1. Should we buy tickets in Athens for the Naxos to Santorini leg of our ferry trip? Are they available to buy in Naxos? Is it the ferry coming from Pireaus that takes us to Santorini from Naxos or do we have other options?

    2. Our flight from Santorini to Athens arrives by 10:00 a.m. and our international flight to the United States leaves at 1:30. Am I correct to assume that it is the same airport and all should be well with connections?

    Thanks for your advice!

    1. Dave

      1. You can buy the Naxos to Santorini ferry tickets anywhere – in Naxos, in Athens, at the Athens airport. You want the Blue Star ferry from Naxos to Santorini so you can access the open air decks and see the caldera as you approach Santorini. This ferry is large and only rarely sells out and rarer still in June so you can buy your tickets at any time after you arrive and be fine.

      2. Yes, domestic and international flights both use Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos). It has a direct train to downtown Athens and regular bus service so it’s easy to get into Athens with the amount of time you have.

  9. Ferry to Santorini in the Evening

    Hi Dave,
    We will reach Athens airport on 28th Jan 2015 around 15:30. Is there any Night Ferry available from Pireus port to Santorini?

    1. Dave

      There is not an evening ferry to Santorini in January. There is however an evening ferry on the 28th to Naxos. It leaves Piraeus at 17:30 and gets to Naxos at 22:45. You’d then get the following morning to explore Naxos (great old town) and could then catch the Blue Star the next day (the 29th) as it goes from Piraeus to Santorini. It leaves Piraeus at 7:25am gets to Naxos at 12:50 and then to Santorini by 15:10. So essentially you’re choosing between spending the night in Athens or spending the night on Naxos (and breaking a long ferry ride into 2 shorter trips). Hope that helps.

  10. Plaka or Kolonaki

    Hi would you please recommend if staying in the plaka or kolonaki wld be best for first time visitors? Im traveling with my mother and my two children 10 & 12 in late March. Coming to meet my father who lives in Markopoulo for the first time. But may be without car so wanted to be close to attractions. I like vibrant towns . Or any other places you may suggest are better.

    1. Dave

      Definitely the Plaka. The Plaka is close to everything and has a great atmosphere (though busy for sure). Many more places to eat than Kolonaki. Kolonaki is nice but you’ll be walking 10 to 20 minutes to see any major sights. Though there are a few good museums close to Kolonaki but these aren’t high on the list of things to do for most first time visitors.

      If I did stay in Kolonaki it would be at the wonderful St George Lycabettus Hotel. The best views in Athens, a handful of cafes and restaurants just out the door. Perched near the top of a hill so you would be taking a taxi a fair bit (or getting your exercise). But if I wasn’t staying there then I’d be in the Plaka.

  11. Affordable, Safe Hotel in Athens

    Hi Dave! Such a fantastic site! Probably one of the best guides to any town/city ive found online.

    We are planning a trip with our 1 year old son in early June. Flying to Athens then we plan to rent a car then immediately drive to delphi and meteora, spending 1 night in each town. We go back to athens for 2 nights before going to santorini for 4 nights. We return to athens stay again for 2 nights before we leave for our flight.

    1. We plan to stay in Imerovigli as we prefer to stay someplace away from the crowd but with easy access to public transportation. We dont mind a non caldera view from the hotel but hope to find a place thats near a place with a view. We are looking at Aelia by Eltheon. Any thoughts on this place?

    2. The arrival time of the ferry from santorini is late at night. We prefer to return to Athens right away. Is taking the train safe at this time with a baby and luggage? Although taxi is always an option, any advice how we can avoid taxis that charge us extra? Are there any hotels that arrange piraeus pick up?

    3. Looking at an affordable, safe place to stay in athens. We prefer to stay somewhere with access to the metro to the ferry and to the airport. looking at attalos. Any other recommendations thats near monasteraki probably?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Dave

      1) Aelia is in a good location – but you’re right, no caldera view. Views look east and you get the sunrise but not the sunset. It’s a 2 minute walk to the bus stop (for Fira and Oia). A 5 minute walk to views of the caldera. It’s got a great pool. And you always get good value when your hotel does not have a caldera view.
      2) Yes, the Athens to Ferry Port train is safe at all times of day – and especially when a ferry arrives as you’ll be part of a large group of people making their way to the metro. Taxis lineup just outside the ferry so they’re very quick and easy to grab. Before I get in a cab I enquire about how much it will cost and whether they’ll be using the meter. Whether this makes a difference I don’t know. But I feel that showing some interest in the cost and that I will be watching the meter might make a ripoff slightly less likely. Email your hotel and ask how much a cab costs from Piraeus to the hotel. If you’re charged much more than they suggest threaten to phone the tourist police – that does usually help.
      3) A For Athens Hotel has the best location for the metro to both the airport and ferry. Literally steps from the Monastiraki Station exit. Attalos is fine too. It’s about a 3 to 5 minute walk up Athinas street from the metro. That street is busy and has lots of foot traffic until late at night. It’s not a pretty street and can feel a little sketchy but I’d describe it as safe.

  12. Monastiraki Flea Market

    Hi Dave!
    Great and informative blog! I am going to be in Athens for just one day, a sunday. I would like to hit the monastiraki flea market and the new acropolis museum. ( I have seen the Acropolis on a previous trip.) My flight is in at 12:40 pm ATH.

    What is the best and fastest way to get to Herodion hotel? Also, how long does the Monastriaki market go on a sunday?

    Thanks for your help

    1. Dave

      To get from the airport to your hotel the fastest way would be a cab. It will cost €35 through the day. It’s flat rate so there should be no extra fees for tolls or luggage. Both metro (€8) and bus (€5) will get you quickly and cheaply to Syntagma Square but from there you’ll need to walk (about 15 minutes or more since you won’t quite know where you’re going), taxi (about €10), or metro one more stop (after changing trains). So the taxi is clearly easier and faster.

      The market goes on all day into the evening when the restaurants get very busy and there’s an almost festive air to the neighborhood. The Acropolis Museum is open until 8pm (and usually quiet after 4 or 5pm) so you could visit the flea market first then come back to the museum for the last few hours. But … the Monastiraki area is great for a late dinner so not sure what’s more appealing to you.

      1. Pamela

        Thank you for a quick response! I am actually thinking that I might change hotels and stay at A for Athens instead, so I can hit the market first and then wind down to the museum by 5pm and then back to the Monastiraki area for dinner and be in the area for hotel.

        Do you have comment on the difference in the hotels? Or other suggestions?


        1. Dave

          A for Athens is great and you can’t have a better location. It’s steps (and I mean steps) from the metro that goes to both the airport and ferry port. (It’s 10-15 minutes from the airport bus location though so I wouldn’t take the airport bus – stick with the metro.)

  13. 1 Day in Athens/ Airport Transportation

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the wonderful insights to Greece. Im planning to travel to Athen and Santorini in June 2015. As i have a tight schedule plan, just hope you could give some guidance. I have about 6 hours in between from my arrival in Athens (1050Hrs arrival time) to my departure to Santorini (about 1925Hrs departure time). Just wondering if it will give me sufficient to visit the Acropolis and the Monastiraki square before my flight to Santorini. And how should i travel to these places to and fro the airport.

    1. Dave

      Yes. You should be fine for a quick trip into the city. Take the metro to Monastiraki station. After walking through immigration/customs walk up one level to arrivals. Follow the signs to the Athens Metro. It’s about a 3 minute walk. Buy a ticket before going down to the trains. The trip into the city should take about 40 minutes. Get off at Monastiraki station. From there you’re a few minutes from the Plaka and several sights of ancient Athens. The Acropolis is a 20 minute walk from that area (mostly going up). Trains run about every 30 minutes. I’d get back to Monastiraki station by 5pm to catch the train back. Some trains will go to Plakentias station some all the way to the airport. If you take a Plakentias train that’s fine but you’ll need to get off at the last stop and then wait for the next train coming that goes to the airport (so I just wait for the one going directly to the airport as it makes no difference).

      1. Ath

        Thanks for the additional inputs on the trains. Crossing my fingers that I don’t get lost or missed my flight. Great work you have here!

  14. Staying in Syntagma

    Hi Dave!
    We are travelling to Athens for 3 nites and staying in a hotel on Syntagma Square then on to Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. From Crete we travel back to Athens then the following day leave for the airport in the morning to travel home. What do you think about staying at a hotel on Syntagma for the last nite in Athens? We will will have the afternoon and evening in Athens. Can you suggest afternoon sightseeing and restaurant in that area?

    1. Dave

      Syntagma is a great area to stay. It’s handy for getting to and from the airport by metro or bus. The Acropolis should be at the top of your list of things-to-do. Other suggestions would be walking around the Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods, seeing the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Athens Central Market, hitting the cafes of nearby Kolonaki and walking up Lykavittos Hill (or taking the funicular). Lots to do within walking distance of Syntagma Square.

  15. Florence to Santorini for a Weekend

    Hello Dave!
    Your blog is unbelievably helpful. I need your help in attempting to get from Florence to Athens to Santorini. We are two college students on a strict budget traveling Thursday afternoon until Sunday night the second weekend of October. If you could at all suggest the order in which we should plan out trip that would make it less confusing/costly, please let me know.
    Thanks so much!

    1. Dave

      Unless you can find a direct flight from Rome or Milan to Santorini (try Meridiana airlines) I can’t see how you’d make this work. If you flew to Athens on Thursday, the earliest ferry you could get to Santorini would be the Blue Star on Friday morning which would get you to Santorini Friday afternoon. To get your flight back to Italy you’d need to take the Saturday ferry back to Athens. Or if you’re flight were late enough the 7am Blue Star on Sunday morning getting you to Piraeus at 3pm – and you’d still have to get to the airport. So you’d have at most 2 nights on Santorini and more likely just one night. That’s a lot of traveling for such little time there.

        1. Dave

          Absolutely. That will give you half of Friday, all of Saturday and Sunday, and returning to Athens on Monday. Not a long trip but enough to make it worthwhile.

          1. Monika Gierula

            Where in Santorini would you recommend staying? We are flying from Milan to Athens Friday morning, leaving for Santorini Saturday morning, returning to Athens Tuesday afternoon & flying back to Milan Wednesday morning. We need somewhere to stay that doesn’t require much transportation, as we have no car. We prefer somewhere with an enjoyable nightlife but also close to the beach. Hostels with dorm room style housing are not a problem.

  16. Athens just 1 Night :(

    Hi Dave,

    After going through your site thoroughly we (My Husband and I) are planning to take Blue Star from Santorini to Athens in October. Based on that we will be reaching Piraeus port at around 23:25 , but due to exigency we have to take our flight from Athens (Bergamo) to Milan the next day early in the morning at 9:00 am.
    Please suggest if we can roam around in Athens in the night either in Piraeus /Bergamo or anywhere which is close to the airport
    How possibly can we spend one night in Athens. We don’t wish to ruin our night by sleeping. So please kindly suggest if you have a better option.

    Thank you way in advance

    1. Dave

      Go to the Plaka and Monastiraki areas of Athens and walk around. They’ll be busy until early morning, lots of restaurants, cafes, and clubs, and very safe. The metro from Piraeus goes straight to Monastiraki. When you’re ready to go to the airport take the metro or bus X95 from Syntagma Square.

  17. Athens in January

    Hi Dave,

    So glad I found your blog – such good info! We are going to Athens in early January (and I know that’s prob not the best time of the year but it’s the only time we had available). Any tips for going there during that time of the year? Will the Blue Star be running for us to take a trip into Santorini or is it cancelled often in Jan? Thanks so much!

    1. Dave

      Athens is great in January – as long as you’re ready for coldish weather. The tourist attractions are nearly empty, though the parthenon will always have some visitors. Athens is loaded with great places to eat, drink, and party and no tourist crowds to deal with. The Blue Star runs all year long and cancellations are few, even in January. Of course, Santorini will be very quiet in January.

  18. 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!

    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.

  19. 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,


    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.

  20. 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.

    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).

  21. 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.

    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.

  22. 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?

    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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