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Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport is 27km east of Downtown Athens and well connected to Athens by public transportation. This airport handles all international flights and domestic flights for Athens. If you’re renting a car in Athens it’s best to pick it up from the Athens airport.
Most areas in Greece, including Athens and the airport neighborhood, have public transportation strikes throughout the year. These strikes affect all forms of transit, including, buses, trains, ferries, flights, and taxis. During strikes no buses, no ferries, and only a handful of trains and flights will depart on time (or at all); taxis tend to be the least affected mode of transport. Though strikes can occur any time, there is always a huge strike on May 1. Avoid booking any flights, ferries, or trains that day.
- 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”. 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 €38 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.)
There are 2 ferry 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.
The easiest way from Downtown Athens to the Rafina ferry port is taxi. It costs about €50 and takes 45 minutes. There are no easy to catch buses from Athens to Rafina. You’ll have to use the KTEL bus station (close to the National Archaeological Museum). 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. But if you’re already in Athens then Piraeus is much easier to get to from central Athens and is the better choice for most travelers.
The X96 bus goes directly from Athens International Airport to Pireaus (the ferry port). It takes 45 to 90 minutes depending on time of day and traffic. It costs €5. Buses run every 15 to 30 minutes, 24 hours per day. Walk out the doors on the Arrivals floor and turn right. Buy tickets from the kiosk beside the buses before getting on board.
From Athens International Airport to Rafina takes about 30 minutes by bus and costs €3. The bus departs from just opposite the Sofitel Hotel and not from the marked bus area where the X93, X95, and X96 depart from. You do not buy tickets from the kiosk booth adjacent to the X buses but instead pay the €3 fare on the bus.
A taxi from the airport to Rafina port will cost €25 and take 20 to 30 minutes.
As mentioned previously, public transportation strikes occur every May 1 and at other random dates througout the year. Avoid booking any flights, ferries, or trains that day. Taxis tend to be the least affected mode of transport, though even taxis strike occasionally.