Athens Travel Guide

Athens is the oldest city in Europe, the birthplace of Classical Greece, and therefore of Western civilization. Athens is the city of gods, goddesses, history’s greatest philosophers and world-famous archeological sites. Today, greater Athens is by far the economic, political and cultural centre of modern Greece, with nearly half of the country’s population. It’s one of Europe’s liveliest cities, with vibrant restaurants, bars, cafes and and sun-soaked beaches.

The Odeon of Herodus Atticus Ancient Theatre in Athens Travel Guide

The Odeon of Herodus Atticus in Athens

Best Time to visit Athens

Best time to visit Athens is during spring and mid autumn, having less tourists, lots of sunny days and thus, the ideal time for sightseeing.

Summer is high season, can be extremely hot and dry during heatwaves and most tourists stay to explore Athens for a day or two, before traveling to the Greek Islands, their holiday destination.

During Winter the weather is unpredictable, ranging from crisp, bright days to rain and even occasional snow, but it’s also an ideal time to enjoy the city without countless other tourists and take advantage of the low hotels and airbnbs rates.

Accommodation in Athens

Athens has a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious and designer boutique hotels, to small pensions and hostels. You will also find a great variety of Airbnbs for all pockets and taste. Hotel prices in Athens are in average less expensive than the rest of Europe.

This city is a paradise for budget travellers, as it offers a huge selection of hotel deals, hostels and airbnbs. There are many budget hotels near the city centre, which are close to all tourist attractions and are accessible by foot. Buses and taxis are generally cheap, thus staying away from the city centre will not be a problem.

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Things to do in Athens

Visit the Acropolis, the ancient fortified town of Athens, dating back to the Late Bronze Age, now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among its iconic buildings of the Greek Classical age, are the Parthenon, the Erectheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. Acropolis dominates the Athenian sky and symbolizes the foundation of modern culture and civilization, open daily from 08:00 – 19:00 during summer, and 08:00 – 17:00 during winter.

Many archaeological sites can be found around Acropolis like the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Kerameikos, the Lyceum, the ancient temple that hosted lectures by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and Plato’s Academy, founded by Plato.

Visit the new Acropolis Museum, located by the southeastern slope of the Acropolis hill, and the National Archeological Museum situated in the Exarcheia area in central Athens, both featuring the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities. There are many smaller museums and galleries like the Kanellopoulos Museum, the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the National Gallery and the Athens Municipal Art Gallery.

The areas at the foot of the Acropolis, Anafiotika, Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio, are home to many wonderful Neoclassical buildings, trendy and traditional cafes and shops, narrow winding streets, with incredible views of the Acropolis. Little Greek Orthodox churches are tucked in among the concrete, often in the most unexpected places. Also don’t miss the Lycabettus Hill, with astonishing views of the Parthenon and the blue sea, and Syntagma Square to catch the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament every hour.

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Shopping in Athens

Athens is one of the best fashion and shopping destination in Europe, with international brands, luxury products, designer shops and many original boutiques. The best shopping street in Athens is Ermou Street, found beside Syntagma Square, with all the classic brands such as H&M and similar department stores. Kolonaki with the small streets, including Skoufa, Anagnostopoulou and the pedestrianized Tsakaloff, is the upscale, hip, and artistic shopping area, with many art galleries, hip clothing boutiques and antique stores.

Souvenir shops are available everywhere where tourists go, selling museum reproductions, embroideries, handmade sandals and local products. The Flea Market of Athens starts next to the Monastiraki station, lined with second-hand and surplus shops of every description.

There are relatively few shopping malls in the city. The Mall Athens next to Neratziotissa station in Maroussi, is the biggest shopping mall, with a large variety of shops, cafés, restaurants and one of the most hi-tech cinemas in the city. Another shopping mall in Maroussi is the Golden Hall, at Kifissias avenue, offering shops with luxury brands, luxury cafés, bars, and restaurants. McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Athens is the biggest discount village of Athens, in a beautiful setting with cafes, restaurants and more than 100 boutiques, ranging from iconic fashion brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Guess and Hugo Boss to athletic labels, like Nike and Adidas, and high-street favourites, like Diesel.

Prada Shop in Athens Travel Guide

Prada Shop in Athens

Best Beaches in Athens

Although Athens is mostly famous for its sightseeing, you will be surprised by the beauty of its beaches. The beaches feature crystal clear waters and sand-fringed shorelines, that are easily accessible from the city centre. Greater Athens features the longest coastline of any European capital, with Athens’ beaches consistently awarded Blue Flag status for their high standards in water quality and cleanliness.

Most of the beaches offer amenities such as toilets, changing rooms and sun-beds, but there are also beaches, which are part of a hotel or a club, that provide excellent facilities, including bars or restaurants and beach activities.

Below are some of the best beaches in Athens:Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Asteras Beach
Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Astir Beach
Sandy, Beach Club – Get Directions

Αkti Vouliagmenis Beach
Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Kavouri Beach
Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Varkiza Beach
Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Glyfada Beach
Sandy, Pebbles, Organised – Get Directions

Voula Beach
Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Rafina beach
Pebbled, Organised – Get Directions

Artemis Beach
Sandy, Organised – Get Directions

Where to eat in Athens

Athens has a huge variety of all types of restaurants, from cheap eats to fine dining. There are few things the Greeks are more famous for than their food, and Athens is considered one of the best places to find authentic Greek food.

Tourists, as they wander from point to point, will want to stop and refresh themselves with some delicious Greek cuisine. For many, the food itself is one of the main reasons for coming to Athens.

Visit some of the top restaurants in Athens from the list below:

Scala Vinoteca
Greek, Mediterranean

V1935 Mediterranean Tastes

Dinner in the Sky
Greek, Mediterranean

Jaipur Palace
Indian, Asian

M8 Kolonaki

Greek, Mediterranean


Greek, Contemporary

Arcadia Restaurant
Seafood, Mediterranean

Indian Haveli
Indian, Asian

Nightlife in Athens

Athens boasts a vibrant nightlife and the Athenians like to party almost every night of the week. Bars usually close around three or four in the morning (most of them are open during the day for coffee and snacks), while nightclubs tend to close around six or seven in the morning. Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Exarcheia, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki.

Athens offers something for everybody, from hotel bars with views of the Acropolis and sophisticated wine bars to underground night clubs with hypnotic lights, loud music and low ceilings. Every street corner seems to have a lively neighbourhood bar.

Many of Athens hottest clubs and bars are in Psirri and Gazi. Most of the mainstream bars, clubs and Greek nightclubs (featuring live Greek pop singers) are trademarked by their industrial design, as many of them are housed in remodelled and once abandoned factories. Gazi is one of the trendiest areas of Athens nightlife and you can get there by metro line 3 at Kerameikos station.

If you want to enter the stylish, trendy clubs, avoid flip-flops, sport shoes, or other casual garments, and go well dressed like in other European big cities, as some clubs have selection at the entrance.

Plaka and Monastiraki are two ancient, historic and all-time classic Athenian neighbourhoods, popular with visitors. They do not have many big dance clubs and bars, but offer lively, traditional places, to enjoy Greek music year-round, and several rock and jazz clubs.

If you want to really experience how the Athenians party, you must visit one of the many bouzouki clubs, where the booze flows freely, smoking is permitted, the service is top notch and live music blasts from the speakers. Not to mention that everybody is dancing either on the dance floor, or on the chairs, or even on the tables. It would be the most exotic thing you have seen in Athens. Most of bouzouki clubs can be found at Syggrou Avenue and at the industrial strips of Iera Odos and Pireos Street in Gazi, and if you decide to go, ask the locals for the hottest bouzouki clubs.

In the summer months, the action moves to Poseidon Avenue and the coastal towns of Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni. Kolonaki is a staple dining and entertainment destination, catering to the city’s urban working professionals, who enjoy an after work cocktail at many of its bars, open and busy until after midnight, even on weekdays. The clubs here are also very chic.

Exarchia is where to go for smaller more bohemian style haunts, that cater to artists and college students. At the foot of Strefi Hill is where you will find most of the bars and clubs, many of which play rock music, an alternative option of Athens nightlife.

Check some of the most popular Nightclubs in Athens below:

Six D.O.G.S

Six d.o.g.s is the perfect place for fans of the underground techno scene


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Lohan Nightclub

A trendy nightclub with music ranging from House, dance music and commercial


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One of the most popular nightclubs, plays house, deep house and electronic music


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Pixi Athens

Unique audio-visual experience, 3D projections and lots of electronic music selections with famous DJs


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Attracts crowds addicted to electronic music and is the Mekkah of hipsters


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Luxury Club with amazing design, with a different party every night


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Getting around Athens

The Athens Metro is efficient, open from 05:00 to midnight and generally the only pleasant way to get around Athens. The standard metro fare is €1.40 (as of April 2019) for trips between all stations except the Airport line. This allows travel with all means of public transport and unlimited transfers for 90 minutes. A 24-hour ticket for all public transport in Athens, apart from the Airport line, costs €4.50. The standard fare to or from the airport is €10.00 each way (as of April 2019), and this includes the full journey between any point in the Athens public transport system and the airport.
The new Athens Tram connects the city centre with the southern suburbs and has connections with the metro lines. Ticket prices are the same with Athens Metro (€1.40 for 90 minutes).
Athens is served by a network of diesel buses, natural gas buses and electric trolleybuses run by the Athens Urban Transport Organisation. The integrated ticket costs €1.40 and allows for multiple trips within 90 minutes, including transfers to the Metro or Tram and it’s available in most kiosks. Trips to the Airport cost €6.00. A weekly pass cost €14.00 and is the most cost-effective. It gives you unlimited rides on almost all public transit (bus, tram, train, subway) for 7 days. You only need to validate once, before first use. Buses will not stop unless you signal the driver by raising your arm. There are no arrival time signs in any of the stations.
Canary yellow taxis are a common sight in Athens and are a reasonably priced way of getting around. The starting fee is €1.19, after which the meter ticks up at €0.34/km (“rate 1”) or €0.64/km (“rate 2”), with a minimum fare of €3.20. Rate 1 applies through Athens city limits, including the airport, while rate 2 applies outside the city and from midnight to 05:00. Legal surcharges apply for calling a taxi by radio (€1.60), trips to or from the airport (€3.20) and heavy bags (€0.32). Tipping is not necessary, although it’s common to round up to the nearest full euro.
You can rent a car at the airport, where most of the major international companies have a presence, as well as in most of Athens’ districts. There are also several large local companies which will deliver the car outside of the airport.

The most efficient way to book your car is online, so check prices and compare at the link below:

Athens is not a friendly city for bicyclists, as it does not have many bicycle lanes and tourists not familiar with the terrible Athenian traffic are not advised to use a bicycle. However, within the network of pedestrian streets in the historical city centre, rides are safe and can be quite enjoyable.

Traveling to Athens

Athens’ main airport is Eleftherios Venizelos International (ATH), which is about 24 km east of the downtown area. Getting into the city is simple thanks to the direct subway connection, which costs €10.00. Buses X93, X95, or X96 are a cheaper alternative and cost €6.00 for the trip. They are also 24/7, so might be handy as the subway stops running just before midnight.

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The national rail service, Trainose, connects Athens to other cities in Greece. However, the national railroad system is limited to two lines. One goes south to the Pelopponese. The other goes to the north, connecting Athens with the second major city in Greece, Thessaloniki. From there the line continues further to the north and all the way to the east, passing through many other cities of northern Greece and eventually reaching Istanbul.

There are two types of train you can use: the normal, slow, type of train equipped with beds, and the faster, more reliable new ‘Intercity’ type. However travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki by the ‘Intercity’ type will save one hour at most, but the ticket will be almost twice the price. As of late 2014 there are international trains to Belgrade, Serbia and Sofia, Bulgaria via Thessaloniki.

Regional coaches (KTEL) connect Athens to other cities in Greece, which can be a handy and cheap way of getting to the city. The fleet of buses has been upgraded, which makes the journey pleasant and safe. There are also collaborations with companies from adjacent countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, so it’s advisable to ask on both the bus and the train companies about the available options.

There are two KTEL coach stations, one at Liosion Avenue, 2 Liosion Ktel Station (near Aghios Nikolaos station on the Green line) and the other at Kifissou Avenue, 3 Kifissou Ktel Station Bus routes X93 (Athens International Airport), 051 (Athens center), 052 (Elaionas Metro station), 420 (Piraeus port).

If you rent a car at the airport and need to drive into the city, the best route is to take highway 62, then head north on highway 6 until you get to Gerakas, where you need to switch to highway 54 into the city center. You’ll find major rental companies like Hertz and Sixt at the airport. However, traffic can be bad on the outskirts of Athens, so it might be best to rent a car near your accommodation instead of at the airport.

The most efficient way to book your car is online, so check our prices and compare. We offer the lowest car rental deals!

The port of Piraeus is the chief sea port of Athens, internal part of the city and is served by many ferries. Cruise ships also regularly visit, especially during warm months.

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