When getting off the plane, it's always a gamble to find the best way into town. For Athens, I'd say it's the metro. It is super clean, the cars are wide and have places to put your luggage and it takes you right to the center of town. Just make sure that after you buy your ticket you get it validated before walking down the stairs to the train.
The "metro", since it has been completed in time for the Athens Olympics 2004, is a favorite means of transport now for many Greeks and tourists.
In general, there are 3 lines, green and red Metro, as well as the old blue ISAP-line with a fairly slow train. You will be surprised by the modern trains and beautiful stations, on many
you can find excavations on display! So don't miss out on taking the metro, e.g. at Syntagma.
The single ticket costs 70 cents for the ISAP, 80 cents for the regular subway. Make sure you don't go by regular subway with an ISAP-ticket!
Construction of the modern Athens metro begun in November 1992 with the first train being run from Ethniki Amyna to Syntagma in April 1999 and work is scheduled to continue at least until 2013 and, at the time of writing, the system currently handles about 580,000 passengers per day. The Metro runs roughly every 3 minutes at peak periods and every 5-10 minutes off-peak from early morning until midnight.
The basic Metro fare is 80 euro cents for a one-way trip of up to 90 minutes from validation so long as you are travelling away from your departure station but is not valid for the airport line beyond Doukissis Plakentias. For the airport line the one-way fare is 6 euros or 10 euros return. Also available, which are really useful if you are travelling a lot, are the 3 euro, 24 hour and the 10 euro, 7 day, tickets which allow unlimited travel by Metro, Tram and Bus but once again are not valid for the airport line. Tickets are available from automatic machines and ticket windows at all stations and must be validated at the machines before entering the platforms - travelling without a validated ticket will result in a fine of 40 times the basic ticket price.
Being a non-driver I rely almost entirely on public transport on my travels and thus have considerable experience of using metro systems to get around cities; from Boston to Budapest and of course our good old London Tube, but Athens is the best so far! Not only is the metro functional, fast, safe, cheap and easy to navigate, but the stations are worth visiting in their own right for the stunning artwork, architecture and even as mini museums. In fact the whole Athens public transportation system is a joy to use even during rush hours when it can be very busy.
Using the Attiko Metro is simplicity itself with its three lines: the blue line from Monistiraki to the airport; the green line from just outside the dock gates at Pireaus through Monistiraki and north to Kifissia and the red line from Dhafni through Syntagma and on to Sepolia. With these three lines just about anywhere a visitor would wish to visit within the city is easily accessible. The lines are also currently being extended and a fourth line is planned which will loop around the areas not covered by the present system.
The Metro stations are easily located with their distinctive signage and once inside the platforms well signposted with their destinations and routes. The website below is really informative and also quite entertaining with details of routes, ticket options and a photo and video gallery.
See the next tip for some more info >
The Athens metro system is by far the cleanest and most modern metro system I've ever riden. They renovated the entire system for the 2004 Olympics and it turned out great. It is easily navagable and the trains are very comfortable.
If you are arriving, or departing Athens, don't bother taking a taxi to or from the airport. The metro goes reguarly, and it is only 6 euros, where a taxi will be at least 25. Going to the airport, take the subway and go "Doukissis Plakentias." It's the last stop.
Going into Athens from the Airport, just ask the ticket person what stop is near your destination.
WARNING: the metro service stops going to and from the airport at 20:30 and starts again in the morning.
I was really surprised to see cultural relics inside Athens subway stations. The most interesting displays are at the Acropolis and Syntagma Square stations and consist of items that were discovered during construction of the subway. At the Acropolis you can also see casts which are replicas of statues from the Parthenon.
I must say that the Athens subway system is very convenient. I can't imagine what it was like to get around the city during the pre-Metro days before the 2004 Olympics. (The subway project took 10 years to complete and work was carried out under the scrutiny of 50 archaeologists from the Greek government.) The Metro is especially useful for going to the port of Piraeus and also the airport. Tickets are easy to buy and the stations are very clean.
The Athens Metro is the best way to get to the Athens city center from the airport (especially if your destination is near a metro station) AND to move around Athens. The city-airport Metro has a fare of 6Euros and takes 25 minutes to the city center. Fast, comfortable and hassle-free. For movement within the city you can buy individual metro tickets or buy unlimited use one day or weekly tickets. I bought the latter for 10Euros. Most of the sights are within walking distance of a Metro station.
The Athens Metro system is fast, efficient, economical, and clean. Depending on the time of day, most of the lines run every 3 to 6 minutes. The basic fare is .70 euro. A one week transit pass is available for 10 euros. The pass is good for 7 days from the time of validation and can be used on all metro lines, buses and the street level tram that runs out to the beach. (the metro pass is not valid on the Blue Line between Doukissis Plakentias and the airport, a special airport ticket must be bought for passage to the airport.) All tickets must be validated before you enter the platforms to board the trains, the validation machines are located between the ticket machines and the train platforms. Many of the stations are either new or have been recently updated. Tickets are available from machines in all stations and from ticket counters in all of the major stations. The ticket counter staff are quite helpful and most speak English reasonably well (much better then my Greek.) The stations are well marked and access is good (elevators and escalators in most locations.)
The Athens Metro makes getting around the city easier than ever including to and from Eleftheros Venizelos Airport
It took 2000 years but Athens finally has a metro. And not just any metro, the Athens metro has to be the most beautiful system in the world and should stay this way until the graffiti "artists" get a hold of it. In the meantime even if there is nowhere you need to go with the new metro, it is worth visiting it and even taking a ride a few stops.
The lobby is a museum and while many people made their way through the station with the determination of seasoned commuters, many people were wandering around examining the exhibits.
a 80cent metro ticket lasts for 45minutes and can be used on the metro as well as the train.
theres a ticket for buses, metro and trains which we call the 'enieo' it cost 1euro and you can use it for 1 and 1/2 hours only.
make sure you validate your tickets because we do now check!
if your staying at least a month in athens you may buy a card for all transport which costs bout 30euro - unlimited access (if you want now!)
Getting around the city you just have to use the metro..the lines are new and totally safe in a city that generall doesn't experience any terrorist threat etc...you can buy a 7-day ticket although i'd never suggest you to stay for so long in Athens..It's just a big city and definetely there are much better places to visit around. If you have to be in Athens for business you can count on the metro transportation to get on time at your meeting. The alternatives ( buses, tram etc.) are not so reliable and may get you tired. Be aware the metro doesn't operate for 24hrs so if you stay out late you better call a taxi service.
I was pretty impressed with the the Metro in Athens, although I knew that it was extended and refurbished around the Olympics. It takes about 40 min to get from the International Airport, which is some 25 km away from the city to Syntagma Square. All signs are in Greek and English.
I did not quite understand why they sold me a ticked for EUR 6 at the airport to get from there to the downtown, because later it turned out that a daily pass for all metro and bus lines costs EUR 3 and is valid for 24 hours. Anyway, it is still much cheaper than the taxis, of which I used none. I had some friends with me and they took a cab on several occasions. They got invariably ripped off.
Never forget to validate your pass, as the fine is 40 times the cost of the ticket.
If you are going out of Athens to the port of Piraeus it is only E0.60 to take the metro from
Monistriaki to the Port. It will take any where from 30-45 minutes depending on the time of day but, at least you won't have to sit in Athens traffic to get there. Once a Piraeus you get of the train, cross the street and head to pick up a ticket at the docks for a fast boat (all enclosed) or the regular ferry, which is what I recommend because you can sit and enjoy the sunshine while taking photos of the sea scapes and floating sea gulls.
When in Athens, don't miss the Syntagma metro station. As soon as you enter Level 1 you are going to encounter an outstanding display of the archaeological findings that came into light during the construction which lasted more or less 10 years. The highlight of the visit is a marble tomb found in the area, and yes, there is a 2500 year old skeleton on display inside it!
When Monastiraki station opened in late 2003 (the most difficult task of the costruction project) there was a great slideshow display on the ceiling of the platforms area with images sent by Hubble Telescope. It looked like being under an everchanging nightsky. Saddly they don't perform it anymore (hopefully temporarily). They had also promised that there would be a glass floor over Iridanos river (a stream flowing accross ancient Kerameikos Cemetery). Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties they didn't construct it.