How to get from Athens Airport to City Center

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Upon landing at Athens International Airport after a surprisingly pleasant business class experience with Aegean Airlines, the next question that struck me was: How do I get from Athens Airport to the city center? As such a busy tourist centre, Athens offers a plethora of options, each catering to different needs and preferences. This guide will delve into the details, ensuring you find the best way to reach downtown Athens seamlessly.

1. The Athenian Metro: A Quick Dive into the City’s Network

For many, the Metro is the most obvious answer to the question, “What is the best way to get from Athens Airport to downtown?”

  • Overview: The Metro system in Athens is efficient, air-conditioned and connects major parts of the city.
  • Route Details: The Airport is connected to the city centre via Line 3 (Blue Line).
  • Duration: Approximately 40 minutes.
  • Cost: As of 2023, a one-way ticket costs around €9 for a 90 minute duration (you can use it on both Metro and Tram). Tickets can be purchased at the station using cash or credit cards.
  • Pros: It’s fast, avoids traffic, and offers frequent service.
  • Cons: Can be crowded during peak hours and has limited luggage space.
  • Personal Experience: While frequent (at least 2 hourly), you can get caught up in a long line at the Airport Metro station. I bought the €9 ticket, took Line 3 to Syntagma Square and changed there for Line 2 to my eventual destination. All signs are displayed in Greek and Latin alphabets, so it’s easy to navigate. Pay attention to which station you’re at, as in the city centre there’s a lot of chopping and changing. Another pro: the Metro offers a glimpse into the daily life of Athenians, making it not just a mode of transport but also a cultural experience.

2. Taxi & Uber: Personalised and Direct

If you’re wondering about the cost to get from Athens Airport to the city centre by taxi or Uber, here’s a breakdown:

  • Overview: Taxis are available 24/7 outside the arrivals hall. Uber operates in Athens but has a different model to the approach you might be used to: mostly it connects you to a regular taxi driver.
  • Duration: 30-50 minutes, depending on traffic.
  • Cost: The average fare is €40 during the day and increases up to €55 at night.
  • Pros: Direct route, comfort, and ideal for those with heavy luggage or travelling together.
  • Cons: Can be pricier, especially during peak hours.
  • Personal Experience: Taxis booked via your hotel are reliable but MUCH more expensive than Uber. Use the official taxi stand at the airport to stay safe and Uber within the city to save on local trips.

3. Buses: Scenic Route with Local Flavour

For those asking, “Is there a shuttle from Athens Airport?”, buses are a great alternative:

  • Overview: Buses provide a scenic route from the airport to various parts of the city.
  • Route Details: The X95 bus line directly connects the airport to Syntagma Square in the city centre.
  • Duration: Around 60 minutes.
  • Cost: A one-way ticket is approximately €6.
  • Pros: Economical, offers a scenic route, and operates 24/7.
  • Cons: Slower due to multiple stops and potential traffic delays.
  • Personal Experience: You may love buses for that great insight into local life and for the scenery, but be careful about when you take a bus if travelling alone. Like many places, some parts of Athens can be sketchy. If arriving at night, take a taxi.

4. Shared Shuttles: If you don’t mind sharing

  1. Viator: This travel website offers shared shuttle transfers from Athens International Airport to the city center and other destinations. The shuttle operates multiple times per day, depending on the destination. For more information, visit this link to book.

NOTE: some shared shuttle services have gone out of business or changed names. To be safe, book via Viator, or take the X95 local bus into the city centre and be cautious with the links that you trust for any bookings.

4. Other Alternatives

For those looking for other alternatives:

  • Car Rentals: Companies like Sixt, Europcar and Hertz operate from the airport, allowing you to rent a car and drive to the city centre. The rental counters are located in the arrivals hall between gates 3 and 4, and the vehicles are on-site, which makes life a lot easier. Almost all rates in Greece include *basic* insurance, budget for it if you want additional cover. I use Skyscanner to compare prices in one easy location.
  • Private Transfers: Services like Welcome Pickups or City Airport Transfers offer private transfers, ideal for larger groups or special occasions. Expect to pay a little more than the regular taxi fare and book through your accommodation or direct with specialist services.

Conclusion

Athens offers a range of transportation options to cater to every traveler’s needs, from luxury pick-ups to budget bus journeys. Whether you’re travelling solo like me, moving a family, or want a pick-up while you’re on business, Athens has an option that will whisk you to the heart of this ancient city. Perhaps ‘whisking’ is too hopeful when dealing with Greek traffic! Share your experiences or any additional tips in the comments below!

Related Articles: Dive deeper into the Aegean Airlines business class experience and discover the nuances of air travel with Planet Patrick.

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