Taxis are a cheap and convenient way of getting around Athens. The basic meter drop is one euro and 0.34 euros per extra kilometer. Unfortunately, this rate is so cheap that flagging down a cab on the street may prove difficult at times. On the other hand, taxi scams are less prevalent than in other cities and international destinations. If you decide to travel at night or have some luggage on hand, expect to pay extra fees or a double fare.
The historical center of Athens is generally off-limits to cars and makes for an interesting biking experience. The other neighbourhoods and districts of Athens, however, are decidedly bike-unfriendly and Athenian drivers are notoriously aggressive. If you still want to rent a bike though, several companies with bike and electric scooter rental services are available.
Public transportation in Athens is integrated into a one fare system where 1.50 euros will buy you an unlimited transfer ticket valid for an hour and a half. Transfers on this ticket include the public bus, subway and tram networks within Athens. Four euro single-day and 10 euro week passes are also available. The bus network is fairly extensive and even has limited night services, but buses do not automatically stop at all bus stops. You will have to ring a bell to get off and flag down buses on the street.
Athens Metro was opened in 2001 with three subway lines providing service throughout the metropolitan area. A recently completed extension to the airport carries special fare surcharge of 8 euros for one-way travel. Many popular visitor and tourist attractions are located within a short walking distance and the subway system is linked to the bus and tram lines. Of special note is the subway station design – many stations have displays of ancient Greek artwork and artifacts unearthed during construction.
Athens’ aboveground tram system connects the city center with the suburbs and coastal areas in the south. Although the tram system does not offer service to the port of Piraeus, future expansions to the south and along the Saronic coastline are planned.
Getting In and Out of Town
Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, or Athens International Airport (AIA), lies 35km (22mi) east of the city center and connects Athens to Greece and the rest of Europe. International flights from a variety of major airlines depart daily to destinations all over the world including Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia. Athens International Airport was built in 2001 and has won several awards for quality of service. It is also a regional hub for much of southern Europe. Taxis, several bus lines and even an Athens Metro station provide transportation between Athens and the airport.
Athens serves as the main hub for the national railway system operated by the Hellenic Railway Organization. Trains to other Greek cities and towns depart every day, but apart from Istanbul, Sofia and Bucharest, no other international connections are available.
One of the best ways to get to outlying cities and towns is by bus. Athens has two long-distance bus stations that link it to all major cities and towns in mainland Greece while the Hellenic Railway Organization operates bus lines to Albania and Bulgaria. Greek buses are comfortable and much cheaper than taking the train and often access a wider range of destinations.
Lying on the southern edge of the Athens Metropolitan Area is Piraeus, Greece’s busiest port. A vast array of ferry, catamaran and hydrofoil services in Piraeus connect Athens to just about every outlying Greek island and even travel as far as Crete.