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Getting around Athens

Public transport

Transport for Athens (tel: +30 21 0820 0999; 11185, in Greece only; www.oasa.gr) operates the city's buses, trolleybuses, trams and metro/electric train service.

Public transport is cheap and extensive but often overcrowded. Tickets are sold at bus terminals and some street kiosks (periptera) and must be validated in machines located on board buses or in the metro station. One-day, three-day, five-day and monthly passes for the entire urban network are available.

Blue-and-white buses run daily, with a limited night service on major routes. The most visited parts of the city are also served by several yellow trolleybus routes.

The electric train/metro Line 1 runs north-south between the suburb of Kifissia and the Piraeus Port (passing through Monastiraki). Line 2 runs from Anthoupoli to Elliniko, (passing through Syntagma) while Line 3 runs from Aghia Marina (passing through Syntagma) in the direction of Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”. However, as of 01 November 2018, trains on Line 3 don’t go directly to and from the Airport. To get to and from the airport, alight at Doukissis Plakentias station, cross to the other side of the platform and continue on Line 3. There are plans for a fourth line to be added to the network.

Three tram lines link the city centre and the coast: Syntagma-Neo Faliro, Syntagma-Glyfada and Neo Faliro-Glyfada.

Taxis

You can hail official yellow taxis with red-on-white number plates on the street. Companies operating radio cabs in Athens include Radio Taxi Ikaros (tel: +30 210 515 2800; www.radiotaxiikaros.gr).

When taxis are in heavy demand, it is not unusual to share the ride (but not the fare) with other passengers. Taxis are cheap by European standards. Tipping is not customary.

Driving

To improve traffic and pollution problem in downtown Athens, cars with registration plates ending in an odd number are allowed in the centre only on odd-numbered days, while those ending in even numbers are permitted only on even-numbered days. This applies between 0700 - 2000 Mon-Thu and 0700 to 1500 on Fridays. The restricted area, known as daktylios in Greek, includes the avenues and streets: Achilleos, Alexandras, Patission to the junction with Alexandras Avenue, Constantinoupoleos, Frantzi, Hamosternas, Iera Odos, Ilia Iliou, Karaiskaki Square, Karolou, Marni, Mesogeion, Michalakopoulou, Pheidipidou, Pireos, Spyrou Mercouri, Syngrou, Vryaxidos, Ymittou and Zacharof. Foreign cars are exempt from this scheme.

Parking in central Athens is severely restricted. Luxury hotels have their own parking spaces. Alternatively, try the central but very crowded car park at Klathmonos Square. In fact, a car is more of a problem than an asset in Athens, although you may wish to rent one for a trip out of the city. 

Car hire

The minimum age for hiring a car in Greece is 21 with a license that has been held for at least 1 year. Drivers under the age of 25 could get a young driver surcharge. Some car hire companies have a maximum age of 70 years old. Car hire companies based in Athens include Avis (tel: +30 210 322 4951; www.avis.gr), Europcar (tel: +30 210 921 1444; www.europcar.com), Hertz (tel: +30 210 922 0102; www.hertz.gr).

Bicycle hire

Athens by bike, Athanasiou Diakou 16 (tel: +30 216 900 3321; www.athensbybike.gr), hires bikes and runs half-day tours. Funkyride, Dimitrakopoulou 1 (tel: +30 211 710 9366; www.funkyride.gr), rents bikes in Koukaki.

Featured Hotels

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Hilton Hotel

The refurbished Hilton Hotel is modern, smart and popular with business travellers. It has 517 rooms (guest rooms, accessible rooms, executive rooms and suites) all with wooden floors, minimalist furniture and balconies. A small supplement is payable for rooms with Acropolis views. The impressive facilities include four restaurants, three bars, an outdoor pool, a luxurious spa with an indoor pool, plus a business centre.

Electra Palace

In Plaka, the Electra Palace’s yellow neo-classical facade opens into a spacious marble lobby. The 122 rooms and suites all have wooden floors, Persian rugs, thick curtains and cotton duvets – the best ones offer a glimpse of the Acropolis. Up top, there’s a rooftop pool with wooden deck and sun beds, plus a small spa (pool, sauna, massage and gym) in the basement.

Hotel Hermes

Perfectly located between Syntagma and Plaka, Hermes is noted for its extremely friendly and helpful staff. The 45 rooms all have wooden floors and white marble bathrooms, and some but not all have balconies. A plentiful buffet breakfast is served daily and the lounge does all-day free tea and coffee. Wi-Fi throughout. Syntagma Metro station is a 2 minute walk away.

Hera Hotel

Smack at the foot of the Acropolis and around the corner from the New Acropolis Museum, this classic hotel with a neoclassical façade is perfectly located for sightseeing. The rooms and suites are elegantly furnished, and the rooftop garden and restaurant gives unparalleled Acropolis views.

New Hotel

Fun and a little offbeat, this hotel is the artistic creation of Brazilian designers Humberto and Fernando Campana. The 79 rooms and suites have recycled furniture, bamboo wood floors, and slick bathrooms stocked with Kiehl's products. The all-day bar-restaurant does an excellent breakfast and the New Sense spa offers health and beauty treatments.

Hotel Grande Bretagne

The Hotel Grande Bretagne is the city's oldest and most prestigious hotel, having opened in 1874 and hosted royalty, heads of state, film stars and rock gods. As you’d expect, the sophisticated rooms feature antiques and marble bathrooms, and suites include 24-hour butler service; there are 3 restaurants, one on the rooftop with an Acropolis view, plus a rooftop pool.