The streets of Anafiotika in Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece – Now It’s Your Turn To Visit

Kerwin McKenzieAirline, Airport, City Guide, Passrider, Travel 42 Comments

Some Things To Know About Athens, Greece

Originally posted May 1, 2014

In 2014, I just did a recent trip to Athens, Greece (ATH) as a guest of the local Tourist Board. It’s been a few years since I’ve been so I was eager to visit again. Last time I was there, they still had the old airport! I had flown in to see a former colleague who worked with me as an Intern at the time.

We went to a nearby bar that overlooked the airport and drank beers while we watched planes land. Then we went to his house, had dinner, came back home late and I was up at 4:00a as I had a 6:00a flight to Rome, Italy (FCO) on Olympic Airways’ (OA) Airbus A340 in the smoking section :-).

The Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum Athens Greece

The Parthenon from the Acropolis Museum Athens Greece

This trip was nothing like that! I actually went into the heart of the city and mingled with more locals and I loved it! Here are some things you should know about Athens.

Airlines Serving Athens, Greece (ATH)

There are several airlines that serve Athens from various Europen hubs, the Middle East and Asia. Here’s a list:

Aegean Airlines (A3), Aer Lingus (EI), Air Albania (ZB), Air Canada (AC), Air China (CA), Air Europa (UX), Air France (AF), Air Serbia (JU), Air Transat (TS), AirBaltic (BT), American Airlines (AA), Arkia Israeli Airlines (IZ), Austrian Airlines (OS), Blue Bird Airways (BZ), British Airways (BA), Brussels Airlines (SN), Bulgaria Air (FB), Condor (DE), Croatia Airlines (OU), Cyprus Airways (CY), Delta Air Lines (DL), EasyJet Airlines (U2), El Al Airlines (LY), Emirates (EK), Eqyptair (MS), Ethiopian Airlines (ET), Etihad Airways (EY), Eurowings (EW), Gulf Air (GF), ITA Airways (AZ), Iberia Airlines (IB), Jet2.com (LS), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL), Kuwait Airways (KU), LOT Polish (LO), Lufthansa German Airlines (LH), Middle Eastern Airlines (ME), Norwegian Air Internatonal (D8), Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY), Olympic Airlines (OA), Pegasus Airlines (PC), Play (OG), Qatar Airways (QR), Royal Jordanian (RJ), Ryanair (FR), SAS (SK), Saudia Airlines (SV), Sky Express (GQ), Swiss Airlines (LX), Tarom (RO), Tiger Airways (TR), Transavia (HV), Transavia France (TO), Turkish Airlines – Star Alliance (TK), United Airlines (Star Alliance) (UA), Volotea (V7), Vueling (VY), W4, W9, Wizz Air (W6) and WizzAir Abu Dhabi (5W).

Here are the airlines that serves Athens from the U.S. and Canada:

Air Canada (AC)

  • Athens GR (ATH) to Montreal, QC Canada (YUL – Trudeau)
  • Athens GR (ATH) to Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)
  • Montreal, QC Canada (YUL – Trudeau) to Athens GR (ATH)
  • Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ) to Athens GR (ATH)

Air Transat

  • Athens GR (ATH) to Montreal, QC Canada (YUL – Trudeau)
  • Athens GR (ATH) to Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ)
  • Montreal, QC Canada (YUL – Trudeau) to Athens GR (ATH)
  • Toronto, ON Canada (YYZ) to Athens GR (ATH)

 

American Airlines (Oneworld)

  • Athens GR (ATH) to Chicago-O’Hare, IL (ORD)
  • Athens GR (ATH) to New York-JFK, NY (JFK)
  • Athens GR (ATH) to Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Chicago-O’Hare, IL (ORD) to Athens GR (ATH)
  • New York-JFK, NY (JFK) to Athens GR (ATH)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL) to Athens GR (ATH)

Delta Air Lines (SkyTeam)

  • Athens GR (ATH) to Atlanta, GA (ATL)
  • Athens GR (ATH) to Boston, MA (BOS)
  • Athens GR (ATH) to New York-JFK, NY (JFK)
  • Atlanta, GA (ATL) to Athens GR (ATH)
  • Boston, MA (BOS) to Athens GR (ATH)
  • New York-JFK, NY (JFK) to Athens GR (ATH)

Emirates (EK)

  • Athens GR (ATH) to Newark-Liberty, NJ (EWR)
  • Newark-Liberty, NJ (EWR) to Athens GR (ATH)

United Airlines (Star Alliance) (Star Alliance)

  1. Athens GR (ATH) to Newark-Liberty, NJ (EWR)
  2. Athens GR (ATH) to Washington-Dulles, VA (IAD)
  3. Newark-Liberty, NJ (EWR) to Athens GR (ATH)
  4. Washington-Dulles, VA (IAD) to Athens GR (ATH)

Aegean Airlines (A3) Airbus A321 (321) at the gate in the Athens Airport (ATH)

Local Airline

Aegean Airlines (A3), Olympic Airways (OA) and Sky Express which is based in Heraklion.

Airfare Tip

If looking for a low fare, book at the Web sites for the low cost carriers as you’ll more than likely get the best value there. You can also book with my partner Skyscanner or you can do your flight search below:

 

 

Airport Name

Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH)

Airport Lounges

There are several lounges here check here for additional information.

Airport To The City

Local Bus, Metro Line 3 or shared ride or taxi. You can buy a day pass or a 4 day pass as well.

Currency

Euros (EUR)

Language

Greek, English is also spoken, but sometimes heavily accented

Visa Information

None required for Canadian, EU, U.K., U.S. citizens. Use this link to check for other citizenship. Here is some additional information from the U.S. State Department including visa and health requirements.

As you can see from the airlines service,  you can get to Athens from almost every major European and Middle East hub cities. If your airline does not serve the city directly, check if they serve any of the neighboring islands and then you can take a ferry over to Athens. If that won’t work, use your airline to the European hub city and then do a ZED or even a discount fare ticket to Athens.

Exploring and Sightseeing

this is my Athens

this is my Athens

The city of Athens, offers a program called This is My Athens. I can’t recommend this program enough. Basically, they pair you with an Athenian who shows you around the city. It’s as if your best friend came into town to visit you and you showed them around. You can arrange beforehand or you can just let it flow once you are paired. In my case, I was paired with someone and he asked me what I wanted to see/do, I said it does not matter and off we went. I had such a blast.

It’s like seeing the city through a different pair of eyes. You must apply online before you, but just do it and enjoy. Oh, did I mention that its FREE and no tipping is allowed. Would you accept a tip from your friend if they came into town and you showed them around? Alright then.

You can also walk by yourself as Athens is a walking city.

Here are some tours offered by Viator as well.

 

 

Where Do I Stay?

Starwood Hotel Grand Bretagne Athens, GreeceAthens has accommodations of all stature. I stayed in about three different types; a hostel, a mid priced hotel, the Metropolitan Hotel (now Chandris Hotel) and a three-star which is really a two-start property only two blocks away from the center of the city. So there are accommodations for every budget.

There are even a few 5-star properties such as the Intercontinental and the Grand Bretagne, a Marriott property for those of you who are luxury minded.

Here is a map to help you with your hotel search. There are no shortages of hotels here.

 

Things To Do In Athens, Greece

Athens, is a walking city and has a lot to offer, don’t dig anywhere as you may be disrupting years and years of history. There are even museums in the subway stations. When they were digging to create the stations, they unearthed ruins, so instead of moving some of them, they just created museums around them in the stations; its a beautiful thing to see. So stop and see them as you transit the subways.

 

 

Standing at Attention with an Athens Guard at the Athens Parliament

From the changing of the Guards at Syntagma Square (which happens on the hour every hour and is a must see) to the remains of Zeus’ Temple a short walk away to gazing at the Parthenon on the Acropolis to walking in the narrow streets of Anafiotika, Athens is not short of things to do. Not to mention having a coffee, as the Europeans say, or having a meal in a traditional Taverna in the Plaka Area of the city which is located at the eastern base of the Acropolis or at a smaller cafe called the KafeNeio where you can have a coffee as well as some small bites with some wine as well.

I was told by my guide that the word “acropolis” means highest point, but he pointed out that that the Acropolis is not really the highest point in the city as you can see once you get up there. The marble used to build the Parthenon actually came from one of the hills not too far from the Acropolis. I’m still amazed as to how they got it there since they did not have all the modern ways of building as we do today. If you look closely at the columns, you can see that they were build in blocks. Plus the artwork was actually done on site. Its just simply incredible.

Catamaran's Sails in the Athen's HarbourI did not visit any of the islands on this trip, but plan on doing so on my next trip. So watch out for a future post on that. I did however take a catamaran trip from the south of the city and made a loop ending back right where we started. Although it was a tad chilly, it was a sweet ride and my first time on a cat. You can actually rent these things and sail to the islands I’m told.

Lycabettus Hill is also on my list for the next visit; you can see it from the Parthenon.  I’m also told that its quite a hike to get to the top of the hill. And cabs will only take you almost to the top. So you are up for a hike go for it. Otherwise, just take the underground funicular which does take you to the top :-). The view is worth it from the photos I’ve seen. You can see what I mean as captured by my friend Laurence below. There is also the Penteli mountain from which the marble that built the temples on the Acropolis were taken; not sure if you can still make it over there though.

I could go on and on about my visit to Athens, so if you have any particular questions, please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below. I will endeavor to get an answer for you pronto. Also, if you’ve been to Athens and have anything to add, please leave a comment below as well.

Random Athens Photos

Most people just walk through Athena’s Temple when they mount the Acropolis, but if you look up as you walk through, you will see this spectacular view. The white pieces are a result of the restoration that is ongoing. As you walk through the site you will see many more white pieces. Imagine, this was the color of the entire structure when it was first made. Overtime, the marble ages to the color you see it today.

The Temple of Athena's Ceiling Athens, Greece

 

 

There is a hill that is to the left of the Acropolis if you are standing with your back to it. Tasos, my local Guide through the “This is My Athens” program took me up there as this is his favorite place. I can certainly see why as you can see all of Athens from there. This photo only shares a small portion of the city below us. 

City of Athens from the hill just below the Acropilis

 

The streets of Anafiotika in Athens, Greece

The streets of Anafiotika in Athens, Greece

 

The Maltese Falcon in Athens Port

The Maltese Falcon in Athens Port

 

Olives at a market in Athens, Greece

Olives at a market in Athens, Greece

 

Lady of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Lady of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece

Comments 42

  1. Love Athens but must take a break every afternoon or morning as after awhile ancient Grecian rubble becomes plain old rubble after awhile.

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      Author
      1. Kerwin,

        I am thinking of going to Mexico during Christmas break. With your experience wondering whether I would get there and back. Also do you have any suggestions for staying or flights extra. Thank you. I hope to hear from you Bridget

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          Author
        2. This time of the year Delta flies daily flights out of MSP, SLC, LAX, ATL, and JFK.  On Saturdays they usually add an additional flight.  Weekends are difficult, however the remaining days are usually open.  We have a house in Bucerias, about 20km north of the airport.  If you are alone and young, suggest you stay in Puerto Vallarta downtown or in the Romantic Zone if it is a short visit.  There is more to do and the hotel zone requires a taxi or bus to get to the action areas.  However, if you just want to lay on the beach the hotel zone is great.  Stay away from Nuevo Vallarta as it is the same as going to Cancun or Honolulu, and you are coming to Mexico to enjoy the culture, right?
                

  2. Love Athens but must take a break every afternoon or morning as after awhile ancient Grecian rubble becomes plain old rubble after awhile.

  3. Hi Kerwin!

    Athens is on my list – so, I really appreciate the information. This Is My Athens sounds great and I will definitely take advantage of this. I just can’t believe that it is truly free! How so?

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      Author
  4. Hi Kerwin!

    Athens is on my list – so, I really appreciate the information. This Is My Athens sounds great and I will definitely take advantage of this. I just can’t believe that it is truly free! How so?

  5. Hi Kerwin. Great info! Thank you for sharing! Love the This Is My Athens program. While it’s free and no tipping allowed, I assume it is okay to pay for a meal/snacks/drinks for your guide? Hope to make it there one day. 🙂

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      Author
  6. Hi Kerwin. Great info! Thank you for sharing! Love the This Is My Athens program. While it’s free and no tipping allowed, I assume it is okay to pay for a meal/snacks/drinks for your guide? Hope to make it there one day. 🙂

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      Author
  7. My family is from Athens and it’s where I spend the majority of my time when I visit. Most travel articles feature the Greek Islands and don’t spend much time discussing the wonderful sites and culture of Athens. Thanks for the article, well done!

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      Author
  8. My family is from Athens and it’s where I spend the majority of my time when I visit. Most travel articles feature the Greek Islands and don’t spend much time discussing the wonderful sites and culture of Athens. Thanks for the article, well done!

  9. I have always wanted to visit Greece and hope to do so soon. I appreciate having the interesting information–thank you!

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      Author
  10. I have always wanted to visit Greece and hope to do so soon. I appreciate having the interesting information–thank you!

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      Author
  11. Pingback: 5 Things to Do in Athens When You’re Not in TBEX Sessions

  12. My husband & I are taking our son to Greece for his HS graduation because he has always loved Greek mythology. I’m assuming Athens would be on the itinerary but can you recommend any other Greek cities that would peak his interests?

  13. My husband & I are taking our son to Greece for his HS graduation because he has always loved Greek mythology. I’m assuming Athens would be on the itinerary but can you recommend any other Greek cities that would peak his interests?

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      Author

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