Athens General Information
Welcome to Athens
A unique combination of the old and the new, set up against a spectacular Mediterranean landscape; a world famous past; an exciting present: ancient and brand new at the same time, Athens inspires and seduces its visitors, leaving its mark in their hearts and minds. A city where hospitality, setting and character are guaranteed to take your breath away.
Stroll along the cobblestone, pedestrian-only path that encircles Europe’s largest Archaeological Park for a close up view of some of the world’s most significant ancient treasures including the Acropolis, Theatre of Dionysus and Herodeus Atticus. Delight your palate by indulging in the bouquet of dining options that make up the Athenian restaurant scene renaissance.
Innovation and achievement have ushered in a new era for the city, its citizens and its visitors. Mega-infrastructure improvements have made Athens a city that is easy to navigate. Take the fast, clean and safe metro to discover the myriad of Athenian neighborhoods. Sea farers, catch the new tram for a walk or a swim along the boardwalks and beaches of Palio Faliro, Alimo and Glyfada.
Athens Info-Point kiosks
Athens Info-Point kiosks may be found at the following convenient tourist locations:
- Historic centre at Amalias Ave & Dionissiou Areopagitou St., tel. +30 210 3217116, daily and weekends 9:00-21:00.
- Athens International Airport "El. Venizelos" arrivals level, tel. +30 210 3530390, daily and weekends 8:00-20:00.
- Pireaus Port Authority, cruise ship arrival terminal, daily, 8:00-14:00, closed Sundays.
Greece is located in Southern Europe, on the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula. Being at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Greece shares land borders with Albania to the northwest, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the northeast.
The country consists of nine geographic regions: Macedonia, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Thessaly, Epirus, the Aegean Islands (including the Dodecanese and Cyclades), Thrace, Crete, and the Ionian Islands.
Athens is the capital and the largest city of Greece is located on a peninsula that stretches southeastward into the Aegean Sea. The city is surrounded by the Plain of Attica, which in turn is surrounded on three sides by mountains.
The climate in Greece is mostly dry and temperate. In Athens, the climate is typically Mediterranean with warm and dry summers and mild winters. Rainfall is low – amongst the lowest in Greece - and occurs mostly as short heavy showers in winter. Spring is the best time to travel Athens. The season with temperate weather and moderate level of precipitation wait for tourist from all over the world. The average high stands at high teen while the low at 12°C.
Population & Language
The population of Athens metropolitan area is about 4 million. The official language in Greece is Greek. Most Greeks speak English as a second language while French and other foreign languages are also widely spoken.
The Euro is the only currency that is officially recognised as legal tender in Greece. Each Euro has 100 cent.
Athens is located in Southern Greece. You can reach Athens by Air, Train, Bus or Car (E90 National Road).
Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is located about 30km east of the centre of Athens. Transport options from the airport are metro/train, bus, taxi or car. For a list of all airlines that fly into and out of Athens, please visit www.aia.gr.
Athens International Airport is accessible via Metro Line 3 “Egaleo - Athens International Airport” (40 minute ride to the centre of Athens). Trains run every 30 minutes, 7 days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The Suburban Railway of Athens also connects the Athens airport with the Athens Central Railway Station (Larissis station) via Acharnai Railway Centre (and through them to the National Railway network). At Plakentias station it is possible to change trains and continue to the city centre (Metro Line 3 to Egaleo), using the same ticket. For details on all routes, timetables and information about tickets see www.trainose.gr
Four 24 hour express bus lines connect directly Athens and Piraeus with the airport.
- Χ93 : Kifissos KTEL (long-distance buses) Station - Airport
- Χ95 : Syntagma – Airport
- Χ96 : Port of Piraeus – Airport
- Χ97 : Eliniko Metro Station – Airport
All buses disembark passengers at the Departures Level and depart from the Arrivals Level, between Exits 4 and 5. For further information visit www.oasa.gr or use the bus network Call Centre (185 – dialing from within Greece), operating from 06:30 am to 10:30 pm on weekdays and from 07:30 am to 22:30 pm on weekends.
Taxis are available at the designated Taxi waiting area located at Exit 3 of Arrivals Level. Fares for taxis are as follows:
- Day time flat fare (05:00 - 24:00) - 35 € from the Airport to “Athens city centre inner ring” (and vice versa)
- Night time flat fare (00:00 - 05:00) - 50 € from the airport to “Athens city centre inner ring” (and vice versa)
The charge is determined by the time of arrival at the destination and includes all applicable surcharges and extras.
The Athens Metro network consists of 3 lines. Line 1 (the Green line) started operation in 1869, while lines 2 and 3 are in operation since 2000:
Line 1 (green line): Kifisia – Piraeus
Line 2 (red line): Anthoupoli – Eliniko
Line 3 (blue line): Airport – Douk. Plakentias – Egaleo
All stations are fully accessible to disabled persons with elevators in every level and platform and most train carriages are air-conditioned. Operating hours are 5:30 am to 00:30 am daily, and every Friday and Saturday night, lines 2 & 3 operate until 2:30 am. Details on lines, stations, timetables and information about tickets are available at www.stasy.gr
The broad bus network of Athens covers almost every point of the city and the suburbs with 7,500 stops. The fleet consists mainly of modern buses, environmentally friendly, with air conditioning and facilities for the elderly and the disabled. Tickets must be bought before boarding (from bus terminals and from the majority of kiosks) and validated in the designated machines within the vehicles. The Call Centre for the bus network (185 – dialing from within Greece) operates from 06:30 am to 10:30 pm on weekdays and from 07:30 am to 22:30 pm on weekends. Details on all routes, timetables and information about tickets are available at www.oasa.gr
Athens is connected by train to many neighboring countries. For ticket information and destinations please visit www.trainose.gr
The Athens Tram connects the city centre with the southern coast of Athens, starting its operations in 2004. There are 3 lines:
- Line 1 Syntagma Sq. – SEF linking downtown Athens to the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro
- Line 2 Syntagma Sq. – Voula which runs between the city centre and the seaside suburb of Voula
- Line 3 Voula – SEF running along the coastal zone
Operating hours are 5:30 am to 1:00 am daily and on Fridays and Saturdays the tram operates from 5:30 am to 2:30 am. Details on lines, timetables and tickets are available at www.stasy.gr
Athens taxis are yellow and are easily identified by their official roof signs. There are taxi ranks in the city centre and it’s also possible to hail taxis on the street.
There is a wide choice of Irish and international car rental companies represented in Athens. Driving is on the right side of the road; Greece uses the metric system. Safety belts must be worn at all times by front and back seat passengers. Road signs give distances in kilometers. Speed limits are as follows (unless otherwise indicated by signs):
- Motorways - 120km/h
- National roads (primary and secondary) - 100km/h
- Non-national roads (regional and local) - 80km/h
- Built-up areas - 50km/h
The international code for Greece is 0030 (+30). The local emergency service telephone numbers are 100 for the police and 166 for an ambulance. You can also call 112 which will alert the appropriate service (fire, police, lifeboat, coastal, mountain and cave rescue services).
220 / 240 volts (50 cycles) is the standard electrical current throughout Greece. Plugs are the standard continental (DIN) type with two round pins. Adapters are therefore required for 3-pin flat appliances.
Athens provides visitors with a wide range of accommodation types, from hotels, guesthouses, Irish homes and self-catering to campus, specialist accommodation, caravan and camping and hostels.
Post offices, painted bright yellow with the initials ELTA, are generally open from 7.30am to 2pm. Stamps can be bought here, or at kiosks, tobacconists and newsstands, for a small premium. Mail boxes are also painted yellow. Red boxes are for express services. Post offices also handle exchange, check cashing and money orders. For most postal services it's quicker to use one of the local post offices found in evety suburb. The closest to the venue Post Office is located at the corner of Mitropoleos and Syntagma Square (Opening hours Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm; Sat 7.30am-2pm; Sun 09.00am-1.30pm).
Banks are open from Monday to Thursday, 8:00-14:30 hrs and on Friday, 8:00-14:00hrs; on Saturdays and Sundays they are closed. Central branches of some banks may be found open until 20.00 daily and from 10.00 to 16.30 on Saturdays. All major credit cards are widely accepted. For further details while in Greece please consult your hotel concierge.
Most businesses are generally open Monday and Wednesday from 9am to 3pm; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am to 2pm and 5.30pm to 9pm; and Saturday from 9am to 15pm. Most stores in central Athens, though, remain open all day (e.g. 9am to 5pm). Big department stores and supermarkets are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 8pm Saturday.
Tipping is not compulsory but is quite usual in Greece.