Athens, the capital city of Greece, is one of the most popular destinations in the world. The city was named after Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, and the famous Parthenon was her temple. Often referred to as The Cradle of Civilization, it is probably most famous for inventing philosophy and the ancient Olympics, and originating the idea of democracy. Its recorded history stretches back 3,000 years. Today, Athens flights are packed with travelers flocking to tour the mythical, mysterious city.
In preparation of the modern Olympics in 2004, Athens built new roads and upgraded its transportation alternatives, making it easier for Athens visitors to get around the city. The airport is relatively new and getting around the city on the metro and railway is a breeze.
Spend a day touring the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Temple of Olympian Zeus before settling in with the locals. Athens also boasts excellent museums. The National Historical Museum is housed in the old parliament building; the Numismatic Museum covers the history of coinage and the stunning New Acropolis Museum exhibits artifacts related to the “sacred rock”. Enjoy authentic Greek food in sidewalk cafes and take in a little bit of Greece at its best. Like their Iberian cousins, the Greeks take nightlife seriously. Dinner starts at 10 PM or later and a night out ends only at dawn.
Whether you’re heading to the Greek city for business or pleasure, there’s much to do and see. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip. And remember, no one does ancient like Athens.
March to May (i.e. spring) are pleasant and mild months, even if you have to pack a sweater for chilly March winds. Temperatures rise in June and July, reaching their peak in August. This is when Athenians vacation, but it could be a good time to take cheap flights to Athens and enjoy a less crowded city – that is, if you can survive the heat. A strong northerly wind, the meltemi, occasionally blows through Athens giving some relief from the stifling heat, which can get up into the 90’s (Fahrenheit) in the summer. Temperatures are still fairly mild in the early fall months of September and October, and begin to start to cool down in November. However, temps still average in the 50’s during the day all throughout the winter months of November, December, January and February. Most of the rain that falls does so from October through February/March, with December being the wettest month usually.
The summer months of June, July and August in Athens can be extremely hot, but this doesn’t stop flocks of tourists taking flights to Athens for a well-deserved break. August is incredibly crowded, to the point where most Athenians have left the city for a vacation and tourists take over. Flights to Athens aren’t too expensive, but during these peak months it can be harder to find deals on your flight tickets. Visit the attractions during the morning and rest or nap during the hottest parts of the day if you do fly to Athens during the summer months. In mid-June until the middle of September there is the Athens and Epidaurus Festival. It’s a fantastic celebration of music, dance and theatre. Most events take place on the slope of the Acropolis. Flights to Athens will also be pricey during festivals and events so make sure to book in advance.
Winter, when the tourist crowds have melted away and hotel rates are cheaper, is also a good time to visit Athens. While the weather is chilly with some rain, there is snow in the mountains, which is perfect for skiing. You can find cheap flights to Athens as well as accommodation bargains during this time.
Spring and late fall offer pleasant weather that is warm but not overwhelming, and the restaurants, bars and clubs are still open. These are good times to search for cheap flights to Athens, as well as hotels. In March there is the National holiday of Independence Day and Evangelismos. It’s celebrated with dances and parades and commemorates the revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Apokries (Carnival), a three-week celebration before the Lent fasting period starts, is celebrated with plays, street parties and parades organized all around Athens.
You’ll find the cheapest flights to Athens between November and February, with prices shooting up from there onwards. If you’re flexible with your dates you can grab cheap flights to Athens, but make sure you book in advance for the best savings. If you want to visit during the peak summer months or when festivals or events are taking place, make sure you book your flights to Athens as early on as possible to save on your flight tickets. Certain dates in December are the best dates to find the cheapest flights to Athens, however a Christmas break might set you back slightly.
While exact flight times can vary due to wind speeds and weather conditions, averages are based on your starting destination. If you’re traveling to Athens from Los Angeles, California, this route typically lasts around fourteen hours. Flying from New York City to Athens usually takes just over ten hours, and flights from Washington are approximately twelve hours. If you’re flying in from the U.K., expect a short flight of around three hours.
Booking a flight to Athens is easy and convenient for individuals from all across the globe, as the Athens International Airport serves a wide variety of both U.S. and international carriers. Airlines that fly directly into Athens International Airport from the U.S. include Delta, Emirates, American Airlines and United, and international airlines served by the airport include KLM, Air France, British Airways, Air Canada, SAS and Austrian Airlines.
Athens is known for its warm weather, especially during the summer months. Even though the weather is significantly warmer than other parts of the world during the winter, the region does experience rain and wind, so you’ll want to make sure to pack a few pairs of long pants, sweaters, long-sleeved shirts and a light jacket if you happen to be visiting Athens during the winter. When traveling to Athens during the warmer seasons, the Mediterranean climate tends to be both hot and humid, so it’s important to pack clothing with light fabrics to ensure you stay comfortable when visiting outdoor attractions or shopping in outdoor markets.
If you plan to spend time at the beach, you’ll also want to pack a swimsuit, sunscreen, a sun hat and sunglasses. Whether visiting in winter or summer, certain fine dining establishments and many of the historical churches have dress codes, so it’s a good idea to pack a few dressier items that will keep you comfortable in the current climate.
Essential carry-on items you’ll want close at hand during your flight include hand sanitizer, a travel-sized first aid kit, snack items such as protein bars or small bags of nuts, reading materials and an eye pillow for longer flights. Keep in mind that shops in Athens may not carry your favorite brands of hygiene products and toiletries, so you’ll also want to stock up on these items prior to your flight.
Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” (ATH) is situated about 20 miles southeast of downtown Athens. The easiest and quickest way to reach the city center from the airport is by metro, which connects travelers with popular tourist sites like Syntagma Square and Monastiraki. The airport is also served by the public bus system, which connects to destinations in the greater area of Athens and Piraeus, with buses running frequently day and night. Another option is to take one of the express buses which run 24 hours a day from the airport to the center of the city. They can sometimes be very overcrowded and make it difficult if you have lots of baggage, but due to their frequency it is a great alternative. Athens International is also connected to the local railway station.
Finally, there are plenty of taxis available at the airport terminals. There are normally several waiting outside the terminals and will happily take you to your destination. However, there are several ‘Cowboy Taxis’ which will overcharge tourists who don’t know their way around. They might also pick up other passengers along the route or refuse to take you to your hotel because they get commission to take you to another one. After your flight to Athens this kind of thing is the last thing you would want, so if you do want a taxi it is best to book and pay for one online before you travel. That way you’re guaranteed a price, you don’t need to pay the driver as this was done online and they’ll be waiting with a sign when you arrive.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore the city, you’ll find that Athens’ metro system is easy for travelers to use, as are the local buses and trolleys. The metro is usually preferred, though, as the buses and trolleys are usually more crowded and can be confusing. However, they are both cheap and efficient. Avoid traveling anywhere during rush hour, especially on public transportation.
It can be difficult to hail a taxi, so call ahead for one instead. You’ll find that taxis are cheap, although occasionally drivers will try to overcharge, just because you’re a foreigner. One trick to catching a cab is calling out your destination to a cab already in use. The driver will stop and let you get in if he’s going the same way. You’ll still have to pay a full fare, though.
It’s also easy to set out on foot. Most of the major sights in Athens are located in the same general area, and the ones that aren’t are easy to get to by public transportation. With all the easy transportation options, it’s not worth it to rent a car. Driving through the city is difficult to manage and parking spots are rare and expensive.
Athens is a beautiful city with amazing architecture dating back centuries. From sightseeing many of the world’s wonders to perusing the local shops and markets, there’s so much to do and see, it’s important to schedule your time wisely so you don’t miss a thing.
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a rather rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of various ancient buildings. The most famous, and one of the most popular attractions in Athens, is the Parthenon, which was constructed in 447 B.C. as a monument to the Greek Goddess Athena. Schedule a walking tour and gaze at the structure that has stood the test of time for centuries, and make sure to bring your camera to document every moment. Another must-see landmark in Athens is the Agora marketplace, an age-old area containing ruins of some of the earliest structures. It was here where the local people spent the majority of their time visiting temples, shopping and attending concerts.
For a day of Athens history topped off with some delicious food, pay a visit to the Acropolis Museum. Tour the museum and view exhibits of ancient artifacts found in archaeological digs, then stop by the museum’s restaurant for a fresh spinach salad and mouth-watering custard pie. For beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes, make sure to request an outdoor table.
If you’re hoping to get a little shopping done during your trip, head over to Plaka, an old historical neighborhood bustling with culture and vendors offering everything from lovely souvenirs to hand made clothing. Plaka’s close proximity to the Acropolis earned it the name “The Neighborhood of the Gods,” and today the area is just as magical. Pick up a few must-have trinkets, then visit the Plaka Greek Cafe for for some authentic Greek baklava and stuffed grape leaves.
If you’re looking to expand your journey outside of Athens or need a flight out for any reason, Athens International Airport offers outbound flights through multiple major carriers, including Lufthansa, Delta, British Airways, and more, so you’ll have no problem booking your ticket. Visit https://www.cheapflights.com for the top flight deals for routes out of Athens.
If you’re in need of a ride to the Athens International Airport, the three most common modes of transportation are taxis, shared vans and city buses. City buses pick up travelers at four different stops located throughout the city center. When traveling by bus, it’s important to allow yourself a few extra travel hours in the event of a delay to ensure a timely arrival to the airport. Athens ATH Shuttle Service offers shared and private van shuttles to the airport, with direct drop-offs at your terminal. Taxis are also very reliable when it comes to airport transit, just make sure you book at least twenty-four hours in advance to lock in a flat rate and guarantee your ride will arrive on time.
Once you choose a destination, be sure to check out our Athens airport guides for more detailed travel information and helpful tips.