Travelling around the world, I have developed a soft spot for ancient cities. If you ever hear about Athens, the Acropolis, Agora, democracy, mythology and philosophy surely come to your mind. Settled in Athens since 5000 BCE, Greeks master transportation, no matter if it is walking or riding donkeys, or taking metros. Continue reading, and you will see how to get the most out of your days in Athens and get the most diverse city vibes without taking hours to get from one place to another.
Get Around Athens – On Your Foot
Arriving at an ancient city, you may want to immerse yourself in the culture. To get around the touristic spots: get into Acropolis, watch the sunset from the Mount Lycabettus or just walk around Plaka while picking up handicraft Greek antique souvenirs, walking is the best option. No wonder Greeks are known for their handmade leather sandals, and city pebbled streets with vines over your head will save you from the sunburn on hot summer days.
Convenient and free, walking gives you a feeling of less commercialized souvenir areas, and before dining at tavernas in Psyrri area, you may want to take a walk to the National gardens or go see the change of guards by the Parliament. After a great Greek meal, it is pleasant to walk by street buskers playing zarba music that goes straight to your soul, and you will not find any other way to get the most authentic feel of the city.
Get Around Athens – Public Transport
Popular amongst Greeks and tourists, metro, bus, trolley and tram transportation system is very well developed thanks to Olympics the city held in 2004. Not only that; getting around by public transport is quite cheap when compared to other European cities.
Metro network is well developed and connects different parts of the city, as well as nearby suburbs. By metro, you can get from airport to the city centre, go to beaches, get to the port of Piraeus to continue your travel to beautiful Greek islands or just get to your uptown hotel in minutes. If you are going to Athens for its nightlife, keep in mind that metro stops working at midnight and starts again 5am the next morning, which generally is not a problem, as Greeks themselves are going out late (and coming back late in the morning, too.) Additionally, all the stations are marked in English and written in Latin alphabet, so you shall not worry about learning Greek alphabet.
Bus and tram are good options if you want to see the city while getting from place to place. To go for a swim to Edem beach or get to the nearby mountain, you can just hop in the bus or tram and get there in a matter of minutes. However, metros are the best option, as the waiting times are the shortest, they are the least crowded and the network system is the simplest to understand.
If you come to Athens for more than 2 days, I suggest getting the 7-day multi transportation ticket (10 EUR) that allows you to use metro, bus, tram and trolley without any limits. Being a student, young adult or pensioner also gives you a discount of 50% for per-ride tickets. However, keep in mind that Greek cashiers and museum ticket services do not recognise international student cards (ISIC), and you must take your university issued student card with you.
Get Around Athens – Alternative Transportation
If you seek something out of ordinary, then renting a motorbike or getting on a longboard will be the best options. Greeks are, to say the least interpreting the traffic rules very freely, so you shall always keep your eyes open, but otherwise, the streets of Athens are safe to ride a bike or longboard. Not only you cut off the worries about the lack of night transportation (and you do not have to deal with cheating taxi drivers,) but longboarding gives you the freedom, a fresh breeze in the midday and escapes from the tourist crowds of the city.
Although some of the streets, especially in the ancient part of the city, are pebbled, the greatest are the routes outside the city centre, and riding on the driving road is no problem as well. To meet other skaters, go to the Oaka longboarding spot, and you will find your crowd in a moment. However, do not rely on longboard rental here; you should get your own cheap longboard, take it on a plane and breeze through the city!
Get Around Athens – Move In A Breeze
No matter your preferences, Athens has developed great transportation network. Whether metro, bus, tram or just walking is your best choice depends on the places you want to visit in the city. If you are more into tourist downtown spots, you will be good on your foot; if you want to get it all, go for public transportation. Alternative and adventurous? Get a longboard and get the vibe of Athens!