Athens is the capital city of Greece and is a large sprawling city with a population of nearly 4 million people. The history surrounding classical Greece and the numerous museums and monuments from the past ensure that Athens is a rewarding destination for a city breaks or a weekend away. The area of immediate interest to tourists covers a relatively small area around the city centre. Why not combine your city break to Athens with a trip to the golden beaches of the Greek Islands?
Air: Athens airport (ATH) is a new airport that was opened in time for the Olympics. Being new makes this airport one of the most efficient and attractive in Europe. There are great connections to the city. The best way to the city is to use the Metro. This will cost you 6 euros. Trains generally run every half hour or so. The airport station is on an extension to line 3 so not all trains travel this far out. When returning to the airport look for the plane sign on the front of the carriage to ensure you are getting on the right train. It is also possible to travel to the city by suburban railway. Change at Larissis Station to the metro line 2. There are numerous bus options to the city but the journey can take 90 mins depending on traffic. The last option is by taxi. Make sure the meter is switched on!
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Rail: The national rail system in Greece is not quite up to the the efficient standards you will find in the countries of western Europe. Athens is connected to the other main cities in Greece. It is also possible to connect to Istanbul.
Bus: Regional bus services connect Athens to other Greek cities. It is also possible to connect to Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania.
What to See and Do
Athens's numerous attractions include the following:
Acropolis: The highlight of any visit to Athens is to walk around the Acropolis. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the best place to view classical Greek architecture. On the Hill you can visit the Parthenon and other temples such as the Erechtheum and the Propylaea. The price for entry is 12 euros but EU uni students get in with no fee.
Ancient Agora: You can walk to the Acropolis from here and the views are spectacular.
Temple of Olympian Zues: This temple is ruins today. Nearby one can vist the Panathianiko Stadium which was home to the first Olympics of the modern era in 1896.
Metro: The Athens metro is new being completed in 2001 and as such is clean and efficient. Some stations resemble museums with artifacts on display. There are three lines. Line three will take you to the airport and Line 1 will connect you with the Port at Piraeus. As with many European metro systems you validate your ticket on entry to the station.
Tram: The tram system is also new and has good connections with the metro. There are three lines with good access to the coast.
Bus: There is an extensive bus network and some lines run all night.
Taxi: Athens taxi drivers have a bad reputation. Make sure the meter is on and displays rate 1 during daytime. Rate 2 is for night (midnight - 5) and outwith the city.