Hey, I’m Melanie. Since 10 years I travel the world and with Backpack up and go I want to be exactly the reliable support for you that I used to look for when I started my travel life 💜 Therefore you will find here everything not only about useful travel products, but also about personal travel recommendations & tips!
Where do you get the best olives from? Where can you eat well? Which sights shouldn’t be missed? What’s the best way to get from A to B? And, and, and. I spent a total of four weeks in Athens and found the city very bustling, but also very interesting and charming. In this article you will find all my comprehensive travel tips for Athens, so that your city trip or holiday can come safely! And if you also like to rely on printed information on your city trip, then take a look at the Athens travel guide of Reise Know-How. There you will find many more detailed tips for your city trip to Athens!
Lots of traffic, even more people and zero orientation at the beginning. This is how Athens, the capital of Greece, welcomed us, when we arrived Sunday evening, late and at that time totally broken in our Airbnb apartment.
Of course I was more than happy that we had incredibly super Airbnb hosts who had not only put water for us in the fridge, but also beer! So, take a quick shower and then enjoy a glass of beer on our fabulous balcony with a dream view over Athens and let the evening end relaxed – I’d say a perfect start!
In our four weeks on site my husband Florian and I could not only get a more detailed picture of the Greek capital, but of course we also ate through many restaurants, which I want to introduce to you in this article, as well as tips around your travel planning, costs, public transportation and more.
Can we start? Well then: off to Athens!
Travel tips for Athens
Athens is an incredibly complex city. You will find here old corners and quarters as well as modern shopping arcades, but without losing the charm of the latter, as they are often located in modernized old buildings.
Beside typical Greek taverns and street restaurants, there are also a lot of noble restaurants. Also the vegan scene is getting bigger and bigger and there are some small but nice cool cafés and restaurants that I will introduce to you below.
The people are incredibly friendly and helpful. Even if you don’t speak Greek, you are welcome everywhere. And finally, there is hardly a hurdle that could not be overcome with a slightly mumbled Greek “hello” or “thank you” – at least that’s how it went for us!
In short: An Athens city trip is worthwhile in every aspect! But be aware, especially during the peak travel season, that it will be teeming with people and traffic. We were there in October/November and also at this time traffic jams and crowds at popular points were almost the order of the day. It might be a good idea to live outside (at least if you are there for more than a few days).
Safety and security
Athens itself is a safe city in general. But don’t forget that it is also a big city like Berlin and you should go out in the evening with common sense and in case of emergencies take a taxi home instead of walking.
Besides, you shouldn’t leave your things unattended in crowded places. Especially around the Acropolis and in the popular tourist and trendy area Plaka many people are bustling around. Travellers as well as street vendors who want to sell you one or two things. So caution is definitely better than indulgence.
We (still) travel with our Eastpak daypack, but sooner or later we want to get a theft-proof backpack, because sometimes it’s annoying to have to keep an eye on whether someone is fiddling with the zipper in the back. I’ve already started looking for some cool models… You can find them here: Theft-proof daypacks.
Internet & Telephony
Thanks to roaming, it is now possible to use your mobile tariff throughout the EU. Whether telephony or data volume – you can use both at your tariff prices.
If you’re unsure whether this works for you or is activated, check with your mobile operator.
It is great that you do not have to worry about tap water, because it is drinkable without hesitation. Yay! Tap water in Greece is subject to the same strict regulations and requirements as in the whole EU.
My tip: In order to save on disposable plastic bottles on the way, I can recommend that you pack a reusable water bottle. Filled with tap water, the day trip can begin and you’ll protect the environment enormously! Yay!
Travel Planning Athens, Greece: Travel Time, Weather & Duration
The best travel time for Athens
The summer months of June, July and August should (in my opinion) be avoided for your city trip to Athens, because the mountains that encircle Athens and the dense buildings can reach temperatures of up to 40 degrees! Even at night temperatures rarely fall below 25 degrees.
If you want to escape the summer heat, you should visit Athens in spring or autumn.
From March onwards, day temperatures start to rise again slowly, reaching between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. Advantage in spring: You can enjoy the vegetation, because flowers & Co. are still blooming before the summer heat dries up.
From September the temperatures slowly drop below 30 degrees again and even in the evening it gets much cooler.
While it is wonderfully sunny and warm during the day in spring and autumn (on some days in November we still had 27 degrees and wore short trousers & T-shirt!), it already gets cool at night. You should therefore bring a light jacket, vest or sweater.
If you want to get to know the real Greek life, however, the summer months are ideal. Because then the Athenians sit in street cafés and taverns, chatting, laughing and drinking in warm temperatures until late into the night.
Another advantage in summer: the bathing temperatures are much more pleasant (around 20 to 25 degrees). Pay attention then also absolutely to appropriate sun protection.
Duration for your Athens holiday
According to my recommendation you should plan about three full days for your Athens Citytrip.
If you are interested in the Greek buildings, you can already plan one full day with the visit of these.
In addition, the flea market and flea market quarter Monastiraki awaits you, the trendy quarter Plaka as well as the lively city centre – everything is definitely a must!
And you also want to relax and enjoy yourself – to which numerous restaurants, cafés and taverns invite you!
As a German citizen you don’t need a visa for Greece, as it belongs to the EU, and you are allowed to stay in the country for up to three months.
Arrival in Athens
In general, you will probably come to Athens by plane. This is the fastest and easiest way we have used. We flew with Aegean Airlines and I can only recommend this airline to you. We had a delay on the connecting flight and as an excuse all passengers got a voucher for a soft drink and a snack at one of the airport cafés – nice!
Many flights are via Thessaloniki, so if you need a direct flight, you should pay attention.
For cheap flights we always check the portal idealo.de.
Athens Arrival: From the airport to the city
There are several ways to get from the airport to the city or to your accommodation:
The easiest and most direct way to get to your accommodation is by taxi. But this is also the most expensive option. It takes about 30 minutes from the airport to the city. Cost: approx. 30 – 40 €.
The bus is the cheapest way. For 6 € per person (one way) you can travel to the city within about 1 hour.
There are several bus lines:
- Airport Express Bus X93 (Kifissos Intercity Bus Station): Travel time approx. 65 minutes.
- Airport Express Bus X95 (Metro station Syntagma): Journey time approx. 60 minutes – Athens city centre.
- Airport Express Bus X96 (Piraeus): Journey time approx. 90 minutes – Athens harbour.
- Airport Express Bus X97 (Metro station Elliniko): Travel time approx. 60 minutes.
With the Metro you can get from Athens Airport to the city centre within about 40 minutes. The ride costs 10 € per person (one way) no matter where you get off. The two metro stations in the centre of Athens are Syntagma and Monastiraki.
We have used this opportunity and it is really very pleasant to ride in the metro.
Tickets for the metro must be purchased in advance at a ticket counter or at one of the ticket machines at the Athens airport train station. The ticket must be validated before boarding the metro.
Tip: If you want to travel more often with the public transport, you should buy the Ath.ena 3-Day-Tourist-Ticket right at the beginning, which you can also buy at the ticket counters. More about this in the next point.
Transport Athens City: Public Transportation
Athens has a super public transport network, which consists of trolleybuses (those attached to the power line), normal buses and the subway.
Unfortunately the streets are hopelessly overcrowded, especially during rush hour. Although we only lived about 3 kilometers away from the city center, travel time by bus was (depending on the time of day) 20 – 35 minutes.
There are different ticket possibilities, but they are valid for all City Buses, Trolley Buses, Tram, Metro (except the ones to the airport) and the Suburban Railway (also here not the ones to the airport):
- Ath.ena Ticket: This is a paper ticket that you can top up with a 90-minute ticket, a day ticket or a weekly ticket. The Ath.ena ticket is also available as a 3-day tourist ticket or as an airport return ticket. You can get this ticket (and recharge it) at all ticket counters or at the vending machines. You can find both at the metro stations (e.g. at the airport or Syntagma Square).
- Ath.ena Card: This is a plastic card that works exactly like the Ath.ena ticket. The only difference: Here you have to charge at least 4,50€. You can only buy it at a ticket counter, but it can also be recharged from the vending machines.
- Ath.ena Card Personalized: The personalized Ath.ena Card can only be purchased at one of the ticket counters and includes your photo (taken live at the counter; you will also need your passport). You can top up anything from a 90-minute ticket to a 365-day ticket. We got them charged for one month, 30 days. Cost: 30€.
Note: All these tickets are without airport transfer, which you have to pay extra. It costs 6€ per person for the single journey in the Airport Bus and 10€ per person in the Metro.
If you stay longer on site, the personalized Ath.ena Card is definitely worth it. It is the cheapest way to travel – if you often travel with the public. The monthly ticket is available for 30€ (without airport transfer) or for 49€ with airport transfer.
You can also find an overview of all ticket types and costs on the official Athens Transportation page: athenstransport.com.
Holidays in Athens: Money & Currency
In Athens, there are ATMs on almost every corner. However, some banks charge fees per withdrawal, which – as far as we have figured out – are around 2€.
One bank where we could withdraw free of charge with our giro card was Alpha Bank.
In foreign countries, also in Europe, you should always have a credit card with you. In Greece, since it belongs to the EU and has the Euro, you can also withdraw money free of charge with your normal account card.
We have our EC and credit card from the comdirect bank, with which we have been travelling for years and are completely satisfied!
Athens: How much cost…?
Vegetables, fruit, beer, gyros & Co.? We were most surprised by the food prices – in a positive sense:
- Vegetables and fruit are available at incredibly low prices, especially at weekly markets (e.g. 1 kilo of carrots for 0.50€!).
- A large pack of Greek olives is also available from 2€ at the Central Municipal Market – and don’t miss it! – The best I’ve tried so far!
- Vegan things like vegetable milk, soy yoghurt and Co. are about the same expensive as in Germany and are around 2-4€ (depending on shop and product).
- Local beer costs in the supermarket from 1€, Greek wine also starts at about 1,50€ for the 500 ml bottle.
- At the baker around the corner bread, rolls or the popular Greek sesame curls are really cheap. For a loaf of bread, two sesame curls and two big black coffee I have only paid 5€. Sesame curls & other pastries are also available at street stalls often for only 50 cents.
- Greek dishes like Döner, Gyros, Wraps & Co. are available in street stalls from approx. 2€.
- In restaurants the prices are about 1/3 cheaper than in Germany. For example, we had vegan food several times and always paid between 10 to max. 20 euros for two people – depending on what we’ve ordered.
- By the way, in restaurants and cafés there is always tap water for free! So you can save money!
Travel tip for Athens: In order to protect the environment, we always have at least one cloth bag with us (saves the silly plastic bags) and we also take a Coffee-2-Go cup or storage cans with us if we know that we are passing a market on the way.
Athens is huge in itself and there is much to discover, admire, eat and watch.
Therefore you will find all my detailed travel tips for Athens sights as well as my (vegan) Athens restaurant tips in this article.
For better orientation I have also put all my restaurant, bar and café tips as well as my personal highlights on one map: Athens Map (to Google Maps).
Hotel recommendations and accommodation
First of all I would like to point out that the prices in the high season are of course more expensive than in the low season – if you want to save a little, it would be advisable to travel in this season instead of in the expensive tourist season.
As so often we stayed in Athens by Airbnb and got a great apartment with a view over the whole of Athens (see photo above). I can only recommend you to try Airbnb out, because you will have a contact person for every eventuality: No matter if you need restaurant tips or if you want to know where to find the oldest restaurant in the city. But also in emergencies and other questions, these are always there for you.
Would you like to try Airbnb? Then have a look at my article – there you will also find a voucher for your very first overnight stay!
If this is not your thing, then there are of course numerous other overnight accommodations in Athens.
If you have to or want to look after your budget, hostels are probably the right place for you. The Bedbox Hostel is located in the centre of Syntagma Square, not far from the metro station and many bus stations and nightlife. The hostel is modernly furnished and mainly has dormitory beds. A top recommendation!
If a hostel is not an option for you, then a guest house may be the better choice. The Frogs is within walking distance of Monastiraki Square (the flea market district!) and offers modern, clean rooms with private bathrooms. You can endure it here!
In Athens you will also find numerous apartments (also outside Airbnb), such as the Syntagma Apartments. Here you will find modern, clean apartments, which are equipped with everything you need for a stay, such as a fully equipped kitchenette to prepare your own breakfast or to cook relaxed “at home”. And this centrally in Syntagma!
That was of course only a mini selection and if you didn’t find the right one, then have a look here: Accommodations on booking.com.
Packing list for Athens
For a city trip I can recommend the Osprey Fairview 40 travel backpack (for women) or the Osprey Farpoint 40 (for men) – we both use these models on all our trips. Alternatively you can take a look here: Backpacks for minimalistic luggage.
Advantage: The Osprey is theoretically allowed as hand luggage. But be sure to pay attention to the airline’s specifications and size regulations, because cheap airlines in particular have recently reduced their size and you may have to check it in if necessary.
If you don’t want that, you will need a smaller backpack or trolley (or a mixture of both?) that is approved for hand luggage.
With the Athens packing list for your clothes, of course, it all depends on your time of travel.
If you are on site in summer, you should definitely take your swimsuit with you, because you can travel to the sea within half an hour to an hour by bus. And maybe you also have a pool with you at the hotel?
In spring and autumn the evenings are partly already or still quite cool, which is why you should have a vest or a sweater with you.
In general you can have a look at my article packing list city trip for women and men – there you will find a lot of tips and information (also about shoes, electronics, travel pharmacy & Co.), which you can adapt according to your travel time and your preferences.
Oh yes: Of course a good daypack is also important. We are e.g. totally in love with Eastpak, but in a big city like Athens it may be advisable to buy a theft-proof daypack. That’s up to you, of course, but if you’re tired of constantly keeping an eye on the zips on your backpack, it can definitely be worth it (pssst..: We are already thinking about it and have focused our attention on the Bobby backpack!).
And at this point I don’t have much more to say, except: Have fun in Athens!
The best travel time? Check! General travel tips? Check! Tips for the packing list? Check! Is there still one question left unanswered? Or do you have any other travel tips for Athens? Then feel free to leave me a comment! I am looking forward!
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Hey, I'm Melanie. Tuk Tuk enthusiasts 🚛, coffee lover ☕️, pretzel fan 🥨 and the face behind Backpack up and go.
For more than 10 years I have been travelling the world. I love to search for practical and innovative products and to take a closer look at them for you. And in the future I will focus on more sustainable and environmentally friendly products, services and accommodation - for a greener lifestyle 💚
Because with Backpack up and go I want to be exactly the reliable support for you that I used to look for when I started my travel life! 💜
Psst: Here you can read more about me!