1 Sep 2015

We get loads of questions from inbound tourists about some of basics of being a tourist in Athens. We thought we’d compile some of the most common answers into a fact sheet for first time visitors to the Greek capital. Enjoy!

Getting Around

Athens boasts a surprisingly robust public transportation system that consists of buses, trolleys, light rail, suburban trains and an efficient and modern metro network. The entire system links seamlessly to the airport and the port of Piraeus, making connections into and out of Athens a breeze.

From the airport:

  • X95 express buses takes passengers directly into Syntagma square in the city center
  • X96 express busses runs directly from the airport to the main passenger terminal in the Port of Piraeus for passengers connecting to ferries
  • Athens Metro trains (blue line) leave every half an hour and run directly into the city center (blue line trains stop at both Syntagma and Monastiraki stations). Click herefor a metro schedule and map.
  • Athens’ “proastiakos” suburban rail trains also connect through the airport train station. For a timetable and list of destinations, see here.

For a complete overview and schedules of all urban transportation options in Athens, check out the Transport for Athens website.

Taxis:

Taxis in Greece are readily available and relatively affordable. A quick cab ride across downtown will likely cost you less than €5. Most taxi drivers will have basic comprehension of English, but it doesn’t hurt to have your destination written out on a piece of paper just in case.

Many smartphone enabled applications like Uber are also available for those with mobile internet service. We recommend Greece’s homegrown Beat app to quickly locate and hail a driver based on the languages they speak, automobile they drive, user rankings and so on.

Shopping Hours

Many foreigners are perplexed by Greece’s shopping hours, and we don’t blame them. The dynamically changing schedule takes some getting used to. Of course, because the schedule is constantly changing, no commercial hours are ever set in stone. Still, here’s a general program to help you plan your excursions (note that many businesses in touristic areas are often open longer hours):

Retail Stores:

Monday – 10:00-15:00

Tuesday – 10:00-14:00, 17:30-21:00

Wednesday – 10:00-15:00

Thursday – 10:00-14:00, 17:30-21:00

Friday – 10:00-14:00, 17:30-21:00

Saturday – 9:00-15:00

Sunday – CLOSED

Shopping Malls:

Monday – 9:00-21:00

Tuesday – 9:00-21:00

Wednesday – 9:00-21:00

Thursday – 9:00-21:00

Friday – 9:00-21:00

Saturday – 9:00-21:00

Sunday – 9:00-20:00

Banks:

Monday – 8:00-14:00

Tuesday – 8:00-14:00

Wednesday – 8:00-14:00

Thursday – 8:00-14:00

Friday – 8:00-14:00

Saturday – CLOSED

Sunday – CLOSED

Supermarkets:

Monday – 8:00-20:00

Tuesday – 8:00-20:00

Wednesday – 8:00-20:00

Thursday – 8:00-20:00

Friday – 8:00-20:00

Saturday – 8:00-18:00

Sunday – CLOSED

Museums:DGC_ATH_MUS_Acropolis Museum_05

Museums and archaeological sites in Greece each keep their own schedule and it is worth checking opening hours with the specific institution you plan to visit. However, note that most museums in Greece are closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays and that hours in the winter season are typically shorter than hours in the summer season.

 

Safety Tips

Athens is a relatively safe city compared to other European cities of similar size. Still, travelers should take basic precautions when visiting and exploring the city:

  • Carry money, passports and other valuables close to your body in a concealed place like a traveler neck wallet. Do not place valuables in a backpack. If wearing a handbag, ensure that it is closed and protected.
  • Utilize hotel safes whenever possible to avoid carrying excess cash and valuables on the street.
  • Avoid using ATMs in poorly lit or remote locations. Try to use ones in hotels and banks whenever possible.
  • Take taxis at night when going out, and have restaurants call you a taxi when leaving. Never accept a ride from a stranger or unregistered taxi driver.
  • Ignore invitations from people on the street to visit local bars, restaurants and other businesses as it may be a scam.
  • Use only trusted, professional guides for tours.
  • Most of all, use common sense. If a situation doesn’t feel right, just leave. And never hesitate to ask a local for assistance!

 

Emergency numbers

Medical Emergency: 166 from any phone in Greece

Police: 100 from any phone in Greece

 

Methods of payment

Greece uses the common Euro currency (€) along with 18 other member countries of the European Union. The Euro replaced the Drachma on January 01, 2002.

Greece has always been a cash-driven economy. It has only been over the past few years that the majority of Athens’ businesses and restaurants have added credit card terminals to their point of sales. However, credit card use is still far from ubiquitous in cafes, bars, tavernas and archaeological sites (AKA the best parts of our country) as well as in taxis and public transportation ticket offices. For that reason, visitors are advised to always have some cash on hand just in case. We’d hate for you to have a good night cut short by a lack of funds!

 

Have another question? Drop us a line.

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