Getting into post-Olympics Athens is an entirely different experience than what it used to be. The airport is linked to the city with a six-lane expressway (Attiki Odos), Metro, buses, and taxis. Public transportation to and from the airport is excellent and advised (especially the Metro because buses can be slow and get stuck in traffic during rush hour once they enter the city).
Line 3 of the Metro (www.amel.gr; 8€ one-way, 14€ round-trip -- valid for 48 hr.; one-way fare for two people is 15€ and 20€ for three) is more convenient, less expensive, and faster than any other way of getting from the airport to downtown or vice versa. Unless you have a lot of luggage the Metro is an excellent, good-value option. Metro line 3 serves the city center (where you can switch to the other lines at either Monastiraki or Syntagma stations) from the airport. The trip takes roughly 40 minutes and trains run every half-hour from 6:30am to 11:30pm. From the city to the airport (leaving from Syntagma and Monastiraki), trains run from 5:50am to 10:50pm. To get to Piraeus, switch at Monastiraki station to line 1; total travel time is about 1 hour. The airport ticket is valid for all forms of public transportation for 90 minutes; if you're approaching 90 minutes and are still in transit, simply revalidate your ticket by having it punched again. The Metro runs from 5:30am to midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2am on Friday and Saturday.
By Suburban Railroad
The suburban railroad (www.trainose.gr/en) runs to and from the Larissa station, Doukissis Plakentias, with a connection to Metro line 1 at Nerantziotissa (at the Athens Mall in Marousi near the Athens Olympic Complex) and from the airport to the port of Piraeus. It might not be as convenient as line 3 to get downtown but it is more comfortable, not as crowded, and runs longer hours. Trains to the airport run from 4:30am to midnight, while the trains from the airport to the city run from 5am to 1:20am. The suburban railroad has the same pricing as the Metro; the only difference is that the return ticket is valid for a month. This is the best option to get from the airport to the port of Piraeus. Total travel time: 65 minutes.
Buses (www.oasa.gr) are far slower than the Metro but they run 24 hours, and can reach areas the Metro does not, such as the coast. If you want to take a bus from the airport into central Athens, be prepared for what may be a long wait and a slow journey.
Several bus lines travel to and from the airport to destinations throughout the city. All buses depart from the designated area outside the Arrivals Hall of the main terminal building (doors 4 and 5). Bus service from the airport to Syntagma Square (X95) or to Piraeus (X96) costs 5€. The X95 runs every 10 minutes from 7am-10pm and every half-hour from 10pm-7am. The X96 runs every 20 minutes from 7am-10pm and every 40 minutes from 10pm-7am.
You can buy the ticket from a booth beside the bus stop or on the bus, and you must validate your ticket by punching it in the machine within the bus. And it's always a good idea to double-check where your bus is going by asking the driver before boarding. By Taxi -- The easiest way to get to town, you would assume, would be to take a taxi from the terminal. This is not as simple as it sounds: Greeks regard waiting in line with amusement, and getting a cab as a fiercely competitive sport. The City of Athens has created a flat rate from the airport to downtown Athens (Omonia Sq. and the Plaka/Makrigianni districts). Once you are in the taxi, make sure the meter is set on the correct tariff (tariff 1 is charged 5am-midnight; tariff 2 midnight-5am). For Omonoia, the price is 32€ (tariff 1); and 42€ (tariff 2); each rate includes all additional charges such as tolls and luggage. If you're heading for the Plaka/Makrigianni districts (at Hadrian's Gate), the rate is daytime 35€ and nighttime 50€. Depending on traffic, the cab ride can take under 30 minutes or well over an hour -- something to remember when you return to the airport. Most likely you will not encounter any problems aside from city traffic. For more information check out the Athens Taxi Info site at www.athenstaxi.info. For other destinations, be sure to discuss your destination before getting into the taxi, either with an airline official or a policeman, to get the official flat rate price to your specific destination. If there's a problem with the taxi driver, you may threaten to call the police (tel. 100).
Even though post-Olympics Athens is a radically different city -- with the Metro, the railroad, and a new network of ring roads that have eased the city's notorious traffic -- make no mistake, it is not an easy city to drive in, and if you're unfamiliar with the streets, it can be downright horrific. We recommend that you do not drive in Athens. If you still choose to drive into Athens, you'll pass through the region known as Mesogeia (the Inland). Until the new airport was built, this was one of the loveliest sections of Athens, with vineyards stretching for miles, sleepy country villages, and handsome chapels. Much of the area constituted the protected Attic Park; now, the once-protected wetlands and vineyards are being turned into new towns, subdevelopments, malls -- and more roads. Numerous exits serve the most important areas of Athens.
If you plan to rent a car and head north or south, avoiding the city altogether, it's easier to do thanks to the new National Highway. If you're headed for Peloponnese, simply follow the signs for Elefsina. If you're headed toward northern Greece (including the city of Thessaloniki), get off at the Lamia exit.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.