While the museums and art galleries are some of the finest, most popular attractions in Athens, Greece’s beautiful capital has a lot more to offer. One of the best ways to get to know a city is to get out and explore, and fortunately there are a number of ways you can do this in Athens.
Firstly, the way to see Athens with the most freedom is in a rental car. However, there are some things to consider if you’re debating whether or not to hire a car for your stay. On the one hand, drivers can be reckless and parking can be tricky outside of tourist areas. On the other, lots of pickpocketing takes place on crowded public transport, so the parking frustration may be worth it if it means keeping your possessions safe. Olympia is a great place to drive, or a trip to the nearby turtle sanctuary can be a brilliant way to keep the kids entertained.
For €1,40, you can get an ‘integrated’ ticket which allows you to travel around Athens on the metro, trains, trams and buses for 90 minutes, with €4 getting a daily ticket and €10 a weekly ticket. This makes public transport incredibly affordable, opening up much more of the surrounding area to tourists. Supplementary tickets will be required for buses to Athens Airport, however. The main drawback of public transport is that strikes are frequent, meaning it can be unreliable. Make sure you always have a taxi number with you in case you find yourself stranded by strike action.
The Metro system is unique insofar as many stations display artifacts found in the excavation process when building that system, so in a sense, some of the stations resemble museums. There are three lines, and the Athenians are incredibly proud of their Metro system, so be sure not to misbehave or security will approach you immediately. You are also not allowed to eat or drink anywhere in the system, so bear this in mind on hot days where it can get very busy.
If you decide to take a bus journey, bear in mind that you must raise an arm to signal to the driver when you want to get off. The bus system can be quite confusing, so pick up a map at the airport to help you figure out your journeys. If you have bought a ticket for an entire day or week, it only needs to be validated once on your first journey. Or again if you’re in need of a vehicle rental you can check out Rental Center Crete, a local car rental company in Crete Island.
Emma Lawson is a travel enthusiast who blogs about her experiences in Europe to inform and inspire fellow travelers.