Vacationing in Athens? Or planning a trip? Check out these useful top 10 tips so that you are not overwhelmed if you are out and about by yourselves without a guide, If you are looking for good information about where to bank, find a taxi, organize a tour, catch a ferry, where is an internet, when things are open etc. This list is very helpful. Keep it with you.
1. Booking with Travel Agency Vs. online....We've seen many of our clients who booked with huge online booking sites like Orbitz or Travelocity etc. The tip: Do NOT book the hotel. You might think you are getting a good deal, but later when you want to take a ferry to an island, or island to island, you might get stranded as you didn't know the ferry schedule. Sleep better by booking through a local (in Greece) Greece travel agency that not only gets discounts for hotels but they know your full itinerary, wishes, the ferry schedules and can get your tickets.
2. Storing luggage at the airport: On the ground floor all the way to the far end of the terminal building as you exit the 'luggage claim' area, you may leave your heavy luggage. Open from 6:00 am to 2:00 am it is convenient, but your pay for that convenience. Charges: Handbag 2.35€ (1-6 hrs.) 2.93€ ( 12 hrs.) Suitcase 3.52€ (1-6 hrs.) 4.40€ (12 hrs.) Bulky Items 4.70€ (1-6 hrs.) 5.87€ (12 hrs.)
3. Taxi's from the airport: The queue for taxi's start at Door 4 of the airports arrival level and goes up to door 1. The taxi should cost, by law, 35€ to the center of downtown Athens, with perhaps another additional 5-10€ depending on your amount of luggage. (Make sure the meter is on #1 which is the daytime rates).(Rates double after midnight)
4. Trains from Airport: From the Airport 'to' Athens is at 6:48 am and the last one is at 20:14. (8:14 pm) "From" Athens back to the airport is at 6:06 am. and the last one is at 19:36 (7:36 pm) 'From the airport to Larissis Stations is approx 38 minutes, departing every 15 minutes.
5. Bus Lines from the airport into downtown Athens
There are many bus lines you can get at the curbside of the arrival level of the Main Terminal Bldg. (Exit doors 4-5)
X95 Syntagma Square- (24 hrs a day every 10-30 minutes) Airport Express
X96 Pireaus- Airport Express starts from the Northwest Corner of Pireaus main harbor & terminates at the airport. (Note: every 40 minutes after midnight).
X93 connects the Airport (door 5) with the bus terminals at Kiffissou and Liosson streets.(Every 35 minutes daytime, and 65 minutes at night).
Tickets cost 3.20€ good for one trip 'to' or 'from' the airport on the Express Lines. Buy your tickets from the kiosks, driver, airport or the metro.
7. How do I stay connected by internet? If you arrive by cruise ship or are waiting for a ferry to another island, know that the entire Piraeus Port area has free wireless internet Also, the internet chain Bits and Bytes, Starbucks and Everest, the fast food chain, all have internet access. Most hotels have internet wi-fi in the rooms or in the lobby. (Ask when booking).
8. Phones: The WIND cell phone company has a 'Pay as you Go' prepaid card. This offers you a flat rate of 0.21 /minute to Greece, Italy, USA, Russia Albania and the Ukraine. You can always take your existing cell phone in and buy/change your sim card at a OTE or Vodafone store. Or rent a cell phone from Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org
9. BE Smart, BE happy and make the thiefs unhappy.
Like any big city, there will be pickpockets. NOTE: women, carry a zipped up purse and always have it in front of you. Good idea to carry 'fake' wallet in the normal place and your 'real wallet in safe place. Most robberies happen in/on the metros, buses, and standing in-line anyplace. Keep aware of anyone bumping into you. (Sometimes they work as a team and on the 3rd bump by one person the teammate steals your valuables. (I speak from experience)
10. Electrical adaptors. Greece is on 220 so just know you will need a small plug adaptor. You may buy these at Radio Shack in the USA or Greece at the airport. Right in the center -Syntaga Square- there is a store called 'Public' for your adapters, wireless cards. etc. For repairs if really stuck, call PC Express, which is a computer service and repair that has highly trained technicians that will have you connected in no time at reasonable prices. Call 210-960-6860 (English speaking).