Welcome Pickups – the personalised, local service in Athens for transfers and tours.

A colourful café bistro by day and a bustling club bar by night, this place draws in the crowds from laid-back socialites to the real party crowd.
Athens is a walkable city with the main sights in a close circuit. However, if you wish to factor in neighbourhood exploration, beaches, or need to escape the exhaustion in the summer months, the Athens transport system provides quick and easy access. 
You’ll find modern life in Athens thriving in its varying neighbourhoods (no two are the same) like the pedestrianised areas of Thissio with its café culture, Monastiraki and its flea market, upmarket and trendy Kolonaki and Psiri, edgy and anarchist Exarcheia and the residential, night-life pumping Gizi. 
Internal flights from Athens to Thessaloniki and nearby islands such as Skyros and Santorini start from around €29 each way, which beats hours on a ferry for a similar price. Of course, use Athens as a city base to visit the hotspots of Greece, as many do, but don’t neglect it. Give yourself time on either side of a mainland or island adventure to see the city properly.

An elevated view of old Athens city - Monastiraki Square in the foreground, yellow and orange houses scattered up the hillside and the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in the distance.
READ MORE: See Athens Like a Local – Athens Greeter Programme

Athens Travel and the Greek Debt Crisis

Cosy joint, welcoming staff, DJ playing tracks from bygone eras, and a local crowd that really gathers, especially on a Friday night.

Book a ride with a local with Welcome Pickups for €40. If you want a taxi journey that’s a bit more insightful and helpful, try this service. It’s the same cost as a standard taxi, but with an Athenian touch – ask questions, get recommendations and make an instant buddy in the city (all drivers are verified). You can download the app on the website, which makes finding and contacting your driver easier. You can also book day trips, multi-trip stops and sightseeing experiences. 
READ MORE: Street Art in Athens – Visual Representations of Greece
Drunk Sinatra
Athens at night is pumping and choosing what bars to visit and in what areas can be overwhelming. In fact, you’ll only scratch the surface on a single visit to the city. Here’s a pick of my favourite bars to start. 

Why Visit Athens Now?

Enter a basement that turns into a huge bar and outdoor garden space, and you’ll find yourself within what has become one of Athens’ most popular and much-loved bars and gig spaces. It’s even busy on Sunday afternoons, where locals congregate for coffee and a chilled hangout.

Old Fashioned
The layers of myth and legend, history and culture, antiquity and knowledge are intertwined with today’s entrepreneurial, cultural and artistic renaissance, transforming Athens and the rest of the country.
Athens remains pivotal to its recovery and is home to a start-up generation and artistic regeneration – a space that is changing, thriving and carving its mark as an emerging European hotspot.
A taxi to and from the airport to the centre of Athens is €35, which is a handy cost to split if you are sharing, carrying lots of luggage, arriving late at night or are averse to taking metros. However, the taxi drivers in Athens can be a force to be reckoned with if you are just a margin outside of the boundaries they deem the city centre.

How to Get to Athens – Getting There and Away

Flights to Athens

Located directly opposite the grounds of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, you could say that this hotel is one of the most ideally located to kick start your exploration of the classical highlights that Athens is most known for. Pick one of the rooms with a balcony view of Hadrian’s Arch and the gleaming temple columns, and awaken to the golden hues of the city that all visitors chase.
From bike rides and hidden walking tours, Segway and motorised scooters, Athens can be seen with a little adrenalin and action. Who needs the hop-on-hop-off bus when you can stroll and glide by its back streets, parks and hidden treasures?

Athens Airport to Athens City Centre Transport

This modern bar has a swanky vibe, set by the mood of its two-tone red and black décor. As by the name, the vast wine selection is available by the glass and also hosts wine classes and private parties.
When you plan to visit Athens, factor in more than a 24-hour stay for the desired rush to complete the standard things to do in the Athens list based on some ancient sites.
However, there’s a lot to learn about the Greek street art scene and being introduced to the critical artworks on a street art tour, with one of the artists, is the best way to learn the stories behind the movement in the city. It is also an insightful means of understanding Athens’s modern face and its complexities. 
Are you confused about where to start in finding alternative Athens and its multi-layered and convoluted charms outside of its classic fame? If you’ve already stood atop of the Acropolis and rambled through the ruins trail, and are looking for an insight into the layers of the modern Athens metropolis, here’s how you can delve deeper in 72 hours. 

Athens is said to have the largest collection of city street art globally, and here it is nearly everywhere you look, emerging in the early 1990s as a social-political voice. And while some unsightly ‘tagging’ graffiti dons some spaces, the most detailed designs and messages are found mainly within the Exarchia, Monastiraki and Psirri neighbourhoods.

Getting Around Athens

Hire your skipper with Incredible, who will take you out on the water and cruise alongside the stunning Athens coastline – a city surrounded by sea.
An elevated view of Athens, Greece with a view to the old houses and Lycabettus Hill in the distance
While it’s sometimes necessary to travel via Europe’s budget airlines, I’ve also flown to and from the UK and within Greece with its national carrier, Aegean Airlines. Price-wise, Aegean is a little more expensive than the budget airlines you love to hate, but you pay for comfort and an overall (much) better service.

Athens Metro

I’ve probably engaged in walking tours in nearly every city I’ve visited, alongside my general wanderings once I have my bearings.

  • Line 1 (Green): Kifisia to Piraeus
    • Connects the suburb of Kifisia in the north with the Port of Piraeus in the south, passing through Monastiraki.
  • Line 2 (Red): Anthoupoli to Elinike
    • Connects the northern suburban area of Anthoupoli with coastal Eliniko in the south, passing through Syntagma and Akropoli. 
  • Line 3 (Blue): Aghia Marina to Athens Airport 
    • Connects the site of the church of Agia Marina in the west to the Airport in the east, passing through Doukissis Plakentias – a northern suburb of Athens. 

Athens Transport Tickets and Prices

The four columns of the Temple of Athena sit on a hillside of the ancient city of Karthea in Kea island, overlooking the shimmering blue ocean water
‘This is Athens’ is the official site for the city of Athens with event listings, alongside comprehensive travel and accommodation guides. You can also apply online for a “This Is My Athens” personal ‘greeter’ to show you around town.
I stayed in the Alexandros Hotel, located on a quieter side street right next to all the action of Mavilli Square. An elegant hotel so centrally located (without being right in the touristic hub) offers excellent value for money with spacious rooms starting from €70 (including an extensive breakfast buffet). It’s also only a five-minute walk to the metro station.

Taking a Taxi in Athens

You can purchase Ath.ena tickets for €1.20 for a single fare up to 90-minutes, €5.70 for a bundle of five tickets, €4.10 for a 24-hour ticket and €8.20 for a five-day ticket.
Boating in Athens, Greece

Things To Do in Athens – Sightseeing Guide 

See Ancient Athens 

For those looking for something more homely, open-plan and with self-catering facilities, check out Athens Backpackers and Studios. I lived here for a month while looking for my rental apartment, and there are a few options to choose from whether you are solo or with the family – the largest studios have enough space for six people.

  • Acropolis of Athens (including north and south Slopes)
  • Ancient Agora of Athens (including Ancient Agora of Athens Museum)
  • Roman Agora of Athens
  • Hadrian’s Library
  • Olympieion
  • Kerameikos (including Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos)
  • Aristotle’s School – Lykeion Archaeological Site

In Athens, you can hop between third-generation food stores, restaurants offering traditional foods and cooking methods, and locally recommended eateries and hangouts. With more Tavernas, historical kitchens and food stores than you can even keep up with, it’s hard to know where to sample the best of the best, so I turned to global food experts, Culinary Backstreets for a tour around Athen’s much-loved eateries and its best-kept secrets. This tour wasn’t just about sampling Greek food, but about learning the stories behind tradition and family business, alongside the cultures behind unique dishes here

Experience Local Athens

The following bars are three of the most well-established bars in town, each with their unique décor, vibe and offering, mixing wine tasting with accompanying savoury Greek snacks. Attending these establishments to sample the best Greek wines is a must for any wine enthusiast.
The merriment of music and dance often accompanies great food – the Greeks are known for it. Most people know the sound of the famous Greek Bouzouki musical guitar-like instrument, and many more are keen to learn the ‘Zorbas’ dance that accompanies its catchy and well-remembered tunes.
It’s a city that has been continuously occupied, destroyed, rebuilt and reinvented. 
There is still the chance to live the island life without boarding a ferry for those who don’t have the time to venture out to the famous Greek islands. The 30-mile stretch of scenic coastline along the Saronic Gulf, known as the ‘Athens Riviera’, is just 25 minutes away from the city’s centre. The coastal areas of Glyfada, Voula, Alimos, Agia Marina and Cape Sounion are towns accessible by metro or car and teem with life in sea view restaurants, coastal walks and their very own beaches. 

Explore Modern Athens

Not only is the building minutes from the Acropolis metro, the main historical sites, and the old neighbourhood of Plaka, it’s part of a more expansive hostel set-up. The neighbouring hostel building just around the corner gives you access to a bar and a cafe, laundry facilities and a run of free weekly events where you can meet other travellers. Prices start from around €55.
The Athens Gate Hotel is easy to pass by from the outside, shrouded by the traffic of bustling Syngrou Road, but the appeal of the mid-range budget Athens Gate Hotel lies in the concealed panoramic views of some of the city’s most-loved ancient sites. This alone is worthy of a little extra spending.
Towards the end of one summer, I lived with three girlfriends in a shared apartment on Athens’ main shopping street, Ermou and close to the lively bar and restaurant ‘squares’ in Athens. An enormous, four-bedroom apartment costs around £1,000 for the entire week, averaging at £35 a night each – a centrally-located apartment for the same price as a night in a hotel.
READ MORE: The Creative Transformation of Athens. Rebuilding a City in Crisis.
60’s style class, with a modern and funky vibe, right in the historical centre of Athens. Dine all day and drink all night.

How to See Athens – Tours and Experiences

Athens has three metro lines connecting you to the city’s far reaches, including the airport at one end and the coastal areas and port of Piraeus (for island ferry connections) at the other. It’s one of the cleanest, efficient and easy to use metros I’ve ever used. For a historical ride, the Green Line (1) is the oldest, established in 1869.

Street Art in Athens

Athens isn’t just about being locked into a busy metropolis either. You also can hit the beach and enjoy some coastal time close by in Attica – the broader region surrounding Athens.
Travel to Athens is about understanding how misunderstood Greece’s capital is. People cite initial disappointment in finding a city whose grittiness and edginess doesn’t live up to the expectation of a city entirely coated in gleaming, classical Greek architecture.
The ‘Re-think’ Athens project revives the city centre with proposed green spaces, boulevards and urban squares. Old hotels are being revamped with a stamp of ultra-funky design, like the super arty Grecotel Athena Pallas.

After living there for two years, I pulled together this Athens travel guide to encourage more in-depth travel. It’s a checklist of what to see and do and how to get around. It’s also about how to make the most of the locals who are happy to impart their knowledge so that you can get the most out of a stay here.

The Athens Riviera

Check out this three days in Athens itinerary to get started.
One of the ways I got to know different neighbourhoods and meet Athenians was by using platforms like Airbnb in Athens, where I could rent a spare room for around 20 Euros a night. I would deliberately pick a new area each time since the people you stay with give great local recommendations and tips or invite you out with their friends.
Greek cuisine is reinvented, or international cuisines added to the mix, to cater to modern tastes. And when the sun goes down, Athens continues its gritty vibe with a bustling nightlife I never expected. Check out the city’s centrepiece watering holes of Drunk Sinatra and Six Dogs in the Psiri area to start.
I get a lot of inspiration and tips from locals who post on Instagram. In particular, I follow the #igers_Athens hashtag for some alternative finds and urban insights.

Half-Day Trip to The Temple of Poseidon

You can visit Athens on a deeper level through walks and experiences to uncover more of the local life and perspective.
The local guide, Carolina, is so passionate that she would make even the least discerning of foodies fall in love with the Greek cuisine. The morning started with coffee and sweet treats at one of the oldest dairy shops in Greece, once based at the port but relocated to the city centre after being bombed during the war. We then learnt about the production of feta at a family-run cheese shop that’s been around since 1916. That was before trying cold cuts from the Armenian restaurants and stores (many Armenians came to Greece during the tragic genocide) and sampling one of the city’s best souvlaki at a third-generation family-run stand, established in 1950 and currently run by the original owner’s grandson. And if that wasn’t enough, you also get to sample olives and meats at the frantic but fun on the senses, fish-market and sweet honey and cinnamon laden loukoumades doughnuts at one of the oldest local favourites in town.

Traditional Greek Food Tour in Athens

Creative enterprise is what modern-day Athens is built upon; just as the ancient philosophers worked to change society for the better, Athens today is no different. Artistic transformations are happening all over the city, from the masses of street art to the contemporary art museum is getting a massive facelift.
The X95 bus takes you to Syntagma Square for €6, for a longer and more city-view journey. The bus stop is right outside the arrivals hall – follow the signs.
With the aid of the distinct hospitality that Greek people are known for and are very proud of, Athens and Greece are more open to your visit than ever before.

Athens Wine Scene

There is no way you can miss climbing the scared elevated rock of the Acropolis, with its stunning modern museum and the surrounding archaeological areas. The ancient structure of the Parthenon may gloriously sit atop this hill overlooking the city as a reminder of it.
Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, steeped in over 3,400 years of history. It’s where modern-day life as we know it started – seen as the cradle of civilisation, the birthplace of philosophy and where democracy ignited.
This is How to Travel to Athens – A City Guide for Greece’s Capital
READ MORE: Best Athens Walking Tours
Six Dogs
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I love the Grecotel Pallas Athena hotel not just because I stayed there on my very first visit to Athens with a fantastic group of friends because it’s bold and artistic. This art-boutique hotel in the very centre of the city (close to the Monastiraki and Acropolis metro stations) is awash with bold colour, glamorous design features from the flooring patterns to the decor, funky furniture and rooms that each come with their distinct artistic flairs – like wall paintings of smurfs, spiderman, forests and volcanos. It’s no wonder it has become a popular setting for fashion shoots and art exhibits. Prices start from €110.
READ MORE: The Little-Known Greek Island of Kea
For those looking for an overnight island, you can even overnight on the island of Kea – the Athenian getaway secret. 

Nightlife in Athens

Yet, to visit Athens is to see a reinvented city beyond its ancient and troubled past. While its classical highlights are a historical must-see, getting to know the city deeper will leave you with a better understanding and overall experience. 
You can customise a walking tour based offers your interests, such as food, history, photography or even something specific like yoga or choose from the already extensive portfolio. Natalie, Anthia and Alex are an outstanding and dedicated team of people who love their city, and I can’t recommend them enough.

Don’t miss The Temple of Olympian Zeus – one of the core ancient cites in Athens.
Athens is quickly moving towards becoming one of Europe’s most exciting and lively contemporary cities.
Just as it has happened many times before, what’s happening here now is a revival. Greece is a fighter, and Athens is at the helm.

Athens needs travellers. Greece needs travellers.

Athens Walking Tours

More recently, economic turmoil is what has blighted Greece and its capital. It’s branded by it. We all heard about it and watched it happen; we wondered if it was ok to visit and if our holiday investment was worth it. In reality, people never gave up on visiting, contrary to what was heard or advised.
READ MORE: Guide to Athens Neighbourhoods.
The breakfast spread only beats this view on the 8th floor. This sweeping canvas starts with Filopappou Hill before reaching the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill, accompanied by a great range of continental morning treats. Whether for dinner or a glass of wine in the lounge area, head back up here in the evening to see the city’s ancient hilltops glow at sundown. The staff are accommodating to those always wandering the long stretch of glass for pictures and lingering on the outdoor terrace.

The Guardian named this wine bar one of ‘Athens Best Bites’, and it is one of the city’s younger establishments. Found on Voulis street, it has a more relaxed atmosphere and attracts the younger crowd. Specifically, Oinoscent is known for having some of the best snacks to accompany your wine, especially the traditional rusk-like bread.
By the Glass

Traditional Greek Dancing in Athens

Compacted Athens city structures as seen from elevation, with two small green hills poking through in the background.

Active Ways to See Athens

Athens’ public transport is not an extensive network like London, Berlin or Tokyo, but it is still a modern mass transit system. And one that is needed in a city of over three million people. You can hop between the metro, inter-city buses, trolley-buses and trams and the overground suburban railway network (TrainOSE).

Where to Stay in Athens 

Hostels in Athens

A quiet alley off the busy Ermou shopping street hosts this cosy establishment with an extensive and exclusive Greek wine selection. One of the city’s most well-known and loved, the two owners and its staff love to impart their wine knowledge and will see you try more than you had initially planned.

Budget Hotels in Athens 

Athens Gate is a two-minute walk to the start of the Grand Promenade (Dionysiou Aeropagitou and Apostolou Pavlou streets), connecting all significant sites. This street also leads into old Plaka and a 10-minute walk to Syntagma Square, where you can begin your exploration of the city’s modern face. The hotel is an excellent choice for first-time visitors to Greece’s capital. Prices start from €95.

Athens Boutique Hotels

Even the least discerning food enthusiasts will quickly fall in love with Greek cuisine. Fresh and straightforward ingredients mark out the Greek favourites everyone knows and loves – Souvlaki, moussaka, Greek salads, feta cheese, yoghurt and honey, olives, Cretan cuisine and sweet treats like the loukoumades Greek doughnuts.

Athens Hotels With a View

In 2013, as the ‘crisis’ was still in flow, nearly 18 million people visited the country, and 2.6 million travellers visited the city of Athens. With a total country population of around 10 million people, that’s a lot of visitors to a tiny nation that needed the support.
While Greece isn’t known for its wine, the wine scene in Athens has grown over the past years in an attempt to highlight homegrown varieties to international wine lovers. Whether you want to savour the finest Greek wines (or try a selection of worldwide finds), the opening of wine bars in the centre of town – mainly in Syntagma – is a testament to the growing trend.
The archaeological sites of Athens are undoubtedly the main draw of the city. A €20 combo-ticket gets you into the following seven sites:

Studio Apartments in Athens 

City Circus has been the hostel most recommended to me by traveller friends. A four-story 20th-century mansion turned boutique hostel in the funky Psirri neighbourhood; it’s known for its alternative vibe and great city views from its balconies and rooftop hangouts. The Hostel Girl blog has an extensive review of it here.
READ MORE: Athens Riviera – Scenic City Day Trip
The historical Athens attractions are a must, but the character of the city and how it has evolved is also special.

Live With Locals in Athens 

The Athens Metro is well-signposted at the airport and costs €10 (a special airport-travel ticket is required). If you are curious like me, you can stare out the window for over 15 stops – it’s the same line (Blue Line 3) that takes you to the Monastiraki stop.

Easy to Reach Greek Islands from Athens

The introduction of the Beat taxi app in Athens (essentially the city’s version of Uber) provides a more reliable service that’s better value for money and peace of mind. Some of my best conversations have come from these drivers, too – some real characters with great stories to tell.

Hydra, Poros and Egina

Athens has plenty of yellow taxis, yet it is not devoid of game-playing, rip-off taxi drivers much like every other city. Most of the time, I had no issues and always insisted on using the metre.

Kea (Tzia)

Located on Cape Sounion, Poseidon was built by the same Athenian who also rebuilt the Parthenon temple in Athens, so it’s a cool way to connect the history of Athenian rulers and architectural feats alongside the coastline. Doable as a half-day trip, it’s easiest to travel the coastal road by bus to the Poseidon Temple, as this step by step guide shows. 
Tavernas are not often found without a traditional musician or a stereo blasting old songs that get the Greek people up – during and after dining. Look out for announcements at local eateries for Bouzouki-Zorba nights, where tourists are welcome to join in and learn with the locals or follow the sound. 
Note: You can also use these tickets on the metro, buses, trolley-buses, trams and Suburban railway (excluding airport journeys which are subject to a separate charge).

Alternative Athens Itinerary


A comprehensive resource for further information on travel in Athens and throughout Greece, you can use its iGreece facility to plan your trips in and around the country.

Travel Athens: Inspiration and Further Information


For those limited on time to spend cruising to the larger islands hours away, you can visit the three Saronic Islands of Hydra, Poros and Egina in a one day tour. The islands – each with their unique architecture, history and microcosm of culture – are a two-three hour ferry ride away from the port of Athens. While each deserves a day or two of your time, hopping between them is an accessible ‘Outer Athens’ day excursion.


Not everything is as black and white as we think when we hear something negative about a destination, leading to the question: is Athens worth visiting? Having the time to dig a little deeper uncovers a whole new side.

Athens on Instagram

Walking tours with local experts always give me a good sense of navigation and knowledge beyond the guidebooks. I’ve worked with Athens Insiders on many occasions – from orientation walks to an afternoon filled with wine tasting, alongside a tailor-made neighbourhood tour around Kolonaki and Exarchia.

Planning a Trip to Athens? Pin It!

Athenian history is still present outside of the city centre fringes. If you don’t have enough time to travel around neighbouring small towns and villages from Athens, such as Delphi or Nafplio, but want a taste of the stunning coastline and historical monuments not far from the capital, consider a trip to the 440 BC hilltop Temple of Poseidon.

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