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Athens is the capital of Greece and one of the most famous historical cities in the world. It was the home of the Greek Empire that had such an influence on the development of modern society and today is a bustling metropolis with plenty of attractions.
With a somewhat chaotic reputation, Athens does not offer as slick an experience as many of Western Europe's great cities such as Rome and Paris. With traffic galore and busy streets the hustle and bustle and the heat can be pretty intense but with plenty of rest stops and taking the pace of your holiday down a notch or two you can explore the beginnings of western civilisation. Athens is where democracy was invented and where art, architecture and philosophy were developed. The main attractions are centred conveniently around the Acropolis and so are all easily walkable for most people. You could also book a holiday package which may even include a tour of this fascinating city.
If you fancy immersing yourself in this cauldron of culture then use our flight search to get the best value Athens flights. We can also help out once you've booked your flight to Athens. Use our hotel search to find cheap hotels in Athens, and our car hire search to find cheap car hire in Athens if you're planning on getting out and about in the area.
Flights to Athens are abundant from the UK is no exception. The city is served by scheduled carriers such as British Airways and also low cost carriers like easyJet. Competition on this route is now intense enough to mean that finding a cheap flight to Athens should be possible throughout much of the year. Most direct flight options leave from London airports however there are plenty of indirect options from regional airports such as Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester. A flight to Athens takes approximately three and a half hours.
All the major airports across the UK offer flights to Athens. There are plenty of carriers too, which keeps the price down, making Athens attractive for a long weekend as well as a full-on holiday destination. Direct flights to Athens take under four hours and arrive into Athens International Airport.
The airport lies about 20 miles outside Athens and there are a variety of ways to get to your accommodation. Car hire is available but unless you're planning on exploring the surrounding area a vehicle is unlikely to be useful in the city. There are a couple of shuttle buses that run direct into the centre, as a well as some local routes that stop at the airport. There is also a direct rail link from Athens Central Rail Station, sometimes known as Larissis Station, and the airport is on the metro network too. Taxis are also available and can be a good choice for a large group.
Athens is very compact and large sections of the centre have been pedestrianised, making it very easy to explore on foot. The metro system is fairly comprehensive and many of the stations feel like museums as they display artefacts found during building works. Buses and trams also cross the city and into the suburbs, with taxis on hand if necessary, although traffic is often very bad.
The nearby port at Piraeus opens up the Mediterranean and it's easy to get a ferry to a bewildering number of destinations. Regional trains offer a limited service but it's easy to travel as far as Thessaloniki and the Pelopponese, and even to Istanbul, but you get what you pay for with faster and smoother trains costing significantly more. Intercity coaches are also popular and serve a variety of cities across the country as well as into Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. Hiring a car will get you to all the hard-to-reach areas if you're after more ruins and ancient cities.
Nestled in between the mountains that surround it, Athens is fortunate to receive plenty of sunshine and remarkably little rain, particularly during the long hot summer. Winters are mild with average temperatures around 12°C, although it does tend to rain more from October to April. Athens is known for its heatwaves and temperatures in the summer can easily reach upwards of 35°C when these hit, so make sure you go prepared!
The height of the tourist season is in July and August, when temperatures are at their highest and accommodation is at a premium. But a much nicer time for a holiday in Athens is in the spring, and this is reflected in the rising costs of a trip from April onwards. Autumn and winter are low seasons but the mild weather and cheaper costs, plus the lack of other tourists can make a holiday more appealing during these months. Just remember to pack an umbrella!
In May, the Athens in Bloom festival turns the city into a riot of colour, and throughout the summer the Athens Festival puts on musical shows by famous artists from round the globe on the slopes of the Acropolis. Lykavittos Hill also hosts many musical performances all summer long during the Lykavittos Hill Festival. For more traditional fun, the Traditional Greek Dancing Festival continues all summer too, with nightly performances on Philopappos Hill. There are numerous other smaller events too so search the Internet before you go to see what you can do!
Euros €. ATMs tend to offer the best rates, with exchange bureau and banks offering broadly similar deals to each other. ATMs are very prevalent in Athens, just be aware of any charges your bank might make each time you use one.
Greek, but most signs and menus will be written in English as well as in the Greek script. English is widely spoken, and some French and German too.
+30 for Greece followed by 210 for Athens
If you go to Athens in summer it can get very hot so be sure to take lots of water with you on your sightseeing. Greeks are known for their demonstrations which are generally peaceful but if you're worried check out the Foreign Office travel advice below!
UK passport holders don't need a visa to visit Athens and may stay for up to three months with a valid passport.