How to take the Athens airport metro – A local’s guide

Visitors flying into Athens, will need to get from the Athens international airport to the city. Here is how to take the Athens airport metro to central Athens, the port of Piraeus, or any other area in the Greek capital.

How to take the Athens airport metro

So, you’ve booked your tickets to Athens! Exciting! Maybe you’ve been here before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, you’ve probably heard that we have a relatively new metro system, of which we are really proud.

The Athens metro system currently consists of three lines: green, also known as “ilektrikos“, red and blue.

The green line has been running since 1869, and major refurbishments happened in the last decade. The red and blue line started operating in 2000, a few years before the Olympic Games in 2004.

Map of the metro system in Athens

In the above map, you can see the three main Athens metro lines. The blue line, or Line 3, is the one running from the airport to the center. It currently terminates in an area called Nikaia.

The yellow and dark blue lines (P1 and P2) are another service, called the suburban railway. More on that later.

As any Athenian can confirm, the metro system has improved transportation massively, and really changed our lives. I personally use it on a regular basis to go to the center and the airport.

This guide will help you take the metro from the Athens airport to downtown, and vice versa.

Where to take the metro at the Athens airport

After your arrival in Athens, complete your paperwork and collect your checked luggage if you have any. Then you can get out of the arrivals area, ready for your adventure.

Signs in airport Athens Greece

Once you’ve passed the exit gates, look for the signs indicating the way to taxis, buses and trains. The sign pointing to trains is the one that you need to follow to reach the metro station.

While the bus and taxi stands are right outside the airport terminal, in order to get to the metro you need to walk a few hundred metres. Cross the street outside the airport building, and you will see some stairs and escalators going up.

Bridge in Athens airport

After you go up, walk across a short bridge covered by glass panes. That’s it! You have arrived at the Athens airport metro station.

Athens airport metro line vs suburban railway

Now, the reason why the sign above mentions “trains”, is because another service apart from the metro also operates here. It is called the suburban railway, and it is run by the national train company.

Airport metro station in Athens Greece

Confusingly, the metro system uses parts of the railway line which belong to the train company. Therefore, the two services depart from the same place. They follow the same route up to a point, and then diverge.

The majority of visitors will want to go to central Athens. Many of the tourist hotels and other accommodation are somewhere near Acropolis, Syntagma and Monastiraki station.

In this case, you will need to make sure you hop on the metro and not the suburban railway.

How to buy the airport metro ticket

Getting a ticket from the airport to anywhere in the city should be fairly straightforward. However, the menus on the automatic machines aren’t as self-explanatory as you would imagine. This gets worse if you are tired after your trip.

Athens metro select language

In any case, when you use the machines, you will see that your ticket options come up in several languages. If you continue, you will come up with this menu.

Taking the Athens airport metro

Assuming you are going to the centre, you should choose the option “Athens & Airport”. Ignore the option “Airport – Pallini”, as Pallini is a suburb outside the urban area of Athens. 

Occasionally, the machines will be temporarily out of order, or won’t accept your credit card. Even at this time and age, it might be easier to buy your ticket in person, from the actual ticket office. 

Then you can also ask the employee which platform the metro departs from. This way you will avoid getting confused with the suburban railway.

Ticket options for the airport metro Athens

Most visitors will want the one-way ticket to central Athens, which costs 9 euro. Children under 6 years old travel for free.

There is also a return ticket option, for 16 euro. There’s a catch though – you need to use the return ticket within 48 hours from the first validation.

If you are only staying in Athens for 2 days, you can buy the return ticket. Otherwise, just get the one-way ticket.

Getting to central Athens

Another option is the so-called 3 day tourist ticket, which costs 20 euro. This covers you for three 24-hour periods from the moment of validation, including two trips from and to the airport.

The tourist ticket is a good deal if you are staying in Athens for 3 days and planning to use the metro system to get around.

Athens metro and suburban railway to Piraeus port

Instead of going to the city center, some people will want to get directly to Piraeus port, to catch a ferry to one of the Greek islands. You have two choices here.

You can get to Piraeus directly from the airport on the suburban trains. These only depart once an hour, and take exactly 60 minutes to get to the port. You can find the timetables here.

Alternatively, you can take the blue metro line, get off at Monastiraki station, and hop on the green line. This will take you around 70-90 minutes.

Eitherway, you will need to use the one way ticket, which costs 9 euro.

Validating your metro ticket

After you’ve bought your ticket, you will need to validate it in order for the gates to open. All you need to do, is swipe it on the card reader.

Even if the gates are permanently open, which happens sometimes, validate your ticket nevertheless. Otherwise, in case of an inspection, your ticket will not be valid, and you could get a fine. Plus, you won’t be able to get out of the gates when you reach your destination.

Validating your ticket in the Athens metro

Once you’ve validated your ticket, make sure you keep it somewhere safe. You will need to swipe it again when you have arrived at your end station.

The blue metro line goes directly to Syntagma and Monastiraki metro stations, where many visitors choose to stay. These two stations are central, and you can change for another line if you need to.

As an example, if you are staying around Acropolis, you will need to change at Syntagma square and take the red line for one stop. If you are staying in Thissio, you can change at Monastiraki for the green line.

This article explains in detail how to use the metro in downtown Athens. You will find it helpful if you are planning to get around our city by public transport.

The Athens airport metro is very convenient

Your airport ticket is valid for 90 minutes, which is plenty of time to reach any metro station in the city.

However, if you are planning to use a bus or a tram after exiting the metro, you would probably need to get an extra single urban ticket for those. This would cost an additional 1.20 euro.

Airport metro Athens – Timetables

The metro from the airport operates frequently, and for long hours. The first metro departs from the airport at 6:32, and the last one leaves at 23:32.

There are trains every 30 minutes, and they take about 40 minutes to get to the city center. For the official timetables, check the company’s website.

If you are taking the metro from the centre to the airport, note that most services only travel inside the Athens urban area, and terminate at Doukissis Plakentias station. Make sure you hop on the service marked as “airport”, which runs every 30 minutes.

Athens airport metro strikes

Occasionally, either the metro company or the train company will announce a strike. On these days, services will be affected.

Remember how the metro and suburban railway use the same railway line? This is why the airport metro won’t run on a day when the train company is on strike. However, the routes within the urban area of Athens will not be affected.

Getting to central Athens

When the metro company is on strike, there is no service at all. This will affect the airport as well as central Athens. Other transport options in the city, like the tram or any bus, will typically be busier.

In these cases, your other options to get into the city are either by taxi, pre-booked private transfer, or on the Athens airport buses.

I hope that you won’t need it, but here is all you need to know about strikes in Greece! If you want to be informed about any upcoming strikes, please like my FB page where I post everything about them.

What’s the best type of transportation from Athens airport?

This is really a personal choice. It mostly depends on your budget, the number of people you are travelling with and your personal preferences.

A taxi to central Athens costs 38 euro during the day, and 54 euro from midnight to 5 am. If you are travelling in a group of 4 people, taking a taxi will cost almost the same as taking the metro.

Generally speaking, a taxi will be better if you have lots of luggage and heavy bags. The last thing you will want to do after you’ve arrived is to drag your suitcases across the street from the airport, and then around the escalator and bridge.

If you are travelling with children or getting to Athens after a long trip, a pre-booked private transfer is probably the best option.

Airport buses in Athens

At the same time, some people may be on a tight budget, or they may be arriving during the night. In these cases, you can take the 24-hour bus X95 from the Athens airport to Syntagma square.

X95 bus Athens

Similarly, there is the 24-hour X96 bus to Piraeus port. This may take you 1,5 hours, or even longer, when there is traffic. It’s good if you are on a budget, have time to kill, or just want to enjoy the route.

The price of a one way ticket on the airport buses is only 5.50 euro per person. The ticket is valid for 90 minutes. It’s the cheapest option to get to the airport.

Is the metro in Athens safe?

I have been using the metro since the day it started operating, over 20 years ago. I’ve used it at all times of the day, including rush hour and late at night.

Personally, I have never been pick-pocketed, but I’ve heard a few stories from fellow Greeks. Similarly, I’ve read several reports in online forums about tourists being robbed. Truth be told, visitors are obvious targets.

Inside the Athens metro

Be aware of your luggage, and keep your passport and other valuables in a safe place. Consider using a moneybelt or hidden pockets, and hold your personal items, including your mobile phone, close to your body. 

Frequently asked questions about the metro in Athens airport

Here are a few questions that visitors ask:

Is there a Metro from Athens Airport?

Yes there is. The service runs every 30 minutes, from 6:32 to 23:32. During other times, you can use the 24-hour buses, taxis or private transfers.

How much is Athens Metro to airport?

A one-way ticket from / to the airport costs 9 euro, while the price for the return option is 16 euro.

Where is the train station at Athens Airport?

The station is located outside the terminal building. To reach the Athens airport metro station, you will exit the terminal building, cross the street, go up the escalators and walk across a pedestrian bridge.

How do I get from Athens airport to city Centre?

After your arrival, you can get to central Athens by metro, bus, taxi, or pre-booked transfer.

How much does a taxi cost from Athens airport to city Centre?

A taxi from the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport to the city center costs 38 euros during daytime, and 54 from midnight to 5 am. The price of private transfers may vary slightly.

The airport metro in Athens

I hope that this article has answered any questions you had about using the airport metro in Athens! If you have any more questions, please ask in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer! Here are a few more Athens guides:

Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences

Hi! I am Vanessa, and I am an Athenian. Athens has changed a lot since I was a child, and our metro has contributed to these changes. Areas of the city center like Syntagma, Monastiraki and the Acropolis are so much easier to reach now, for both visitors and locals! 

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