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

Most people flying into Athens, will need to get from the Athens international airport to their hotel in the city centre. Here is how to take the Athens airport metro to central Athens, or any other area in our city.

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, for which we are really proud.

The Athens metro system currently consists of three lines, green, 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.

The Athens metro map

In the above map, you can see the three main metro lines. In fact, the blue line has now been extended to Nikaia. The yellow and dark blue lines (P1 and P2) are the suburban railway. More on that later!

As any Athenian can confirm, the metro system has improved transportation immensely, and really changed our lives. I personally use it on pretty much a daily basis, and also use it to get to and from the Athens airport.

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

Where to take the airport metro at the Athens airport

After landing 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!

Once you’ve passed the exit gates, you will still be inside the airport terminal. Look up for signs indicating the way to taxis, buses and trains. The last sign pointing to trains is is the one that you need to follow to reach the metro station.

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

Athens airport to city centre

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

Athens airport metro vs suburban railway to central Athens

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 follows a different route.

Confusingly, the metro system uses parts of the railway lines that belong to the train company. Therefore, the two services depart from the same place.

The majority of passengers will want to go to central Athens. Most visitors will be staying at a hotel or other accommodation somewhere near Acropolis, Syntagma and Monastiraki metro stations. In this case, you will need to make sure you hop on the metro and not the suburban train.

Athens airport metro timetables

The airport metro operates quite frequently, and for rather long hours. The first metro departs from the airport at 6.30, and the last one leaves at 23.30.

Trains depart every 30 minutes, and they take about 40 minutes to get to the city center. For the official timetables, have a look at the company’s website.

How to buy the Athens airport metro ticket

Getting a ticket from the Athens 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. Plus, occasionally the machines are temporarily out of order, or won’t accept your credit card.

Athens metro select language

In any case, if you want to use the machines, you will see that your metro tickets 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 downtown Athens, you should choose the option “Athens & Airport”, rather than the somewhat confusing option “Airport – Pallini”.

{In case you are wondering, Pallini is a suburb just outside the urban area of Athens, and the ticket costs only 5.50 euro. Ignore that option}.

Most visitors will want the one-way ticket to central Athens, which costs 9 euro. 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, buy the return ticket. Otherwise, just get the one-way ticket.

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. It’s a good deal if you are staying in Athens for 3 days and planning to use the metro system to get around.

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.

Athens airport 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 metro station, and hop on the green metro line. This will take you around 70-90 minutes.

There is also the 24-hour X96 bus, which may take you an hour and a half, 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.

Validating your Athens metro ticket

After you’ve bought your ticket, you will need to validate it in order for the gates to open. Even if the gates are permanently open for some reason, validate it nevertheless. Otherwise, in case of a ticket inspection, your ticket will not appear validated, and you could get a fine.

Using the Athens metro - Validating your ticket

Curious about how much the fine is? For the Airport – Koropi part of the route, the fine would cost you a whopping 200 euro! In the urban part of the city, after Koropi station, the fine is 84 euro. Either way, it’s not really worth it!

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 destination.

The blue metro line goes directly to Syntagma and Monastiraki metro stations, where many visitors choose to stay. These two metro 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 and take the red line for one stop.

This article explains in detail how to use the metro in downtown Athens. It will be helpful if you are planning to get around our city by metro.

The Athens airport metro is very convenient

Your airport ticket is valid for 90 minutes, which is plenty of time if you are staying close to a metro station. However, if you are planning to use a bus or a tram afterwards, you would probably need to get a single urban ticket for those. This would cost an additional 1.20 euro.

Athens airport metro strikes

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

Remember how the metro and suburban train 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 metro itself will actually run within the urban area of Athens.

On a metro strike day, there is no metro service at all, which will affect the airport as well as downtown Athens. Other transport options in the city, like buses, will typically be busier.

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

I hope that you won’t need it, but here is all you needed to know about strikes in Greece! And if you want to be informed about any upcoming strikes, please like my Facebook 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, your group and the number of people you are travelling with.

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, it works out better to take a taxi rather than the metro.

Similarly, a taxi may 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 taxi transfer is definitely the best option.

At the same time, some people may be on a tight budget. In this case, you can take bus X95 from the Athens airport to Syntagma square. A one way ticket for the bus only costs 5.50 euro per person, and the ticket is valid for 90 minutes.

Is the Athens metro safe?

I have been using the Athens airport metro line since the day it started operating, almost 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.

Inside the Athens metro

Similarly, I’ve read several reports in online forums about tourists being robbed. Truth be told, visitors are obvious targets. 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 close to your body.

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!

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Vanessa from Real Greek Experiences

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

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