Before there were cars, traffic jams and smog, there was public transport. In Athens, the first scheduled means of such was by horse and carriage. The next, a railway running alongside the important route of the carriages, connecting the center of Athens to the port in Piraeus, was founded in 1869. Today, with the Attica basin transformed into a bustling urban landscape with a population of nearly 4 million, the modern public transport system can only barely keep up with the daily comings and goings. As a visitor to the city, the options may seem plenty – yet confusing.
While we’re all for renting a car and seeing as much of Greece as possible on winding road trips, the city of Athens is a place where you may want to avoid driving if you can. And you can. While it can be overwhelming looking at the long lists of stations and stops with names that are difficult to pronounce, getting around in the Greek capital isn’t as hard as it may first seem.
See all the metro stations and tram stations on the map above. Choose full screen view to find a list of our recommended stops for visitors in the city. Bus routes are not included on the map (read below).
There are five main means of mass transit in the Athens urban area: metro/electric rail, city buses, electric trolley-buses, tram, and the suburban railway. All except for the suburban railway (run by TrainOSE) are run by the public Athens Mass Transit System (OASA S.A.), and their “universal” tickets can be used on any transportation type, including the urban part of the suburban railway; you can therefor combine train, bus and tram to get to your destination using only one ticket.
Single tickets, ticket packs and reloadable plastic passes are available, sold in automatic vending machines at all metro stations and some tramway stations, by vendors at a number of bus stops, and in some stores and kiosks (you can find a map showing all sales points here).
Tickets must be validated when you travel. At the metro stations, you validate your ticket or reloadable pass at the automatic entrance gates both when entering and upon leaving your final station. On buses and trams, validation is done using onboard ticket readers upon boarding only. Passengers who do not validate a ticket can be charged with a fine of €72 (or €36 for persons eligible for discount ticket).
Arriving in Athens
Jumping in a cab can be tempting at the airport, when all you want is to get to your destination quick. However, public transportation is cheaper, and sometimes as fast. From the Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”, which is located about 20 kilometers east of central Athens, you can travel by express bus or metro.
Four express buses, the stops of which are found just outside the doors at the arrivals hall, run to and from the airport on a 24-hour basis: the X93, running to and from the Intercity Bus Stations of Kifissos and Liosion in approximately 65 minutes, the X95, going to and from Syntagma Square in approximately 60 minutes, the X96, running to and from the port of Piraeus via the Athens Riviera in approximately 90 minutes, and the X97, going to and from the Elliniko Metro Station in approximately 45 minutes (find timetables for these lines through the links). Note that the durations of these trips vary depending on traffic, and may be significantly longer.
You can also get to and from the airport via metro line 3. The trains run every 30 minutes, from 06:32 in the morning until 23:32 in the evening, and the tickets can be used on other public transport in order to switch trains, busses and trams to get almost anywhere you might want to go in Athens. You can find the timetable for the trains, as well as the duration of trips from the airport to any station on line 3, here.
Airport EXPRESS Bus Lines – €5.50, or €2.70
A ticket for the EXPRESS Bus Lines is €5.50, or €2.70 for those eligible for discounted tickets.
Metro Airport Ticket – single €9 or €4.50, return €16
A ticket to and from the airport on Metro Line 3 is €9, or €4.50 for those eligible for discounted tickets. You can also purchase a return ticket for €16, which is can be used again for your trip back one time within 30 days. All Metro Airport tickets are valid for 90 minutes from their first validation, and can be combined with other buses and trams, and the Suburban Railway (route part Magoula – Piraeus – Airport) within that time (though not the Airport EXPRESS and X80 bus lines). A return trip to the airport is also included in the 3-Day Tourist Ticket – see below.
It is worth noting that Metro Line 3 is currently being extended, with the last three stations added in the summer of 2020, and construction underway to connect it with the Port of Piraeus, possibly as soon as this summer, Deputy Infrastructure and Transport Minister George Karagiannis has recently said.
Getting Around Town – Tickets
90-Minute Single Ticket – €1.20, or €0.50
The most affordable ticket for the public transport system is the 90-Minute Single Ticket. It costs €1.20, or €0.50 for those eligible for discounted tickets. This is the ticket to get if you are only planning on one trip, and the expected duration of your trip is less than 90 minutes.
It can be used on buses, trolley-buses, trams, metro lines 1, 2 and 3 (to Koropi Station) and for the Suburban Railway (only the route part including Magoula – Piraeus – Koropi), but not for the Airport EXPRESS bus lines, the X80 bus line, or the part of metro line 3 running from Koropi to the Airport. You can use the ticket on multiple transportation, but the validity is counted from the tickets first validation.
For holders of personalized Athenacards, single tickets are also available at discounted package prices (find more information about that here).
Daily Ticket – €4.10
The Daily Ticket can be used for 24 hours in the city – perfect for travelers spending a day in Athens and wanting to see as much as possible.
This ticket can be used on buses, trolley-buses, trams, metro lines 1, 2 and 3 (to Koropi Station), the Suburban Railway (only the route part including Magoula – Piraeus – Koropi), and for the (sightseeing-adjusted) X80 bus line, but not for the EXPRESS bus lines to Airport or the part of metro line 3 running from Koropi to the Airport.
5-Day Ticket – €8.20
For those staying longer, the 5-Day Ticket is like the 90-Minute Single Ticket, but is valid for 5×24 hours from its first validation. It offers the use of buses, trolley-buses, trams, metro lines 1, 2 and 3 (to Koropi Station), the Suburban Railway (only the route part including Magoula – Piraeus – Koropi), but not Airport EXPRESS bus lines, the X80 bus line, or the part of metro line 3 running from Koropi to the Airport.
3-Day Tourist Ticket – €20
The ultimate ticket for a long weekend, this one includes a return trip to the airport. Besides that, it is like the Daily Ticket, but valid for 3×24 hours; it gives you unlimited access to buses, trolley-buses, trams, metro lines 1, 2 and 3 (to Koropi Station), the Suburban Railway (the route part including Magoula – Piraeus – Koropi, and to and from the airport once), and for the (sightseeing-adjusted) X80 bus line.
Find more ticket options here.
Please note that the prices of tickets indicated here are valid at the date of publication of this article, but may be subject to change.
Means of Transport
Metro & electric rail
Both historic (line 1 is the same as that inaugurated in 1869, extended and renovated) and modern (line 2 and 3, opened in 2000, are renowned for their speed and security), it’s fitting that art displayed in the Athens Metro is also both. Traveling underground, you’ll come across archaeological exhibits found during Metro’s construction, as well as displays of modern art. But besides those extra benefits, the metro is also perhaps the easiest way to travel around town. It connects important landmarks, museums, commercial centers, suburbs and the Athens International Airport, with the first trains departing from the terminal stations between 05:00-05:30, and the last between 00:15 and 00:30 every day on line 1, and around midnight on line 2 and 3, which are set to extend their working hours to 01:30 on Fridays and Saturdays, as of March 4. (Find timetables for all lines here.)
As a tourist, the Acropolis metro station next to the Acropolis Museum is very convenient, as are the stations at Syntagma Square and Thiseio, Piraeus, and the airport – but the metro also offers a very smooth way to get to some of the areas few tourists see. As an example, you can take a direct ride to green and aristocratic Kifissia, or to Halandri for a night out.
The current metro system consists of three lines, with a fourth one currently under construction.
Line 1, the green line, known as the ISAP electric railway, runs southwest to northeast from the port of Piraeus to Kifissia, via the Athens city center. It’s the oldest part of the metro system, which you can tell by both train and stations, however, that’s not always a bad thing. The end station in Piraeus could be seen as a destination in its own right, being that it is a living piece of history, built in 1929 to resemble a miniature of Milan’s central rail station. Meanwhile, all stations have been renovated and updated with new ticketing systems, and more. Urban rail operator STASY recently transferred three newer trains to this line. Key stations are: Piraeus, Thiseio, Monastiraki and Omonia.
Line 2, the red line, runs north to south from Anthoupoli to the old Athens airport at Elliniko, which is currently the subject of the country’s biggest urban redevelopment plan. This location will soon feature hotels, a marina, and aquarium, a shopping mall, an enormous park, a casino, and business centers, and will likely become a destination for visitors as well as locals. Key stations today are Omonia, Syntagma, Akropolis, and Syngrou/Fix.
Line 3, the blue line, running west to east from Nikea through Halandri, and then continuing south to the Athens International Airport, is currently being extended. Three new stations were added to this line in 2020, and the plan is for it to eventually reach the port of Piraeus. Connecting the airport to the port will likely increase traffic on this line. Key stations are: Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, Doukissis Plakentias (from here to the airport, trains share the rails with the Suburban Railway), Syntagma, Monastiraki and Kerameikos.
See all the metro stations (and tram stations) listed here, or on the map above.
All stations are equipped with ramps and accessible elevators.
The trains on metro line 2 and 3 have wheelchair access in the first and last cars. On metro line 1, there is wheelchair access in the first car, however, if you are getting on or off at the stations of Ag. Nikolaos, Omonia, or Monastiraki, a different portable ramp must be used as the gap between the train and the platform is wider. You are asked to tell the guards at these stations to set the ramp up, or ask for help from the station master before you board your train if you are getting off at one of these stations, so he can notify guards at that station.
The station master can also help those with vision impairment.
Buses & Electric trolley-buses
More than a thousand buses circulate on the streets of Athens, and looking at lists of routes and names of buses on signposts when in a hurry somewhere is likely to confuse a visitor more than anything. However, the bus and trolley-bus network is the most extensive, servicing many areas of city where the metro doesn’t reach, such as residential neighborhoods and the Athens Riviera.
On the OASA Telematics website and app (available for iOS and Android – see here), you can find the timetables for all of the city’s bus and trolley-bus routes. In addition, if you know the name of a bus stop near you (you can find these via Google maps), you can also find a list of all buses that stop there, as well as a dependable real-time map and countdown for the buses that will be at the stop soon.
Notable Lines: X80
The X80 bus line, specially designed for tourists and available from May through October, is an express line running on a circular route and featuring stops such as Syntagma Square, the Acropolis Museum, the Planetarium, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, and the Archaeological Museum and the Municipal Theater in Piraeus. To use this bus, you need to purchase either a Daily Ticket or a 3-Day Tourist Ticket (see details and prices above). Timetable will be available on the OASA Telematics website and app once the buses begin running again in May.
Notable Lines: 040, 049
If you are spending a day or two in Athens before heading to the islands, or the other way around, you can take the 040 bus from Piraeus to Syntagma, or the 049 to Omonia, if that’s closer to your accommodation. The 040 is also a good way to get to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (get off at the Tzitziphies bus stop in Kallithea). Find timetables through these links.
Notable Lines: A1, A2, A3, 122
To see some of the Athens Riviera, the A1 bus goes from Piraeus towards Voula. You can also take the A2 straight to Voula, or the A3 straight to Glyfada, from Akadimia in central Athens (although you won’t be traveling along the coast with these). Take the 122 (starting from Argyroupoli via Glyfada and Voula) to go even further along the coast, for a swim in clean waters. For a unique experience, step off at the Limnē station, and have a swim in Lake Vouliagmeni. Find timetables through these links.
Notable Lines: SNFCC Shuttle Bus
Independent from OASA and other city bus routes, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center provides free transportation to and from Syntagma Square, stopping at the intersection with Ermou Street, and the Syggrou/Fix Metro station. You can find the timetable for the shuttle bus here.
Unfortunately, not all buses and electric trolley-buses are wheelchair accessible. According to the Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA), 1/4 of the vehicles in operation feature ramps. However, all of them do have kneeling systems, which can lower the doors closer to the ground, and some of the stations feature raised concrete platforms for easier access.
While lesser used by locals who consider it too slow, the tram is a comfortable way to travel in Athens, and the network is still developing. It can be considered the most comfortable way to travel along the Athens Riviera, and discover the seaside suburbs.
A new section, a circular route in Piraeus connecting to the existing rails, just opened in December. While the lines were previously separated in three, there are now two lines; the T6 line runs from Syntagma Square to the coast, and ends at the Pikrodafni stop. The T7 line runs along the coast from Asklipieio Voulas to Piraeus. The two lines meet at the Pikrodafni stop, so you can travel from central Athens to Pireaus or Voula by tram with just one transfer.
The first trams depart from the terminal stations between 04:49 and 05:31, and the last between 23:43 and 00:30. See the tram stations on the map here and on the map above, and find the timetables for all lines here.
The tramway stations feature ramps, and the trams have dedicated seating for the disabled. Beware, however, that sidewalks in many places have not been made accessible, meaning that access to the stations can still be difficult for those who are wheelchair-bound.
The use of masks (FFP2, Ν95, or double) is mandatory on all means of transport, station platforms and bus stops. Official recommendations from OASA and the Greek government include maintaining physical distance from fellow passengers, and avoiding unnecessary travel. Should you experience any symptoms of the coronavirus, stay home.
Vaccination certificates or certificates of recovery or certificates of negative PCR or Rapid tests are not required for travel with public transport within the city.