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Athens stay

Hello, I have booked our cruise to the Greek islands for late September 2023. This is our first time there, we are flying into Athens to take our cruise, how many days do you suggest we stay? Also, what area? Nothing fancy, moderate accommodations, comfortable beds, it’s just my husband and I. We enjoy walking, local bars and restaurants, local shops. Also, best way to get around to go see the historic places and to the cruise port. All tips greatly appreciated.

Posted by
1368 posts

Are you flying home from Athens because you could also do your Athens visit at the end. Either way I would suggest that you stay at least three nights, four if you have enough time.
This will allow you to see some major sites without being frenetic- because it will give you 2 to 3 full days with an evening and morning on either side.

We stayed in the Koukaki area, and we walked everywhere. (You will need to take a bus or public transport to the national Museum however.) We visited the acropolis the forum, the ancient agora, the acropolis museum, and were able to walk into all of the surrounding neighborhoods. Athens is a very walkable city (in my opinion).

We stayed at this lovely Airbnb that was very reasonable, extremely comfortable, and the host was amazing. She arranged our taxi to and from the airport.
https://abnb.me/SwIaBabN0sb

We did not visit the port so I can’t give you specifics but from what I understand on the form it’s very easy to arrange a transfer or bus.

We visited the ancient agora in the evening and the summer sunset glow was magical, as well as dinner seeing the acropolis lit up. Walking around the Thessolonikis neighborhood at night was delightful and there are plenty of wonderful restaurants in the area.

Posted by
2952 posts

Perhaps Mann is referring to walking in the Monastiraki or Plaka neigbhorhoods ... Thessalonikiis is the other major Greek city, on the opposite side of the mainland.

Posted by
1368 posts

Ha I was thinking of the street in the Thiseio (I think?) neighborhood 😂

Posted by
134 posts

Two full days for sites. This does not include the day you arrive unless it is early and you are not jet lagged. Also it does not include the day that your ship leaves. We took Welcome Pickups from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the port and from the port to the airport 7 days later. I will try to find the name of our hotel and post it. Reasonably priced, elevator, air conditioning and rooftop bar with view of the Acropolis. Down the street and into a narrow back street was the best cheeseburger that I have ever had in Europe.

Posted by
529 posts

The district from where you can visit the main sites on foot is Plaka, it is also the district most frequented by tourists.

Koukaki quoted by AMann is a good alternative if you want a bit more local and quiet atmosphere.

To go to the cruise ship terminal which is not in the same place as the ferry terminal there is the X80 bus which leaves from Syntagma square and which will take you there directly (5.5 euros currently, 1 hour trip). But I guess you prefer the taxi. In this case, make it clear to the driver that you are going to the cruise terminal, not the ferries port. By taxi it is currently a flat rate of 55 euros. You can also book a taxi in advance with a company like welcomepickups. If you are in a hotel and you ask the hotel to book a taxi for you they will certainly charge you a lot more, maybe 80 euros

Posted by
11939 posts

I used Welcome Pickups twice and will use them on an upcoming visit. Nice cars, English speaking drivers, on time.

They even have an app.

The Syntagma Square area of Athens has numerous restaurants and shop and is within walking distance of the Plaka, some museums and even the Acopolis. The changing of the guard is across the street.

Posted by
8603 posts

We stayed near Syntagma Square last trip. We had a bad experience sat a Plaka hotel earlier so have no interest in staying in that area.

Posted by
77 posts

Thanks for all the insights. We will arrive into Athens and our cruise ends in Barcelona.

The Airbnb in Koukaki looks lovely. I also would like to see the hotel from scot.Dailey, is it in the same area?

The metro ride from the airport seems pretty simple. We will definitely book a ride to the port. I am not familiar with the welcomepickups.

Posted by
2952 posts

zpc, are you familiar with public transit? The Metro has a problem with pickpockets, that target cruise passengers with lots of luggage and unfamiliarity with public transport. Many of our Greece " vets" recommend Welcome Pickups -- https://www.welcomepickups.com they are a very well known, well-reviewed car service that charges the SAME rate as taxi's... about €40 these days... when you book the ride, you pay via credit card, never have to deal with cash, unless y ou want to tip at the end.. the Driver meets you at luggage claim area with large sign with y our name -- all drivers fluent in English. Many provide you with cold bottle of water for the ride. Car is the standard used also for taxis (Mercedes sedan) and take you direct to your hotel door. If for some reason, you do not favor this car service, another called City Cabs gives identical service & is equally well-reviewed https://citycab.gr/transfers/

By contrast, for metro fare (now €20 for 2 I think) , you have to lug your bags across the road & up a level to Metro ticket window, wait in line & pay in Euros (did you get Euros yet?), go to platform, wait for train (every 30 minutes), and then struggle to get off at crowded stop like Syntagma Square when the cars are jammed (that's when the pickpockets strike, while you are trying to wangle luggage and get out of the doors before they close & train moves on). Then , you need to go up several levels to reach the street, pulling your luggage.... and then what? Unless your hotel is right on Syntagma Square, you have a walk on crowded pavements. IF you want to stay in Koukaki, you either have to walk a mile or change trains... and do you understand directional signs underground in Greek? All this to save a measly €20? I recommend a re-think.

Posted by
77 posts

Scot.Dailey, how far is the Acropolis from The hotel?

What’s the best time to visit the Acropolis?

Posted by
529 posts

Scot.dailey must be asleep, I'll answer for him.

The main (west) entrance to the Acropolis is 1 km from the Attalos hotel, about a 15-minute walk. The Agora is about the same walking distance.
At the end of September, I don't think there will be too many people at the Acropolis entrance ticket offices, the best thing is to arrive early in the morning. Know that the last weekend of September the entrance is free (European Heritage Day) and of course when it's free there are more people :))
Anyway you can book your tickets online in advance on the official website here:

https://tickets.tap.gr/
available in Greek and English (select ATTICA region)

The Attalos hotel is 100 meters from the Monastiraki metro station.

At the Monastiraki metro station there are escalators, you will have no difficulty getting out of the metro with luggage.

Now some details about the Athens Metro.

From the airport the metro leaves every 30 minutes (at 02' and 32'), you will arrive in Monastiraki in 40 minutes, the ticket price is €9.

As in all busy tourist spots and means of transport, pickpockets may be present. Do not be paranoid and take basic precautions, not respond to unusual requests, find a seat and watch your luggage.

In the metro all directions are written in Greek and English.
When you are on the train, the next metro station is announced by loudspeaker in Greek and English.

To buy metro tickets
There is no need to wait at the counter. There are very easy to use touch screen ticket machines.

Select your language then "Buy Travel Product" then "Athens & Airport" for a one-way ticket to Athens from the airport.
Enter the number of tickets and the way you will pay (Cash or credit card) The machine accepts contactless payments.

Keep your ticket, you will need it to exit the metro.

Also note that wearing a mask is currently mandatory in transport.

About taxis:

By taxi, from 5 am to midnight the flat rate from the airport to Athens center is currently €40.
Only take official taxis (yellow cars) when getting into the taxi let the driver know you know the fare, as some take the opportunity to charge you much more if they see you are lost.
Another solution is to book in advance online with private services like welcomepickups. The drivers speak English, they wait for you holding a sign with your name.
It's a little more expensive (€47) than the official price but it can be preferred by those anxious about transport