How to Spend 6-Hours Layover in Athens Greece

One of Greeks ancient ruins

Updated March 2024

With my recent trip, I added more information about how to spend 6 to 8 hours in Athens. See below on this post if you have an eight-hour layover in Athens.

Do you have a six-hours layover in Athens and have no idea what to do? In this article, you will find out how to spend six hours in the capital of Greece. If this is your first time in Athens, it can be confusing where to begin. I’ve been to Athens, but it was a long time ago, and I barely recognized the city.

So it looks like I’ve started from scratch. If flying one of the Greeks commercial airlines, Aegean Airlines or Sky Express, they have their home base in Athens. You can be lucky if a stopover is brief and during the day because on my outward flight with Aegean airlines, I have eight hours of layover and arrive at midnight, which makes me book a hotel in Athens. 

Athens Six- Hours layovers

I like layovers as long as it happens during day time. On my return flight from Cyprus, I had a six-hour layover in Athens, which was too long to stay inside the airport. Read more about my CYPRUS blog post. However, I experienced a 13 hours layover in Doha Qatar. Still, because of the pandemic and arriving at midnight, I had no other option than staying inside the airport – the most extended layover I’ve ever had.

Exploring Athens!

You can see a bit of Athens within six hours. But check if you need a visa; many citizens can visit Greece without a tourist visa. If you weren’t sure about it, check out this official Greek website link. Remember that Athens is like an open-air museum filled with treasures from the Greeks ancient and the Roman Empire. And walking alone can quickly forget the time. So keep an eye on your watch because the city center is almost one hour from Athens El Venizelos international airport. 

Travel with a backpack instead of a suitcase. However, if you have bags, you can drop them at the baggage storage; they are open 24 hours. And during check-in, request a front seat so you can get out quickly of the plane. You will pass through passport control, but relatively faster than elsewhere. Be sure to have euros – however, you’ll find ATM and exchange booth inside before exiting the terminal building.

6-hour layover in Athens

Getting to Athens city

Public transport in Athens is entirely organized and cheap, especially during day time. But it’s defying if arriving at night because you only have a taxi. Some will prefer to take a taxi to the city center as they are faster but to remind you it costs 30 euros for a ride.

For the cheapest way, you have the bus and metro. But there is some drawback between these two. First, the train costs 9.00 euros, and there is only one train every 30 minutes. It takes 40 minutes to get to the city. The buses are cheap at 5.50 euros, and you have every 15 minutes a bus, but the drawback is it takes almost one hour to Syntagma square. I took the bus from the airport as they were just outside and returned with a metro (train) from Monastiraki. Taking a bus is more convenient than the metro. If you miss the first bus, there’s another one within 15-minutes.

Bus number X95 to Syntagma Square

The bus station is located at exits 4 and 5 – follow the sign when exiting the building, then go to your right. Please understand when you see all the buses, as they have different routes. For Syntagma, you need the bus number X95. There’s a box office, where you must purchase a ticket before boarding the bus. And remember to validate your bus ticket inside once you onboard to avoid fines. 

With a metro to Athens City

Plaka district Athens

Many people prefer to take the metro because it is faster than the bus. It is definitely true because the bus stops multiple times on the way.

The only drawback with the train is it doesn’t seem easy to find for first-time visitors. The train station is located across the arrival building and is designated. Just follow the sign that will take you to an escalator that goes up to the train station—the metro ticket costs 9.00 euros, and 16.00 euros for a returned trip. Train tickets are available at vending machines or the counter. For Syntagma Square, you need the number 3, the blue lines.

How to Spend Six Hours Layover in Athens Greece

Remember that you can only do a few things in six hours, and you must get back to the airport at the latest two hours before your flight. If you already have your boarding pass for the next flight, mainly given if flying with Aegean airlines, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours back at the airport is sufficient. Below you will find the neighborhood where I spent a couple of hours. As mentioned, I have been to Athens and have already visited the Acropolis. So this time, I explored some of the neighborhoods. I arranged these to make them manageable for you. You can use your google maps if you’re unsure.

Syntagma Square

The bustling Syntagma square

This is an excellent place to start in Athens. Like other European cities, a predictable tourist attraction and a multifunctional area surrounded by beautiful architecture with plenty of bars and restaurants. From this point, you can easily walk to nearby districts. The real catch here is the parliament building and changing the guards every hour outside. The fountain added functionality in the middle of the square. And to get your bearings, you will find the visitor’s office in Syntagma square. If you want a city map, they’re free.

Plaka

The historical Plaka district

This historical neighborhood was beyond a highlight in Athens during a six-hour layover. Its location is between Syntagma and the Acropolis. Plaka is the oldest residential area, which has now been transformed into an actual attraction in Athens. 

If you like strolling, this is undoubtedly a perfect area. Wandering around the pedestrian streets and maze of alleys gives you the impression of being in an enchanting place where you find beautiful neoclassically renovated houses. Moreover, as one of the famous districts in Athens, there is no lack of restaurants and shopping. If you have seen enough shops, you can walk to the next street. It remains characterized by this well-maintained part of Athens compared to others. You can wander around for hours, but you will only stay in a place for a short time as there are more areas in Athens that you need to discover.

Psiri

The colorful district of Psiri

Psirri is entirely different from Plaka and just across the main street from Monastiraki Square, a multicultural and colorful neighborhood of Athens, heaven for street art lovers. You wouldn’t believe it if you lay in this part of the city. In contrast to the tourist infrastructure, this area was previously positioned as a resting place for residents. Today, it is popular with tourists and locals alike. So it is worth checking out if you plan a trip to Athens.

Psiri district is a maze of alleyways and backstreets full of street art everywhere you look. A lot of neglected buildings were turned into an art wall. If you wander around the area you will come across numerous bars most are basic, but also some are overly decorated. The neighborhood seems dingy because of what you see around; this is Athens. I’ve seen places in Europe worst than here. So it is less severe than others.

Monastiraki Square

Visiting Monastiraki Square on a layover

It borders Plaka and Psiri. Monastiraki Square exudes an oriental atmosphere but is purer and more authentic – a cozy area with a gorgeous Church of the Pantanassa located within the square. The place is a magnet for Greeks and tourists. Nearby is the Ermou, a long shopping street with modern shops. Like other districts in Athens, you walk through a maze of streets and passageways, where you have everything: restaurants, cafes, remnants, archaeological excavations, and even a metro station.
In this neighborhood, you can experience ancient Greek sites like the old market and Hadrian’s Library. So from here, you can take the metro back to the airport unless you have more time for a stroll.

Where to stay in Athens on a layover?

If you ever have a layover in Athens during the night and are against your will to stay inside the airport but prefer staying in a hotel and sleep. Of course, there is no shortage of places to stay in Athens. But getting to the city center at night can be daunting. Trains stop running at 11.30 PM, and they say the buses run 24 hours. I wasn’t sure about the buses, because I wasn’t keen to walk in the dark at night. And taxis to downtown cost 30 euros, plus a night surcharge. 

Additionally, you need to find a hotel that is open 24 hours and has a shuttle service. Unfortunately, there are a few hotels with airport transfers in Athens, but most of them were expensive and beyond my budget. However, Peri’s Hotel we’re reasonable in Price with a free shuttle. Apparently, the free ride is only during the day, and they charge 10 euros for airport pick-up at night. Of course, you wouldn’t find such a low price, and you’re 100 percent safe arriving in a big city like Athens.

Conclusion for this Six Hours Layover in Athens

The total hours you spend in the city is about two to three hours, subtracting from the time you spend on the bus and metro. Was it worth it to spend two hours in Athens? Yes, it is. It’s so much better than sitting all-time at the airport and seeing nothing at all. Once in the city, you will constantly be on the go: walking and keeping ongoing unless your purpose is to get out of the airport for some fresh air or sitting the whole time in one of the city bars, and less interested in sightseeing, which is a possible thing to do.

8-hours layover in Athens?

Athens metro
I took the metro back to the airport

If you have an 8-hour layover in Athens, it will give you more time to explore the capital city of Greece. Aegean Airlines is good if you’re looking for reasonable flights to Jordan and Lebanon. However, you are stuck with long layovers in Athens, but that is a decision you had to make before booking the ticket, and I was glad that my 8-hour layover was during the day.

As mentioned above, there were different ways to get to the city center from Athens International Airport (ATH). I wasn’t in a hurry as I had 8 hours to spend, so I took the bus to the city, which is the cheapest but slower way. However, something was going on in Athens that day, so the bus stopped at a different location (Omonia Station) instead of in Syntagma Square. I’m glad he change location, it saved me from walking to things that I wanted to see and do.

The War Museum of Athens

Athens war museum

If you are a museum enthusiast, add this to your list during your 6 -8 hour layover to Athens. It is one of the most popular museums in Athens. The exhibits inside are a treasure trove of Greek military history, and all displays provide information in Greek and English.

However, if you don’t like going inside or spending the entry fee of 6 euros – outside you see displays of aircraft and cannons. After wandering outside my curiosity takes me inside. Even though I’m not into museums, this is worth a visit. As for those history buffs, you can spend hours to see the exhibitions.

Athens National Gardens

National Gardens

It’s funny to think, that just a short walk from Syntagma Square, you’re immediately into an oasis area. Coming here it didn’t feel like you were in Athens more like the countryside. If you like to get away from the city’s bustle, this is a place to enjoy the peace of nature.
There’s plenty of shadow for seating. The gardens are well maintained with a variety of plants and trees with small ponds and other statues throughout the park. Besides many treasures and tourist attractions in Athens, this gardens are worth adding to your itinerary during your 8-hour layover in Athens.

Arch of Hadrian

Athens Arch of Hadrian

This is quite a walk from Syntagma Square, more than one kilometer. If you don’t like walking, you can take the metro to Omonia. The spectacular structure sits right on a busy road and stands proudly alone from a bygone era. With its absorbing piece of history, most of the world’s cities can benefit like Athens. That is why I don’t mind coming back because there’s always to discover, but there is so much more.

So there is no doubt this is a great photo opportunity and it can be busy, so you may need to queue to get the shot. The Arch of Hadrian is an incredible gateway that reminds one of a Triumphal arch in Paris or the one I have recently seen in Skopje, North Macedonia.

Panathenaic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium

One of the main historic attractions of Athens in astounding venue. Yet another gem that Athens has to offer which can also easily be combined with other central monuments, as it is close to the city center. The site gives you a good impression of the first modern Olympic Games that held here in 1896.
Even though you can view from the outside, it is fascinating to discover cogent history abounds.
I suggest paying the entrance fee as you don’t get the same feel for the place without entering. The Panathenaic isn’t just a stadium – it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

Athens

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