Do you have a six-hours layover in Athens and 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.
Read my long layovers in Doha Qatar
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 that you’re swiftly out 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.
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 from Monastiraki. Taking a bus is more convenient than the metro. If you miss the first bus, it is only 15 minutes to wait for the next bus.
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
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.
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 parliament building. 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.
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 to stroll, 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 many shops after once, it still has something to walk through. 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.
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.
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, most of which were expensive and beyond my budget. I coincidentally bump into another blog mentioning the Peri’s Hotel in Athens 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.