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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Athens

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Athens each year. The main ones are listed below.

January 1 : New Year's Day (national holiday)

January 6 : Epiphany (Theofánia, national holiday)

The celebration of Christ's baptism gives rise to long processions during the day which conclude at the seafront with a sanctification ceremony, during which the faithful drop a crucifix into the water.

March 25 : Independence Day (national holiday)

Commemorates the beginning of the revolt against Ottoman rule on this day in 1821. Many cultural events are organized to mark this anniversary each year, including concerts and other live performances, conferences, and historical exhibitions.

April/May (date set according to the Julian calendar) : Greek Orthodox Easter (Páskha, national holiday)

Easter is considered even more important than Christmas and attracts crowds in the streets of Athens. The celebration includes processions, masses and traditional meals during this holy week.

May 1 : Labour Day (national holiday)

On this day, the skies above Athens and its surrounding countryside are filled with kites. Families enjoy picnics and pick wild flowers, which they shape into a wreath to hang on their doors at home. This last tradition finds its roots in Anthesteria, the ancient Greek festival celebrating the return of spring and nature's beauty. Continuing this same theme, parades of flower-decorated floats fill the streets, along with other entertainment.

June 1–August 15 : Athens and Epidaurus Festival (local event)

This annual arts festival draws visitors from around the world and offers a broad range of cultural events, perhaps most famously ancient Greek theatre, ballet and classical concerts performed on the southern slope of the Acropolis, as well as Greek tragedies, operas and operettas.

August 15 : Assumption Day (Dormition of the Theotokos) (national holiday)

In Athens, this day celebrates the Assumption of Virgin Mary with various processions throughout the city.

August 29: August Full Moon Festival (celebrated nationwide)

The Acropolis, Roman Agora, Odeon and other sites offer free shows: operas, dance fests and theatre plays.

October 28 : Óhi Day (national holiday)

One of two national holidays, this day commemorates the rejection of Mussolini's ultimatum on October 28, 1940, demanding the occupation of Greek territory by Italian troops in order to reach Russia. Student, religious and military parades take place in the streets.

December 25 : Christmas (national holiday)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Athens

Athens has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers. Heat waves with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) occur each year, although sea breezes help to cool down the city somewhat. It hardly ever rains in July and August. Winters are more humid, especially in the western portion of the city, with mild temperatures, except in the hills, where the weather is colder and snow tends to accumulate.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 7/45 13/55 60/2.4 Not the best period to go
February 7/45 14/57 47/1.9 Not the best period to go
March 9/48 17/63 41/1.6 Not the best period to go
April 12/54 20/68 31/1.2 Not the best period to go
May 16/61 25/77 23/0.9 Good period to go Good period to go
June 21/70 30/86 11/0.4 Not the best period to go
July 24/75 33/91 6/0.2 Not the best period to go
August 24/75 34/93 6/0.2 Not the best period to go
September 20/68 29/84 14/0.6 Good period to go Good period to go
October 16/61 23/73 53/2.1 Good period to go Good period to go
November 12/54 19/66 58/2.3 Not the best period to go
December 9/48 15/59 98/3.9 Not the best period to go
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Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport

The Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport is located about 33 kilometres (21 miles) south-east of the city centre.

  • Two terminals:
    • Terminal 1 (Air France)
    • Terminal 2

Getting from the airport to Athens and back:
  • By car
    • The Attiki Odos, a beltway around Athens, also accesses the airport. At the city limits, signs in English clearly mark the way to Syntagma Square in the centre. When leaving from Syntagma Square, take Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, then Messogion-Marathonos Avenue to reach the Attiki Odos beltway.
    • There are short-term parking lots (P1 and P2) at the airport. Free for the first 20 minutes. Then EUR 3.80 for 1 hour.
    • Several car rental companies have counters in the parking (P5 level)
  • By rail
    • Line 3 of the Athens Metro connects the airport with the city centre in about 45 minutes (EUR 10 each way, EUR 18 for two people). A 3-day pass is also available (including return tickets to the airport) for EUR 22. From the airport, trains run every 30 minutes, from 5.30 am to 11.30 pm.
  • By suburban train
    • Suburban train Proastiakos connects the airport to the Central Station in 45 minutes. Trains depart every 15 or 20 minutes, from 6 am to 8 pm. From February 2018 onwards, it is also possible to reach the Port of Piraeus directly from the airport (a one-hour ride). Fare is EUR 8.
  • By bus
    • Bus X95 travels between the airport and Syntagma Square (City Centre). The trip takes about 45 minutes, buses depart every 15 or 20 minutes, and the fare is EUR 6.
  • By taxi
    • Taxis are available at the designated area outside the arrivals hall. The daytime fare to central Athens is EUR 38, and nighttime fare (from midnight to 5 am) is EUR 54.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, free Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone: +30 210 353 0000
  • Website : https://www.aia.gr/en/traveler

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GETTING AROUND Athens

Athens has an extensive, modern, efficient and integrated public transport system, comprising trains, buses and trams, serving all of the city's main districts. The streets are often congested, due to dense car traffic. Getting around on foot is therefore a practical and pleasant solution for exploring the city.

By rail

The Athens Metro has three lines (1, 2 and 3) connecting all of the Greek capital's important landmarks. A flat-fare ticket is available for EUR 1.40 and is valid for 90 minutes. A 24-hour ticket costs EUR 4.50. All of these tickets may be used on any mode of transport during the validity period.

Useful tip: For longer stays, a monthly card valid for all modes of transport is available for EUR 30. A 3-day tourist pass is also available for EUR 20, including one round trip to Athens International Airport by metro or express bus and unlimited travel on all modes of transport for the entire period.

By bus

The buses are operated by ETHEL and serve the main districts of Athens from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The fare is EUR 1.40.

By tram

Athens tram operates through 3 lines, one linking the Syntagma Square to the Olympiacos Stadium of Piraeus, another one leaving from Syntagma Square to Voula (in the Southern suburb along the coast), the third connecting Voula to Piraeus (Olympyacos Stadium). The fare is EUR 1.40.

By taxi

Taxis are relatively inexpensive in Athens. They are equipped with meters and a notice showing base fares and applicable supplements is displayed in each cab. For destinations within the city centre, the usual fare is about EUR 5.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Athens, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) – Athens office

Offers practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address: Central Services, Tsoha 7 Street (near Syntagma Square)
  • Telephone: +30 210 8707000
  • Website: www.thisisathens.org

Athens Info-Point kiosks

Tourist information centres offer excellent advice and recommendations for exploring Athens and other points of interest nearby. Listed below are the addresses of the three Athens Info-Point kiosks:

  • Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (arrivals level)
  • Historic centre (corner of Amalias Avenue and Dionissiou Areopagitou Street)
  • Piraeus Port Authority (cruise ship arrivals terminal)

Greece travel guide

The GNTO maintains a website for visitors to Greece, including a section entirely devoted to information about Athens.

Website : www.visitgreece.gr

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in Greece is the euro (EUR).

$1 = €0.88

€1 = $1.14

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel. It is also recommended to take out insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation before your trip. Athens counts several hospitals and medical institutions, as well as quality medical practitioners and health specialists.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to Greece.
For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

  • Address: 38, quai de Jemmapes, 75010 Paris
  • Website: www.vaccinations-airfrance.fr
  • Telephone: +33 (0)1 43 17 22 00
  • To make a vaccination appointment:
    • online (click here)
    • call the centre at +33 (0)1 43 17 22 00

Water

It is strongly advised to drink water from sealed bottles.

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Administrative formalities

Entry requirements for Greece

For a stay of less than three months, travellers from the Schengen area, as well as those from the countries of the European Union not included in the area, need only be in possession of a national identity card or a passport valid for the duration of their stay in order to enter Greece.

As a general rule, all other travellers are subject to visa requirements, although citizens of some countries may enter Greece for a short stay of up to 90 days without a visa.

For further information, visit the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
https://www.mfa.gr/en/visas/

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Useful addresses

To enjoy peace of mind during your stay in Greece, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.

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Essential phrases

Here are a few basic Greek phrases that will make your stay in Athens a little easier:

Hello / Good morning / Good afternoon: Kaliméra

Good evening: Kalispéra

Goodbye: Adío

Yes:

No: Ohi

No, thank you: Ohi, efkaristo

Thank you very much: Efkaristo polí

Please: Parakaló

I don't understand: Den katalavéno

Could you repeat: Boreíte na epanalávete?

What time is it ?: Ti óra íne?

Sorry: Me sinhoríte
Excuse me: Me sinhoríte

Airport: Aerodrómio

Train station: Stathfmós

Taxi: Taxi

Hotel: Xenodohío

Hospital: Nossokomío

Bank: Trápeza

Telephone: Tiléfono

I'm (…): Ime (…)

I'm looking for (…): Psáchno (…)

How much is (…)?: Póso káni (…)?

Do you have (…)?: Ehete (…)?

Where can I find (…)?: Poú boró na vro (…)?

Where can I buy (…)?: Poú boró na agoráso (…)?

I'd like (…): Tha íthela (…)

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Good to know

+30
+ phone number without (0)
7 : 00
of time difference with
New York
Start of daylight saving time: last Sunday in March
End of daylight saving time: last Sunday in October

Usually open Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Usually open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
230 V / 50 Hz

Tipping
In restaurants, a service charge is usually included in the bill. Tips are therefore optional, but appreciated. If the service is especially friendly and attentive, feel free to leave a little something extra for the waiting staff. There is no strict guideline for the percentage, so it is entirely up to you. It is also customary to round up the price of taxi fares and to tip a few euros to hotel porters and ferry stewards.

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