The main airport of Greece is Eleftherios Venizelos ( Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος) in Athens. Athens airport handles the vast majority of flight connections to the rest of the mainland and the islands. It’s about one hour away from the center of Athens by train, or thirty minutes by car.
Athens Airport Information
Athens airport is a small affair compared with other modern international airports. It was build right before the 2004 Olympic Games, it has only one terminal, and it’s very clean, cozy, and functional.
Barring any unusual security or check-in delays, you can expect to get to your gate in about 5-10 minutes. The majority of the delays occur at the airline check-in counters.
Airline counters open about three hours before a flight and you have to watch the announcement boards to see which counter servers your flight.
Certain airlines have automated check in machines where you can scan your ticket and pick your seat. You still have to wait in line to check in your luggage though.
You will find money exchange machines and kiosks in the lobby, as well as ATM machines.
Luggage carts are lined in in automatic dispensers outside the airport, and cost one euro.
There are clean bathrooms everywhere, and the quieter and less busy ones are closer to the gates.
Waiting areas have comfortable seating. Before passport control seating is limited, but once beyond security, and at the gates there are plenty.
Some gates get really crowded with every seat taken. But for the most part you might be able to lie down since most chairs don’t have arm rests.
Internet access via wifi at the airport is spotty. There used to be free Internet everywhere, but now you have to sign up for the service if you don’t have your own data access through your cellphone.
Vodaphone has a kiosk where you may buy a Greek cellphone sim card in Athens Airport. Read more about using your cellphone in Greece
There is a small museum upstairs, and to your right as you enter through the main departures gate. It exhibits artifacts unearthed during the airport construction. They range in age from 3000 BCE to Byzantine years.
This little museum is probably the most quiet spot of the airport, and it’s not unusual for passengers with long layovers to unroll their sleeping bags for a nap around the museum.
It’s not an official camping area, and it is probable that security might ask you to move on.
Once you check in, there is a small shopping area with several newsstands, cafés, restaurants, and a few shops before you pass through the passport and security checks.
Beyond passport control you will enter the transit/duty-free area where there is a plethora of restaurants and places to have a coffee.
At the gates shopping is limited.
Some gates have manned a kiosk with snacks and water (which you can take on your flight), and some have just vending machines with water and soda so keep some coins handy in your pocket.
Traveling with Pets
If you travel with a pet and you need an area for your pet to do it’s “business” in Athens airport, you will find some limited grassy patches right across the “Arrivals” exit at the lower level.
If you are in the Departure area, take the stairs to the lower level (the Arrivals area) and walk out across the two way street.
If our plan to get your VAT refund for purchases you made in Europe as a non-European citizen, you need to head for the Customs office (also labeled VAT Refund). The office is before the passport control so don’t go through the checkpoint.
If you don’t have any items you wish to recoup the VAT, simply head for your gate. But if you intent to get 1/4 of the money you paid back, don’t forget to stop by the VAT office.
This is not where you get your refund though.
You get your money back after you return home and mail the receipts to the indicated address. But your receipts must be stamped at the airport, and that’s why you need to visit the VAT Refund office at the airport.
It’s simply a place where you can stamp your receipt for your purchases as you are getting ready to board a plane for home. You present the items you bought (must be over 150 euro worth and it must not be used while in Europe), your receipt, and your boarding pass.
The customs agent will stamp your receipt and then you can mail it in for your refund either by check or straight to your credit card.
We have seen long lines at the VAT office during peak times, so get to the airport early.
Ask the shop when you buy your items for instructions on where to mail your stamped receipt. If you fly out of Greece but you make another flight connection before you fly out of Europe, your receipt must be stamped at that final airport before you exit the continent.
Transportation to and from Athens airport
To get to Athens from the airport, the Proastiakos train from the Metro station across “arrivals” on the ground floor.
The trip takes about 1 hour. Click here to see the train route and schedule
There are several bus lines that shuttle passengers from Athens or Pireas to and from the Eleftherios Venizelos airport.
X95 is the express bus to the airport from Syntagma square in the center of Athens. X96 is the express bus from Pireas metro station to the airport.
The trip with either bus takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Click here to see the bus route and schedule
Taxis are stationed outside “arrivals” in the lower level of the airport.
You have to wait in line and take the first taxi that pulls up. Keep in mind that all taxis in Greece are mid-sized cars and if you have too many pieces of luggage you might need to hire a second one, although most taxi drivers get very creative with the way they can stuff the suitcases in the trunk.
Make sure the taxi driver starts the meter as soon as you start your trip, and be aware that there will be several fees added to the final fare (airport fee, excessive luggage fee, etc) – all posted on a list that’s displayed in front of the passenger seat.
If you have to drive and park at the airport, you will access it via the Athens “beltway” called Attiki Odos.
It is a toll, multi-lane road (toll rates 2.80 Euro) that gets congested only during rush hour traffic.
In normal traffic, the trip to the airport by car takes about about half-hour from the center of Athens or from the port of Pireas. Click here to see it on the map and to get directions in a new window.