Getting around Athens
At first glance, the idea of any other of traveling around Athens besides by foot may seem daunting. The traffic jams which can clog up the cities roads on a daily basis are almost as famous as the Parthenon and the Acropolis.
However, traveling around Athens has become an almost effortless task during the last few years. Below you will find information about the various methods of transportation that are available in Athens.
Previously a single train line that ran from the port of Piraeus to the northern suburb of Kiffisia, the introduction of the new Metro system in Athens has revolutionised travel around the city. The everyday life of Athenians has greatly improved with regards to transportation in the city. Previously, various regions of Athens were only accessible with a bus journey that included several changes of the bus, and / or including a journey on the old metro line. Now, people can travel to nearly all regions of the city with relative ease, and much more comfort.
The work to develope the Athens Metro took a long time with constant delays due to the discovery of archaeological sites and ruins when working was taking place. However, this ultimately lead to the Athens Metro being one of the most unique and interesting in the world. Some of the Metro stations are almost museums, with the central station of Syntagma being the prime example. This is one of the busiest locations in the city centre, and all visitors to Athens will make a stop here at some point. When you do, even if you don't need to travel on the Metro, it is worth popping into the station and take a walk around.
Athens Bus Services
The buses that operate in Athens have also been improved, both in the frequency, and times of journies. This is because of special bus lanes that operate all over the city. Previously, buses would be prone to traffic jams as much as the ordinary car driver, but now, with these designated bus lanes, they whizz past cars and other vehicles that have been brought to a standstill.
Traveling around by bus in Athens can be a little more confusing than using the Metro. Probably the biggest problem will be working out which bus goes where. Once this problem is solved, then its just a case of hopping on and off. Some buses terminate at various points around the city, and then restart their onward journey from the same stop. Others might terminate at one stop, but may restart at another. Usually around Athens, there are small booths around bus stops where you can ask someone for help finding the bus you need.
Tickets for the buses in Athens must be purchased before boarding. There are heavy fines handed out to travelers who do not have, or have not validated their ticket. You can usually find tickets at some special ticket booths around the main parts of the city. You can also find them at kiosks, which are found on almost every street corner.
Once you have boarded a bus, you will need to validate your bus ticket. This is done with the several small ticket-validation machines that you will find near to the doors of the bus. You simply push your ticket inside the slot, wait for the machine to validate your ticket, where you will usually hear a slight whirling noise, and then take out your ticket. The date and time will be printed onto your ticket after successfully validating it.
Sometimes though, the ticket-validation machine may not work, so you should try the other ones on the bus. Not validating your bus ticket because of a faulty machine will not be an acceptable excuse, should an inspector board the bus, unless every validation machine on the bus is not working.
www.oasa.gr - Official Site for the Athens bus service
Monday 19th July 2004 was the day that the new Athens Tram system opened for the public. The last tram system to travel through Athens stopped 45 years ago, in order to make better use of the roads for cars. Since then, the traffic in Athens has grown to some 2 million vehicles, causing traffic jams on a daily basis.
Now the trams have returned, claiming roads and space that was once theirs. The Athens Tram has really improved travelling around the city, and is estimated to carry 80,000 daily. Work is currently being undertaken to connect the tram with the port of Piraeus. At the moment, the tram stops in Neo Faliro, and from there you need to take the Metro to Piraese. By finally connecting Piraeus with the tram system, it will make it so much easier for travellers to reach the port and then sail off to one of the many Greek islands.
www.tramsa.gr - Official Site for the Athens Tram
One of the most common and convenient methods of traveling around Athens is by taxi. The bright yellow vehicles can be spotted all over the city. If you need a taxi, you would hold out your arm to attract the drivers attention. The taxi then pulls over to the side of the road. Sometimes, you will need to tell the driver where you are heading before you get inside. Sometimes, if they are heading home, they may refuse to take you, if you are heading in the opposite direction of where they are heading.
Sometimes, you might find that the taxi has pulled over with passengers already inside. Strange as this may seem, this is quiet normal in Athens, where people share the same taxi if they are heading to roughly the same place.
One word of warning, is when you get inside the taxi, is to make sure that the meter has been reset. Previously there had been cases of passengers getting into taxis, and arriving at their destination and being hit with a huge fare. This is usually due to the meter not having been reset at the start of the journey. Though this type of thing happening is not common, it can happen, so be careful.
There are also other small fees that are added onto the fare of your taxi journey, such as any luggage you may be traveling with, if you have been picked up at the airport or a port. In the front of the taxi, there is usually a small card explaining any extra charges that passengers may have to pay for.