Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Greece, and can stay 90 days or less without a visa.
Security: Athens is one of the safest cities in Europe. But do take appropriate precautions to keep your personal belongings safe, as pickpockets are becoming more prevalent.
Time: Greece is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time.
Money: The currency of Greece is the Euro. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic
Phone Calls: The country code for Greece is 30. Athens’ area code is 210.
When to Go: Winters in Greece are relatively mild, summers searingly hot. Avoid Athens in August, when many restaurants and attractions close, especially around the August 15 national holiday.
Getting There: Athens International Airport (www.aia.gr) is served by most international carriers. Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines operate connecting flights to many islands.
Getting Around: Driving is on the right side of the road. Public transport is extremely cheap and the fastest way of getting around the traffic-clogged city. The spotless Athens Metro (www.ametro.gr) covers most landmarks, including the airport. Buy tickets at any station and validate before boarding. A convenient way to tour the sights is the OASA 400 (www.oasa.gr) sightseeing bus—you can hop on and off for 24 hours using the same ticket. (Departure from National Archaeological Museum every 30 minutes, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., June-September). The tram (www.tramsa.gr) runs a slow service from central Athens to the seaside and along the coast from Faliron to Glyfada—useful for beach- and barhopping. Taxis are among the cheapest in Europe, but swindling tourists is regarded as fair game. Check that the meter is running, and if you take a taxi from the airport, confirm the price in advance. The Proastiakos or suburban railway (www.proastiakos.gr) provides speedy links to the airport and as far as Corinth.
Sightseeing Tips: Many museums and sights close at 3 p.m. in low season, so get an early start to avoid missing out. If you plan to visit several archaeological sites, buy a $17 multiple entry ticket valid for the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Keramikos, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Roman Agora.
Tourist Police: Available 24 hours, the multilingual tourist police (dial 171) will help with problems or emergencies.
Sunscreen: Bring a sun hat and always wear sunscreen if you’re visiting Athens in summer. The glare is especially bright at archaeological sights, where shade is usually scant.
Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes can be a problem. Greek cosmetics brand Propoline’s natural insect repellent is effective.
Greek Orthodox Etiquette: If you plan to visit churches or monasteries, dress appropriately. Women should wear knee-length skirts and avoid revealing tops. Men should wear pants, rather than shorts.
The Athenian Constitution
Aristotle’s account of the origins of democracy. www.constitution.org/ari/athen_00.htm
Athens News Agency
Daily news headlines. www.ana.gr
Athens Tourism & Economic Development Co.
Official website, includes useful transport and sightseeing information and maps. www.atedco.gr/en/page/welcome
Discovering Contemporary Architecture: Athens
Interactive maps of Athens’ best buildings and leading architects. www.culture2000.tee.gr/ATHENS/ENGLISH/main2.html
Virtual tour of the Acropolis, interactive timeline from 1400 B.C. to 337 B.C., created for a major PBS documentary on ancient Greece. www.pbs.org/empires/thegreeks/
Comprehensive bilingual arts and entertainment listings updated daily, profiles and features related to local culture. www.goculture.gr
Guide to Greek wine and food, includes recipes from local chefs and reliable Athenian restaurant reviews.www.gourmed.gr
Foundation of the Hellenic World
Comprehensive history of Athens and Greece from antiquity to modern times. www.e-history.gr/en/
Ministry of Culture
Up-to-date listings and information on cultural events, archaeological sites, and museums in Athens and beyond. www.culture.gr
Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens
“Grand Promenade” linking archaeological landmarks, includes heritage trails and ongoing developments. www.astynet.gr
Alternative free weekly newspaper that spawned several lesser copycats. Political commentary, interviews, lonely hearts, and entertainment listings; in Greek. www.athensvoice.gr
English-language weekly newspaper covering Greek news, politics, business, arts, and sports, plus international news in brief. www.athensnews.gr
Weekly listings bible; in Greek. www.athinorama.gr
Kathimerini English Edition
Abridged English edition of Greek conservative daily Kathimerini. Distributed free with the International Herald Tribune. www.ekathimerini.com
Athens International Radio (104.4 FM)
Run by Athens Municipality for the capital’s foreign residents and visitors. Latest news, traffic, and weather, tips on where to go, music, and chat broadcast in 12 languages.
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