As you prepare for your trip to Greece, there are a few things you should know about Athens International Airport before your arrival. Located just outside of Athens in Spata, the airport opened in 2001 in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games. Since then, it has established itself as a major hub for air travel in southeastern Europe. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, the airport offers modern facilities and amenities to ensure your journey goes as smoothly as possible.
With two terminals, the airport serves over 20 million passengers annually on a variety of domestic, European, and intercontinental flights. The terminals contain duty-free shops, restaurants, lounges, and currency exchange services to cater to all your needs before departure or on a layover. If traveling into Athens, efficient public transit and taxi options can transport you into the city center in under an hour. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the airport’s layout and offerings to optimize your experience traveling through Athens International Airport.
History of Athens International Airport
Athens International Airport, located in Spata, Greece, began operations in 2001 and replaced the old Athens Airport at Ellinikon. Known as Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, or Athens International Airport, it is the primary international airport serving Athens and the largest airport in Greece.
Athens airport was constructed to replace the aging Athens Airport at Ellinikon. Ellinikon had been in operation since 1938 but could no longer handle the increased passenger traffic of the 1990s and early 2000s. Construction on the new airport began in 1998 and was completed in just over 2 years, opening on March 28, 2001.
The ultra-modern airport was built from scratch on 3,200 hectares of land. It has two runways and a terminal with two concourses housing 44 gates. The airport was designed to handle up to 50 million passengers annually. Upon opening, Athens International received widespread acclaim for its modern infrastructure, passenger facilities, and architectural design.
Athens airport is a major hub for Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air and offers direct or one-stop connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia. In 2019, Athens International served over 25 million passengers, making it the 25th busiest airport in Europe.
With its proximity to Athens, connections to the metro system, and services for those with reduced mobility, Athens International Airport is a convenient and accessible gateway to Greece for tourists and business travelers alike. After 20 years of operation, it remains an ultramodern facility that provides an exceptional experience for all passengers.
Layout and Facilities at Athens Airport
As the largest airport in Greece, Athens International Airport has a well-designed layout and array of facilities to efficiently handle over 24 million passengers annually.
Athens Airport Terminal Buildings
Athens Airport has a main terminal building (MTB) and satellite terminal buildings (STB). The MTB has four levels that handle check-in, arrivals, and departures for most airlines. The STBs, located 200m from the MTB, serve low-cost carriers and charter flights. Free shuttles operate between the MTB and STBs.
Passport Control and Customs
Upon arriving at Athens Airport, proceed to passport control, then claim any checked baggage and clear customs. EU citizens can use automated e-gates, while non-EU passport holders proceed to manned desks. Customs allows free import of certain goods for personal use, but some items like tobacco, alcohol and gifts over a certain value may incur duties.
Shopping, Dining and Services
Over 140 shops, cafés, bars and restaurants are available at Athens Airport to suit all tastes and budgets. Services include banking, currency exchange, car rentals, luggage storage, showers, and lounges. Free Wi-Fi, phone charging stations, and multi-faith prayer rooms are also provided throughout the terminals.
Athens Airport is well-connected for ground transport into central Athens and surrounding areas. Options include:
Metro - Direct trains to downtown Athens operate from 6:30am to 11pm. The trip takes by the Athens airport metro around 40 minutes.
Busses - Express and local bus routes serve major points in Athens and nearby cities. Bus travel time is 30-90 minutes depending on traffic.
Taxis - 24-hour athens airport taxi stands are located outside the Arrivals level of each terminal building. Fares to central Athens are around €35-50.
With excellent facilities and ground transport links, Athens International Airport provides an efficient gateway to experience all the history and culture that Greece has to offer.
Transportation to and From Athens Airport
Athens International Airport is conveniently connected to downtown Athens and surrounding areas through several transportation options.
The Athens Metro subway system provides quick and affordable access between the airport and downtown Athens, Syntagma Square, Monastiraki, and many other city locations. Blue Line 3 offers direct airport service, departing every 30 minutes. The trip takes around 40 minutes and costs €10 for a one-way fare.
Bus service is also available between the airport and downtown Athens, as well as suburbs like Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni along the coast. Express bus X95 departs for downtown Athens every 15-20 minutes and the fare is €6. Tickets for both the metro and bus can be purchased at vending machines in the arrivals hall, and the bus stop is located just outside the terminal exit.
Official Athens airport taxis are readily available 24 hours a day outside the arrivals level. The fare to downtown Athens is around €38-50, depending on traffic, and the trip takes roughly 30-50 minutes. Only use taxis from the designated taxi ranks to ensure you are charged the proper rate. Taxis can accommodate up to four passengers, making it a convenient option for groups or those with a lot of luggage.
Major car rental companies like Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise have offices on-site at Athens airport if you wish to rent a vehicle. Driving into central Athens can be challenging for those unfamiliar with the area due to heavy traffic and limited parking. However, renting a car allows maximum flexibility to explore areas outside the city center at your own pace. Rates start around €25-35 per day for an economy vehicle.
With efficient public transit, taxis, and rental cars readily available, getting to and from Athens airport is straightforward. Choose the option that best suits your needs, budget, and desired level of independence to reach your final destination.
Domestic Flights at Athens International
Athens International Airport offers domestic flights within Greece through several airlines. These provide quick and convenient connections from Athens to destinations throughout the Greek islands and mainland.
The two primary domestic carriers operating out of Athens International are Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. Together, they offer scheduled service to over 30 domestic destinations including Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, and Corfu. Flights depart from Athens International’s Main Terminal Building, located a short walk or shuttle ride from international arrivals.
When traveling domestically within Greece, it is recommended you arrive at the airport at least 45-60 minutes prior to your scheduled departure. Check-in and security procedures for domestic flights are typically more efficient than for international flights, however, it is best to allocate adequate time in case of unforeseen delays.
Carry-on baggage policies vary between airlines, so you will want to verify details on size and number of bags allowed for your specific flight. As a general rule, you are permitted one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag. Checked baggage fees also differ between airlines and ticket types. It is advised you pay for checked bags at the time of booking to receive any available discounts.
Upon arriving at Athens International for your domestic departure, proceed to the correct check-in counter to obtain your boarding pass and check any luggage. Then, continue to the domestic security screening and on to your departure gate. Most domestic flights depart from Gates A1 through A22, however, gate assignments can change, so double check information displays for your flight listing.
Domestic travel within Greece provides an efficient means of transportation between Athens and islands or cities across the mainland. By understanding airport procedures and allowing adequate time, you can navigate Athens International Airport with ease for your onward domestic journey.
International Flights and Airlines at Athens
Athens International Airport serves as a major hub for international flights connecting Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Several major international airlines operate out of Athens International Airport, providing direct or one-stop service to destinations around the globe.
Three members of the SkyTeam alliance operate out of Athens International Airport:
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers direct flights to Amsterdam, connecting to over 130 destinations worldwide.
Air France operates direct flights to Paris, connecting to over 190 destinations across 6 continents.
Aeroflot Russian Airlines provides service to Moscow, connecting to over 146 destinations across Asia and Eastern Europe.
Two Star Alliance members also service Athens International Airport:
Lufthansa German Airlines operates flights to Frankfurt and Munich, connecting to over 200 destinations worldwide.
Aegean Airlines, a Star Alliance member based in Greece, offers service to over 155 international destinations across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Emirates offers daily flights to Dubai, connecting to over 150 destinations across 6 continents.
Qatar Airways provides service to Doha, connecting to over 160 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Africa, and North America.
Etihad Airways operates daily flights to Abu Dhabi, connecting to over 100 destinations worldwide.
In total, Athens International Airport offers direct or single connection service to hundreds of cities across Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, and Oceania thanks to its range of international airline partners. No matter your final destination, Athens International Airport likely provides efficient connections to get you where you need to go.
Lounges and Services Available at the Athens Airport
Athens International Airport offers various lounges and services for passengers to utilize during their time at the airport.
For business and first class travelers, there are two lounges available for use:
The Goldair Handling CIP Lounge is available for passengers traveling in business or first class on Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air. The lounge offers complimentary snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, showers, TVs, and workspaces.
The Swissport Executive Lounge is available for passengers traveling in business or first class on airlines other than Aegean or Olympic, such as Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and more. Similar amenities like the Goldair lounge are offered here.
Additional Lounges and Services
If you are not traveling in business or first class, there are additional pay-per-use lounges available:
The Skyserv Melina Merkouri Lounge offers showers, snacks, and drinks for a fee.
The Air Rooms sleeping pods provide a space to rest and sleep. Pods can be rented by the hour.
Shower facilities are also available in the airport for a fee if you want to freshen up during a long layover.
For families, Athens Airport offers:
A play area for children with games and activities.
Baby care rooms with changing tables and seating.
Strollers and high chairs available for rent.
Additional services at Athens Airport include:
Currency exchange offices to exchange Euros or other currencies.
Baggage storage if you have a long layover and want to explore Athens.
A 24-hour pharmacy and medical center.
Charging stations for electronics. There is also free Wi-Fi available throughout the airport.
With numerous lounges, rest areas, and services available at Athens International Airport, you are sure to find amenities to suit your needs during your travels. The variety of options will help ensure your time at the airport is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
Shopping, Dining and Amenities at Athens Airport
Athens International Airport offers passengers a variety of shopping, dining, and service options to make your time in the airport as enjoyable as possible.
Duty-free shops in the boarding areas and arrivals hall offer a range of products including clothing, accessories, Greek delicacies, and souvenirs. Brands like Bulgari, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Victoria's Secret provide high-end goods, while local shops feature traditional Greek products like olive oil, honey, and Ouzo liquor.
Over 50 restaurants, cafes, and bars throughout the airport provide sustenance and refreshments for all tastes and budgets. Casual eateries offer quick meals and snacks like gyros, souvlaki, and spanakopita. Upscale dining rooms provide a more leisurely Greek or international meal with waiter service. Relax in one of the airport lounges with complimentary hot and cold buffets, or grab a drink in a stylish bar.
ATMs, currency exchange, luggage storage, showers, and accommodation are conveniently provided within the airport terminal for passenger use. An on-site post office, pharmacy, and medical center handle any additional needs. For business or pleasure, the newly renovated airport business center and conference rooms contain all the necessary amenities for productive meetings or events. The comfortable, modern seating areas throughout the airport also provide a place to relax, charge your devices or get some work done.
Athens Airport aims to ensure all passengers have an enjoyable start or end to their journey through Greece. The array of world-class shopping, dining, accommodation, and services available within the airport terminal provides everything you need for a seamless travel experience. Spend time exploring the offerings or simply relax in the comfortable surroundings - you may never want to leave the airport!
Tips for Flying Through Athens International
As you prepare for your flight through Athens International Airport (ATH), there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a smooth experience.
Check-in and Security
Allow plenty of time for the check-in and security screening process. Check-in counters open 3 hours before departure for long-haul and international flights, and 2 hours before for domestic and Schengen flights. The security screening area can get very busy, especially during the peak summer season and holidays, so arriving 2 to 3 hours before your scheduled departure is recommended. Have your boarding pass and identification ready, and be prepared to remove laptops, liquids, belts and jackets for screening.
Athens Airport offers many services to make your time there comfortable. There are numerous restaurants, cafes and bars to grab food and drinks, as well as duty-free shops for any last-minute souvenirs. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport. If you have a long layover, consider visiting the airport's small museum on Greek history and culture, or take a guided tour of the facility. Showers, prayer rooms, lounges and sleeping pods are also offered at a fee for passengers with long connections.
Getting To and From the Airport
Athens airport is located 33 km southeast of Athens city center. The fastest and most budget-friendly option into the city is the Metro, which runs every 30 minutes from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. Tickets cost €10 each way and the trip takes around 40 minutes. Busses, taxis and rental cars are also available. When departing, give yourself plenty of time as traffic and security can be heavy, especially during rush hour.
By following these tips and allowing ample time, your experience traveling through Athens International Airport should be as pleasant as a Greek island holiday. Have a safe flight!
As you prepare to depart Athens International Airport, reflect on your journey through this bustling transportation hub. From the moment you arrived, the airport aimed to showcase the best of Greek culture, efficiency and hospitality. Now, with passport in hand and duty-free treasures in your carry-on, you are ready to embark on the next leg of your travels, whether returning home or journeying on to new adventures. Though your time in Greece may have been fleeting, the memories of exploring Athens and beyond will stay with you. And should your travels bring you back to this Mediterranean paradise, you know Athens International Airport will welcome you once more with open arms.