Athens International Airport serves more than 133 destinations across Europe, the Middle East, North America, and domestic destinations in Greece and its islands. It received a makeover in 2017 and has experienced continued growth, especially with budget carriers such as Ryanair increasing their presence, making it a popular airport among travelers headed to Greece or stopping over on their way to somewhere else.
Airport Code, Location, and Contact Information
Originally Hellenic International Airport, operating since the 1940s from Athens’ south coast, it moved in March 2001 to Spata, 12 miles east of downtown Athens and renamed itself Athens International Airport El. Venizelos AIA (ATH) – to honor the Greek PM El. Venizelos in the 1930s who contributed to Greek Civil Aviation and the Hellenic Air Force.
Know Before You Go
It’s well laid out and spacious with just one arrivals hall at ground level and one departures area on the first floor. Once you pass through security, you'll find most airlines from there, but domestic and low-cost European international flights depart from the satellite building, so you'll need to walk approximately 15 minutes to reach that—keep that in mind for timing as well as if you need assistance.
Public transport strikes can be a common occurrence in Greece, especially the summer months, so check in advance through your hotel if your plans could be affected.
Athens International Airport Parking
Short-term parking is on the arrivals level with 1,360 spaces and 20 minutes free. Book online for discounts if you think you’ll stay for longer.
Long-term parking is across the main motorway from the Airport (again book online for discounts) and has 5,800 spaces. Walk five minutes across the link bridge from the departures level or take the Shuttle Bus.
Valet Parking is available with prices from 9 euros to 39 euros depending on type of valet. Leave your car at Entrance 3 in Departures, and your car will be collected.
Public Transport and Taxis
Athens International Airport (AIA) is only 22 miles from the center of the city (about a 35-minute drive). If you take a taxi, the highest fare from downtown should be approximately 35 euros, including baggage.
Download the Beat app, the Greek equivalent of Uber but used by licensed taxis. You can input your card details into your profile or pay cash.
Traveling to AIA by Metro is simple. There are only three metro lines in Athens: Green, Red, and Blue. The Blue line takes you directly to the airport every 30 minutes from stations downtown, including the touristic districts of Monastiraki and Gazi. It’ll take approximately one hour, and the ticket costs 10 euros. Tickets can be bought from machines at all stations, and all have English options.
Where to Eat and Drink
The first level of Departures has a café and bar, a Burger King, and the Italian La Pasteria whose pizzas, pastas, and delicious tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad is a must, topped off with a hearty slice of tiramisu.
Once you go through security, the options open up, with options like the Heineken Star Bar with beers, wines, and snacks; more burger bars; and Greece’s own fast food chain, Everest, offering salads and paninis.
It’s not a huge airport, so you won’t find a massive amount of food, but there’s certainly enough for your layover. See the list of cafes, bars and restaurants at AIA.
Where to Shop
There are many shops at AIA to buy travel essentials, toiletries, electronics, and designer goods. They're all airside (after security), along with Hellenic Duty Free, offering the usual wines, spirits, cigars and cigarettes, and perfumes.
For that last-minute speciality Greek gift, "It’s All Greek To Me" sells contemporary Greek souvenirs and unique gifts. You'll find this in the departures hall before going through security.
How To Spend Your Layover
You’ll need about 5 to 6 hours to enjoy a layover and not miss your connection.
Travel to and from the city takes approximately one hour each way. Head to Syntagma Square (15 stops on the metro with no transfers) to see Parliament Square, the changing of the guard, and the National Gardens. Have a coffee break before heading back, or take the metro one more stop and disembark at Monastiraki, the bustling heart of Athens with its flea market, views of the Acropolis, and many traditional tavernas, restaurants, and coffee shops.
If you stay in the airport, on the first floor of the Departures terminal (before security), there is an archaeological museum (free entry) with an exhibit of 172 artifacts from the Neolithic and Early Helladic to the Post-Byzantine period, as well as several artifacts found when AIA was built.
There are also periodic photography exhibitions in the arrivals level that change regularly and offer a selection of themes such as "Greek Seas" and ‘"mages of Athens."
If staying overnight, the five-star Sofitel (walking distance from departures and arrivals) offers 345 rooms and an indoor pool.
There are eight lounges at AIA, all after entering security. Contact your airline for opening hours and prices.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
“ATH Free Wi-Fi” is the connection. It can be a bit spotty, but it’s free for 45 minutes. There are 22 internet kiosks if you don’t have a device, located throughout the airport, free for 15 minutes.
AIA Tips and Tidbits
- The free AIA App can be downloaded to find helpful information.
- Baggage Storage is available near Gate 1 at Arrivals level, plus Baggage Wrap at departures.
- Find 24-hour Airport Information Desks at departures and arrivals. The City of Athens Tourist Information Point is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in arrivals.
- First Aid is at arrivals level with defibrillator points, next to the large pharmacy.
- The Children’s Play Area is next to the museum on the first floor of departures.