If you find yourself on an overnight layover during your flight through Athens, Greece, there are fortunately a number of great ways to beat the boredom and get some rest while you wait out your connecting flight at Athens International Airport.
Although there is a hotel relatively close, the Athens Airport Sofitel, it can be quiet expensive and oftentimes overnight layovers are too short to justify spending the extra dollars on accommodations for the night; there are also hotels about an hour away via airport bus like the Oceanis in Glyfada, but the commute alone will eat up most of your rest time.
For those traveling during the summer and busy tourist months, though, there are a number of great things to explore, facilities to use, and even a few lounges where you can spend the majority of your time stuck in the airport.
Facilities Open Overnight in the Arrivals Lounge
When you first land, you'll be ushered into the Arrival Lounge, which features a number of facilities and entertainment options for the weary traveler. Depending on what time of night you arrive, though, and if you're traveling in the off-season, many of these facilities may be closed when you arrive.
Travel and car rental agencies, as well as coffee stands with small meals, are typically the businesses that close down the latest and open up the earliest. Both of the travel agencies, Anistorion and Pacific, are known to stay open late, providing hotels, transfers, and other information to visitors, as are the two coffee shops in the Arrivals Lounge.
Luggage check and most of the shops and entertainment venues in the Arrivals Lounge, however, typically close down earlier in the night. Around 3 a.m., you aren't likely to find the staff at the luggage check but you might get lucky and find an open pharmacy or newsstand to peruse and get snacks while you wait.
There's also a great area in front of the pharmacy and opposite to a florist that many travelers use to stretch across the open benches or their luggage carts to catch a few moments of rest while they wait out their connecting flight. Overnight travelers at Athens International Airport seem to be regarded as a necessary nuisance rather than as vagrants who must be kept moving.
Facilities Open Late in the Departure Lounge
The Arrivals Lounge is definitely quiet at night, but even at 4 a.m., the Departures Lounge is usually populated. Overnight sleepers are everywhere, even in brightly lit and quite public areas. Helpful hint: some of the benches in the shopping area do not have seat dividers, making this a better option than the benches in the outer part of the departure area.
Upstairs, you can find the bonanza of sleeping areas—a darkened theater area near the small museum of archeological finds from the airport area. While the information video plays perpetually, if you need darkness for your overnight at the airport, this is the spot.
Other than the clothing shops, which are closed at night, many stores are open. You can buy Mastica toothpaste at 4 a.m. from the Mastica Shop, Boutari wine from the Wine Cave, Korres beauty products from the company store, and numerous books and travel items from several general store locations that remain open at night.
The Food Court is also usually open late, providing travelers with a variety of sandwiches, fresh pizza, and possibly not so fresh sushi along with staples like McDonald's and other international fast food chains that typically serve a pretty decent, cheap cup of coffee.
While shopping areas nearer the gates require that you already have a boarding pass in hand—which might not be possible if the airline desk has not opened yet—the area around the main food court is open to all, and there are flight status monitors just outside so you won't have to run back downstairs to check on your flight.
Areas outside of the Gates, which requires you to have your next boarding pass, offer five-minute massage chairs and a private area for relaxation, but we caution you that airport personnel may run you off if you try to sleep in this commercial zone.