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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Athens

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Athens each year. The main ones are listed below.

January 1 : New Year's Day (national holiday)

January 6 : Epiphany (Theofánia, national holiday)

The celebration of Christ's baptism gives rise to long processions during the day. With the number of faithful increasing as it advances, each local procession stops to bless all baptismal fonts, lakes, reservoirs, rivers and harbours. The procession concludes at the seafront with a sanctification ceremony, during which a priest throws a crucifix into the water.

March 25 : Independence Day (national holiday)

Commemorates the beginning of the revolt against Ottoman rule on this day in 1821. Many cultural events are organized to mark this anniversary each year, including concerts and other live performances, conferences, and historical exhibitions.

April/May (date set according to the Julian calendar) : Greek Orthodox Easter (Páskha, national holiday)

Plus importantes que Noël, les fêtes de Pâques déplacent les foules à Athènes. Processions, messes et repas ponctuent la Semaine Sainte.

May 1 : Labour Day (national holiday)

On this day, the skies above Athens and its surrounding countryside are filled with kites. Families enjoy picnics and pick wild flowers, which they shape into a wreath to hang on their doors at home. This last tradition finds its roots in Anthesteria, the ancient Greek festival celebrating the return of spring and nature's beauty. Continuing this same theme, parades of flower-decorated floats fill the streets, along with other entertainment.

June 1–August 31 : Athens and Epidaurus Festival (local event)

This annual arts festival draws visitors from around the world and offers a broad range of cultural events, perhaps most famously ancient Greek theatre, performed in modern Greek at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on the southern slope of the Acropolis, but also modern plays, traditional and contemporary dance, opera, classical concerts, recitals, jazz and traditional Greek music, at a number of other venues both within and outside Athens.

Four dates in the period May–July : Rockwave Festival (local event)

The biggest rock festival of the year in Greece, held at Terra Vibe Park in Malakasa, just a few miles from Athens.

August 15 : Assumption Day (Dormition of the Theotokos) (national holiday)

In Athens and throughout Greece, the anniversary of the Virgin Mary's Dormition, the day she “slept”, when her soul ascended to heaven, is celebrated with processions, feasting, music and dancing.

Evening of the full moon in August : August Full Moon Festival (celebrated nationwide)

Since 2012, the evening of the full moon in August has been celebrated each year throughout Greece with many free events (theatre, concerts, opera, dance) and late-night openings of archaeological sites and museums.

October 28 : Óhi Day (national holiday)

Military and student parades, folk dancing and speeches commemorate the one-word reply (Óhi!, which means “No!”) given by Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas on this day in 1940, rejecting Mussolini's ultimatum demanding the occupation of Greek territory by Italian troops in order to reach Russia.

December 25 : Christmas (national holiday)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Athens

Athens has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers. Heat waves with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) occur each year, although sea breezes help to cool down the city somewhat. It hardly ever rains in July and August. Winters are more humid, especially in the western portion of the city, with mild temperatures, except in the hills, where the weather is colder and snow tends to accumulate.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January 7/45 13/55 60/2.4 Not the best period to go
February 7/45 14/57 47/1.9 Not the best period to go
March 9/48 17/63 41/1.6 Not the best period to go
April 12/54 20/68 31/1.2 Not the best period to go
May 16/61 25/77 23/0.9 Good period to go Good period to go
June 21/70 30/86 11/0.4 Not the best period to go
July 24/75 33/91 6/0.2 Not the best period to go
August 24/75 34/93 6/0.2 Not the best period to go
September 20/68 29/84 14/0.6 Good period to go Good period to go
October 16/61 23/73 53/2.1 Good period to go Good period to go
November 12/54 19/66 58/2.3 Not the best period to go
December 9/48 15/59 98/3.9 Not the best period to go
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Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport

Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport is located about 33 kilometres (21 miles) south-east of the city centre.

  • Two terminals :
    • Terminal 1 (Air France)
    • Terminal 2

Getting from the airport to Athens and back
  • By car
    • The Attiki Odos, a beltway around Athens, also accesses the airport. At the city limits, signs in English clearly mark the way to Syntagma Square in the centre. When leaving from Syntagma Square, take Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, then Messogion-Marathonos Avenue to reach the Attiki Odos beltway.
    • There are short-term parking lots (P1 and P2) at the airport, with a total of 1,360 spaces, free for the first 20 minutes.
    • Several car rental companies have counters in the Main Terminal on the arrivals level.
  • By rail
    • Line 3 of the Athens Metro connects the airport with the city centre in about 30 minutes (EUR 8 each way, EUR 14 for two people).
  • By bus
    • Bus X95 travels between the airport and Syntagma Square. The trip takes about 45 minutes, buses depart every 15 or 20 minutes, and the fare is EUR 5.
  • By taxi
    • Taxis are available at the designated area outside the arrivals hall. The daytime fare to central Athens is EUR 38.
  • Services : shops, bars and restaurants, Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone : +30 210 353 0000
  • Website : http://www.aia.gr/traveler/

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GETTING AROUND Athens

Athens has an extensive, modern, efficient and integrated public transport system, comprising trains, buses and trams, serving all of the city's main districts. The streets are often congested, due to dense car traffic. Getting around on foot is therefore a practical and pleasant solution for exploring the city.

By rail

The Athens Metro has three lines (1, 2 and 3) connecting all of the Greek capital's important landmarks. A flat-fare ticket is available for EUR 1.20 and is valid for 70 minutes. A 24-hour ticket costs EUR 4.00, and a 5-day pass is available for EUR 10.00. All of these tickets may be used on any mode of transport during the validity period.

Useful tip: For longer stays, a monthly card valid for all modes of transport is available for EUR 45. A 3-day tourist pass is also available for EUR 20, including one round trip to Athens International Airport by metro or express bus and unlimited travel on all modes of transport for the entire period.

By bus

Athens has two networks with a total of over 300 lines, both of which are coordinated by OSY, a fleet of natural-gas and diesel buses together with an electric trolley bus network. The integrated fare of EUR 1.20, valid for 70 minutes, also applies to buses in Athens.

By tram

Athens Tram operates a fleet of 35 vehicles, serving 48 stations and connecting the city centre with points along the southern coastline. There are three lines, one between Syntagma Square and the Peace and Friendship Stadium (SEF) in Faliro, the second between Syntagma Square and the southern suburb of Voula, and the third linking the SEF with Voula. The integrated fare of EUR 1.20, valid for 70 minutes, also applies to trams in Athens.

By taxi

Taxis are relatively inexpensive in Athens. They are equipped with meters and a notice showing base fares and applicable supplements is displayed in each cab. For destinations within the city centre, the usual fare is about EUR 5.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Athens, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) – Athens office

Offers practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

Athens Info-Point kiosks

These kiosks offer excellent advice and recommendations for exploring Athens and other points of interest nearby. Listed below are the addresses of the three Athens Info-Point kiosks:

  • Athens International Airport (arrivals level)
  • Historic centre (corner of Amalias Avenue and Dionissiou Areopagitou Street)
  • Piraeus Port Authority (cruise ship arrivals terminal)

Further information available online for visitors to Greece

The GNTO maintains a website for visitors to Greece, including a section entirely devoted to information about Athens.

Website : http://www.visitgreece.gr

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in Greece is the euro (€).

1 RUB = 0.01 EUR

1 EUR = 100 RUB

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to Greece.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Water

Although tap water is safe to drink in Athens, it is advisable to drink bottled water instead.

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Administrative formalities

Entry requirements for Greece

For a stay of less than three months, travellers from the Schengen area, as well as those from the countries of the European Union not included in the area, need only be in possession of a national identity card or a passport valid for the duration of their stay in order to enter Greece.

As a general rule, all other travellers are subject to visa requirements, although citizens of some countries may enter Greece for a short stay of up to 90 days without a visa.

For further information, visit the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
http://www.mfa.gr/en/visas/

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Essential phrases

Here are a few basic Greek phrases that will make your stay in Athens a little easier:

Good morning: Kalimera

Good evening: Kalispera

Goodbye: Herete

Yes: Neh

No: Okhi

No, thank you: Okhi, efkharisto

Thank you very much: Efkharisto para poli

I don't understand: Then katalaveno

Could you repeat that: To xanaleteh afto, sas parakalo?

Please: Parakalo

What time is it: Ti ora ineh?

Excuse me: Signomi

Airport: Aerodromio

Train station: Stathmos trenou

Taxi: Taxi

Hotel: Xenodohio

Hospital: Nosokomio

Bank: Trapeza

Telephone: Tilephono

I'm (…): Ego ime (…)

I'm looking for (…): Psakno (…)

How much is it: Poso kani afto?

Do you have (…): Ekheteh (…) ?

Where can I find (…): Pou boro na vro (…)?

Where can I buy (…): Pou boro na agoraso (…) ?

I'd like (…): Tha ithela (…)

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Good to know

00 30
+ phone number (calls to Athens)
0 : 00
of time difference with
Moscow
Start of daylight saving time: last Sunday in March
End of daylight saving time: last Sunday in October

BANKS

Usually open Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
GOVERNMENT OFFICES

Usually open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
230 V / 50 Hz

And what about tipping?
In restaurants, a service charge is usually included in the bill. Tips are therefore optional, but appreciated. If the service is especially friendly and attentive, feel free to leave a little something extra for the waiting staff. There is no strict guideline for the percentage, so it is entirely up to you. It is also customary to round up the price of taxi fares and to tip a few euros to hotel porters and ferry stewards.