March to May are pleasant and mild months, even if you have to pack a sweater for chill March winds. Temperatures rise in June and July, reaching their peak in August. This is when Athenians vacation, but it could be a good time to take cheap flights to Athens and enjoy a less crowded city - if you can survive the heat.A strong northerly wind, the meltemi, occasionally blows through Athens giving some relief from the stifling heat — more than 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit). September and October are cooler months, with some light rain. Most rain falls November through February. Temperatures during these months fall to about 10 degrees (50F).
When to fly to Athens
High summer is peak season, attracting the majority of visitors. The heat builds throughout the summer and, starting about June, most restaurants and clubs have shut down or moved to the shore. During August, most Athenians vacation outside the city and Athens belongs to tourists. If you plan to visit at this time, head out to see the sights in the early morning, rest during the midday heat and sight see some more in the cooler evenings.
Spring and late fall. These are good times to search for cheap flights to Athens.
Winter, when the tourist crowds have melted away and hotel rates are cheaper, is also a good time to visit Athens. While the weather is chilly with some rain, there is snow in the mountains. Perfect for skiing. Parnassos is 180km from Athens. It's Greece's largest and most popular resort. Kalavrita is 203km from the city.
Getting around Athens
Athens’ metro system is so easy to use that it has decreased the city’s traffic and pollution. The buses and trolleys are also cheap and efficient, but they are usually more crowded and can be confusing. Avoid travelling anywhere during rush hour, especially on public transportation.
It can be difficult to hail a taxi, so call ahead for one instead. You’ll find that taxis are cheap, although occasionally drivers will try to overcharge a clueless foreigner. One trick to catching a cab is calling out your destination to a cab already in use. The driver will stop and let you get in if he’s going the same way. You’ll still have to pay a full fare, though.
It’s also easy to set out on foot. Most of the major Athens’ sights are located in the same general area. And the ones that aren’t are easy to get to by public transportation. With all the easy transportation options, it’s not worth it to rent a car. Driving through the city is difficult to manage and parking spots are rare and expensive.
Athens insider information
- Plaka, Athens's oldest residential quarter, is considered touristy by Athenians, who prefer the Psirri district, but it is the place to look for souvenirs such as "flokati" rugs, religious icons and ceramics. For a more authentic Athenian shopping experience perhaps, visit the 19th-century Central Market near Omonia. Monastiraki Flea market takes place on Sunday mornings. Pack an extra bag on your cheap flights to Athens to take advantage of the bargains.
- Take the funicular railway to the top of Lycabettus. It is Athens' highest hill. The views from the top are beautiful. There is also an open-air theatre at the summit.
- Watch the changing of the guard at the Parliament building, once the Greek royal family's summer residence. The ceremony takes place every hour. The guards, Evzones, wear khaki uniforms with kilts. On Sunday mornings, at 11, the Evzones wear traditional white kilts, red-and-black caps and red clogs with pompoms.
- Mitropolis Square is home to Athens' main cathedral. Beside it is the Little Mitropolis, which is dedicated to St Eleftherios. The little church is open every day bar Friday, between 10am and 4pm.
- The Agora was, in ancient times, the city's main marketplace and its political and cultural heart. Democracy was born here and Socrates and St Paul made public speeches here. These days, the area, with olive trees and coarse grasses, is dotted with toppled-over columns. The Stoa of Attalos houses the Agora Museum, exhibiting artifacts from the site.