Enjoying the beauty of the Greek capital can be exhausting; just the hill leading up to the Acropolis is already a physical effort. The city also has many sights to see, so how to cover them all? With the tourist bus.
1. Touring Athens by tourist bus
The Athens sightseeing bus with panoramic views and free stops is a very popular means of transport in Athens. It covers the most important points of the city and has three different routes, one of which reaches the Piraeus area. It is a practical, comfortable and instructive way to tour the Greek capital.
What you should know about the tour bus
If you have never made use of this service during any of your trips, the first thing you should know is the main differences (and advantages) that tourist buses have with respect to regular buses:
- The tour is focused on communicating all the most interesting tourist attractions of the city so that the traveler does not miss anything culturally and historically relevant.
- They have panoramic views.
- They have audio commentary on board in several languages to help the traveler put into context what he/she is seeing.
- You do not pay for each trip, but the price of a 24 or 72 hour pass gives you access to unlimited use of the bus during that time.
- Purchasing an Athens sightseeing bus pass entitles you to additional benefits and discounts during your trip.
2. City Sightseeing Bus routes
The main Athens sightseeing bus company is City Sightseeing (with red buses), has three different routes and you can choose between a 24 or 72 hour pass (the 72 hour pass automatically includes all three routes).
During the time your pass is active you can use the tour buses as many times as you want, getting on and off at the stops you want. You can take the full route to tour the city enjoying the sights and audio commentary or you can use it as a means of transportation that takes you from one point of interest to another without detours.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the main route that runs through the city of Athens is available all year round; the same goes for the Piraeus route. However, if you want to do the Beach-Riviera route you can only do it if you travel between the months of April and October, both included.
On the Athens sightseeing bus tour you will pass by different places of cultural interest such as the Acropolis and the Pantheon, the Temple of Zeus, the Panathinaikos Stadium, the National Garden, the Acropolis Museum, the Syntagma Station, among others.
- Syntagma Square
- Benaki Museum
- National Gallery
- Panathinaikó Stadium
- Melina Mercouri Monument
- Acropolis Museum
- Temple of Zeus
- Hellenic Parliament
- National bookstore
- Archaeological Museum
- Omonoia, Athens
- Monastiraki Square
- Kotzia Square
During the route that leads to the Piraeus area, you will see sites of interest such as the Piraeus Municipal Theater, the Lion's Gate, the Archaeological Museum or the Planetarium.
- University of Panteios
- SNF Headquarters
- Municipal Theater
- Piraeus Cruise Terminal
- Marias Chatzikiriakou 18
- Archaeological Museum of Piraeus
- Santaroza 15
- Limin Mounikhias
- Eugenides Planetarium
- Leof. Andrea Siggrou 150
Ana's Traveller Tip
The tourist bus pass does not work by calendar days but by hours; that is, if you activate a 24-hour pass on Monday at 3 pm you can use it until Tuesday at 3 pm.
3. Walking tours included in the Athens sightseeing bus
If you purchase your ticket for the Athens sightseeing bus between April and October, you can enjoy at no additional cost two guided walking tours of Athens. The rest of the year, the weather varies and the tourist influx in Athens decreases, so the option is not available.
These types of tours are the perfect complement to the bus tours. While the audio commentaries you will hear on board focus on cultural and historical information about the points of interest the bus passes by, the walking tours focus on more everyday aspects that are also essential to know in order to get a complete picture of the city.
An expert guide covers in each of these tours a different area of the city and for about two hours not only shows you corners that normally the tourist does not notice, but also tells you about the city and its way of life from the point of view of a local, something that, I assure you, you will find very enriching.
4. Where to buy and how to use the Athens Sightseeing Bus Pass
Regardless of whether you buy the 24-hour pass for the sightseeing bus or the 72-hour pass, you can:
The City Sightseeing company has different offices distributed throughout Athens. You can locate any of them and buy your pass in person when you arrive in the city.
The most recommended is to buy your tickets for the Athens sightseeing bus with panoramic views and free stops online and in advance. It is the most practical way to buy the pass as you will not have to waste time in Athens and you will receive the ticket directly on your cell phone.
In addition, you can do it as far in advance as you want because, once you have purchased your pass, you have 12 months to activate it and from the first use the 24 or 72 hours time starts to count. When you go to buy your tourist bus pass you must specify the day on which you start your trip (this does not mean that you have to activate the ticket that day) and if your plans change you can cancel for free up to 24 hours before that date.
5. If you are interested in a tour on the Athens sightseeing bus, you will also be interested in...
The tourist bus is an ideal option for an excursion to places further away from the center of Athens such as the Piraeus area. If after this visit you still want to continue exploring the surroundings of the Greek capital, I recommend that you consider making one of the trips that I talk about in this article on Athens Tours.
Greece is a country with a lot to offer to the traveler and it is a pity that during your trip you only discover one city, even if it is as exciting as Athens. With organized excursions you will have the opportunity to visit in one day places like Delphi, the Peloponnese or the Greek Islands.
Frequently asked questions
How long does a Hop on Hop off Bus tour last?
The Athens hop on hop off tour lasts roughly 90 minutes, there is also tours of Piraeus and the Riviera, both of which last around 80 minutes.
What can I see with a hop on hop off tour of Athens?
With over 20 different stops, most Athens hop on hop off tours will take you to Syntagma Square (which is usually where the hop on hop off bus begins its tour), the Acropolis of Athens, the Parthenon and the Natuinal Library, which features some truly spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
Can I combine the Hop-on Hop-off with another experience?
There are actually a couple of options that combine Hop on Hop off buses with other experiences, though the best option is via the City Pass as it includes the hop on hop off bus, as well as a visit to the Acropolis.