Most independent travelers to the Peloponnese arrive at Athens Airport, about 20km south of the city centre. It’s a modern airport, built for the Olympic Games in 2004, and has good public transport and road links.
The official airport website www.aia.gr has real time arrivals/departures listings and information on services and transport links. Take note of the website address, there are many impostors on the search engines.
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Tip: If you are staying in Athens for a few days use public transport and don’t try to drive there unless you really need to. The traffic can be chaotic and you’ll find navigation almost impossible as all the signs are in Greek. If you are touring by car before/afterwards then use the airport as your pick-up/drop-off point and still use public transport to get into Athens.
Airport Express buses
When you come out of the arrivals hall turn right, walk to the far end and go through one of the exit doors. There is a small booth where you buy tickets (they speak English) and the bus stops are close by. When you get on the bus stamp your ticket by putting it into the slot of the orange box – don’t forget, the penalty fines are high.
There are a number of airport express buses including:
X93 to the Kifissos intercity coach station where you can get coaches to all parts of the Peloponnese. The journey takes 1 hour, and buses run every half hour at peak times. The bus passes another bus station in central Athens on the way so don’t get off the bus too early by mistake, stay on till it reaches the end of its journey.
At the coach station go into the main booking hall, there are ticket booths all around the walls with destination signs above. The one for Kalamata is in the far corner. You’ll be allocated a seat number that is printed on your ticket. Go and find the bay your coach goes from, ask someone if necessary and be ready to board the coach 10 minutes before it leaves, all bags other than handbags and small back packs have to be put in the baggage compartment. The coaches are comfortable and air-conditioned but don’t have toilets. The new generation of younger drivers are much more careful and responsible than in past years.
X95 to Syntagma in central Athens. Unfortunately it doesn’t go onto Omonia,or the Plaka so the Metro is often easier.
There is also a metro station where you can get a train that links into the Athens metro system. Follow the signs out of the airport building, there is a ticket office in the main hall, stamp your ticket in the machine at the top of the stairs leading to the platforms.
There is a rail link direct from the airport to Corinth. The Journey takes 80 minutes but there is no station to connect with the KTEL bus station which is several kilometres outside Corinth – even through the line goes right past it.
There are car rental desks in the airport but it is much cheaper to book it in advance over the internet. We useAuto Europe as they provide cars from the major international car hire companies but at discounted prices.
Out of arrivals you’ll find the car hire desks half way along the hall. To find the cars go to the far end and out of the exit doors. Continue along the road in the same direction for about 100m and you’ll see the car hire building and car park on the other side of the road. When driving out of the airport first follow the sighs for Athens which will take you onto the toll road that bypasses Athens, then follow signs to Corinth. For kalamata, the tolls are not expensive about €10 in total to the end of the toll road near Megalopoli. The road is being extended all the way to Kalamata which will shorten the journey time considerably, the new section from Tripoli to Megalopolis is open but at this time (August 2011) it’s hard to know when more of it will be finished.
The fare into Athens is normally about €50 but will be more at night or if you have a lot of baggage