Athens by Car

Athens by Car

It is needless to say that traffic congestion in the Capital is the rule. In 1961 there were 39,000 cars in Athens, while today the number reaches over 2 million!

This, in combination with the fact that during the past 30 years the percentage of Athenians who prefer the public transportation has decreased from 70% to 35%, creates the picture of a congested metropolis, where consistency is wishful thinking.

It is not the lack of city traffic code that causes the problem. It is a peculiar modern Greek absurdity that the Athenian prefers his car or taxi, even when he knows that by using the public transportation he will avoid parking problems ("this is a non-parking city!"), will save money and most possibly time!

Of course, one could answer that mass transportation vehicles get backed up as well, but when did we all try to use them, at the same time or to use one or two means of public transportation to reach our destination? This is the situation that Athens Metro is continuing to change. This mode of transport quickly won the citizens' trust and it hopes to continue relieving of the Capitol from the congestion, the dirt and the ...mandatory delays.

Moreover, regardless of the increasing usage of the bus road lines, the buses – and even more, the trolleys – are unable to fly for sure, when they are caught in zones of heavy traffic. In Greece, congestion from road traffic in Athens is re-appearing on the main routes through the metropolitan area. The average speed is 120 kph, 79% of urban routes are affected, and there is some hesitation about the restrictive measures to take on the use of private vehicles when the possible negative effects are not well understood.

As mentioned, seeking the large avenues to move fast through the city would make your driving experience less aggravating. These are multi-lane, express avenues (Leoforos), that are designed to move a lot of traffic long distances. They still have traffic lights, and they are still subject to gridlock, but they are your best bet for moving fast from one part of the city to the next.

The motorway system of Attiki Odos has tolls and can take you across the north of the city and to the airport in a hurry. From it, several large avenues branch into and out of Athens. These include Kifissou Avenue that connects Piraeus with the Northern Suburbs, and crosses the city of Athens to the west of the city the center.

Similarly, to the east of the center of Athens, Kifisias Avenue (that connects with Syngrou Avenue) can move you from Attiki Odos to the north of the city with the coast of Athens (Faliro, Glyfada, and the rest of the Athens Riviera). The southern coast of Athens is served by Poseidonos Avenue that starts in Paleo Faliro and continues all the way to Cape Sounio.

In the center of the city, on many roads the right lane is reserved for buses. You can enter the lane for a short period of time to make a right turn, but longer stretches might get you a traffic violation ticket. You will identify those lanes by the bus drawings on the pavement and by the double line that separates them from the other lanes.