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The best magic carpet ride in town is the metro. Cars are not worth the stress and road rage and, happily, the metro is fast, cheap, and convenient; its three lines go to all the major spots in Athens. Line 1, or the Green Line, of the city's metro system is often called the elektrikos (or the electrical train) and runs from Piraeus to the northern suburb of Kifissia, with several downtown stops (including Victoria Square, near the National Archaeological Museum; Omonia Square; Monastiraki, in the old Turkish bazaar; Thissio, near Kerameikos; the ancient Agora; and the nightlife districts of Psirri, Gazi-Kerameikos and Thissio).

In 2000, the city opened Lines 2 and 3 of the metro, many of whose gleaming gray-marble stations function as minimuseums, displaying ancient artifacts found on-site. These lines are safe and fast but cover limited (but expanding) territory. Line 2, or the Red Line, cuts northwest across the city, starting from suburban Anthoupoli and passing through such useful stops as Syntagma Square, opposite the Greek Parliament; Panepistimiou (near the Old University complex and the Numismatic Museum); Omonia Square; Metaxourgeio; the Stathmos Larissis stop next to Athens's central train station; Acropolis, at the foot of the famous site; and finishing off at the south suburb of Elliniko.

Line 3, or the Blue Line, runs from the suburb of Ayia Varvara (the Ayia Marina terminal station) through Kerameikos (the stop for bustling Gazi-Kerameikos) and Monastiraki; some trains on this line go all the way to the airport, but they only pass about every half hour and require a special ticket. The stops of most interest for visitors are Evangelismos, near the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Hilton Hotel, and National Gallery of Art, and Megaron Mousikis, next to the U.S. Embassy and the concert hall. The fare is €1.40, except for tickets to the airport, which are €8. A 24-hour travel pass, valid for use on all forms of public transportation, is €4. You must validate all tickets at the machines in metro stations before you board (if you're caught without a valid ticket you will be fined, so retain your ticket until you reach your final destination). Trains run between 5:30 am and 1 am. Maps of the metro are available in stations. There is no phone number for information about the system, so check the website (www.stasy.gr).