Getting started - Amazon Athena

Getting started

This tutorial walks you through using Amazon Athena to query data. You'll create a table based on sample data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service, query the table, and check the results of the query.

The tutorial uses live resources, so you are charged for the queries that you run. You aren't charged for the sample data in the location that this tutorial uses, but if you upload your own data files to Amazon S3, charges do apply.


  • If you have not already done so, sign up for an AWS account.

  • Using the same AWS Region (for example, US West (Oregon)) and account that you are using for Athena, follow the steps to create a bucket in Amazon S3 to hold your Athena query results. You will configure this bucket to be your query output location.

Step 1: Create a database

You first need to create a database in Athena.

To create an Athena database
  1. Open the Athena console at

  2. If this is your first time to visit the Athena console in your current AWS Region, choose Explore the query editor to open the query editor. Otherwise, Athena opens in the query editor.

  3. Choose Edit Settings to set up a query result location in Amazon S3.

    Choose Edit settings.
  4. For Manage settings, do one of the following:

    • In the Location of query result box, enter the path to the bucket that you created in Amazon S3 for your query results. Prefix the path with s3://.

    • Choose Browse S3, choose the Amazon S3 bucket that you created for your current Region, and then choose Choose.

    Specify a location in Amazon S3 to receive query results from Athena.
  5. Choose Save.

  6. Choose Editor to switch to the query editor.

    Choose Editor.
  7. On the right of the navigation pane, you can use the Athena query editor to enter and run queries and statements.

    The query editor in the Athena console.
  8. To create a database named mydatabase, enter the following CREATE DATABASE statement.

    CREATE DATABASE mydatabase
  9. Choose Run or press Ctrl+ENTER.

  10. From the Database list on the left, choose mydatabase to make it your current database.

    Choose the database that you created.

Step 2: Create a table

Now that you have a database, you can create an Athena table for it. The table that you create will be based on sample Amazon CloudFront log data in the location s3://athena-examples-myregion/cloudfront/plaintext/, where myregion is your current AWS Region.

The sample log data is in tab-separated values (TSV) format, which means that a tab character is used as a delimiter to separate the fields. The data looks like the following example. For readability, the tabs in the excerpt have been converted to spaces and the final field shortened.

2014-07-05 20:00:09 DFW3 4260 GET /test-image-1.jpeg 200 - Mozilla/5.0[...] 2014-07-05 20:00:09 DFW3 4252 GET /test-image-2.jpeg 200 - Mozilla/5.0[...] 2014-07-05 20:00:10 AMS1 4261 GET /test-image-3.jpeg 200 - Mozilla/5.0[...]

To enable Athena to read this data, you could create a straightforward CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE statement like the following. The statement that creates the table defines columns that map to the data, specifies how the data is delimited, and specifies the Amazon S3 location that contains the sample data. Note that because Athena expects to scan all of the files in a folder, the LOCATION clause specifies an Amazon S3 folder location, not a specific file.

Do not use this example just yet as it has an important limitation that will be explained shortly.

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE IF NOT EXISTS cloudfront_logs ( `Date` DATE, Time STRING, Location STRING, Bytes INT, RequestIP STRING, Method STRING, Host STRING, Uri STRING, Status INT, Referrer STRING, ClientInfo STRING ) ROW FORMAT DELIMITED FIELDS TERMINATED BY '\t' LINES TERMINATED BY '\n' LOCATION 's3://athena-examples-my-region/cloudfront/plaintext/';

The example creates a table called cloudfront_logs and specifies a name and data type for each field. These fields become the columns in the table. Because date is a reserved word, it is escaped with backtick (`) characters. ROW FORMAT DELIMITED means that Athena will use a default library called LazySimpleSerDe to do the actual work of parsing the data. The example also specifies that the fields are tab separated (FIELDS TERMINATED BY '\t') and that each record in the file ends in a newline character (LINES TERMINATED BY '\n). Finally, the LOCATION clause specifies the path in Amazon S3 where the actual data to be read is located.

If you have your own tab or comma-separated data, you can use a CREATE TABLE statement like the example just presented—as long as your fields do not contain nested information. However, if you have a column like ClientInfo that contains nested information that uses a different delimiter, a different approach is required.

Extracting data from the ClientInfo field

Looking at the sample data, here is a full example of the final field ClientInfo:


As you can see, this field is multivalued. Because the example CREATE TABLE statement just presented specifies tabs as field delimiters, it can't break out the separate components inside the ClientInfo field into separate columns. So, a new CREATE TABLE statement is required.

To create columns from the values inside the ClientInfo field, you can use a regular expression (regex) that contains regex groups. The regex groups that you specify become separate table columns. To use a regex in your CREATE TABLE statement, use syntax like the following. This syntax instructs Athena to use the Regex SerDe library and the regular expression that you specify.

ROW FORMAT SERDE 'org.apache.hadoop.hive.serde2.RegexSerDe' WITH SERDEPROPERTIES ("input.regex" = "regular_expression")

Regular expressions can be useful for creating tables from complex CSV or TSV data but can be difficult to write and maintain. Fortunately, there are other libraries that you can use for formats like JSON, Parquet, and ORC. For more information, see Supported SerDes and data formats.

Now you are ready to create the table in the Athena query editor. The CREATE TABLE statement and regex are provided for you.

To create a table in Athena
  1. In the navigation pane, for Database, make sure that mydatabase is selected.

  2. To give yourself more room in the query editor, you can choose the arrow icon to collapse the navigation pane.

    Choose the arrow to collapse the navigation pane.
  3. To create a tab for a new query, choose the plus (+) sign in the query editor. You can have up to ten query tabs open at once.

    Choose the plus icon to create a new query.
  4. To close one or more query tabs, choose the arrow next to the plus sign. To close all tabs at once, choose the arrow, and then choose Close all tabs.

    Choose the arrow icon to close one or more query tabs.
  5. In the query pane, enter the following CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE statement. The regex breaks out the operating system, browser, and browser version information from the ClientInfo field in the log data.

    CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE IF NOT EXISTS cloudfront_logs ( `Date` DATE, Time STRING, Location STRING, Bytes INT, RequestIP STRING, Method STRING, Host STRING, Uri STRING, Status INT, Referrer STRING, os STRING, Browser STRING, BrowserVersion STRING ) ROW FORMAT SERDE 'org.apache.hadoop.hive.serde2.RegexSerDe' WITH SERDEPROPERTIES ( "input.regex" = "^(?!#)([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+([^ ]+)\\s+[^\(]+[\(]([^\;]+).*\%20([^\/]+)[\/](.*)$" ) LOCATION 's3://athena-examples-myregion/cloudfront/plaintext/';
  6. In the LOCATION statement, replace myregion with the AWS Region that you are currently using (for example, us-west-1).

  7. Choose Run.

    The table cloudfront_logs is created and appears under the list of Tables for the mydatabase database.

Step 3: Query data

Now that you have the cloudfront_logs table created in Athena based on the data in Amazon S3, you can run SQL queries on the table and see the results in Athena. For more information about using SQL in Athena, see SQL reference for Athena.

To run a query
  1. Choose the plus (+) sign to open a new query tab and enter the following SQL statement in the query pane.

    SELECT os, COUNT(*) count FROM cloudfront_logs WHERE date BETWEEN date '2014-07-05' AND date '2014-08-05' GROUP BY os
  2. Choose Run.

    The results look like the following:

    Viewing query results in the Athena console.
  3. To save the results of the query to a .csv file, choose Download results.

    Downloading query results in CSV format.
  4. To view or run previous queries, choose the Recent queries tab.

    Choose Recent queries to view previous queries.
  5. To download the results of a previous query from the Recent queries tab, select the query, and then choose Download results. Queries are retained for 45 days.

    Viewing and downloading recent queries in the Athena console.
  6. To download one or more recent SQL query strings to a CSV file, choose Download CSV.

    Downloading recent query strings to a CSV file.

    For more information, see Working with query results, recent queries, and output files.

Saving your queries

You can save the queries that you create or edit in the query editor with a name. Athena stores these queries on the Saved queries tab. You can use the Saved queries tab to recall, run, rename, or delete your saved queries. For more information, see Using saved queries.

Keyboard shortcuts and typeahead suggestions

The Athena query editor provides numerous keyboard shortcuts for actions like running a query, formatting a query, line operations, and find and replace. For more information and a complete list of shortcuts, see Improve productivity by using keyboard shortcuts in Amazon Athena query editor in the AWS Big Data Blog.

The Athena query editor supports typeahead code suggestions for a faster query authoring experience. To help you write SQL queries with enhanced accuracy and increased efficiency, it offers the following features:

  • As you type, suggestions appear in real time for keywords, local variables, snippets, and catalog items.

  • When you type a database name or table name followed by a dot, the editor conveniently displays a list of tables or columns to choose from.

  • When you hover over a snippet suggestion, a synopsis shows a brief overview of the snippet's syntax and usage.

  • To improve code readability, keywords and their highlighting rules have also been updated to align with latest syntax of Trino and Hive.

This feature is enabled by default. To enable or disable the feature, use the Code editor preferences (gear icon) at the bottom right of the query editor window.

Connecting to other data sources

This tutorial used a data source in Amazon S3 in CSV format. For information about using Athena with AWS Glue, see Using AWS Glue to connect to data sources in Amazon S3. You can also connect Athena to a variety of data sources by using ODBC and JDBC drivers, external Hive metastores, and Athena data source connectors. For more information, see Connecting to data sources.