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Athens is a paradise for travelers wanting to experience all that Europe has to offer. From its awe-inspiring history and architecture to amazing landscapes and delicious food, every corner of this city promises something new and exciting.
In fact, Athens offers the perfect balance of ancient history and modern-day amenities in Europe. So, if you are looking for a destination that offers everything and then some, look no further.
Our Top Tip for Visiting Athens – Book Your Own Private Tour of the Acropolis with a guide from WithLocals. We have done this several times, and each time, it was a fun and educational experience. One of our guides was even an archeologist. Book your own tour at WithLocals.
The Greek capital Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is full of ancient ruins and significant historical places. Be prepared to be enchanted by stunning monuments such as the Parthenon and Acropolis.
However, you can also spend your time exploring bustling markets for local souvenirs, take part in exciting activities like wine tasting, or just relax with a bite at one of its many charming tavernas.
Planning Your First Visit to Athens?
For the first time in the city of Athens, the best thing to do is visit the museums and archaeological sites that highlight the history of Greece throughout the centuries. Also, we suggest visiting neoclassical buildings like the National Library of Greece and the building that houses the Museum of Cycladic Art.
In addition to sightseeing, you can enjoy a vibrant life at Athens squares, watch the Changing of the guards at Syntagma squares or relax at the rooftop bars at Monastiraki Square. We also recommend exploring street art in Anafiotika and Psyri neighborhoods.
Planning a last-minute trip to Greece?
Top Experiences and Tours in Greece:
- See the sights with a tour of Meteora Day Trip by Train from Athens
- Explore history with Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon Half-Day Small-Group Tour from Athens
- Explore more with a Thessaloniki: Full-Day Bus Trip to Meteora
Where to stay in Greece:
You can go on a day trip from the Piraeus Port to the nearby Greek islands such as Hydra and Aegina. Visit the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, the ancient town Delphi, the Byzantine’s Daphni Monastery, or go on a full-day tour of the Meteora Monasteries.
Don’t forget to indulge in delicious Greek food, enjoy the sunset at Lycabettus Hill with a glass of local wine, or hit some of the bars that offer gorgeous views of the Acropolis.
Here are our picks for the Top 10 Things to Do in Athens
1. Visit the Acropolis of Athens
In every travel guide about Athens, you will find the Acropolis as one of the top attractions in the whole of Greece and a must-see location if you want a learn more about the amazing Greek culture. This ancient citadel, situated at the top of the hill above the city, is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Acropolis of Athens was erected in the 5th century BC to honor the goddess Athena. Millions of visitors come here every year to admire important ancient buildings like the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, and 2nd-century theater Odeon of Herodes Atticus in person.
You can also see the Theatre of Dionysus from the 6th century, the temple Erechtheion, as well as the Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis.
We recommend visiting The Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, where you can see some of the most significant artifacts from ancient Greece.
Keep in mind that a walking tour of Acropolis Hill lasts around 2-3 hours, so you need to wear adequate shoes and a hat for sun protection because there is no shade. Also, you can purchase your ticket online in advance to avoid standing in long queues.
2. Explore the Benaki Museum of Athens
Benaki Museum was established in 1931 by the Benakis family. It holds a vast collection of Minoan, Cycladic and Mycenaean arts. You can see items from the Byzantine era, pieces from Neo-Hellenistic art, and displays of toys and games.
There is also a significant collection of modernistic art that includes jewels, costumes, wooden paintings, and religious artifacts.
The Benaki Museum is located near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Ethnikos Kipos National Garden, a public park in the center of Athens. You can easily reach the Benaki Museum on foot from Syntagma Square.
3. Visit the Monastiraki Flea Market of Athens
Every Sunday morning, the Monastiraki Flea Market becomes the central market in Athens. Numerous retailers will open their small shops to offer the most various products. There you can find souvenirs from wood and ceramics, clothes, paintings, handicrafts, antiques, and even icons made by monks from Greek monasteries.
In search of a nice gift or souvenir, you may also discover porcelain dishes, vinyl records, and handmade jewelry. When you need a break from shopping, you can get a drink at some of the many cafes in Monastiraki Square.
If you want to discover as much as you can, visiting ancient sites near the Monastiraki, such as the ruins of Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Agora, as well as the Tzistarakis Mosque from the 18th century, can be a good idea.
Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip
4. Learn More About Ancient Greece at the National Archaeological Museum
Visit the National Archaeological Museum to see some of the most significant antiquities collections in the world. The Museum was established in the 19th century to house the most significant antiquities from all over Greece.
It has a collection of sculptures, ceramics, frescoes, and other archaeological items from the Neolithic period through to late Antiquity. Some of the most significant artifacts are the Bronze statue of Zeus, frescoes from the Bronze Age, and the gold Mask of Agamemnon.
There is also a notable Egyptian and Near Eastern antiquities collection. Visitors can buy artifact replicas at a museum’s gift shop. Afterward, you can have a cup of coffee in the garden.
5. Discover the Heart of the Ancient Athens
The Agora of Athens was the cultural, administrative, and commercial center of ancient Athens. It has a vast historical significance because it was the core of social and political activity, where the most important thinkers, such as Socrates and Sophocles, met to debate.
The whole complex of Ancient Agora has several historical sites worth visiting.
Stoa of Attalos was the ancient version of a mall. The original building from the 6th century BC was ruined, but it was reconstructed in the 20th century. Today, in Stoa of Attalos, you can find a museum of Ancient Agora with many sculptures, coins, and other objects from ancient times.
Among the Agora’s many buildings and temples, you can see the Odeon of Agrippa, the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles, and the Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples.
6. Discover the Olympic Legacy of the Panathenaic Stadium
Welcome to one of the top Athenian landmarks! The Panathenaic Stadium has prominent architectural and historical importance. It is the only stadium in the world made entirely of white marble.
The Panathenaic Stadium was built in ancient times and reconstructed in the 19th century to host the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 with 80,000 spectators.
It has a horseshoe shape, and it is decorated with gold, bronze, and marble statues. Today it is used as the finishing line for the Athens Marathon and the Olympic Flame handover ceremony.
A whole complex with a stadium, museum shop, and a café is open all year round. If you are visiting the Greece capital in the summer, we recommend coming to the stadium early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the heat and high temperatures.
7. Step Into the House of the Head of the Olympic Gods
The Olympieion, or the Temple of Olympian Zeus, is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. It was built from the 5th century BC to the 2nd century AD and is located just 500 meters southeastern of the Acropolis.
Once it was the largest temple in ancient Greece, with 104 colossal columns, but over the centuries, the structure was destroyed. Today, only 16 of the original Corinthian columns remained.
The amazing monument is rounded by other ancient ruins which you can visit, such as Hadrian’s Arch, Olympieion Basilica, the Roman Baths, and the Valerian wall. Nearby, you can find the Hellenic parliament building and the Zappeion Hall, a large conference building used for ceremonies.
8. Explore the Charming Psyri Neighborhood
If you are searching for an authentic and bohemian part of Athens, don’t miss the Psyri. Thanks to many coffee bars, clubs, and tavernas, the neighborhood is known for its buzzing nightlife.
Psyri is also well known for street art, colorful facades, and murals. You can enjoy exploring many art galleries and artisan shops with handmade products.
The neighborhood has a great location, just a 5-minute walk from the Ancient Agora of Athens and Monastiraki metro station. It is situated in the city center known as the “Historic Triangle of Athens,” thanks to Monastiraki, Syntagma, and Omonia Squares that surround it.
Some of the must-see locations in the Psyri are the ancient cemetery Kerameikos, the Pottery Museum, and the Museum of Islamic Art.
9. Enjoy Stunning Views From the Mount Lycabettus
Lycabettus Hill stands 277 meters above sea level. You can reach the top on foot if you are in good shape, or you can take a funicular ride. The starting point of the funicular railway is on Aristippou street in the suburb of Kolonaki.
At the top of the Lycabettus or Lykavitos Hill, you can visit the whitewashed Chapel of St. George and then head up to Orizontes Restaurant.
Arrive at sunset for some truly stunning views across the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and beyond into an ocean vista shimmering with sapphire blue water from the Aegean Sea.
10. Take a Guided Athens Tour to Taste the Amazing Greek Cuisine
Did you know that you can hire local guides to organize private food tours for you and your family and friends? They can provide you a unique experience by presenting authentic dishes such as mousaka and gemista, as well as Greek yogurt, local cheeses, and excellent olive oils and wines.
Treat yourself and your family or friends to a half-day adventure filled with traditional Greek cuisine at some of the best taverns and restaurants in town.
Those eager to explore street food can wander through the maze of cobblestone streets in historic neighborhoods like Plaka and discover its unique street food culture. Try delicious Greek classics such as gyros, bougatsa, souvlaki, and delectable fish burgers to tantalize your taste buds.
Author Bio: Based in Serbia in Europe, Marija Stojanovic Petkovski worked as a journalist but realized writing about the most beautiful places in the world is something that inspires her.
She is sure that a pint of good craft beer perfectly accompanies a tasty homemade lasagna. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her children and spending time outdoors with her family.
Author Bio: Marija Stojanovic Petkovski is a writer based in Serbia in Europe. Marija worked as a journalist but realized writing about the most beautiful places in the world is something that inspires her. She is sure that a pint of good craft beer perfectly accompanies a tasty home-made lasagne. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her children and spending time outdoors with her family.