Things to Do in Athens: The 20 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
You’re traveling to Greece and want to visit Athens, the capital? You’re wondering about the best things to do in the city?
You’re at the right place!
In order to help you plan your stay, I have created this guide of the 20 best places to visit in Athens, with all points of interest and must-see attractions. In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit Athens in 1, 2 or 3 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
And as always, this travel guide contains all my best tips to make the most of your stay.
So, what to do in Athens? Let’s start with the best places to visit!
- Things to Do in Athens: The 20 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)
- Visit Athens: the 20 Must-See attractions
- 1. The Acropolis of Athens and The Parthenon
- 2. The Acropolis Museum
- 3. The Ancient Agora
- 4. The National Archaeological Museum of Athens
- 5. The National Garden and the Zappeion Park
- 6. Syntagma Square
- 7. Ermou street
- 8. Monastiraki District
- 9. Plaka district
- 10. Mount Lycabettus
- 11. The Panathenaic Stadium
- 12. The Philopappos Hill
- 13. The Roman Agora
- 14. The other Museums in Athens
- 15. Gazi district
- The 5 best things to do around Athens
- Top Things to do in Athens when it rains
- Best things to do in Athens with family
- Getting around Athens on foot
- How many days to visit Athens?
- 1 day in Athens
- 2 days in Athens
- 3 days in Athens
- Where to stay in Athens
- Where to eat in Athens
- Tourist map of Athens
- You’re traveling to Greece ? These articles will help you !
- Visit Athens: the 20 Must-See attractions
Visit Athens: the 20 Must-See attractions
1. The Acropolis of Athens and The Parthenon
Let’s start this list of the 20 best things to do in Athens with The Acropolis, the most emblematic site of the city.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site located on a hill in the capital is one of the most visited Ancient Site of Greece. It’s also Athens’ main tourist attraction.
At the top, you will find the Parthenon, the most famous monument of the Acropolis. As most of the site, it was commissioned by Pericles and built during the 5th century B.C. This temple, dedicated to the Goddess Athena, is entirely made of marble and weighs about 20,000 tons!
The other places to see on the site are:
- The Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis
- The Erechtheion (or Erechtheum): a Temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Its most remarkable element is the Porch of the Caryatids (or Porch of the Maidens), where 6 statues of young girls are used as columns.
- The Temple of Athena Nike
- The Theatre of Dionysus
- The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a stone theatre still used for representations during Athens Festival.
2. The Acropolis Museum
Visiting the Acropolis Museum is one of the best things to do in Athens.
If you want a better understanding of the context and history of the Acropolis before visiting it, you should definitely go to The Acropolis Museum first. It displays nearly 4,000 ancient objects and artefacts found on the site!
The museum is very interesting and well designed. From the 3rd floor panoramic terrace, you will also have a magnificent view on the Acropolis. So why not go there to have a drink and enjoy the view?
You will find all the useful informations to plan your visit on the official website.
3. The Ancient Agora
Another great place to see in Athens is The Ancient Agora.
The Agora was the main square of ancient Athens. It was considered as the cultural, political, commercial and social center of the city. Nowadays, the site is mostly in ruins, but still worth a visit, especially for The Temple of Hephaestus. Built during the Age of Pericles in 449 B.C, it’s one of the best preserved Doric temples in Greece.
You’ll also find a museum exposing objects discovered on the site, some statues and a scale model of the Agora to help you visualize how it looked like.
The visit of the Ancient Agora is included in the 30€ combined ticket.
4. The National Archaeological Museum of Athens
If you enjoyed the Acropolis Museum, then you should really go to the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
The museum has a worldwide reputation for its collection of splendid ancient objects. This impressive building offers more than 8,000 m² of exhibition space, where you’ll find fantastic collections aged from the Neolithic Era to the end of the Roman Period. Most of the collections are dedicated to the Greek civilization, but you will also find several rooms with Egyptian antiquities.
The most remarkable pieces exposed in the museum are:
- The golden Mask of Agamemnon, found in Mycenae
- A bronze statue representing a young horseman and its mount
- The statue of Zeus or Poseidon
- The Varvakeion Athena, a reproduction of the statue which once stood in the Parthenon.
For further informations about rates and schedules, you can visit the official website.
5. The National Garden and the Zappeion Park
If you want to enjoy a bit of greenery during your stay in Athens, then you should definitely take a walk in the National Garden and the Zappeion Park. The 2 are actually one and the same big park, making it the largest public park in Athens!
This is the best place to go if you want to relax and have a break far from the tourist crowd.
The park is located between The Panathenaic Stadium and Syntagma Square.
6. Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square, or “Constitution Square” in English, is Athens’ central square.
It’s also the city’s main gathering place, whether it’s for demonstrations or sporting events. The House of Parliament is located here since 1935, in an ancient royal palace built by the first King of Greece. It’s the center of Greece’s political life.
The Square is a must-see attraction in Athens. There, you’ll see the Changing of the Presidential Guard ceremony. The soldiers, also called “Evzones”, are guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, right in front of the Parliament House. Every hour, the changing takes place and you can attend a strange synchronized ballet.
Most of all, you’ll be amazed by the famous traditional uniforms of the Evzones with skirts, tights and pompom shoes!
7. Ermou street
If you want to go shopping in Athens, it certainly will be on Ermou Street!
This pedestrian street goes from Syntagma Square to Monastiraki district. As it is Athens’ main commercial street, you’ll find here most of the big international brands (H&M, Zara, Marks & Spencer…) as well as many bars and restaurants.
Don’t forget to see the picturesque Byzantine Church of Kapnikarea! Located on Ermou Street, it was built in the 11th century.
8. Monastiraki District
To continue this Athens tourist guide, let’s go to Monastiraki district.
It’s located in the centre of Athens, alongside Plaka district. (I will tell you more about Plaka a bit later)
Monastiraki Square, with its Byzantine Church, is the heart of this lively and cosmopolitan neighbourhood. You’ll enjoy walking in its narrow alleys with lots of small shops of all kind. The atmosphere feels a bit like the souks in arabic countries! Souvenirs, clothes, shoes or jewellery, you’ll for sure find everything you need.
Every Sunday, the famous Flea Market of Monastiraki takes place on Avissinya Square. Many antique and second-hand goods dealers are selling ancient books, silverware or leather goods. The negotiations are often tough, but you can find some nice things, especially if you get up early!
9. Plaka district
Another place you should visit in Athens is Plaka district.
The oldest district of Athens is often nicknamed “Neighborhood of the Gods”, as it’s located at the foothill of the Acropolis. Even if it’s a really busy and touristic area, Plaka managed to keep its picturesque charm, with its narrow alleys and pretty houses.
During your tour, you will enjoy Byzantine constructions, as well as neo-classical houses. With its many shops, it’s also a great place to buy local products or souvenirs.
While you’re there, you should definitely go to the tiny Anaflotika neighborhood. In this peaceful and quiet place with white houses and blue shutters, you’ll feel like you are in the heart of The Cyclades! Don’t forget to go to the top of Stratanos Street, to enjoy a superb panorama over Athens.
10. Mount Lycabettus
If you want to admire a stunning view of the Acropolis, then you have to climb up to Mount Lycabettus!
The 278 meters high Mount Lycabettus is also called “Hill of the Wolves”, and is certainly the best place to enjoy a 360° panorama of Athens. At the top, don’t miss the charming Orthodox Chapel of St.George.
You can access the top of Mount Lycabettus:
- By foot: A 20-minute stairs path will take you to the top.
- By cable-car: The Lycabettus Funicular takes only 3 minutes to go to the summit. The round trip ticket cost 7€, and departure point is located at the crossing of Aristipou and Ploutarchou streets.
- By car
11. The Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium, or Kallimarmaro is another famous tourist attraction in Athens.
It’s located in front of Zappeion Park’s Southern entrance.
The stadium was built in the 4th century B.C to host the Panathenaic Games, a sporting event held every year to honor the Goddess Athena. There, athletes were competing in track and field, wrestling and chariot races.
Originally made out of wood, it has been completely rebuilt in white marble a few centuries later. The stadium had a capacity of more than 70,000 spectators, and gladiator fights were also organized.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the stadium was abandoned, and the stones were reused elsewhere.
Much later, during the 19th century, the stadium was rebuilt to host the 1st Modern Olympic Games.
Nowadays, the stadium isn’t used for competitions anymore, as its dimensions no longer meet the required standards.
You can visit the inside of the stadium for 5€. The entrance fee includes an audio guide and access to the track.
12. The Philopappos Hill
If you believe you’re out of things to see in Athens, and if you have visited the main neighborhoods, why don’t you go up to Philopappos Hill?
Also known as the Hill of the Muses, the site is one of the best viewpoints to see Athens and the Acropolis. You can walk to the top of this 147 meters high hill using one of the many pedestrian trails in around 10 minutes.
At the summit, you will have a panoramic view of the entire city, the port of Piraeus and the Attic Peninsula. If you are lucky enough to have a very clear weather, you’ll even see some of the closest islands! There, you can also admire the Philopappos monument, a mausoleum dedicated to the Roman senator Philopappos, considered as one of Athens’ benefactors.
On the site, don’t forget to see the church of Agios Dimitrios Lumbardiaris, the prison of Socrates, and the remains of the Shrine of the Muses.
13. The Roman Agora
The Roman Agora is another point of interest to visit in Athens. Don’t confuse it with the Ancient Agora I mentioned earlier!
The Agora, or Roman Forum is located in Plaka district. It was built between 19 and 11 B.C. There, you could find a large central market, several shops and public latrines.
The most remarkable elements of the Agora are:
- The Gate of Athena Archegetis, with its 4 well preserved columns.
- The recently renovated Fethiye Mosque, where temporary exhibitions are held.
- The Tower of the Winds: a marble tower built by Andronicus of Cyrrhus to be used as a compass, an horologion, and a weathercock.
14. The other Museums in Athens
If you are staying in Athens for a couple of days, you should take the opportunity to visit some museums.
For the cultural tourism enthusiasts, here are the other museums you should visit in Athens:
- The Numismatic Museum, exposing more than 500,000 coins and medals. Some of them are more than 3,000 years old!
- The Museum of Cycladic Art and its collections of objects from the Cyclades islands
- The Benaki Museum, the oldest museum in Greece, with it’s 40,000 pieces of art from the Ancient times to the beginning of the 20th century
- The National Gallery, with its artworks and sculptures from the post-Byzantine Era.
- Museum of Greek Folk Art, to get a look at Greece’s traditions!
- The Byzantine and Christian Museum
- The National Museum of Contemporary Art
- The war Museum, if you want to learn everything about Greece’s war history.
- The National History Museum
15. Gazi district
Where to go in Athens if you want to party all night?
You should definitely try Gazi district! This former industrial district has been refurbished to become the trendy place to go out at night in the Greek capital.
There, you can enjoy a drink on a trendy bar terrace, or try one of the many restaurants and night clubs. You’ll for sure find a place you’ll like in Gazi neighbourhood.
The surroundings of the Kerameikos metro station, and the streets of Dekeleon, Gargition and Voutadon are the busiest.
The 5 best things to do around Athens
You’re having a few days in Athens, and you have seen most of the city? Then, you should really go on a day trip to explore the city’s surroundings.
Here are the best places to visit around Athens:
16. Go to the beach!
You’ll find a lot of beaches near Athens. These beaches aren’t the ones you’ll find on Greece’s postcards. Yet, it’s still a good way to have a refreshing moment out of the city.
The Apollo Coast beaches, in the South of Athens, are the closest to city. The best part is that you can access them using public transports directly from Syntagma Square! The Apollo Coast, with its luxury private beaches, is often nicknamed “the Athenian Riviera“. In the seaside resorts of Glyfada Beach, Voula Beach, Lagonisi Beach or Saronida Beach, you’ll enjoy a young, festive and luxurious atmosphere.
If you want to go to a more family friendly place or wilder beaches, you should try those located East of Athens. How about going to Schinias Beach, Kaki Thalassa Beach, Marathon Beach or Nea Makri?
17. Cape Sounion
Cape Sounion is located on the Southern end of the Attic Peninsula, around 1:20 hours drive from Athens.
According to Greek Mythology, King Aegus would have thrown himself from the cliffs here, thinking his son Theseus was dead. Theseus went to fight the Minotaur and had promised to change the black sails of his ship to white in case of victory.
Full of joy from his victory, Theseus forgot to change the sails of his ship. When his father saw the black sails, he thought his son was dead and committed suicide. From this time, the Aegan Sea is named after him!
At Cape Sounion, you’ll admire a temple dedicated to Poseidon, the god of the Sea and protector of the sailors. The place offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Saronic Gulf. You should go there at sunset, when the sunlight illuminates the temple’s marble columns!
This is the perfect place for a half-day tour around Athens. If you don’t have a car, you can take an organized tour.
18. The Saronic Islands
The Saronic Islands are among the closest islands to Athens.
If you want to get there, the easiest way is to take a ship from the Port of Piraeus.
The best Saronic Islands to see are:
- Aegina, where you can visit the Temple of Aphaia and the remains of Paleochora, an ancient Byzantine village
- Agistri and its many small coves.
- Poros, for its pretty colored houses.
- Hydra, an island where cars are banned! It’s the perfect destination if you want to hike and enjoy beautiful beaches.
- Spetses, covered in pine trees and a great place to cycle!
If you only have one day to discover the Saronic Islands, you can book a cruise. Everything is included: from Athens, a bus will take you to the port of Piraeus, and you’ll sail to the islands from there. During this cruise, you will visit the islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina. Lunch is even included. You can book this cruise right here!
19. Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio
If you want to discover the countryside around Athens, you should definitely take a tour of the Peloponnese!
During your daytrip, you’ll see:
- The Corinth Canal for the souvenir photo!
- The archaeological site of Mycenae: this UNESCO World Heritage site was once King Agamemnon’s home.
- The city of Napflio, and the Palamidi Fortress.
- The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tour includes the pick-up at your hotel, the transfer in an air-conditioned bus, a guide and the entrance tickets for all the sites. You can click here to book your tour.
Booking this tour is the best way to see some of the most famous places of Peloponnese in a short amount of time!
And if you want to know more about Peloponnese, you can read my detailed article : The 15 Best things to do in Peloponnese.
The famous Archaeological Site of Delphi is located 2:20 hours drive from Athens.
The site, built on Mount Parnassus, offers a splendid view of the valley and the sea. There, you’ll admire the Temple of Apollo (where the oracle of Delphi, the Pythia, transmitted Appolo’s directives from the gods to humans), the theatre and the stadium.
You should also visit Delphi Archaeological Museum. A lot of ancient vestiges found on the site are exposed there.
If you don’t have a car, organized tours starts from Athens every day. The price includes the transfer from and back to your hotel, a guide, and the entrances ticket to Delphi Archaeological Site and Museum. You can book your day trip to Delphi from Athens here.
Top Things to do in Athens when it rains
You came to Athens to enjoy the sunny and warm Mediterranean climate, but what are the best activities to do in Athens when the weather is bad?
Don’t worry, here is a list of the things to do in Athens when it rains:
- Visit the many museums to learn more about Greece’s History, traditions or art. If you read this article carefully, you’ll notice that I mentioned a lot of museums. This should keep you busy for a while!
- Go to Athens Central Market. You’ll find great local products in this covered market.
- Go shopping in one of Athens’ many Malls.
- Try an Escape Game: solve the riddles and try to escape in less than an hour! The Athens Clue Escape Game is also available in English.
Best things to do in Athens with family
To help you plan your family trip to Athens, you’ll find here a list of Athens best places to visit with your children!
- Visit The Eugenides Planetarium to discover the universe with your family
- Go to The Hellenic Cosmos for a 3D virtual visit of Ancient Greece
- Take a walk in the National Garden, and let your children enjoy the playgrounds!
- Visit the Hellenic Children’s Museum, where kids can play merchant or construction games. It’s a miniature world, where everything is adapted to kids size!
- Spend a day at the Allou Fun Park & Kidom, Greece’s biggest amusement park!
- Enjoy the Attica Zoological Park, one of the classics of a family stay in Athens. You can buy your tickets here.
Getting around Athens on foot
Now, I will give you a 1 day itinerary to visit Athens on foot. It will allow you to discover most of the city’s highlights.
And if you are spending more than one day in Athens, you can always split this walk: you just have to read my itineraries to visit Athens in 1, 2 or 3 days, a bit further down in this guide.
Let’s start this walking tour of Athens in Syntagma Square. There, you can observe the typical uniforms of the Presidential Guard, during the Changing of the Guard. Then, go through the National Garden and Zappeion Park, to arrive at The Panathenaic Stadium.
After that, go through the Leoforos Vasilissis Olgas Street, along the Zappeion to reach Hadrien’s Gate. In the same place, you’ll find the colossal Temple of Zeus, where there are only 15 columns left.
Continue by taking the Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, to reach the entrance of the Acropolis. You just have to decide if you want to visit it, or admire it from the outside.
Then, walk to Thrasillou Street and Stratanos Street to enter Anaflotika neighborhood. There, you’ll enjoy a beautiful panorama of Athens and the Acropolis.
Wander in the pretty alleys of Plaka and Monastiraki districticts. You’ll see the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora, the Hadrien’s Library and the Monastiraki Square.
These neighborhoods are the best to go shopping in small shops. When you will be done, you can head to Ermou Street to continue shopping in Athens’ main commercial street!
To end your day, how about going to Mount Lycabettus or Philopappos Hill, to admire the sunset over the Acropolis?
How many days to visit Athens?
Unlike other capitals such as Rome or London, the best places to visit in Athens are concentrated in a quite small area, making the visit very comfortable to do on foot!
You can visit most of the city’s Must-See Attractions in 1 or 2 days, even if you take some time to visit the museums and the main archaeological sites. If you are staying 3 days or more in Athens, you can even take a tour to visit the surroundings.
If you want to visit Athens, you should definitely buy the Athens City Pass. It’s a great way to save time and money!
It includes the Shuttle Bus Transfer from the Airport to your hotel, a skip-the-line ticket for the Acropolis Museum, a ticket for the sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus, and a 20% discount on many activities, such as the Delphi or Cape Sounion tours. You can buy it right here.
1 day in Athens
You only have one day to visit Athens? No problem! Here is the best itinerary to make the most of your stay:
- Start your day by visiting The Acropolis, the most famous tourist attraction in Athens.
- Continue your visit with the Acropolis Museum to learn everything about the origins and the History of this ancient site.
- Lunch break
- After your meal, wander in the Plaka neighborhood. Located on the foothill of the Acropolis, it’s the oldest district of the city!
- After that, visit the Ancient Agora and its museum
- Then, you can go for a walk in Monastiraki
- At the end of the day, go to Philopappos Hill to see the sunset over The Acropolis
- And if you like to party, go to Gazi neighborhood for a drink or a night out!
If you want to see Athens’ best points of interest without visiting the monuments, you can also do the “How to visit Athens on foot” itinerary I have suggested you above in this travel guide.
2 days in Athens
If you have 2 days in Athens, in addition to the first day described above, you can add:
- Start with the visit of the Panathenaic Stadium
- Then go to Hadrien’s Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus
- Take a stroll in the National Garden & Zappeion Park
- Attend the Changing of the Guard on Syntagma Square
- Then, after your lunch break:
- Go to Ermou Street for some Shopping
- Visit The National Archaeological Museum
- For the sunset, head to the top Mount Lycabettus. It’s the best place in town to enjoy it!
3 days in Athens
If you spend 3 days in Athens, in addition of the 2 days above, how about visiting some of Athens other museums? Whether you like Art, ancient coins, Greek folklore or History, you will for sure find an interesting museum!
Another great way to spend your 3rd day is to go on a day trip to visit Athens’ surroundings.
Here are the best ones:
- From Athens – Visit the Temple of Poseidon and Cape Sounion: This day trip will take you to the Cape Sounion, located at the very end of the Attic Peninsula. After picking you up at your hotel, the bus will drive you along the scenic Coast of Appollo, famous for its beaches. Try to get a window seat, because the view is beautiful! Once you arrive, you will visit the Temple of Poseidon. Located on a hill, it offers a magnificent view of the surroundings.
- From Athens – Visit the Saronic Islands: Another option is to opt for a full-day cruise to the Saronic Islands. During the day, you will discover the islands of Poros, Hydra and Aegina. The lunch is included.
- From Athens – A full-day Mycenae and Epidaurus trip: You prefer to visit archaeological sites of Peloponnese? Then this day trip is perfect for you! It combines the visit of Mycenae Archaeological Site (and the Tomb of King Agamemnon) with Nafplio (the Palamidi Fortress) and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Entrance fees, transfer, guide and lunch are included.
- From Athens – A Day trip to Delphi: During this tour, you will have the opportunity to discover the Ancient Site of Delphi. Did you know that the oracles where delivered here? The visit of the Delphi Museum is also included. Entrance fee, transfer, professional licensed guide and lunch, everything is included in this tour!
With all these activities, you can even easily spend 4, 5 days or more in Athens!
Where to stay in Athens
- Bedbox Hostel: A Youth Hostel located 300m from Monastiraki Square, and 700m from the Acropolis. Dormitory room starting from 18€ per night. Strong points: the location, the really kind staff and the cleanliness!
- Evripides Hotel: Located 400m from Ermou Street and 500m from Monastiraki. The rooms are simple but comfortable, starting from 70€ per night, with breakfast included. What I loved: the breathtaking view of the Acropolis from the rooftop, the location (perfect to visit Athens on foot) and the friendly and helpful staff! A great choice in Athens for its exceptional value for money!
- Amalia Hotel: Located on Syntagma Square, just in front of the National Gardens. The double rooms are modern and spacious. Some of them even have a balcony with a nice view of the gardens. The price starts at 155€ per night with breakfast included. Strong points: The comfort, the generous breakfast, and the location in the centre of Athens.
- Wyndham Grand Athens: 5-star Hotel located 1km from Ermou Street and 1.5km from the Acropolis. You’ll love the elegant and design double rooms here, starting from 200€ per night. Breakfast will cost you 16€. Strong points: the outdoor pool on the roof, the view of the Acropolis, the spa center, and the location right next to a metro station!
- Electra Metropolis: This 5-star hotel is located only 200m from Syntagma Square and 600m from the Acropolis. The price for a spacious and comfortable double room starts at 270€ per night, breakfast included. What I loved: the ideal location, the view of The Acropolis from the rooftop, the amazing restaurant, the pool. The best choice for a luxury stay in Athens!
Where to eat in Athens
- Tzitzikas kai Mermigas (literally The Ant and the Grasshopper): Don’t worry about the name, you’ll taste delicious Greek specialities here! They have 4 restaurants in Athens and the most central is located in Syntagma. In a cosy atmosphere, you will taste the classics of Greek cuisine. Don’t be afraid to share your dishes because the portions are very generous!
- BlueFish Athens: Located next to the Roman Agora, this restaurant offers fish and seafood based dishes. You’ll love the food here: the cuisine is a perfect mix of traditions, modernity and inventiveness! The place and the service are also very pleasant.
- Liondi Traditional Greek Restaurant: The restaurant is located in front of the Acropolis Museum. Some others restaurants in the same place might be tourist traps, but not the Liondi. You’ll enjoy its typical, tasty and generous cuisine. And if you’re really hungry, choose a meze tasting formula!
Tourist map of Athens
I have created for you a tourist map of Athens and Greece, listing all the must see attractions and points of interest I have talked about in this article. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a little arrow on it.
And you, what do you plan to visit during your stay in Athens?
Greece travel guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet Greece guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the DK Eyewitness Greece guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk