Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by gregor
Are you planning a trip to Greece and wondering what to do in Athens, the capital of Greece? Look no further! As a travel blogger who has explored the city extensively, I’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Athens. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in Greek cuisine, Athens has something for everyone.
Why Visit Athens?
Athens, the capital of Greece, is a city that is steeped in history and culture.
It is home to some of the most iconic landmarks, including the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Athens is a bustling city with lively nightlife, excellent food, and friendly locals.
Where is Athens?
Athens is located in the southern part of Greece, on the mainland. It is situated in the Attica region, bordered by the Aegean Sea to the east and the Saronic Gulf to the south and west.
When is the Best Time to Visit Athens?
The best time to visit Athens is during the spring and autumn months, from March to May and September to November. The weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller. If you’re looking for a beach vacation, then the summer months of June to August are perfect. However, be prepared for hot temperatures and crowded attractions.
Plan your Trip to Athens?
How to Get to Athens?
Athens is well-connected by air, with the Athens International Airport (ATH) being the primary airport. It is located 20 kilometers from the city center, and you can reach it by bus, metro, or taxi. If you’re traveling by train or bus, Athens has excellent connectivity with other parts of Greece.
Please check Omio to search for the Best Travel to Athens, the Capital of Greece
Omio is a platform that brings together more than 1,000 transportation providers offering tickets for trains, buses, flights, and ferries, as well as car rentals and airport transfers. Travelers worldwide can easily explore Europe, the United States, and Canada, while comparing transportation options and finding the right price for their budget.
Best Things to Do in Athens, Greece – Top Activities in Athens
1. Visit the Acropolis + visit the Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Athens. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the iconic Parthenon, the ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Acropolis is an archaeological site that provides visitors with a glimpse into Athens’ rich history and culture. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in ancient Greek civilization.
I always use GetYourGuide to book activities and attractions while traveling through Europe. You can search through over 170 Acropolis attractions on their website here 👇
2. Explore the Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora was the heart of political and cultural life in ancient Athens. It was a marketplace and a meeting place where Athenians gathered to discuss politics and philosophy. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of ancient buildings and temples, such as the Temple of Hephaestus, and learn about the history of ancient Athens.
3. Wander around Plaka
Plaka is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens, located in the shadow of the Acropolis. It is a charming area with narrow streets, traditional Greek tavernas, and souvenir shops. It is the perfect place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere of the city.
4. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is one of the most important museums in the world, and it houses a vast collection of artifacts from ancient Greece. Visitors can see the famous golden mask of Agamemnon, the Antikythera mechanism, and many other fascinating artifacts. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in ancient Greek history and culture.
More information can be found at https://www.namuseum.gr/en/.
5. See the Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square
The Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square is a traditional ceremony that takes place every hour in front of the Greek Parliament building. The guards, known as Evzones, wear traditional Greek uniforms and perform a synchronized dance before being relieved of their duty. It is a unique cultural experience that should not be missed.
6. Climb Mount Lycabettus
Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in Athens, offering visitors a stunning panoramic view of the city. Visitors can either hike to the top or take a cable car. At the top, there is a small chapel and a restaurant where visitors can enjoy the view while having a meal or a drink.
7. Explore the Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum is a museum of art and history located in the center of Athens. It has a vast collection of artifacts and artworks from prehistoric times to the modern era. Visitors can see exhibits on Byzantine and Islamic art, Greek folk art, and contemporary art. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in art and history.
8. Take a Day Trip to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
The Temple of Poseidon is located on the southern tip of the Attica peninsula, about an hour’s drive from Athens. It is a well-preserved ancient temple dedicated to the god of the sea, Poseidon. Visitors can enjoy the stunning views of the Aegean Sea and the sunset over the temple.
9. Visit the Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium is a historic stadium located in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Visitors can explore the stadium, see the marble seats and tracks, and learn about the history of the Olympic Games. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in sports and history.
10. Tour the Parliament Building
The Greek Parliament building is located in Syntagma Square and is open to visitors for guided tours. Visitors can see the impressive architecture of the building, learn about the history of the Greek Parliament, and even watch a session of parliament in action.
11. Go Shopping in Monastiraki
Monastiraki is a lively neighborhood in Athens known for its markets and shops. Visitors can find everything from traditional Greek souvenirs to vintage clothing and antiques. The main market area is the Monastiraki Flea Market, where visitors can haggle with vendors for unique finds.
12. Walk Along the Philopappos Hill
Philopappos Hill is a park located southwest of the Acropolis that offers stunning city views. Visitors can walk along the paths, enjoy a picnic, and explore the ancient monuments and tombs located on the hill. It is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some fresh air. 13. Visit the Byzantine Museum
The Byzantine Museum is a museum dedicated to the Byzantine and Christian art and culture of Greece. Visitors can see exhibits on icons, mosaics, and manuscripts, as well as artifacts from the Byzantine era. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Byzantium.
14. Go on a Food Tour
Athens is known for its delicious food, and going on a food tour is a great way to experience the local cuisine. Visitors can sample traditional Greek dishes like souvlaki, moussaka, and feta cheese, as well as Greek wines and desserts. There are many food tours available, and they are a great way to explore the city’s culinary scene.
More information can be found at https://www.athensfoodwalks.com/.
15. Visit the Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is a museum dedicated to the art and culture of the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea. Visitors can see exhibits on Cycladic art and artifacts from prehistoric times to the Hellenistic era. The museum also has a collection of ancient Greek and Cypriot art.
16. Take a Day Trip to Delphi
Delphi is an archaeological site located about two hours from Athens that was considered the center of the world in ancient times. Visitors can explore the ruins of the ancient city, including the Temple of Apollo and the Theatre, and learn about the history and mythology of ancient Greece.
17. Visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a cultural complex located in the southern suburbs of Athens. It is home to the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, as well as a park and a variety of cultural events and exhibitions. Visitors can explore the architecture and design of the complex, which includes a large outdoor plaza and a cutting-edge energy-efficient building. The park offers opportunities for walking, cycling, and picnicking, while the cultural events and exhibitions showcase the best of contemporary Greek and international arts and culture.
18. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world. Visitors can see exhibits on ancient Greek art and culture, including sculptures, pottery, and jewelry. The museum also has a collection of artifacts from the Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations.
19. Take a Walk in Anafiotika
Anafiotika is a picturesque neighborhood located on the slopes of the Acropolis. Visitors can wander through the narrow streets and alleyways, admire the traditional Cycladic architecture, and enjoy the views of the city. It is a great place to escape the crowds and experience a more authentic side of Athens.
20. Visit the Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora was the heart of ancient Athens and the center of political, commercial, and social life. Visitors can explore the ruins of the ancient city, including the Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaestus, and learn about the history and daily life of ancient Greeks.
21. Attend a Concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a historic amphitheater located on the slopes of the Acropolis. Visitors can attend concerts and performances under the stars in one of the most beautiful and iconic venues in the world. The theater has hosted many famous artists and musicians over the years, including Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti.
22. Explore the National Garden
The National Garden is a beautiful park located in the center of Athens that offers a peaceful oasis in the midst of the city. Visitors can walk along the paths, enjoy the lush vegetation and colorful flowers, and visit the small zoo and botanical museum. It is a great place to relax and escape the heat of the city.
23. Visit the Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum is a museum dedicated to Greek art and culture, with exhibits on ancient, Byzantine, and modern Greek art. Visitors can see artifacts and artworks from all periods of Greek history, including furniture, textiles, and jewelry. The museum also has a collection of Islamic art and artifacts from the Far East.
24. Go on a Street Art Tour
Athens has a vibrant street art scene, with many colorful and striking murals and graffiti adorning the city’s walls. Visitors can go on a guided tour of the city’s street art scene and learn about the artists and their works. The tour includes visits to some of the most impressive and interesting street art sites in Athens.
25. Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is an ancient temple located in the center of Athens. It was built in the 6th century BC and dedicated to the king of the gods, Zeus. Visitors can see the impressive remains of the temple, which include 16 columns, each standing 17 meters high. The temple took more than 600 years to complete and was considered one of the largest and most magnificent temples in the ancient world. The site also offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the Acropolis and the city of Athens.
26. Take a Day Trip to Cape Sounion
Cape Sounion is a promontory located about 70 km southeast of Athens. It is known for its spectacular sunset views and the Temple of Poseidon, a well-preserved ancient Greek temple dedicated to the god of the sea. Visitors can enjoy the views, explore the temple ruins, and learn about the history and mythology of ancient Greece.
27. Explore the Kerameikos Cemetery
The Kerameikos Cemetery was the main burial ground for ancient Athens and is now an archaeological site and museum. Visitors can see the impressive tombs and burial monuments, learn about ancient Greek burial customs, and explore the archaeological remains of the city’s ancient walls and gates.
28. Visit the Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is a museum dedicated to the art and culture of the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea. Visitors can see exhibits on ancient Cycladic art, including sculptures, pottery, and jewelry, as well as modern and contemporary art inspired by the Cycladic tradition. The museum also has a collection of artifacts from ancient Greece and the ancient Near East.
29. Take a Food Tour
Athens is known for its delicious and varied cuisine, and a food tour is a great way to sample the city’s culinary delights. Visitors can try traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and tzatziki, as well as street food and pastries. The tour also includes visits to local markets and shops to learn about the ingredients and techniques used in Greek cooking. 30. Go Shopping in Monastiraki
Monastiraki is a vibrant neighborhood located in the heart of Athens that is known for its street markets and shops. Visitors can wander through the flea market and the antique shops, browse for souvenirs and handmade crafts, and sample local street food. It is a great place to experience the energy and vitality of Athens and to find unique and interesting gifts to bring back home.
More information can be found at https://www.discovergreece.com/en/mainland/attica/monastiraki.
31. Visit the Byzantine and Christian Museum
The Byzantine and Christian Museum is a museum dedicated to the art and history of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods in Greece. Visitors can see exhibits on the development of Byzantine art and architecture, as well as the influence of Christianity on the culture and society of Greece. The museum also has a collection of rare manuscripts, icons, and textiles from the Byzantine era. More information can be found at https://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/.
32. Watch a Movie at an Open-Air Cinema
Athens has a tradition of open-air cinemas, which offer a unique and atmospheric way to watch movies. Visitors can choose from a variety of open-air cinemas located throughout the city, each with its own character and charm. Many show classic movies or films with a Greek theme, and some offer food and drinks as well.
33. Take a Day Trip to Delphi
Delphi is an ancient site located about 180 km northwest of Athens. It was considered the center of the ancient world and was home to the famous oracle of Apollo. Visitors can see the ruins of the ancient city, including the Temple of Apollo, the theater, and the stadium. The site also offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
34. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important in the world. Visitors can see exhibits on the art and culture of ancient Greece, including sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and artifacts from the Mycenaean era to the Roman period. The museum also has a collection of Egyptian artifacts and a library dedicated to archaeology and art history.
More information can be found at https://www.namuseum.gr/en/.
35. Attend a Performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an ancient amphitheater located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. It was built in the 2nd century AD and is now used for concerts and performances. Visitors can attend a performance of music, dance, or theater in this historic venue, surrounded by the beauty and grandeur of ancient Athens.
What are the Top Attractions in Athens? Top Tourist Attractions
- The Acropolis and the Parthenon
- The Acropolis Museum
- The National Archaeological Museum
- The Changing of the Guard
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus
- The Ancient Agora
- The Benaki Museum
What are the Best Athens Tours?
Athens has a wide range of tours, catering to different interests and budgets. Here are some of the best tours you can take in Athens:
- Athens Walking Tour This tour takes you through the historic center of Athens, including the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora.
- Food Tasting Tour Experience the flavors of Greece on a food-tasting tour. You’ll get to sample traditional dishes, like souvlaki, moussaka, and feta cheese.
- Day Trip to Cape Sounion Cape Sounion is a beautiful coastal area, located about an hour’s drive from Athens. The tour includes a visit to the Temple of Poseidon, which sits on a hill overlooking the sea.
- Sunset Bike Tour Explore Athens on two wheels during the evening hours. This tour takes you through the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods and includes a stop for a stunning sunset view.
- Athens Segway Tour If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to see Athens, consider taking a Segway tour. You’ll glide through the city’s historic streets and landmarks.
I always use GetYourGuide to book activities and attractions while traveling through Europe. You can search through over 700 Athens attractions on their website here 👇
What are the Best Day Trips from Athens?
If you have more time in Athens, consider taking a day trip to one of the nearby destinations. Here are some of the best day trips you can take:
- Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit for history buffs. The site was once considered the center of the world in ancient Greece and is home to the Temple of Apollo.
- Hydra Island Hydra Island is a beautiful and picturesque island, located a short ferry ride from Athens. The island has no cars, and the only mode of transportation is by foot, donkey, or boat.
- Meteora Meteora is a stunning complex of monasteries, perched on top of towering rock formations. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers.
- Nafplio Nafplio is a charming town, located about two hours’ drive from Athens. The town is famous for its beautiful beaches, historical sites, and scenic views.
I always use GetYourGuide to book activities and attractions while traveling through Europe. You can search through over 200 BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ATHENS attractions on their website here 👇
What are the Most Popular Things to Do in Athens with Kids?
Athens is a family-friendly destination, with plenty of activities that will keep kids entertained. Here are some of the most popular things to do in Athens with kids:
- Visit the Athens Planetarium The Athens Planetarium is a fun and educational experience for kids of all ages. The planetarium features 3D shows and interactive exhibits.
- Athens Zoo The Athens Zoo is a great place to take kids who love animals. The zoo has over 2000 animals, including lions, tigers, and elephants.
- Attica Zoological Park The Attica Zoological Park is a larger zoo, located outside Athens. It has over 2000 animals, including rare species like white tigers and Siberian bears.
- Play at a Beach Athens has some beautiful beaches, perfect for a day of sun and sand. Some of the best beaches for families include Vouliagmeni Beach, Glyfada Beach, and Astir Beach.
What Can You Do in Athens for Free?
Athens has plenty of free activities, which are perfect for budget travelers. Here are some of the best things you can do in Athens for free:
- Visit the Ancient Agora The Ancient Agora is a beautiful open-air museum, which is free to enter on certain days of the week.
- Hike up Lycabettus Hill Lycabettus Hill is a beautiful viewpoint, which offers panoramic views of the city. The hike to the top is free
- Explore the National Garden The National Garden is a beautiful green oasis, located in the heart of Athens. It’s free to enter and a great place to take a leisurely stroll.
- Visit the Panathenaic Stadium The Panathenaic Stadium is the site of the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896. You can visit the stadium and explore its history for free.
- Take a Free Walking Tour Several companies offer free walking tours of Athens, led by local guides. These tours are a great way to explore the city’s history and culture.
What are the Best Athens Sightseeing Tours?
If you’re looking for a comprehensive tour of Athens, there are several sightseeing tours to choose from. Here are some of the best Athens sightseeing tours:
- Athens City Sightseeing Tour This tour takes you to all of Athens’ major landmarks and attractions, including the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Zeus.
- Athens Night Tour Explore Athens after dark, this tour takes you to some of the city’s most beautiful monuments and landmarks, all illuminated at night.
- Athens by Night and Dinner Show This tour includes a dinner show featuring traditional Greek music and dancing, as well as a tour of Athens at night.
- Athens Hop-On Hop-Off Tour If you prefer a more flexible itinerary, the Athens Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is a great option. You can explore the city at your own pace, hopping on and off the bus at any of the designated stops.
I always use GetYourGuide to book activities and attractions while traveling through Europe. You can search through over 700 Athens attractions on their website here 👇
Is Athens Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Athens is a city rich in history, culture, and charm. From its ancient landmarks to its modern-day attractions, Athens has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a beautiful destination to explore, Athens is definitely worth a visit.
What is Athens Famous For?
Athens is most famous for its ancient landmarks, including the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Zeus. However, Athens is also known for its vibrant food scene, lively nightlife, and beautiful beaches.
How Do You Spend a Day in Athens?
If you only have one day in Athens, here’s a sample itinerary:
- Visit the Acropolis and the Parthenon
- Explore the Ancient Agora
- Take a stroll through the Plaka neighborhood
- Visit the National Archaeological Museum
- Enjoy a traditional Greek dinner in one of the city’s many restaurants
- Take a sunset walk up Lycabettus Hill for a panoramic view of the city
How Many Days in Athens is Enough?
To truly experience all that Athens has to offer, we recommend spending at least three to four days in the city. This will give you enough time to visit all the major landmarks, explore the neighborhoods, and even take a day trip to a nearby destination.
What are the Best Places for Shopping in Athens?
Athens has a wide range of shopping options, from high-end designer boutiques to local markets. Here are some of the best places for shopping in Athens:
- Ermou Street Ermou Street is Athens’ premier shopping destination, with a range of shops and boutiques catering to all budgets.
- Monastiraki Flea Market The Monastiraki Flea Market is a must-visit for bargain hunters and souvenir shoppers. You’ll find everything from antiques to local crafts here.
- Plaka The Plaka neighborhood is home to a range of shops selling traditional Greek souvenirs, including ceramics, jewelry, and textiles.
What to Eat in Athens?
Greek cuisine is world-renowned for its fresh ingredients and bold flavors. Some must-try dishes when in Athens include:
- Souvlaki Souvlaki is a popular Greek dish made with grilled meat (usually chicken or pork), wrapped in a pita bread and served with tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce.
- Moussaka is a classic Greek dish made with layers of eggplant, ground beef, and potatoes, topped with a creamy bechamel sauce.
- Feta cheese Feta cheese is a staple of Greek cuisine and is often served in salads, on top of grilled meats, or as a standalone dish.
- Spanakopita Spanakopita is a savory pastry made with spinach, feta cheese, and phyllo dough.
- Greek Salad A Greek salad typically consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, feta cheese, and olives, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
Is Athens Better than Vienna?
Both Athens and Vienna have their own unique charm and appeal. Athens is known for its ancient landmarks, vibrant food scene, and beautiful beaches, while Vienna is famous for its rich history, classical music, and stunning architecture. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and interests.
Is Athens a Walkable City?
Athens can be a walkable city, depending on where you’re staying and what you want to see. The city center, including the Acropolis and the Plaka neighborhood, is relatively compact and easy to explore on foot. However, if you want to visit some of the more outlying areas or take a day trip, you may want to consider public transportation or a guided tour.
Getting Around Athens
Athens has a comprehensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and the metro. You can purchase tickets at kiosks or vending machines located at most metro stations. Taxis are also readily available, but be sure to agree on a fare before getting in the cab.
Where to Stay in Athens?
There are several neighborhoods in Athens that are popular with tourists, including:
- Plaka Plaka is one of Athens’ oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods, with narrow streets, neoclassical buildings, and a lively atmosphere.
- Koukaki Koukaki is a trendy neighborhood located just south of the Acropolis, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes.
- Monastiraki Monastiraki is a vibrant neighborhood known for its flea market and historic landmarks, including the Ancient Agora.
Tips for Planning a Trip to Athens
- Book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist season.
- Consider purchasing a City Pass or other attraction tickets in advance to skip the lines and save money.
- Dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes, as there is a lot of walking involved in exploring Athens.
- Try to avoid visiting Athens during the height of summer, as temperatures can be extremely hot and crowded.
- Respect local customs and traditions, especially when visiting religious sites.
- Be prepared for some language barriers, as not everyone in Athens speaks English fluently.
- Consider taking a day trip to a nearby destination, such as the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion or the island of Aegina.
- Don’t forget to sample some of the local cuisines and enjoy a traditional Greek meal with a glass of ouzo or retsina.
Best Events in Athens
Athens hosts several annual events and festivals throughout the year, including:
- Athens Marathon (November)
- Athens Epidaurus Festival (June-September)
- Athens Fashion Week (March)
- Athens Pride (June)
- Athens International Film Festival (September)
Additional Tips for Visiting Athens
- Be mindful of pickpockets and keep your valuables secure, especially in crowded areas.
- Respect the local customs and dress appropriately when visiting religious sites such as the Acropolis and monasteries.
- Consider visiting the Acropolis early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and the heat of the day.
- Take a stroll through the National Garden, a peaceful oasis in the heart of Athens with beautiful plants, trees, and fountains.
- Explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Psiri and Gazi, known for their nightlife and contemporary art galleries.
- Visit the National Archaeological Museum, one of the most important museums in the world, to see a vast collection of ancient Greek artifacts and treasures.
- Take a day trip to the nearby island of Hydra, known for its stunning architecture, clear waters, and relaxed atmosphere.
Athens is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in history, culture, food, or just want to soak up the Mediterranean sun, Athens is a destination that should be on your travel bucket list. From the ancient landmarks of the Acropolis and the Parthenon to the trendy neighborhoods of Koukaki and Gazi, Athens is a city that offers a unique blend of the old and the new. By following these tips and recommendations, you can make the most of your visit to Athens and create memories that will last a lifetime.