Why Everyone Should Visit Athens at least Once in their Lifetime
Take a journey throughout time and discover the city of Athens, Greece where democracy first blossomed in ancient Greece. From Plato to Socrates, from Pericles to Euripides-Athens is the fountainhead for many unique minds that have shaped our modern civilization.
Having witnessed more than 3,400 years of recorded history, this 11th-millennium B.C.-inhabited metropolis still stands tall today beneath its iconic Parthenon monument – an encapsulation of marvelous historic remnants amidst contemporary infrastructure and facilities providing endless possibilities.
What Makes Athens Special?
With a Mediterranean climate and beloved Greek sunlight, Athens offers the perfect blend of historical moments and modern marvels. From awe-inspiring cultural sites to natural wonders, this city has something for everyone.
First-class hotels await you with cutting-edge metro transportation options to get around town quickly. You won’t want to miss out on the energetic vibe that comes alive day and night – there’s shopping galore as well as an array of dining spots plus lively nightlife experiences.
As you traverse along Dionysou Areopaghitou Street on the south side of the Acropolis, don’t forget to marvel at the ancient Theatre of Dionysos (5th c. B.C.). This theatre was where Sophocles’, Euripides’, Aeschylos’, and Aristophanes’ works were brought to life.
Up next, you will encounter the remnants of Asklepieion (5th c. B.C.) and Stoa of Eumenes (2nd c. B.C.), followed by Herodes Atticus’ Odeion constructed in 161 A.D., which is now host to the annual Athens Festival showings.
Climb up to the ancient limestone rock of Acropolis, home to some of the world’s most prized architectural and artistic masterpieces, including the iconic Parthenon temple.
Just 300m away from the iconic Acropolis sits the awe-inspiring Acropolis Museum. Constructed out of glass, steel, and concrete, this one-of-a-kind museum is home to nearly 4000 artifacts that give visitors insight into its past as a religious hub for the ancient city.
After descending from the Acropolis, you reach an ancient law court of global significance: The Areios Pagos. Opposite it is Philopappou Hill—astoundingly picturesque cobblestone roads culminating in a Roman monument at its peak. Not far away lies Pnyx, the city’s public assembly where Athenian citizens exercised their democratic rights during antiquity.
If you keep walking along the pedestrian avenue, you will eventually reach the Ancient Agora. This used to be where ancient Athenian citizens came to conduct business and worship their gods. A visit here is your chance to understand how democracy worked during the classical period of ancient Athens as well as see a beautiful temple dedicated to Hephaestus.
Next, take Ermou Street to the ancient city’s largest cemetery – Kerameikos – and marvel at its monumental tomb sculptures and stelae. Then wander through the Iridanos River — a holy river in antiquity — that runs right alongside it.
In this list, you will find the top 18 places to visit in Athens, Greece. From much-visited tourist attractions to lesser-known gems, you’ll discover fun day trips, neighborhoods, landmarks, sights, and more.
1. Acropolis Museum
A trip to the Acropolis is incomplete without a visit to the Acropolis museum at its foot. With many artifacts and archaeological records of its structures and temples, this museum offers an in-depth look into Athens’ rich history.
But that’s not all – you can also observe several sculptures of the Parthenon up close. Plus, with ample information about ancient Greece available here, you’ll have a better understanding of what makes this place so special.
2. Ancient Agora
Centered around the Acropolis lies the Ancient Agora, which was once at the heart of Athens, Greece. Here you will find numerous important buildings, shops, and markets, along with government establishments that served as a hub for people to gather in ages past.
The Temple of Hephaistos is also located here and has maintained its integrity much better than many other ruins nearby. Used for a time as a church, this temple contains images and inscriptions worthy of admiring too.
3. The route along 5 archaeological sites
In addition to the iconic Acropolis and Ancient Agora, Athens Greece offers five other archaeological landmarks that are just as spectacular.
Begin your journey at the Roman Agora, where you can explore the Tower of Winds before heading over to Hadrian’s Library – once a meeting place in antiquity.
Subsequently, marvel at Olympieion, an expansive temple dedicated to Zeus, which was one of Athens’ largest structures. Lastly, venture towards Kerameikos – an ancient town with a renowned cemetery known for its numerous archaeological discoveries today.
4. Athens sightseeing by bike
On your journey to Athens, Greece, you naturally want to take in as many of the city’s sights and attractions as possible. The ideal way to do so is by bicycle. You can plan a cycling route on your own or, even better, join one of the available tours.
In just half a day’s time, you’ll get an up-close look at all the major landmarks accompanied by captivating stories from an experienced guide.
5. National Garden of Athens
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Athens’ National Garden (Zappeion Park), conveniently located near the parliament building and various museums. Explore ancient objects and ruins, stroll through picturesque wooded areas, or simply relax amidst lush greenery away from the hustle of city life.
6. Nightlife in the districts of Gázi or Psyri
If you’re looking for a lively night out, the Gázi district is where it’s at. During the day, this area may seem quite plain and uninspiring, but as soon as the sun sets, its vibrant personality shines through.
For an alternative experience, Psyri (Psirri) should be top of your list, offering plenty of unique shops and street art to explore during daylight hours – not forgetting that cozy atmosphere many come here seeking.
7. Central Market
Located close to Monastiráki, the Varvakeios market halls is an astounding bustling bazaar where you can buy various items ranging from vegetables and meat to wine and unique Greek specialties.
It’s also a great place for discovering food from other cultures! Whether or not you’re in search of something specific, this marketplace provides an exciting experience that will surely be worth your time.
8. Philopappos hill.
Boasting a spectacular view of the Acropolis, Philopappos Hill is just 147 meters high and often less crowded than its more popular counterparts.
With an easy climb up to this hilltop destination, you can also marvel at the impressive Philopappos Monument as well as Socrates’ Prison – where the great philosopher was once held before being convicted.
9. Visit a Greek Orthodox Church
Formed by three distinctive architects soaring from the 19th century, the Great Metropolis Cathedral is the largest Greek Orthodox church in Greece’ capital city.
It serves as a gathering spot for many local Greeks who practice Orthodoxy and continues to be utilized today. Another iconic house of worship that stands out is Kapnikaréa (photo). Situated in central Athens, it holds the impressive title of being one of the oldest churches in the Greek capital city.
If you’re ever in Athens, Greece, a visit to the Plaka district is an absolute must. Not only is it one of the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods, with terraces and souvenir shops that abound – but there’s also a distinct aura of authenticity despite its obvious tourist appeal.
There are ancient monuments galore ready for exploration, as well as tiny streets begging to be ambled down so that you can take in all the vibrant sights, sounds, and smells around you. You’ll rarely see Plaka without some kind of activity going on.
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life by visiting the Anafiótika district, close to Plaka. This charming area contains numerous white cottages that make it appear as if you’ve been transported to a Greek island.
Tourists here are few compared with those in Plaka, which adds an extra element of tranquility for visitors looking for some peace and quiet. For photography enthusiasts, there is also a viewpoint from where stunning photos can be taken.
12. Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium is a renowned venue that has stood as an iconic symbol of the Olympic Games since 1896. Boasting 80,000 seats, this stadium hosted the first modern Olympics and continues to be used for various sporting ceremonies throughout its long history.
Nowadays, it serves primarily as a landmark where visitors can come to learn more about the impressive legacy of these celebrated games.
Nestled in the hustle and bustle of the Monastiráki district lies an oasis conveniently located at its center: Monastiráki Square. Not only does this square offer a calming atmosphere for you to relax with a snack or drink but it is also surrounded by Ermou street – one of Athens’ renowned shopping avenues.
Furthermore, every Sunday, there is an added bonus – flea markets are set up all over the square so that visitors can take part in some retail therapy.
14. National Archaeological Museum
When visiting Athens, Greece, the National Archaeological Museum is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive and impressive collections in Greece. The museum has a wide range of Greek art, as well as some rare pieces such as the mechanism of Antikythera and the mask of Agamemnon.
No other archaeological museum can compare to this place – if you have time for only one visit during your stay in Athens, ensure it’s here! Further information about the ‘National Archaeological Museum’ is available online.
15. View from Lykavittos
To take in the stunning views of Athens, Greece, be sure to visit Lykavittos Hill. At an impressive 277 meters tall, it is a must-see for any visitor. You may choose to ascend the hill on foot or experience its beauty with a funicular ride.
Once atop this majestic peak, you can explore all that it has to offer – from chapels and open-air theaters right through to luxurious restaurants.
16. Syntagma Square
Located in the bustling heart of Athens, Syntagma Square is a hub for locals and tourists alike. Here you can find Parliament House and the legendary Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, encircled by stoic guards who ceremoniously switch out every hour.
On Sundays, there’s an even more elaborate display with their Changing of the Guard ritual. If that weren’t enough to capture your imagination, hop on down into its metro station – said to be one of the most beautiful spots in all of Athens.
Nestled within Athens, Piraeus is one of the most renowned passenger harbors in Europe. Take a stroll around and admire the numerous ferries transporting passengers onto nearby islands or make your way to an exclusive marina where you can observe stunning yachts!
If that isn’t enough, there are two museums with captivating exhibits dedicated to this port city’s history. Lastly, don’t forget about grabbing a refreshing drink at a terrace bar – experience all that Piraeus has to offer today!
18. More Museums in Athens
Visit the National Archaeological Museum or Benaki Museum if you want an encompassing view of traditional Greek artwork.
Alternatively, delve into specific subjects such as Byzantine art at the specialized museum dedicated to it or marvel at antique cars on display at the Hellenic Motor museum – whatever your preference! This article will provide insight into 12x Museums located throughout Athens.
Districts of Athens city
With its various neighborhoods, Athens city is like a kaleidoscope of cultures and atmospheres. Every district has something unique to offer; Pláka, for example, bustles with energy and friendly vibes, while the idyllic Anafiótika teems with locals who reside among its quaint streets.
Exploring this magnificent metropolis will make it feel as if you’ve stepped into an entirely different world! Experience the heart of Athens in Monastiráki, where you can explore historical monuments, stroll through Ermeu’s shopping street, and indulge in a variety of eateries.
As night falls upon the city, make your way to Psirri for an eclectic art scene or Gázi for its bustling nightlife.
Transport in Athens Greece
Home to Athens International Airport, the bustling metropolis is just moments away from its city center. Depending on your destination within this expansive urban area, traveling can be arduous due to the hilly terrain. However, there’s no shortage of transportation options at hand.
Choose between public transit like the metro or tram system – or opt for convenience with taxis and buses that are available around town. With these methods of transport readily accessible in Athens, Greece, you’ll arrive at your desired location quickly and safely.
Not to mention, public transport is a great value for your money. You can purchase either a single ticket or an all-access pass that will provide you with unlimited use of the metro and bus systems in Athens.
This is perfect if you wish to explore as much of the city as possible during your stay – many popular attractions are conveniently located near Metro and bus stations!
Best time to visit Athens
The best months for your visit in Athens, Greece, are March, April, May, September, and October. All offer a refreshing summer climate that’s not too hot while still being comfortably warm.
During these months, it will be peak season with lots of activity. If you want to avoid large crowds, try visiting at the start or end of this high period.
Traveling to 🇬🇷 Greece soon?
I recommend these travel resources for Greece that I personally use:
🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and Booking.com consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Greece. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Greece, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.
🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.
🚙 Airport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer from the airport and beetween destinations with Welcome Pickups. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.
🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Greece, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Greece. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.
📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.
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