Athens, the capital of Greece, is such an incredible place to visit, with ancient history, amazing monuments, good food, and a great vibe. I believe everyone should visit Athens at least once to see all the wonders the city has to offer.
A fellow blogger, Alice from Adventures of Alice blog decided to share the best things to do in Athens here with us today. Hopefully, this article will help you plan your perfect Athens sightseeing!
Athens is a city that has been around for thousands of years, and it still feels as if you can touch history every time you wander the streets. From the ancient Greek temples to the Acropolis, Athens is full of beautiful places to explore.
It’s also quite a popular tourist destination for travelers all around the world. There are so many things to do in Athens which makes it an ideal place for people who want some culture, history and European excitement on their next trip.
Whether it’s your first time visiting Athens or just another day exploring this amazing city, make sure to add these wonderful Athens attractions to your itinerary.
Table of contents
- 1 Things to do in Athens
- 1.1 Visit the Acropolis
- 1.2 Take a walk around Lycabettus Hill
- 1.3 See the Temple of Hephaestus
- 1.4 Ancient Agora of Athens
- 1.5 Take a trip to Delphi
- 1.6 Panathenaic Stadium
- 1.7 Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
- 1.8 National Archeological Museum
- 1.9 Explore the Neighbourhoods
- 1.10 Try traditional Greek street food
- 2 Travel Resources
Things to do in Athens
Visit the Acropolis
By far one of the best places to visit in Athens, no trip to the city is complete without seeing its star attraction. The Acropolis of Athens sits at the top of a hill and offers stunning views across the city.
The Acropolis is actually a series of temples and monuments. It’s best known for the Parthenon, which was built by the ancient Greeks in honour of the goddess Athena. However, at the top, you can also see the Erechtheion, which is a temple with six Doric columns and it houses the sacred image of Athena Polias.
The Acropolis has five different levels with intricate details carved into each one. Behind the Temple, there’s also an Ornamental Marble Stoa that features many statues of people from ancient Greece. This was a place where you would see important figures like Socrates and Plato in Athens as it was used as a meeting point for philosophers back then.
When planning a trip to the Acropolis, you’ll want to arrive early if you can, otherwise, the queues become quite long.
Tickets cost around €20 (you can also purchase these online to save time), however, when we spent 4 days in Athens, we happened to visit the Acropolis on a public holiday and got in completely free!
Even though it’s a busy and crowded place, it is definitely an Athens must-see. The structure truly is remarkable. From the top, you can see all over Athens and experience remarkable sights like the Temple of Hephaestus, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Take a walk around Lycabettus Hill
For more stunning panoramas, head up to Lycabettus Hill – it’s one of the best activities in Athens. This is a steep hike, and I recommend bringing a bottle of water, but it’s worth it.
There’s some beautiful scenery all the way up and the views from the top are incredible – it’s the highest point in the city! You’ll be able to see all of Athens and its port, out across the ocean and the greenery of the surrounding hills.
The best time to visit this hill is at sunset when you can watch as the sun sets behind Piraeus – or arrive at dawn to view the sun rising over Mount Penteli if you’re into early mornings. At the top of the hill, as well as glorious views, you’ll also find a traditional Greek whitewashed church with blue roof tiles.
See the Temple of Hephaestus
The Temple of Hephaestus is a monument in Athens that is dedicated to the god of iron, fire and blacksmiths. It was constructed by a group of Athenian artists during the Classical Age.
Hephaestus is located on the northwest side of the Acropolis and was built in around the 5th century BC.
This monumental structure combines architectural elements of Doric style on its pediment and Ionic style on its columns and entablature. It consists of six columns supports that feature metopes from stories about gods living on Mount Olympus such as Zeus or Poseidon. While the other two are more recent additions from the Roman era when it was converted to a Christian church.
Ancient Agora of Athens
Another stunning temple, the Ancient Agora of Athens was constructed around 300 BC and served as the commercial, judicial, religious and political center of ancient Athens.
Located just below Acropolis hill, this astonishing site used to be the hub of the city. It was used for trade and public gatherings and is the best surviving example of an ancient Greek agora left in existence.
Today, it has been beautifully restored, and this site attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year who come to admire its well-preserved architecture as well as the many artifacts on display from a bygone era that are still scattered around its ruins.
To get there you can either walk (the distance takes about 20 minutes from Acropolis) or take one of Athens’ buses that will drop you off just outside the entrance gates for (€0.50 per person return ticket).
Take a trip to Delphi
Easily one of the best things to do in Athens is to take a day trip to Delphi. The ancient city of Delphi is one of Athens’s most popular day trips. It’s situated on the slopes of Mount Parnassus and is home to one of the most important oracle temples in ancient Greece.
It’s believed that this site was first inhabited around 1500 BC by people who were best known for their skills as sheep farmers, beekeepers and potters. They soon set up a shrine dedicated to Apollo which acted as an advisory seat where they sought advice from his sister, the goddess Athena. It was at Delphi where Socrates famously asked ‘what is beauty?’ but he wasn’t alone – many others came here with questions about life’s big issues too.
In recent decades archaeological excavations have unearthed items such as tombs, temples, statues and a theatre. It’s easy to understand why Ancient Greeks looked up to Mount Parnassus with awe – it towers majestically above much of the rest of Greece and offers simply stunning views.
One of the only stadiums around the world to be made completely from marble, the Panathenaic Stadium is one of the best things to see in Athens for sports fans as well as those interested in ancient history.
It’s the very first location of the original Olympic games and the first site of the modern games which re-started in 1896.
Built in 330 BC, the stadium was named after the Panathenaic Games which had been held here every four years since at least 338 BC. The stadium is not only used for sporting events but also to host cultural and religious celebrations such as the Athens Festival, one of Europe’s most important arts festivals that runs from May until October.
Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
Athens’ Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples and one of the main Athens tourist attractions. Construction started in the 6th century BC, but the temple wasn’t finished until the 2nd Century AD.
The long construction period resulted in a remarkable and vast temple, that was dedicated to Zeus and served as a temple of Olympic gods. Of course, it is now in ruins, but it’s easy to see how remarkable it once was.
It’s located on Panathinaikos Square near the Acropolis. The Temple of Olympian Zeus was the largest temple in Athens, (except for the Parthenon) and was a place of worship for over 1400 years.
National Archeological Museum
If you’re interested in stunning Greek history (who isn’t?), then make sure to visit Athens’ Archeological Museum. It has an impressive array of artifacts and spans from prehistoric times until 300 AD.
Located on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street near Syntagma Square, the museum contains artifacts from the Mycenaean period to 300 AD. The museum’s collection includes sculptures, burial objects, and pottery as well as gold jewelry from the Archaic period, a collection of coins, and much more.
Explore the Neighbourhoods
You can’t visit Athens and not explore the neighborhoods. Some of the best things to do in Athens is simply to wander the streets of the city, drink in the sights, explore the history, and do window shopping at many of the cute, boutique stores.
One of my favorite neighborhoods for exploring is Plaka. This area is a living museum with restaurants and cafes lining cobblestone streets. It’s also a haven for foodies.
If you’re feeling adventurous or want something different from typical gyros or souvlaki, there are some great Loukoumades places here. Loukoumades are deep-fried dough balls typically topped with honey and walnuts and they are delicious. Perfect for a sweet tooth!
Also, a must-try restaurant in Plaka is Smak, a delicious place selling traditional Greek pizzas.
Besides Plaka, another wonderful neighborhood in Athens is Kolonaki, where you’ll find many of Greece’s best fashion designers. It is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Athens and offers a more upscale shopping experience than Plaka.
Psiri is also a great place to explore – especially if you love to party. Psiri is a bohemian neighborhood with an active nightlife and cafe culture.
Try traditional Greek street food
Can you really go to Greece and not try their street food? It’s a must-try and one of the best things to do in Athens. You’ll find some great places to eat all over Greece, but Psiri and Plaka are especially good spots for sampling traditional Greek treats.
Here you’ll find restaurants selling delicacies like keftedes (meatballs) topped with tzatziki sauce, gyros pitta bread, or souvlaki pita wraps filled with meat seasoned with spices and cooked on skewers.
Whilst on the subject of food, make sure to try some traditional Greek dinners too. When it comes to restaurants, there are plenty of dining options, but many of the touristy ones are overpriced and not particularly traditional. For the real deal, head off the tourist trail and go where the locals go. You’ll be more likely to find locally sourced meals, fresh ingredients, and authentic recipes.
About the author: Alice is the author of the adventure travel and lifestyle blog, Adventures of Alice, featuring destination guides, money-saving tips, foodie guides, and travel advice from around the globe. An ex-culinary whizz turned adventure traveler and a serious lover of bucket lists, she created Adventures of Alice to help others travel for less and inspire people to explore more of the world. You can follow Alice on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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