20 Top Things do in Athens Greece

To Acropolis

Athens, Greece is usually not one of those places I here that most people want to go to. But it is a place you must visit. It is serene and beautiful, a modern city that holds so much history.

You can visit Athen during winter when the crowds have reduced, yet it’s not too cold to walk around. It provides the best break from otherwise cold cities in Europe. There are many things to do in Athens but here are the 25 top things to do.

1. The Acropolis

Of course, this is number one. Acropolis is a magnificent hill situated at the centre of Athens providing a beautiful site. It houses many ancient sites, the most popular being the Parthenon. In ancient Greece, this was one of the places where civilisation grew. With philosophers discussing all matters and beyond. It has multiple sites such as Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Erechtheum, The temple old of Athena Nike, and Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus.

Parthenon (Temple dedicated Athena to replace the old temple)
Erechtheum (temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon)
The Old Temple of Athena Nike
Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Built by Herodes for his wife, Yiiiish!! )
Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus

There are many boards all over along with guides obtained at the gate to tell you what is what but the best recommendation is to use an audio guide from your phone or pay for a tour guide. The history is fascinating and it adds to the visit.

2. Acropolis Museum

Acropolis Museum is right next to the Acropolis and can be visited the same day. It houses most of the artifacts found on the Acropolis and other neighbouring slopes.

The Acropolis Museum

The museum is a popular tourist spot so expect huge queues, so visit early or get advance tickets.

Inside the Acropolis Museum

3. National Archeological Museum

This museum is the dream place for every historian. It is a massive site that holds about 11000 of the finest Greek antiquities. You will need at least half a day in order to appreciate it but even then you won’t have covered everything. Give it a full day or two if you really want the full experience.

Exhibitions at the National Archeological Museum

4. Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaestus

Agora basically means a public space and it was mainly used as a place for commercial, assembly, or residential gathering. It has many ancient sites but the one that stands out the most is the Temple of Hephaestus.

The Temple of Hephaestus

The agora also has the Stoa of Attalos that houses the museum of ancient agora where more artifacts can be found.

A view of the Ancient Agora Museum and the Acropolis

There are many more ruins and sites to see inside the Ancient Agora and they are best enjoyed with the aid of an audio guide as well as following the map they provide and trying to identify each site from the map.

Challenge yourself and identify each point from the map (I dare you!!)

5. Changing of the guards at Syntagma Square

Syntagma square offers many sights to behold such as the Hellenic Parliament Building, the tomb of the fallen soldier and the square itself, but the best thing to watch here is the change of guards ceremony performed by the Evzone Solders. The changing of the guard happens at every top of the hour but the best show is on Sunday at 11 AM. Trust me you definitely wanna watch this one. You can also catch the solders marching outside the presidential palace.

An Evzone Soldier marching outside the palace
The Hellenic Parliament Building
Sunday 11 AM Changing of the Guard ceremony (Yes, it gets really crowded)

6. Plaka

Plaka is the neighbourhood in Athens that is located between Acropolis and Syntagma square. The side near Syntagma square has the modern touch while towards the Acropolis you experience the old town feeling. The streets are beautiful and photogenic. Just walk around, or shop. You’ll find everything from modern clothing brands to souvenirs.

Overlooking the Acropolis from Plaka
Breathtaking streets in Plaka

7. Panathenaic Stadium

Where do you think the word marathon came from? Well, you are most probably wrong. I know I was. This stadium marks the endpoint of the first-ever marathon, exactly 42kms from where the first man started running, the town of Marathona. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics and was used in 2004 during the Olympics.

Outside the Panathenaic Stadium

8. Hadrian’s Arch

Hadrian was a Roman Emperor with a big ego and a narc for spending money on architectural projects instead of feeding his people. Or so it goes. Regardless, we modern humans get to enjoy beautiful sites as a result. The arch, commonly known as Hadrian’s gate was commissioned to show the success of the Roman empire under Hadrian’s rule.

The Arch of Hadrian

9. Temple of Olympian Zeus

This was a temple dedicated to the head of Olympian gods, Zeus. It is right next to Hadrian’s arch. The remains today are a very small percentage of what it once was. It was the largest temple in Greece with 104 columns, but only 15 remain today. During construction, it was abandoned multiple times due to lack of funds but one egomaniac with a love for architecture and no regards to spending money finished it. Yes, it was Hadrian. Who else?

The once almighty temple of Olympian Zeus holding onto its last columns (Hadrian must be rolling in his tomb)

10. National Gardens

It’s not often that you find a beautiful expansive garden filled with beautiful trees in the middle of a city. This 38 acres piece of land provides a place to stroll around and escape the busy city life for a moment.

Take a moment to stroll around the expansive National Garden

11. Zappeion and Garden

The Zappeion is one of the most modern sites in Athens. It is mainly used for ceremonies, both private and public. A beautiful garden stems from the square and it also neighbours the National Garden. It was named after its benefactor Evangelis Zappas who died before its completion. If your pocket is plentiful, you can book the space for a private ceremony. It is said that an Indian couple paid 1.5 million Euros to use the Zappeion for their wedding for 5 days. Ulala!!!

The Zappeion
Garden at the Zappeion

12. Square Mitropoleos

This square holds the National Cathedral and a small Byzantine church known as St Freedom. The Cathedral looks good on the outside and even more on the inside. You can walk inside to see the painted interior and or say a prayer if that’s your thing. The square is large enough and it is a good spot to meet up with people. Just opposite the square, there are some restaurants with outdoor sitting where you can sit, relax and order something.

The National Cathedral
Cathedral Interior
The Byzantine Church

13. Roman Agora

The Roman Agora was another market place and assembly area built during the reign of Julius Ceasar. It was built after the ancient Agora. It also houses the Tower of the Winds is believed to be the world’s first meteorological centre, it’s an octagonal monument, featuring a sundial, water clock, and wind vane.

The Roman Agora
At the far side of the Roman Agora is the Octagonal Tower of Wind.

14. Hadrian’s Library

Close to the Roman Agora is the ancient library built by Hadrian. It contained rolls of papyrus books. It also had reading rooms and lecture halls. Hadrian had to have it all.

Aerial view of Hadrian’s Library

15. Watch the Sunset at a rooftop restaurant

After a full day of marvelling at the ruins of Great Athens, find your way to one of the rooftop bars for a glass/cup of your poison. Cocktails are preferred, or have a beer. The rooftop cafes offer great views for the city, the Acropolis and the Monastiraki square. The sunset view is breathtaking. Just know that the cafes are packed at this time of day. if you don’t have a seat, just steal a moment to take pictures and be on your way.

A beautiful view of Acropolis at sunset
Have a cocktail/beer as you wait to take those sunset pics
Perfect Sunset Views

16. Have a night stroll

After your cocktail at the rooftop, take a stroll through Plaka as you head back to your hotel. Take a stroll even if you didn’t go to the rooftop, trust me, it will be worth it. The streets in Plaka are safe to walk around, they are well lit and very beautiful.

Stroll at the foot of the Acropolis
Beautiful Plaka at night

17. Taste the local dishes

Of course, you cannot go to Athens and not try their local dishes. There are many restaurants around Plaka where you can sit and have a local dish while watching your surroundings. Make sure you try at least two dishes, I would recommend the mousaka and Pasticho. And definitely take a shot of their national booze, Ouzo. I had the Mousaka and Ouzo from Atitamos, it came highly recommended and I was not disappointed.

Mousaka (It was yum yum, though I have nothing to compare against)
A shot of Ouzo, ’cause why not?

18. Mt Lycabettus

The peak of this mountain provides the best view of Athens. Walk there or take a cab to the top. During sunset and sunlight, the views are even better. It’s probably the one place in Athens that’s less photographed because everyone is busy taking pictures of the view, not the mt itself.

A view of Athens from the hill

19. Check out the Subway and street art

During construction of the Athens Metro, they found many artifacts which are usually stored in the metro stations. Just get off at the various stops and Marvel at the art. The streets, especially in Plaka are also adorned with beautiful art.

Street Art at its finest
Artifacts locked inside the metro stations

20. Monastiraki Square

This is one of the busiest spots in Athens. Its the centre of everything. There is a flea market near there where you can find some cool street art.

The ever-busy Monastiraki Square


Take a walking tour

There are several walking tours provided in Athens. Choose one and follow it. The guides are usually well versed in Greek History and make seeing the site worthwhile.

Get a Metro ticket

The Metro ticket allows you to move about freely. Buy whichever one works for you, get off at stations to view art. Take a bus get lost and find your way back. If the ticket is not an option, don’t worry. Most sites are within walking distance of each other. The 3-day tourist ticket also covers the airport so it is super convenient.

The Athens Metro Ticket.

Make new friends

Make local friends who will invite you to the best scenes in town. Or just chat with and get to know the world from someone else’s point of view.

Go to karaoke

I met the most friendly people at Karaoke, they have English songs and it is just fun.

Final Thoughts

Athens is a beautiful city and it made it to the list of my favourite places to visit in Europe. There are many sites to see and if you only have a short time there, you can make some tradeoffs like not going inside all the ruins but seeing them from the outside during a walk.

It is also important to note that there are many reports of pickpockets, especially in the touristy areas. Do not panic, just take care of belongings and be aware of your surroundings.

If you are travelling solo, do not feel afraid to walk even at night, it’s fairly safe. Exercise the usual caution and as always, follow your gut.

I hope you will have as much fun as I did in Athens, Greece.

Checkout out more things to do at other European destinations.

Facebook Comments

You may also like...