Athens is not only the capital of Greece, but it also frequently serves as a mediation point for visitors who want to go to the Greek islands or explore the mainland. The long history and rich culture of Athens have made this city an interesting destination in Greece, particularly for its fine archaeological sites.
In brief, it is recommended to stay at least 3 full days in order to visit the most impressive and significant sights, taste the traditional cuisine and shop leisurely.
You will find below our excursion suggestions for 1, 2, or 3 days in Athens Greece. We have compiled a list of the top things to do to help you schedule your vacation itinerary.
One day: Tour around the Acropolis
The best way to explore Athens is by walking. Driving in the city center is not recommended due to the traffic and the limited parking areas. After all, the majority of archaeological places are accessible by metro and city buses.
The most famous ancient site of Athens is certainly the sacred rock of the Acropolis. On this rock, you will see the Parthenon, the jaw-dropping temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Propylaea (Gates), the temple of Erechtheion and the temple of Athena Nike. Constructed in the 5th century BC, at the time of the famous statesman Pericles, this monument stands as a reminder of the ancient Greek culture and remains an architectural masterpiece.
To go to the Acropolis, you have to take the metro to Akropoli Station (one stop after Syntagma on the Red Line). The station is also 15 minutes from Syntagma Square and 20 minutes from Thission Station (Green Line) on foot. On the foothills of the Acropolis, sit the Theatre of Dionysus and the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, where open performances and music concerts are held in summer. The single-use ticket to the Acropolis is priced at 20 EUR, while the combined (including the Ancient Agora, Handrian's Library, Kerameikos, Aristotle's School, Roman Agora and Olympieion) costs 30 EUR. You can buy tickets on-site or book a tour of the Acropolis including entry tickets in advance.
Just opposite the Acropolis lies the New Acropolis Museum. It was inaugurated in June 2009 and hosts findings from excavations in the site of the Acropolis and the surrounding area. Made of glass and illuminated by natural light, this museum has been built on top of excavations, which visitors can see through the glass.
After taking the pedestrian road on the left of the museum, you will pass through beautiful Neoclassical buildings and then reach a crossroad. Take the small path on the left and you will encounter the burial monument of Filopappos, a Roman general, located on a verdant hill which is ideal for relaxation.
Go back to the crossroad and after another 10 minutes on foot, you will reach Thissio, the most elegant neighborhood in the center of Athens with Neoclassical buildings and lovely cafeterias. Make a stop and enjoy your coffee under the shadow of the Acropolis. This is the locals' most frequent coffee spot.
The Ancient Agora, the place where the Athenians used to gather and discuss political issues, starts from Thissio. There, you can see the impressive temple of Hephaestus. Right next to it lies the Roman Agora, used as a marketplace. There, you can see the Stoa of Attalos with the interesting museum and the Library of Hadrian.
If you follow the path from Thissio through the Ancient Agora and the Roman Market, you will arrive in Monastiraki. There, you can wander the souvenir and antique shops of the flea market.
For the evening, we suggest a stroll in Plaka, the most traditional neighborhood of Athens near Monastiraki. Narrow paths, beautiful houses with gardens, small churches, and the neat district of Anafiotika make the architecture of Plaka stand out. There, you can have dinner in one of the delicious Greek taverns.
1st day as described above.
On the second day, you start with a visit to Omonoia. If your hotel is not close to the neighborhood, you can take the metro and stop at Omonoia Station (Red and Green Lines). The square actually doesn't have much to see, as it is surrounded by shopping malls, but the emblematic fountain will impress you. Some street sellers and performers can be seen and this is considered as one of the most declined spots in Athens. The National Archaeological Museum is located within a 10-minute distance from Omonia and its rooms cover the entire history of Greece, from prehistoric to modern times.
From Omonoia, you can follow Panepistimiou Avenue, which leads to Syntagma Square. On your way, you will be able to admire the Academy of Athens and the National Library of Greece, two gorgeous Neoclassical buildings surrounded by statues of ancient gods. On both sides of the avenue, you will see malls, cafes, large shops, and theaters.
Syntagma Square is actually considered the center of Athens. The most dominant building is the Hellenic Parliament, an austere structure that used to be the royal palace in the 19th century. The changing of guards is a unique sight to observe. It takes place right in front of the Parliament every hour.
On the south of Syntagma Square, there is the pedestrian Ermou Street, the most commercial street in Athens. Along Ermou, which ends in Monastiraki, you can see the small Byzantine church of Panagia Kapnikarea. Monastiraki is located at the end of the street.
Right next to the Parliament, there is a relaxing spot that allows you to detach from the noise of the streets. The National Garden was created by the order of Queen Amalia, the wife of King Otto and the first queen of Greece, in the 1830s. Numerous kinds of trees, from common to tropical, can be observed inside the garden. In addition to the plants, rivers with wooden bridges, a small botanical museum, a coffee shop, and a small zoo are also housed within the area.
For the evening, we suggest a tour of the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounio. Tour buses that go all the way to Sounio, the southernmost cape of Attica, depart frequently from the central parts of Athens. Buses pass by many coastal regions, like Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza, and reach the temple in about an hour. The cape is considered one of the most romantic spots in Attica since you get to gaze at gorgeous views of the Aegean Sea.
1st and 2nd day as described above.
The third day is more relaxing. The day should start with a visit to the ancient cemetery of Keramikos. To go there, you can take the metro to Thissio (Green Line) or Monastiraki (Blue Line) and walk for a couple of minutes. After visiting the site, walk to Technopolis Gazi, an old gas factory that has now turned into a cultural center.
The architecture in the yard of Technopolis is really interesting and reminiscent of a filming studio or a factory. Right next to the Technopolis is the square of Kerameikos, a nice place for a morning coffee or a drink at night.
From the Kerameikos Metro Station, you can go to Monastiraki and then follow the Green Line to Piraeus - the biggest port of Greece where most ferries to the Greek islands depart from. Piraeus is a town with ample squares and lovely cafeterias by the sea. In a 20-minute walking distance from the metro station lies Pasalimani, a small harbor with yachts and fishing boats. If you follow the pedestrian path by the sea, you will reach Marina Zeas, another popular coffee spot by the sea. In Marina Zeas, you can also visit the Nautical Museum of Piraeus.
For an evening drink, we suggest Mikrolimano, a popular spot with clubs and lounge cafeterias by the sea. as well as taverns and fish restaurants to enjoy a meal. To reach it, you can take the tram from Pasalimani or the metro (Green Line) and disembark at Neo Faliro.