The Acropolis of Athens is not only Greece’s most important landmark but also one of the most impressive and most significant historic monuments in the whole world.
This imposing rocky hill in the center of Athens consists of a complex of ancient temples.
The most well-known and most photographed is the Parthenon, which was dedicated to the ancient Greek Olympian goddess Athena. It was built with white marble between 447 and 432 B.C.
When visiting the Acropolis of Athens try to be as early as possible in the morning or just a couple of hours before doors close. It gets very crowded and in the summer extremely hot. Bare in mind that you will surely need almost a half-day (combined with the Acropolis museum) to wander around this significant monument and gaze at its panoramic views.
Booking a guided walking tour is recommended for a better understanding of the history and architecture of the Acropolis. Also, a guided tour gives skip-the-ticket-line access to the Acropolis which is a time-saver, absolutely necessary during high season.
Skip the line! Get your Tickets Online
Athens Things to Do
We have gathered a list of the Best Things to Do in Athens. This list includes the absolute must-sees and must-dos in the Capital of Greece: places to visit, attractions, where to swim, activities, tours, where to eat, and more. We have also added some more authentic and upcoming trends.
In brief, the top things to do are visit the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, stroll around picturesque Plaka and Monastiraki, visit the SNFCC, eat delicious meals at fine restaurants and taverns, swim at the beaches of the Riviera, go on a day cruise to the Saronic islands and take a day tour to famous archaeological sites like Delphi or Epidaurus.
Open the table of contents to see our proposals at a glance.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on a section below to be directed there.
1. Visit the Acropolis
2. Visit the Acropolis Museum
3. Stroll around the picturesque Plaka neighborhood
4. Stay at a boutique hotel
5. Visit important ancient temples and ruins
6. Book a dinner at one of the most renowned restaurants
7. Athens in summer? Don't miss the beaches!
8. Explore the treasures of the Archaeological Museum
9. Visit Cape Sounio and feel the ancient vibes
10. Get to the best points with panoramic views
11. Coffee or Cocktails on rooftop terraces
12. Have a walk at Dionysiou Areopagitou Street
13. Experience the greek nightlife
14. Visit Syntagma Square, the Parliament & the Change of the Guards
15. Explore Zappeion Megaron & the National Gardens
16. Make a day trip to famous Ancient Sites
17. Explore the Athens Riviera
18. Visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC)
19. Watch a movie in an open-air cinema
20. Make a day tour to the Saronic islands
21. Explore the authentic Athenian lifestyle
22. Discover the best street-art pieces
23. Visit the Monastiraki flea market
24. Shopping Therapy
25. Visit the Museums & Galleries
26. Enjoy a concert or a play during the Greek Festival
27. Buy groceries from the "laiki agora" (Farmer’s Market)
28. Visit the Monastery of Kaisariani at the Mount Imittos
29. Visit the aristocratic Kifisia suburb
30. More things to do
The Acropolis of Athens is not only Greece’s most important landmark but also one of the most impressive and most significant historic monuments in the whole world.
Near the Acropolis temple complex, on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, you will find an ultra-modern structure with a glass facade designed by the famous architect Bernard Tschumi.
The new Acropolis Museum is one of the most important museums on a worldwide level as it houses hundreds of ancient findings including but not limited to statues, vessels, ornaments, and marbles originating from the Parthenon and the Acropolis.
On the top floor of the museum, there is a lovely cafe where you can enjoy some coffee with Acropolis views after visiting the exhibitions.
Skip the line! Get your Tickets Online
Plaka is the oldest and most picturesque neighborhood in the modern city of Athens. It is located just under the Acropolis.
In Plaka, you will mostly find colorful, neoclassical houses and buildings that host some of the best restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops in the city, featuring some well-preserved listed buildings.
While strolling around Plaka, you will also discover many important landmarks and ancient monuments such as the Choragic Lysicrates monument, the Roman solar clock Tower of the Winds, a few Byzantine churches, and small houses in Anafiotika, with narrow alleys that will most likely remind you of the Greek islands. Overall, Plaka is one of the most important signature places in Greece and you should definitely go on a walk there while you’re in Athens.
Not to miss: Walking tour with Acropolis and city tour
Being the capital of Greece, Athens offers numerous accommodation options for all types of travelers.
This is a shortlist of our favorite ones in the city:
• The Foundry in the picturesque neighborhood of Psyrri, has an urban design combined with some retro details. The suites feature a roof garden as well as other green details and a nice view of the Acropolis.
• Ergon House is situated downtown, in the heart of Syntagma. This is a gastronomy hotel, very famous for its restaurant that is inspired by ancient markets. Apart from a comfortable stay, you will taste some of the most delicious Greek dishes in the entire city.
• Coco-Mat is a modern designed hotel built on the foothills of the Acropolis. It is highly recommended for anyone who wants to stay in the city center and its roof garden with a pool offers some of the best views of the Pantheon.
• The Margi is great for all sea lovers, as a luxurious option right by the beach of Vouliagmeni. The hotel’s vintage decor and variety of facilities available, including a large pool, a gym, and a restaurant will surely make your vacation unforgettable!
Besides the Acropolis, there are many other important monuments and landmarks in Athens. Some of them are quite popular and other ones are less known but all of them have an equal historic significance:
• The Olympian Zeus temple: the ruins of this ancient temple dedicated to Olympian Zeus are located in the center of Athens. Its high and impressive columns are still standing to this day and attract thousands of visitors every year. It is located at a close distance to Plaka.
• The Arch of Hadrian: It is located next to Olympian Zeus Temple and was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The contrast between the large ancient marbles of the triumphal Arch and the busyness of an ultra-modern street shapes an unusual image where modernity and antiquity blend into one another.
• The Ancient Agora: Located near Thissio, the Ancient Agora of Acropolis is a major ancient landmark. It is a lovely setting with ancient ruins and marble fragments, surrounded by dense vegetation that consists of pine and olive trees. The Agora was used for political gatherings and juries by the Ancient Greeks.
• The Temple of Hephaestus: This impressive monument in Thissio was initially constructed to honor the god of fire and in this day and age it remains almost untouched by the passage of time. It is the best-preserved ancient temple in the country and the most prominent example of Dorian architecture that inspired various architectural projects all around the world.
• The Roman Agora: The ruins of the Roman Agora are located in the area of Monastiraki. It was constructed during the 1st century BC by Augustus and Julius Caesar and was the largest open market in Athens. Nearby you will also find the remnants of Hadrian's Library.
• Last but not least, another landmark you shouldn’t miss is the Kallimarmaro Stadium (also known as Panathenaic Stadium). The vast, white-marble stadium was initially constructed to host the Panathenaic Games during Antiquity. Many centuries later and after a revivifying reconstruction, it hosted the first Modern Olympic Games of Athens. From there, you can get a refreshment at Odeon Cafe, in the beautiful neighborhood of Mets, located just behind.
Going hungry in Athens should not be a problem! The city is a great place for food lovers as it has a vast culinary scene with countless options that correspond to all tastes: local taverns serving traditional dishes, fine-dining restaurants, greek street food, ethnic cuisines, and more! A true paradise for foodies!
Some of the top-listed places to eat in Athens are Ergon - a modern take on ancient Agoras, Nolan - that serves creative dishes inspired by global cuisines, Ama Lachei - for traditional and budget-friendly delicacies housed in an old school and Feedελ - a hidden gem for Mediterranean gastronomy and cocktail lovers.
For fresh fish, we strongly recommend Mikres Kyklades.
Athens is one of the very few European capital cities with a long coastal line and direct access to numerous beaches that make it a great summer destination.
Not only are these beaches clean enough to swim, but many of them have also received Blue Flag awards for their particularly clear waters.
Some of the best beaches are Vouliagmeni, Lagonisi, Legrena and many more. If you are looking for natural beauty, we recommend Kape beach. If you are looking for something special, have a look at Vouliagmeni lake.
Most of them have golden sand and warm waters and they can easily be approached by car or public transport.
There are both organized and unorganized options, all of them being at convenient locations along the length of the coastline that is widely known as the Athens Riviera.
Some of them grant free access while others have an entrance fee.
In most cases, there are facilities nearby, including restaurants, beach bars, and hotels.
The beaches inside Athens are usually very crowded during hot summer days but there are more remote and calm options available on the coastline as well.
How to get there? Rent a car with us!
The Archaeological Museum of Athens is the most important museum in the world dedicated to Greek Antiquity.
Its enormous collection of ancient treasures includes all kinds of items and artifacts such as vessels, ornaments, sculptures, jewelry, statues, miniatures, weapons, and everyday tools dating far back to the past of Ancient Greece.
The exhibits were discovered in excavations in different parts of Greece: from ancient Macedonia to the Minoans in Crete, Mycenae in Peloponnese, and the Cycladic Islands, the Archaeological Museum of Athens offers the opportunity to explore many aspects of the Ancient Greek civilization.
It is also worth mentioning that the museum hosts exhibitions with items from other parts of the world that represent other major ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian one.
If you loved the landscape at Acropolis and would like to visit another impressive ancient temple, we recommend taking a day tour to see the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio.
You may have already caught a glimpse of the temple on some postcard since this is one of the most photogenic places in Greece. Due to its remote location, the temple is surrounded by a spectacular landscape of unspoiled natural beauty and the Aegean sea.
The sea views it offers are stunning, especially at sunset time when you can watch the golden sun rays gleam through the temple’s imposing columns.
The landscape is also particularly beautiful during summer nights and it’s a popular destination for people who want to catch a better view of the full moon in August.
Not to miss Book a Tour to Sounio or get there with a private minivan transfer.
Except for the views offered while on the Acropolis, there are also some other great places to get panoramic views. The most popular place is:
• Lycabettus hill: It is a lush green area full of pine and olive trees, located right in the heart of Athens. It is the highest spot in the Attica Basin, which guarantees some stunning panoramic views of Athens, Acropolis Hill, the suburbs, and the surrounding areas. From up there you will be able to see as far as the coast of Athens and the island of Aegina. The white chapel of Agios Georgios which has been built on the top of Lycabettus can be spotted from many different places in Athens. Mount Lycabettus is also known as the location of a large open-air theater that hosts various concerts and theatrical plays during the summer months. On the hill, you will also find a nice cafe-restaurant where you can eat or drink something while enjoying the panoramic view.
Before climbing up there you can also visit Kolonaki, one of the most beautiful upscale neighborhoods in Athens, which is located at the foothills of Lycabettus. You can approach the top of the hill on foot, by car, or by bus. You can also take a cable car instead. Whether you go for a morning coffee or for dinner or a drink, Lycabettus is considered the most romantic place in Athens!
Strolling around the streets of Athens will also lead you to some hidden viewpoints:
• Pnyx hill is quite popular for this purpose. It is a lush green area that you can easily approach with a starting point at Dimitris Loubadiaris church.
• Another green area is Filopappou hill which is connected to Pnyx through a long paved road. Both of these hills offer a stunning view of the Parthenon on the Acropolis hill and the rest of the city.
• In addition to these spots, another great option is Areios Pagos (or Vrahakia) just below the Acropolis. It is a rocky area and very popular among young people. At the end of the day, they bring along a few beers, a bottle of wine, and a guitar and climb up there to gaze at the sunset painting the entire city red, while listening to the sound of distant traffic making the city buzz.
• Great views of the northern part of the city can be seen from the picturesque neighborhood of Anafiotika, in Plaka.
Greeks take coffee very seriously and see it as a small daily ceremony. There is a whole aspect of culture established around coffee drinking.
You will find countless lovely coffee shops all over Athens with inviting decor and a cozy atmosphere.
If you are a coffee lover you will adore the famous cold brew coffees: frappe, freddo espresso, freddo cappuccino are a must-taste during your stay in Greece. There are also lots of warm coffee options available such as the traditional Greek or Turkish coffee.
If you want to enjoy a coffee with a nice view, we would recommend the terraces of A for Athens, L’Anglais, and Ciel.
Note that these Cafes also operate as bars until late at night.
The most beautiful pedestrian street of Athens is located on the foothills of the Acropolis, right next to the metro station "Akropoli, near the Acropolis Museum.
It starts at the Arch of Adrian, goes around the hill of Acropolis, and ends at a crossroad with the pedestrian street of Apostolou Pavlou in the Thissio area.
During your walk expect to see some of the most impressive modern or neoclassical Athenian mansions while the ancient Roman theatre of Herodes Atticus is also on your way.
Pnyx hill and the small historical basilica church of Agios Dimitrios Loumpadiaris on Philopappos Hill are also close.
Street musicians and artists will keep you good company and if you feel hungry try some typical Greek street snacks such as grilled corn, nuts, and candy.
Although you can book a walking tour, we suggest you walk around by yourself at your own pace.
Athens is one of the most vivid capitals in Europe and practically a city that never sleeps!
It is popular for its vibrant nightlife and it attracts many young travelers, local and international students, and Erasmus communities from all over the world.
Most of the bars and nightclubs are in the city center in Syntagma, Gazi, Psiri, Monastiraki, and Exarchia. There are both popular and underground options.
During summer, there are beach bars and clubs in the southern suburbs such as Glyfada and Alimos.
If you’re into late-night partying and dancing as much as the Greeks, you will certainly not be disappointed!
Syntagma square is the most central point in Athens and a meeting point. The Greek Parliament which also used to be the palace of King Otto and is a typical example of the Neoclassical architectural movement is one of the most important buildings of the square.
Syntagma is also surrounded by hotels, restaurants, and ministries.
The commercial Ermou Street and other big avenues like Panepistimiou street and Stadiou street have their starting points there.
A very popular attraction is the changing of guards that are widely known as Tsoliades and guard the memorial Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The change text place every hour.
The National Gardens are easily accessed on foot from Syntagma Square. It is a tranquil oasis of vegetation in the heart of the noisy city of Athens with lots of Mediterranean plants and exotic trees.
Next to the Gardens, you can visit Zappeion Megaron. It is an impressive exhibition hall and a characteristic example of Neoclassical Architecture.
Discover the most important archaeological sites of Greece with a day tour from Athens: Delphi, Mycenae, and Epidaurus.
Discover our: • Tours to Delphi • Tours to Mycenae • Tours to Epidaurus Theatre.
Alternatively, you can get a tour with a private luxury minivan.
The large coastal line of Attica that goes all the way from Piraeus to Sounion is also known as Athens Riviera.
Besides the beaches that are a great gateway during hot summer days, you will also discover many beautiful seafront spots and promenades, marinas, or harbors where you can go for an evening walk to watch the sunset.
One of the most popular places on the coast is Flisvos at Palaio Faliro.
This coastal promenade is full of cafes, restaurants, bars, and places to get ice cream.
It is located next to a lovely marina and not far from a few beautiful sandy beaches. Nearby you will also find verdant parks and outdoor sports facilities. It is one of the most organized parts of the coastal front of Athens and you can be easily reached by tram.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation is one of the most visited spots in Athens. It is located in the southern suburbs of Athens, in the area of Palaio Faliro, very close to the coastline of Athens and the marina of Flisvos that can be reached on foot.
The SNFCC emerged just a few years ago and plays an important role in promoting all aspects of culture in Greece.
These ultra-modern structures designed by famous architect Renzo Piano consist of the National Library and the National Opera House of Greece.
The center has also an amazing outdoor environment with canals, Mediterranean gardens, and several cafes.
Visiting the SNFCC is one of the top things to do while in the city!
Open-air cinemas have become a summer institution in Greece and are one of the locals’ favorite ways to spend a summer evening.
Each year they start operating in mid or late May (depending on the weather conditions) and don’t close up until the first autumn rains, usually in October.
Cine Thission is one of the top open-air cinemas in the world. It offers a wide variety of both new and old films to choose from. Its vintage decor combined with a lovely garden and views of the Acropolis will take you back to an Athenian summer night in the 60s.
Take a popcorn or a cold beer and enjoy the intoxicating scent of jasmine while watching a film under the stars.
If you have a few spare vacation days to spend in Athens and are in the mood for a day trip, an organized day tour to the Saronic islands is a great option.
You will take a break from the urban landscape of Athens and see two of the most beautiful Saronic islands: Hydra and Aegina.
Hydra is located only a couple of hours away from Athens and can easily be approached by ferry. The island is characterized by a truly cosmopolitan atmosphere with many colorful aristocratic mansions and museums while it is completely carfree!
Aegina is a very popular weekend resort for the residents of Athens since they can easily get there with a one-hour ferry trip. The small island is full of nice swimming spots in its clear turquoise waters and delicious fish taverns. The island’s history dates back to Antiquity and the Ancient Temple of Athena Aphaia testifies to it.
If you want to escape the tourist side of Athens and have a glance at its everyday lifestyle visit or book your stay in one of its central residential neighborhoods.
• Koukaki: It was voted as one of the best places to stay in Athens. It is close to the Acropolis and many Airbnbs are located here. Urban Athenian style is combined with a truly chilled-out atmosphere. In Koukaki you will discover many interesting hidden spots, including both traditional and modern cafes, restaurants, and shops.
• Mets: Strolling around this tiny Athenian neighborhood near Kallimarmaro Stadium, you may notice that it seems almost as if time has stopped. Away from the noisy city center but still just a few minutes' walk from it, the atmosphere at Mets will take you back to Athens of the 20th century.
• Kolonaki: It is one of the most famous upscale neighborhoods in Athens. It is full of elegant coffee shops, luxurious restaurants for fine dining, and expensive boutiques. The streets of Kolonaki are always full of life and it is a nice place to visit if you enjoy going shopping at up-market spots.
• Exarchia: Exarchia is the most representative area of the Athenian underground scene. Being close to some of the city’s universities and having a particularly alternative atmosphere, the area is full of cafes, bars, vintage shops, bookstores, and amazing street artworks!
• Kypseli: Kypseli is one of the biggest neighborhoods in Athens and a modern hub for digital nomads in Athens. Walking through Kypseli you will feel a strong urban vibe. You will see both modern and older buildings, parks, theatres, cinemas and coffee shops.
As you walk by the streets of Athens you will definitely come across huge murals and graffiti some of which are considered fine works of street art.
This alternative way of expression emerged during the economic crisis in central neighborhoods such as Exarxia, Monastiraki, Metaxourgio, Gazi, and more.
There are hundreds of them scattered all around the city and taking a street art tour will help you find them and learn the interesting story behind them.
These alternative walking tours are a great way to explore Athens beyond its touristy places.
Not to miss: Athens Original Street Art tour
Located in the center of Athens near Syntagma Square, Monastiraki square is a very lively place and one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens where you can have an authentic urban experience.
It is a busy meeting point any time of the day because it is easily accessible by metro and it offers a variety of things to see and do.
The flea market of Monastiraki is crowded and has a very authentic and multicultural environment. You will find many vintage and antique shops, cafes, and taverns.
Being the capital of Greece, Athens is full of various malls, shopping centers, smaller shops, and boutiques where you can find both local and international products, including fashion, cosmetics, food, traditional products, and souvenirs.
The main commercial road of Athens is Ermou Street, a paved road where you can mostly find popular fast fashion stores and brands.
One of the biggest shopping centers in Athens is Attica Mall, which is located on Panepistimiou avenue.
There are also many smaller stores and boutiques that aren’t part of the international chains where you can find local, good-quality products.
If you’re an art lover, you certainly have to visit the biggest museums and art galleries in Athens:
• The National Gallery opened very recently after many years of huge reconstruction works. It is located near the (ex) Hilton hotel. The gallery holds the largest collection of paintings and artworks made by renowned Greek and foreign artists that represent different time periods and movements, from the 17th to the 20th century. The ultra-modern building of the gallery along with the Hilton hotel and the "Dromeas" glass statue form a representative architectural image of Athenian modernism.
• One of the most popular museums in the city is Benaki Museum, which is located very close to Syntagma Square. This museum exhibits important archaeological and cultural objects from different eras and various parts of Greece.
• Goulandris Museum is a newly established cultural center for contemporary art lovers. Located near the emblematic Kallimarmaro Stadium and very close to "Evangelismos" metro station, it is an easily accessible spot. The museum was constructed within the framework of cultural projects that were implemented by the Foundation of Basil & Elise Goulandris. The collection of the museum consists of some important artworks of Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollock, Bacon, Monet, and El Greco. The cafe located in the museum is a quiet little corner decorated with plants, where you can have your morning coffee and enjoy the refreshing atmosphere.
• Other important museums located in the city center are the Byzantine museum, which is housed in an old aristocratic mansion and houses many precious items related to Byzantium and Christianity, and the Cycladic Art Museum. The collection of this museum consists of archeological findings of Cycladic art, including idols, miniatures, and pottery.
• For modern art lovers, the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) is an excellent option. It hosts collections and exhibitions of some of the most radical artworks created by Greek and international artists.
Greece organizes various cultural events and festivals every year, especially during the summer.
To get a grip on the ancient atmosphere you can visit Herodes Atticus Theater and attend a concert or play that takes place there in the framework of the Greek Festival.
There are plenty of options available: you can either watch a classical play, an ancient Greek tragedy or comedy or combine the ancient architecture with a modern spectacle, such as a concert of contemporary music or a dance show. Herodes Atticus Theater hosts both greek and international performances from renowned artists from all around the world and if the play is in Greek, there are English subtitles for the foreign viewers.
In any case, the theater’s excellent acoustics guarantee an unforgettable experience!
Despite being such a large city, Athens has a very long tradition of colorful farmers’ markets that are held in all neighborhoods on a weekly basis.
Most greek households enjoy going there to do their weekly grocery shopping since they can find fresh local products at a low price.
These food markets are widely known as Laiki and they usually have a fixed weekly schedule.
The most popular and biggest markets located in central places are on Kallidromiou Street at Exarchia every Saturday and on Archimidous Street in Pangrati, every Friday.
It is certainly one of the non-touristy things to do which you have to experience if you spend some time in the city!
One of the most relaxing things to do is to visit Mount Imittos and reconnect with nature.
It is very close to the city and can easily be approached by bus.
This small mountain is full of hiking paths and is the ideal place to escape from the city’s grey landscape for a while. You will walk through dense pine tree forests rich in local flora and fauna whereas there are many beautiful points with panoramic views of the city, all the way to the sea.
On the mount, you will also find the Byzantine Monastery of Kaisariani which is an impressive structure with interesting architecture, elaborate frescos, and murals. In the area, there are also other ruins that are probably remnants of ancient temples as well as Kalopoula, a lovely wooden cafe where you can have a drink or a snack.
Kifisia is one of the most wealthy northern outskirts of Athens. You can easily make a half-day visit taking the Green metro line and enjoy its green environment and its noble atmosphere.
While strolling around, you will notice houses that don’t look anything like the rest of the city. Being an old aristocratic suburb, you will come across many 19th-century stone-built mansions which are very impressive.
The refreshing air at Kifisia makes it a very nice place to go for a walk, thanks to its numerous parks and other green spots that are full of plane trees and pine trees.
For those with a sweet tooth, among many lovely cafes and restaurants, you will find Varsos, a vintage place where you can enjoy a coffee and one of its famous desserts, including galaktoboureko, mpaklavas, kataifi, and other delicious traditional sweets.
But that’s not all! There are a lot more things to do in Athens.
We invite you to explore even more options that the city has to offer and which will fulfill all visitors’ needs: