Top 25 Amazing Things to Do in Athens
The many amazing things to do in Athens make the Greek capital one of the most popular destinations for a city trip in Europe. Everyone knows the world-famous Acropolis, the city’s landmark, however, many more fascinating attractions await you on a sightseeing tour. During your city walk, you will explore the charming old town of Athens, marvel at imposing excavation sites, visit interesting museums and experience a magnificent view of the snow-white coastal metropolis from the city hills. But not only that, also the many cool trendy neighborhoods, with great bars and restaurants are a guarantee for an unforgettable vacation. But what are the best things to do in Athens, what are the real insider tips for a city trip, and which activities should not be missed?
In this travel guide you will find all the important information and tips about visiting Athens in Greece. In addition, we show you the most beautiful attractions, great pictures, reveal real insider tips and where to find fabulous accommodations.
General information about Athens in Greece
The 4 million inhabitants city of Athens is also the capital of Greece and is considered the cradle of Western civilization. Once this metropolis formed the center of Greek antiquity. The history of this historic cosmopolitan city goes back more than 3,000 years, and the exceptionally rich cultural heritage can be admired at almost every corner of the city center during a city tour. A must-see and at the same time the most important attraction in Athens is of course the gigantic Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is situated majestically on a high hill and dominates the general cityscape.
Really worth seeing, however, are also the many fantastic museums in Athens, where you can dive deep into the history of antiquity. And of course, the spectacular excavation sites with the ancient temples and the historic buildings that can be found on almost every corner of the old town. For those who love shopping, it is best to stroll along the long Ermou Street, the famous boulevard of the city center. Moreover, the Plaka district, the old town of Athens, is absolutely worth visiting, where charming alleys and colorful taverns invite to enjoy.
The Best Things to Do in Athens
On a city trip to Athens, you can look forward to a whole range of attractions worth seeing. Most of them are located directly in the city center, which you can explore on foot on your own. So that you don’t lose the overview, we have summarized the best things to do in Athens at a glance:
One of the absolute best things to do in Athens is a visit to the Acropolis, an ancient citadel or also known as the High City. Since 1987, the Athens Acropolis has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and moreover, it has been awarded the European Heritage award. The temple complex is located in the oldest part of the city, in a magnificent location on a 156-meter-high rock. Built between 467 B.C. and 406 B.C., you can visit several interesting attractions on a tour of the site. The Propylaea, the Erechtheion, the Temple of Nike and the world-famous Parthenon are just a few of the highlights that can be discovered on the Acropolis.
The view of Athens from the Acropolis is also unbeatable. From the top you can enjoy a 360° view of the white roofs of the city, a panorama that should not be missed on any city trip.
Tip: The Acropolis is the most famous attraction of the city and accordingly well visited. If you want to avoid queuing a long time, you should book your entrance tickets online in advance.
The Acropolis Museum is definitely one of the most interesting museums in the city, and a highlight that should not be missed on any city trip to Athens. This attraction is located beneath the Acropolis and houses on 14,000 square meters an incredible collection of more than 4,000 findings, many of them ceramics and sculptures, all of which were found on the sacred hill of the Acropolis. Particularly worth seeing are the Caryatids, the impressive female figures that supported the Erechtheion porch at the time and are now one of the main attractions in the museum.
A real gem of the museum is also the panoramic terrace on the third floor. Here you can enjoy a magnificent view over the rooftops of Athens as well as the Acropolis, and you can soak up the spectacular ambience in the café.
Tip: The Acropolis Museum is one of the 10 best museums in the world and is accordingly well visited. With a Skip-the-Line ticket, you can save yourself a long queue!
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, one of the oldest open-air theaters in the world, is definitely one of the most amazing things to see in Athens. This imposing ancient theater was built as early as 161 AD beneath the Acropolis. Its namesake, Herodes Atticus, was the founder of this building, which he had erected honoring his wife. The theater holds about 5,000 spectators, and events have been held again since the 1930s. Artists such as Nana Mouskouri, Luciano Pavarotti, Margot Fonteyn, Maria Callas, Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra have performed in this legendary location.
Tip: You can either visit this attraction from the inside or catch a glimpse of the Odeon on the way up to the Acropolis.
The Parament & Changing of the Guard
One of the most important buildings in Athens is the Palace of Parliament centrally located on Syntagma Square in the center of Athens. Formerly the royal palace, the building was commissioned by Otto I of Bavaria and built between 1834 – 1838 in neoclassical style by court architect Friedrich Gärtner. The pastel colors and the simple, straight style of this building are especially beautiful. The monument of the “Unknown Soldier” is also interesting to see. One of the best things to do in Athens is watch the famous changing of the guard, with the soldiers dressed in beak shoes weighing almost 3 kg. An event that you should definitely put on your Athens to-do list.
Tip: The changing of the guard takes places every hour, right in front of the Palace of Parliament. On Sunday at 11 am, there is the big changing of the guard in the official uniform.
The Monastiraki Square is one of the most incredible things to see in Athens! It is located in the heart of the old town and is a popular meeting place for locals as well as tourists. Especially the view of the Acropolis from Monastiraki is stunning and together with the Pantanassa Church and Tzistarakis Mosque creates a panorama like from 1001 nights. Around the square are some of Athens’ best attractions, such as Hadrian’s Library, the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora, and the Monastiraki Flea Market. The lively hustle and bustle is best enjoyed from one of the many good taverns, cafés, and rooftop bars.
Tip: From the chic Hotel 360 Degrees you can enjoy a fabulous view of Monastiraki Square as well as the Acropolis in the background.
The Ancient Agora
A visit to the Ancient Agora is definitely one of the best things to do in Athens and should be definitely high up on any bucket list. In ancient times, the Agora was the central meeting and marketplace of Athens, with 30 structures once adorning the city square. Among them were also numerous sacred sites. During a tour of the extensive area, one is amazed by several historically significant attractions, such as the imposing temple of Hephaestus from the 5th century BC or the Stoa of Attalus from 150 BC, which was reconstructed in 1955 and where is also a museum to visit.
The enchanting Plaka neighborhood is absolutely worth seeing and a popular meeting place in Athens. It is located on the edge of the Acropolis and is therefore often called the district of the gods. During a walking tour, you will enjoy the Greek metropolis from one of its most beautiful sides. Some of the colorful buildings have their foundation walls from ancient times, and most of the townhouses still date back to the 18th century. Adorable are the many small cafés and restaurants that invite you to linger. Interesting and a must-do is a visit to the Anafiotika quarter on the outskirts of Plaka, where the snow-white houses spread a unique charm.
Tip: In Plaka you can find many good accommodations for a vacation in Athens, such as the beautiful IPELHOME – Boutique Apartments, in a great location!
The Roman Agora
Right in the heart of Athens, there is the Roman Agora, a beautiful historical sight that should not be missed on any city trip. It was built as early as the 1st century by Emperor Augustus and was the city’s major market and meeting place at the time. There are several interesting attractions located here. Worth seeing is the Tower of the Winds, a well-preserved marble tower that served as a compass, sundial, observatory and weather station and also the Gate of Athena Archegetis with the 4 Doric columns is worth a visit. Behind it is the Fetiye Djami Mosque, which together with the Agora forms a breathtaking backdrop.
Tip: The Roman Agora can also be seen from outside! A path leads around this sight and some vantage points provide a fabulous view of the area.
The Hadrian’s Library is one of the most beautiful attractions in the center of Athens. Thanks to its central location, there is actually no way around this historical attraction. The library was built in 132 A.D. according to the plans of Emperor Hadrian and many years later, depending on the ruler, it also served as a customs house, bazaar, barracks, and prison. Particularly impressive are the perfectly preserved Corinthian columns of Hadrian’s library, which give an interesting impression of the building at that time. With a combo-ticket, the entrance to this attraction is usually included, but you can also have a free look at the area from the outside.
Syntagma Square & Ermou Street
The most important square in Athens is Syntagma Square, the so-called Constitution Square. The history of this so important meeting place dates back to 1837, when the Royal Palace, i.e. today’s Parliament, was built. Even today, the beautiful Syntagma Square is a popular meeting place, but where demonstrations also take place regularly.
From Syntagma Square you continue to Ermou Street, the famous 1.5 kilometer long shopping street, where numerous boutiques invite for shopping. A stroll is always worthwhile because on the way you will always meet street artists and also one of the most important sights of Athens, the Kapnikarea Church, is located directly in Ermou Street.
Church of Panagia Kapnikarea
The Byzantine Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is located right on Ermou shopping street and is actually one of the oldest church buildings in Athens. This famous landmark was probably built as early as 1052 on the foundations of a temple complex. It is interesting to note that with the construction of the shopping street in 1837, many historical buildings had been destroyed. However, the Kapnikarea Church was preserved despite several attempts to demolish it. It also miraculously survived the incendiary bombs of the Turks in 1689. Today, the small church is one of the most beautiful buildings to admire while walking along Ermou Street.
Monastiraki Flea Market & Bazaar
One of the best things to do in Athens is shopping at the lively Monastiraki Flea Market. The market stretches from Monastiraki Square to the pretty Avissinia Square. This long bazaar street is a true paradise for those who love to shop souvenirs, kitsch, and bric-a-brac. From Greek sandals and paintings of the Acropolis to olive oil, cell phone cases and handmade soaps, you’ll find it all here. This fantastic shopping mile can be visited every day, but on Sunday also opens a large flea market at Avissinia Square, where you can also find many interesting antiques. A real highlight for all collectors!
Philopappos Hill & Monument
A visit to Philopappos Hill is a real insider tip when it comes to the best things to do in Athens. Here you will find a beautiful park in the middle of the city, away from the typical tourist paths. The monument Philopappos is enthroned leading a 147-meter-high hill and offers a magnificent view of Athens down to the port of Piraeus and the blue sea. Especially, locals come here at sunset to marvel at the magical atmosphere from Philopappos Hill. Interesting is also the funerary monument, which was built broadly in the 2nd century AD.
The Olympieion, also known as the Temple of Zeus, was once one of the largest temples of the ancient world and is therefore also one of the most important historical monuments in Athens. Built between 6th—2nd centuries BC, this large temple complex was made of Pentelic marble, with the Roman ruler Hadrian completing the complex in 132 AD. Interestingly, the temple complex was 110 meters long and 43 meters wide, almost twice the size of the largest temple on the Acropolis. The annex had 104 Corinthian columns with a height of 17 meters, and today you can still visit 15 of these columns.
National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Greece. During a tour, one is amazed by an extensive collection of over 11,000 Greek exhibits, from Neolithic times to late antiquity. There are 49 different exhibition rooms to discover on an area of 8,000 square meters, and so it is worth to plan a little more time for a visit. Among the most famous exhibits are the “Mask of Agamemnon”, the frescoes of Santorini, the “Horseman of Cape Artemision”, the bronze statue of Zeus and the mechanism of Antikythera.
Tip: An insider tip is the museum café, where more works by artists are exhibited and which invites you to relax and enjoy in a pretty garden.
National Garden of Athens
The National Garden in Athens is the largest park in the city, and a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. This park is located in the center of Athens, near the Parliament and is a popular meeting place for locals, but also for tourists who take a sightseeing break in the so-called Green Lung of Athens. The beautiful park, adorned with palm trees and flowers, was once the royal palace garden and even today you can marvel at many things worth seeing here. There is a botanical museum, a small zoo, a children’s playground, some excavation sites and with some luck you can even see parrots that live freely in the park.
On the southern slope of the Acropolis is the Dionysus Theater, an important archaeological site that should not be missed on any trip to Athens. In fact, this historically interesting attraction dates back to the 5th century BC, making it the oldest theater in Ancient Greece and also the oldest theater in the world! It takes its name from Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy as well as madness! Up to 17,000 visitors could fit into this venue, with the first rows furnished with ornate throne chairs. Today, you can visit the Dionysus Theater and grounds for a small entrance fee.
The Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium is one of the most interesting sights in Athens and is also known as Kallimarmaro, “beautiful marble”, thanks to its appearance. This historically important Olympic stadium is the first of the Olympic Games in modern times. It was opened in 1896 and up to 50,000 spectators can fit in the stadium. Even today, sports events and concerts take place there, and the stadium can also be visited for a fee. For sports enthusiasts, the associated museum is certainly interesting, where numerous Olympic torches of the last 100 years are exhibited.
Tip: Admission to the stadium is not cheap. If you just want to take a look inside, visit the park next to it and enjoy a beautiful view from up there, completely free of charge!
A visit to the Psyri Quarter is an absolute insider tip for a trip to Athens because here you will find one of the coolest neighborhoods of the Greek metropolis. The atmosphere is always relaxed and there is good music, lots of street art and a young hip crowd. In addition, you will find a wide gastronomic offer, with really chic restaurants, trendy bars and nice cafés. Also in the evening this place is just perfect for enjoying the nightlife and for having a party until the early morning hours. Particularly famous in the Psyri district is Little Kook, a café inspired by fairy tales, which makes guests rave about its massive cakes and original desserts.
Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation
The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation is the seat of the Orthodox Archbishop of Athens. This magnificent place of worship is one of the most important Byzantine churches in the city and was once built by order of King Otto of Bavaria between 1842 and 1862. It’s also wonderfully located right on Mitropoleos Square, a perfect place to take a sightseeing break. Around the square you will find many excellent restaurants and cafés that invite you to linger and enjoy. Also, worth seeing is the small church Panagia Gorgoepikoos, right next to the cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century.
One of the most beautiful viewpoints of Athens is definitely enjoyed at Mount Lycabettus in the east of the city. With a height of 278 meters, this imposing city mountain is the highest point in the center of Athens, and for this very reason, it is also called the Hill of Wolves. The viewing platform from Mount Lycabettus can be reached either on foot via a 20-minute walk or by taking the Lycabettus funicular. Worth seeing on the mountain are also the small chapel of St. George and the chapel of San Gerasimo. One of the best things to do in Athens is come here at sunset to enjoy the magical ambience in the evening.
The Byzantine Museum
A true must-see for history and art lovers is the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, usually known simply as the Byzantine Museum. It is located in a beautiful Florentine palazzo built in 1848 and thrills with a gigantic collection of 30,000 early Christian, Byzantine and medieval exhibits. Here you can admire wall paintings, manuscripts and works on paper, precious ceramics, textiles, imposing paintings and mosaics. These artifacts date from between the 3rd and 20th centuries AD, and interesting temporary exhibitions are also held.
A real highlight just nearby Athens is the port of Piraeus. It is the largest seaport in Greece and a visit to this neighborhood is highly recommended. Many come to this port only to travel from there by ferry to the islands of Greece. However, the Piraeus district in itself, thanks to its 3,000-year history, has many interesting things to do to offer. The Museum of the Electric Railway, the Municipal Theater of Piraeus, the Archaeological Museum and, of course, the charming little port Microlímano with its many terrific fish restaurants are worth a visit!
Athens: City Walks, Tickets & Day Tours!
If you would rather not explore Athens on your own, you have the option to join a guided tour. On the platform GetYourGuide you can find not only recommended city tours, but also cheap entrance tickets, cooking classes, excursions to the region around Athens and much more.
The reviews are also fabulous, and you can compare them before booking.
Where to stay in Athens
There is a giant range of places for where to stay in Athens. From cheap hostels, to vacation rentals or boutique hotels, everything is here, so everyone is guaranteed to find their perfect hotel. If you are still searching for a fantastic place to stay in Athens, then we can give you these accommodation tips on the way…It’s worth a look!
- Cool Design Hotel: The Gem Society Hotel is a stylish 4-star hotel right in the center of Athens. The breakfast and the fabulous location are also really great here.
- Affordable Boutique Hotel: The Moon & Stars Boutique Hotel is a real insider tip. The lovingly designed hotel inspires with a roof terrace overlooking the Acropolis!
- 5-star Hotel with Pool: The Electra Metropolis is a great choice for an exceptional visit to Athens. Guests love the facilities, the breakfast, and the rooftop bar!
- Chic Hostel: The Mosaikon is a really cool hostel in the center of Athens. The rooftop terrace is also really cool, where you can enjoy a great view with cool drinks.
Find the best accommodation in Athens:
More Amazing City Trips:
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.