12 Best Things to Do in Athens, Greece

The capital of Western culture overflows with surprises. What is Giorgy talking about? Of course Athens, Greece! And she is going to reveal the best things to do in Athens, as said before one of the oldest and richest cities in the world, with a fascinating history and archaeological ruins.

The city is known for being at the forefront of early civilization, labeled as the birthplace of democracy and home to some of the most famous philosophers. However, there’s so much more to Athens than just history! It’s also a place with buzzing nightlife, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and amazing beaches!

So everybody, strap yourselves in because Giorgy aka G-Extreme is about to show off certain Athens must-sees and places to visit that you’ll want to tick off yourself. 

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NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check before you go anywhere what modifications have taken place to avoid any inconvenience!

#1. KEEP CALM AND VISIT THE ACROPOLIS

What is it?
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a limestone hill high above Athens and it’s one of the most famous archeological sites in the world. The whole visit will take anywhere between 1-2 hours.
It was built in the middle of the 5th century and over the centuries it was used as a citadel, home to kings, mythical home to the gods, and now as a world-famous tourist attraction.

Why Go?
Today, the Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is also home to some of the greatest Greek landmarks which include the Parthenon temple, dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

You can also take this chance and visit the Acropolis Museum which is located on the southeast slope containing thousands of artifacts discovered on the Acropolis. It takes around an hour to get some history and view of the Acropolis – closed on Monday.


Hey Goofball! Visiting the Acropolis is probably the most popular thing to do in Athens, so try to get there early as the place will definitely be crowded! Also having the combo tickets for all the sites would be a great idea to save money!

#2. YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THE TEMPLE OF POSEIDON

What is it?
This extraordinary temple was the 5th-century in honor of the god of the sea Poseidon and to guide sailors safely home.

Why Go?
If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, be sure not to miss it!

Overlooking the Aegean sea, the first version of the temple was built in the archaic period but it was destroyed by the Persians in 480 B.C, and it was rebuilt around 440 B.C. but only some columns of it stand till today. Nonetheless, the temple of Poseidon is a must-visit as it holds amazing history and as a plus, it will offer you a wonderful view of the sunset! (Included with your pass)

#3. MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC ART

What is it?
The Museum of Cycladic Art houses a permanent collection of about 3000 artifacts from the Cycladic, ancient Greek, and Cypriot origin, documenting the civilizations that flourished in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean from the 4th millennium BC to approximately the 6th century AD.

Why go?
It was originally founded in 1986 in order to house the collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art belonging to Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris, and today it holds the most comprehensive private collection of Cycladic art. 
The most striking thing in the museum is probably the collection of marble figurines portraying naked human figures that have inspired notable artists such as Henry Moore.

The museum also houses temporary collections that focus on both archeology and contemporary art with the aim of connecting ancient civilization with modern-day artistry.

#4. NATIONAL GARDEN

What is it?
The National Garden is located right in the heart of Athens between the districts of Kolonaki and Pangrati, directly behind the Greek Parliament building and it’s the perfect escape from the crowds and noise of the city center!

Why go?
Originally built as a royal garden for Queen Amalia between 1838 and 1840, the garden is home to 7,000 trees, 40,000 bushes, and other plants from both Greece and countries all over the world. It also has a small zoo with peacocks, birds of prey, wolves, and monkeys, as well as a botanical museum. In addition to this, there are two duck ponds where you can enjoy feeding the ducks.

Just leave your worries at the door and take a relaxing stroll in this green haven! (Garden entrance free! What else?)

#5. NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

What is it?
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in Greece and one of the most important in the world.

Why go?
This museum contains the largest and richest collection of artifacts from prehistory to late antiquity. Situated in the Exarcheia area, the museum is built in the neoclassical style which was very popular at the time.

Some of the highlights include The Mask of Agamemnon, a gold funeral mask, dated 1550–1500 BC, a sculpture of Aphrodite, Pan, and Eros, and a collection of Egyptian antiquities. 

Hey Goofball! If you are looking into another interesting museum, have a look at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) which is fulfilled with art that gets people talking!

#6. SCROLL AROUND PLAKA NEIGHBOURHOOD

What is it?
Plaka is one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens.

Why go?
Located in the center of Athens, just under the Acropolis hill, Plaka is totally different from the rest of the city center, with a sweet atmosphere of nostalgia for ancient times. This is the perfect place to visit if you want to explore and get an authentic idea about Athens.

The neighborhood is known for its narrow streets, 19th-century buildings, small cafes, small museums, historic churches, and ancient ruins on almost every corner. As for souvenir shops, Plaka is packed full of shops where you can find interesting souvenirs to bring back home! 

Hey Goofball! If you are looking for another old but busiest area of the capital, packed with rooftop bars, ancient sights, and huge markets; Monastiraki Neighbourhood is the way to go!

#7. THE ANCIENT AGORA OF ATHENS

What is it?
The ancient Agora of Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis, and was initially used as a marketplace and public gatherings.

Why go?
It is a calm place to take a walk and take in the history of Athens through the many monuments that the Agora has.

Some of the monuments include The Temple of Ares, dedicated to Ares, the god of war, and the Museum of the ancient Agora which contains many fascinating artifacts and artworks from ancient Athens. (Included in the pass)


#8. HIKE UP MOUNT LYCABETTUS

What is it?
Mount Lycabettus is a Cretaceous limestone hill and one of the highest peaks in Athens.
It’s free to climb on foot, and you can also take a cable car to the top if you’re not feeling like walking!

Why go?
Once you reach the top, you’ll be faced with the most breathtaking views of the city, and you can also see the Acropolis light up at night. The hill also has a large open-air amphitheater at the top, which has housed many Greek and international concerts for famous artists like Bob Dylan,
Ray Charles, and B.B. King. 


#9. STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION CULTURAL CENTER (SNFCC)

What is it?
An escape from the crowd into a Mediterranean greenery oasis.

Why go?
Tired of packed places and museums? Why not go to 170’000 square meters of parkland completed with gardens cafes, playgrounds, an eco-friendly glass complex (home to the Greek National Opera), a manmade river, and the National Library of Greece. All along with a beautiful view of the Acropolis.

#10. VISIT THE THEATRE OF DIONYSUS

What is it?
The Theatre of Dionysus is an ancient theatre in Athens on the south slope of the Acropolis hill dedicated to Dionysus, the god of winemaking and ecstasy.

Why go?
It’s the first theater ever constructed and is considered the birthplace of Greek drama. During the 5th century BC, the theatre was the host of the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Aristophanes.

It can be quite baffling to know you’re standing in a place where such masterpieces took place and where history was made for the first time!

#11. HADRIAN’S LIBRARY

What is it?
The last of the major ancient archeological sites to visit: Hadrian’s Library!

Why go?
This library was created by Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132 on the north side of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built in the Roman forum architecture style and it held music rooms, lecture halls, gardens, and a pond for recreation. 
Not much of the library still remains standing today beyond ruins and a few walls, as it was seriously damaged over the ages, but it’s a significant historical site that is definitely worth a visit!

There are also information boards where you can find more information about the history and the significance of the library. Be sure to get there with time to visit the museum inside the site. (Included with your pass)

#12. EXPERIENCE CINE PARIS

What is it?
Do as locals by participating at Athenians summer’s outdoor cinemas! Also known as the legendary Cine Paris.

Why go?
It’s not just in one place but Cine Paris is one of around 90 outdoor films venues in Athens! If you are lucky you can see old Greek and foreign classics, plus the latest Hollywood releases. It was closed for renovations during the whole of 2021, ready to go back at it with a bang in summer 2022?

OVERALL

Hey Goofball, Giorgy is about to share some useful tips for getting around the city:

  • Archeological Sites: Except for the Acropolis which closed at 8 pm, all sites are closed on Sunday and closed around 3 pm every day. Check out the pass for entry to all the archeological sites.
  • Beware of Gypsies: watch out for these clever gypsy children around Athens! Usually, they try to distract you while asking for money or playing an instrument; the other child pickpockets you!
  • Go with the Flow: allow a change in your schedule and just remember to spend plenty of time wandering and discovering the city on your own!

If you’re headed over to Europe for a city break, then Athens is definitely a city you can’t miss!

It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience with its culture, art, beautiful scenes, and bustling nightlife, and it’s also considerably cheap!

These are my top 12 recommendations for things to do while you’re in Athens, Greece.

 

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