Ancient Athens, top things to see.

The Parthenon Athens, Greece
The Parthenon Athens

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Athens is the capital and biggest city of Greece. It is considered one of the world’s oldest cities with its 6.000 year history. It offers visitors a unique experience of witnessing monuments of the antiquity. A visitor can do an archaeological tour of ancient Athens through the 3 km pedestrian zone which leads to all the major archaeological sites.

Heading to Athens for just 48 hours? You can check a great itinerary here.

Top archaeological sites to see in Athens, Greece

This walk through ancient Athens will take you to:

  • Olympieion, which includes the temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman baths classical houses and a section of the ancient city’s fortification wall.
Temple of Olympian Zeus Athens
Temple of Olympian Zeus Athens

 

  • Hadrian’s Arch, the symbolic gate of the city of Athens, it was built in 131 AD on the northwestern perimeter of Zeus temple, in honor of Emperor Hadrian.
Hadrians Arch Athens
Hadrians Arch Athens
  • Dionyssiou Areopagitou Str, is a very impressive street with neoclassical buildings on the one side, the Parthenon and other significant monuments at the other.
neoclassical buildings at Dionyssiou Areopagitou Str Athens
neoclassical buildings at Dionyssiou Areopagitou Str Athens
  • The Ancient theatre of Dionysos, is the most ancient theatre of the world. In this theatre many famous poets of the 5th century BC like Aristophanes and Sophocles saw premiere performance on their plays.
The ancient theatre of Dionysos Athens
The ancient theatre of Dionysos Athens
  • The Stoa of Eumenes, was built on the 2nd century BC by the king Eumenes II. It is situated above the Dionysos theatre and it was used to provide shelter from the rain and sun to the theatre audience.
  • The Odeion of Herodes Atticus, was built in 161 AD by Herodes Tiberius Claudius Atticus, a wealty teacher and philosopher in memory of his wife Regilla. The 5000 seat theatre is now used, as in ancient times, to host organized cultural events.
The Odeion of Herodes Atticus Athens
The Odeion of Herodes Atticus Athens
  • The Acropolis is the symbol of Athens. The monuments on the Sacred Rock include:

The Propylaea, which is the actual entrance of the Acropolis.

The Temple of Athena Victory. It was built in 420 BC in commemoration of the victory of the Greeks against the Persians.

The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. It was built of Pentelic marble by the architects Iktinos and Kallikrates.

The Erechtheion, is the most holy place of Acropolis where goddess Athena planted the olive tree.

The Caryatids, the figures of maidens supporting the balcony of the south side of the temple are copies. Five of the six can be seen in the Acropolis museum and the sixth is on display at the British Museum in London.

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece
The Parthenon, Athens, Greece
The Parthenon Athens, Greece
The Parthenon Athens
  • The Areios Pagos, is the most ancient court of law of the world.After the 6th century this square was the location of the assembly of the people of ancient Athens.
  • The Ancient Agora. The archaeological area of Ancient Agora consists of many monuments including the Temple of Hephaistos, which is the best preserved temple of antiquity. The monument of the Eponymous Heroes, Poikile Stoa, The Stoa of Attalus, the Basileios Stoa and the Odeion of Agrippa. The Ancient Agora was the commercial, political, cultural and religious centre of the time.
The Ancient Agora, Athens
The Ancient Agora, Athens
The Ancient Agora Athens
The Ancient Agora Athens
  • The Roman Agora, is located in the Plaka area. The most important sights include the Kyrristus Clock and the Tower of the Winds.
  • Hadrian’s Library. It was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian and was used to store papyruses and books. The entrance to the archaeological site is on 3 Areos str.
Hadrians Library Athens
Hadrians Library Athens

Athens is full of archaeological sites. If you cover the above you will have seen the most important sites of ancient Athens. Note that you will probably need half a day to view all. Please wear comfortable and not slippery shoes. I have seen a lot of people falling especially on the Acropolis because they were wearing the most inappropriate shoes.

Read more things to do in Athens by Jet Settera.

 Admission tickets to Athens archaeological sites

Tickets

There is a special ticket package for visiting most of ancient Athens monuments costing 30 € full and 15 € reduced which is valid for Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis. The ticket is valid for5 days.

Free admission days

  • 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
  • 5 June (International Enviroment Day)
  • 18 April (International Monuments Day)
  • 18 May (International Museums Day)
  • The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
  • Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
  • 28 October

Reduced admission for:

  • Greek citizens and citizens of other Member – States of the European Union aged over 65 years old by showing their ID card or passport.
  • Students of Higher Education Institutes and equivalent Schools from countries outside the EU by showing their student ID

Free admission for:

  • Escorting teachers during the visits of schools and institutions of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education and of military schools.
  • Members of Societies and Associations of Friends of Museums and Archaeological Sites throughout Greece with the demonstration of certified membership card
  • Members of the ICOM-ICOMOS
  • Persons possessing a free admission card
  • The escorting teachers of schools and institutions of elementary, middle school, high school, university and graduate level education during their visits
  • The official guests of the Greek government, with the approval of the General Director of Antiquities.
  • The employees of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Archaeological Receipts Fund, upon presentation of their service ID card
  • Young people, under the age of 18, after demonstrating the Identity Card or passport to confirm the age

Athens is a place full of history, everywhere you turn your head you will see an ancient ruin. If you are a fan of history and archaeology Athens is the place to visit.

If you are looking for more things to do in Athens you can read my post: Things to do in Athens and Free things to do in Athens.

Have you ever been to Athens? Have you seen any archaeological sites?

 

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18 Comments

  • Thank you, Chrissy for such a detailed guide! For some reason, it is universally so difficult to find information about admission and tickets. I remember desperately trying to figure it out in Montenegro and Estonia alike. One day we will visit Athens, and I’ll use your post as a reference. Thanks!

    • Thank you! I hope you enjoy your stay in Athens! Try to head in the islands at summer. You will love them!

  • I’d love to go and see a performance at the Odeion, open air theatre in such magnificent settings makes it a much more poignant experience. Unless you’re in the UK of course, and then you’ll just get wet when it rains!

  • Love this detailed guide. I think Athens is perfect for walking and discovering the historic sights, there are so many around town too. I’ve been three times and each time I feel like I’m discovering a new city, thanks for laying it out, this post is a perfect guide to follow on a DIY tour of the sites.

  • Great article! I’ve never been to Athens myself but it is on my list…Greece has so much to offer that the two times I made it there didn’t have time to go to the capital

  • Absolutely love Athens! I was able to stay in the city for 2 weeks during a summer study abroad and I just fell in love. I love that you can just turn a corner and BAM there is a historical monument. I haven’t been back since 2006 but this article just reminded me how much I truly love this city. How couldn’t I? This is the city that convinced me to major in classical archaeology after all 🙂

  • I have yet to go to Athens, but I will be sure to keep this post handy when I do! This is a great overall guide of what to see/ background of each spot, and gives me a great idea of where to start. Awesome!

    • I think that 2 to 3 days are enough to see the basic. 3 if you want to visit for example Sounio which just outside Athens or do a day cruise to the nearby islands.

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