Top things to do in Athens, Greece – 2018 Guide

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Athens the capital of Greece is a city with many points of interest; rich history, good shopping, tasty food and an amazing nightlife. So if you are visiting Athens and you are wondering what to see and do I have made this comprehensive list of the top 30 things to do and see in Athens Greece. I hope you find them interesting and helpful.

What to do in Athens – Greece:

Top thing to do and see in Athens 1: Visit Parthenon and the Ancient Sites

You can buy a combined ticket for 30 € that entitles you with entrance to the following archaeological sites: 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. With just one ticket you will see most important points of interest of Athens.

If you just want to visit the Acropolis tickets cost 20€ from April 1st to October 30th and 10€ from November 1st to March 31st.

The crowds are huge between April and October at the Acropolis. If you want to beat them I recommend that you visit the Acropolis at the opening time (8:00 am). If you are interested in a guided tour I recommend the Acropolis of Athens Early Morning Guided Tour. It starts at 8:30 am but it doesn’t include the entrance fee to the Acropolis.

Alternatively, I recommend the Acropolis Entry Ticket and Welcome Walk. With this option you get an entrance ticket for the Acropolis, you get to skip the line and a 30-minute introductory talk about the Acropolis.

Finally, If you are interested in a guided tour of both the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis, I recommend the Athens, Acropolis and Acropolis Museum Including Entry Fees. This 5-hour guided tour includes skip the line entrance tickets to both sites and a guided tour as well. It also includes a visit to the Panathenaic stadium and the Royal Gardens.

Things to do in Athens the Parthenon
The Parthenon Athens

 2: Acropolis Museum 

Acropolis museum is considered one of the most important museums in Greece. It houses more than 3.000 artifacts from the Acropolis. After your visit, you can grab a lunch or coffee at the museum’s restaurant with breathtaking views of the Acropolis.

A good way to save money and time on your visit to Athens is to buy the Athens City Pass. I reccommend the Classic or Complete Athens City Pass. For more information: Athens City Pass.

3: National Archaeological Museum

It is the largest museum in Greece with more than 20.000 exhibits covering a vast period of history from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity.

4: Watch the Change of the Guards

In front of the Parliament at Syntagma square lies the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded around the clock by two men wearing traditional uniform called Evzones. Every hour takes place the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards.

Top things to do in Athens Change of the Guards
Change of the Guard

5: Have a picnic at the National Gardens

The National Gardens are located behind the Parliament. It is an area with lush greenery, offering an oasis in the centre of Athens. It is an ideal place to relax and have a snack.

Top thing to do in Athens National Gardens Athens
National Gardens Athens

6: Visit the Panathenaic Stadium

The first Modern Olympic Games were held there making the stadium a monument of significant importance. It is the only stadium in the world made from white marble and has a capacity of 60.000 spectators.


7: Buy souvenirs from Monastiraki

Head to Monastiraki district just under the Acropolis. Wander around the flea market and buy souvenirs and gifts for your friends.

Flea Market in Monastiraki
Flea Market in Monastiraki

8: Climb the Philopappou Hill

Philopappou hill is a beautiful park with great views of the Acropolis. There you can discover the Philopappou monument, handmade cobbled roads and the church of Ayios Demetrios Loumbardiaris, a 16th-century basilica with great murals. The area of Philopappou Hill has been designated a Scheduled and Protected Monument of the Global Cultural Heritage.

Philopappou Hill Monument
Philopappou Hill Monument

9: See a performance at Dora’s Stratou theatre

The group of Dora’s Stratou theatre consists of 75 dancers, musicians and singers. The dancers wear traditional Greek costumes of various regions of the country and perform songs and dances from all the periods of the Greek history. The show lasts 90 minutes and tickets cost 15 euros for adults.

Top thing to do and see in Athens 10: Stroll the paved streets of Plaka

Located at the foot of Acropolis, it’s the oldest neighbourhood of Athens. Plaka is a picturesque neighbourhood with the narrow streets, neoclassical houses, shops, restaurants and ruins from the Roman era.

11: Visit Anafiotika, an island in the centre of Athens.

Anafiotika is located in the upper area of Plaka, just under the Acropolis. It is a beautiful area constructed by builders from the Aegean island of Anafi.

Top thing to do in Athens Anafiotica area in Athens
Anafiotica area in Athens

12: Walk along Panepistimiou Avenue from Syntagma to Omonia square.

Along Panepistimiou Street you will find a number of the most important public buildings of the city. Some of these buildings include the Athens Academy, the University, the National Library, the Arsakeion Mansion and many more.

Top thing to do in Athens The National Library at Panepistimiou Steet
The National Library at Panepistimiou Steet

13: Visit the Ottoman monuments

There are a lot of buildings that were preserved from the time that Athens was conquered by the Ottomans (1456 – March 1833). Some of them are the Mosques located in Monastiraki Square, the Hamam (Turkish Baths) which is now home to a museum and many cultural events.

14: Visit Varvakeios Central Market.

In a rectangular building in the heart of Athens, you will find the city’s central market with many food stalls selling meat, fish, vegetables and groceries.

Varvakios Central Market
Varvakios Central Market

15: Climb the Lycabettus hill

Lycabettus hill can be reached either by car, simply follow the only road. On foot through the many footpaths and by the funicular. At the top there is an open air theatre that hosts a lot of cultural events in the summer. If you find yourself in Athens at this time of year watching a performance from up there is a unique experience. You can also visit the church of Ayios Georgios enjoy your coffee in the café or have dinner in Orizodes restaurant. Most importantly enjoy the incredible view of the city.

16: See a performance at Odeion of Herodes Atticus

The 5.000 seat theatre is a venue for concerts of the Athens Festival during the summer months. For more information and performances visit www.greekfestival.gr.

17: Take the train and visit Piraeus, Athens major port.

You can take the train from Monastiraki or Omonia station and head to Piraeus. Near to the port you can walk along marina Zeas where the cruise ships stop and have lunch or coffee in one of the waterfront restaurants and cafes. You can also visit Microlimano popular for its nightlife and Kastella, an elegant neighbourhood with incredible views to the surrounding areas.

18: Try an escape game

There are a lot of escape rooms around Athens at the moment. You and your friends can book one of the many and spend an hour solving riddles and finally escaping the room. There is also a Greek-related room in Athens Clue called the Lost Statues of Knossos which is currently my favorite one.

19: Visit the Attica Zoological Park

With or without kids the Attica Zoological Park located near Athens airport deserves your visit. In a vast area of 200 acres the park accommodates more than 2000 animals and 300 species. Don’t miss the educational programme with the dolphins.

Attica Zoological Park
Attica Zoological Park

Top thing to do and see in Athens 20: Outlet shopping in Spata

In Spata area close to the airport and the zoological park there the Mc Arthur Glenn Athens designer outlet. It is a big mall with many shops, restaurants, cafes, playgrounds and cinema. The easiest way to get there is by public transport. The closest metro station is Doukissis Plakedias. From there you can either take the bus 319 or take the free shuttle.

outlet shopping mall
outlet shopping mall

21: Go shopping in downtown Athens

The major shopping areas in downtown Athens are Ermou Street opposite Syntagma square and Kolonaki a 10-minute walk from Syntagma. In Ermou street one can find a great variety of shops selling from women’s clothing to accessorize and home ware. Kolonaki on the other hand, is considered a posh neighbourhood with designer boutiques and expensive jewellery shops.

22: Make a day trip to Sounio

Sounio is located just 1 hour away from the city of Athens. Apart from the lovely beaches in the area where you can have a swim in the summer, it is famous for its archaeological site. At Sounio you can visit the temple of Poseidon the god of the sea, from where you can admire one of the most beautiful sunsets. Sounio is a very popular day trip from Athens.

Check here my day trip to Sounio.

If you are looking for guided tours. I suggest the following:

23: Cruise to 3 nearby islands

From the port of Piraeus you can catch one of the many ships that make daily excursions to 3 islands of the Saronic Gulf. The beautiful islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina. While on board you will have the chance to enjoy a beautiful buffet and live entertainment.

Read my experience on the one -day cruise to 3 islands.

Find more information and book this cruise

24: Swim at Lake Vouliagmeni

The lake is located in the suburb of Athens called Vouliagmeni just 25 km from the centre of Athens. It is famous for its therapeutic waters that maintain a 24 degrees Celsius temperature year round. Apart from swimming you there is a café on site along with a playground for the children.

Lake Vouliagmeni
View of Lake Vouliagmeni from above

25: Relax in a Hammam

After all that walk you have done in order to discover the city, the best thing to do is find a place to relax and pamper yourself. Hammam is the perfect place to do it. It is located in the centre of Athens and offers services like hammam baths, massage and beauty treatments.

Read about my experience here.

26: Taste local products and wine in a Wine bar

The best way to taste the real Greece is through one of the many wine bars. There you will have the chance to meet locals and taste traditional products and wine from around Greece.

A good way to save money and time on your visit to Athens is to buy the Athens City Pass. I reccommend the Classic or Complete Athens City Pass. For more information: Athens City Pass.

27: Try Street Food

Trying one of the many street food available in Athens is something you shouldn’t miss. There is a big variety from the traditional Greek souvlaki and the koulouri to oriental choices like Indian souvlaki and falafels

Stand selling koulouria in Athens
Stand selling koulouria in Athens

28: Enjoy your coffee or drink with a view

There are many rooftop bars and cafes in the city offering panoramic views of the Acropolis and the city of Athens. You could try the café at the Acropolis museum or the rooftop of A for Athens hotel in Monastiraki square.

Read here the best places to enjoy your drink with a view.

Tip: A good way to save money and time on your visit to Athens is to buy the Athens City Pass  I reccommend the Classic or Complete Athens Pass. For more information: Athens City Pass

29: Watch a movie in an open-air cinema

There are a couple of open-air cinemas that operate during the summer months in the centre of Athens some of them offering incredible views of the city and the Acropolis like Cine Thisio.

Top thing to do and see in Athens 30: Admire the Street Art

In the last couple of years Athens has been filled with remarkable Street Art. You can discover it either by yourselves in the streets around Monastiraki and Psiri area or by a guided tour.

Find more information and book your street art tour here.

Street Art
Street Art

How to get from and to Athens airport

There are quite a few options for getting from the Athens airport to downtown, and it all depends on your personal preference! It’s also worth asking if your hotel offers any transfers from the airport to there!

Metro

You can take the metro, and choose Line 3 which will take you from the Athens airport straight to the city center. It runs every 30 minutes, all week long, from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. The entire trip will last you about 40 minutes, and you will be dropped off at Syntagma square.  The ticket costs 10 euros.

The metro is a great option since it’s clean, new, all stops are clearly identified, and you get to avoid traffic.

Time: 40 minutes

Cost: 10 EUR

Proastiakos – Suburban Railway

You can also try taking the Suburban railway, which is an electric train that takes you from the airport to the central railway stations in Athens, and the entire trip lasts 40 minutes as well. After arriving to the central railway station, you can switch and continue to the city center using the same ticket you purchased.

You’ll find that those trains depart from the same platform as the metros.

Time: 40 minutes

Cost: 10 EUR

Bus

You have the option of taking a bus from the express bus station, and you can choose from five different lines. The trip takes from 35 to 60 minutes depending on your destination.

X95 is the one you should take to reach the city center. It will drop you off right at Syntagma

square.

Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Cost: 6 EUR.

Shuttle Bus

If you want to avoid waiting at a bus stop and want to be taken or picked up from the hotel, a shuttle bus is a great option.

Time: under 60 minutes

Cost: 20 EUR p.p

For more information and to book your shuttle bus check here.

Taxis

Taxis are a convenient option, specifically if you have a lot of luggage and you’re not tight on

budget. You’ll find dozens of taxis standing at the designated Taxi waiting area, right after you get out of Exit 3 of Arrivals Level.

There is a flat rate of 38 EUR from the airport to the city center, and if you arrive from midnight until 5 am that increases sharply to 54 EUR.

Private Airport Transfer with Welcome Taxi

You can pre-book a car online before your arrival, and find your driver waiting for you at the arrivals with a welcome name sign and a bag with a bottle of water and map of the city, thus saving you all the hassle of having to find a taxi/bus/metro.

There is a flat rate of 38 EUR from the airport to the city center, and if you arrive from midnight until 5 am that increases sharply to 54 EUR.

The trip takes approximately 35 minutes.

For more information and to book your private transfer click here.

Where to stay in Athens, Greece

Here are my picks for the best accommodations in Athens, Greece:

Athens is usually fully booked from April to November so book early for the best hotels and prices.

Budget Hotels in Athens

Here are my suggestions on budget accommodation in Athens (please avoid staying in areas like Metaxourgio, Omonia, Patission, Larissis Train Station and Vathis Square although they are cheaper).

Attalos Hotel offers simple air-conditioned rooms with free wi-fi just 100m away from Monastiraki square.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

Evripides Hotel is located near Monastiraki square, close to all the city’s attractions. It offers simple air-conditioned rooms with free wi-fi.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com orBooking.com

Adam’s Hotel is centrally located in Plaka district just 400m from the Acropolis. It offers old fashioned rooms with air-condition, TV, free Wi-Fi and a fridge.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

Arethusa Hotel is centrally located next to Plaka and 50 m away from Syntagma square with direct connections by metro to the airport. It offers simple, old fashioned rooms with air-condition, TV, free Wi-Fi, and a fridge.

Check out the latest prices and more details Hotels.com or Booking.com

Mid-Range Hotels in Athens

Titania Hotel is centrally located 5 minutes on foot from Syntagma Hotel. It offers renovated air-conditioned room with free wi-fi and great views of the Acropolis from its rooftop terrace.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or  Booking.com

Best Western Amazon Hotel is centrally located between Syntagma square and Plaka. It offers air-conditioned rooms and free wi-fi.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com .

360 degrees is located in Monastiraki square at the heart of the historic district. It offers modern rooms with all the amenities; air-condtion, TV, free-wifi and buffet breakfast with vegan options. Other hotel amenities include a rooftop bar-restaurant with breathtaking views of the Acropolis.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

Boutique Hotels in Athens

Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel is located in a restored neoclassical building close to the Acropolis Museum. It offers charming rooms with free Wi-Fi and eco-friendly mattresses.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

Fresh Hotel offers stylish rooms with free Wi-Fi access at the heart of Athens. The rooftop bar offers amazing views of the Acropolis.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com orBooking.com

Herodion Hotel offers elegant rooms next to the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum. Its rooms offer all the modern amenities you would expect from a 4-star hotel. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar that offers panoramic views of the Acropolis.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com or Booking.com

5 Star Hotels in Athens

Hilton Athens offers luxurious rooms and suites, the biggest swimming in Athens and a great rooftop bar with Acropolis views.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com orBooking.com

St George Lycabettus Hotel is located in upmarket Kolonaki square and offers spacious rooms with breathtaking views of the Acropolis. It is also a very family friendly hotel.

Check out the latest prices and more details at Hotels.com orBooking.com

You can also check my post on Free things to do in Athens.

You can easily realise after reading this list that Greece’s capital Athens, has many points of interest. Have you visited Athens Greece? Have you done any of the above? What was your favourite attraction in Athens? Do you have something else to propose? I am more than happy to listen to your reviews and ideas.

Tip: Never travel to Greece without a travel insurance. Get a free quote today.

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26 Comments

  • You’re very lucky to live in such a beautiful city with so many things to do! I have book marked this page for when I visit! 🙂

  • Don’t expect to see zebra and giraffe’s on a post about the top things to see in Athens when there is so much world history in the city 🙂

  • wow! A lot has changed since I was last in Athens. I will be there in August so filing this post away for reference. Good stuff listed here!

  • Athens has been on our list for so long, it just got relegated to the someday file. Reading your comprehensive list has made me realise it’s time to action this someday plan!

  • What are your thoughts on Syriza? I think their Finance Minister should be dismissed immediately. The man is gambling with his country’s future as if it is a political problem, instead of one of basic calculus. I really hope the country doesn’t start drifting towards dictatorships which could possibly bail them out – yes, I’m talking about Russia.

    • Although it is not the place to talk about politics, I am against Syriza, I really can’t understand what they are trying to do.

  • haha, the guards have super funny shoes! The photo just cracked me up, their look is a bit ridiculous 😀

    Regarding Athens, though, I’ve been wanting to go there since forever – specifically for Parthenon, actually, but its great to see that there’s bunch of other things I can do in the city! Thanks for giving my some future tips)

  • What a great list! i have been putting Athens off with my son because he would get too bored, but looks like some great things on this that he would find interesting.

  • I was really pleased to read these suggestions and recall that I did almost all of them while I was in Greece 🙂 The one thing I didn’t do was the escape room – those are becoming increasingly rampant around the globe! 🙂

  • Reading this I realise I need to go back to Athens and do a lot more. So much in this city, I only touched the sides when I was there for a few days. The historic sites are fantastic and I loved the bars and restaurants in Monastiraki. Thanks for some great recommendations

    • I am happy you enjoyed your time in Athens. Even I that live in Athens I am discovering new things every day!

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