The Best Things To Do in Athens

Updated: October 11, 2016

The Best Tours & Day Trips in Athens

1. Delphi Day Trip from Athens – Hotel pickup and transportation to one of the top historical sites in Greece. Tour guide and lunch included.
2. Half-Day Athens Food Tour – Highly recommended! Fun tour of the best food and restaurants in Athens. Also, a stop at the Central Market – a highlight of modern Athens.
3. Athens Highlights Walking Tour – Guided tour of Historical Athens including the Acropolis, Parthenon, Erection, Propylaia, Nike Temple, Dionysus Sanctuary, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and Ancient Agora.
4. Ancient Corinth & the Corinth Canal – Half-day tour of the Corinth Canal with a few other interesting stops along the way.
5. Aegina, Poros, & Hydra 3-Island Cruise – This is a great tour of 3 wonderful islands a short boat ride from Athens. Hotel pickup included. Highly recommended!
6. Mycenae, Nafplion, & Epidaurus – Visit some of the highlights of ancient Greece on this super-interesting Peloponnese tour.
7. Explore Ancient Greece 4-Day Tour – Awesome tour that visits Epdiaurus, Nafplio, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, and the Meteora (my favorite of them all).
8. Get Your Guide – Great website for tours, day trips, and big discounts.

The 10 Best Things To Do in Athens

1. The Acropolis and Parthenon

If you only have time to do one thing in Athens then see the Acropolis (the hill) and the Parthenon (the largest building on the Acropolis). In summer it has long opening hours (8am to 8pm) making it easy to visit on a tight schedule.
The Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens – The top historical attraction in Athens.

2. The Acropolis Museum

This relatively new museum is a highlight of an Athens visit. It’s a short walk from the Acropolis (head south down the hill, the plaka and monastiraki are to the north) so the 2 sites are easy to visit together.
Acropolis Museum in Athens.

3. The National Archaeological Museum

The single best museum in Greece and loaded with archaeological treasures. Unfortunately it’s one of the few main attractions that is not an easy walk from the Plaka/Acropolis area so you’ll need to take a taxi (5 minutes), metro (10 minutes, get out at Omonia station), or walk (about 25 minutes from the Plaka or Syntagma Square).
The National Archaeological  Museum in Athens – The best museum in Athens.

4. Plaka and Monastiraki

A fun lively atmosphere that is filled with historical sites like the Agora, Hadrian’s Library, and Stoa of Attalos. A great area to wander, shop, eat, and sightsee.
The Plaka and Monastiraki areas of Athens – the best area to stay for first time visitors to Athens.

5. Temple of Olympian Zeus

The famous Arch of Hadrian is on the same site and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the Acropolis Museum making it an easy stop in the central area.
Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian's Gate in Athens.

6. Lycabettus Hill

This hill sits across Syntagma Square from the Acropolis Hill and provides great views of the Parthenon and central Athens. There’s a funicular (tram) to help you to the top or climb the whole way.
Lycabettus Hill – Best Views of Acropolis in Athens.

7. Athens Central Market

A wonderful lively slice of modern Athens. Meats, olives, feta, olive oil, fruits, vegetables – you name it, it’s here.
Central Market in Athens – The best market and shopping in Athens.

8. National Gardens

Sitting just behind Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament buildings this is relaxing break from the chaos of busy Athens.
The National Gardens in Athens – The best place for kids in Athens.

9. Cape Sounio

This is an 80 minute drive southeast of Athens but worth the trip if you have 3 days or more in the capital (any less and I think you’re time is better spent in central Athens).
Cape Sounion near Athens – The best short day trip from Athens

10. Gyros and Souvlaki

Athens is loaded with great food and restaurants but nothing beats an authentic gyro from a local shop. There’s a strip of good gyro places very close to Monastiraki station, but if you have time Kavouras in the Exarcheia neighborhood (and not far from the The National Archaeological Museum) is worth seeking out.
Gyros Plate on Athens Souvlaki Row – The best place in Athens for Gyros and Souvlaki.

photo credits

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6 Questions and Comments

  1. Red Bicycle in Santorini

    Do you know anything about the Red Bicycle in Santorini?

    Lee K Richman

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Great little place in Oia. Nice patio and views. Good food but expensive – as most places with a view are. Make reservations.

  2. Bad Areas of Athens

    Are there any bad areas that I need to be aware of in Athens? My hotel is located in the Syntagma Square and the markets and Acropolis are like 20 minutes walking distance.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      Syntagma is a safe busy area and walking between it and the Plaka, Acropolis, or Monastiraki areas is generally fine, day or night. The main artery between Syntagma and Monastiraki is Ermou. Anything south of here feels safe. As you move north of Ermou you’ll encounter areas that feel sketchy. It’s not that they’re that dangerous but, especially as night falls, they’re not an area you want to wander about. If you want to go to the Athens central market (which is to the north) then walk Ermou to Athinas and turn right.

  3. Getting from Airport to Piraeus

    Hi Dave,
    We are getting ready for our trip to Greece and will be starting in Athens, later Mykonos, Santorini and coming back to Athens for one night and fly home the following morning. We are flying from Santorini to Athens – we decided it’s a better option that taking a ferry back – but it seems the transportation from the airport to the hotel (in Piraeus) that night and morning after would add up to 120 Euros. We are thinking renting a car at the airport that night and returning it the following morning might be a cheaper option. What are you thoughts? Is it safe and easy to drive in Athens? The car rental seems to cost 40 euros and the parking would be 14. What should we be aware if we decided to go with a car rental instead of the private shuttle offered by the hotel.
    Thanks in advance!!
    PS: Love your blog!!

    Natalia Rios

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave Post author

      If cost is a concern then take the X96 bus from the airport to Piraeus for about 3€. Metro train requires a change at Monastiraki station and costs a little bit more – but is more pleasant.

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