Visiting the Acropolis – Opening hours, best time to visit, and how to buy tickets

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Updated: June 28, 2020

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The parthenon atop the ancient Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Quick links for booking tickets online:

Skip the line ticket for the Acropolis
Skip the line ticket for the Acropolis Musuem
Small-group Acropolis tour (includes skip the line tickets)

The Acropolis

– One of the most recognized sites in the world and an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece. (If you’re in Athens the Acropolis is a must-see.)
– The birthplace of democracy, it’s an important cultural site not only for Greeks, but worldwide.
– The word Acropolis is from the Greek words akro, meaning “high, extreme, or edge” and polis, meaning “city”.
– The term acropolis is generic and there are many other acropolises in Greece. The Acropolis of Athens has the most historical significance so it’s known as “The” Acropolis.
– An ancient fortress built in the 5th century BC and sits on a hill above Athens. It’s home to several ancient buildings of historical and architectural significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. Other buildings include the Temple of Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the nearby theatre of Odeon of Herodeion.
– The Parthenon is a marble temple that was dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, arts, literature, and war.
– Construction of the Parthenon started in 477 BC. It was completed almost 40 years later in 438 BC.
– Although a little battered, the Parthenon has withstood earthquakes, fire, wars, and explosions through centuries. Partially destroyed in 1687 during the Ottoman-Venetian War, after it was hit by a cannonball that exploded because gunpowder was being stored inside.
– The Temple of Athena Nike is on the southwest corner of the Acropolis. It was built around 420 BC. Nike is Greek for “victory”. Athena was worshipped in this form, representing victory in war.
– The Temple of Erechtheion is on the north side of the Acropolis and dedicated to Athena and the god Poseidon. It was built around 406 BC.
– The Odeon of Herodeion theatre is a structure located on the southwest slope. The building was completed in 161 AD and destroyed in 267 AD. Renovated in 1950. Theatre and concerts still take place here.
– Open daily: Summer months (April 1 to October 31) 8am to 7pm. Last entrance 6:30pm. Winter months (November 1 to March 31) 8am to 5pm. Last entrance at 4:30pm.
– The closest metro station is Akropoli. About 30 meters away from the entrance to Acropolis area (though there are still many more stairs up to the top of the hill).

Acropolis FAQ

Is the Acropolis open?
As of 18 May 2020, the Acropolis and Parthenon are open to the public. Social distancing is strictly enforced in and around the ancient site. Masks are highly recommended but not mandatory.

How much are Acropolis tickets?
The price of Acropolis tickets varies by season. From April 1 to October 31 (peak season), a standard ticket costs €20. From November 1 to March 31, a standard ticket costs €10. You can also qualify for a discount, in certain cases. For instance, children between the ages of 6 and 25 who are not from the European Union and people over 65 from the EU and European Economic Area get 50% off their ticket price during peak months.

Acropolis tickets are categorized into:
• Single-Use (Adults)
• Single-Use Reduced (Children under 18 years, university students and certain others)
• Combo

The prices of the Acropolis single-use entrance & single-use reduced tickets vary depending on the season you visit. A single-use ticket will grant you admission to Acropolis & Slopes. Listed below are the single-use entrance ticket costs to the Acropolis during the summer and winter seasons:
• Summer (1st April to 31st October): An entrance ticket to the Acropolis during the summer season costs 20 euros per adult. For children under the age of 18, students and others (single-use reduced), the cost is 10 euros per ticket.
• Winter (1st November to 31st March): An entrance ticket to the Acropolis during the summer season is reduced to 10 euros per adult. For children under the age of 18, students & others (single-use reduced), the cost is 5 euros per ticket.

If you are looking forward to visiting Acropolis along with the other sites, you can purchase a combo (multi-site) ticket for 30$, which will grant you access to Acropolis & 6 other sites for a period of five days. A combo ticket will cost you 30 euros, irrespective of the season you visit.

Can you buy tickets to the Acropolis online?
Yes, you can buy tickets to the Acropolis online. Just keep in mind that you can’t buy tickets ahead of time for the following season. You can only buy summer tickets from April 1 to October 31, and you can only buy winter tickets from November 1 to March 31.

To purchase your tickets, all you need to do is to visit the Hellenic Ministry of Culture & Sports’ official e-ticketing service. Once there, select “Visitors” and complete the 4-step process to complete the purchase. You may purchase your tickets from any one of the different ticket providers like GetYourGuide, Tiqets, Viator, Musement.

Alternately, you can purchase Acropolis skip-the-line tickets from 3rd parties (like Tiqets) that cost a little more but have a much better user experience and are easier to get refunded should that be necessary.

Note: Booking tickets online (through the Hellenic Ministry) will only help you avoid the ticket-booking line and not the entrance line to the Acropolis. In order to avoid the entrance queue, you’ll have to buy a skip-the-line ticket or opt for a guided tour of the Acropolis.

Tickets for the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The line-up for tickets at the Acropolis can often be 1 to 2 hours long. I highly recommend buying skip-the-line tickets online and in advance.

What does an Acropolis ticket include?
A single-use Acropolis ticket will grant you access to the Acropolis, including the Erechtheion & Parthenon among the different monuments at the top as well as the North & South Slopes. Whereas, a combo ticket will grant you access to the Acropolis & 6 other archaeological sites in Athens, each of them once for a period of five days.

What does the Acropolis combo ticket include and how does it work?
The Acropolis combo ticket gives you admission into the Acropolis, as well as six other archeological sites: the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora, museums in Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, Aristotle’s School, and Kerameikos Cemetery. If you get the combination ticket, you can skip the ticket line for all seven of these sites. The cost of a combo ticket is €30 for both the summer and winter seasons. The combo ticket allows visits to each of the sites once within a 5-days period.

Acropolis Musuem in Athens, Greece.

The view of the Acropolis Museum (the large grey modern building just beyond the Theatre of Dionysus) from the Acropolis. It’s a short walk down between the two must-see attractions.

Is the Acropolis Museum worth it?
Yes, the Acropolis Museum is definitely worth a visit. It’s one of the best museums in Greece and deserves at least two hours to tour – though history lovers could easily spend the better part of a day. The Acropolis and Acropolis Museum Tour (with skip-the-line tickets) is an easy and efficient way to see both attractions.

Can you see the Acropolis for free?
Anyone can also visit the Acropolis for free on the following days:
• March 6 (Melina Mercouri Remembrance Day)
• April 18 (International Monuments Day)
• May 18 (International Museums Day)
• The last weekend of September (European Heritage Days)
• October 28
• Every month’s first Sunday between 1st November & 31st March

At any time, children under 5 from any country get in for free, as do kids, teens, and young adults under 25 from EU countries.

Is the Acropolis free on Sundays?
That depends on the time of year you visit. During the winter months (November 1 to March 31), entry to the Acropolis is free every Sunday. In the summer months (April 1 to October 30), entrance is not free on Sundays.

Do you need skip the line tickets for Acropolis?
Skip-the-line tickets to the Acropolis are highly recommended to save time and energy but they are not mandatory.

Do I need to buy Acropolis tickets in advance?
Buying Acropolis tickets in advance is recommended but it is not mandatory. In-person tickets are for sale near the entrance gates of the Acropolis. Be prepared for long lines to purchase tickets.

What should I wear to the Acropolis?
There aren’t any restrictions on clothing for visiting the Acropolis. You can wear anything you like. Though there is no strict dress code it’s best to use common sense. For instance, a climb up the hill during the hot summer months makes light, casual clothes a better choice than heavier or more formal wear. There is little vegetation in the area and lots of marble so a midday visit can be bright and often hot. As for footwear, flip flops are not allowed. Choose comfortable shoes with good tread, because the steps are made of marble and slippery, and the ground at the top is covered in uneven stones. The Acropolis is an important site for Greeks so while shorts and tank tops are fine, showing good taste and some modesty is always recommended.

How difficult is it to climb the Acropolis?
The Acropolis sits on a hilltop high above the city of Athens, so you’re going to have to sweat a bit to make it to the top. The walk to the top can take up to 20 minutes and involves a steep uphill incline. It’s a good idea to drink some water and catch your breath when you reach the top, especially in the summer heat. Standing in the long lines (if you don’t have a skip-the-line ticket) can be draining for all ages.

What’s the difference between the Acropolis and the Parthenon?
The Acropolis is the name of the hill overlooking Athens on which numerous ancient monuments sit. The most recognizable building at the top of the hill is a temple called the Parthenon. The Ancient Greeks dedicated the Parthenon to the goddess Athena, who was viewed by the people of Athens as their patron.

What buildings are at the Acropolis?
The Acropolis is home to the following ancient buildings:
• The Parthenon
• The Propylaia
• The Erechtheion
• The Temple of Athena Nike
• The Old Temple of Athena
• The Pandrosion
• The Arrephorion
• The Chalkotheke
• The Brauroneion
• The Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
• The Pandion Sanctuary

Other sites on the hill and on the North and South slopes of the Acropolis include:
• The Theatre of Dionysus
• The Odeon of Herodes Atticus (also called Herodeion or Herodion)
• The Peripatos (the ancient pathway that encircles the Akropolis)

How long should you spend at the Acropolis?
If you’re counting the walk up the hill and back down again, budget 40 minutes for the round-trip walk. As for the time you’ll spend at the Acropolis itself, that depends on your sightseeing tendencies. If you just want to do a quick walk-through to say you’ve visited, you can see the Parthenon and other major sites on the hill in about an hour. A more thorough visit with moments of reflection, photos, reading from a guide book, or listening to an audio guide could easily fill two hours or more.

Can you walk up to the Parthenon?
The Parthenon is an ancient temple that has braved the elements for centuries. As such, visitors are forbidden from walking onto the Parthenon itself to prevent further damage or erosion. Many visitors do like to see the Parthenon from all angles, so they walk around the entire circumference of the temple for a better, longer look.

What is the best time to visit Acropolis?
The Acropolis is one of the most famous landmarks in Athens and is prone to large crowds and lines, especially during the peak season (June-August). The busiest time is usually between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. If you want to avoid the largest crowds, arrive at the Acropolis entrance at 7:45 AM, 15 minutes prior to the opening time (8:00 AM). This should allow you a few hours to explore before the busy midday period. Crowds should start to thin around 3:00 PM making the late afternoon and early evening another good time to visit.

Your options are more flexible in the quieter wintertime season, though you’ll still find less traffic early in the morning and later in the day.

Where can I buy Acropolis tickets?
Either you can purchase the tickets online (skip-the-line tickets are recommended) or you can go to the entrance gates and purchase the tickets from the ticket counter. If you wish to buy tickets online, you can do so at the official e-ticketing service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. Two other forms of tickets you can buy are skip-the-line tickets and tour guide-led tickets. It’s advisable to purchase the tickets online as you can expect the ticket-office queue to be quite long and would have to wait for about 1-2 hours until you get your hands on the ticket.

Do you need a tour guide for Acropolis?
It’s not an absolute need by any means. Many people choose to walk around the hill on their own, taking in the sites. You can always use a guide book, audioguide, or scroll around on your smartphone to read about the key features of the Acropolis. That said, a good guide can certainly make the experience much richer and more memorable. If you traveled thousands of miles and spent thousands of dollars to visit Athens, a little more added expense for a good guide will be worth it. This is the guided tour of the Acropolis that I recommend.

Are there descriptions written in front of each building?
Unlike a well-appointed museum that might have elaborate descriptions for each painting, you won’t find many significant explanation descriptions or markings in front of most Acropolis buildings. In fact, the only building at the Acropolis with an extensive description and markings to orient site visitors is the Propylaea, the monumental entrance gates on site.

Can you visit the Acropolis at night?
You cannot visit the Acropolis at night and for good reason: The steepness of the hill combined with darkness would create a major safety hazard, as would the uneven ground and loose stones at the top. The good news is that if you want to see the Acropolis at night, you can see it from anywhere in the city center because it’s lit up after the sun sets.

How many steps up the Acropolis?
The uphill route to the Acropolis consists of several sets of steps. The Acropolis is 150 m (500 ft.) above sea level and 70 m. (230 ft.) above the surrounding neighborhoods from which you will climb. You can expect to climb the equivalent of 200 steps to reach the entrance.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The Propylaea and entrance at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The Parthenon at the Acropolis.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The Erechtheon at the Acropolis.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The Temple of Athena at the Acropolis.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The Temple of Athena Nike as viewed from below as you enter the Acropolis.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The view of Lycabettus Hill from the Acropolis.

Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

The Odeon Theater as viewed from the Acropolis.

Video of the Acropolis

This is a wonderful video on the history of the Acropolis and ancient Athens. Watch it twice. Once, before your trip and again the night before you visit the Acropolis when in Athens. There’s more great historical info from the Khan Academy here.

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