The Best Tours and Things To Do in Athens

Updated: April 20, 2017

The best tour of Athens, Greece

Highly recommended: Half-day food tour of Athens.

The Best Tours & Day Trips in Athens, Greece

  • 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.
  • Athens, the Acropolis, & Acropolis Museum 5-Hour Tour – Guided tour of Historical Athens including the Acropolis, Parthenon, Erection, Propylaia, Nike Temple, Dionysus Sanctuary, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and Ancient Agora. If you only have time for one Athens tour make it this one.
  • Acropolis Skip-The-Line Walking Tour – A short 1.5 hour tour of just the Acropolis. I think most people will appreciate the longer tour (above) but if you’re interested in only the Parthenon and the Acropolis then this one is good.
  • 3-Hour Cooking Lesson & Dinner – Great introduction to Greek food and how to make it. Cook 7 or 8 dishes (depending on the menu), eat what you make, and go home with a recipe book. Very family-friendly.
  • Delphi Day Trip from Athens – Hotel pickup and transportation to one of the top historical sites in Greece. Tour guide and lunch included.
  • Ancient Corinth & the Corinth Canal – Half-day tour of the Corinth Canal with a few other interesting stops along the way.
  • 3-Island Day Trip to Aegina, Poros, & Hydra – This is a great tour of 3 wonderful islands a short boat ride from Athens. Hotel pickup included. Highly recommended!
  • Explore Ancient Greece 4-Day Tour – Awesome tour that visits Epdiaurus, Nafplio, Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, and the Meteora (my favorite of them all).
  • 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

The Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens – The top historical attraction in Athens.
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. Having a guide makes the experience much more rewarding.

2. The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum is one of the best attractions in Athens, Greece.
This relatively new museum is a highlight of a visit to Athens. It’s a short walk from the Acropolis (head south down the hill towards the Odeon of Herodes Atticus) so the 2 sites are easy to visit together and complement each other well.

3. The National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological  Museum in Athens – The best museum in Athens.
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).

4. Plaka and Monastiraki

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

5. Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrians Gate in Athens.
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.

6. Lycabettus Hill

View of Athens and Mount Lycabettus, Athens, Greece.
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.

7. Athens Central Market

Central food and vegetable market in Athens, Greece.A wonderful lively slice of modern Athens. Meats, olives, feta, olive oil, fruits, vegetables – you name it, it’s here.

8. National Gardens

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

9. Cape Sounio

The best day trip from Athens: Ancient temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Greece
This is an 80 minute drive southeast of Athens but only worth the trip if you have 3 days or more in the capital (any less and your time is better spent in central Athens).

10. Gyros and Souvlaki

Best Greek food to eat in Athens.
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. The best restaurant in the Plaka area is Psaras Taverna.

photo credits

See Also

20 Questions and Comments

  1. Audio Guide Tour of Acropolis

    Hey Dave,
    My wife and I will be in Athens in mid June, and we were wondering if its possible to tour the Acropolis and museum with an audio guide (we did something similar in Rome and Pompeii in Italy). Or would you definitely recommend having a person guide us?

    Thanks!
    Marc

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Personally, I like a real-person guide so would definitely recommend going that way.

  2. Athens in November

    Hi Dave,

    I and my partner are planning for a honeymoon in November this year.
    Our dates are from November 6 to November 15. Is it a good time to travel in November?
    Jinal Shah

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Athens is great in early November. Still warmish weather with little rain. Tourist spots are quieter than summer but everything is open year-round. Local culture feels much more vibrant outside of the tourist high season from May to October.

  3. How To Spend a Few Hours in Athens

    Hi Dave – our family of 4 are travelling to Santorini (from Australia) in July to attend my brothers wedding. Our return flights have been booked such that we will have approx. 6 hours in Athens, as our flight arrives from Santorini at 10.30am Thurs 6/7 and departs Athens at 6pm (to Dubai).
    Rather than spending this time hanging out at the airport, is there anything in particular that you suggest that we do? Our 2 daughters are aged 11 and 8, and I was thinking that we hop on a train / bus and travel to downtown Athens for some exploring. However, very happy to be guided by you. Thanks for such a great site 🙂
    Lydia

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      The highlight of Athens is the Acropolis and Parthenon. I would hop in a taxi and go straight to the Acropolis (ask the driver to drop you as close as possible). A tour guide of the Acropolis is very much worth getting. You can book these in advance or chance finding one at the entrance gate. Afterwards either head down the north side of the Acropolis to the Plaka to wander the narrow streets and get lunch. Or go down to the south side and go to the excellent Acropolis Museum. You’ll probably want to be in a taxi heading back to the airport by 3:15pm. There’s luggage storage at the Athens Airport – when you exit arrivals/customs turn left and go all the way to the end.

  4. Italy and Greece in Early September

    Hi Dave, hoping for your valuable input. My friend and I are planning to visit Greece and Italy on August 31st til September 10th. I have been hearing that not much could be done in Athens, thus was thinking of the following itinerary below (I know you might not be able to comment on Italy, but the Greece part would definitely help me).

    Thurs – arrive early morning in Athens and spend the day around Athens
    Friday – Take a flight/ferry to Mykonos
    Saturday – Mykonos
    Sunday – Mykonos to Santorini
    Monday – Santorini
    Tuesday – take a flight from Santorini to Florence/Rome

    Is it even worth it to have both Mykonos and Santorini on our itinerary, or we can just choose one?

    Reason why we packed everything together is it’s our first time to visit Greece and may possibly be a long time before we come back.

    Jason

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      That sounds like a fine itinerary. But if you’re really not interested in Athens you could save time by flying Italy to Mykonos, ferry to Santorini, fly Santorini to Italy. Mykonos and Santorini are very different so it’s not unreasonable to include both.

  5. Tour Guides at Acropolis

    Dave: My family and I will be in Athens for 2 and half days, we land on saturday early evening and depart for Crete Tuesday afternoon. I have looked through your suggestions for Athens and plan to see the acropolis, acropolis museum, archeological museum, and the central market or maybe the Sunday market? Can you hire a guide at the acropolis for an informational tour or do you need to book in advance? If you can book there is that advisable and do you pay the guide’s entrance fee too? Which day would you go? Is the acropolis museum open every day? We will be there in two weeks so it will be mid march. We’d like to do more than wander at the acropolis, and feel a guide would be helpful. What do you suggest, we’d also like to avoid the most crowded days, is there a way to predict when it’s the busiest? Thanks Carla

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Yes, there should be tour guides at the main gates of the Acropolis. They’re very good and definitely worth getting. You can arrange in advance if having a guide is a must.

  6. Rental Car for Greece Trip

    Dave,
    We are planing our trip to Athens, Santorini, and Crete in July 21017. We are planing to rent a car for Santorini and Crete. Would you suggest to book car a head of time or at time of arrival? And what are best rental places on Crete and Santorini?
    Nataliya

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      Booking after you arrive will be fine 95% of the time. There are rental companies on every street and they’re all the same: friendly, a little shady, but all’s good in the end. One exception is if you are flying into Santorini it’s often easier to have a rental car reserved for airport pickup so you don’t have to queue for a taxi. More car rental info here.

  7. Late Night Bus from Airport to Syntagma

    Hi Dave, we are arriving to Athens at 2 am, our hotel is located in the Syntagma square, two blocks away from the bus station, is it safe to take the bus from the airport at 3 am? or should we take a taxi for sure?
    Thanks!
    Can´t stop reading your blog!!!! 🙂

    Mariela

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      The bus itself is certainly safe. You might feel a little anxious as you walk to your hotel from the bus stop. I consider this a safe area but if you take a wrong turn or two you might be thinking, I wish we just took a taxi. So, I’d personally feel fine busing and walking but if you want easy and no-worries then the taxi is the way to go.

  8. Red Bicycle in Santorini

    Dave,
    Do you know anything about the Red Bicycle in Santorini?

    Lee K Richman

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

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

  9. 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.
    Ashley

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Guide to Greece

      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.

  10. 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 The Guide to Greece

      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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