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25 Best Things To Do In Athens

From museums to markets, temples to neighborhoods. 

The southernmost capital in Europe is alight with the energy of its three million citizens. Athens, a sprawling mass of classical and contemporary white buildings, has gone far beyond its seven hills and spreads wide from the mountains to the sea. The Acropolis rises in the center of the city around which its citizens dance, drink, and serve traditional dishes like moussaka. But there is more to see than just the Parthenon in this birthplace of democracy. The Monastiraki neighborhood, for example, is filled with vibrant markets and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center has over 150,000 sq. meters of gardens. 

With so much to do, see, and eat, it's hard to know how best to plan out your itinerary for optimal sightseeing—whether it's your first time visiting or your fifth. This list of the best things to do in Athens is a great place to start.

But remember—no list of things to do can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Journy. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete not only with activities, but also restaurants, cafés, bars, transportation, and accommodation.

1Check Out The Parthenon


Athens, Greece
The ancient Athenians built this temple in honor of their matron goddess, Athena, in 438 BC. 

While not close to its former glory, the Parthenon is the most important surviving monument of Classical Greece and Athenian democracy. Although a temple in name, it was not until the end of the 6th century that the Parthenon became a building of religious use, when it was converted into a Christian temple. 

While much of the original building has been destroyed (namely by time, a fire, and battles), the Parthenon has undergone many extensive restorations, the latest of which is nearly completed.

2Visit The Acropolis of Athens


Athens, Greece
The Acropolis may be so well known that you fear it won’t live up to your expectation. Rest assured: this timeless Greek treasure doesn’t disappoint. 

While crowded, the Acropolis demands to be seen, as does the Parthenon nearby. Take your time wandering around the ancient citadel, and soak in how your surroundings change with the different light of the sun. 

When you’re all tuckered out, head down to the Plaka neighborhood and recuperate with a glass of local wine.
Sounds like something you’d like to experience? Trust the experts at Journy to build an itinerary from scratch just for you with all the must-see sights and hidden gems.

3Explore Monastiraki Square


Apollonos 21, Athina 105 57, Greece
In the heart of the flea market neighborhood in old Athens, Monastiraki is a former monastery and beautiful square buzzing with people, music, restaurants, and shops—including an antique market bursting with curiosities. Grab a peach at one of the fresh fruit stands and check out TAF (The Arts Foundation), a part-café/bar, part-art gallery. 

4Explore Syntagma Square (and see the hourly changing of the guards)


Pl. Sintagmatos, Athina 105 63, Greece
Although Syntagma Square is famous these days as a hub of working-class protests, it’s always been known for the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder. The ceremony is still a fixture on the square, with presidential guards marching in sync in their traditional southern Greek costumes every hour on the hour. On Sundays at 11am, there’s an official change accompanied by military music.

5See The Temple of Olympian Zeus


Athens, Greece
This colossal temple in the heart of Athens (just southeast of the Acropolis) took centuries to build before it was completed in the second century AD. Although only a handful of its original 100+ Corinthian columns remain, the site of the largest temple in Greece is worth visiting, especially at night—the lights are spectacular!

6Visit Hadrian's Arch


Leoforos Vasilissis Amalias, Athina 105 57, Greece
Constructed to celebrate the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian into Athens, this structure dates back to 131 AD.

This Ancient arch is made of marble and is located near the Temple of Olympian Zeus—not far from Athens’s Acropolis.

7Take In The Odeon of Herodes Atticus


Areopagitou Dionisiou, Athina 105 55, Greece
Located on the southern slope of the Acropolis of Athens, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (also called Herodeion or Herodion) is a Roman stone theater that dates back to 161 AD (although it was renovated in 1950).

Today, the Herodion is a prime location for the high arts, with frequent ballets and operas performed here.

8Visit The Ancient Agora of Athens


Adrianou, Athina 105 55, Greece
The Ancient Agora of Athens is the best remaining example of Ancient Greece’s social hub.

Located near the Acropolis, this Ancient Agora would have been where many Athenian citizens would have gathered for athletic, artistic, political, and spiritual pursuits in one of the most important buildings in the city. Today, it is a popular landmark where tourists can learn about the world’s first civilization.

9Take In The Amazing Views From Mount Lycabettus


Mount Lycabettus, Athens 114 71, Greece
A walk to the top of Mount Lycabettus is one of the best ways to spend a morning or a late afternoon in Athens. Along with the great views (all the way to Peloponnese on a clear day!), you’ll find the small church of St. George at the summit of the limestone hill. If you don’t have the energy to walk, take the funicular railway, which you can catch at the top of Ploutarchou street in Kolonaki. It costs two euros each way.

10Visit The Erechtheion Ruins 


Akropolis, Athina 105 58, Greece
Dedicated to Athena and Poseidon, The Erechtheion is an especially elegant temple on the north side of the Acropolis. Built in the year 420, it was a site of religious rituals and is still home to the famous Caryatids, a half-dozen massive, life-like female statues that guard the temple's southwest corner.

11Stroll Around Plaka


Plaka, Athens 105 58, Greece
Although the Plaka is a hub for tourists, it's still worth your shopping time. Whether it’s clothing, food, or souvenirs you’re after, the tiny streets make for a great stroll. For the best deals, venture into the areas between the Plaka and Syntagma, and between Syntagma and Omonia. It's here where you'll find all the spots where locals shop for hidden treasures (at non-tourist prices). 

12Enjoy a Picnic On Monument Philopappos


Filopappos Hill, Thisseio, Athens, Athina 104 38, Greece
Atop Mouseion Hill across from the Acropolis, the Philopappos Monument is the elaborate tomb of Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappos, a member of the royal family of Commagene, a small Hellenistic kingdom in southeastern Turkey. The hill is a favorite for weekending Athenians who flock to the scenic spot to picnic and admire the spectacular views. 

13See The Theatre of Dionysus


Mitseon 25, Athina 117 42, Greece
Built in the late 6th century, the Theatre of Dionysus is Athens’s preeminent theatre, and is nestled at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis. 

Dedicated to the Athenian god Dionysus, lord of wine making and ecstasy, it is considered by many to be the birthplace of European theater—not to mention the model for future Greek theatres.

14Visit The Acropolis Museum


Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42, Greece
Focused on the archaeological finds of its namesake, The Acropolis Museum is home to many of the original sculptures that once graced the Acropolis itself. In a well-designed modern building at the foot of the hill, it contains works from the Greek Bronze Age, Roman times, and Byzantine Greece—making it a must-visit for both first-time and repeat visitors to Athens.

Arrive early to avoid the tour groups, and be sure to visit the glassed-in top floor dedicated to the Parthenon.

15Explore The Upscale Neighborhood of Kolonaki


Kolonaki, Athens 106 75, Greece
The home of the Athenian aristocracy, Kolonaki (literally “Little Column”) is a posh neighborhood in central Athens on the southern slopes of Mount Lycabettus. You’ll find the city’s highest concentration of trendy fashion boutiques here, along with private art galleries and many (mostly upscale) bars and restaurants. Keep your eyes open for Greek celebrities enjoying a coffee or two in one of the chic cafes.

16Explore Central Municipal Athens Market


Athinas, Athina 105 51, Greece
Frenetic and colorful, the Central Market of Athens is a sensory and gastronomic treat. You’ll find an amazing range of olives, spices, cheeses, and deli treats, along with the historic meat market. Feel free to do as the Athenians do and pop into one of the tavernas bordering the market for a beverage or a snack.

17Stroll Down Pittaki Street 


Pittaki, Athina 105 54, Greece
The former underground district of Psirri is now a dynamic neighborhood whose streets are lined with bars, cafés, outdoor street art museums, boutique vintage shops, and more. The most well-known street, Pittaki, is tucked away in an industrial alley not too far from Monastiraki Square. Back in 2012, the non-profit Imagine The City joined forces with a creative design agency to give the unassuming, forgotten street a well-deserved makeover complete with donated lamps, shades, chandeliers, and lanterns that were weatherproofed, wired, and strung together over the street. 

18Relax In The National Gardens


Amalias 1, Αμαλίας 1, Athina 105 57, Greece
The National Garden of Athens is a peaceful getaway that sharply contrasts its city center surroundings—it’s situated behind the Greek Parliament Building. With ample greenery, plant species, and animals (keep an eye out for turtles), it's the perfect place to stroll on a lazy morning or afternoon. Lose yourself in the 38-acre labyrinth of plants and paths that fill this unique garden oasis, or visit the cafe and botanical museum. 

19Visit Pnyx Hill 


Pnyx, Athens 117 41, Greece
Located in the heart of Athens, Pnyx Hill was once the official meeting place of the Athenian democratic assembly. Despite its status as one of the most notable monuments to the democratic legacy of ancient Athens, it's not the most popular with tourists—making it a great spot for a peaceful stroll and stunning views of the city. 

20Visit Brettos, The Oldest Distillery In Athens


Kidathineon 41, Athina 105 58, Greece
Brettos Bar, which is located in the heart of the Plaka just steps from the Acropolis, is the oldest distillery in Athens. Locals and tourists alike love to stop by this colorful, cozy spot for a shot of house-made ouzo, brandy, or one of their 36 artisan liqueurs. Also available is a selection of local Greek wines. 

21Relax In Luxury At Hammam Baths


Ag. Asomaton 17, Thissio / Athens 105 53, Greece
Hammam Baths is a modern and luxurious spa that pays homage to the traditional hammam experience. It’s a great place to wind down and relax, thanks to the pleasant and soothing environment, along with the attention to detail in each treatment. Entrance to the spa comes with access to the steam room and a selection of lotions, plus tea and refreshments. Bathing suits are required and reservations are recommended. 

22Visit Panathenaic Stadium


Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athina 116 35, Greece
Originally built in the 4th century BC as a venue for the Panathenaic athletic contests, the Panathenaic Stadium is a multi-purpose sports arena that has seen everything from bloodsports to Olympic Games. 

Although it lay unused for centuries, the stadium was fully restored in 1895 to host the first modern Olympic Games the following year. This faithful replica of the original Panathenaic Stadium has since hosted the archery competition and the marathon finish during the 2004 Olympics.

23Explore The Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art


Neofitou Douka 4, Athina 106 74, Greece
The Museum of Cycladic Art is one of the best living cultural spaces in Athens, boasting the largest independent collection of Cycladic art in the world. The first floor is dedicated to simple marble figurines dating from 3000-2000BC, the second and third floors feature Greek and Cypriot art dating from 2000BC to the fourth century AD, and the fourth floor includes artifacts and films depicting life in ancient Greece. Closed on Tuesdays. 

24See Street Art At Sarri 12 Gallery


Sarri 12, Athina 105 53, Greece
Stop by Sarri 12 Gallery for a taste of Athens's street art. Located in the historic Psirri district, the gallery serves as a venue to promote urban art culture and support emerging talents. You’ll see works by both international and local artists, including large-scale wall murals used as a platform to spur dialogue about significant social and political issues. 

25Shop At Monastiraki Flea Market


Ifestou, Athina, Greece
Monastiraki Flea Market is a bazaar with a festive atmosphere and plenty of souvenir stalls (think t-shirts, sandals, worry beads, and trinkets). The market is known for its permanent antique and collectables shops, which are open all week, as well as the artisan vendors who sell crafts and handmade jewelry at Avissynias Square on Sundays. 

Insider tip: Stop by Abysinia Cafe on Efestou Street to catch live music and dancing in the streets. 

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