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27 Best Things to do in Athens

Greece

One of the top things to do in Greece is undoubtedly to visit Athens. The capital city is home to the Acropolis of Athens, which itself houses several of the world’s most important ancient structures. If you’re searching for things to do in Athens with kids, combine time spent at places like the Acropolis with adventures to the Children’s Museum, Voula Beach, and Mount Lycabettus. As for things to do in Athens tonight, head to Plaka to enjoy a traditional Greek meal at one of its many local restaurants. For more ideas, here are 27 of the best things to do in Athens this weekend.

Acropolis of Athens
By Sven Hansche

1. Acropolis of Athens

Sitting on a rocky limestone outcrop overlooking the city, the Acropolis of Athens is one of the world’s most famous ancient archaeological sites; dating back 2500 years. It contains the remains of several ancient buildings, including the Erectheion and the renowned Parthenon – a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Visiting the Acropolis is without a doubt one of the top things to do in Athens. To beat the crowds, make sure you arrive early. 

Parthenon
By Kristoffer Trolle

2. Parthenon

As mentioned, the Parthenon is located within the Acropolis of Athens. Dedicated to the goddess Athena (the city’s patron), construction on the white marble temple began in 447 BC. Over the millennia, the Parthenon has been used as a treasury, a Byzantine church, a Roman Catholic cathedral, and a mosque. Often regarded as a magnificent monument to democracy, the Parthenon is a must-visit attraction. Visitors are encouraged to purchase skip-the-line tickets online in advance.

Acropolis Museum
Courtesy of Wikipedia

3. Acropolis Museum

The world-renowned Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum established in 2009 to exhibit significant artifacts discovered across the Acropolis’ ancient sites. One of the world’s best museums, experts recommend starting at the Parthenon Gallery on the top level. Don’t miss must-see sights like the Archaic Gallery, filled with columns bathed in natural light; and the Gallery of the Slopes of Acropolis, where you can look down through the glass floor to see ancient neighborhood ruins.

Temple of Olympian Zeus
By Georgios Tsichlis

4. Temple of Olympian Zeus

It took nearly 700 years to complete the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is considered one of the world’s largest and finest ancient temples. Dedicated to Zeus, only 15 of the temple’s 104 original Corinthian columns remain. Each column is 56 feet high and approximately seven feet wide. The Temple of Olympian Zeus is located near Hadrian’s Arch in modern Athens, with the city center and other attractions like the Acropolis within easy walking distance.

National Archaeological Museum
By PNIK

5. National Archaeological Museum

The country’s largest museum, the National Archaeological Museum houses (and protects) some of the most important artifacts excavated in Athens and across the country. Dating from prehistory to late antiquity, it’s said to have the world’s finest collection of ancient Greek art. Some of the must-see exhibits include the gold death mask of Agamemnon from the Greek bronze age; and the Zeus or Poseidon and The Horse and Jockey – bronze statues found in a shipwreck.

Syntagma Square
By trabantos

6. Syntagma Square

Located in the heart of the city, Syntagma Square is its most important and famous square. Home to the Greek parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Syntagma Square hosts regular demonstrations and politically-motivated rallies and is a common meeting point for locals. Not far from the square you will find popular ancient attractions like the aforementioned Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Hadrian’s Arch. Any Athens adventure should start at Syntagma Square.

Ancient Agora of Athens
By Anastasios71

7. Ancient Agora of Athens

Another reason to visit the Acropolis is to see the Ancient Agora of Athens, which is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora (or marketplace). Founded in the 6th century BC, it’s a major archaeological site home to many ancient buildings and structures, including the well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus and the museum at the Stoa of Attalos. Of all the things to do in Athens, you don’t want to miss a visit to the Acropolis.

Monastiraki
By Photo Oz

8. Monastiraki

Monastiraki is a central neighborhood that’s home to a combination of restaurants, shops, and ancient sites. These ancient attractions include the aforementioned Stoa of Attalos (a part of the Ancient Agora of Athens) and Hadrian’s Library. But what brings a lot of locals and tourists to the area (particularly on Sundays) is the Monastiraki Flea Market, which is home to a plethora of stalls selling everything from souvenirs to knock-off fashion accessories to army surplus.

Plaka, Athens
By Kirk Fisher

9. Plaka

Plaka is Monastiraki’s next-door neighbor and one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Sitting underneath the Acropolis, the picturesque pedestrian-friendly streets of Plaka are lined with local cafes, restaurants, and shops. Head to Adrianou Street to find the best handmade souvenirs, and Filomousou Etairias Square to dine with a view. Plaka is also home to several museums, including The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments, the Frissiras Museum for contemporary European art, and the Children’s Museum.

Mount Lycabettus
Courtesy of Wikipedia

10. Mount Lycabettus

For the best panoramic views in the city, head to Mount Lycabettus. The limestone hill is the city’s highest point and visitors can reach the summit by walking, driving, or taking the funicular. The only downside to the funicular is that the only view it offers is of a dark tunnel. However, once you reach the top of Mount Lycabettus, you can take in multiple vistas, dine at Orizontes Restaurant, and visit St George’s Church.

Panathenaic Stadium

11. Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world made entirely out of marble. The stadium was first built in the 4th century BC, before being restored in 1895 ahead of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Today, it’s occasionally used for concerts and public events, but tours are available and all joggers are welcome to do their daily run on the track every morning from 7:30 am to 9 am. 

Temple of Hephaestus
Carole Raddato

12. Temple of Hephaestus

As mentioned, the Temple of Hephaestus is located within the Ancient Agora of Athens. Constructed around 450 BC with marble from Mount Pentelus, it’s the best-preserved ancient Greek temple. A perfect example of Dorian architecture, the temple is dedicated to Hephaestus, the ancient god of fire, and Athena as well. You can visit the Temple of Hephaestus alone, or when you purchase a combined ticket for the Acropolis, which includes entrance to several ancient attractions.

Erechtheion
By Carole Raddato

13. Erechtheion

On the north side of the Acropolis, you will find Erechtheion, a temple named after a mythical king of Athens but dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Completed in 395 BC, its unusual shape – there’s a 10-ft height difference between its eastern and western sides – is due to the hill’s irregular terrain. Erechtheion is also home to the famous Porch of Caryatids, which involves six 6.5-ft caryatids (maids) statues supporting the roof.

Theater of Dionysus
Courtesy of Wikipedia

14. Theater of Dionysus

Another day, another Acropolis site – a visit is truly one of the top things to do in Athens. The world’s first theater, the Theater of Dionysus is naturally dedicated to Dionysus, the Greek god of drama. Seating 17,000 patrons, it’s said to be the birthplace of Greek drama, as classic Greek plays would have been first performed here, including Sophocles’ tragedies. Don’t miss the Theater of Dionysus on a visit to the Acropolis. 

Church of the Holy Apostles
Courtesy of Wikipedia

15. Church of the Holy Apostles

Located within the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Church of the Holy Apostles ( also called Holy Apostles of Solaki ) dates back to the 10th century. Alongside the Temple of Hephaestus, it’s the only monument within the Agora to have remained intact since its establishment. The Church of the Holy Apostles was restored in the 1950s. To pay the church a visit, purchase a ticket to the Ancient Agora of Athens, or a combined Acropolis ticket.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Courtesy of Wikipedia

16. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Located in front of the Old Royal Palace (and current Hellenic Parliament building) in Syntagma Square, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial constructed in honor of Greek soldiers killed in war times. Tourists tend to visit the tomb as traditionally-dressed presidential guards (evzones) are on patrol and go through a theatrical changing of the guard ceremony on the hour every hour. There’s also a larger ceremony on Sundays at 11 am.

The National Gardens, Athens
By KOSTAS TSEK

17. The National Gardens

Sitting between Syntagma Square and the Panathenaic Stadium, one of the best things to do in Athens is to visit the National Gardens. A lush tropical paradise in the heart of the city, head to the National Gardens to escape the capital’s usual hustle and bustle. It’s filled with plants from around the world, including Australian pines and palm trees from SoCal. The National Gardens is also home to a zoo, duck pond, conservatory, and cafe. 

Hellenic Parliament
Courtesy of Wikipedia

18. Hellenic Parliament

As mentioned, the Hellenic Parliament resides in the Old Royal Palace building at Syntagma Square. Today, the Hellenic Parliament consists of 300 Members of Parliament (MPs). Outside, you’ll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Inside, it’s home to exquisite rooms like the Eleftherios Venizelos Hall, with its exhibition space and frieze of the Greek Revolution. Fortunately, free guided tours of the Hellenic Parliament building are available with English-speaking guides in June, July, and September.

Tower of the Winds, Athens

19. Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds is an octagonal marble clocktower that historically functioned as a timepiece. Established at the end of the 2nd century BC, it’s regarded as the world’s first meteorological station as it included a weather vane, water clock, and sundials. Its eight sides each face a different compass point and represent eight ancient Greek wind gods. To visit the Tower of the Winds, purchase a ticket for the Roman Agora of Athens. 

Hadrian's Library
Courtesy of Wikipedia

20. Hadrian’s Library

A fine example of ancient Roman architecture, Hadrian’s Library was built by the Roman emperor, Hadrian in 132 AD. It was built like a typical Roman forum, with a central courtyard surrounded by 100 columns. Acting as a library, lecture, and music room, the remains of three Byzantine churches have also been found at Hadrian’s Library. As it is, once again, a part of the Acropolis, you can visit individually or with a combined Acropolis ticket.

Arch of Hadrian

21. Arch of Hadrian

Speaking by Hadrian, the Arch of Hadrian was also built in the 2nd century BC in honor of the Roman emperor. Known in Greek as Hadrian’s Gate, the monumental marble structure resembles a Roman triumphal arch (like Paris’ Arc de Triomphe). The arch stands 59 feet high and is located close to other attractions like the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The best part is, it’s free to get up close to the Arch of Hadrian.

Voula Beach
By Pawel Kazmierczak

22. Voula Beach

If there is one thing Greece is known for (besides a plethora of ancient sites), it’s beautiful beaches. It may not be located on a Greek island, but one of the best things to do in Athens in summer is to visit Voula Beach. Popular with locals, it’s a hidden gem that’s an easy bus ride from the city. Voula Beach is also known for its clean water, uncrowded shores, and tempting Southern California atmosphere.

Herod Atticus Odeon

23. Herod Atticus Odeon

Established in the 2nd century BC, the Odean of Herod Atticus is an open-air ancient Roman stone theater. Called Herodeon by locals, its name comes from the fact Herodes Atticus built it for his late wife. Restored in 1950, it has hosted some of the world’s most prolific musicians, including Frank Sinatra and Luciano Pavarotti. The main venue of the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival, check the website for upcoming events in an unforgettable atmosphere.

Philopappos Hill
By Milan Gonda

24. Philopappos Hill

The Philopappos Monument is located on Mouseion Hill. Erected in 115 AD, the ancient Greek marble mausoleum and monument is dedicated to Roman Prince Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos of the Kingdom of Commagene (an ancient Armenia region). The exiled prince was revered by local residents. Today, one of the most popular things to do in Athens is to hike up the hill to the Philopappos Monument, for uninterrupted scenic views across to the Acropolis.

Temple of Athena Nike
Courtesy of Wikipedia

25. Temple of Athena Nike

As the name suggests, the Temple of Athena Nike was built to honor Athena Nike, the goddess of victory. Constructed around 420 BC, it’s the Acropolis’ earliest fully Ionic temple and its smallest structure. But grand things come in small packages, as it features four monolithic columns and housed a wooden cult statue of Athena. Located next to the Propylaia, don’t miss the Temple of Athena Nike on your visit to the Acropolis of Athens.

Central Market, Athens
By Baloncici

26. Central Market

Thousands of locals descend on the Central Market every week to do their food shop; purchasing fresh fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices, and more. Open every day except Sunday, the market was built in 1886. Don’t miss Europe’s largest fresh fish market, and Epirus, which has served both Jamie Oliver and the late Anthony Bourdain. So when searching for local things to do in Athens, make a pitstop at the Central Market.

Kerameikos Cemetery
Courtesy of Wikipedia

27. Kerameikos Cemetery

The ancient cemetery of Kerameikos is one of the city’s most important but least visited ancient sites. It was used as a cemetery from the 9th century BC through to the 6th century AD. Many of the marble grave markers are carved with portraits. The ancient site of Kerameikos is also home to the Sacred and Dipylon Gates, the Street of Tombs for Athens’ elite, and a small museum filled with interesting artifacts found during excavations.

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