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When it comes to finding things to do in Athens, you really are spoiled for choice. This historic capital city is packed full of ancient Greek attractions, historic landmarks, and vibrant cultural heritage.
Most people visit Athens as a gateway to explore the Greek islands, but on my recent visit to the city, I realized that there is more to see and do here than just the Acropolis.
In this guide, I have listed all the best attractions in Athens to help you get the most out of that short stay.
I’ve also organized the top Athens attractions into a 2 day itinerary, so you can maximize your short stay in the city and really get a feel for some of its vibrant, artistic neighborhoods.
- Is Athens Worth Visiting?
- How many days is enough for Athens?
- Why Is Athens Special?
- How To Save Money and Time with the Athens Pass
- Best Things to Do in Athens in 48 Hours
- 1. Explore the Famous Acropolis
- 2. Check Out Areopagus Hill
- 3. Visit the Roman Agora
- 4. Admire Hadrian’s Library
- 5. Check Out The Ancient Agora
- 6. Visit The Holocaust Memorial
- 7. Walk Through Kerameikos Cemetery
- 8. Explore Psirri + Lunch Break
- 9. Drop Into Monastiraki Square and A Few Churches
- 10. Learn About Ancient Greece in the New Acropolis Museum
- 11. Admire the Arch of Hadrian
- 12. Marvel at The Temple of Olympian Zeus
- 13. Walk Through The National Garden
- 14. Step Back In Time At Aristotle's Lyceum
- 15. Check Out the View from Mount Lycabettus
- 16. Wander the Plaka Neighborhood
- 17. Drink Ouzo in Bretto’s Bar
- 18. Dine at Plaka Stairs
- 19. Enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar with Acropolis views
- 20. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
- 21. Watch an Opera at Odeon of Herodes Atticus
- 22. Learn About The First Modern Olympics Games at The Panathenaic Stadium
- 23. Take a Day Trip to Hydra or Aegina
- Where to Stay in Athens
- A 2 Night Itinerary For Athens
- Map of this Athen's Itinerary
- Travel Tips for Athens
- Is Athens Safe?
- Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Athens
Planning your trip to Athens last-minute?
Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Athens! Here are some of the top tours, hotels, and useful items you may need before your trip!
Essential Travel Items
- A Private Airport Taxi Service
- eSim card: Get the best rates for your Wi-Fi connection in Greece with Airalo
Top Experiences and Tours in Athens
- Athens Pass + Acropolis Musem + Audio Guide (the all-round best options)
- Acropolis + 6 Archaeological Sites (an unmissable Athens attraction)
- Day trip to Hydra, Aegina, Poros (the perfect relaxing day trip to the nearby Greek Islands)
- Small Group Tour to Mycenae Epidaurus and Nafplio (a top attraction in the Peloponnese)
Top Accommodation and Hotels in Athens
Is Athens Worth Visiting?
I love it when a city transforms you – either physically, mentally, spiritually, OR opinion wise. I visited Athens in 1997 and in 1998 and hated it back then.
To me, it felt dirty, dusty, unkempt with a sinister air. I couldn’t wait to bypass it for the Greek Islands which was the purpose of my Greek holiday.
Now the question for me is: Is it me that’s changed or is it Athens? Because on this trip, I discovered a fun and vibrant city with rich culture and history waiting for adventurous and curious travelers.
For me, I found that Athens is definitely worth visiting and should not just be treated as a gateway to the Greek Islands.
How many days is enough for Athens?
While two nights were ideal to see the best things to do in Athens, I would be more than happy to return to dive a little deeper.
I traveled on my own to Athens on my visit to Greece for TBEX on the Peloponnese Peninsula (where I explored for 10 days as well as spoke at the travel blogging conference.)
I’m hoping to return to Greece in the summer of 2024 with Craig and the girls and have already told them, “You must spend time in Athens!”
Most visitors come to Greece for just a day or two on their way to other exciting destinations – which is exactly what I did. I would say that 2 days is just about enough for Athens, but if you have three days at your disposal, you can definitely find things to do.
Follow the suggestions from my two-night trip to get a taste of old and new Athens and you’ll fall in love too!
Why Is Athens Special?
There are not many cities in the world that have such important historical and cultural significance as Athens.
The Greek capital is one of the oldest cities in the world and has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years.
The city is steeped in history, serving as the birthplace of democracy and home to iconic landmarks such as the Acropolis and the Parthenon and legendary figures – apart from the Greek Gods – such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle.
The city after all is named after the Goddess Athena, the Goddess of wisdom.
Amongst the ruins of ancient civilization lies a contemporary city that is lively, fun, and friendly.
I was surprised at how pretty Athens really was. Streets are covered with canopies of trees, flowers (especially in May) are blooming everywhere, and there are many picturesque winding alleyways and streets.
Plus, the cats. I could talk about the cats all day long. They are the Queens of Athens and can be found wandering everywhere. They are mostly stray, harmless, and friendly.
The rich cultural heritage, coupled with a vibrant food scene, bustling markets, and a lively nightlife, ensures that Athens has something to offer every traveler.
How To Save Money and Time with the Athens Pass
The Athens Pass is an all-in-one ticket that provides access to numerous historical attractions, tours, and experiences, offering a convenient and cost-effective way to explore Athens. You have five days to use the pass and savings amount to around 50% if you visit all attractions on it.
If you want to see many of the ancient Greece attractions, it’s a must-have pass, especially when traveling in the busy seasons, as it will give you skip-the-line privileges.
While you can buy the Athens Pass at the attraction gates, I recommend pre-purchasing, so you don’t have to line up to get the pass to begin with!
I loved that the pass came with an interactive map and audio guide. The narration helped me understand what I was experiencing at each archeological site.
Because of this pass, I visited all the attractions, where otherwise I may not have. But if you don’t want to visit them all, it might be cheaper to buy skip-the-line tickets for just the sites you want to visit. I’ll include links to those in each of the individual attractions below.
Be sure to download the mobile passes to your phone in case you lose Wi-Fi access. All you have to do is scan the barcode / QR code at the arrival gates of each attraction.
Athens Pass Options
- BEST OPTION: I purchased my Athens Pass through Tiquets.com as they had a package that also included the Acropolis Museum – with skip the line privileges – and the audio guide. It was a seamless experience, and their price was the best I found. Other sites were really confusing as well!
- Purchase your Athens Pass in advance with Get Your Guide. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance.
Best Things to Do in Athens in 48 Hours
As I explored Plaka on both evenings in Athens, I visited all the top attractions in Athens in a day, and you can too. But plan well! (See more on Plaka below)
Now this may seem like a lot to do in a day, and it will keep you busy AND healthy with all your steps.
BUT, I’ve planned the day out so you move from one close attraction to the other, AND you really don’t need a long time at most of the historical sites as they are small.
This day in Athen’s itinerary will give you time and space to amble and relax. I have a map with all my spots plotted and walking routes at the end of this post.
1. Explore the Famous Acropolis
Start your day’s adventure in Athens with a visit to the Acropolis, the crown jewel of the city.
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop which dates back to the 5th century BCE and holds great historical and cultural importance.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was once the center of ancient Athenian civilization and played a significant role in the development of democracy and the birth of Western civilization.
Unless you are history buff, you probably won’t need longer than an hour at the Acropolis. If you are a history buff, you may really appreciate a guided tour instead of doing it on your own.
There isn’t a lot to see and do there, and it’s mostly looking at the archaeological sites and ancient remains of what was once the awe-inspiring Parthenon, the Erechtheion Temple, and the Temple of Athena Nike. (Expect scaffolding somewhere!!)
You can also see ancient remains of theaters and temples on the southern slopes of the giant rock, so allow time to see those. As I walked in from Plaka, I entered the gate right where these relics are.
What is especially mesmerizing about a visit to the Acropolis are the extraordinary panoramic views of the city below.
Arrive at the Acropolis for the 8am opening! I was shocked at how many people were there that early, particularly since it wasn’t the peak summer season yet.
I was intending to visit the Acropolis Museum after the Acropolis, but changed my mind once I went to the next stop. With the position of the sun (advantageous for photos), I realized it would be better to further explore the nearby ancient agoras of Athens.
If you don’t get the Athens Pass, then see the following options for your skip the line entrance tickets. Some of these will have upgrade options when you purchase so know what you want before booking. I do recommend you purchase via these booking sites. The direct Acropolis website is confusing and was broken when I was trying to book that. You get extra security via the booking sites as you can cancel and change your ticket up to 24 hours in advance easily.
Honestly, it was very confusing when I researched this with all the various options. I’ve made it easy for you by including the following links:
- Acropolis Skip the Line Tickets with audio guide
- Acropolis, Parthenon, & Acropolis Museum Guided Tour (for those who want a little more guidance and story telling)
- Tiquets has just an Acropolis Skip the Line ticket (the only one I could find without the audio guide, and is the cheapest option)
2. Check Out Areopagus Hill
In my research on the best things to do in Athens, I did not come across Areopagus Hill. It was only when I saw it from the Acropolis that I knew it had to be my next stop.
It’s across the road from the western gates and offers magnificent views of the ancient citadel, the Athenian Agora, and the whole city.
This small outcropping of marble rock is said to be the meeting place of the Supreme Council and where homicide trials were held in ancient times…
It’s also known as Mars Hill after the God of War who was tried here for the murder of Poseidon’s son.
It’s also said to be a place where St Paul delivered a sermon. (I visited Ancient Corinth, where he lived for 18 months on my Peloponnese road trip! #recommend)
The rocks are slippery so wear proper shoes and move slowly.
3. Visit the Roman Agora
Just down from Areopagus Hill is the Roman Agora in the edge of the Plaka neighborhood.
Built between 19 and 11 BC the Roman Agora was the commercial and administrative center during Roman occupation.
The large open-air courtyard is surrounded by colonnades. Many visitors enjoy seg the octagonal Tower of Winds which housed a steam powered water clock.
Here’s a tip. If you did not get the Athens Pass, you can adequately see the Roman Agora from the high vantage point outside the gates. It’s only a small area, so you don’t gain that much more by going inside and wandering around.
4. Admire Hadrian’s Library
Another quick and easy Ancient Greece historical site to visit in Athens is the impressive facade of the Library of Hadrian just a short walk from the Roman Forum.
Hadrian’s Library was the largest in Athens. It was filled with books, state archives and used as a place of study rather than a lending library.
Again, if you don’t have the Athens pass and are short on time, you can see the front facade of the library’s 8 meter Corinthian columns from the outside.
Going inside, you can walk amongst the ancient ruins of the library and its complex where Byzantine churches can still be seen. Look for depressions in the library walls where scrolls were kept and there’s a cool staircase going up to the higher levels.
5. Check Out The Ancient Agora
Enjoy the pretty tree-lined cobblestone path lined with restaurants as you make your way to the nearby Ancient Agora, once the heart of Athenian life.
I enjoyed the Ancient Agora more than the Acropolis. There was more to see, it was much quieter, and its shady trees, and intact sites gave me a unique perspective of Athens.
I could imagine strolling peacefully through here with philosophers like Palto and Socrates who loved to visit. My favorite was the life-sized statues of Socrates and Confucius – a symbolic meeting of the two ancient cultures and wise minds.
You too can walk in the footsteps of ancient philosophers and politicians as you explore the ruins of temples, stoas, and the impressive Temple of Hephaestus.
The Temple of Hephaestus, which sits on the hilltop overlooking the Agora and is the impressive structure you can see from atop the Acropolis. (It was one of my favorite views in Athens)
Along with this temple, the Church of the Holy Apostles is the only other mostly intact building in the Agora. This 10th Century church is one of the oldest churches in Athens.
Inside the Ancient Agora, is another popular thing to do in Athens – see the Stoa of Attalos was once an ancient structure, but you wouldn’t know it since it was rebuilt in the 50s and looks like it could have been built in modern times.
It was once a gathering place and the former Athens central market, and is now a museum with Athenian artefacts, sculptures and statues.
The first floor exhibition is pretty cool, with many ancient Greek statues of various Greek gods.
- Skip the line Ancient Agora entrance tickets with audio tour.
- Ancient Agora skip-the-line ticket only
- This guided tour includes the Acropolis and Ancient Agora (for me the two highlights of Ancient Athens)
6. Visit The Holocaust Memorial
In a small park overlooking the Kerameikos archeological site, is the Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the 60,000 Greek Jews killed during the Second World War.
The memorial is in the form of a broken Star of David with its prices pointing in the direction of the lost Greek Jewish communities.
7. Walk Through Kerameikos Cemetery
While I had the Athens Pass to cover my entrance fee to this ancient burial site, I looked at it just from the outside gates as I was short on time.
1,000 tombs were uncovered here, which they believe to be a plague pit from the 4th and 5th Century BC which wiped out 30% of the population.
Fun Fact: It was once the potter’s quarter of Athens, and the word ceramic comes from Kerameikos.
8. Explore Psirri + Lunch Break
I stumbled upon this Athen’s neighborhood as my tummy was rumbling and it was right by the ancient historical sites I was exploring.
It quickly became one of my favorite areas in Athens.
Pysirri is a lively district bursting with energy. It’s known for its eclectic nightlife, trendy bars, stylish boutiques, artisan shops, hip art scene, and array of funky restaurants and cafes.
I highly suggest you stop for lunch (or in my case brunch) at the aptly named The Brunchers cafe.
I was drawn in by the vibrant yellow decor and green plants brightening it up, but also by the tables filled with happy diners. I just found out it was a place to be in Athens.
Thankfully, a table opened outside, and I was able to sit at this trendy restaurant with a plate of traditional Greek eggs and cappuccino latte and enjoy the funky side of Athens walk by. It was my of my Athens’ Highlights.
Don’t miss at least looking at the fairy tale (mostly Alice in Wonderland) themed Little Klook Cafe. It’s quirky like you’ve never experienced before. Perfect for kids and those who love gorging on desserts. My non-sweet tooth much preferred the Brunchers.
Another cafe I missed in this area that’s highly instagrammable for its array of flowers glamming up the interior and your food and drinks is the Elyz Cafe.
Whether you’re seeking a night of entertainment, a cultural experience, or simply a leisurely stroll through the bustling streets, Psirri is an Athen’s highlight that captures the spirit of modern Athens.
Tours of Psirri
The following tours seem like a fun way to explore this funky neighborhood more in-depth. They also include Monastiraki Square
9. Drop Into Monastiraki Square and A Few Churches
From Pysirri, you can visit Monastiraki Square, a vibrant hub brimming with energy, flea markets, and antique shops.
The Monastiraki Flea Market is a great place to pick up some greek handicrafts to take home as souvenirs.
The quaint stone church of Panagia Pantanassa sits in the heart of the busy square. You can go inside if you wish. The Tzistarakis Mosque built during the Ottoman occupation is also here. Monastiraki square is near Hadrian’s Library.
The famous Ermou Street runs through this area, which is one of the most expensive shopping streets in Europe.
I didn’t care too much for that, instead enjoying the Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea tucked into a small square on a busy pedestrian street. This gorgeous Byzantine church dedicated to St Mary dates back to 1050. You can walk inside for a look.
The Little Metropolis Church stands next to the more modern Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens on Mitropolis Square in Plaka. You will walk right past it on the way to your next stop. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Athens and the spiritual center of Greek Orthodoxy.
I loved the little Byzantine stone chapel measuring only seven by twelve meters. You can wander in to light a candle and see the small altar and service room.
One thing to know about Athens is that around every corner is a Greek church – most of them look like these Byzantine era churches. I even had one directly below my hotel room squashed into a tiny lot on the street!
10. Learn About Ancient Greece in the New Acropolis Museum
Ancient Greek history lovers will not want to miss the Acropolis Museum. The museum’s modern design and interactive exhibits offer a captivating journey through Athens’ past.
Opened in 2009, the museum is home to nearly 4,000 artifacts discovered at the Acropolis and surrounding slopes.
You can wander underneath the building to see the excavations of an ancient neighborhood with its bathhouses, drainage systems and mosaics.
It never fails to astound me how entire cities remain buried under the ground. An Australian can’t quite comprehend that, but when you’re talking about a civilization that spans millennia, you can see how it can happen.
This is one attraction in Athens where you’ll want a skip the line ticket as it can get busy. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad when I visited, but I had the pass anyway. Go early if you don’t get the fast pass.
How long you spend here will depend on your fascination level. For me, an hour was enough. I enjoyed seeing some of the friezes, the statue of the head of Alexander the Great, and the five original Caryatids figures. You’ll see replicas of these at the Acropolis on the Erechtheion Monument.
I was also quite captivated by the views over the Parthenon and the Ancient city of the Acropolis.
I’ve heard the food from the open air restaurant was pretty decent, but the main attraction for eating here are the views.
11. Admire the Arch of Hadrian
From the museum, it’s a short walk to pass by the Arch of Hadrian – an eighteen-meter marble structure built to honor the arrival of the Roman emperor Hadrian. The arch separated the old and the new city of Athens. This one is free to visit!
12. Marvel at The Temple of Olympian Zeus
Right next door to the arch is the colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch, which began construction in the 6th Century BC but wasn’t completed until 2nd Century AD.
It took so long to build because those Classical Greeks felt its enormous size was symbolic of an arrogant race who felt themselves equal to God. Geez. I wonder what they’d think of us now with people like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg!
Most of it was wrapped in scaffolding when I visited using my Athens Pass. You could easily skip this or just see it from the outside.
13. Walk Through The National Garden
You may need a break from historical Athens with a large dose of 02, birds chirping, and lush greenery.
Across the road from the Temple of Zeus is The National Garden, a tranquil oasis in the middle of a chaotic concrete city.
The gardens were designed in 1839 by order of Queen Amalia of the Greeks, but were not open to the public until 1923. There are over 7,000 trees, 40,000 plants and six lakes in the parkland.
Stroll through its lush greenery, admire the beautiful flowers, and find a peaceful spot to relax before continuing your Athens adventure.
It’s adjacent to Syntagma Square, the city’s central square. If you have time you may want to see the iconic Changing of the Guards ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the formal forecourt of. The Hellenic Parliament building.
I instead went in the opposite direction to hopefully gain more ancient wisdom by osmosis from one of the greatest minds of all time!
14. Step Back In Time At Aristotle’s Lyceum
One historical attraction in Athens not frequently visited by tourists is Aristotle’s Lyceum.
Aristotle’s Peripatetic School was founded around 330 BC. and is one of the three oldest gymnasia in Athens,
It’s here he would walk and engage with his students, which is what inspired the modern-day practice of ‘peripatetic meditation.’
There is not a great deal to see here, but I’m glad I came to stroll around the perimeter of Aristotle’s ancient school of philosophy.
I feel wiser for it.
15. Check Out the View from Mount Lycabettus
I am quite regretful I did not fit Mount Lycabettus into my Athens Itinerary. It’s the highest point in Athens and you can see from many viewpoints in Athens.
I had planned to walk up it from Aristotle’s Lyceum, but after walking all day (20,000+ steps) I was a little tired and thought it might break me. I decided to walk back to the Plaka Stairs for a wine on a rooftop garden instead.
The panoramic views of Athens are meant to be breathtaking up here especially at sunset. You can either walk up or take a funicular ride to the top of Mount Lycabettus. Apart from beautiful photos and views you can visit the charming chapel of St. George and savor a delightful lunch at the hilltop restaurant.
16. Wander the Plaka Neighborhood
Charming Plaka is nestled into the foot of the Acropolis. I loved staying in Athen’s oldest neighborhood and soaking up its quaint atmosphere on narrow streets lined with traditional houses, colorful shops, and inviting tavernas.
Trees provide canopies over the laneways, vines and vibrant bougainvillea climb over colorful walls, and cats are constantly prowling the area keeping everyone in check.
As you wander, you’ll catch the Acropolis between the neoclassical buildings, Byzantine churches, cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
Also, near here is the other small, charming neighborhood of Anafiotika, with its whitewashed houses and narrow pathways reminiscent of the Greek islands.
I stumbled upon here after taking a wrong turn in the morning headed to the Acropolis. I intended to come back to explore more but I didn’t! Next trip to Athens.
17. Drink Ouzo in Bretto’s Bar
Do you like ouzo? Or want to like it? OR at least want to say you checked this anise-flavored liquor off your Greece Bucket List?
That was the category I was in. You can’t NOT have ouzo while in Greece.
Some of our new Greek friends at our TBEX conference told me that Raki is a similar liquor to Ouzo without the strong flavor of Anise. It’s a beloved afternoon drink paired with mezze.
I didn’t try that one, but I did head to the oldest distillery in Athens to try Ouzo.
Bretto’s Bar in the Plaka district was established by Michail Brettos in 1909, where he distilled ouzo, brandy and a selection of liqueurs using old recipes from the ancient Greek city of Smyrna, in modern-day Turkey.
Even if you don’t like the drink, you’ll love the cozy, friendly atmosphere of the bar with apothecary vibes.
The back bar is covered with shelves of colorful bottles of tinctures and elixirs and impressive original wooden barrels filled with ouzo and brandy complete the wall wrap. Find a seat with new traveler friends behind the barrel or behind the countertops, reminiscent of a chemist!
And choose your poison! You can straight up ouzo or have it in cocktails mixed with other liquors.
The server was helpful in recommending a more subtle ouzo cocktail with raspberry liqueur. It was a “one is enough” drink, as the anise flavor was still there, but it was worth it to have this authentic Athens experience.
Since all the liqueur and brandy recipes are original and date back to the 19th century, you are drinking history at Brettos.
Do you really want to skip the ouzo? Bretto’s, has you covered with many different types of liquor and Greek wine.
While in Athens all good tourists will have at least one meal or drink on The Stairs. I had two meals and a wine on a rooftop garden in the sun after my long day exploring.
18. Dine at Plaka Stairs
I loved the Plaka Stairs. – yes, it’s touristy, but it’s like telling someone visiting Sydney not to go to Bondi Beach or Circular Quay.
The Stairs are simply that – stone stairs running up the hill lined with small tavernas and restaurants.
The hawkers out the front will try to pull you in for their amazing Greek menu, live music, and Greek Dancing.
Get there early as it does get busy towards 8pm. You’ll want a table on the Stairs to watch that world go by, especially as the evening goes on.
- Geros Tou Moria seemed to spread out over the stairs and control most of the eating areas. They have live music and Greek Dancing and was a very lively place to sit and eat with constant shouts of Opa!
- Anafiotika Cafe had a tiny spot on the stairs with great views looking down. Their rooftop terrace looked incredible. I was thrilled to have a retsina wine here – which is a Greek white resinated wine, made for at least 2,000 years!
- Yiasemi is also popular for coffee and dessert. I had my rooftop wine here after a day of exploring.
19. Enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar with Acropolis views
I only went to one rooftop bar both nights in Athens – the one at the top of my hotel.
As I was recovering from jetlag, and traveling on my own, I did not want to go bar hopping, so I went for the easy choice.
The views were spectacular so why not?
It’s so pretty to see uninterrupted views of the Acropolis lit up at night. A reader recommended the A for Athens hotel as another rooftop bar option.
20. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
If you’re into museums, then the National Archaelogical Museum houses a great collection of important ancient Greek artifacts from the prehistory to late antiquity period.
It’s widely regarded as one of the best museums in the world and has the largest collection of Greek Antiquity artifacts in the world.
21. Watch an Opera at Odeon of Herodes Atticus
What would a trip to Athens be without a visit to a Roman amphitheatre? The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an ancient amphitheater that was built in the year 268 AD.
The original structure was destroyed, but restoration work took place in the early 20th century to rebuilt it back to its former glory. It was renovated again in the 1950s.
It’s located on the southwest side of the Acropolis and is worth seeing to see what the Romans used as entertainment.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Athens at night, then come back here in the evening to catch an opera performance, which happens several times a year. See the events calendar here.
22. Learn About The First Modern Olympics Games at The Panathenaic Stadium
Perhaps one of the most impressive sites in Athens is the Panathenaic Stadium, which is a huge 50,000-seater multi-purpose stadium, and the only stadium in the world to be built entirely out of marble.
It was built in 330 BC on the site of a racecourse as the site for the Panathenaic Games.
It has gone through many changes and restorations over the years. It was completely refurbished in 1870-1875 and was used to host the opening and closing ceremony of the 1896 Olympic Games.
It was the site of the first modern Olympic games and is where you will find the Olympic torch.
I had this on my list of things to do in Athens, but did not make it! If only I had three days in Athens!
23. Take a Day Trip to Hydra or Aegina
Athens’ position by the coast makes it a great starting point to explore the Greek Islands.
However, if you don’t have a lot of time in Greece, you can take a quick day trip over to the islands of Hydra or Aegina, which lie just off the coast in the Saronic Islands.
Hydra is known for its laid back vibe, colorful houses and artistic lifestyle. Since cars and motorbikes are not allowed on the island, residents and tourists rely on donkeys and horses to get around and transport goods.
Aegina is another island in the Saronic Gulf and also has a colorful town with some secret beaches and laid-back atmosphere.
Both islands are an easy day trip and offer a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Athens.
There are several places in the Peloponnese, you could visit on a day trip from Athens. Most popular is Ancient Corinth and Acroorinth! I also spent time in Nafplio after Athens, which people visit on a day trip, although I recommend you stay longer!
Where to Stay in Athens
For a truly immersive experience, I recommend staying in the vibrant neighborhood of Plaka or the trendy area of Psirri. Plaka offers proximity to major attractions, charming streets, and a wide range of accommodations.
Pysirri is known for its lively nightlife, eclectic atmosphere, and a plethora of boutique hotels and stylish apartments.
I stayed at the Central Hotel in the Plaka neighborhood. As I was only there for two nights, and exploring the main Athens attractions, I did not need to use public transportation or enter the metro station.
I had a wonderful view from my room – but I had to stick my head around the corner of the balcony to see it! The room was comfortable, albeit small – but to be expected in Athens.
I loved being able to walk everywhere, and I felt safe even at night as there were many tourists around. My hotel also included a buffet breakfast, which I did not eat as I was intermittent fasting!
You can use the map below to search accommodation (hotels and VRBO) in the Plaka neighborhood.
A 2 Night Itinerary For Athens
Now you know a little bit about what to do in Athens, here is how I would organize visiting each attraction in a 2 day Athens itinerary.
This brief itinerary outline is based on my experiences. I arrived at around 4pm on my first night. I made sure I was up early to maximize my only full day in Athens.
You may need to adjust this itinerary depending on arrival and departure times and any timed attraction passes or tours. You may also want to include any one of the many Athens museums in your itinerary.
For me, I like to narrow it down to just the best as I get museum overwhelming quickly. If it’s your cup of retsina wine though go for it!
Check out the map with all the places mentioned in this Athens guide mapped out for you!
- 4.00pm – 7.00pm
- Wander the streets of Plaka.
- Have dinner on the Stairs
- Enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar
- Roman Agora
- Hadrian’s Library
- The Ancient Agora
- The Holocaust Memorial
- Kerameikos Cemetery
- 12.00pm – 1.30pm Lunch at Pysirri
- 1.30pm – 4.00pm
- Monastiraki Square and a few churches
- New Acropolis Museum
- Arch of Hadrian
- Temple of Olympian Zeus
- The National Garden
- Aristotle’s Lyceum
- Wander the Plaka Neighborhood
- Brettto’s Bar
- Dine on the Stairs
- Rooftop Bar
Map of this Athen’s Itinerary
Below you will find a map of this itinerary, including all the key attractions, places to eat, and places to stay.
Travel Tips for Athens
To make your trip run a little smoother, here are some words of advice…
- Beat the Crowds: To avoid long queues, visit popular attractions like the Acropolis early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
- Skip the line passes or the Athens Pass: The lines as I left the Acropolis were enough for me to reiterate the importance of this and the previous tip! (It was only May 3, 2023)
- Comfortable Footwear: Athens is best explored on foot, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes to navigate the city’s cobbled streets and uneven terrain.
- Local Cuisine: Indulge in authentic Greek cuisine by trying local dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, and baklava. Explore local markets for fresh produce, herbs, and spices. Don’t forget that ouzo and retsina wine!
- Public Transportation: Athens has an efficient metro system, making it easy to navigate the city. Purchase a transportation pass for unlimited rides on buses, trams, and the metro.
- Respectful Attire: When visiting religious sites, such as monasteries or churches, dress modestly and ensure your shoulders and knees are covered as a sign of respect.
Is Athens Safe?
I visited Athens as a solo female traveler. I had many people warn me about pickpockets and keeping possessions close. I traveled with a money belt as a result and was only carrying around my camera.
I suggest you do the same.
However, I want to be clear that I never felt unsafe once and didn’t have anything bad happen to me. I didn’t even notice any luring predators nor had a single hair raised on its end. This doesn’t mean it’s not real and can’t happen. So, trust your instincts and be vigilant.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Athens
Athens beckons with its timeless allure, blending ancient wonders with contemporary charm.
I am so grateful I have Athens another chance – third time lucky! It’s now quickly risen to a favorite city around the world. I can’t wait to return with Craig and the girls and explore more of those fun neighborhoods.
Follow the two-day itinerary I’ve outlined in this guide to help you see the highlights.
I hope this guide gives you some inspiration and helps you to immerse yourself in the city’s captivating history and vibrant culture for an unforgettable journey through the enchanting streets of Athens and create memories that will last a lifetime.