Athens is a captivating destination that offers a mix of ancient history, vibrant culture, stunning landmarks, and mouthwatering cuisine. Whether you are fascinated by archaeology, seeking breathtaking views, or simply looking to immerse yourself in Greek hospitality, Athens has something to offer for everyone, here are the top things to do in Athens and our 3 day itinerary.
Top things to do in Athens
Acropolis and Parthenon
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel perched on a rocky hilltop, and the Parthenon is its most famous temple. The name Acropolis means ‘high city’, and both the Acropolis itself and the Parthenon, the imposing temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, are visible from almost every spot in the capital.
These architectural marvels date back to the 5th century BC and offer breathtaking views of Athens. Exploring the Acropolis allows you to delve into Greece’s classical past and witness iconic structures that have withstood the test of time.
There are a number of incredible things to be seen here, so plan to spend the whole morning exploring this iconic spot. It is a big area and it is easy to miss many of the sites. We hired a local guide from Athenian Tours. We had a wonderful and informative private tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum with our guide Alexia who has an MA in Classical Archaeology and the Ancient History of Macedonia.
Highly recommend! We learned so much about Greek culture, Greek Gods, and the preservation efforts of the sculptures and fragments from the Parthenon and Acropolis Monuments.
Located at the foot of the Acropolis, Plaka is Athens’ oldest neighborhood. It is a picturesque area characterized by narrow streets, neoclassical houses, quaint shops, and traditional taverns. Strolling through Plaka provides a charming atmosphere and an opportunity to discover local crafts, enjoy authentic Greek cuisine, and experience the vibrant nightlife.
Acropolis Museum is home to thousands of artifacts excavated on the slopes of Athens’ Acropolis. Housing sculptural elements and objects from the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and more.
The third floor has a recreation of the Parthenon sculptures as they would have appeared 2500 years ago. The friezes are reassembled in the proper order to give the viewer a true sense of how the building would have appeared and some sections of the frieze that are lost are replaced by white plaster cast. But the sections that reside in other museums are left blank, calling attention to the fact and making a statement.
National Archaeological Museum
This museum is home to an extensive collection of artifacts from ancient Greece. It showcases a diverse range of archaeological treasures, including sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and more. Visiting the National Archaeological Museum offers a fascinating journey through Greece’s past and provides valuable insights into its art and culture.
The Ancient Agora was the heart of ancient Athens, serving as a marketplace and a civic center. It features well-preserved ruins, including the Temple of Hephaestus, the best-preserved ancient Greek temple. Exploring the Ancient Agora allows you to immerse yourself in the historical significance of this ancient gathering place.
The Roman Agora
This structure was built between 19 and 11 BC. Although the Ancient Agora to the west was the place of political gatherings for Athenians, the Roman Agora was an open market. Only a small portion of the columns and the remains of a public outhouse are still standing.
Monastiraki Flea Market
Located in the Monastiraki neighborhood, this vibrant market is a treasure trove for shopping enthusiasts. It offers a wide variety of goods, including antiques, vintage items, clothing, jewelry, and souvenirs. The lively atmosphere, street performers, and local street food make it a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists.
For a panoramic view of Athens, hike or take a funicular up Mount Lycabettus. The hilltop offers stunning vistas of the city, especially during sunset. There is also a lovely Greek blue chapel and a café where you can relax and enjoy the scenery. Mount Lycabettus provides a peaceful escape from the bustling city below.
Mount Lycabettus’ summit is At 227 metres tall and relatively easy to walk up. It is the highest point in central Athens and has some fantastic views of the city and of the Acropolis.
If you want to combine your city exploration with some relaxation by the sea, head to the Athens Riviera. Just a short distance from the city center, you’ll find beautiful beaches, beach bars, and resorts along the coastline. It’s a perfect spot to unwind, soak up the sun, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea. Much like the French Riviera, this small seaside enclave exudes the Riviera elegance and luxury.
Go for a day trip from Athens or splurge for a stay at the Four Seasons property in Greece. Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel brought together three iconic resorts of the ’60s and ’70s, Astir Palace, Arion, and Nafsika. The pine-clad sanctuary features three private beaches, many restaurants and a Spa inspired by the teachings of Hippocrates.
One of my favorite places to visit in Athens was this little neighborhood on the foothill of the Acropolis. Anafiotika offers a glimpse into traditional Greek island life without leaving Athens. The narrow winding streets and whitewashed houses with blue doors and windows, colorful flowers, and small courtyards here are classic examples of Cycladic architecture.
Anafiotika was built in the mid-19th century by craftsmen from the island of Anafi who came to Athens to work on the construction of King Otto’s palace. These workers decided to create a little piece of their island home in the heart of Athens, and thus Anafiotika was born. These days you can find many cute shops and restaurants here.
Temple of Poseidon
At Cape Sounion, 70km south of Athens, the Temple of Poseidon stands on a craggy spur that plunges 65m to the sea. Built in 444 BC (the same year as the Parthenon) – of marble from nearby Agrilesa, it is a vision of gleaming white columns. Sailors in ancient times knew they were nearly home when they saw the first glimpse of white; views from the temple are equally impressive. Sixteen of the slender Doric columns still stand today.
Don’t miss Greek Cuisine: Where to Eat in Athens
Athens is a paradise for food lovers, with a wide range of delicious Greek cuisine. Indulge in traditional dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, Greek salads, and baklava. Explore the city’s culinary scene by visiting local taverns and street food stalls to savor the authentic flavors of Greece.
- Psyrri: This neighborhood is known for its traditional taverns and meze (small plates) restaurants. Here you can find authentic Greek cuisine with dishes like souvlaki, moussaka, and grilled meats. Taverna Tou Psyrri and Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani are highly recommended.
- Plaka: Plaka, the old neighborhood beneath the Acropolis, is filled with charming restaurants and taverns. It’s an excellent place to enjoy traditional Greek dishes while soaking in the historic ambiance. Try Stamatopoulos Taverna or To Kafeneio for a memorable dining experience.
- Monastiraki: Monastiraki is another neighborhood with a fantastic food scene. You’ll find numerous eateries serving Greek street food, including souvlaki and gyros. Try Thanasis or O Kostas for some of the best souvlakis in town.
- Central Market (Varvakios Agora): For a unique culinary experience, explore the Central Market, where you can find an abundance of fresh produce, meat, fish, and spices. There are also small eateries inside the market where you can sample Greek delicacies.
- Kolonaki: If you’re looking for upscale dining and international cuisine, head to the upscale neighborhood of Kolonaki. Here you’ll find a variety of trendy restaurants offering a fusion of Greek and international flavors. Notable options include Nolan or Mavro Provato.
Some Athens Restaurant Recommendations
- Nolan, a Michelin Star contemporary restaurant known for its modern Greek dishes, such as grilled octopus with fava bean puree or lamb shoulder with roasted vegetables. Make Reservations!
- Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani, a restaurant that specializes in cured meats and cheeses from around Greece. The restaurant also serves a variety of traditional Greek dishes, such as moussaka and pastitsio.
- Yiasemi, is a cozy café in the heart of Plaka. Try their spinach and feta pie or their famous Greek yogurt with honey.
- Strofi, a traditional Greek restaurant located near the Acropolis. Try their famous grilled octopus or their lamb chops.
- Kuzina, a trendy rooftop restaurant that offers great views of the Acropolis. Try their famous lamb shank, which is delicious.
- Attikos is another restaurant we enjoyed. Great view of the Acropolis from here and do try their Mastiha, an after-dinner drink or aperitif. It is a product made only from the raisin of mastic trees on the island of Chios. [This was our favorite Restaurant in Athens]
- Don’t miss Greek donuts aka loukoumades at Lukumades, there is one on Monastriraki Square
There is so much to do in Athens. Most people just spend 2 days in Athen before leaving for the islands of the Greek Cyclades but we found that 3 days was a good time to spend exploring the capital city. Here is our 3 days in Athens: Highlights & Itinerary.
Our 3 Day Athens Itinerary
- Visit the Acropolis, one of the most iconic landmarks in Athens. Make sure to see the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion.
- After visiting the Acropolis, head to the Acropolis Museum to see the artifacts and sculptures that were found at the site. The museum is very impressive and definitely worth a visit.
In the afternoon:
- Visit the Ancient Agora, which was the center of political and social life in Athens during ancient times. Here, you can see the Temple of Hephaestus, the best-preserved temple from ancient Athens.
- Stop at Monastiraki, a bustling flea market where you can find souvenirs, clothing, and all sorts of trinkets. Make sure to visit the nearby Tzisdarakis Mosque, which has been converted into a museum showcasing the city’s traditional crafts.
Day 2 Athens Itinerary: Visit Museums
- Start the day by visiting the National Archaeological Museum, the largest museum in Greece. Here, you can see a vast collection of ancient Greek art and artifacts.
- After the museum, head to the Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. You can also take a guided tour of the stadium to learn more about its history.
In the afternoon:
- Visit the Benaki Museum, which showcases Greek art and history from ancient times to the present day.
- Head to Mount Lycabettus Funicular to take a cable car up to the top of Lycabettus Hill, which offers stunning panoramic views of the city.
- Start the day by visiting the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was the largest temple in ancient Greece. Make sure to see the surviving columns and the Hadrian’s Arch.
- After the temple, head to the nearby Plaka neighborhood, which is known for its picturesque alleys and traditional architecture. Visit the Anafiotika neighborhood, which feels like a small Greek island with its blue-and-white houses and narrow streets.
In the afternoon:
- Visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, a modern complex that houses the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. The complex also features a large park and a stunning view of the sea.
- The other option is to visit the Athens Riviera as a day trip and spend some time on the beach.
Athens is a captivating destination with a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landmarks. I hope you enjoyed this post and it helps you plan your trip!
PIN IT FOR LATER
CONNECT WITH US