Vibrant and dynamic, Athens is one of the most densely populated cities in Europe.
Although the population over the last few years has decreased slightly from 3.18 million in 2000 to about 3.15 million in 2020, the Greek capital is still lively, entertaining and colorful.
As a city with more than 5,000 years of history, Athens attracts millions of visitors each year.
People from around the world come here for a variety of reasons – vacation, business, education, training etc.More from Greece:
- 10 Best Things to Do in Myrtos (Crete)
- 23 Best Things to Do in Parga (Greece)
- 30 Best Things to Do in Thessaloniki (Greece)
For whatever reason you come to the old historical but still modern and innovative city, there are places to visit and things to do you definitely shouldn’t miss.
1. Start your exciting journey from the Parthenon of Athens
Being the most recognizable emblem of the Greek capital, the Acropolis of Athens is visible from almost every part of this snow-white city.
The overall appearance of the hill is determined by the Parthenon.
The majestic structure takes central place on the top of the 70 m high limestone hill.
Parthenon’s construction started in 447 BC. In 432 BC, 15 years later, it was officially completed.
The structure in honor of Athena Parthenos is in classic style and is made of marble.
The temple is a great example of symmetry and beauty.
Most of the sophisticated architectural and optical techniques used in the construction have gained popularity over the millennia, and nowadays, they are widely used in modern architecture.
2. Find your inspiration in Plaka
Situated at the foot of the Acropolis, Plaka is a small historic neighbourhood.
For many, it is the most beautiful and charming place in the Greek capital.
It is located on the north and east sides of the popular hill.
Walking the narrow and winding stone-paved streets, you will find numerous exciting craft workshops.
Artists show their paintings and hand-made souvenirs directly on the road.
The place is the most popular pedestrian area in the city.
Nice cafes, restaurants and galleries appear behind every corner.
Decorated with wonderful palm trees, bougainvillea, oleanders and other colorful and fragrant species of plants, the neighborhood has the charm of a magnificent garden.
Plaka is well known also for its museums.
In fact, here you will find more museums than in any other part of the Greek capital.
3. Buy tourist bus tickets
Athens is a very big city, and the distances from one point to another are sometimes extremely large.
Even if having a very well-organized transport network, finding landmarks can be difficult and time-consuming in the Greek capital.
For this reason, if you want to get the most of your time in the city, it is deeply recommended to buy Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tickets.
The route of these buses is carefully planned so you will be able to see as much of the city’s sights as possible within a short period of time.
4. Spend a day in Piraeus
Piraeus is an extremely important port city that falls within the borders of the Athens agglomeration.
As one of the largest Mediterranean ports, it attracts many visitors.
The city is known for its numerous recreational opportunities, especially in the area of the old harbour.
You will find excellent taverns and fish restaurants as well as great nightclubs.
In addition to restaurants, you can also find numerous places to expand your knowledge of Greek history and culture.
The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus is a great example.
It offers a rich collection of incredible marble and bronze sculptures, some of most famous of which are the Piraeus Apollo and the Piraeus Athena.
5. Go to the ancient sanctuary of Delphi
Visiting Athens, you should definitely dedicate a day to the ancient sanctuary of Delphi.
Soaked in history, this place is located about 187 km by road from the downtown of the Greek capital.
Delphi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.
Situated in a mountainous area north of the Gulf of Corinth, the site is an important sanctuary associated with the popular Delphic oracle.
Ancient people believed that this place was the center of the world.
In 1987, this place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you decide to come here, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun with a good sunscreen!
6. Spend a day at Vouliagmeni Akti Beach
In the vicinity of Athens you can find some really fantastic beaches and Vouliagmeni Akti is one of them.
Well-known for its golden sands and azure waters, this place is often called the Greek Riviera.
You will find the little urban paradise approximately about 30 minutes drive from the downtown of the city.
Located in the southeastern most point of Athens, Vouliagmeni Akti is easy to reach, but at the same time, it is also a great option to escape the crowds and noise of the big city.
7. Day trip to Euboea
Since it takes only about 2 hours to reach from Athens to Euboea, many visitors of the Greek capital decide to take advantage of the beauty of the Aegean island.
Covered by lush vegetation and offering some of the best beaches in the country, the island is a must for every traveler.
Euboea offers a number of beautiful towns and villages, and the good news is that the most beautiful of them is also the easiest to reach from Athens.
It comes to the city of Chalcis which lies on the west coast of Euboea and is connected by bridges to mainland Greece.
8. Explore Anafiotika
While some people describe Anafiotika as a part of Plaka, for many others this is a completely different neighbourhood.
It is small enough to explore the area on foot.
And this is very good because the narrow streets are closed for cars.
Winding staircases cross the neighbourhood, revealing at some points of your walk incredible panoramic views of the city.
You should take pictures and if you have some spare time, don’t forget to have a cup of coffee here.
9. Enjoy the pleasant coolness of Zappeion Park
Zappeion is a beautiful small park in the heart of the Greek capital.
Under the large crowns of the trees, you will find the pleasant coolness you need in the summer heat.
At the same time, you are just a few minutes walk from the city’s most important landmarks.
Numerous meandering alleys pass by fine monuments, small ponds and flower beds.
Some of the most popular sculptures in the park are “The Little Mower” and “Eros”.
Don’t miss visiting the sculptures “Angel” and “Fisherman”.
10. Syntagma Square and the Old Royal Palace
Syntagma Square is considered the most important place in Athens and in Greece as a whole.
Located in the very heart of the Greek capital, this place is a great starting point to reach all the other landmarks in the city.
It is located just a few hundred meters from the Acropolis and only a minute walk from the popular Zappeion Park.
Here you will find the Old Royal Palace, which was built in the mid 19th century.
The Greek Parliament has been housed in this building since 1934.
11. Don’t miss the luxurious Astir Beach
Astir Beach is located in one of the most luxurious areas of the Greek capital.
You will find it about 40 minutes drive to the south or approximately 25 km from downtown Athens.
It is situated in a beautiful cove, on the west coast of the up-scale suburb of Vouliagmeni.
As it is paid, Astir Beach is always very clean and well maintained.
It combines fine golden sand and azure water and is often described as the most beautiful in Attica.
12. Visit a short cooking class
Greece, along with France and Italy, is considered one of the culinary top destinations in the world.
For its part, the capital city of Athens is where you will find the largest variety of courses to visit.
Of course, with one or two visits you can’t learn everything.
At the same time, this is absolutely enough for you to gain basic knowledge of the Greek way of cooking and the spices used in the national cuisine.
13. Visit the ancient Panathenaic Stadium
Panathenaic Stadium is one of the landmarks of the Greek capital.
This place was used for sporting events as early as the 4th century BC.
In the 2nd century AD, the first stadium with a capacity of 50,000 people was built here.
The modern facility has a capacity of 80,000 seats and was created and designed in the same style as the ancient construction.
Instead of seats, spectators sit directly on the marble steps while they watch the sporting events.
14. Hiking at Parnitha National Park
On the outskirts of Athens you will find an exceptionally attractive forested area that you should definitely visit while in the city.
The place is called Parnitha National Park and is a favorite place to spend the weekends for locals.
In 2007, the national park was heavily affected by a forest fire, and today it is slowly recovering.
You will find not only beautiful nature, but also numerous sites of archaeological interest, not to mention the magnificent Monastery of Kleiston.
15. Swimming and sunbathing at the small islet of Agios Nikolaos
Agios Nikolaos is a small island about an hour south of downtown Athens.
It is connected to the land by a strip of light sand.
The place is quite remote from the city, but many prefer to swim and sunbathe here rather than at any of the overcrowded city beaches.
Being sheltered, the sea surface of the cove is usually very smooth.
16. Visit the Erechtheion
Visiting Athens, you should definitely go to the Temple of Erechtheion, which rises on the north side of the Acropolis.
This construction is well known for its exceptional beauty.
The most emblematic part is the so-called Porch of the Maidens.
The construction was completed approximately between 421 and 406 BC.
17. Go to the Temple of Athena Nike
Typical of those times, the Nike Temple is a beautiful and at the same time clean and simple construction.
It was built of marble blocks in the year 420 BC.
Located within the Acropolis, it offers an amazing view of the Greek capital.
On the front entrance you will see 4 high columns that give a majestic look and elegance.
18. Take a short trip to the Corinth Canal
Corinth Canal was built in the 1 century BC but acquired its modern appearance at the end of the 19th century, аfter 11 years of construction, between 1882 and 1893.
At that time the canal was big enough and easily gained international importance.
Nowadays it has a rather tourist significance because it is too small to be used by large merchant ships.
It is 6400 meters long and 8 meters deep.
The distance from downtown Athens is almost 76 km which takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to get there by car.
19. Enjoy the panoramic view from Areopagus
Areopagus is a huge and monolith rock that is located northwest of the Acropolis.
With its hiding panorama, it attracts many tourists who want to see the whole city from above.
The place was of great importance during the dawn of democracy.
Meetings were organized on different special and important occasions, and that was the first and earliest form of life in a democratic society.
20. Enjoy the beautiful Yabanaki Varkiza Beach
Yabanaki Varkiza Beach is one of the best city beaches in Athens.
It is located in the outermost southeast of the city, not far from another beautiful beach, Vouliagmeni Akti, that we mentioned a little earlier.
Yabanaki Varkiza Beach is well organized and offers all the necessary facilities.
It is suitable for families with children.
Looking south, this stretch of golden sand receives the maximum amount of sunlight during the day.
21. Visit and take pictures of Propylaea
With its elegant shapes, impressive columns and decorative ornaments, Propylaea is one of the most beautiful structures of the Acropolis.
Surprisingly well preserved, it is the prototype of all existing ancient Greek style arches around the world.
Similar structures we can see in a number of cities around the world, including in North America and Europe.
Probably one of the most popular examples is the exclusive Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
22. Explore Adrianou Street – the art area of Athens
Adrianou Street crosses the Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods, which are two of the most beautiful and picturesque historical areas of Athens.
They describe the street as the most pleasant place to walk in the city.
The area is especially attractive to people of art, and for this reason, you can find numerous art galleries here.
There are also a wide variety of souvenir shops that offer good ideas for people looking for souvenirs.
23. One-day trip to Aegina
Once Aegina was an important maritime power, and nowadays, you can see evidence at every step while walking around the island.
Ruins of past ages (such as the Temple of Apollo) talk about its importance and greatness.
Even if being comparable even with the mighty Athens in the past, today, the island is home to only 13,500 people and is rather known as a preferred place to spend the summer vacation for many Greeks and foreigners.
The island offers very nice sandy beaches, and in addition, it is a relatively quiet and secluded place, despite its closeness to the city of Athens.
And while the coast is well known for its great beaches, the interior is popular for its wonderful monasteries and churches.
24. Visit the Temple of Hephaestus
Exceptionally well preserved, the Temple of Hephaestus is one of the great landmarks of the Greek capital.
You will find it at the top of Agoraios Kolonos Hill, within the boundaries of the Ancient Agora, located on the Acropolis.
It was built in honor of the god of craftsmanship, fire and metal.
The construction was officially completed in 416-415 BC.
It is considered that there are buried remains of the ancient Greek hero Theseus in the temple.
25. Visit the Theater of Dionysus
The Theater of Dionysus is a structure that still impresses with its radiation and symmetry.
Considered the oldest theater in the world, it is located at the foot of the Acropolis of the Greek capital.
Completed in the 4th century BC, the theater is still extremely well preserved.
Its marble structure is one of the most popular landmarks in Athens.
26. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
Created in 1829, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the top places to visit in the capital of Greece.
Actually, this is one of the best archaeological museums in the world as a whole.
It is known for its incredibly rich collections.
In fact, very few museums in the world can compare to this place in terms of valuable artifacts.
Of course, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens is mostly dedicated to the history of Greece.
27. Spend some time shopping
Whether you are looking for souvenirs for your loved ones or just love shopping, Athens is a great place for you.
Undoubtedly, you have to take time for a walk on Ermou street and you won’t be disappointed.
This lively pedestrian area starts from Syntagma Square.
It is considered to be one of the most elegant shopping streets in Southern and Southeastern Europe.
Here you will find boutiques of all kinds of luxury fashion brands, as well as some of the best souvenir ideas.
28. Visit the Acropolis Museum
If you want to truly experience the archeological treasures of Greece and to get to know the history of Athens, you should visit the popular Acropolis Museum.
It is mainly focused on artifacts found in the Acropolis area.
An advantage is the fact that the items are displayed in an authentic setting and are located not far from where they were found.
We should also mention the good and affordable ticket prices, which is undoubtedly a great advantage of a museum in this class.
29. Have dinner in a tavern in Plaka
If you are on a budget and want to dine out only once during your stay at Athens, choose the neighborhood of Plaka.
As we mentioned earlier, it is one of the most beautiful areas of the Greek capital.
But what we missed to mention is that the neighborhood is well known for its outstanding taverns.
Most of the restaurants (not to say all of them) have tables outside so you will be able to enjoy your meal, soaking the historical atmosphere of the city.
30. View from Philopappos Hill
If you love to enjoy the world from above, Athens is the place for you.
With its numerous hills revealing stunning panoramic views, it is one of the favorite places in Europe for lovers of heights.
Philopappos Hill is one of the places you should definitely visit.
It is located in the central part of the city, right next to the southwest from the Acropolis.
On the top of the hill you will find a huge monument, completed during the 1 century BC.
31. Buy a bottle of wine
Athens may be a big city away from the fertile countryside, but when it comes to wine, you will find the best of the best here.
There are many bars, restaurants and wineries in the Greek capital where you will find a great variety.
Shops and restaurants usually offer the best of any larger island or region.
32. Walk in Pedion Areos Park
Pedion Areos is a very nice place for a long walk and is considered one of the largest parks in the Greek capital.
Similarly to most of the landmarks of Athens, it is located in the central part of the city too.
It is a green oasis in the heart of Athens and attracts a lot of visitors.
However, if you go there during the morning hours from Monday to Friday, you will find the park quiet and almost empty so you will be able to enjoy its beauty undisturbed.
33. Visit the National Library
If you are an architecture lover, you should definitely go to the National Library, which is housed in a beautiful Neo-classical building from the late 19th century.
Right next to the library, you will also find the building of the University of Athens.
The location of the library is very convenient and you can visit it while exploring the central part of the city.
You will find it between Philopappos Hill, Zappeion Park and Mount Lycabettus.
34. Boat trip to Mykonos
Mykonos is one of the most recognizable Greek islands.
Located about 154 km from the city of Athens, it takes 3 hours to get there by ferry.
If you are in the Greek capital, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the island at least for 1 or 2 days.
Mykonos is a small island.
Even if it is very diverse, its main villages can be walked within a few hours.
The boat trip to the island of Mykonos is a great way to get the best of your trip to Athens.
35. Mount Lycabettus and the Chapel of Saint George
Mount Lycabettus is one of the must-visit places in Athens.
It rises to a height of about 300 meters above the Greek capital.
You will find it in the central part of the city, about 1,5 km northeast of the Acropolis.
Mount Lycabettus is known for the incredible panorama which reveals from the top.
But what impresses the visitors even more is the lovely small chapel, called Saint George.
Completed in the 19th century, the snow-white building is one of the most beautiful historical structures in the city.
Not far from here, you will also find a nice restaurant.
36. Take a walk in Kolonaki
Don’t miss taking a lovely long walk around the beautiful Kolonaki neighborhood.
It is located between Mount Lycabettus and Zappeion Park.
The area is well known for its green and shady streets and numerous street cafes.
Being one of the most famous areas of Athens, it is a great choice if you are searching for a place to enjoy a cup of wonderful coffee or to try some of the local restaurants and bars, while relaxing at the heart of the Greek capital.
37. Beach day at Glyfada
While Athens is primarily known for its archaeological sites, beach lovers will not remain disappointed too.
In the southeastern part of the city, about half an hour drive from the downtown of the Greek capital, you will find a beautiful area, called Glyfada.
Known as one of the most upscale places to live or stay in Athens, this place is quite popular for its wonderful golden beaches.
After a long day on the beach, you can find plenty of places to have lunch or at least a glass of refreshing drink.
38. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
Although not very large, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens is a beautiful building that you should definitely visit.
It was opened on May 21, 1862, after 20 years of construction.
The cathedral is known for its two very beautiful bell towers, reaching 24 meters at their highest point.
The interior is impressive.
Most of it is in marine shades of blue and sandy yellow or beige.
The color combination is very soothing and relaxing.
39. Don’t miss to visit “A for Athens Rooftop”
“A for Athens Rooftop” is a restaurant which reveals an amazing panoramic view of the Greek capital.
Moreover, you will be able to see from above the most scenic part of the city and from the most interesting angle.
Whether you want to have lunch or only a cup of nice Greek coffee, this is the right place to visit.
To avoid any inconveniences, however, be sure to reserve your table in advance.
This is a popular place and many visitors from around the world come here when coming to the Greek capital.
40. Go to Paralia Schinia (Marathonas)
If you are planning to rent a car during your holiday in Athens, don’t miss visiting one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
Located not far from Marathonas, about 50 km northeast from the Greek capital, it is relatively easy to reach by car and you will need nearly an hour to get there.
The stretch of sand is 5 kilometer long and the northeastern share is considered the best part of it.
The beach is known for its azure and shallow pristine waters.
Right next to the beach you will find a wonderful pine forest.
41. Go to the Asteriou Monastery
Asteriou Monastery is housed in a very beautiful old building from the 16th century.
It is situated in a quiet and secluded area, on the forested western slopes of Mount Hymettus and is very easy to reach from Athens.
If you are interested in old monasteries and churches, this is one of the easiest to reach and most recommended places in the area of the Greek capital.
The interior of the old stone building is simple but still aesthetic and harmonic at the same time.
42. Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
The construction of the Temple of Olympian Zeus began in the 6th century BC, during the so-called Tyrannical period.
The original idea was to build the largest and most magnificent temple in the ancient world.
After a few centuries of construction, however, the work stopped.
In fact, the giant structure was never fully completed.
Today, what remains from the temple, still impresses the countless tourists and visitors.
The height of the structure is 18 meters, and its columns reach a height of over 17 meters.
Of the original 104 columns, today you can see only 15 still standing.
If you decide to visit the place, you can easily find it right next to the beautiful Zappio Park.
The Temple of Zeus is located right here, on a special fenced site in the western part of the park.
43. Swimming and snorkeling at Moni Island
Moni Island is a small piece of land that reaches 2 kilometers at its longest part.
It is located only 41 kilometers off the coast of Athens, so the distance is easy to overcome and you will be able to get back to Athens in the afternoon.
It is known for its crystal clear turquoise lagoon – a magnet for lovers of swimming and snorkeling.
Underwater visibility here is over 40 meters, and the diversity of marine life is considerable.
Most of the island is covered with cedar forest.
Beneath the pleasant shade of the trees, you will find the cozy and relaxing atmosphere of a wonderful beach bar.
Here you can refresh yourself with a drink while enjoying the unforgettable view and limpid azure waters.More from Greece: