Submerged deep in history, tradition and unique atmosphere, Athens will leave every exploration buff speechless and hungry for more. Centuries, if not millennia old monuments and landmarks seamlessly blend with the modern architecture of Athens. Marvel at the beauty of the remnants of Ancient Greece, discover the Greek mythology right at the source and learn about drama and philosophy in the very place where they were born. But that’s just the tip of the Greek iceberg – beyond its own cultural heritage, Athens offers Byzantine churches, Ottoman architecture and a vast choice of neoclassical buildings. Athens is a complete package of emotions and styles, reaching back to the past with a firm grip on the modernity, with creative energy pouring from every corner of the city – from street art to modern cuisine, Athens offers entertainment crafted for every taste and need, so whether you’ve got a taste for ancient ruins or modern clubs, you will not be disappointed.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Athens
Acropolis of Athens Tour
This tour allows you to see for yourself the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Acropolis. A local guide will show you along the Theatre of Dionysus, Parthenon, as well as the Temple of Athena Nike, all the while providing you a lesson on Greek history, its mythology and rich past.
New Acropolis Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket
Beat the crowds which often line in front of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens with this very reasonably priced ticket, which guarantees a priority entrance. All four galleries of the museum will be open for you to discover at your own pace, filled with artifacts and memorabilia from the ancient times.
Athens Highlights: a Mythological Tour
Known for its rich ancient past, Greece is filled with remnants of it to this day. This tour will show you along the most famous ancient mythological sites of Athens, and a local guide will tell you about how people used to live as you explore the ancient ruins and millennia-old temples.
Athens Scenic Bike Tour
If you tire quickly during a walking tour, this one may be more to your liking. Provided with a comfortable bike, as well as a helmet, this tour will take you along the highlights of the scenic landscape of Athens, and a professional guide guarantees safety and provides information about the city.
Athens Small-Group Food Tour
Learn about the culture of Athens while tasting some of the famous local delicacies. A local guide will take you on a walking trip between several small-time establishments which serve the best local cuisine, all the while providing commentary on the history of the food and how it shaped Greek identity.
Athens Half-Day Sightseeing Tour
With a route covering both ancient and more contemporary highlights of the city, this tour takes half a day to show you the most famous monuments of Athens. You will be taken through both the Parliament and the National Library, with a tour of Acropolis afterwards and an optional upgrade with the Acropolis Museum.
Half-Day Small-Group Tour to Cape Sounion
Starting right from the centre of Athens, this half-day trip provides comfortable transportation in a minivan to Cape Sounion, where you will be able to enjoy some of the most beautiful views in all of Greece. You will stop by a beach along the way, where you will be able to take some time and relax.
Private Gourmet Food Tour
With a knowledgeable guide all for your own, this tour will take you along the best restaurants and eateries in Athens during a half-day tour. You will taste such delicacies as the local sesame bread, koulouri, as well as the famous loukoumades, mini-doughnuts served only in Greece.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Athens Tour
This handy service provides thirty-seven stops across three different routes for you to choose (you do not have to choose all three) and allows you to discover the city of Athens at your own pace. The stops are strategically placed around the most attended attractions and monuments of the city for your convenience.
All Day Cruise to Agistri, Moni, and Aegina
This all-inclusive cruise over the Saronic Gulf will allow you to take a day off from the hassle of the city. The cruise lasts a whole day and provides approximately six hours of sailing with up to four hours of sightseeing on the islands. The trip begins at Marina Zeas and proceeds through the islands of Agistri, Moni, and Aegina.
Other Things to See and Do
The Changing of the Guard
Much as is customary with the Buckingham Palace in London, England, the ceremony of the changing of the guard in Athens is also a sight to see. The military elite of Greece, called the evzones, change every hour of each day, and if you happen to come to the Syntagma Square on Sundays, there is a weekly parade at 11 a.m.
The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel, placed on a rocky cliff above the city of Athens. The complex consists of several ruins of ancient buildings, including several temples. While the Acropolis has been severely damaged during a war in the 17th century, it is still in a remarkable condition to this day.
The Ancient Agora
Used as a central public sphere in the ancient times, where the philosophers discussed their ideas and artists gathered to show their work, the Ancient Agora of Athens is a place worth visiting to see the gorgeous marble remains of the buildings, located by the hill of Areopagus.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
You cannot visit Athens and not see the ruins of the temple of the most important of all the Greek gods – Zeus. The colossal temple is an overwhelming sight to see and was constructed as far back as the sixth century B.C. The Temple was sadly destroyed in 3rd century A.D. but is still a sight to see despite its state.
Theatre of Dionysus
Considered by historians to be the world’s first theatre, the Theatre of Dionysus is located at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis. The theatre was dedicated to the god of plays and wine, Dionysus, and has the capacity to fit more than fifteen thousand people at the same time, with amazing acoustics.
The Roman Agora
Being substantially different from the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora is located just north of the Acropolis. The Agora was built by the Romans as a gift to the Athenians, around the year 15 B.C., and in turn, the people of Athens built a huge statue to Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa as a way to thank him.
This district of Athens is known among the locals and foreigners as one of the must-visit places for any first-timer in the city. The Kerameikos is located to the northwest of the Acropolis and is placed both inside and outside of the ancient city walls. The district is famous for its pottery business, and the word “ceramics” is derived from its name.
The Museum of the History of Greek Costume
With a unique collection of items, this museum is definitely worth visiting. The museum is open at all times for the public and requires no admission to enter. The museum, as its name might suggest, displays some of the ancient traditional Greek costumes and teaches of their history and functionality.
The Philatelic and Postal Museum
If you are a philatelist yourself, or just want to stare at tiny beautiful rectangles, go to the Philatelic and Postal Museum in Athens for free. The museum shows the most interesting and rarest stamps in the world, and you can even see for yourself the process of making such stamps.
Featuring the work of the famous Greek painter Giorgos Gounaropoulos, the collection of this museum might not be the biggest there is to gaze upon, but is nevertheless worth visiting since it’s free. The Gounaropoulos Museum is located on the Gounaropoulou Street, near the Hilton hotel.
Similarly to the Moscow Metro, the Athens Metro is a sight to see and is often regarded as a museum in itself. The metro stations of Athens are filled with antique artifacts and marvellous sculptures of ancient artists. The most beautiful stations are those around the Acropolis, Syntagma, and Evangelismos.
Yannis Pappas Studio
Not only does this attraction function as an art gallery dedicated to the Greek artist, Yannis Pappas, who created during the 20th century, but it is actually a real workspace of the artist in which he created his works. The artist has lived in the building with his family until the 1960s, and nowadays it serves as a personal museum.
Not all of the attractions and monuments of Athens have to come from the times of Ancient Greece. This cultural centre, build not long ago, the SNFCC, is a wonderful feat of beautiful architecture, with a surrounding park of over 170 hectares and many events and exhibitions taking place every week.
The National Gardens
If you are looking for a place to go for an afternoon stroll or to jog at, try visiting the National Gardens of Athens. The National Gardens is a huge park, lush with greenery and vegetation, placed right in the centre of the city. There are also remnants of Roman baths there, which are also a sight to see.
Located near Acropolis, the Filopappos Hill was known in Ancient Greece as the Hill of the Muses. It was the supposed place of the burial of the nine muses. The path to the hill is nice to walk through with benches along to rest, and the top of the hill provides a great vantage point to gaze at the cityscape.
Get the best possible view of the city of Athens and the surrounding landscape from the highest peak in the city, which stands at over two hundred and fifty meters tall. The climb to the top of the hill is a difficult, but pleasant walk, but you can always take a cable car which provides a 360-degree view.
While the hill does not provide the greatest view of Athens (for that visit the Lycabettus Hill), the Strefi Hill is a tranquil place to visit. The hill is rarely attended by tourists, which means you will be able to get a private experience, but stay away from the hill during the night, as it is said that it is a common spot for local hooligans.
Mount Immitos is not exactly within the premises of Athens, but is not far off and is definitely a good place to visit during your stay. The peak provides an amazing view of the surrounding landscape, but the walk is very long and steep, so make sure to take a lot of water with you especially during summer.
Take a walk along this pedestrian-only street, located not far from the Syntagma Square. The street is a common place for local artisans and chefs to set up their shops and diners and is one of the busiest shopping streets of Athens, filled with clothing shops, souvenirs, and handmade craftwork.
Located just outside of the National Gardens of Athens, the Panathenaic Stadium was the place where the first modern Olympic Games were hosted in 1904. The stadium is unique, as it is the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble, and can be admired from the outside for free with a small entrance fee to see the insides.