First-time visitors to Athens should set aside as much time as possible to explore all the great things to see and do in the city.
From free walking tours, to exploring the various ancient temples and museums, to tasting some of the delicious local cuisine, even catching a classic film at the a beautiful open air rooftop cinema — there’s something for everyone in Athens.
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The Best Things to Do in Athens
Below, you’ll find a list of what we consider to be some of the best things to do in Athens.
If you think we missed something, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this article with your personal recommendations.
The Acropolis Museum is one of the most popular museums in the world and for good reason.
With over 300 exhibits and 4,000 ancient artifacts from the Acropolis and the surrounding area, this museum simply cannot be missed.
Summer Hours (April 1st to October 31st)
- Monday: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
- Tuesday – Sunday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Friday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Winter Hours (November 1st to March 31st)
- Monday – Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
- Friday: 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM
- Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
- Closed: 1 January, Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 and 26 December
- Good Friday: Noon to 6 PM
- Easter Saturday: 8 AM to 3 PM
- Christmas Eve / New Year’s Eve: 9 AM to 3 PM
- Free entry: March 6th (In Memory of Melina Mercouri), March 25th (Greek National Holiday), May 18th (International Museum Day), October 28th (Greek National Holiday)
The Parthenon was built between 447BC and 438BC and was a temple dedicated to Athena, the Grecian goddess of war.
Even after 3,000 years, this majestic structure that was designed and constructed by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates stands as a display of their architectural prowess.
Tourists can marvel at the ancient marble columns and some of the many other artifacts left behind.
Hours of Operation:
- From April to October, the Parthenon is open on Monday between 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM and from Tuesday to Sunday between 8:00 AM – 7:30 PM.
- From November to March, it is open daily from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM.
Athens Central Market
Athens Central Market is also known as “Dimotiki Agora” and is one of the oldest known markets having been open since 1886.
Visitors to the Central Market will find a top-quality seafood market, a meat market, and a vegetable market, all of which stock the best in fresh produce.
There are also little local restaurants within the market that serve delicacies like Pastirma, a well-seasoned, air-dried cured beef, which is quite popular in Greece.
Hours of Operation: Monday to Saturday – 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The Erechtheion (also known as the Erectheum) can be found on the north side of the Acropolis and was built in dedication to the king Erechtheus, as well as the gods Athena Polias and Poseidon.
This temple was built circa 421BC and 405BC using Pentelic marble and its designer was was the ancient Athenian architect, Mnesicles.
The Erechtheion’s most notable feature is the Porch of the Maidens, and the six sculpted ladies who provide support for part of the temple can be found on the southern portico.
On the eastern side of the Erechtheion, visitors will find a shrine dedicated to Athena.
Athens Street Art Tour
While Athens is very well known for its art scene, it is also known for its street art scene which can be found on just about every corner when wandering around the center of the city.
Over the course of three hours, you will enjoy a walking tour with a local street artist who will take them through some of Athens’ hippest neighborhoods to see some of the best art the city has to offer.
The guide will not only show you around but will also explain some of the meaning behind the pieces and how they relate to the current socio-economic conditions in Athens.
Try Ouzo at Brettos
Brettos is located in the heart of Athens oldest neighborhood known as Plaka and has been operating since 1909, making it the oldest bar in all of Athens.
This establishment serves up a wide variety of spirits including the most popular Greek liquor known as Ouzo.
We recommend stopping into this bar not only because of the variety of drinks on offer such as flavored liqueurs, wines, ouzos, absinthe (my personal favorite) and more but for how incredibly photogenic this place is.
Hours of Operation: Everyday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM.
Catch a Movie at Cine Paris
Cine Paris is located just steps from Brettos (mentioned above) in Athens’ oldest neighborhood known as Plaka.
This outdoor rooftop cinema is where locals and foreigners come together to watch classic movies paired with snacks and a glass of wine as well as spectacular views of the Parthenon in the distance.
Address: 22 Kidathineon, Plaka, Athens
Hours of Operation: Daily from 6:30PM to 1:00 AM (May through October)
360 Bar & A for Athens
One of the best ways to get a great view of the city from above is to visit one of the many rooftop bars in Athens.
360 Bar is one of the more popular rooftop bars in Athens as is A for Athens.
From our experience, the crowd at 360 bar is slightly younger and the roof is much, much bigger.
If you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate scene, we recommend checking out A for Athens — also a fantastic option with incredible views of Athens from above.
Word is that the signature “A for Athens Sour” is an amazing cocktail which won their head bartender first place at the European Cocktail Competition.
360 Bar Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 3:00 AM
Saturday to Sunday between 9:00 AM – 4:00 AM
A for Athens Hours of Operation:
Daily from 11:00 AM to 2:30 AM
Free Walking Tour of Athens
We highly recommend taking a walking tour in Athens due to the fact that it’s a great way to get your bearings and understand the most important points of interest to visit during your stay.
The times and lengths of walking tours in Athens depend on the companies running them so be sure to prepare by doing a little research ahead of time to find the company with the schedule that best fits your needs.
Greek Wine and Meze Tasting
Greek wine was and still is a big part of the cultural experience in Greece. and its’ visitors have a chance to get intimate with that culture.
Take part in a private wine tasting event, where you will be offered two local and delicious white and red wines, all featuring different grape varieties.
As you sip on your wine, your sommelier will give an enchanting lesson on the history of Greek winemaking.
Paired perfectly with your wine, you will be served delicious mezes from different parts of Greece — each one selected to perfectly match the wine you are tasting.
Athens National Archeological Museum
Between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street, and Tositsas Street, sits the largest museum in Greece.
The National Archeological Museum hosts the most expansive collection of archeological artifacts which were retrieved from all over Greece and its surroundings, and date from prehistoric times till late antiquity.
From mid November to mid April, the National Archeological Museum is open from Wednesday to Monday from 8:30 AM – 4:00 AM, and on Tuesday from 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM.
From Mid April to the end of October, it is open from Wednesday to Monday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM, and on Tuesday from 12:30 PM – 8:00 PM.
The Museum is closed on December 25 & 26, January 1, March 25, Easter Sunday, and May 1.
Athens Agora Museum
The Agora Museum is located at the reassembled Stoa of Attalos.
As the National Museum is home to all of Greece’s National history, the Museum of the Agora is home to the history of Ancient Athens.
Inside, visitors will ancient pots, painted vases, swords and shields of The Bronze Age, as well as mannequins made of ceramic from the the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Geometric period.
In the summer, the Agora Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday by 8:30 AM – 7:30 PM and on Monday by 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM.
During the winter, the Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday by 08:00 AM – 3:00 PM and on Monday by 11:00 AM – 05:00 PM.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
In the 6th century BC, Peisistratos set out to build a grand temple in honor of Zeus, King of the Olympians.
However, he was unable to complete the temple due to lack of funds, and over the course of seven centuries, other Grecians tried but were unable to finish it.
Today, visitors to the site where the temple stood can see a few of the remaining columns.
Those columns are so large, that they give tourists a scaled idea of how huge the temple would have been, had it been finished.
The National Gardens of Athens
The National Gardens of Athens were once called “the gardens of Amalia”, after its original owner, Queen Amalia.
It is said that she was so in love with her garden that she would spend three hours a day tending it.
Now, visitors to the garden can say thank you to her as they recline under one of the many 25m (80ft) high Washingtonia palm trees which she planted close to the Vasilissis Amalias Avenue gate, as they escape the hustle and bustle of Athens for a little while.
Hours of Operation: Daily from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
National Museum of Contemporary Arts
The National Museum of Contemporary arts collects and displays some of the best contemporary art pieces in Greece, as well as impressive international works.
Opened in 2000, the museum hosts many school and family workshops on the appreciation of art, and displays pieces from some of the finest artists in Greece as well as all of Europe.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Sunday from 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM.
Emperor Hadrian ruled over the Roman empire from 117 to 138 CE.
In the last four years of his reign, he had his Library built in Athens as part of his plan for re-building Athens.
Being the biggest library in Athens, it not only housed books and storehouse for state documents, but also housed schools of learning and philosophy.
Visitors can walk through the now renovated hallways of the library and read through titles that have sat there for thousands of years.
Hours of Operation: Daily from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
According to Greek mythology, Lycabettus Hill was created when, in despair, the goddess of war, Athena, threw a rock she was holding after receiving bad news from a raven.
Now, visitors to the hill can choose to hike, go by cable car or take a short taxi ride to the top where you can watch the sunset from the highest point in Athens.
Temple of Athena Nike
Athena Nike, the goddess of victory, is one of the many forms in which the great mother-goddess, Athena, is worshipped.
As Athena Nike, a small but well known temple was built on a prominent spot in the Acropolis of Athens in her honor.
It is regularly visited by locals, and tourists often come round to see the statue of the goddess adjusting her sandal strap.
Temple of Poseidon
The temple of Poseidon was built during 500BC and is one of Athens’ most prized monuments – being a testament to Greece’s Golden Age.
Built two hundred feet above sea level at Cape Sounion, the temple has crumbled over time.
Of the initial thirty-eight columns that held it up, only sixteen remain to be seen today.
A visit to the Temple of Poseidon is one of top recommendations when it comes to the best day trips from Athens.
Being the literal heart of Athens, it’s no wonder that Syntagma Square is one of the most famous squares in the city.
The Square is home to two historic hotels – Grande Bretagne and George II – as well as the Hellenic Parliament Building.
Many local families come to spend time here, and they usually hold picnics or play games in the open grass area.
You cannot leave Greece without trying a Greek gyro.
Gyros consist of seasoned meats (chicken, pork, lamb) and are served in a flatbread pita bread wrap with tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce,
Both Bairaktaris Taverna and Savvas Restaurant are located in Monastiraki Square and serve some of the most delicious gyros in downtown.
The Benaki Museum is located at the Benaki family home, walking distance from Evangelismos metro station.
With 6,000 pieces of art arranged over four floors, the Museum houses one of the best private collections in Athens.
Take your time wandering through the rows of Greek history, dating from prehistoric times, and flow forward into more contemporary jewels.
Hours of Operation: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Thursdays from 9:00 until midnight and 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Sundays. The Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is a gorgeous museum which is home to more than 3,000 pieces of archeological artifacts from ancient Cyclades, Greece, and Cyprus.
Located on Neophytou Douka street, the Museum was opened in 1986 and is situated in two buildings.
The Main Building houses the Museum’s permanent collection, including ancient Cycladic and Greek statues, figurines, vases, and weapons, while the second building, The Stathatos Mansion, holds the Museum’s temporary collections.
Hours of Operation: Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Thursdays from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM and 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sundays.
The Plaka neighborhood is not only home to places like Brettos Bar and Cine Paris, but it is the oldest neighborhood in Athens and a very pleasant place to walk through in the evenings when the streets are all lit up.
Located on the foothills of the Acropolis, Plaka is vibrant and full of colorful old homes, mini-museums and old churches, as well as great local restaurants and cafes.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon was built beneath the Acropolis of Athens by Herodes Atticus in 161. He constructed it in memory of his late wife.
The Odeon had a seating capacity for 6,000 people and became a top center for music.
It still is a top music center in modern times and is an open-air amphitheater where guests can watch classic Greek performances.
Changing of the Guard
If you are in Athens on a Sunday morning, around Syntagma Square, then make your way to the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier where the Changing of the Guard happens at 11:00 AM.
The Greek soldiers who switch guard are dressed in Greek military fashion, and their ornate changeover sequence is always amazing (and always free) to behold.
The Panathenaic stadium was the host of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has since then become a pilgrimage site for sports fans and athletes from around the world.
Fun Fact: The Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble.
Theatre of Dionysus
Lovers of theater and entertainment will want to pay homage to the patron god of theatre and all things merriment – Dionysus.
The theatre of Dionysus was built in 500BC and is considered to be one of the first theatres in the world.
Its builders cleaved a portion of a cliff on the Acropolis and built it to seat over 17,000 people.
The Theater of Dionysus is often proclaimed to be the birthplace of theatre, and many of the most famous Greek stories – tragedy and comedy alike – were first performed there.
Visiting Athens is always an enriching experience, with a wide variety of things to see and do.
For first time visitors, go through this list and choose some of the places you will go to first.
Interested in visiting the Greek islands? If so, be sure to check out my full collection of Greek Island Travel Guides.
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