Athens is the largest and oldest city in Greece, as well as being the capitol. On top of that, the Piraeus port of Greece is the second largest in the world.
Visitors to this historically-rich city will enjoy traveling through time as they explore the oldest and most famous monuments of early civilization.
Because of Athens’ dense history, and the plethora of sites waiting to be explored, planning a visit to the area can feel downright overwhelming.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of all the best things to do while visiting Athens, Greece.
12 Best Things to Do in Athens
1. Explore The Acropolis
The most popular attraction in Athens is the Acropolis. While some mistakenly think of the Acropolis as a building, it is actually a citadel which plays host to several ancient and significant structures, including the Parthenon.
While the Parthenon is going to be the big-ticket attraction here, there are numerous equally-intriguing structures to visit as well, including the Arrhephorion, Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Due to its popularity, the Acropolis and its many wonders can become extremely crowded, so we recommend trying to get there as early as possible to really get the most out of your time. Plus, the fewer people there are in the area, the easier it is to use your imagination to transport yourself back in time and soak in the awe-inspiring atmosphere.
2. Stop By Hadrian’s Library
Hadrian’s Library is fascinating, and not necessarily what people expect. Why? Because while we think of a library as a building filled with books, this was not actually the case here. Instead, this was more a place of study during ancient times.
The library was build in 132 AD, so it’s likely to be one of the oldest places you’re ever likely to visit.
3. Check Out the Decorations at Little Kook
While Little Kook is a great restaurant, it is actually more famous for its eccentric holiday decorations.
Whether it be Christmas or Halloween, this place pulls out all the stops — and it makes for a fantastic Instagram-worthy photo spot.
Make sure you take time to try one of their tasty treats while there, many of which are photo-worthy as well!
4. Relax on Edem Beach
Edem Beach is a wonderful place to visit and is open to the public, free of charge If you need to sit back, relax and soak up the ocean air, then you’ll want to take time to add this to your list of spots to visit.
Getting to the beach is relatively simple, requiring only a quick tram ride. Once there, you’ll be able to feel the sand between your toes, dip your feet in the water or, should you be hungry, find a few great places to grab a quick bite.
5. Visit The National Gardens
The National Gardens (found right next to the Greek Parliament) span 59 acres and is home to a stunning variety of rare plants and more than a bit of wildlife.
This place is absolutely beautiful and can be accessed by seven different entrances. What was formerly known as The Garden Of Amalia boasts 7,000 trees and six lakes.
You can also visit the small zoo, which houses peacocks, Greek goats and chickens.
6. Appreciate the Street Art
The walls in Athens are covered with everything from graffiti to modern street art.
The city is so well-known for this that the New York Times has called it “a contemporary mecca for street art.”
Although visitors can typically find these grungy and picturesque walls on their own, a tour is the best way to ensure you don’t miss anything and perhaps even learn about the art in the process.
7. Visit the Museum of Cycladic Art
Some spectacular creations might be found in the streets of Athens, but for more historical artwork and context, you’ll want to head to the Museum of Cycladic Art.
The institution was inaugurated in 1986 and is home to pieces up to 5,000 years old. You’ll find paintings from Ancient Greece and Cyprus, as well as slender marble figures and statues dating back to the Bronze Age.
This museum should be on everyone’s list. Upon arrival, you’ll be met with four floors, each of which has a different theme. They are:
- Ancient Greek Art
- Cycladic Culture
- Cypriot Art
- Daily life during Ancient Times
8. Grab a Drink at A is for Athens
If you want to enjoy the nightlife of Acropolis, you must visit A is for Athens, a trendy, rooftop cocktail bar which features absolutely stunning views of the Acropolis, especially at sunset.
If you’re looking for a plain ol’ rum and coke, this isn’t the place for you. Each of the libations offered up here is inspired by Greek locations, history and mythological figures. Thus, the drink mention includes such concoctions as The Sirens, Circe’s Punch, and Poly The Cyclops.
The drinking age in Athens is 18, so this is going to be a spot to visit for some adults-only time!
9. Shop in the Monastiraki Neighborhood
Monastiraki means “little monastery” in Greek. This neighborhood is packed with large markets, rooftop bars and a whole lot of places in which to shop.
Among the stores you’ll find second-hand clothing outlets, vendors offering hand-made items and, as you might expect, stores with beautiful antique pieces.
Interesting fact: The Monastiraki metro station is the oldest one in Athens.
10. Swing By Varvakios Agora
This is a market which was named after Ioannis Varvakis, a national hero of Greece and Russia who was also known to be a philanthropist. Interestingly, he also helped develop a method for transporting caviar without damaging the fragile eggs!
The vendors here offer a variety of items including fresh meat, fish, spices and fruits from all over the country.
This is a great place to go if you’re looking to get a glimpse into local Athens life.
11. See the Temple of Poseidon
Tributes to Greek mythology are prominent in Athens, which makes sense considering the city itself is named after a Greek goddess, Athena.
Lovers of these ancient stories can find the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, in the southeast part of Athens. The incredible structure dates all the way back to 700 BC.
There is also a beach under Poseidon’s temple (what else would you expect from the god of water?), where visitors can take in spectacular views of the sunset.
Greece was surrounded by the ocean, so Poseidon, the god of the seas, had a respectable place in the Greek hierarchy.
12. Climb Lycabettus Hill
This is the highest hill in Athens, standing 303 feet above sea level. If you’re up for a challenge, you can always take the hike up, but if you’re not looking to work that hard, there are cable cars available as well.
Once up top, you’ll be able to see all the shining and flickering lights of the city, making this the perfect evening trip. Even during the day, however, the view of the surrounding area is impressive.
As we said before, Athens is full of beautiful sights, so it can be hard to decide what to do once you arrive.
But no matter where your day takes you, whether it be to the Parthenon or Poseidon’s Temple, your experience in Athens will surely stay with you forever.