The capital of Greece has been a popular vacation destination for Europeans, as well as visitors from all corners from the world for many decades.
Whether your trip to Athens, Greece is a cultural visit, or a stopover before you head to the Greek islands, there are many things to do in Athens that will make you want to stay longer, and definitely come back again.
We’ve been in Athens several times within last few years, and each time we have been lucky enough to discover a new areas, taste unique Greek flavours in traditional local tavernas we’d passed by many times without noticing; we also bumped into a new district with no tourists which was literally next to crowded touristy attractions.
During each visit we managed to climb a new hill to discover a different view of the city, and we stayed in various neighbourhoods in Athens, which also has given us a new perspective about the current changes the Greek metropolis is going through.
If you are interested to know where to stay in Athens, we recommend some of the best hotels for different budgets.
When we travel, we book our hotels through TripAdvisor, one of the best websites to compare prices.
Always make sure you travel with travel insurance! Be adventurous, but not careless.
Check out some of the most reliable insurance companies out there: True Traveller if you’re European and World Nomads if you’re from elsewhere.
If you love animals and you prefer going local during your travels, try housesitting, which is an amazing way to travel the world while taking care of the pets whose owners are on vacation. If you use TrustedHousesitters with this link you’ll get $20 discount on annual membership.
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Things to do in Athens, Greece
In this article, we’ll suggest 19 things to do in Athens, Greece, including stunning landmarks, and also local venues and less known places well worth the visit. Let’s get started!
1. Find the best hotels in Athens
We’ve put together a detailed list of the neighbourhoods and the best hotels in Athens. Pick one, book one, and enjoy your trip in Greece!
2. Get impressed by the Acropolis
No matter how cliché a visit to this historical site might sound, you must visit the Acropolis— the symbol of civilization and greatness of ancient architecture.
The remains of the site have been under reconstruction for many years, but you’ll still get your “wow moment” when standing below the giant pillars.
Insider tip: The place usually gets packed from 10am until 2pm in the summertime, so it’s better to come either early in the morning or after 6 pm. There usually is a long queue for the tickets around 9am during a high season.
Fee: €20 per person, reduced price by 50% from 1st of November to 31st of March
€30 per person if you buy a multi-site (no winter reduction) ticket that is valid for five consecutive days and allows you access to six other sites: the Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Roman Agora, Kerameikos, Olympieion, and the Archaeological site of Lykeion.
3. Explore the street art scene with the Alternative Tour in Athens
The city of Athens is surely world known for its historical sites, but that doesn’t mean the evolution of the culture in the capital stopped after ancient times. If you like street art as much we do, and you prefer to explore a place through a local’s point of view, then definitely check out the street art tour organised by Alternative Athens tours.
We were lucky to get a young artist and web-designer, Nikos, as a guide who led us through some awesome corners of the city, explained the history of graffiti in Greece, and always expressed his subjective and objective opinion on every mural we saw.
Nikos could also tell us the background stories from all of the graffiti, as well as the main features of each neighbourhood as we passed by.
The tour lasted three hours, but we even didn’t realise how quickly the tour time passed because of how enthralled you were with the artwork and Nikos’ stories. He spoke great English, the tour was very informative, and it was organised in a small group, which was much appreciated. You’ll have fun.
Fee: €40 per person
To book a tour, head to the website of Alternative Athens.
4. Wow at the Panathinaiko-Stadium
They call it also, “Kallimarmaro” which means, “made of fine marble” in Greek, and it’s the only stadium in the world made entirely of marble. It served as an Olympic venue in the 19th century and in 2004, too. At the moment you can visit the stadium as an attraction or attend one of the events that take place here.
You you can also enjoy some morning jogging from 7.30am-9am after you fill out a consent form. You can download & print it in advance on this website. Definitely one of the top things to do in Athens.
Admission: € 5 including an audio guide
Open hours: 8am – 5pm in winter / 7pm in summer
5. Watch a movie or a concert at the Herod Atticus Odeon
This legendary open-air theatre can seat 4680 people on its stone benches. The venue has hosted some excellent international singers, and if you’re in Athens anytime from May to October, check the programme of the annual Athens Festival that happens here.
6. Descend the Ancient Agora of Athens
Once at the Acropolis, walk down to see what remains from the Classical Athens and its agora— the area that used to be a public space for markets and gatherings. The site is quite impressive, and can take up to two hours to explore it, especially if you take photographs.
Don’t miss out on the Hephaestus temple which is a very well preserved architectural work from the 5th century, the Church of Holy Apostles, and, of course, the iconic Stoa of Attalus.
Fee: see the paragraph about the Acropolis above
A separate ticket for the Ancient Agora costs €8.
7. Have a stroll via the Anafiotika
Looking for the true hidden gem of Athens? Walk through the Anafiotika – a cluster of 45 houses constructed by workers from Anafi Island who arrived in the city in the 19th century to renovate the King Othon’s Palace.
The neighbourhood is built in Cycladic style; its narrow stone steps, white painted walls, and cubic houses blooming with bougainvillea flowers on the porches and in the windows will remind you of an island atmosphere.
Anafiotika is a very tranquil residential area, so please; respect the privacy of the locals living there when walking through the area.
Pro tip: to get there, head from the Monastiraki square in the direction of the Acropolis passing the Hadrian’s Library via Areos and Dioskouron streets, and join Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street next to the Theatre of Dionysos.
Pass the Ayio Georgios church; walk up through the alleys via stone steps. Once you’ve finished a stroll via Anafiotika, you’ll see the sign leading your way up to the Acropolis, which will eventually bring you up to the site within a short walk.
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8. Take a breath in the National Garden
Need to take a breath in between hunting Athens attractions? Then visit the National Garden located behind the building of the Greek Parliament at the Syntagma Square.
The former Royal Garden became a public park, which is a real oasis where you can cool down during hot summer days. Ideal when exploring Athens with kids. There is the also a children’s library and a playground on the premises.
Open from 7 am until sunset.
9. Watch the Changing of The Guards Ceremony
Before or after resting in the National Garden, wait for the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier below the Hellenic Parliament.
The guards change hourly, but the official ceremony you want to see happens every Sunday at 11am, when guards wear traditional Evzone’s uniforms and perform a special ritual.
10. Get a stunning panoramic view from Mount Lycabettus
Here you’ll find the best view of Athens! Come before the sunset and watch how the city below changes once the sun goes down; the streetlights turn on, and the major city landmarks become illuminated by different colours.
Once on top of the mountain, you might want to check the amazing open-air Lycabettus Theatre for a live concert or a show during summertime.
11. Visit an ancient cemetery in the Kerameikos
This might not sound like a very attractive thing to do in Athens, but the ancient graveyard is worth the visit because of its historical importance.
Make sure to visit the small museum there that exposes the artifacts found during the excavation of the site. Open from 8am till 6.30 pm.
Admission: included in the multi-sites ticket, otherwise € 2 for a single ticket
Open from 8am till 6.30 pm.
12. Explore Benaki Museums… The old and a new one
If you visit the city mainly for the cultural purposes, then the Benaki Museum should be on your list of things to do in Athens. It houses over 40,000 items illustrating Greek history from Roman times through the 20th century.
The museum also used to exhibit the collections of Islamic, Chinese, and Pre-Columbian art, which are now displayed at the Kerameikos Building Complex.
If you are more into contemporary art, head to the new Benaki Museum, which is located at 138 Pireos street, where you’ll find works of Greek and other international artists, interesting performances, and musical events happening in the amphitheatre located in the museum.
Admission: 6-9 €, free every Thursday
Open hours: check their website here.
13. Come for an event at the Technopolis City of Athens
This is a hub for cultural events in the capital, where they organise different concerts, art performances, and educational programs for children. Visit their website to see the current schedule.
14. Buy some organic fruits & veggies at a laiki agora!
A laiki agora is a street market in Athens and other Greek towns. The peculiar thing is that vendors move around the city and sell their products every day in a different neighbourhood.
There is nothing like sampling the best olives, fruits, or cheese while shopping from cheerful locals inviting you to stop by their stall. At the laiki agora you’ll find only seasonal fruits and veggies. Come in the morning when there is the largest selection of produce.
Some of the biggest street markets in Athens take place in Kolonaki on Friday. There is also a large one at the Andrea Syngrou Avenue on Friday, and one in the Kypseli neighbourhood on Thursday. Ask your local friends or receptionists at the hotel where and when exactly is the nearest laiki agora.
If it happens there is no street market at the time of your visit of Athens, you can always enter the Central Market located between Omonia and Monastiraki neighbourhoods.
15. Have a real Greek meal
Being in Athens and missing out on the Greek cuisine would be a real bummer. If you stay in the centre, you’ll have oodles of options for fine dining, which might get also a tad expensive if you eat in touristy places. To avoid mediocre taste and unreasonable prices, find local restaurants with food to remember.
Our favourite place to eat in Athens was a tiny courtyard restaurant called Avli, which might be a bit tricky to find, since you’ll need to pass through a casual looking front door that will lead you through a hall to a courtyard.
We also ate very well at the cosy alternative restaurant of Σφήκα near Syngrou Fix metro station, at the Atlantikos in the centre (might get packed during the weekend), or in an uber local place called To Kati Allo in the Koukaki neighborhood, right behind the Museum of the Acropolis (Chatzichristou 12, Athina 117 42, Greece).
16. Watch a movie in the open-air Thission cinema
If you visit Athens between May-October, check out this venue with some fantastic views of the Acropolis at night. For the updated schedule, watch their Facebook fanpage.
Admission: € 8
17. Head over to Gazi for nightlife
Looking for nightlife in Athens? Then check the neighbourhood of Gazi that is soaked with alternative culture, music bars, cafes, and restaurants. It’s a former gasworks area that has become very trendy.
It’s also a district where the annual European Jazz Festival happens at the Technopolis— the major venue for cultural events in the city, and it’s also an industrial museum. For more info regarding the events, check out their official site.
18. See the Acropolis from the Aeropagus aka Mars Hill
Take in a different point of view of the most popular landmark in the city from a popular rock outcropping of Aeropagus. The place is becoming more popular among tourists, especially before sunset. You can reach the place easily within 15 minutes walking from the Thessio metro station on the way up to the Acropolis.
19. Count your drinks at a myriad of unique bars
TAF the Art Foundation bar
Tucked away in an old backyard renovated into a beautiful artsy place; pass a small wooden door and step into a different realm that is only a few minutes from the busy Monastiraki square. Choose from their large range of coffees, cocktails, or microbrewed beers while listening to some live night jazz.
There is always an exhibition going on in some of the rooms that are part of the place. If you’re an artist, you might want to check their co-working space.
Open from 11 am till 3am.
If this bar is full, check out the incredible Six d.o.g.s venue for a drink, or a live concert. OR, head to Kerameikos Square where you’ll find plenty of local bars.
That’s all, folks. Some of the best things to do in Athens! Have we missed something? If you have any additional tips, please, leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!