Top attractions in Athens
Once the heart of a civilization more advanced than any to come for centuries, visiting Athens reveals just how far mankind can go when holding art and wisdom above waging war. Here are the best things to see and do in Greece's proud and passionate capital.
The Old Town market district Monastiraki is a favorite among tourists and locals alike. Though cheap souvenirs dominate its storefronts, there's plenty on offer for sophisticated tastes too!
More than the ruins of an old temple, the Parthenon is an icon of Western civilization, making it the site of Athens' most essential tours!
Many of Ancient Athens' most important buildings were erected in the Acropolis to protect them from invasion. Ruins they may be, but most still look pretty good for their age!
Built on the site where legend tells Poseidon and Athena competed to be the city's patron god, the Erechtheion was actually considered more holy than the Parthenon in its time!
Of course, the Acropolis is now mostly in ruin – a monument to Athens' former glory – but almost 4,000 objects excavated from the area can be seen at the Acropolis Museum!
Widely considered to be one of the best museums in the world, the National Archaeological Museum of Athens boasts many of Greece's most important artifacts, from the prehistoric age to Late Antiquity.
Named after the Greek Constitution of 1844, the grand Syntagma Square at the foot of the Old Royal Palace has been the epicenter of Greek politics ever since!
In ruins, but once considered the epitome of Doric architecture, the important temple Olympieion was home to the gold Statue of Zeus – one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Nike is the Ancient Greek word for victory, and the prominently placed Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis was built to aid the Athenian Empire's wars against Sparta. It didn't work!
This historic district at the foot of the Acropolis is also known as the "Neighborhood of the Gods." Plaka is a great place to wander around and maybe even see an archaeological dig!
If sightseeing around the Acropolis is your main concern, Plaka is probably the best place to stay. Despite being a highly recommended tourist spot in itself, its streets are pleasantly quiet. The main attractions can also be reached easily from the Monastiraki area, which ought to appeal more to those attracted to Athens' lively street life.
How long to spend in Athens depends on how much of it you want to see, of course, but with most of its historic landmarks situated at the Acropolis, you could cover its archaeological sites, best restaurants, and most popular markets in 3 days.
The city is served by buses and electric trolleys that must be waved down at the blue (bus) and yellow (trolley) stops. Tickets are cheap, but then so are taxi fares. Athens also recently opened a sleek new Metro network. Construction was greatly delayed because they couldn't dig for 5 minutes without hitting undiscovered antiquities!
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- Best time to visit
- Athens is most pleasant during the spring and fall, when the temperatures are warm and the tourist traffic is at a minimum.
Things to Do in Athens
Top Attractions in Athens
Cities in Greece
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What people are saying about Athens
First, we loved the skip the line ticket again. There was a line. We went right in. I purchased the audio tour for my daughters and I, because last time I visited the Acropolis I would have enjoyed a little explanation about the marvel I was looking at. The audio was filled with facts and information. However, it was somewhat difficult to know where and what it was talking about. This may seem ignorant, but what is "Bastien"? it kept talking about the bastien on the right and left and I did not know what it was referring to. I wish it had a few pictures with the audio to show which side and which structure it was talking about. I spent most of my time wondering "am I looking at the right thing?" There is a map... but again, it is hard to decipher which is structure 1, 2, 3... I ended up skipping a few and listening to the ones I could for sure understand. A contributing factor may be how windy it was on that day. However, with that said it's still amazing and full of facts.
The trip was well organised with the tour van arriving on time. Our driver was keen to give us information about living in Athens which was interesting. The various sights are definitely worth seeing and we met our guide for each at the various locations. The meet & greet was well organised and I never felt I was being abandoned at any point. We were shown all the important areas and artifacts in the the museums which was good. My only criticism would be that we had a very long lunch break in Nafplio which seemed longer than necessary. Overall however I would recommend the tour if you want a small group experience and want to see these archaeological sites.
The trip on day of arrival was an amazing experience. The sunset and everything. Evelyn and Kostas were both great as guide and drivers. I would suggest that you think of something like taking people to the countryside instead of 2nddays to monestries and the 3rd day of just hanging around doing nothing while waiting till its time for the train to leave.... The second visit to monestries could rather be worked in on 3rd day while you show the people the forests and stuff on 2nd day.
I recommend purchasing ahead the skip the line ticket. I went to the museum website to purchase the tickets and they did not offer the skip the line. So I went through Get Your Guide. After walking around the Parthenon in the morning, we went to the museum in the afternoon. There was a long line! There was no signage for people with skip the line tickets... so I asked a museum employee working the front of the museum. She looked at our tickets and ushered us right in. Phew!
I took the Acropolis & Acropolis Museum tour with Athenian Tours at the end of June. It was a thoroughly enjoyable & well organised small groups tour with an informative guide. All the tickets had been bought in advance so we were able to jump all the queues which meant that we had more time to view the sights. I would happily recommend taking this tour if you want the small group experience & want to feel culturally informed afterwards.