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Are you planning a trip to the capital of Greece? This guide is the most handy resource you can find to plan every detail and get ready to enjoy one of the most vibrant European capitals.
Here you’ll find everything you need, from where to go to where to stay and – most importantly – all the incredible things you can do in this millennial, fascinating city!
Where Is Athens
Athens, the capital of Greece, is located in the southern area of the Attica region, close to the Aegean Sea. The international airport is located only 35 km from the city center, and it can take you from 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach town depending on the traffic and the preferred means of transport.
Since Athens has a lot of traffic any time of the day, getting to town by metro can be more time-efficient, while getting to the center by bus is more convenient as far as fees are concerned.
Athens main port, Piraeus, is also about 30 minutes from the city center. It’s from Piraeus that most ferries for the Greek Islands depart from. Other ports in Athens are Lavrio and Rafina, also featuring routes to some of Greece’s most popular islands.
Where To Stay In Athens
We have written this super complete guide to the best areas to stay in Athens – complete with a list of cities in Athens and why you should stay there (or not!)
However, if you’re looking for some quick ideas, then read on for some top recommendations.
There’re different neighborhoods to stay in Athens, depending on which Athens attractions you’re keen to see. However, since the city is well-served by public transport, it doesn’t really matter if you’re staying in a very central position or not.
Plaka is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Athens when it comes to sightseeing, walking tours, and historical landmarks. This old district is just steps from the Acropolis and some of the most important ancient sites in Athens.
Other than that, a stay in Plaka is also great if you enjoy shopping and good food. Several souvenir shops and endless traditional tavernas and restaurants and beautiful cafes, and places to go for a cocktail or a beer.
Another great area to stay in Athens is Monastiraki. Close to virtually everything, Monastiraki Square is the place you’ll be reaching to sample the best gyros in town, so don’t miss Monastiraki if you’re a foodie at heart and want to sip the best Greek coffee in town.
For a more refined experience, choose the areas of Koukaki or Kolonaki. Both places are within walking distance of Athens’s most important museums, and both neighborhoods preserve an elegant and quiet atmosphere too.
What To Do In Athens At Night
If you’re up for a more modern vibe, then choose the colorful areas of Psirri or Thisseio. These two vibrant areas of Athens feature hundreds of restaurants, cafes, and music bars open until late at night.
How To Get To Athens
Plane travel is logically the fastest and most convenient way to get to Athens, either from Europe, the US, Canada, or Australia.
Those traveling to Athens from other European capitals can take advantage of different low-cost companies offering convenient tickets to Athens all year round.
How To Move Around In Athens To
It’s always a good idea to avoid renting a car when visiting the city since traffic can be really chaotic. Besides, the city enjoys an excellent public transport system.
Buses can take you virtually everywhere, plus the metro is fast, cheap, and super-efficient to move around in town, so you can visit almost every corner of Athens buying a daily metro pass.
How Long To Stay In Athens
There are tons of things to see and do in Athens, especially in winter when other parts of Greece close up, so time seems to really fly when you visit. It’s not advisable to spend less than two days in town if you really want to see the most important landmarks, archaeological sites, and museums.
A stay ranging from 3 to 5 days is perfect for getting a good insight of the city, joining a few walking tours, or even visiting places that are a bit off the radar, such as Cape Sounion, on the southern coastal area.
Anything from one week to 10 days in Athens will allow you to take a day trip to the beautiful Saronic Islands near the coast of Athens, such as Aegina or Hydra.
Where To Eat In Athens
Greek food is a key part of the Athenian travel experience that you don’t want to miss. There are hundreds of places of interest in Athens for foodies. Almost any area you choose to visit will have a mix of budget and high-end food choices.
- For traditional tavernas, the best places are located in Plaka and close to the Acropolis Museum in Koukaki.
- For the best gyros in town, head to Monastiraki, while homemade dishes can be tasted in the Agia Eirini Square area.
- More trendy places to eat and have drinks can be found in Thisseio and Kolonaki.
A top list of Athens sights would never be complete without this list of landmarks in Athens:
It goes without saying that one of the best places to visit in Athens – at least one of the most famous places in Athens – is definitely the Acropolis, which has overlooked and guarded the city for more than 2500 years.
The Acropolis rock, which can be easily seen from any area in town, is one of the top places you should not miss visiting.
The most important monument to visit up in the Acropolis is the Parthenon, a temple built in the fifth century BC and which is dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the Greek goddess of wisdom and namesake of the city.
One of the most stunning places you can visit in the capital is the Acropolis Museum which houses unique treasures found in the Acropolis.
The museum exhibits objects from the fifth century BC to the fifth century AD, including archaic sculptures and statues.
The main feature is the impressive glass floor that reveals the rests an ancient Athenian neighborhood below found during the construction.
The construction dates back to the fourth century BC, and it’s the place where the Ancient Greeks would show demonstrations of strength and courage in athletic competitions.
The impressive stadium is entirely made from white marble, and a guided visit is a perfect idea also to visit the hidden vaulted passages hidden under the building.
Museum of Cycladic Art
Another wonderful museum you should discover in Athens is the Museum of Cycladic Art, featuring over 3,000 artifacts and pieces of art coming from the Cyclades and Cyprus.
It’s here that you’ll be able to take a look at those mysterious marble figurines found all over the Cycladic area in the Aegean Sea.
National Archaeological Museum
This is one of the most important museums in the whole country, exhibiting the world’s largest collection of Greek antiquities, including sculptures, art, jewelry, and pottery thematically grouped in different sections, from the prehistoric times to more the Classical era.
It’s a massive place to visit, so the best bet is to join a guided tour to actually learn more when you visit.
Places To Visit And More Things To Do In Athens
These Athens sites are no doubt a must-see; add them to your best places to see in Athens list:
Witness the Change of the Guard in Syntagma Square
This is probably the most traditional thing to do in Athens. There are daily changes of the guard taking place at the Parliament building, but the most impressive one certainly occurs every Sunday.
The evzones are highly trained soldiers dressed in the traditional Greek uniform.
Wander the Streets of Plaka
The neighborhood of Plaka sits right under the Acropolis, and it’s mostly a pedestrian area where there’re lots of shops, restaurants, and cafés to visit.
Here you’ll find unique souvenirs and amazing places to visit in Athens. One of them is Bretto’s, one of the oldest distilleries in Europe where it’s possible to taste a huge range of ouzo and other traditional liquors from the islands.
Located in the upper area of Plaka, just under the Acropolis. Anafiotika is a beautiful neighborhood made by builders from the Aegean island of Anafi. Not often listed as one of Athens top attractions, but it should be. The area is features whitewashed houses, colorful alleys, and shady trees, which makes it perfect for a walk on a hot afternoon, there are no cars, and it’s ideal for a walk to leave the rest of Athens craziness behind.
Go Shopping at the Municipal Market
Traditional and full of colorful images, the smells and the experience of a visit to Athens’ Central Market is another thing you shouldn’t miss when in Athens.
Even when not buying anything, the place gives a unique opportunity to explore and marvel at the local everyday life and traditions that are part of the city.
Discover Athens’ Street Art With A Tour
Athens has recently flourished as a European capital where street art can range from the most basic and colorful graffiti to modern pieces of stunning beauty.
There are different areas where street art will surprise you, but you’ll discover more hidden gems that only locals know when visiting with a street art guided tour.
Find The Best Athens Sunset Spot
Lycabettus Hill is a favorite place in Athens where locals meet to witness the sun setting over the city.
From here, it’s possible to admire the stunning views of the city and see the silhouette of the Acropolis in the distance overlooking the Greek capital.
Cool Things To Do In Athens With Kids
The following Athens tourist attractions are ideal for families and people traveling Athens with kids:
Hellenic Children’s Museum
Fantastic for kids of all ages, this small interactive museum helps kids learn about the world in a very creative way.
Different sections teach kids creative techniques and everything about the world of adults!
Eat Cake At The Little Kook
This quirky tea house and café in the heart of Psirri is a fabulous place to visit in Athens with children. Kids adore the unique holiday decorations both on the inside and the outside that add a huge touch of color and animation to the street of Psirri.
Kids and adults will love the fancy dresses worn by the waiters, as well as the delicious desserts and cakes that you can try when you visit.
Take An Acropolis Family Guided Tour
Kids love myth and legends from Ancient Greece, so it’s no surprise that special tours designed with little ones in mind are among the favorite things to do in Athens with children.
When visiting with a guide that tells them fascinating stories of warriors, gods, and heroes, kids remain fascinated, attentive, and enjoy Athens in a unique, unforgettable way. And parents love these tours too!
Check The Museum Of Ancient Greek Technology
This is another place that kids love to visit as it allows them to see, touch, and even make old inventions work with their own hands.
The museum features several guided and educational activities, and it can be found in the Kolonaki neighborhood.
There is actually loads more stuff to do in Athens for families; stay tuned for our top sites in Athens for children guide coming soon.
Shopping In Athen
What kind of Athens travel advice post would not include a place to shop? You can bring home great memories from your Athens trip. Common souvenirs such as postcards, magnets, and sculptures can be found almost everywhere in town.
However, if you’re not certain of what different and unique things to buy in Athens as a trip memento, these are some of the ideas that you could consider.
Handmade jewelry from Greece is of good quality. You can find original pieces inspired by ancient Greek designs.
Reproduction of ancient figures and sculptures are also a popular gift you can buy in Athens, some of them are really well-made. You can also find ceramic vases or iron helmets that kids adore!
Food products you can get home from Athens include extra virgin olive oil, honey, spices, and liquors.
If you’re not a souvenir type, choose areas such as Kolonaki or Ermou for trendy shops and some fashion retail therapy, some shops are quite exclusive and sell upscale items.
For those into used antiques and other oddities, then the area to visit is Monastiraki, with unique flea markets and shops selling clothes, second-hand books, and unique decorative items.
To get a distinctive flavor of real Athens, then visit the central market. From here you can get all types of foods like cured meat, herbs and spices, and a lot more!
Great Day Trips From Athens
Athens is located right by the sea, and there are several small islands you can visit taking a ferry early in the morning at the Port of Piraeus, one of them is Hydra.
One of the most traditional islands in Greece, Hydra, is just an hour away from Athens and it can be easily visited in a day.
This tiny island preserves a unique atmosphere since cars are not allowed anywhere on the island.
The island features beautiful beaches, nice alleys, monasteries, and stunning houses you want to visit in a few hours.
Aegina and Poros
Another island you can also visit after a short ride from Piraeus is Aegina, better-known for the large scale production of pistachios, among the best you’ll ever try! Besides,
Aegina also hosts the Temple of Aphaia, the best-preserved Classical temple in the whole of Greece.
You can either visit Aegina during your day or also add the islands of Poros and Hydra to discover the three of them taking a one-day cruise from Piraeus.
There, now you’re all set to enjoy Athens, thanks to this Athens guide. Enjoy.