Things to do in Athens

Athens is bursting with things to do. Famous of course for its ancient ruins and artifacts it is also home to a thriving food and cafe culture, a buzzing arts scene and some stunning outdoor venues, events and activities that cater to people of all ages and for all budgets.
Its an affordable and eclectic city that is easy to get around and the friendly locals are always happy to welcome visitors to their extraordinary city.

things to do in athens

The Acropolis

Number one on your list of course has to be The Acropolis. The Acropolis, which literally translates to “highest point of the town,” and was the location of the citadel originally occupied by the Mycenaen kings. As the centuries progressed, the Acropolis became home to several temples, shrines, and sanctuaries. The most famous of the temples is the temple to Athena, the Parthenon. There is also a theater and sanctuary for Dionysus on what is now referred to as the Southern Slope.

Tip: To spare yourself from the long queues at the main entrance, head farther down the hilly street to the lesser-traveled south slope entrance. Also try to go either as soon as it opens or just before closing not just to avoid the crowds but also the sun, especially in Summer.

things to do in athens

Evzones

The Evzones is a elite unit of the Hellenic Army who have a very distinctive uniform and elaborate walk. They are charged with guarding the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Presidential Mansion. 

The soldiers are selected according to their height, excellent physical condition, and psychological state as well as character and morality and it is a great honour to serve as an Evzone, who are much admired.

The changing of the guard occurs each hour and and an official weekly ceremony at 11am on Sundays.

things to do in athens

Shopping

Not surprisingly the Greeks have some stunning fashion and are particularly experts at shoes and kaftans ( Sandals and Togas !)

The first place most people head for shopping is the central pedestrian street of Ermou. Packed with all the high street brands you would expect such as Zara and H & M but also home to numerous independent stores including a plethora of shoe shops.

The biggest department store, Attica, can be found on Omonia Street, just off Syntagma Square. It has a huge range of brands and is housed in a beautiful neo-classical building. It is to Athens what Harrods is to London. Dont forget the Greek owned jewellery store Follie Follie which can be found all around the world but its headquarters are in Athens.

things to do in athens

The temple of olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was completed in 132 AD after being partially built and in limbo for over 600 years after its original conception. It was originally built with 104 Corinthian-style columns of which today there are only 15 left. You will notice the temple from many high vantage points across the city and it is only a short walk from the centre of town.
things to do in athens

The Acropolis Museum

The first Museum of Acropolis was completed in 1874 and underwent a moderate extension in the 1950s. However, subsequent excavations on the Acropolis hill brought many new artefacts to light and the museum’s capacity was significantly expanded and modernised in time for the 2004 Olympic Games. It includes the creation of a gallery for the exhibition of the Parthenon Marbles which to this day remain in The British Museum in London.

This is an excellent museum. Big, bold and home to some extraordinary artifacts as well as some real excavations. There are a couple of good cafes and it is easy to get around. I suggest you visit it on the same day as The Acropolis. Visiting hours and ticket information can be found HERE

things to do in athens

Lycabettus Hill

Lycabettus hill is the highest point in Athens and its central location means it has the best views in the city. It can be accessed car/taxi, on foot from the inner suburb of Kolonaki or by cable car.

There is a lovely restuarant at the top and a Church as well.

 

things to do in athens

Markets

For fresh food the biggest market is the Central Market also known as Varvakeios market. It’s not only where the locals get their groceries, but also where the chefs get their fresh fish, nuts, vegetables and meat.

The market is divided into two areas, the indoor area which sells fresh meat and fish where there are also some small traditional restaurants where you can order homemade dishes.

Across the road and in the surrounding streets area are the vegetables and fruit stands with an abundance of olives, wine, nuts and small goods for sale.
You’ll find the market between Monastiraki and Omonia on Athinas street, and it’s open from Monday through Saturday till 3PM.

Day Trips

Sounion and the Athenian Riviera

There are a number of incredible day trips that you can do from Athens. One of the most popular is down to the Sounion Peninsula where the amazing Temple of Poisoiden sits proudly looking out to sea. Its fantastic to visit at sunset and you can also pop into the Vouliagmeni Cave and lake up the road as well. If you have time you can make a full day of it and spend some time at one of the beaches in the area known as the Athenian Riviera.

You can either take a private tour or taxi or its possible to do all this by public transport. 

Meteora

Meteora is a World Heritage Site in central Greece that consists of towering rock pinnacles with a number of monastries built on top.

People come from all over the world to marvel at both these amazing natural and manmade elemebts and many spend a few days exploring the area.

Whilst it is preferable to stay a night or two in Kalambaka at the foot of the towers it is possible to visit Meteora in a single, albiet very long, day. 

Delphi

Another very popular day trip is to the UNESCO world heritage site of Delphi, once believed to be the center of the world. Positioned at the foot of Mount Parnassos with breathtaking views out to the Corinthian Gulf it is a long day including 5 hours of driving, but well worth it.

If you have an extra day you can include an overnight stay further north to the see the unbelievable monasteries of Meteora.

 

 

The Saronic Islands

The Saronics are the closest group of islands to Athens and are really worth a look if not a stay. You can either catch public ferries out to one or several of them or take an organised cruise which visits several and includes lunch.

Home to Leonard Cohen for almost 20 years and still the playground for many rich Athenians there are no cars on Hydra so transport is either by foot, water taxi or donkey !

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