No visit to Athens is complete without visiting The Acropolis, the ancient citadel perched defiantly above the city that has fascinating people for thousands of years. If you’re overwhelmed by the information to plan your visit this guide will make it easy for you. We’ve covered everything from the meaning and history of The Acropolis, how to avoid the crowds and even what to wear!

What is the Acropolis?

The Greek words for “highest point” and “city” are Akron and Polis so the Acropolis is, or was, a city high above modern-day Athens. It sits on a huge flat rock 150m above sea level, in the middle of the city and is the primary monument of Athens, and one of the most recognisable in the world. The ancient citadel comprised many structures including several temples such as the famous Parthenon, two sanctuaries, several theaters, and innumerable statues, altars and meeting places. 

At various times it has been damaged, rebuilt, added to and occupied by foreign invaders including the Romans who built the Herodes Odean Theater and the Ottomans who constructed a mosque. At one point it was even the headquarters of the Ottoman army and its harem. 

Today it is regarded as one of the most fascinating and beautiful structures on the planet and is a must-do for all visitors to Athens.

When is the best time to visit the Acropolis?

The Acropolis is incredible to visit at any time of year, although spring and autumn will clearly have the best weather conditions. In saying that it is an outdoor attraction and as it rarely rains in Summer that does have an advantage. Summer can get very hot, however, not just due to the ambient temperature but also because of the reflection off all the pale surfaces, something you will find across Athens and many of the islands too. 

I recommend people visit the Acropolis either very early – around 15 minutes before opening time, so 7:45 am) or just before closing time around 5-6 pm ( or 3-4 in winter). This way you will avoid both the sun and the crowds which get particularly big when the cruise ship tours start arriving around Midday. 

parthenon athens

How to get to the Acropolis

The Acropolis is the major landmark of Athens and is impossible to miss commanding center stage in the middle of the city and shining down on the suburbs surrounding it. If you are staying in the center of Athens it is likely you will be able to walk to The Acropolis or it will be a short taxi ride. There are public buses too and the Hop On Hop Off Bus stops near the south gate.

The Acropolis has its own metro stop, Acropoli, which is very handy for the main Acropolis entrance to the west. However, both Thissio and Monastiraki stations are also close to the side Acropolis entrance as well, in the southeast. The main entrance, unsurprisingly, is the busiest and is also where big tour groups enter. We use the other one!

It is possible to do a day trip from the airport if you catch the Metro in on the Blue line ( the only one from the airport). From Pireaus Port it

The Elevator at The Acropolis

A lot of people wonder if The Acropolis is wheelchair friendly or indeed if anyone with a disability, limited mobility or even just the elderly can visit the Acropolis. Well, there is an elevator but it has closed and reopened several times in the past few years.

There was a recent announcement that funding has become available from the Onassis Foundation and it to be replaced and fully operational in 2020. For up to date information on the current situation with the elevator, contact +30 210 3214172. Entry for people with disabilities is free. 

athens temple

How to get tickets to the Acropolis

Queues at the ticket office, especially in Summer, can be significant, so it pays to be organised.

It is possible to buy the tickets directly from the official ticketing website or though a ticketing agent like Get Your Guide. 

 

Acropolis Entrance Fees

Tickets to the Acropolis 

  • Regular-price ticket:  20€
  • Reduced-price ticket:  10€ ( Nov 1 – March 31)

 

Acropolis multi-ticket ( includes other sites)*

  • Regular-price ticket:  30€

*The other sites are : the Acropolis, Agora, Hadrian’s Library/Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Arch, Temple to Olympic Zeus and Kerimikos Cemetery/Potter Sites. Tickets are good for 5 days and can be used once per site.

Some visitors may be entitled to a 50% price reduction on tickets. This includes EU citizens over 65 years old and tertiary students from non-EU countries. You’ll need a valid ID to get the discounted entry to the Acropolis.

Some visitors are entitled to free entry to the
Acropolis including children under the age of 18 and students of EU universities, with a valid ID or passport. Check the official website for more information.

Acropolis Opening Hours

The Acropolis is open nearly every day of the year, with only a few exceptions.They are:

 January 1st
 March 25
 May 1
 Easter Sunday ( this is the Eastern Orthodoxy dates and are NOT the same as the typical Christian dates)
 Christmas Day (Dec 25)
 Boxing Day (Dec 26)

Opening hours vary depending on the time of year. At the time of publication they are;

November 1 to March 31: 8 am to 5 pm
April 1 to October 31: 8 am to 7 pm

Note that the last entry to the Acropolis is half an hour before closing time.

Free days for visiting the Acropolis

There are several days per year where it is free for everyone to visit the Acropolis. It can be crowded on these days, however, that’s a big discount! The free days for the Acropolis are:

6 March
18 April
18 May
Last weekend of September
28 October
Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st

Points of interest at the Acropolis

Dionysus Sanctuary and the Dionysus Theater which is considered the most significant theater in Europe as it is where the very first theatrical performance was ever held.

The Parthenon is considered by many engineers and architects as the most perfect structure every built. If viewed from the sky the Parthenon forms a perfect equilateral triangle with the Temple of Aphaea, on the island of Aegina, and the Temple of Poseidon, at  Cape Sounion.

The Temple of Athena Nike was built around 420BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena Nike, whom Athens is named for. It has a prominent position in the south west corner of the property.

The Erectheion a temple on the north side that was dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. It is particularly famous for its Porch of Caryatids ( or Porch of Maidens) , six columns made from statues of female figures. Some of the originals of these can be found in the Acropolis Museum.

The Propylea is the main gate to the Acropolis and was commissioned by Pericles after the Persian Wars. It consists of a colonnade and a number of structures leading up to the entry but was sadly never completed.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an ampitheatre that was built between 160AD – 174AD and is still in use today. During the summers there are number of performances and events available – see the event schedule, click here. In June 2019 we had a wonderful night under the stars to see the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra and Piano Virtuoso Yuja Wang. What an incredible and very special experience it was!

temple of herodes
acropolis theatre
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The Acropolis Museum 

 

We highly recommend you combine your visit to The Acropolis with a visit to the new Acropolis Museum. Located at the base of the Acropolis near the main gate the new Acropolis Museum has a total area of 25,000 square meters, with exhibition space of over 14,000 square meters and is considered one of the great museums of the world.

Not only is it home to all the fascinating artifacts and statues found in and around the Acropolis but it is also itself built over an excavation site of an ancient settlement which you can view and explore. 

Acropolis Museum hours align with The Acropolis itself. It is a stunning modern facility with some excellent shops and cafes all delightfully air conditioned,so this is a good place to visit in the heat of the day. Some people like to visit after they see The Acropolis, others before. That really is a personal choice.

 

Winter season hours (1 November – 31 March)
Monday – Thursday    9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.    (last admission: 4:30 p.m.)
Friday                     9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.  (last admission: 9:30 p.m.)
Saturday – Sunday     9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.    (last admission: 7:30 p.m.)

Summer season hours (1 April – 31 October)
Monday                8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.    (last admission: 3:30 p.m.)
Tuesday – Sunday   8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.    (last admission: 7:30 p.m.)
Friday                  8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.  (last admission: 9:30 p.m.)

Ticket prices are:

Winter season (1 November – 31 March)
General admission: 5 Euros
Reduced admission*: 3 Euros

Summer season (1 April – 31 October)
General admission: 10 Euros
Reduced admission*: 5 Euros

* For information on eligibility for reduced admission ticket or free admission, please click here.

Acropolis Tours 

Neither the online tickets nor the skip-the-line tickets include a guide. There are Acropolis audio guides available at the entrance for a surcharge.

You can also download an app to your phone that offers Acropolis details, interactive maps, and information to the buildings and structures. Click here to download an Acropolis app to your Android.  Click here to download an Acropolis app to your iPhone

Another option is to take a guided tour, either privately or as part of a group. This can be fantastic value as you get deep insights into the history of the Acropolis and, as they are often conducted by locals, a lot of local knowledge as well. 

The Best Acropolis Guided Tours

There are a number of options here. You can choose to join a 90 minute small group guided tour with a skip the line ticket, a combined Acropolis and Acropolis Museum Tour or perhaps a 6 hour private tour for you group that takes in other sites such as the Temple of Zeus and Parliament as well. 

If you are visiting for the day from the Athens cruise terminal then there is a 5 hour from Pireaus tour that included transfers and a general tour of Athens from your cruise ship to the Acropolis and more.

Or, perhaps you would like to be picked up in a luxury van and have a fully curated private tour for you and your group? 

What to wear to the Acropolis  

As we’ve mentioned visiting the Acropolis can be hot and sweaty business and there are a number of steps and uneven surfaces to contend with. You want to be as comfortable as possible.

I tend to wear white sneakers most days when exploring Greece. They are comfy, on trend and look good with anything. Most people also wear trousers, shorts or jeans depending on the time of year. You’ll also need the following;

A hat – you can buy these everywhere

Sunscreen

A good camera, preferable with a wideangle lens

A waterbottle. Collapsible ones are great for travelling and there are several water fountains inside the Acropolis for refills too.

ID if you are after eligible for discounted tickets.

A good crossbody bag for hands free photography and to stow your water bottle too!

Where to stay near the Acropolis

There are many wonderful hotels to stay in Athens including some that have incredible views of the Acropolis. If you want to be literally at the Acropolis doorstep then you cant get much closer than AthensWas which is one of the most stylish hotels in Greece. The Herodion Hotel is also a short stroll and has astonishing views whilst Electra Palace also has a fantastic rooftop pool.

 

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athens temple
temple of athena
odeon of herodes

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