All the best things to do in Athens. Get ready to explore this mystical city – from the remnants of ancient Greece to exquisite Mediterranean cuisine.
But, no more. It’s time to discover Athens, the birthplace of democracy and Western culture.
This magical city represents over 3,000 years of knowledge and history – and you can see this magic pretty much everywhere you go in the city.
From the sprawling Acropolis complex to hidden enclaves dotted with cosy cafes and plenty of delicious places to dine, these are the things to do in Athens you need to add to your itinerary.
Wondering where to stay in Athens? The renowned Hotel Grande Bretagne has everything you’ll need for a luxury stay in Athens.
Top 5 Things to Do in Athens
Discover the Acropolis of Athens
I’m sorry to say, but if the Acropolis isn’t one of the first places you visit in Athens, you’re doing it wrong. Just kidding (well, not really).
This historical landmark overlooking the city was once home to Kings and Gods. Today, it’s a beautiful archaeological resource and a reminder of great human innovation.
The Acropolis includes monuments such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the Propylaea. These monuments were essential to the advancement of Western civilisation and contemporary architecture, so forgive me for nerding out about them.
Top Tip: For anyone interested in delving deeper, I recommend taking this fantastic self-guided Acropolis audio tour with a skip-the-line entry ticket.
Marvel at the Parthenon
Inside the Acropolis is the Parthenon, the most famous structure in Greece. No, I’m not being dramatic – it’s the first thing many think of when visualising the city.
The temple is dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and is awe-inspiring in size and beauty.
You’ll find the finest details on the face of the temple with embellishments of Greek myths, warriors and noble horses. Sitting right at the top of Acropolis Hill, you’ll appreciate the centuries-old architecture.
Top Tip: Take an Acropolis and Parthenon walking tour with an expert guide to discover everything there is to know about this slice of ancient history.
Explore the Acropolis Museum
Also sitting atop this crumbling complex is the Acropolis Museum – a must-visit for people who have always wanted to see the remains of this impressive structure.
After the Propylaea (gateway) got damaged by explosives in 1645, many of the artefacts were moved to the museum for safekeeping. But that’s not all: the museum houses hundreds of artefacts from the Bronze to the Roman Ages.
It’s arguably one of the best museums in the world and one of the most impressive tourist attractions in Athens. It’s unlikely you’ll be visiting the Acropolis just for a museum tour, so why not take a full Acropolis-guided tour?
Admire the Panathenaic Stadium
Lace-up your running shoes as you enter the Panathenaic Stadium. Greece used the stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
This multi-use stadium, made entirely of marble, has a capacity of 50,000 seats. You can imagine the enormity of the structure as 80,000 people managed to squeeze into it for the first Olympic Marathon.
Top Tip: Fancy training like an Olympian? Why not race other tourists in the Olympic Games workout tour?
Dine at Kir Aristos
For the best food in the city (a bold claim, but one that’s totally warranted) you need to eat at Kir Aristos. This adorable eatery is as fun as it is incredible – it looks like you’ve stepped foot in a traditional grocery store.
But the food? Stellar. Kebabs of all forms are the name of the game here, accompanied by the likes of roasted tomatoes, freshly toasted pita, hummus, chips… the lot. DROOL.
Make sure to wash it all down with a glass of Greek wine – the list is pretty long, so you might want to make your way through it slowly.
Brilliant Things to See & Do in Athens
Relax at the Athens National Garden
View 38 acres of tall trees, rare plants and beautiful flowers nestled between Syntagma Square and the Panathenaic Stadium. With free entry, you can spend hours walking through shaded walkways as you inspect the vast collection of Mediterranean plant species.
Indulge in Dinner at To Kati Allo
When visiting Athens, not delving into the food scene would be criminal. And, if you’ve only got time to dine at one restaurant (and, even if you haven’t) you need to visit To Kati Allo.
If you’re longing for home-cooked food, no-nonsense service, no menus and vegan options, this restaurant is for you. Tucked behind the Acropolis Museum, To Kati Allo serves only the best authentic Greek cuisine.
Visit the Hellenic Parliament
The Hellenic Parliament building has a fascinating history.
Don’t believe me? It was once home to the Greek monarchy. However, after the monarchy ended for the first time, it became a hospital and museum. Now this historic building remains the House of Parliament.
You can tour the interior of the building and see the amphitheatrical layout, main chamber and stained glass windows. However, the main attraction has to be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the hourly changing of the guards that takes place outside.
Traverse Lycabettus Hill
Unsure of what to see in Athens? Why not see all of it at the top of Mount Lycabettus? The hill is the highest point of Athens at 277 metres above sea level. You can climb it via a circular path to the mountain’s top.
Though, it can be quite the test of endurance for most people. Instead, you can relax in one of the cable cars that can take you to the hilltop. You’ll find Saint George’s Church there, and beneath it, you’ll discover plenty of options for food and drinks.
Sightsee at the Temple of Olympian Zeus
If you’re looking for things to do around Athens, why not take a detour to the Temple of Olympian Zeus?
Located near River Ilissos, the area may not be as flashy as the nearby Acropolis but it’s just as famous (and equally as impressive, in my humble opinion).
The temple’s construction lasted several centuries, but Roman emperor Hadrian completed it in 131 AD. It’s one of the largest temples ever built, with unusually tall columns. When you visit the site, you’ll see that only 15 of the enormous columns remained intact.
Stand Beneath Hadrian’s Arch
Hadrian’s Arch is a formidable Roman triumphal arch made to celebrate the Roman emperor Hadrian. Within walking distance of Syntagma Square, the arch consists of Pentelic marble and is a whopping 18 metres high.
Peer closely and you’ll notice that the design is symmetrical and has inscriptions on both sides. Hadrian’s Arch symbolised the transition from ancient Greek ideals to a new Roman-led society – it’s also another reminder of the layers of change embedded in Athens.
Appreciate the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Yet another site with mythological influence is the Herodes Atticus, a semi-circular structure with 35 rows paved in black and white marble. This Roman-style Odeon or amphitheatre opened in 161 AD and was once a place of entertainment.
Before its destruction in the invasion of Erouloi in 268 AD, ancient Greeks hosted music contests there. Though it’s now restored and is used as a venue for events like the Athens and Epidaurus Festivals.
Try Everything at the Warehouse Wine Bar
Do you love coffee, cocktails and wine? Welcome, pals, because Warehouse Wine Bar serves all three.
In terms of food, the menu includes street food and gourmet dishes, though there are a few vegan and vegetarian options to satisfy any hungry diner.
But the main attraction is the high-quality coffee, 200 types of wine from Greece and around the world and their speciality cocktails. Set in a dimly-lit but super-stylish warehouse space, I guarantee you won’t be having just one.
Unique Things to See & Do in Athens: Hidden Gems That Are Off the Beaten Track
Climb Philopappos Hill
I’ll let you in on a secret that’s hidden in plain sight: Philopappos Hill.
It was previously known as Muses Hill until Prince Philopappos’ death. His sister and the community loved him so dearly that they erected the Philopappos Monument. Today, you can easily climb the hill in about 15 minutes and entry is free 24/7.
It’s located near the Acropolis, so you can imagine that the views are spectacular. You’ll get to see the whole of Athens, the Aegean Sea and you’ll find the prison of Socrates atop the hill.
With such gorgeous views of the city, the area is ideal for picnicking – pick yourself up a bottle of something sweet and some fresh pastries and make the climb to the top. It’ll be worth it.
Eat at the Iconic Souvlaki Kostas’
Excuse me for being a cliche, but there is nothing more authentically Greek than eating souvlaki at Kostas.
This small shop has been in business since the 1950s and is still run by a third-generation family member today. Not only is the souvlaki affordable, but the food is top notch (all too often, the tourists traps are really oily and of terrible quality – not here).
The simplicity of hearty, real food is what gives Kostas its charm – and its long queues. Aim to visit earlier in the day to scoff a fresh gyro without the wait.
Visit Monastiraki Square and Flea Market
Looking for non-touristy things to do in Athens? Visiting Monastiraki Square counts. Hear me out; if locals love going there for the food, the flea markets and the rooftop bars, it can’t be that touristy. Right?
Yes, you can buy knick-knacks and antiques there, but that’s not all Monastiraki is about. The area is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city’s heart. Layered by decades of change, you’ll find a blend of historical eras, cultures and architecture within its cobbled streets.
There’s no guide, no entry fee and you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to haggling in Greek. To me, that is the essence of getting off the beaten track and trying something new.
Unwind in an Al Hammam Traditional Bath
Looking for something unusual to do in Athens? Well, taking a traditional Turkish-inspired bath at Al Hamman may be the way to go. Though inspired by Ottoman bathhouses, Greek hammams include spa treatments to create a feeling of tranquility and rejuvenation.
This hammam includes a myriad of bathing and spa treatments. For an authentic Turkish experience, you’ll get a chance to scrub, soak and polish yourself in a steamy marble room. Just what you need after traipsing to the top of Philopappos Hill.
Uncover the Sights of Anafiotika
For those looking for secret things to do in Athens, visiting the tiny neighbourhood of Anafiotika should be on your list. This scenic area hides behind the Acropolis in the area of Plaka.
Some of its best features include narrow cobblestone paths, Cycladic architecture and views of Mount Lycabettus and the Acropolis. As you stroll along the pathways, take in the views of the gorgeous whitewashed homes and transport yourself back in time.
Make sure you stop for a coffee at a café – you won’t go far wrong with Xenious Zeus.
Taste the Finest Liquor at Brettos Bar
Established in 1909, Brettos Bar is the oldest distillery in Athens. This hidden gem located in Plaka is a local favourite (and mine, too).
Michail Brettos, the original owner of the distillery, produced a selection of liqueurs using recipes from ancient Smyrna as well as ouzo and brandy.
Fancy yourself as a liquor connoisseur? With a huge menu and tasting options, you can easily spend a day enjoying the distillery’s finest. Make sure to snap photos of the bar adorned with hundreds of colourful glass bottles while you’re there.
Things to Do in Athens, Greece: Practical Tips for Your Trip
Where Should I Stay in Athens?
The Modernist (Mid-Range)
Located in a quiet corner of Kolonaki, The Modernist sits in the old home of the Canadian embassy. The hotel is central to most of Athens’ tourist attractions and less than a mile from the Museum of Cycladic Art. This four-star hotel has fantastic facilities wrapped in superb and modern designs.
Hotel Grande Bretagne (Luxury)
The iconic Hotel Grande Bretagne never disappoints with its endless list of luxury services and facilities. Beyond free-wifi and an excellent breakfast, the interior features opulent designs with marble inclusions and spectacular views of Athens.
In addition, the hotel is less than a mile from the Acropolis, making it a perfect hub for exploration.
Recommended Tours in Athens
- Mythology Highlights Small-Group Walking Tour
- Athens Half-Day Private City Tour
- Athens Instagram Tour of the Most Scenic Spots
- Olympic Games Workout Tour
Things to Do in Athens, Greece: Map
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