19 Best things to do in Athens from Attractions to trendy beaches & tours
Are you planning your holidays in Greece and searching for the best things to do in Athens? We’re sure you’ll agree with us when we say: Finding the actual best activities to do during your trip is often puzzling. Or, isn’t it?
We did the hard work for you and created the absolute guide of the best things to do in Athens, handpicked by us!
From top sightseeing tours to fun activities and from traditional food-tasting to nature exploration, we’ve found out everything you NEED to do! Stick with us!
In a nutshell: The best things to do in Athens
Acropolis of Athens
Best fun activity
Best free activity
Best for family/friends
Trip to Cape Sounion
Saronic islands cruise
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The best places for sightseeing in Athens (Top attractions and monuments)
Well, this is a classic!
The Acropolis of Athens is the trademark not only of the Greek capital but also of Greece. It is without any doubt the absolute must-visit in Athens! On the top of the Acropolis hill sits the Parthenon, an enormous temple built in the honor of the ancient Greek goddess Athena, the city’s patron. It’s so imposing!
The best time of the year to visit the Acropolis is the summer, as the opening hours are long and the weather conditions are better.
Tip: Since there are many monuments to visit on the Acropolis hill, we recommend getting a local guide with you or booking an organized tour to the Acropolis. This way, you’ll get to know the history behind the most important monument in Athens and ask all the questions you may have!
Located right under the Acropolis hill, with a breathtaking view of the Parthenon, the Acropolis Museum is one of the Greek capital’s highlights! It is easily accessible, as it sits a few steps away from the Acropolis metro station, which is well-connected with all the main points of interest in Athens.
The Acropolis Museum stands out for its architecture, as it is made of glass, allowing visitors to marvel at the view of the surroundings. Inside the museum, you’ll discover a collection of archaeological findings from excavations carried out at the Acropolis hill. Don’t miss it!
If you are a history enthusiast, a visit to the Archaeological Museum is one of the must things to do in Athens for you!
The Archaeological Museum is considered one of the best museums in the world! It hosts findings of excavations carried out all around Greece, divided into many collections, such as the Prehistoric collection, the Sculptures collection, and the Santorini collection. You can easily reach the Archaeological Museum from Athens city center on foot or by public means of transportation.
The best fun things to do in Athens
There’s no denying it: Athens is a culinary paradise! The Greek capital is full of restaurants and taverns for every taste and budget. However, if your meals in Athens are limited, you should at least taste the staples of the local cuisine.
Greek souvlaki, gyros, moussakas, dolmadakia, and tzatziki are some of the must-tries. Hopefully, Athens city center is full of taverns. If you have no clue where to go, Monastiraki, Exarcheia, and Psyrri are famous for their traditional eateries. Even better, join an organized food tour to make sure you won’t miss anything!
If you’re planning to visit Athens between May and September, this is a must thing to do! There are many open-air cinemas scattered all around the city, but we believe the best lie in the city center. Cine Thisio and Cine Paris are two of our all-time favorites. They offer amazing views of the Acropolis and the starlit night sky, creating the perfect atmosphere for a romantic date night. If you want to continue your night out after the cinema, go to one of the numerous restaurants and bars close to the cinema!
Athens city center is hands down the mecca of shopping! There, you’ll find a wide variety of shops, from popular retail chains to trendy fashion boutiques and hip vintage shops for every taste. The top streets for shopping in the city center are Ermou street, Voukourestiou street, and Stadiou street. However, if you’re looking for souvenirs, Plaka, Thissio, and Monastiraki are the places to go!
Tip: Don’t forget to bring your reusable totes with you!
The best things to do in Athens for free
If you find yourself strolling around the city center on a hot summer day, head to the National Gardens, right next to the Greek parliament. It is an ideal place to escape the summer heat!
Just a few steps away from Syntagma square, the National Gardens are a green paradise that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. In the National Gardens, you’ll find a variety of trees and flowers, as well as some animals, like rabbits, turtles, ducks, and goats. There’s also a cafe, where you can enjoy refreshments surrounded by the exotic scenery!
Imagine this: You’re meandering through Athens city center in the heart of the summer. And it’s hot. Very hot. Is there any way to escape the heat? And have a taste of the beach life without hopping on a ferry to the Aegean islands? You bet there is: Athens’ beaches. And there’s a great variety of them. From cosmopolitan beaches, like Astir beach in Vouliagmeni and trendy beaches, like Balux Seaside Project in Glyfada, to paradise resorts, like Eden beach in Anavissos, Athens has it all. Grab your swimsuit and enjoy Athenian riviera’s beach life.
Lycabettus hill sits in the Kolonaki area, a few steps away from Athens city center. It is accessed either on foot or by funicular, which leads to the top of the hill. There, you’ll find a picturesque whitewashed chapel and a selection of bars and restaurants with a breathtaking view of Athens.
The best time of the day to visit the Lycabettus hill is hands down a few minutes before the sunset. Take in the scenery, as the sun sinks into the horizon, spaying the city with all the shades of orange and yellow. Pure magic!
The Plaka district is probably the most picturesque area in Athens. Although it lies in the heart of the bustling city center, it has a laid-back, island-like ambiance. Narrow roads, pastel neoclassical houses, flowery courtyards, and colorful corners will make you feel as if you’re strolling around a Cycladic village in Paros or Naxos.
Plaka is the perfect place for dining or having a drink with a view, as it is full of traditional rooftop taverns and bars. So, don’t miss to taste the local delicacies along with a glass (or two) of ouzo.
Tip: You can combine your visit to Plaka with sightseeing as Plaka is next to Monastiraki. Some of the best places to visit are the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Stoa of Attalos, and Hadrian’s Library.
The best things to do in Athens with family and friends
If you’re planning to stay in Athens for more than just a couple of days, a visit to Cape Sounion should be on your list! To reach Cape Sounion, you can either rent a car or join an organized tour. It’s an ideal all-day activity for families!
Above Cape Sounion, stands the imposing Temple of Poseidon, a temple dedicated to the ancient Greek god of the sea. This beautiful Doric temple is the perfect spot to watch the sunset and marvel at the panoramic view of the ocean and the natural surroundings.
Athens has a vivid nightlife! When the sun goes down, the city’s bars burst with people of all ages and backgrounds.
In Athens city center, you’ll find a selection of rooftop bars, cocktail bars, clubs, and pubs for every taste. Monastiraki, Exarcheia, Plaka, Psyrri, and Koukaki are where the heart of the city’s nightlife beats. As for the best bars in Athens, 360 degrees and A for Athens in Monastiraki, Transistor in Psyrri, Ipitou the bar in Syntagma, the Clumsies in Monastiraki, and Tiki bar in Koukaki are top choices.
Except for walking, cycling is also a great way to explore the city! No matter if you’re with your family or group of friends, a bike tour is both a fun and educational activity for all ages. There are several bike tour operators in Athens, most of them located in the historic center, in Plaka, Thissio, Koukaki, Acropolis, etc. Choosing to start your tour at the city center is your best bet to not only see the most important attractions in Athens but also discover hidden gems!
Best day trips from Athens
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital, your best bet is to set off on a sailing trip to Agistri, Moni, and Aegina. On this cruise, you’ll get to visit amazing beaches and ancient temples, see wild peacocks, snorkel, and eat delicious Greek food on board!
The greatest advantage of a sailing tour is that there will be frequent stops so that the participants can have the chance to relax, explore beautiful spots, do bike tours, and take photos of picturesque sceneries!
On this tour, you’ll visit the most beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf: Hydra, Poros, and Aegina.
Starting from Marina Flisvos in Athens, you’ll sail to Hydra, the most elegant island of the Saronic island complex. Hydra stands out for its architecture, beautiful beaches with crystal-clear water, and the complete absence of cars. It will make you feel transported to another era!
After a delicious lunch on board, you’ll sail to the island of Aegina. This island has an enduring history, which makes it an ideal destination for sightseeing. Apart from ancient sites, Aegina has a floating fruit and vegetable market and plenty of seaside villages to explore.
The final stop of this tour from Athens will be Poros island, a tiny island that stands out for its verdant nature, quiet beaches, and picturesque main town.
While in Athens don’t miss to visit the coastal town of Nafplio in Argolis!
Nafplio is a picturesque town with a unique location and long history. The most important monument in Nafplio is Palamidi fortress, a Venetian castle with 999 steps that boasts an all-encompassing view of the sea and the town. Other places worth exploring are the Bourtzi Castle, Acronafplia, the Komboloi museum, and the distillery of Ouzo, Tsipouro, and Mastiha.
After wandering through the narrow streets of Nafplio, you’ll take a break from exploration to have lunch at a traditional Greek tavern in the heart of the town. After lunch, you’ll visit the ancient town of Epidaurus. Epidaurus, one of the most important towns in ancient Greece, is mainly known for its ancient theatre. The Epidaurus Festival takes place at the Epidaurus Theatre every summer, so make sure you won’t miss it!
The top places to eat in Athens
If you find yourself at the seaside Piraeus, don’t miss visiting Varoulko Seaside, a Michelin-awarded restaurant famous for its seafood dishes. Varoulko is ideally located at Mikrolimano marina in Piraeus, boasting a breathtaking view of the sea. At Varoulko Seaside, the local superstar chef Lefteris Lazarou uses freshly caught fish and seafood to create drool-worthy traditional dishes with a modern twist. The gazpacho pea soup, the red mullet tartar, and, of course, the shrimps are some of the restaurant’s specialties you need to try.
Info: 52 Akti Koumoundourou, Mikrolimano, Piraeus, Athens Tel: 302105228400
Papadakis restaurant in Kolonaki is arguably one of the most popular upscale restaurants in Athens. Greek celebrities and members of the international jet visit this restaurant to enjoy a selection of delicious dishes created by the famous Greek chef Argiro Barbarigou. Argiro is known for her delicious sauces and traditional Greek recipes with a modern twist. The location of Papadakis is also perfect! Perched on the foothills of Mount Lycabettus, Papadakis offers a breathtaking view that will ideally accompany your dinner.
Info: 47 Voukourestiou & 15 Fokidou Streets, Kolonaki, Athens Tel: 302103608621
Where to have a drink in Athens
If you’re searching for the fanciest signature cocktails in Athens, Upupa Epops – The Bar is the place to go. Housed in a neoclassical building in the hip Petralona area, next to Keramikos, this cocktail bar boasts a unique scenery. Black and white tiles, colorful chairs, and trees create the perfect setting for an exotic night out. Oh, and if you visit Upupa Epops – The Bar in the morning, don’t miss their hearty brunch!
Info: 7 Alkminis, 118 54, Petralona, Athens Tel: 302121055214
How to get to Athens?
There are several alternatives regarding how to get to Athens. The most popular and fastest way to reach the Greek capital is by airplane, but there are also the alternatives of train, cruise ships and car.
Where to stay in Athens?
Athens is a rather big city, so there’s a great selection of areas and neighborhoods to stay at. The best area to stay in Athens is arguably Athens city center. Athens city center is where the cultural heart of Athens beats and also where you’ll find a great selection of Athens hotels, Athens restaurants, cafes and bars. The best areas to stay in Athens city center are Plaka, Koukaki, Psyrri, and Kolonaki.
What is the best time of the year to visit Athens?
Truth is Athens is beautiful all year round! The ideal seasons to visit Athens, though, are spring and autumn. This is because the weather is mild during these seasons, creating the perfect conditions for sightseeing and wandering. Winter might not be particularly cold most of the years, but summer is always pretty hot. While in the summer Athens is busy and in the winter rather quiet, in spring and autumn it usually isn’t overcrowded, thus better for strolls. More specifically, mid-April to mid-June and September to mid-October are the best months to get the best that Athens has to offer.
What are the most famous attractions in Athens?
The most popular attractions in Athens are the Acropolis & the Parthenon, the Theater of Herodes Atticus, the Ancient Agora, the Acropolis Museum, and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.
What are the best foods to eat in Athens?
The best delicacies to try in Athens are souvlaki, mousakas, loukoumades, zucchini balls, and seafood.
Now we ‘d like to hear from you
So, are you dreaming of a sunset trip to Cape Sounio, climbing up the Acropolis hill, or taking a romantic stroll around Plaka? Maybe all of them?
Even if you stay in the Greek capital for just a few days, you can’t go wrong with our list of the best things to do in Athens!
What are your favorite things to do in Athens? What’s on your bucket list? Tell us in the comments.
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