Athens is a perfect city for a nice citytrip and had a lot to offer. Visit the ancient temples and archaeological sites and wander through the best district in Athens. I will tell you exactly which sights and activities you shouldn’t miss in Athens.
Jump quickly to:
- Sights in Athens
- Best districts in Athens
- Beautiful view on Athens
- How many days in Athens?
- Restaurants and cafes
- Public Transport
Almost every year I make a citytrip with my mother. This February it was Athens’ turn; a busy, versatile and beautiful city. What mainly makes the city busy are the many mopeds, motorcycles and cars in all those small narrow streets. After all, this creates the necessary noise. Athens, like most major cities, feels like a fairly rushed city. People are walking fast and the traffic lights are green for a very short time, for example.
During our visit to Athens we saw many dilapidated and empty houses. The population has decreased due to rising unemployment.
Top 15 sights in Athens
Athens sightseeing map:
There’re quite a few sights in Athens. If you want to visit everything, it can cost quite some money, especially in the high season! That’s why you’ve the option to purchase a combiticket. This can be purchased at all sights in Athens where it’s valid. Such a combination ticket costs € 30 and gives you access to:
- The Acropolis
- The Kerameikos
- The Agora of Athens
- The Roman Agora
- The Olympieion (Temple of Olympian Zeus)
- Hadrian’s Library
- The Lykeion of Aristotle
This combiticket costs € 30 all year round, but I’m still not sure whether the price of all the sights in Athens is reduced in the low season (from November to March). When we wanted to buy a ticket at the Agora of Athens, we had to pay full price. For this reason, we thought it was smart to purchase the combination ticket. The prices of the sights have been reduced for many target groups, such as students and people over 65. If you’re a student, don’t forget to bring a student pass!
Please note, a number of sights in Athens close at 15:00. Because all employees blow their whistle, you know you have to leave the place. I thought it was quite a funny scene.
The Acropolis is one of the most famous and most visited tourist spot in Athens. Acropolis is Athens’ table mountain and it literally means the highest point in the city. In many places in the city you can see the Acropolis tower somewhere above it. The illuminated mountain is also a beautiful sight at night.
On the Acropolis you will find several sights:
- The Odeion of Herodes Atticus. This theater building from 161 AD. is at the foot of the Acropolis. To date, performances are still given here.
- The Parthenon. This temple from 447-432 BC. was for Athena Parthenos, the patron goddess of Athens. The temple was partly destroyed, but is still being restored.
- The Propyls. This is the entrance gate from 437-432 BC. to get to the Acropolis.
- The Temple of Nikè. This temple from 448-427 BC. is dedicated to the goddess Athena Nikè.
- The Erechtheion. This temple from 421-406 BC. is especially characterized by the columns in the form of women.
The price for the Acropolis and therefore all sights on and around the mountain is € 20.
Before visiting the Acropolis, visit the Acropolis Museum. Here you get a lot of information about the structures on the hill. That makes your visit to the Acropolis a lot more fun and interesting! Many school classes visit this museum during the week, making the museum the quietest just after it just opens in the morning.
The Acropolis Museum costs € 5 all year round.
For a long time, the Kerameikos was the largest cemetery in Athens and was the district of the potters of the city. It is a nice place to walk around. Many ceramic pots can be found in the accompanying museum.
The cost for the Kerameikos is € 8.
The Ancient Agora of Athens was the center of the city in ancient times. Here were the most important buildings for administration of justice and administration and markets and parties were organized. This archaeological site contains the Temple of Hephaistos dated 449-445 BC. This temple is still very well intact if you realize how old it is. Also located on the Agora de Stoa of Attalos, a long building with rows of columns housing a small museum.
The price for the Agora of Athens is € 8.
At this archaeological site you will find, among others, the Tower of the Winds. I think this is one of the smallest sights in Athens, so you are finished looking around quite quickly.
Cost for the Roman Agora is € 2.
Olympieion (Temple of the Olympian Zeus)
This temple was the largest in Greece dedicated to Zeus. In total it consisted of 104 columns, of which there are now only 15 columns left. The building should have been gigantic when you see how high the columns are (17 meters high!). Although there’s not much left of the temple, I found it quite impressive.
The costs for the Olympieion are € 6.
National Garden of Athens
This approximately 15.5 hectare garden is located in the center of Athens. In good weather it’s nice to walk around here. The Zappeion is located in the national garden. This is a building used for meetings, ceremonies and exhibitions. It is possible to view this building briefly inside.
This is the Olympic stadium of the first Olympic Games in 1896. The new stadium is built in the same place on the principles of the stadium from 330 BC. Even without entering the stadium it is also very nice to see.
Entrance to the Stadium Panathinaiko costs € 5.
National Observatory Athens
The observatory is the oldest research center in Greece founded in 1842. We really wanted to visit the observatory, so I emailed them for more information. They told me that the Thissio Visitor Center is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 19:00 to 21:00 in February and March. English-language tours start at 8:00 PM. Thissio is the neighborhood in Athens where this observatory is located.
There were large school classes waiting on arrival and I honestly no longer thought it would be very special. Everyone was allowed to look through the gigantic telescope one by one to view the moon. Unfortunately we did not have the best weather, but with this telescope it was possible to view the moon super closeup. But it takes a while with 40 to 50 people.
Because we were the only ones that spoke English and didn’t understand any Greek, after the viewing we got a real private tour from one of the enthusiastic employees. We were allowed to enter the dome and the old library, where normally no visitors can come. We’ve received a lot of interesting information and seen special things that certainly made this visit special! I thought it was one of the best sights in Athens.
Costs for the observatory are € 5. For more information, visit the official Observatory’s website.
The Archaeological Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world dedicated to Greek art. This very large museum is definitely worth a visit. The museum features prehistoric collections, sculptures, vases and pots, and metallurgy.
Costs for the archaeological museum are € 5. For more current prices and opening hours, visit the website of the Archaeological Museum.
Best districts in Athens
Athens naturally has several neighborhoods and districts, each of which has its own charm. Which neighborhoods are the best to visit and where is it fun to stay? I will tell you more about the 3 best neighborhoods in Athens here.
Beautiful view on Athens
Precisely because Athens is so gigantic, it’s wonderful to be able to see the whole city from a great height. At every viewpoint I was amazed again how many buildings there are in this city! There are several hills and mountains in Athens where you can enjoy a beautiful view! In this article I tell more about the 5 best and most beautiful viewpoints of Athens.
How many days in Athens?
A city trip to Athens is perfect in my opinion for 4 days if you want to visit most highlights and you like a fairly full day. We visited this city for 5 days and that was just a little bit too long. We arrived in Athens in the morning at around 11:00 and left again around 20:00 in the evening, so we had plenty of time to explore the whole city. If you like to take it easy, 5 days may be perfect.
Restaurants and cafes in Athens
The Greek kitchen is delicious! I love the Greek recipes and occasionally enjoy making them at home. Even the simplest Greek salads taste so great (provided you choose the right restaurants!).
In most restaurants you get a jug or glass of tap water. The tap water in Athens is usually safe to drink, but tastes a bit chlorine-like. We as spoiled Dutch people with our perfect tap water don’t really like this overall.
Don’t expect coffee after your meal in most restaurants. For this you visit one of the many cafes. Traditional Greek coffee is similar to Turkish coffee and has a special taste and a somewhat gritty substance.
Public transport in Athens
Before we left for Athens we expected to travel a lot by metro through the city. But in the end our hotel turned out to be more central than we thought and we never took the metro (except for the ride to and from the airport). We quite like to walk, so longer distances are no problem for us. The longest we’ve walked to any of the sights in Athens has been about 40 minutes.
Airport ⇿ Center: With Metro 3 (blue line) you can travel between the airport and the center in about 45 minutes. A single ride costs € 10 per person. This metro runs every half hour.
View the Athens metro map.