Top Things to Do in Athens

07 Apr 2020

Odysseus

Odysseus

Author

Athens is a vibrant city with glorious past and fascinating present. From admiring masterpieces of ancient art to feeling the pulse of the modern city, here’s our list of what not to miss in the Greek capital.

  1. Visit the Acropolis

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No trip to Athens is complete without a visit to the Acropolis. The ancient citadel boasts stunning constructions which date back to the 5th century BC, among which the iconic Parthenon, the ultimate symbol of Athens and Greece. Joining a tour with a professional guide will help you make the most of your visit to the Acropolis. If you’re visiting during summer, don’t forget to keep a bottle of water handy as the walk to the Acropolis is quite uphill.

  1. Walk Around Plaka

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The prettiest district in Athens is Plaka, the city’s historical heart. Walking around its narrow alleys and admiring gorgeous neoclassical mansions under the shade of the Acropolis is a fantastic experience you won’t want to miss. Another thing you shouldn’t miss while in Plaka is having a drink at Vrettos, a historical distillery with a wide selection of homemade liquors.

  1. Try Local Delicacies

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Food in Greece doesn’t need any special introduction and Athens is one of the best places to try mouthwatering local delicacies. From grabbing an iconic koulouri and a cup of Greek coffee on the go to choosing among the city’s casual or fine dining options, Athens is a culinary heaven for all tastes and budgets. If you don’t have much time to spend in the city, join a special walking and tasting tour so as to try scrumptious local tastes and see the best of Athens at the same time!

  1. Experience the Vibrant Athens Nightlife

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Athens is a city that never sleeps and its nightlife is remarkably diverse. From chit-chatting over wine and Greek meze dishes and having beers at cosy bars to dancing the night away at mainstream clubs or bouzoukia, Athens has it all.

  1. Admire the City’s Street Art

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The street art scene of Athens has become one of the hottest ones in Europe. Greek and international street artists speak to the city, its residents and its visitors through their masterpieces. Most of the city’s street art adorns quirky neighbourhoods such as Psiri, Metaxourgio and Gazi. The best way to discover the most impressive street art in Athens is by joining a tour with a local expert.

In Addition, see bellow the 4 suggested day trips in Athens

Athens is a fascinating destination that can keep you busy for many days. That said, it’s equally amazing to plan one or more easy day trips from Athens so as to get an overall taste of Greece by having a glimpse of the countryside, the islands and the way of life in smaller towns.

  1. Nafplio

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The first capital of the Greek State, Nafplio is an utterly charming seaside town loaded with history and blessed with beautiful architecture. A stroll around the picturesque Old Town and a visit to the ancient fort of Palamidi are only two of the countless amazing things you can do there. Nafplio can be easily combined with the impressive archaeological site of Mycenae on the same trip from Athens.

  1. Aegina

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Aegina is situated just off the coast of Attica and it’s an island of great historical significance. Aegina has played an important part in the Greek War of Independence while the island has been the capital of Modern Greece for a while, too. Nowadays, the sun-kissed island offers the opportunity for an easy yet fantastic day trip from Athens. There you can walk along the beautiful promenade which is lined with neoclassical mansions or head over to one of the island’s beaches to soak in the sea and sun.

  1. Hydra

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Yet another island near Athens which is rich in history and charms alike is Hydra. In terms of architecture, Hydra is quite unique. Another amazing thing about the island is that no vehicles are allowed, which only adds to the vintage ambience of Hydra. You can get to Hydra by high-speed vessel from Piraeus Port or with a guided tour from Athens.

  1. Chalkida

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If you’re looking for a really authentic destination near Athens so as to spend a relaxing day among locals, then Chalkida is a very good option for you. The city is built on the Euripus Strait which divides mainland Greece from the island of Evia. Chalkida’s main attraction is the Euripus Strait itself which boasts a unique tidal phenomenon with currents reversing direction once every six hours. Other than that, don’t miss the chance to feast on superb seafood at one of the traditional restaurants that dot Chalkida.

Furthermore, let's see some Museums & make a historical journey!

It comes as no surprise that Athens, a city with such rich history and centuries-old culture, is abundant in remarkable museums and superb art collections. Here’s our list of the top 5 museums you’d want to visit during your vacation in the Greek capital.

  1. The Acropolis Museum

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If you had time for just one museum during your stay in Athens, then you should definitely go for the magnificent New Acropolis Museum. The latter is one of the most important museums in the world and it showcases artifacts that have been found in the Acropolis. In terms of architecture, the building of the museum is an attraction in its own right while views to the actual Acropolis from the museum are simply stunning.

The Acropolis Museum is quite popular so it can get really crowded. For a hassle-free and memorable experience, we suggest you book a skip-the-line guided tour of the museum in advance.

  1. National Archaeological Museum

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Housed in a gorgeous neoclassical building, the National Archaeological Museum boasts the largest collection of findings from Ancient Greece. There are thousands of items on display so make sure you have plenty of time at your disposal when you visit. After your visit, you can relax at the museum’s splendid garden café before leaving.

  1. Benaki Museum

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Technically, Benaki Museum is a complex of various separate museums that are scattered across the city. These include the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of Greek Culture as well as smaller collections housed in the former residences or workshops of prominent Greek personalities of the past.

  1. National Historical Museum

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Housed in the Athens Old Parliament Building, the National Historical Museum narrates the history of Modern Greece from 1453 to the present day, with an emphasis on the Greek War of Independence (1821) and the process through which Greece became an independent state thereafter.

  1. Museum of the City of Athens

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Since you’re in Athens, why not spend some time learning about the history of the city itself? Housed in a gorgeous mansion that once was the residence of King Otto and Queen Amalia, the Museum of the City of Athens documents the history of Athens ever since it became the official capital of Greece back in 1834.

Markets are also awaiting 4U to be explored!

Markets in Athens may not be as famous as their counterparts in other European capitals but they are full of hidden treasures you won’t want to miss. In this guide, we’re inviting you on a trip to the top 5 markets in the Greek capital that you should definitely check out during your stay in Athens.

  1. Varvakios

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Built in 1886, Varvakios is the city’s Central Market. This historical open market is where locals flock to buy quality products at reasonable prices, especially on the eve of great holidays such as Christmas and Easter. A stroll around Varvakios is the best way for you to capture the local vibes of the city. If you can’t stand the smell near the meat and fish stalls, the vegetable section is the perfect place for you. You can also visit Varvakios as part of a guided tour so as to learn all of the market’s secrets.

  1. Monastiraki Flea Market

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If you want to experience the most crowded, vibrant and touristy market in Athens, then head to Monastiraki Square and walk along the buzzing Ifestou Street. At the Monastiraki Flea Market, you will mostly find clothes and shoes at reasonable prices as well as some antiques at the smaller side streets.

  1. Antique Market at Avissinias Square

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Just a stone’s throw from Monastiraki Square, Avissinias Square is where the oldest and largest antique market in Athens is located. Vintage lovers can walk around stalls loaded with all sorts of old treasures to their heart’s content every weekend from very early in the morning.

  1. Apostolou Pavlou Street in Thissio

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The splendid Apostolou Pavlou Street in Thissio is not just one of the city’s prettiest pedestrianized streets to walk along but also the site of an unofficial market with a wide variety of fantastic handmade souvenirs and jewels. So, if you’re wondering what to buy as gifts for your loved ones back home, you’ll find that a stroll along Apostolou Pavlou Street is really inspiring. 

  1. Kypseli Municipal Market

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Less of a market and more of a cultural and social hub, the recently renovated Municipal Market in the neighbourhood of Kypseli, reopened its gates to the public in 2018 after many years of neglect. A visit to this market is not so much of a shopping experience as a trip to the architecture and way of life of mid-20th century Athens.

Don't miss these reasonable famous neighbourhoods!

Athens is a vibrant city which is also incredibly diverse. With a unique blend of history and modern vibes, Athens certainly has something for everyone. Let’s have a look at some of the most fascinating neighbourhoods in the Greek capital and why it’s worth visiting each and every one of them.

  1. Plaka

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Undoubtedly, Plaka is the most charming part of Athens. Plaka is in essence the Old Town of Athens and the most picturesque neighbourhood in the Greek capital. It’s impossible to get enough of strolling around its narrow alleys with the colourful bougainvilleas and the sneak peaks to the Acropolis that looms above its quaint streets.

  1. Psiri

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Psiri is the quirky side of the historical centre of Athens. A vibrant neighbourhood with countless bars and restaurants but, also, nostalgic antique shops, Psiri is one of the city’s best spots to experience the famous Athens nightlife. In the last couple of years, Psiri is also popular for yet another reason. Alongside nearby Metaxourgio and Gazi districts, Psiri is the very heart of the city’s street art scene. The best way to discover the area’s street art masterpieces is to join an alternative tour led by a local street artist.

  1. Koukaki

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Koukaki has no must-sees of its own. In fact, it’s just a smart residential area with nothing tremendously special about it. Yet Koukaki has managed to be listed among the world’s best neighbourhoods more than once. It all comes down to the fact that Koukaki is an absolutely authentic part of Athens which, although near many major tourist attractions, manages to retain its laid-back character and local feeling. Plus, it’s home to Drupes & Drips, one of our favourite bars in Athens.

  1. Exarcheia

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Historically, it was in the area of Exarcheia that the 1973 Uprising against the Greek Military Junta took place. Ever since then, Exarcheia never stopped being the rebellious side of the city, with riots and clashes between students and the police happening quite frequently. Yet Exarcheia is also the best alternative neighbourhood in Athens with perhaps some of the most reasonably priced bars and eateries in the city.

  1. Kolonaki

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On the contrary, Kolonaki is the posh side of Athens. Streets in Kolonaki are lined with gorgeous neoclassical buildings and the area is one of the main shopping districts in the city. Don’t miss the chance to join a Greek Designers Shopping Tour which will initiate you to the unique ambience of Kolonaki.

For the history lovers, we listed the archaeological sites too!

Athens is one of the most important historical cities in the world. Apart from the many attractions you can visit in the city itself, there are many archaeological sites near Athens you should definitely check out, too. Almost all of our suggestions in this guide are situated less than a 2-hour drive from downtown Athens so they can be easily enjoyed as day trips.

  1. Cape Sounion

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The Temple of Poseidon is built atop a small hill in Cape Sounion and it’s one of the most gorgeous things to see near Athens. Apart from the temple, there are many interesting findings to explore at this archaeological site which enjoys breathtaking views to the Aegean Sea. The best time to visit Cape Sounion is in the afternoon so as to enjoy one of the best sunsets you have ever seen.

  1. Ancient Corinth

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Ancient Corinth is one of the lesser-known archaeological sites near Athens but it’s definitely worth the short and easy trip. The ancient city of Corinth features temples, springs, an ancient theatre, a Roman forum and so many other incredible findings which are scattered across the beautiful Greek countryside and under the shadow of Acrocorinth, the Acropolis of Ancient Corinth.

  1. Delphi

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Second only to the Acropolis of Athens, Delphi is probably the most important archaeological site in Greece and among the most fascinating ones in the entire world. Delphi was considered the centre of the known world in antiquity. It was the main site of worship for the Ancient Greek God Apollo and home to the almighty oracle of Delphi. Nowadays, Delphi boasts many well-preserved ancient buildings scattered across an area of unsurpassed natural beauty.

This is the only trip on our list that’s more than a 2-hour drive from Athens. This is why we’d suggest you visited with a guided tour for a hassle-free and time-saving experience.

  1. Ancient Epidaurus

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The archaeological site of Ancient Epidaurus covers the area of an entire small ancient city, complete with temples and many other buildings. Yet what steals the show there is the Ancient Theatre, which is considered a marvel of acoustics and is still used for performances during the summer.

  1. Mycenae

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Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mycenae is one of the most impressive and fascinating archaeological sites in Greece. The ruins of the once powerful fortified citadel have loads of stories to tell, most of which blend historical facts with myths in an enchanting way.

What about some mythical view of it?

Athens is an exciting city with a history that goes back for many centuries. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the Greek capital’s past, is its mythology. There are countless myths narrating the history of Athens and they all illustrate the ways in which people, gods and heroes forged Ancient Athens and contributed in making it the most important city of antiquity.

Nowadays, walking among ancient ruins in the heart of Athens is the best way to unveil the secrets of these myths and understand the forces behind the huge cultural achievements of Ancient Athens. Let’s have a look at the best spots in the city that any mythology buff would love.

  1. The Temple of Olympian Zeus

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A stroll around the most important mythology sites in Athens wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the once colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus. Dedicated to Zeus, the father of all gods, this impressive construction was once the largest temple in Greece but it wasn’t long before it was reduced to ruins due to a barbaric invasion.

  1. The Acropolis

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The Acropolis of Athens is the ultimate site to visit if you want to learn everything about the city’s mythology. Dotted with splendid temples such as the Parthenon and the Erechtheion and home to the superb Theatre of Dionysus, the Acropolis is where the most famous stories between gods, people and heroes unfold.

  1. The Ancient Agora

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The Ancient Agora is among the most fascinating archaeological sites in Athens as it is central to the every-day lives of people in Ancient Athens. Furthermore, the Ancient Agora is home to the Hephaisteion, which is the most well-preserved temple in Greece. The temple is named after Hephaestus, the smithing god of fire.

In order to put the various myths into context and make sense of the many names of gods and heroes related to those archaeological sites, it would be best if you visited with a guided tour that focuses on mythology. This way, not only will you check out some of the most remarkable landmarks in Athens but also understand the ways in which the brilliant society of Ancient Athens functioned.

Insta spots could not be missed too!

Athens is a fascinating city where the past and the present create a unique blend that is irresistibly charming. If you’re about to spend a holiday in the Greek capital, here are the city’s 5 ultimate spots for the best Instagram snaps!

  1. Plaka

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The most picturesque part of Athens is definitely Plaka, the city’s quaint Old Town which has the charm of a Greek Island in the heart of the city and under the shade of the wonder that is the Acropolis. Stroll around the narrow alleys of Plaka and get ready to snap countless Instagram-perfect photos.

  1. Panathenaic Stadium

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Built in 1896 in order to host the first modern Olympic Games, the Panathenaic Stadium is a gorgeous construction whose symmetry and perspective are ideal for the best Instagram shots.

  1. The Acropolis

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The ultimate symbol of the city of Athens, the Acropolis is also the top Instagram spot in the Greek capital. Once you climb the sacred rock on which the Acropolis of Athens stands for centuries on end, your camera will be spoilt for choice. From remarkable monuments such as the Parthenon and the Erechtheion to the splendid views to the entire city, the Acropolis offers many an amazing opportunity for the best Instagram shots.

  1. Sounio

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Sounio is situated almost 70km south of Athens but it’s really worth the trip as it is home to a stunning archaeological site which boasts a fantastic location right next to the sea. The latter’s centerpiece is the gorgeous Temple of Poseidon which looks breathtakingly beautiful, especially at sunset. A photo of Sounio at sunset is sure to bring your Instagram feed to a whole new level.

How would you like a photo tour of Athens during which you’d get to visit some of the best Instagram spots in the city and learn fascinating facts about the places you’re visiting at the same time? If you find this idea exciting, click here!


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