Things To Do In Athens

Things To Do In Athens

When you think of Athens, the first images that likely come to mind are its iconic ancient ruins like the majestic Acropolis. But there’s so much more to this vibrant city. Nestled between the relics of its illustrious past are the bustling markets, verdant gardens, and streets lined with vivid street art, making Athens a complex tapestry of the old and the new. If you’re planning a visit and wondering what to fill your days with, here’s a comprehensive guide to the top things to do in Athens. From historical tours to culinary delights, and from serene nature spots to vibrant cultural experiences, Athens offers a multitude of activities that cater to all tastes and interests.

Things To Do In Athens

  1. Explore the Acropolis

The Acropolis, standing proudly over the city, is not just Athens’ most iconic landmark, but also a symbol of classical spirit and civilization. Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and take your time wandering through the ruins. The Parthenon, the Erechtheion with its Caryatids, and the Temple of Athena Nike are all breathtaking. Don’t rush; each structure tells a story worth absorbing.

  1. Wander through the Plaka District

Plaka, lying in the shadow of the Acropolis, offers narrow cobblestone streets lined with quaint cafes, traditional tavernas, and unique shops. This neighborhood is perfect for leisurely strolls. Here, you can savor delicious Greek coffee or dine on local specialties like souvlaki and moussaka. Make sure to visit Anafiotika, an area within Plaka that resembles a scenic Cycladic island with its white-washed houses and narrow passageways.

  1. Visit the National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Greek artifacts. Spend a few hours marveling at ancient sculptures, jewelry, pottery, and the famous Antikythera Mechanism. Each exhibit is not only a display of artistic achievement but also an insight into the daily lives of ancient Greeks. This museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the roots of Western culture.

  1. Experience the Changing of the Guard

At Syntagma Square, you can witness the evocative Changing of the Guard ceremony outside the Greek Parliament. The Evzones, or presidential guards, dressed in traditional kilts and clogs, perform this ritual with absolute precision. This event occurs every hour, but the grand ceremony on Sunday mornings is particularly spectacular with its elaborate processions.

  1. Take a Day Trip to Cape Sounion

Just an hour’s drive from Athens, Cape Sounion is famed for the Temple of Poseidon. Arrive in the late afternoon and stay till sunset to experience one of the most stunning views in Greece. The temple, perched on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea, offers a panoramic vista that has inspired many poets and artists throughout history. It’s a perfect way to experience Greece’s natural beauty and archaeological heritage in one go.

  1. Stroll Around the Ancient Agora

The Ancient Agora was once the heart of Athens, serving as a bustling marketplace where citizens gathered to discuss politics, philosophy, and trade. Today, it stands as an evocative ruin, with the Temple of Hephaestus remarkably well-preserved and dominating the site. Walking through the Agora, you can almost hear the echoes of the philosophers who once debated here. The site also houses a museum in the Stoa of Attalos, offering artifacts and exhibits that provide a deeper understanding of Athenian daily life.

  1. Discover the Byzantine and Christian Museum

This museum is a hidden gem that showcases an extensive collection of religious art from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods. It’s a quiet retreat from the bustling city streets and offers a look into the spiritual and artistic life of Greece through centuries-old icons, frescoes, and textiles. The museum’s peaceful gardens are also worth exploring, providing a serene backdrop to the rich history housed within.

  1. Enjoy a Performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Built in 161 AD, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an ancient theatre that still hosts performances during the Athens Festival each summer. Watching a play, concert, or ballet here, under the stars and at the foot of the Acropolis, is a magical experience. The acoustics are phenomenal, and the setting is historically resonant, making any event here a memorable one.

  1. Explore the Neighborhood of Psiri

During the day, Psiri is quiet, but as night falls, this neighborhood transforms into one of Athens’ liveliest. Filled with small shops, cafes, and some of the best street art in the city, Psiri offers a modern, artistic twist to the ancient city. At night, the area is buzzing with locals and tourists alike enjoying live music, delicious food, and vibrant nightlife.

  1. Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus

Once the largest temple in Greece, the Temple of Olympian Zeus took over 700 years to complete. Today, although only a few columns stand, they remain a powerful reminder of ancient architectural ambition and skill. The site offers a unique photo opportunity with the Acropolis in the background, providing a juxtaposition of historic epochs in one view.

  1. Relax in the National Garden

Located directly behind the Greek Parliament, the National Garden provides a green oasis in the heart of the city. It’s a perfect spot for a midday break or a leisurely walk amidst native and exotic plants. The garden also features a small zoo, botanical museum, children’s playground, and several beautiful ponds, making it ideal for families or anyone looking to unwind.

  1. Tour the Benaki Museum

The Benaki Museum is one of Athens’ most comprehensive and diverse cultural institutions, showcasing Greek history from antiquity to the modern era. The museum’s extensive collection includes Byzantine art, Greek costumes, historical heirlooms, and modern Greek art. The building itself is a beautifully restored mansion, offering a glimpse into the elegance of old Athenian life. The museum’s rooftop terrace also offers a stunning view of the city and a lovely spot for a coffee break.

  1. Sail to the Saronic Gulf Islands

Take a day trip from Athens and sail across the crystal-clear waters of the Saronic Gulf to explore its charming islands. Hydra, Poros, and Aegina are popular choices, each with its own unique character. Hydra boasts well-preserved stone architecture and no cars, making it a tranquil retreat. Poros charms with its pine forests and scenic hilltop views, while Aegina is known for its pistachios and ancient Temple of Aphaea.

  1. Browse the Monastiraki Flea Market

For a taste of local life, head to the Monastiraki Flea Market, especially vibrant on Sundays when locals set up additional stalls. You can find everything from antiques and vintage clothing to handmade jewelry and Greek souvenirs. It’s also a great place to practice your bargaining skills and soak up the lively atmosphere. Nearby, there are plenty of cafes and tavernas where you can enjoy a well-deserved break with delicious Greek food.

  1. Hike Mount Lycabettus

For those who enjoy a bit of adventure, hiking up Mount Lycabettus provides a rewarding experience. The path winds its way up to the top of Athens’ highest hill, where you can find the small Chapel of St. George and enjoy panoramic views of the entire city, stretching out to the sea. The sunrise and sunset from Lycabettus are particularly spectacular, offering the perfect backdrop for stunning photographs.

  1. Enjoy the Exhibits at the Museum of Cycladic Art

Dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, with special emphasis on Cycladic art from the 3rd millennium BC, the Museum of Cycladic Art houses an impressive collection of marble figurines. The minimalist style of these figurines has inspired many modern artists. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, often focusing on ancient culture or connecting ancient art with modern.

  1. Attend a Workshop or Cultural Event

Athens is not just about its past; the city is alive with modern culture and creativity. Many local galleries and spaces offer workshops, from Greek cooking classes to dance and pottery. These activities provide a hands-on way to connect with Greek culture and create your own memories. Additionally, keep an eye out for cultural events like music festivals or art exhibitions that are frequently held throughout the city.

  1. Visit the Goulandris Natural History Museum

Located in the leafy suburb of Kifisia, the Goulandris Natural History Museum is an educational treasure trove dedicated to the environment and its preservation. Exhibits range from geology and paleontology to botany and entomology. It’s particularly great for families, providing interactive displays that engage children and adults alike in learning about Greece’s natural heritage and the broader ecological challenges facing the planet.

  1. Explore the Kerameikos Cemetery

The ancient cemetery of Kerameikos is one of Athens’ lesser-known sites but is rich in history and serenity. This archaeological site and museum provide insights into ancient Athenian life and death rituals, showcasing beautifully crafted funerary sculptures and stelae. The peaceful atmosphere and green surroundings make it a reflective place to stroll and ponder the city’s ancient past.

  1. Indulge in a Culinary Tour

Athens’ culinary scene is a delightful blend of traditional flavors and contemporary gastronomy. Joining a food tour can lead you through bustling markets like Varvakios Agora, where you can taste local cheeses, olives, herbs, and fresh seafood. Such tours not only introduce you to Greek cuisine essentials but also give you a chance to interact with local vendors and learn the culinary history of dishes like gyros, baklava, and more.

  1. Take a Street Art Tour

Athens is a canvas for vibrant street art, reflecting the city’s social, political, and cultural narratives. Areas like Exarcheia and Metaxourgeio are hotspots for some of the most impressive murals and graffiti in Europe. A guided street art tour can help decode the stories behind the artworks and introduce you to the local artists’ community, offering a fresh perspective on the contemporary Greek art scene.

  1. Attend an Outdoor Movie Screening

During the warm summer months, Athens’ outdoor cinemas offer a perfect night out. These charming venues, set in gardens or on rooftops, screen a mix of new releases and classic movies. Enjoying a film under the stars, often with the Acropolis in the background, is a quintessentially Athenian experience. It’s also a great way to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

  1. Visit Lake Vouliagmeni

Located on the Athenian Riviera, Lake Vouliagmeni is a natural thermal spa known for its healing properties and stunning beauty. The lake’s mineral-rich waters are believed to offer relief from various ailments. Surrounded by rugged cliffs and lush greenery, it’s an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and experiencing natural wellness just outside the busy city center.


Athens is a city of layers—ancient, medieval, and modern beautifully intertwined, offering something for every traveler. Whether you’ve spent your time exploring archaeological sites, enjoying local Greek cuisine, or soaking in the Mediterranean sun at a nearby island, Athens leaves you with experiences that are both enriching and inspiring. The variety of things to do in Athens ensures that every visit can be as laid-back or as adventurous as you desire. As you leave the city, you carry with you a piece of its history, the warmth of its people, and the vibrancy of its streets, all of which beckon you to return. Remember, every corner of Athens has a story to tell, and each visit unravels new secrets just waiting to be discovered.

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