A list of the top things to do in Athens could go on for pages! Greece’s capital is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Its ancient heritage can still be seen and felt in the ruins, architecture and historical sites which are scattered throughout the city. Everyone from history buffs to curious children can enjoy the ancient attractions of Athens. What’s more, Athens has a lively modern culture which brings edge and excitement to the city. With so much going on, we struggled to narrow down the top things to do in Athens to a list of just ten! Read on to discover our recommendations of the absolute must-see places in Athens.
Table of Contents:
- The Acropolis
- The Parthenon
- The Acropolis Museum
- The National Archaeological Museum
- The Byzantine and Christian Museum
- Mount Lycabettus
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus
- The National Garden
- How to Travel around Athens
1. The Acropolis
A list of the 10 top things to do in Athens would be incomplete without mentioning The Acropolis. In ancient Greek, ‘acro’ means ‘high’ and ‘polis’ means ‘city’. Acropolis therefore translates to ‘high city’ and this is exactly what you can expect to see. On the top of a rocky hill at the centre of modern Athens are the ancient remains of a fortified citadel. The Acropolis is the most famous landmark in Athens, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most recognisable ancient ruins in the world. Visiting the Acropolis is one of the top things to do in Athens and a must-see for any traveller on holiday to Greece.
2. The Parthenon
The Parthenon is perhaps the most iconic building within the Acropolis. It is an ancient temple which was built between 447 and 432 B.C. The Parthenon is dedicated to Athena who is the patron goddess of Athens. The temple is decorated with depictions of significant moments from Athena’s life. These include her birth from the head of Zeus and her dispute with Poseidon over who would be patron of Athens. The Parthenon is a top thing to do in Athens especially for those interested in Greek Architecture.
3. The Acropolis Museum
Located at the base of the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum. This outstanding building, with its large glass panes, is home to a vast collection of artefacts found whilst excavating the Acropolis. It is widely regarded as one of the best museums in the world and is certainly one of the top things to do in Athens. Discover incredible Grecian statues, walk over a glass floor covering an archaeological excavation and much more.
4. The National Archeological Museum
Exploring the National Archeological Museum is definitely among the 10 top things to do in Athens. It is another of Greece’s finest museums and is home to a wealth of artefacts from Athens’ long history. Some of the treasures here include a bronze statue of Emperor Augustus which was found in the Aegean Sea and the golden Mask of Agamemnon. This is a must see tourist attraction for those fascinated by the past. History lovers might also be interested in visiting these top Greek islands for history.
5. The Byzantine and Christian Museum
Another world leading museum, the Byzantine and Christian Museum is one of the top things to do in Athens. Whilst exploring the 30,000 works of art in the collection here, you can learn about the gradual transition from ancient religious beliefs, through the Byzantine era to the introduction of Christianity.
6. Mount Lycabettus
Mount Lycabettus is Athens’ highest point and has an altitude of 227 metres. Hiking up or taking the funicular railway to the summit is one of the top things to do in Athens. You will be rewarded with spectacular views over the city below.
7. The Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is another awe-inspiring ancient site and definitely one of the top things to do in Athens. Otherwise known as the Olympieion, this temple was intended to be the largest in Greece. However, political unrest and a sack of Athens in 267 AD meant that the temple only survived in its full glory for a couple of centuries. Today, only a few of the huge, 17m tall columns remain standing. Nevertheless, seeing this impressive architecture is one of the top things to do in Athens.
8. The National Garden
Strolling around The National Garden is one of the 10 top things to do in Athens if you are looking for somewhere to relax on a hot day. The luscious, green park is perfect for a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The area is home to a small zoo, botanical museum and a duck pond. Open from sunrise to sunset, it is well worth spending some of your holiday in Athens in the National Garden.
Monastiraki is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Athens but it is vibrant with modern life. The narrow, picturesque streets are lined with shops, cafes, restaurants and local vendors selling their wares. Here, you can see the Ancient Agora, the Hadrian Library and the Roman Tower of the Winds. Exploring the treasures and cultures held in Monastiraki is one of the top things to do in Athens.
Another charming neighbourhood in Athens’ historic district is Plaka. This area is a must visit whilst in Athens as it is truly beautiful and has a traditional feel reminiscent of the Ionian Islands. Visitors can find plenty of souvenirs and handicrafts here. What’s more, trying delicious local cuisine in Plaka is an unforgettable experience and one we strongly recommend.
How to Travel Around Athens
It is helpful to have a luxury Greek villa or a lovely hotel room as a base for your trip. From here, you can travel around the city and visit some of the top things to do in Athens. The two best ways to travel around Athens are by metro or on foot.
- The Athens metro system is efficient, cheap and easy to use. An all-day ticket only costs 4 euros, and allows unlimited travel on all metro lines. You can travel from inland Kifisia to coastal Piraeus in the Athenian Riviera. From Piraeus, you can also access the Greek islands.
- Walking around Athens is relatively easy and many of the city’s attractions are located within walking distance of each other. If you are travelling in summer, beware of overheating in the midday sun.
Other options for travelling around Athens also include taking the bus, with tickets costing 1.40 euros for a single journey, or booking a taxi. When it comes to getting around Greece’s capital, there are plenty of options available to suit all budgets and preferences.
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