things to do in athens

Last Updated on: 31st May 2024, 08:10 am

Planning a trip to Athens, Greece and wondering what to put on your itinerary? Look no further! I’m here to share my top tips and help you make the most of your time in this captivating destination. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in delicious Greek cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, let’s dive in and discover the best things to do in Athens!

Things to do in Athens

1. Discover the Rich History of Athens

As I wandered through Athens, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of history all around me. This city is one of the oldest in the world, with a rich history that stretches back thousands of years. One of the best ways to experience Athens’ fascinating past is to explore the many ancient ruins and archaeological sites found throughout the city.

The most famous of these landmarks is undoubtedly the Acropolis, a hill towering over the city that is home to some of the most well-preserved ancient buildings in the world. Here, you can see the Parthenon, an incredible structure that has stood for over 2,400 years, as well as the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion.

The Acropolis – A Table of Key Sights

Attraction Description
The Parthenon Ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Athena
The Temple of Athena Nike Small temple dedicated to the goddess of victory
The Erechtheion Temple honoring both Athena and Poseidon

Another impressive landmark is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, located in the heart of Athens. This was once one of the largest temples in the ancient world, and although only a few columns remain today, it’s still an awe-inspiring sight.

“Athens is a city of ancient wonders, and no visit would be complete without exploring its rich history and fascinating heritage.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Athens’ past, be sure to visit the National Archaeological Museum. Here, you can see an incredible collection of ancient artifacts, including sculptures, pottery, and jewelry. It’s a fascinating insight into the lives of those who lived in Athens centuries ago.

To truly immerse yourself in the history of Athens, I recommend hiring a local guide who can provide you with a more in-depth understanding of the city and its ancient past. It’s a great way to gain new insights and appreciation for this incredible city of history.

2. Immerse Yourself in Greek Mythology

If you’re fascinated by ancient myths and legends, Athens is the perfect place to explore Greek mythology. One of the most impressive sights is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which honors the king of the gods. While only a few columns remain, they are massive and awe-inspiring. Legend has it that it took over 640 years to complete this magnificent temple, making it the largest in ancient Greece.

Another must-visit attraction is the Acropolis Museum, where you can see ancient artifacts and impressive sculptures related to Greek mythology. Admire the impressive statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, and learn about the legend of how the city was named after her.

Greek mythology

Exploring the ancient ruins of Athens also provides insight into the city’s mythical past. Walk in the footsteps of the gods at the Parthenon, where the goddess Athena was worshipped. Take a stroll through the Roman Agora and discover statues dedicated to the gods Aphrodite, Apollo, and Zeus.

Tip: To get the most out of your visit, consider booking a guided tour with a knowledgeable local guide. They can provide fascinating insights into the stories behind the myths and legends that shaped Athens.

Top Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology

Name Area of Influence
Zeus King of the gods, god of the sky and thunder
Athena Goddess of wisdom, courage, and warfare
Apollo God of music, prophecy, and the sun
Aphrodite Goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality
Hermes God of commerce, thieves, and travelers
Poseidon God of the sea, earthquakes, and horses

Whether you’re a mythology buff or simply looking to learn more about ancient Greek culture, Athens has plenty to offer. Explore iconic landmarks, discover ancient artifacts, and immerse yourself in the captivating myths and legends that have shaped this magnificent city.

3. Explore the Bustling Plaka Neighborhood

The Plaka neighborhood is a charming area in Athens located at the foot of the Acropolis, and it’s one of my favorite places to visit in the city. The neighborhood’s winding streets are lined with traditional houses adorned with colorful bougainvillea, creating a picturesque atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic stroll.

As you wander through the alleys, you’ll find an abundance of shops selling local crafts and souvenirs, from handmade jewelry to leather sandals. Don’t forget to sample some of the delicious Greek cuisine at one of the many quaint tavernas in the area, where you can indulge in mouthwatering dishes like souvlaki and moussaka.

The Plaka neighborhood is also home to numerous museums and galleries, including the Museum of Greek Folk Art, which offers a glimpse into the country’s traditional arts and crafts. Additionally, the Frissiras Museum showcases contemporary Greek art and is definitely worth a visit for art enthusiasts.

If you’re looking to experience Athens’ lively atmosphere, then the Plaka neighborhood is the perfect place to be. From street performers to bustling markets, you’re sure to find something to keep you entertained.

4. Wander Through the National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is a fascinating destination for those interested in ancient history. As one of the largest archaeological museums in the world, it houses an extensive collection of artifacts that span thousands of years of Greek history. From exquisite sculptures to intricate pottery and jewelry, there is something to amaze every visitor in this vast treasure trove.

The museum’s exhibits are displayed in chronological order, taking you on a journey through ancient Greek civilization. Starting from the prehistoric era, you’ll explore the evolution of Greek art and culture through the Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.

Exhibits Highlights
Prehistoric Artifacts The Mask of Agamemnon
Mycenaean Artifacts An Ivory Head of a Griffin
Geometric Artifacts The Dipylon Amphora
Archaic Artifacts The kouros of Tenea
Classical Artifacts The Poseidon of Artemision
Hellenistic Artifacts The Sleeping Eros
Roman Artifacts Tombstones from Smyrna

National Archaeological Museum

A must-see exhibit is the Mask of Agamemnon, a beautifully crafted gold mask discovered at Mycenae. This iconic exhibit is a symbol of ancient Greek culture and is likely familiar to many even outside of Greece. Another highlight is the Poseidon of Artemision, an enormous bronze statue of the god of the sea that was recovered from the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

The museum’s comprehensive collection coupled with its beautiful architecture and tranquil gardens make it a must-visit destination for any visitor to Athens.

5. Experience Greek Culture at the Monastiraki Flea Market

If you want to fully immerse yourself in Greek culture, a visit to the Monastiraki flea market is a must. Located in the heart of Athens, this bustling bazaar is brimming with energy and excitement. As you navigate through the narrow alleys and colorful stalls, you’ll be greeted by an array of unique antiques, vintage clothing, and handmade crafts. The market is a hub of activity, and you’re sure to be swept up in the lively atmosphere.

The Monastiraki flea market is a treasure trove of Greek culture, and you’ll find plenty of traditional products like leather sandals, olive oil soap, and handmade jewelry. You could also pick up a beautiful Greek musical instrument like the bouzouki or enjoy some traditional Greek music and dancing from local street performers.

Whether you’re searching for souvenirs to bring home or you simply want to soak up the vibrant energy of Athens, the Monastiraki flea market is the perfect place to do so. Shop, eat, and enjoy the traditional Greek music while experiencing the lively spirit of Athens. You’ll be glad you did.

6. Take a Day Trip to Cape Sounion

If you’re in Athens and looking for a one-day excursion, Cape Sounion should be top of your list. It’s a scenic drive down the coast and a chance to feast your eyes on the Temple of Poseidon and its mesmerizing beauty.

The site is perched on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea, making it the ideal spot to take in Greece’s stunning coastline. Sit back, relax, and enjoy breathtaking views of the blue sea, while marveling at the temple’s majesty.

Make sure to plan your visit towards the end of the day, and witness one of the most beautiful sunsets in Greece. The warm hues of the sky reflect on the tranquil waters, a truly magical experience that will leave you awestruck.

Cape Sounion

So why not take a break from the bustling city life and head down to Cape Sounion for a serene and exciting day trip?

7. Soak up the Sun at the Athens Riviera

When I need a break from exploring the historic city center, I head to the stunning Athens Riviera. Here, you can spend a day lounging on the sandy shores, taking a dip in the crystal-clear waters, or indulging in various water sports. The Athenian coastline boasts beautiful beaches, including organized and secluded ones, ideal for any type of traveler.

For those seeking luxury, there are many renowned resorts and beach clubs to choose from, such as Astir Beach and Grand Beach Lagonissi. At Astir Beach, you can enjoy exclusive facilities, private cabanas, and top-notch services, while Grand Beach Lagonissi offers a VIP experience with its own yacht marina and upscale dining options.

For the ultimate Mediterranean experience, rent a sunbed, bask in the sun, and enjoy the natural beauty around the Athens Riviera. The palm trees, the crystal-clear waters, and the blue sky will make you feel like you are living a dream.

8. Discover Modern Athens at Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square is a bustling hub in the heart of modern Athens. As soon as I arrived, I was struck by the beauty of the Greek Parliament building, with its majestic columns and grand entrance.

One of the highlights of Syntagma Square is the changing of the guards, which takes place outside the Parliament building every hour. I was amazed by the precision and discipline of the guard as they marched back and forth in their colorful uniforms.

The square is also surrounded by high-end boutiques and shops, making it a great spot to indulge in some retail therapy.

I recommend taking a stroll through the square’s picturesque gardens, which are filled with lush greenery and beautiful fountains. It’s a great place to relax and people-watch while taking in the sights and sounds of modern Athens.

Syntagma Square modern Athens

Whether you’re exploring the historic landmarks or soaking up the ambiance of modern Athens, Syntagma Square is a must-visit destination that offers something for everyone.

9. Sample Greek Cuisine at Local Tavernas

As a foodie, I never miss a chance to try out local cuisine, and Athens is a perfect destination to sample some delicious Greek dishes. Local tavernas are an ideal place to start your culinary journey and savour some mouthwatering delicacies.

First and foremost, don’t forget to try the famous souvlaki. Served as a pita wrap or on a stick, it consists of grilled meat, most commonly pork or chicken, garnished with vegetables, tzatziki sauce, and fries. If you’re a fan of minced meat-based dishes, don’t miss out on trying moussaka, a baked dish filled with eggplant, minced meat, potatoes, and béchamel sauce.

And of course, no visit to Athens would be complete without indulging in baklava– a sweet pastry made from layers of phyllo dough, filled with honey and nuts. It’s the perfect dessert to round off an authentic Greek meal.

Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of ouzo or local wine. Ouzo is a traditional Greek aperitif made from anise, which gives it a licorice-like taste. Greek wines are also a must-try, with regions like Santorini famous for their crisp, white varieties.

Must-Try Greek Dishes

Dish Description
Souvlaki Grilled meat, commonly pork or chicken, served on a stick or in a pita with vegetables, tzatziki sauce, and fries.
Moussaka A baked dish made with layers of eggplant, minced meat, potatoes, and béchamel sauce.
Baklava A sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough, honey, and nuts.

I highly recommend trying out the local tavernas to get an authentic taste of Greek cuisine. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from the staff or fellow diners – their input can lead to some delightful culinary surprises.

Food is an integral part of Greek culture, and Athens offers a wide range of places to explore culinary delights, from upscale restaurants to street food vendors. Sample some local dishes at traditional tavernas, and you’ll be sure to have a delicious experience that will satisfy your taste buds.

Conclusion

As I wrap up my article on the top things to do in Athens, Greece, I hope you’re feeling inspired to pack your bags and embark on an adventure to this incredible destination. From exploring ancient ruins to soaking up the sun on the Athens Riviera, there are endless opportunities for adventure and discovery in this vibrant city.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for a relaxing retreat, Athens offers something for everyone. So why not start planning your trip today and discover all the wonders this city has to offer?

Remember to explore iconic landmarks like the Acropolis, delve into Greek mythology at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and immerse yourself in local culture at the Monastiraki flea market. And don’t forget to sample mouthwatering Greek cuisine at one of the city’s many tavernas.

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Athens now and experience all the top things to do in Greece’s capital city. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

FAQ

What are the top things to do in Athens, Greece?

Some of the top things to do in Athens include exploring ancient ruins such as the Acropolis, immersing yourself in Greek mythology at sites like the Temple of Olympian Zeus, wandering through the charming Plaka neighborhood, visiting the National Archaeological Museum, experiencing the vibrant Monastiraki flea market, taking a day trip to Cape Sounion, enjoying the beaches of the Athens Riviera, discovering modern Athens at Syntagma Square, and sampling delicious Greek cuisine at local tavernas.

What is there to see in Athens for history lovers?

Athens is rich in history, and there are several must-see sites for history lovers. The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses the iconic Parthenon, while the Temple of Olympian Zeus is an impressive ancient temple. The National Archaeological Museum showcases a vast collection of ancient artifacts, and the city’s neighborhoods, such as Plaka, are steeped in history.

Where can I experience Greek mythology in Athens?

To experience Greek mythology in Athens, visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus, where you can learn about the stories of gods and goddesses. The Acropolis also has several mythological connections, including the Parthenon, which was dedicated to the goddess Athena.

What can I find at the Monastiraki flea market?

The Monastiraki flea market is a bustling hub where you can find a wide variety of items. Explore antique shops, browse through unique clothing and accessories, discover handmade crafts and souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere. You can also enjoy traditional Greek music and street food while exploring the market.

What is there to do in Athens for nature enthusiasts?

While Athens is a vibrant city, there are also opportunities for nature enthusiasts. You can take a day trip to Cape Sounion, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and visit the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon. The Athens Riviera offers beautiful beaches and a chance to relax by the crystal-clear waters.

What is the best way to explore modern Athens?

One of the best ways to explore modern Athens is to visit Syntagma Square. Here, you can admire the Greek Parliament building, watch the changing of the guards, and explore the upscale boutiques surrounding the square. You can also take a stroll through the vibrant neighborhoods and sample local cuisine.

Where can I try authentic Greek cuisine in Athens?

Athens is a food lover’s paradise, and there are plenty of local tavernas where you can sample authentic Greek cuisine. Head to traditional spots in neighborhoods like Plaka and Monastiraki to enjoy dishes such as souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of ouzo or local wine.