If you’re interested in traveling to Athens or are at least considering it. Well, you’ve come to the right place! I recently visited Athens and absolutely loved it. In this guide, I have rounded up some of the most important Athens travel tips for your next getaway.
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Athens Travel Tips You Must Know
Athens, the Greek capital city is bursting with energy, culture, and history. When it comes to sightseeing, there are so many options that it can be hard to know where to start.
From hidden gardens and ancient ruins to delicious food and breathtaking views, these are the places that locals love.
So ditch the tourist traps and come explore Athens like a local!
How to visit Athens?
The city of Athens is served by the Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos. This is your point of entry when flying into Greece.
It is also the largest international airport in the country.
Athens airport is voted in the top 10 for the best European airports. And the airport is super well organized, there are lots of restaurants inside and plenty of beautiful shops for clothing and souvenirs.
Getting to Athens from the airport is easy. You can book a taxi, private transfer, or hop on the metro.
Taxis normally take 45 minutes without traffic (and traffic is pretty chaotic in Athens).
There are private transfers connecting you from the airport to your hotel such as this one, and it also takes about 45 minutes. This is a good idea to book if you are traveling in a group, with little children, or have a lot of luggage.
Other than that, public transportation or the metro is an efficient and affordable way to reach the city center.
The metro is well-connected to most of the main attractions and hotels. When using public transportation, make sure you know how to purchase your tickets beforehand to save time at the station.
You can either buy single-ride tickets or use the Athens Travel Card for unlimited travel on buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the metro.
If you take this option, I recommend that you check out what kind of discounts are offered with each card before purchasing it.
It will also take you only 25 minutes to get there, and considering the traffic in Athens, this is your best bet to arrive fast!
Getting Around in Athens
There are a few different ways to get around Athens. The most popular (and probably most convenient) method is via taxi.
Taxis are easy to hail down and are relatively affordable. Just be sure to agree on a fare with the driver before getting in—otherwise, they may take advantage of you being a tourist and charge you an exorbitant amount!
Pro tip: If you need a taxi, download the ‘Free now’ Taxi app (like uber). If you do take a taxi without using the app, keep in mind that the driver will always charge you extra for luggage, service, etc.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider taking the metro. The metro system in Athens is reliable, clean, and efficient. Plus, it’s only 1.20€ per ride (valid for 90 minutes)!
An even cheaper option is to walk and keep in mind that most of the major attractions in Athens can be explored on foot as long as you stay in a centrally located hotel.
When is the best time to travel to Athens Greece?
The best time to visit Greece, generally, is from mid-April to October. The same applies to Athens.
The peak season in Athens is summer, and during this time the city is super crowded and packed. Plus the weather is super warm.
During summer, the hotel prices could be very high, and expensive as compared to the off-season, such as late spring or fall.
Fall is amazing as the crowds have thinned out, and it is possible to enjoy the city and historic sites at ease. Plus booking hotels and finding tours and excursions that interest you will be a breeze.
Sights to See: Things to do in Athens
Athens is loaded with history and culture, so there’s no shortage of things to see and do.
A few must-sees include the Acropolis—an ancient citadel located atop a hill in the city center—and the Parthenon—a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena that sits atop the Acropolis.
Other popular tourist attractions include the Ancient Agora—a large marketplace from antiquity—the temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Library, and Kerameikos—ancient Athens’ cemetery. And those are just some of the historical sites!
The city also has plenty of museums (e.g., the National Archaeological Museum), parks, and churches that are worth checking out.
So here is a quick list of tourist attractions.
1. People watching at Monastiraki Square
Monastiraki Square is one of the busiest areas in Athens, especially on Sundays when the city’s famous flea market is held there. The square is surrounded by beautiful monuments from all eras of Athenian history.
The main monument in the center of the square is a bronze replica of Lysicrates’ famous Choragic Monument, erected in 334 BC to commemorate his victory at a dramatic choral competition held there. Also, do not miss out on checking out Hadrian’s Library which was built in 132 AD and served as a cultural center.
Grab a coffee or bite to eat at one of the square’s many cafes and people watch as locals and tourists alike stroll by.
The neighborhood is home to iconic landmarks like the ruins of Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora, and the rebuilt Stoa of Attalos, with a museum exhibiting Athenian artifacts.
2. Shop at Kolonaki
For some high-end shopping, head over to Kolonaki. This chic neighborhood is home to designer boutiques as well as department stores like Tsakiris Mallas.
Whether you buy anything or not, it’s fun just to window shop! Kolonaki is also an excellent place to find upscale restaurants and cafes.
So if you’re looking for a luxurious experience, Kolonaki is the place to be!
3. Visit the Acropolis of Athens
Of course, you can’t go to Athens without seeing the Acropolis!
The ancient citadel is located on a hill in the center of the city and is home to some of the most famous ruins in the world, including the Parthenon.
Entrance to the site is 20 Euros for adults, 10 Euros for students, and free for children under 18. The price also includes the nearby ancient agora, theatre of Dionysus, Kerameikos, Roman Agora, Tower of the Winds, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Pro tip: For Acropolis, buy tickets for the latest entree, you will get the best light as of 5:00 pm, so you can take the most beautiful golden hour photos.
When exploring the Acropolis grounds, don’t forget to visit the iconic Parthenon! This marble temple was built in 447 BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena. Its columns are a symbol of Ancient Greek architecture and its sculptures depict Athenian mythology.
4. See the changing of the Guards at Parliament
Greek guards or “Evzones” have become synonymous with the city of Athens and were originally founded in 1868 as a regiment of the Greek army.
Every hour, you can watch the changing of the guards outside the Parliament. The whole process is free to watch.
5. Explore the Plake neighborhood
The Plaka neighborhood is one of the oldest in Athens, built around the slopes of Acropolis Hill.
The cobblestone streets are lined with souvenir shops, cafes, taverns, and art galleries. And at night it turns into a lively area full of bars and nightclubs.
Do not miss out on checking out some of its iconic historical sites such as the Tower of the Winds or Hadrian’s Arch!
It is also the perfect place to take a break from all of your sightseeing and relax in one of the many plazas or parks.
Be sure to try out some traditional Greek dishes like Souvlaki, Gyros, and Moussaka at one of the local restaurants – you definitely won’t regret it!
6. Enjoy a night out in Psiri
If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife scene, look no further than Psiri—Athens’ bohemian neighborhood. It is full of tavernas and cozy restaurants serving up traditional Greek food.
Plus you can enjoy Greece’s signature anise-flavored liqueur with friends.
As the night goes on, you can move on to one of Psiri’s clubs or bars. It has a great music scene with live Greek bands and DJs playing popular music styles like hip-hop, funk, and rock.
It is also a great place to meet people from all over the world so get ready to make some friends!
Athens is the perfect combination of ancient ruins and modern vibes, making it a must for any traveler looking for an unforgettable experience.
7. Visit the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
This museum is a little off the beaten path, but it’s well worth seeking out. It is the only jewelry museum in the country and only the third one of its kind in the world!
The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum showcases an amazing collection of modern and traditional Greek jewelry.
The museum also offers guided tours and has a workshop space where you can learn how to make your own piece of jewelry.
This is an excellent way to get a glimpse into the culture and history of Greek jewelry through the ages and take home something truly unique to remember your trip.
Visit on Wednesday afternoon for free admission.
8. Tour the Acropolis Museum
Located at the foot of the Acropolis is the brand-new Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009.
The museum houses artifacts from the archaeological site and tells the story of the Acropolis throughout history. It is the 11th-best museum in the world!
So for those who have an interest in art history, make sure to explore the museum located onsite at The Acropolis which displays some of the most well-known artifacts from this ancient site.
Admission is 5 to 10 Euros for adults (summer and winter prices).
Once you are done exploring, head to one of the many restaurants located in nearby Plaka for a delicious Greek meal or take a stroll through Anafiotika – a charming little neighborhood full of whitewashed houses that will transport you back in time.
9. Visit the National Gardens
Located just behind the Greek Parliament building, the National Gardens are a welcome oasis of green in the bustling city center.
With towering trees, fragrant flowers, and a playground for kids, this is the perfect place to come to relax and escape the heat.
Visitors can also take a stroll down memory lane and visit the garden’s many monuments, such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Monument to Greek Heroes.
The national gardens are open for visitors from 7 am – 4 pm (Monday – Sunday), with free admission on national holidays.
10. The Temple of Olympian Zeus
One of Athens’ most iconic landmarks, the Temple of Olympian Zeus is definitely worth a visit. Dating back to the 6th century BC, this temple was once one of the largest in the ancient world.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus was built to honor the god Zeus and is a testament to Ancient Greek engineering. Today, it’s one of Athens’ major landmarks, only 15 of the original 104 columns remain standing, but it’s still an impressive sight.
The admission fee is 5 Euros (for adults).
11. Spend an afternoon at Zappeion Hall
Zappeion Hall is a beautiful neoclassical building located in the heart of the city.
It was originally built for hosting international exhibitions during Athens’ first Olympic Games in 1896 … these days it’s used as a conference center but anyone can admire its beauty from outside or take a stroll through its manicured gardens.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays Zappeion Hall opens its doors to the public, offering free guided tours of the building and access to its many impressive halls.
Once you’ve had your fill of Zappeion, take a break in Zappeion Park located right next door. This is a great spot to relax and soak in Greek culture.
12. Visit Lake Vouliagmeni
The best way to escape the crowds in Athens is by visiting Lake Vouliagmeni. It is only a 25-minute drive from the city.
The lake has quite unique environmental conditions: it is supplied with warm seawater via an underground channel spreading through a network of flooded caves, so its temperature never drops below 18 degrees °C and usually ranges around 21-24 degrees °C
The lake has functioned as a spa since the end of the 19th century. It is a true oasis of tranquility and calms perfectly for a day (or an afternoon) of relaxation!
And BONUS: You can have a wonderful fish pedicure for free!
The admission fee is 6 Euros (for adults).
Spending a day at the lake is the perfect way to escape the crowds in Athens and experience something unique. It is an ideal location for relaxation and rejuvenation. Make sure to add it to your list of must-see destinations when visiting Athens!
13. Go on a street art walking tour
Street art is not new to Athens, you will see the most beautiful graphics all over the city and but you will be surprised to know how it has evolved over the decade or so.
Join a guided tour and soak this creative side of Athens, as an alternative way to experiencing the city, and take a look at what’s happening at its core (especially during the economic crisis, struggles, and beyond).
Learn more about this guided tour here.
14. Take a day tour to see the Meteora
Embark on a full-day tour from Athens (via train) to see the beauty of Meteora.
This trip also guides you to six historic monasteries in the area. Most importantly you will get to discover over 700 years of history of Meteora Monasteries and admire the fantastic architecture.
Add this experience to your overall Athens visit!
15. Watch the sun go down from Lycabettus Hill
For breathtaking views of Athens, head to Mount Lycabettus. This hilltop park offers panoramic views of the city below which you can enjoy throughout the year.
To get to the top, simply take the funicular railway from Kolonaki Square (10 euros), or hike up Lycabettus Hill, which is also the highest point in Athens. Hiking will take about an hour and a half (one way).
Once you reach the top, relax on one of the hill’s many benches and watch as dusk turns into nightfall. On the hill, you can even enjoy a cocktail or dinner in the restaurant.
These are just a few of my favorite places in Athens that you must explore when in the city.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and really experience this city like a local, then be sure to check out the hidden gems as well!
Day trips from Athens Greece
You can add day trips from Athens to the Greek Islands too. Typically, the travel duration is about 45 minutes to an hour’s flight from Athens.
Without a flight, you can hop on a 1.50 ferry ride to islands such as Hydra, Spetses, Aegina, Poros, and Agistri for a day trip.
Top pick: Aegina and Agistri day tour from Athens, which includes a visit to the Temple of Aphaia and lunch plus swimming in Saronic Bay.
You can also head out of Athens to explore more ancient sights such as Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio (all 3 within 2 hours’ reach).
For those who are ready for a longer adventure, you can take a weekend trip to Delphi (a 3-4 hours drive from Athens), or go hiking in Parnitha National Park.
No matter what you choose, there is something exciting around every corner when it comes to day trips from Athens.
Where to stay in Athens: Top places to stay in Athens Greece
The birthplace of Western civilization, Athens has a variety of accommodation options for every type of traveler.
Stay in a luxury hotel with breathtaking views of the Acropolis, or save some money by opting for a more modest property in the heart of the city.
No matter what your budget is, there are plenty of great places to stay in Athens.
Here are 6 great hotels in Athens that will make your visit even more special.
The Hotel Grande Bretagne
If you’re looking for a luxurious and unforgettable experience, look no further than the Hotel Grande Bretagne.
Located in the center of Athens, this 5-star hotel offers its guests world-class service and stunning views of the Acropolis.
When you’re not out exploring all that Athens has to offer, relax in their rooftop restaurant or take a dip in the pool.
Arion Athens Hotel
Arion Athens Hotel is a mid-range accommodation option that is centrally located in the bustling neighborhood of Psiri. It offers views of Acropolis and is near a metro station in Athens.
They offer a boutique experience with free wifi and breakfast!
The Residence Aiolou Suites & SPA
Stay at the lovely pedestrian street Aiolou, where you will find Residence suites that are spacious. Plus the property is close to a variety of restaurants and bars and has its own SPA where you can fully relax after a day of sightseeing.
Located in a posh locality, and close to major tourist attractions, the Coco-Mat Athens is popular with repeat travelers to the city.
There is free wifi and free use of bicycles to venture outside. Plus you will find a plethora of bars and restaurants nearby!
The Atheneum Eridanus Luxury Hotel
For travelers who want to be close to all the action but don’t want to spend a fortune on lodging, the Atheneum Eridanus Hotel is a great option.
Just steps away from iconic attractions, this 3-star hotel offers comfortable rooms at an affordable price.
Start your day with a delicious continental breakfast before heading out to explore Athens’s many sights and attractions.
Airotel Parthenon Hotel
Located in the Plaka neighborhood near the Acropolis, the Parthenon Hotel is perfect for budget-minded travelers.
This hotel offers clean and comfortable dormitory-style accommodations at an unbeatable price.
Hang out in the common area and meet other travelers from all over the world, or explore Athens on your own—with so many sights and attractions within walking distance, you’ll never be bored!
Check availability and current rates here.
Pro tip: Be sure to book early—demand for hotels in Athens always exceeds supply during peak tourist season!
What to eat and drink in Athens: Food & Drinks
Greek food is DELICIOUS!
While in Athens, be sure to try some traditional Greek dishes like spanakopita (spinach pie), dolma (stuffed grape leaves), gyro (meat + veggies wrapped in pita bread), Moussaka (eggplant casserole), Baklava (sweet pastry).
Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!
And no meal is complete without a glass (or two) of wine or ouzo (anise-flavored alcoholic beverage). Cheers!
When visiting Athens for the first time, you must add a food tour to your itinerary. This way you can enjoy delicious local cuisine, visit cafes, and markets and learn from experts.
Here are some of the top-rated food tours in Athens:
If you wish to add some of my favorites from Athens, here they are.
- The Brunchers: Located a short walk from the Hadrian Library, this place is spot on for breakfast and brunches!
- Ergon House Athens: Part of a boutique hotel, the Ergon House Athens is a delightful place to stay and also wake up to a nice meal and coffee in the heart of ancient Greece
- Nolan: Get fusion food (if you are tired of Greek cuisine) at the NOLAN, just a few steps from the busy Syntagma Square.
- Seychelles: Perfect for Greek or Mediterranean dishes in a hip neighborhood!
Juan Rodriguez is perfect for coffee, breakfast, and more. But I love it for its cocktails!
So that’s a wrap! I hope these tips have been helpful and have inspired you to visit Athens soon!
If you have any questions or need more recommendations, feel free to reach out.
In the meantime, happy planning!