The capital of Greece and birthplace of Western Civilization is unsurprisingly packed with world class things to see and do, but we’ve narrowed things down to an essential top five. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on these things to do in Athens!
Explore the Acropolis
Simply put, this place is amazing. Crowning a rocky outcrop and towering above the modern-day city, the Acropolis of Athens is up there with the Egyptian Pyramids and Roman Colosseum when it comes to sites of monumental historical importance. The present day buildings date back around 2,500 years (about the same time Athens was introducing a somewhat revolutionary form of governance, which we know today as democracy). The Parthenon is the highlight, surrounded by majestic doric columns, and is backed up by the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. Set at least half a day aside to explore.
Take a Day Trip to Aegina
You’re never too far from a beautiful island when you’re in Greece. There are several dotted around the coast near to Athens, meaning a day trip out to one for the day is very easy and affordable. Aegina is a good choice – a gorgeous little island just an hour’s ferry ride from the port of Piraeus (15 minutes by taxi from central Athens). You’ll be deposited at a beautiful harbor lined with restaurants and shops. If you have time, take a walk over to the Temple of Apollo, located on a small hill overlooking the sea, and then a bit further to Kolona Beach for a rest.
Soak Up the Olympic Stadium
Arguably one of the most beautiful sports venues in the world, the Panathenaic Stadium was constructed around 2,000 years ago. It was fully refurbished in the 1800s, when towards the end of the century it hosted the 1896 Summer Olympics – aka the first Olympic Games held in modern history. Built entirely from white marble, the outdoor stadium is quite literally a dazzling sight to behold. Tourists are free to climb up and round the seating area, from the higher parts of which there are fantastic views of the city, and there is also an onsite museum.
Hike Up Mount Lycabettus
If you thought the view from the Acropolis was good, wait until you get to the top of Mount Lycabettus. The highest point in Athens unsurprisingly boasts commanding vistas, but is worth a visit in its own right. At the very top you’ll find a small church, which you can step inside of, and a bit lower down there’s a restaurant and bar. If you can’t quite manage the hike right to the top, you can opt for a funicular. For that perfect Instagram post, time your visit with sunset. It’s special – trust us.
Visit the Temple of Hephaestus
One of the best preserved temples of the ancient world, the Temple of Hephaestus is approximately 2,500 years old, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was a bit newer than that. With all its columns and roof still intact, this temple gives a glimpse at what Athenian buildings in their heyday. It can be found on the northwestern side of the Agora of Athens, which was once the main residential and commercial area of the city, and well worth a wander around while you’re there.