The Odeon of Herodes Atticus - credits: Kirk Fisher/Shutterstock.com
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus - credits: Kirk Fisher/Shutterstock.com

The enchanting view of sunny Athens, Greece from the top of the Acropolis. The sparkling waters of the city's extraordinary beaches. The luscious taste of traditional Greek and Athens flavors. The buoyant nightlife and the overpowering sense of freedom its diversity gives you. All that and many more are why an Athens travel guide will become the most significant tool during a trip to Greece even for the most experienced travelers.

There is no doubt that you won't help but fall in love with Athens, the largest city in Greece, from the moment you step foot in it. The Greek islands can wait; visit Athens and you won't regret straying from the path of other travelers!

If exploring Athens seems like a daunting task, it's because it is: there is much stuff to see, taste, do, and experience, even the locals get overwhelmed from time to time.

But, lucky for you, we have accumulated the ultimate Athens travel guide for you to experience the historic city to the fullest; as born and bred Athenians in love with their home city, it is our responsibility to make you see Athens from rose-colored glasses, even if you are first-time visitors. 

So if you want Athens travel tips, keep on reading!

When to travel to Athens

Athens airplane ivan bastien shutterstockAirplane flying above Athens - credits: ivan bastien/Shutterstock.com

In summer

Greece is mainly advertised as a summer destination. The reasons why make a strong case: its delightfully warm climate, sandy beaches, and hundreds of breathtaking Greek islands are more than enough to deem Greece the ultimate summer haven people dream of visiting.

However, although no one can deny the beauty of the Greek islands and the mainland under the bright sunlight, it is common ground that during the high-season period between late June and late August, Greece -and some of the Greek islands in particular- attract too much attention and get overwhelmingly crowded, which may affect your overall experience.

If you're an extroverted, social individual that draws energy from the crowds, don't think twice when booking your summer holidays. However, if you prefer a more offbeat scene, you're probably better off opting for late spring or early autumn for your holidays.

In spring and autumn

Anywhere between late April and the beginning of June or the whole month of September in Athens will allow you to experience the blissful Greek summer unobstructed by the hustle and bustle of the tourist waves flooding the country; the best of both worlds!

In winter

On the other hand, this Athens travel guide will reveal to you a well-kept secret: Greece can also serve as an exquisite winter destination. Apart from the numerous Greek islands, the country's mainland hides regions of incomparable beauty. What's more, Athens is a gorgeous all-year-round destination that will give you plenty of tour options and activity alternatives. 

Therefore, it is guaranteed that the diversity of the Greek land and Athens, in particular, offers a unique landscape that can wow even the most experienced of travelers. 

Where to stay in Athens

hotel reception Africa Studio shutterstockHotel reception - credits: Africa_Studio/Shutterstock.com

Spoiler alert: Athens is a big city; remember: it even hosted the largest temple of the ancient world. As a result, although it is easy to navigate, as, with any trip and destination, accommodation is a crucial issue determining whether you'll experience your host city most advantageously.

Of course, choosing to reside in central Athens is the most brilliant move you can make; you'll be within walking distance to the most important landmarks, such as the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum, and probably right next to a means of public transport from where you'll be able to explore the rest of the city.

If you're more of a practical person, here are our top Athens travel guide hotel recommendations for downtown Athens, Greece depending on the district you choose to be based on and the amount of luxury you want. Please note that all rooms have the electrical outlets of Greece, which may not be compatible with your devices. For that reason, it'd be wise to bring an adaptor with you to be on the safe side:

For 5 star hotels

In Syntagma

Electra Metropolis, New Hotel, Athens Capital Center

In Acropolis and Plaka

Electra Palace Athens, Athens Was Hotel, AVA Hotel & Suites, Divani Palace AcropolisCOCO-Mat Athens BC Hotel

For 4 star hotels

In Syntagma

Elia Ermou, Electra Hotel, Blend Hotel, Perianth Hotel, Athens Ikon

In Acropolis and Plaka

Athens Gate Hotel, Niche Hotel Athens, Herodion Hotel

For 3 star hotels

In Syntagma

Niki Athens Hotel, Attalos Hotel

In Acropolis and Plaka

Acropolis View Hotel, Acropolis Hill Hotel, Philippos Hotel, Acropolis Select 

Of course, you can always check our Greek hotels' page, where we showcase the best hotels all over Athens and the rest of the country. Even more than this Athens travel guide mentions. 

Where to go 

acropolis view lycabettus Milan Gonda shutterstockAcropolis view of Lycabettus - credits: Milan-Gonda shutterstock.com

Now that is a loaded question. There are such a plethora of places in Athens that deserve your time and attention, that no matter how many days you may have at your disposal, you're guaranteed to fill them to the brim, as in Athens, you can find some of the best deals regarding sight-seeing adventures.

Covering all possible fields, from history, nature, the most Instagram-friendly spots in Athens and the top walking routes in Athens, to the cultural, gastronomical, architectural, and entertainment treasures the Greek capital offers in abundance, everyone is bound to find what they're looking for and then some! 

In an effort to avoid overwhelming you with my boundless rambling, in this Athens travel guide, we've broken down the places in Athens, Greece you should unquestionably visit in the categories below. Organized much?

Top Athens Attractions

A bit about Athens' history in ancient Greece

Ancient herodes atticus theater Nataliya Nazarova shutterstockThe Ancient Theater of Herodes Atticus - credits: Nataliya Nazarova/Shutterstock.com

First and foremost, as you've probably already guessed, comes the rich heritage of Athens that goes back to ancient Greece, evident in every corner of the city. Athens’ history begins in the Neolithic and Mycenaean times.

The ancient city was built in the middle of the basin, around the hills of Pnyka hill, Areopagus (Mars Hill), and Philopappou Hill. You can read more about it than in our Athens travel guide here.

The Parthenon, the imposing temple dedicated to the goddess Athena that decorates the top of the Acropolis, became the symbol of Athenian democracy in ancient Greece and created a new model in Athens architecture.

Then, on the hill of Pnyx, Apostle Paul proclaimed in 53 AD the new religion, Christianity, in front of the members of the Supreme Court.

The first small Christian community was created under the guidance of Bishop Dionysius Areopagite, the later patron saint of our city. Finally, Athens became the capital of Greece in 1834, replacing Nafplio.

As you can see, through the years, Athens, Greece has undergone many drastic changes that have led it to be what it is right now, offering its visitors an abundance of major sites from different eras.

You can read our ultimate guide of the top things to do in Athens if you need a more thorough guide around the impressive historical landmarks of the city. However, for your convenience, here is a shortlist of the most significant archaeological sites in Athens. Our only rule of thumb for every one of them is to arrive early enough to avoid large crowds and unbearable heat.

Acropolis of Athens

Acropolis aerial view Aerial motion shutterstockAerial view of the Acropolis Hill - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

The Acropolis of Athens, often also referred to as the 'sacred rock,' is probably Athens's most widespread archeological monument of ancient Greece and one of the city's major sites.

No Athens travel guide would be complete without it. Thousands of travelers and locals climb its steep hill every year to get a glimpse of Greece's glorious past.

Since the Acropolis' establishment in the 5th century BC in honor of goddess Athena, Athens' patron and the daughter of Olympian Zeus, it has remained the most emblematic element of the capital.

Acropolis' Monuments

Perched at the top of the Acropolis of Athens, you will find the Parthenon and the Erechtheion, where the infamous battle between Poseidon and Athena allegedly took place.

At the same time, on your way to the top of the Acropolis, you will come across some of Athens' most noteworthy monuments and archaeological sites, such as the Propylaia, the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, and the Theater of Dionysus, the oldest theater in the city.

If you visit Athens' famous Acropolis hill, don't forget to combine it with a visit to the striking Acropolis Museum that is within walking distance for a comprehensive immersion into the ancient Greek world.

Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos

kerameikos Nejdet Duzen shutterstockKerameikos - credits: Nejdet_Duzen/Shutterstock.com

A breath of fresh air amidst the urban jungle of Athens, the Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos is ideal for long walks and, therefore, another of Athens' major sites you don't want to miss during your visit to Athens. It served as Athens' cemetery from the 12th century BC to the Roman Times.

If you visit the Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens, don't forget to also pay a visit to the Kerameikos Museum, where the findings from the excavations of the archeological site are on display, including stelae, sculptures, vases, and figurines found on the site.

Philopappos Hill

athens philopappou hill Anastasios71 shutterstockPhilopappos Hill - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com

Philopappos Hill is located southwest of Acropolis Hill, offering a mesmerizing, undisturbed view of the imposing Parthenon from one side and the whole of Athens from the other.

The hill took its current name after Philopappos, a Syrian benefactor of Athens, who was a close friend to many philosophers such as Plutarch, who described him in his writings as an 'extremely generous person.'

His death caused great sorrow to the citizens of Athens, who built a mausoleum as a dedication to honor his memory. The mausoleum survives to this day perched on the top of the hill.

Philopappos hill is admittedly one of the best places in Athens, Greece for long leisurely walks, especially during spring and early summer. If you take one of the hill's many pathways, you will enjoy a wide variety of flora and a rare serenity.

Who knows, maybe you'll even get to meet the famous Muses that, according to legend, used to have this hill of Athens as their home! 

Ancient Agora 

athens ancient agora stoa of attalos Samuel Zachara shutterstockAthens Ancient Agora, the Stoa of Attalos - credits: Samuel Zachara/Shutterstock.com

The Ancient Agora of Athens was the heart of the ancient city: a large, open area that constituted the seat of justice, the political, economic, administrative, social, religious, and cultural center of Athens. Please beware that the Ancient and Roman agoras are sometimes mistakenly thought to be the same thing, when, in fact, there are two separate archeological sites of great importance.

Ancient Agora's buildings

Excavations in Athens have brought to light many important buildings such as the council chamber (Bouleuterion), public administration buildings (Royal Stoa and South Stoa), judges' offices, the mint, and the city's official archives (Mitroon).

Additionally, the Ancient Agora used to host the national library and the conservatory that covered the cultural requirement of the citizens.

The famous 'Stoa of Attalos' is also located within the Ancient Agora. Built by the king of Pergamon, Attalos, as a gift to the Athenians for allowing him to study there, the Stoa of Attalos became the main commercial building of Athens' Ancient Agora; it was rebuilt between 1953 and 1956 and has been used as a museum ever since.

See? Now you can tell the Ancient and Roman Agoras apart!

The Temple of Hephaestus and Athena

Another fantastic monument of the Ancient Agora in Athens we couldn't exclude in this Athens travel guide is the Temple of Hephaestus and Athena, which is also the best-preserved temple of Athens. It follows the Doric style of architecture and is located on the northwest side of the market, at the top of Agoraios Kolonos hill.

It was built with the famous Pentelic marble by the architect of the Parthenon, Iktinos, during the second half of the 5th century BC and has many sculptures in its decoration.

On the east facade are the Heracles tribes, and on the north and south sides are the tribes of Theseus. According to historical Pausanias, the temple housed bronze statues of Hephaestus and Athena.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

temple of olympian zeus turtix shuttestock compressedThe Temple of Olympian Zeus - credits: turtix/Shuttestock.com

The Temple of Olympian Zeus was the largest temple of Greece during the Hellenistic and Roman years, with its construction having begun in 515 BC and ending in 132 AD by Hadrian. This Roman emperor became a citizen and benefactor.

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is made of Pentelic marble and follows a Corinthian architectural style. Its length exceeds 100 meters and its width 40. As for its famous columns, they used to be 104. In total, they were 17 meters high and 2.6 meters in diameter, each weighing 364 tons!

From 500 AD, the largest temple of antiquity gradually collapsed. The pillars of the Temple of Olympian Zeus began to fall. Until the beginning of the 19th century, only 16 were standing up, but one terrible storm in 1852 threw another one, which still stands today in the middle of the ancient ruins. 

The Arch of Hadrian

Athens street overlookin hadrian arch Viacheslav Lopatin shutterstockAthens' street overlooking Hadrian's Arch - credits: Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock.com

Right across the street, within walking distance from the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Arch of Hadrian was erected in ancient Athens in 132 AD by the Athenians in honor of Emperor Hadrian for his various contributions, which served as a limit between the old and the new city.

The monument, 18 meters high by 13 meters wide, featured two inscriptions on the arch, facing opposite directions, naming both Theseus and Hadrian as founders of Athens. Fist time visitors of the Temple of Olympian Zeus shouldn't overlook Hadrian's arch. They are so close to one another, it would really be a pity.

Please keep in mind that Hadrian's arch and Hadrian's Library are two separate historical monuments, with Hadrian's Library being located in Monastiraki square.

Panathenaic Stadium

panathenaic stadium Heracles Kritikos shutterstockPanathenaic Stadium - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com

The Panathenaic Stadium is where the modern revival of the Olympic Games -aka the modern Olympics- took place there in 1896. Moreover, it remains where the Olympic Flame is being delivered during all Olympic games worldwide.

It is located at the site of an ancient Greek Stadium and demonstrates the key features of one: a rectangular shape with an entrance from one narrow side and a place for spectators on the slopes of the other three sides.

Despite its glamor during ancient times, it was abandoned with the predominance of the Christian religion and the banning of idolatrous events and barbarous spectacles of Roman times.

The excessive expense for the stadium's refurbishment was mainly taken over by a national benefactor, George Averoff, for whom Athens built a marble statue that today can be found to the right of the Stadium's main entrance.

Archaeological investigations since 1836 have revealed traces of the ancient stage, and the reconstruction of the Pentelic marble stadium is distinguished by its fidelity to a large extent to the monument of Herodes in ancient Athens.

Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Cape souni coast Aerial motion shutterstockCape Sounio - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is not the only impressive temple in Athens. Approximately 2 hours outside Athen's heart, you can visit Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon, a true architectural masterpiece and one of the best places in Greece to enjoy a sunset from was built around 444-440 BC.

For three centuries, the sanctuary was considered sacred, and a grandiose four-yearly festival was organized there with officials sailing the sea around it in a sacred ship. 

The vertical columns of the ruined temple, the magical landscape, and the relaxing atmosphere you can bask in at the southernmost tip of Athens, Greece offer a romantic setting of unmatched beauty, making Sounio the perfect spot to visit in the company of your significant other.

Roman Agora

The Roman Agora is located close to the Ancient Agora, only a few hundred meters to the east. It is a rectangular courtyard full of shops and storerooms that served as the city's marketplace in ancient Athens.

Dedicated to goddess Athena, the Roman Agoran, in contrast with the Ancient Agora, consisted of a large, open-air courtyard surrounded by colonnades on all four sides.

There were a series of shops on the eastern side, and on the southern side was a fountain. The main entrance was on the west called 'Gate of Athena Archegetis,' and a second entrance was on the east.

Tower of the Winds

tower of the winds athens borisb17 depositphotosTower of the Winds - credits: borisb17/Depositphotos.com

Just a few meters away from the east enclosure of the Roman Agora, you can find the Tower of the Winds, a 12-meter high octagonal building, the name of which comes from the personifications of the eight winds that are sculptured on the friezes of the building's eight sides. 

Inside the construction, there is a brilliantly designed water clock. On the outside, there is a sundial and a weather vane.

Museums of Athens

It comes as no surprise that Athens has some of the most captivating museums in the world due to its abounding heritage and impressive ancient ruins that date all the way back to ancient Athens. The Acropolis alone has filled several museums around the world.

Realizing you probably don't have time to visit each and every single one of them, here we have a shortlist of our top picks that we would strongly suggest everyone visit before leaving Athens. This is not the place to save money:

The Acropolis Museum

Acropolis museum ground floor Paopano shutterstockThe Acropolis Museum - credits: Paopano/Shutterstock.com

Yes, the obvious choice tops this list. Positioned just 280 meters away from the Parthenon, with almost 4,000 exhibits masterfully composing the permanent exhibition, the Acropolis Museum is a must-see attraction you should make time for.

Not to toot our own horn, but it is no coincidence that Acropolis Museum was ranked 11th in TripAdvisor's 25 best museums globally and has been awarded many times for its architecture!

The brilliance of the modern Acropolis museum is clear both from the outside and from the inside, as its building portrays the architectural and mathematical concepts of the classical era in ancient Athens, consisting of four levels that accommodate the permanent and temporary exhibitions, a restaurant, a gift shop, a multimedia center, and open spaces where you can relax and enjoy the view of the glorious Acropolis.

The exhibits

The Acropolis museum exhibits include findings from the slopes of the Acropolis hill, the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike, along with votive offerings to Gods, worship objects, and everyday art. 

National Archaeological Museum

Believed to be one of the most excellent museums in the world alongside the Acropolis Museum, due to its ample collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity, the National Archaeological Museum lies in the alternative neighborhood of Exarcheia, hosted in an imposing neoclassical building painted in vibrant yellow and red colors. Apart from its aesthetic, the National Archaeological Museum impresses its visitors with its findings.

The exhibits

The National Archaeological Museum covers a broad spectrum of Greek, displaying pieces from the Neolithic era, Cycladic art, Mycenaean period, Egyptian art, post-Byzantine era, and jewels from the Hellenistic period history, leaving a lasting impression on the visitors of the National Archaeological Museum.

In National Archaeological Museum's premises, you can also find one of its top attractions: a 118-year-old library with 20,000 volumes, many of which are extremely rare works on art, science, and philosophy. Unwind from your educational experience in one of the National Archaeological Museum cafés, one located outside on the edge of the square and one situated in the heart of the museum, before paying a visit to the National Archaeological Museum gift shop for various memorabilia- what a treat!

The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens

The fascinating Museum of Cycladic Art is hosted in an exquisite neoclassical building and displays an impressive Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art collection.

Its stated mission is the study of Aegean civilization, research on prehistoric, classical, and modern Greek art, as well as its dissemination and promotion.

The exhibits

Its remarkable collections contain approximately 3.000 objects of Cycladic, Ancient Greek, and Cypriot art. More than 500 are presented online, together with a brief introduction of the significant periods of Aegean and Cypriot archeology, essential topics, and a list of available resources.

The Benaki Museum

Another museum you can't leave out of your itinerary during your trip to Athens is the famous Benaki Museum.

Founded in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, the museum aims, as its website suggests, to 'preserve and make accessible as widely as possible its diverse collections; to support research onto history, archaeology and the study of material culture, architecture, photography, visual and performing arts and literature.'

The exhibits

Hosted in the mansion of the Benaki family in the center of Athens, the museum exhibits Greek works of art from prehistorical to modern times while it entertains periodic exhibitions and sustains an avant-garde restoration and conservation workshop.

Over the years, the Benaki Museum has been awarded and enriched with several generous donors. 

As a result, it now includes the seaside 'Kouloura Mansion' in the southern district of Palaio Faliro that hosts Athens' Toy Museum, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art in the neighborhood of Kerameikos, the 'Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas Gallery' in downtown Athens, the 'Benaki Museum Pireos Street Annex' on -you guessed it- Pireos Street and the 'Penelope Delta House' in Kifissia, which houses the Historical Archive Collection.

Athens Public Transportation

athens metro loveforshutter shutterstock copyAthens Metro - credits: loveforshutter/Shutterstock.com

Ιn order to enjoy Athens, you first need to get to it. You don't need an Athens travel guide to tell you that. Thankfully, being the capital of Greece, Athens is pretty easy to reach regardless of where you come from and the means of private or public transportation you opt for. In any case, make sure to have travel insurance; better to be safe than sorry!

Unless you're driving to Greece, with your vehicle or a car rental, there are only two possible ways to access Athens: airplane or ferry.

In both cases, figuring your way around shouldn't be too hard since there are many signs, information stations, and willing locals to provide you with the instructions you need.

If you want to be prepared beforehand, you can follow our Athens international airport survival guide, our Piraeus port comprehensive guide, or our Rafina port survival guide that will thoroughly educate you on how to get to your desired destination most easily and more suitably for you. 

Athens International Airport

You can reach Athens' center from Athens International Airport by boarding the X95 bus, a 24-hour express bus that terminates right next to the central Syntagma Square -on Othonos street- which doubles as the point of departure.

Still, taking the railway - both the underground (Metro) and the suburban line- is the most common and convenient way to access the center of the city. The only difference between the two means of public transportation is their terminal destination, with the suburban railway terminating outside of Athens.

Therefore, if you opt for the suburban rail, get off the train at 'Doukissis Plakentias' station and hop on the Metro for the rest of the journey to Syntagma.

Of course, grabbing a cab from Athens International Airport to Athens' city center is the easiest yet most expensive way to reach your destination.

The ride will come up to around 38€ during the daytime (05:00 – 24:00) and 54€ during the late-night and early morning hours - keep in mind that the taxi fare is double from midnight to 05.00 am.

Piraeus Port

There are many ways of reaching central Athens and its top attractions from the port of Piraeus and back. However, the user-friendly Athens Metro system is arguably one of the easiest!

All you have to do is exit Piraeus Port, take the short walk to Metro line 1 -the green one-and before you know it, you'll be walking the streets of Athens' heart.

During the summer months, because of the traffic the Greek islands have, the express tourist bus X80 runs directly from the center of Athens to the cruise terminal at Piraeus port, so depending on preference, your location, and the season you'll be visiting, you can take advantage of that as well.

Please remember that you can buy your public transport tickets at the ticket booths and ticket machines found at every station. Alternatively, download the TFA mTickets App to purchase and save tickets right to your phone.

Public Transport

When it comes to navigating the city of Athens, you have several alternatives you can choose from, including buses, the Metro (Athens subway), the ISAP (railway), and the tram.

As a quick rule of thumb, the Metro is the fastest, most modern and most efficient one, without its competence affecting its price, as the tickets for all public transport costs the same.

Taxis 

However, if you want to waste no time figuring your way around Athens and your budget is not restricted, taking a taxi is often the way to go.

Taxi cars in Greece are yellow with a 'TAXI' sign on top; they can be found all around the city, and you can stop them by raising your hand.

When hiring a taxi, make sure the taxi meter is on, as taxi drivers are infamous for trying to overcharge their clients.

To be in the know, keep in mind that the taxi meter starts at €1.29, the minimum rate is €3.44, the rate per kilometer within the city limits is €0.74, and the rate per kilometer outside the city limits is €1.29.

To ride safely and comfortably, we highly suggest downloading the Beat app. It works exactly like Uber, with the only difference being that the rides are being delivered by professional taxi drivers who practice their profession outside the app as well. 

In any case, before reaching Athens we highly suggest you get travel insurance to travel safely and without a worry in your mind!

Eating in central Athens 

Suppose you're familiar with Greeking. me's blog, then you know that we are die-hard foodies that take Greek gastronomy and its mind-blowing creations very seriously.

Greek cuisine is an integral part of Greek culture and an element of the country all visitors should look to try for the sake of getting acquainted with an authentic, well-rounded aspect of Greece.

From delicious and nutritious breakfast to homemade local dishes, street food, and a cult-classic cup of traditional Greek coffee, here are the absolute must-try flavors you should taste and the best places in the city to find them. Be mindful though: no travel insurance will cover an overly full belly!

Breakfast & Brunch

brunch Tatiana Bralnina shutterstockBrunch - credits: Tatiana Bralnina/Shutterstock.com

For experienced travelers and devoted lovers of brunch, you'll be happy to know that there will be no need to ditch your favorite Sunday tradition during your time in Athens. On the contrary, you'll be presented with the favorable circumstance of trying Greek brunch dishes that put a local spin on beloved classics.

A shining example is the yummy 'Kayanas' recipe, a staple you'll stumble upon on most Athenian brunch menus. 'Kayanas' is essentially scrambled eggs cooked in olive oil with fresh tomatoes, red onions, and feta cheese but can be found in many variations.

Yes, it is precisely as good as it sounds, even better actually, and if you try it, I guarantee all other types of scrambled eggs will taste bland to you.

For delectable Kayanas and other Greek brunch delicacies, you can read about the top 10 places for Brunch in Athens; book a table, grab your sunglasses and enjoy amazing brunch food on a local yard with the sun shining on you, warming your heart and body.

The Greek coffee culture

What's more, you can accompany your scrumptious food with a cup of traditional Greek Coffee, the proof that the wise saying 'less is more' applies to most things in life.

If you're a fan of a half caramel, half vanilla latte, decaf espresso heated only to 100° with nonfat milk, and caramel drizzle on top, then maybe Greek coffee is not right up your street.

However, suppose you're a lover of coffee, the delicious drink responsible for the functionality of the most considerable portion of the earth's population.

In that case, I'm sure you'll appreciate the aromatic brew that has been essential in the locals' cupboards for hundreds of years, becoming part of the cultural heritage of Greece.

If you want to sip on an invigorating cup of proper Greek coffee, opt for one of the 10 extraordinary coffee shops in Athens that will introduce you to the coffee culture of Athens and change the way you view and consume coffee for the rest of your life.

Traditional taverns 

friends drinking ouzo Nadir Keklik shutterstockTraditional Greek tavern - credits: Nadir Keklik/Shutterstock.com

The general rule you should live by in Athens is simple: the more homemade local dishes you try, the merrier.

You can savor the  traditional cuisine of Greece across the wide selection of Athens' taverns that serve long-established recipes integrated into the local culture and celebrate the riches of the Greek land.

Featuring recipes passed down through the generations, the local dishes will delight your senses regardless of your dietary plan. 

Enastron

Located in the hip neighborhood of Psirri, Enastron rembles the exact image that comes to everyone's minds when hearing the phrase 'traditional Greek tavern.' From lush homey main courses to delectable appetizers, all in generous helpings, Enastron promises to meet and exceed your culinary expectations regardless of how high they are -you're in a Meditteranean country, after all! 

Koudounaki travel guide Athens

In the same neighborhood, but this time tucked away in a small alley that gets overlooked by people who aren't in the know, Koudounaki is a family-run tavern in Athens, where two sisters put a spin on customary dishes and serve heavenly homemade offerings you've never tasted before. 

To Steki Tou Ilia

Closer to the Acropolis, in the scenic and historic district of Thissio, To Steki Tou Ilia takes its guests on a journey back to a simpler and perhaps more beautiful time. While its menu is limited and resembles what a Greek mom would cook for her children, its simplicity is what wins people over. 

Ella Greek Cooking

For a modern spin on cult-classic Greek recipes and a great meal, head over to Ella Cooking at the beginning of Mitropoleos Street, a few meters away from Syntagma Square in Athens. Merging traditional flavors and fresh, local products with contemporary techniques and up-to-date combinations, Ella holds a special place in the locals' hearts while offering unique homemade dishes one wouldn't experience anywhere else. 

Dia Tafta

Last but not least, Dia Tafta is another traditional tavern in Athens that combines toothsome offerings with a great atmosphere. Located in the broader region of Monastiraki bordering with Psirri, the name of the tavern translates to 'the conclusion/ the gist of things.' For the owners of this local tavern, the gist of life is 'good food, good drinks, and good company' and we couldn't agree more! 

Fine Dining

Sommelier tasting wine IgorTishenko depositphotosSommelier tasting wine - credits: IgorTishenko/Depositphotos.com

Although cozy traditional taverns are the trademark of Greece, Athens doesn't lack prestigious eateries that move Greek cuisine forward in leaps and bounds.

As a matter of fact, it is rather difficult for us to pick our favorites given the extent of Athens' selection in fine dining establishments, but as always, we'll do our best.

Before we go ahead, however, it is essential to note that fine-dining options are bound to be a lot less affordable than taverns. However, the steep prices match the quality and the experience these establishments offer.

So, although it might not be an everyday occurrence depending on your budget, it is worth celebrating a special occasion or indulging one time as a gift to yourself and your loved ones.

Vezene

Speaking of indulgence, Vezene, a Greek-inspired bistro located in the heart of Athens, has managed to modernize and elevate local flavors to adapt to modern-day fine dining using high-quality, fresh local ingredients.

Vezene serves regional dishes with a contemporary spin in their taste, decorated following a trendy aesthetic that matches the restaurant's profile. The chef, butcher, and owner of the restaurant, Ari Vezené, is passionate about running his restaurant sustainably and ethically and has adopted a whole animal butchery practice. 

Vassilenas

Another restaurant that celebrates Greek cuisine by adding a touch of sophistication to it is Vassilenas. Having opened its doors for the first time in 1920 in Piraeus as a small and simple tavern, there is no doubt that the chef has it figured out to a tee when it comes to food.

Now located in the middle of Athens, Vassilenas maintains its humble profile even though it has become one of its most acclaimed destinations for fine dining. 

Hytra

Hytra is another delectable addition in Athens' fine-dining industry, having developed its gastronomic integrity based on the rich legacy of Greek gastronomy and enhancing it with a contemporary spin that involves modern upscale techniques and presentation.

With two separate menus, the 'Hytra' and the 'Hytra Apla,' the restaurant addresses two different price points with equal quality and taste. 

Spondi

Offering upscale gourmet dishes to those who are looking to indulge in a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience, Spondi, located in the hip neighborhood of Pangrati, provides a whole other world of gourmet flavors- one you're allowed to enter only if you're willing to pay an extravagant price that however matches the extravagant offerings.

Having received multiple awards and worldwide recognition, as it is a 2-Michelin-Star restaurant and a proud member of Grande Table du Monde, there is no doubt that Spondi will be a treat for all of your senses. 

Street Food

souvlaki Dimitris Koskinas shutterstockSouvlaki - credits: Dimitris Koskinas/Shutterstock.com

As a cheat meal or a hangover cure after a wild night out, we like to think that street food feeds the body and the soul in Greece. This has been presented in detail on our ultimate guide to Athens street food.

In our experience, very few people deny the appeal of street food, especially Greek street food. Not to mention it is an excellent and tasty way to save money during your trip to Greece.

In the case of the beloved souvlaki, however, even the most difficult of eaters and the most devoted fans of healthy eating have come around to celebrate the king of Greek street food.

The reason is simple: souvlaki is the "cleanest" fast food one can have, and you can enjoy it without guilt, while it is one of the best deals for food regarding value for money.

It consists of small pieces of meat -or vegetables if there is a vegetarian option available- enclosed within pita bread, tomatoes, onion, french fries, and tzatziki, which can sometimes be swapped for some type of sauce. The meat is usually pork or chicken, while beef and lamb may also be used.

Souvlaki is a fundamental component of Athens's cuisine; it is delicious, nutritious, and cheap, so why wouldn't it be? Therefore, it is no surprise that the city is awash with souvlaki shops that offer their take on the beloved street food that is a part of locals' and travelers' everyday lives.

Get local insight into the best places to eat souvlaki in Athens to prepare yourself for the explosion of taste you will experience during your stay in the Greek capital. 

Bakeries

cheese pie Viktory Panchenko shutterstockGreek cheese pie - credits: Viktory Panchenko/Shutterstock.com

For the locals, indulgent days include a breakfast consisting of a traditional pastry -usually made with 'phyllo' dough- that can be purchased from the neighborhood's bakery.

Ariston

Ariston, a family-run bakery that was established in 1910 famous for its 'shortcrust pastry cheese pies, Harry's Kitchen, a tiny shop that is a recent addition to the Athens' culinary scene and offers unique homemade pie combination meant to please even the pickiest of eater, and The Pie Shop, the small shop that wows its guests with the quality of its ingredients and its creativity, are some of the best bakeries you can find in downtown Athens that promise to change the way you look at breakfast forever!

Whether it is 'tyropita' -cheese pie- 'bougatsa' -custard pie- or any other filling, such as chocolate, sausage, or even minced meat, I can't imagine trying any of Athens bakeries' offerings or local delicacies and regretting your choice!

Food Markets

Athens fish market Baloncici depositphotosAthens fish market - credits: Baloncici/Depositphotos.com

Given that Greece is known worldwide for the quality of its local produce, it is only expected that one can find the fresh and delicious products the Greek land has been generously providing its locals with for thousands of years in its capital city.

That's where Athens' Central Market and the farmer’s market tradition in Greece, especially Athens, come out to play.

Athens' Central Market -or Varvakios as the locals call it- is located right in the city's heart, right by the neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Psirri, serving as the beating heart of Athenian gastronomy since its establishment in 1884.

A medley of colors, aromas, and flavors, the impressive wide-ranging market has everything you're searching for and probably much more.

From high-quality meat to fresh fish, locally-grown vegetables, and a limitless supply of spices, most of which you've never heard before, the central market of Athens can do no wrong.

Similarly to Athens' Central Market but on a much smaller scale, the locals source the raw materials they need for their everyday cooking in their neighborhoods' farmer's markets -or 'laiki agora' in Greek- a dearly beloved institution that takes place weekly in all Athenian neighborhoods and has been established since the ancient times.

You can find the days and Athenian neighborhoods the farmers' market takes place weekly here. If you're lucky, you might even come across, among the many stalls, one selling meat skewers; don't even think twice, buy a couple, and thank us later; it will be a great meal no matter when and where you choose to eat it. 

Don't fail to explore the food markets of Athens during your stay in the city; make sure to have small euro notes and change with you and your eyes peeled for the most outstanding local products in town; your whole outlook on gastronomy is bound to change after getting up close and personal with the raw materials of Greece.

Athens' Nightlife 

Vibrant, lively, exuberant, buoyant; whichever world you want to use to describe it, one thing is for sure; Athens' nightlife is an integral part of the locals' life and probably nothing you've ever experienced before; what can we say? Greeks like to have a good time!

Thankfully, Greeks also like to have options, which translates to Athens' nightlife scene, making it a mixed bag of entertainment. As a result, there are four main categories in the nightlife destinations depending on your taste and age.

Bars

greek cocktails Lisa Holmen Photography shutterstockGreek cocktails - credits: Lisa Holmen Photography/Shutterstock.com

The beloved nightlife staple most cities have an abundance of, the bars of Athens are different from the ones around the world. They are in fact one of Athens' top attractions. You can relax and mingle with the locals while tasting incredible alcoholic concoctions that put a modern Greek spin on classic cocktails.

The city center is swamped by bars, so finding one that fits your needs won't be hard; from jazz to rock and everything in between, the diverse side of Athens shows its face once again, providing both the locals and the travelers with endless options to choose from.

As bar enthusiasts ourselves, we have put together not one, not two, but three blog posts regarding the bars of Athens. See our guide to the best bars in Athens.

Clubs

dance club bbernard shutterstockDance club - credits: bbernard/Shutterstock.com

I don't know if you've heard this before, but Greeks like to dance -a lot. Admittedly, the club is one of the most popular destinations for people who want to unwind and one of the best places to dance in Athens, so it is no surprise that most central Athenian neighborhoods have at least one club that people frequent until the early morning hours.

Although there are a few exceptions, as a rule of thumb, the clubs of central Athens open their doors at around midnight with the tunes of R-n-B music blasting from the speakers and close at around 7 pm with Greek pop music helplessly trying to sober the clients up.

It is a vibrant, colorful, and intense scene that is not designed for the faint-hearted and is the total antithesis of what a home buddy would enjoy. If, however, socializing is your hobby and dancing feels like second nature, the club scene of Athens will electrify you!

Rebetadika

bouzouki Corinna Huter shutterstockGreek musician playing the 'bouzouki' - credits: Corinna Huter/Shutterstock.com

One of our favorite nightlife destinations and one we would highly suggest to any visitor looking for genuine local entertainment are 'rebetadika.' 'Rebetadika' are traditional local taverns that, along with delectable dishes of folk cuisine, offer live music of the famous Greek genre of 'rebetiko', -hence the name.

The genre of rebetika can be described as the popular urban songs of the Greek public, especially those coming from an economically challenged background, from the late 19th century to the 1950s.

It's important to note that In 2017, rebetiko was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. Therefore its cultural importance to modern Greek heritage has been officially verified. Furthermore, being quintessentially Greek to their core, 'rebetadika' is the perfect opportunity to combine traditional Greek flavors with traditional Greek sounds in an affable environment, surrounded by locals who will delight in sharing their life stories with valuable tips for your stay with you.

Suppose you're looking for an authentic Greek evening out and are determined to keep your musical mind open. In that case, there is a wide variety of 'rebetadika' in downtown Athens, especially in the fashionable district of Psirri. Stoa Athanaton has been the obvious choice for the locals since its establishment around 30 years ago and continues to be considered one of the best 'rebetadika' in town. 

From 1963 until now, 'Palia Markiza' has been a constant value in Athens's rebetiko and folk scene. The venue resembles a typical old-time Greek setting. At the same time, the live band performs every Friday, Saturday night, and Sunday noon, lifting people's spirits with favorite folk and rebetika songs and a menu full of traditional goodies. Just remember that the tunes of rebetiko will probably sound foreign to you, to say the least. But, don't be put off by that; bask in the sheer Greekness of the night, and you'll have a jolly good time!

Live music stages 

Greek concert ed Ververidis Vasilis shutterstockGreek concert - credits: Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock.com

Always up for a good party, Greeks love to spend their nights listening to live music at music stages around the city, where the most famous Greek singers and musicians show their artistry in front of an excited crowd.

You can find anything from the famous 'bouzoukia,' meaning music stages that feature Greek pop and modern folk music and typically have a raised stage where the guests dance along with the singers, to rock and alternative rock gigs frequented by die-hard fans. Exploring the live music scene of Athens and enjoying one of the most paramount elements of local culture is key to understanding the Greek way of life.

If we've piqued your interest, which we hope we did because it is worth it, no ifs, ands or buts about it- you can read about the best places to listen to live music in Athens and plan your nights in central Athens accordingly. If nothing from the aforementioned floats your boat, have a read of the five things to do in Athens at night, and maybe you'll find something that suits you better; you do you! 

Athens' Culture

Athens' abundance of cultural stimuli is genuinely remarkable and can satisfy the tastes of even the most demanding of travelers from all around the world.

From prestigious art galleries to cultural centers, the world of sophistication that unfolds before the visitor's eyes leaves a lasting impression that people can't shake off. And why would anyone want to shake off any Athenian experience? Believe us when we say that one cannot help but fall in love with Athens, no matter what. 

Galleries

art gallery By Rawpixel.com shutterstockWoman enjoying an art gallery - credits: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Prestigious, fascinating, and original galleries are what Athens excels in. From contemporary paintings to unique jewelry and originally-crafted sculptures, art is plentiful in the capital city. To make things a whole lot easier for you, you can read an all-embracing list of the best Art Galleries in Athens that will help you prioritize your stops during your Athens visit.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

stavros niarchos KOSTAS TSEK shutterstockStavros Niarchos Cultural Center - credits: KOSTAS TSEK/Shutterstock.com

Suppose you want to take a long walk amidst luscious greenery while also getting the opportunity to get a hefty dose of Greek culture. In that case, the guide to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is perfect for you.

One of the locals' favorite destinations in Athens, the SNFCC hosts the National Library and the Greek National Opera, as well as an ever-green rooftop park and ground-level sweeping esplanade, where you can enjoy a long stroll, sip on your favorite beverage, read a book, watch a play and have a ball!

Open-air cinemas

open air cinema athens gezginadvisor shutterstockOpen-air cinema in Athens - credits: gezginadvisor/Shutterstock.com

Last but not least, if you're a fan of cinema and Greek culture, combine the two with a visit to one of the open-air cinemas in Athens; a unique summer experience that will ruin any other cinema experience you've ever had or you'll have in the future. Watching your favorite movie under Athens' summer night sky with a Greek delicacy in hand is pretty hard to beat, don't you think? 

Athens Architecture

academy of athens Anastasios71 shutterstockThe Academy of Athens - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com

Being as old as it is, Athens' architecture is intriguing, to say the least, and covers a broad spectrum of styles that have dominated the city over different periods.

From antiquity until today, Athens has been decorated with buildings that reflect the city's aesthetic through the ages; it is worth mentioning that today, there are more than 10,500 buildings registered dating from 1830 to World War II, still standing, representing various typologies and aesthetics schools. It is what we would call the unofficial architectural heritage of Athens, and it is so diverse that there is no wonder why it captures the interest of most of its visitors.

From the awe-inspiring Athenian Trilogy to the Benizelos Mansion, the Neoclassical Architecture in Athens is probably the most prominent style you will come across, and admittedly the prettiest one.

Neoclassical is the architectural and artistic movement that bloomed around the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and elsewhere to revive the classical forms of Greek antiquity and the subsequent Roman Empire.

In Greece, this type of architecture was prevalent in the 19th and early 20th century, with the most famous examples still standing today, such as the numerous neoclassic mansions in Plaka, our Parliament building, which was previously the Royal Palace, the old Parliament House, which is now the National Historical Museum, and the Zappeion Mansion in Athens. 

Read about the top 15 landmark buildings in Athens and admire Athens' trademark buildings; good looks are what we're known for after all!

Athens' Squares

En par with the charming neighborhoods of Athens, many Athens squares seem to stand out to the public, becoming popular meeting points and trendy hangout spots for Athens' residents. Despite being up-to-the-minute, Athens' squares are drenched in history, making it necessary for us to linger to two of the most central and characteristic ones located around the city's heart.

Syntagma Square

Syntagma square trabantos shutterstockSyntagma Square - credits: trabantos/Shutterstock.com

If you've ever been to central Athens, it is impossible to have missed the emblematic Syntagma Square, located right at its heart, housing the grandiose building of the Greek Parliament. While it is the second-largest square in Greece, following the Spianada Sq. on Corfu island, its compelling history makes it unique.

After the War of Independence and the establishment of the new Greek State, the newly appointed King of Greece Otto declared Athens as the new capital of Greece. King Otto's rule, however, was deemed unfair by the Greeks. Eventually, the people of Athens questioned his authority, and on September 3rd of 1843, they occupied the square, demanding the formation of an official constitution for the country.

The civilians succeeded, and Otto gave in. Hence the name of the Athens square became Syntagma Square, which in English translates to 'Constitution Square.'

The monuments of Syntagma Square

At the center of the square lies a marble fountain in front of the monumental staircase leading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument, one of the square's top attractions. This cenotaph is being guarded constantly by the elite force of the Greek army, the Evzones.

The most important buildings surrounding Syntagma Square in Athens are Grande Bretagne - the first international hotel of the city - and the former Ministry of Transport, famous for being where the liberation of Greece from the Nazi forces in 1944 was announced. 

Monastiraki Square

Aerial view of monastiraki and the acropolis Anastasios71 sutterstockAerial view of Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com

Of course, no guide of Athens can leave out the colorful and historic Monastiraki Square that has been pulsing with life for hundreds of years. Funnily enough, Monastiraki translates to 'little monastery,' with the name being a token left behind from the times when the square was part of a -you guessed it- monastery.

Located at the end of Ermou str., the most commercial street of Athens, and the beginning of Pandrosou, Adrianou, and Ifestou str., apart from the lively Monastiraki Square Flea Market, which offers the perfect opportunity for souvenir-shopping, Monastiraki Square is also known for its significant monuments and archaeological sites.

With Hadrian's Library, Pantanassa Church, and Tsisdarakis Mosque, which now hosts the Folk Art Museum, all located only a few meters from each other, it is apparent that one can witness the entire history of Athens, Greece when standing at its center.

Don't skip the chance to taste Athens' best kebab souvlaki in Thanasis on Mitropoleos str., located near Hadrian's library, or sip on a cup of traditional Greek coffee on the charming Avissinias Square, the small square in the middle of the flea market; Monastiraki Square is a historical fairy tale waiting to be told! 

If you think what we've described is your cup of tea, a detailed guide to Athens’ squares will help you get around those central spots of Athens that are begging to be explored!

Shopping in the city center of Athens 

Ermou street Athens Nataliia Sokolovska ShutterstockErmou street, central Athens - credits: Nataliia Sokolovska/Shutterstock.com

No one is going to blame you, it's a materialistic world out there, and everyone knows it. Therefore, apart from the natural beauty that is lavishly available in central Athens and the historical and cultural attractions, its rich retail market is bound to catch your attention, and for a good reason: shopping in Athens, Greece is a unique experience, especially if you know where to look for the most original local boutiques.

Since we take shopping rather seriously, not as seriously as food but it comes a close second, we have composed the ultimate guide to shopping in Athens

Alternatively, suppose you're a conscious buyer, and ethical shopping is your thing, or you simply enjoy scavenging for treasures. In that case, you can explore the flea markets and thrift shops in Athens, where a whole world of previously loved pieces are waiting for their new owners.

Top Beaches Near Athens

Athens riviera sailing Sven Hansche shutterstockAthens Riviera - credits: Sven_Hansche/Shutterstock.com

It's safe to say that its many golden beaches are high up in the ranking on Athens' pros list. Although the Greek islands are the ones that get the most praise for their idyllic beaches and crystal-clear waters, and visitors often forget that Athens, Greece is indeed a beautiful seaside city, in only a few kilometers away from the city center, one can enjoy some quality beach time and indulge in the swimming and sunbathing they've dreamed of. 

Here you can find the best beaches near Athens and how to get there, so you can have a guideline for the locals' preferences when it comes to swimming. Once you have your exotic cocktail in hand a beautiful tan on your body, you'll never doubt the versatility of Athens ever again! 

Travel to Athens with kids

kid at the acropolis shipfactory shutterstockKid at the Acropolis - credits: shipfactory/Shutterstock.com

Visiting Athens may either be the ultimate romantic getaway or it could just as well be the perfect family trip to share with your loved ones. With plenty of opportunities for your children to engage in local activities that will keep them entertained and happy throughout the trip, visiting Athens with kids shouldn't intimidate you and this Athens travel guide will let you know why.

Athens' vast history alone offers the most extraordinary stimuli to your kids' imagination, occupying them for hours on end. Combine that with the rich and intricate tales of Greek Mythology you'll have the opportunity to immerse yourself into, and you'll have a winning combination no child will be able to resist.

Greek Mythology is one of the integral elements you'll also come across during your visit to the archaeological sites of Athens, such as the Acropolis, saving the day when your kids get bored and fussy.

Visiting the Acropolis with kids

Visiting the Acropolis with kids in particular, despite the hike up the hill and the flood of information you'll have to overcome, can prove to be one of the most joyful family moments on your holidays in Athens.

You can also combine your visit to the emblematic archeological site of the Acropolis with a vibrant narration of Percy Jackson's accomplishments through a fun guided tour, as the Parthenon in Athens is one of the 7 places in Greece to live a Percy Jackson adventure!

Now you can retrace the steps of the beloved fictional character that kids from all around the world - all the way to the middle east- worship and keep your little ones occupied and happy!

In any case, when visiting the Acropolis of Athens, make sure to have a couple of things in mind: due to the scorching weather, especially during the summer months, don't forget to bring your hats, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen, while also dressing comfortably and lightly, as the average temperature in Athens is rather high.

What's more, albeit you should pack light, we highly suggest you carry water and snacks with you, as hungry and thirsty kids are not the greatest of sports.

Please bring a baby sling if you're traveling with a toddler or a baby, as the Acropolis of Athens isn't one of the most famous examples of stroller-friendly premises. 

Last but not least, don't forget your camera! You'll want to capture those family moments that you will treasure when your kids are too cool to join the family exploits even if they include riddles from Olympian Zeus himself!

The best Athens Neighborhoods

Aeropagus hill Jana Janina shutterstockAeropagus hill - credits: Jana Janina/Shutterstock.com

Walking around the city and exploring its different neighborhoods is the most efficient way of getting to know the region, the most incredible way to marvel at Athens's top attractions, and get an insight into the locals' everyday life. A way of life a little different from the rest of the western world.

Of course, we can't omit to mention our favorite neighborhoods in the city from this all-inclusive guide, so here you go - you can click on each location's link to visit our detailed guide.

Hint: there is one neighborhood you won't be able to tell apart from the ones you see in the Greek islands. It is one of the most famous examples of Cycladic beauty, located in the middle of Athens!

Plaka Area
Anafiotika
Psirri
Koukaki
Petralona 
Kolonaki

Parks and Hills of Athens

Although the presence of concrete Athens is unmistakable, as expected from a capital city, right in the heart of Athens lie some nature retreats, where you can escape the hustle and bustle and recharge your batteries.

Whether you want to enjoy a luscious picnic, get introduced to Athens' flora and fauna, or you just want to take a leisurely walk in search of some peace of mind, Athens will not disappoint you!

Find out about the 3 parks in Athens you should visit and escape the concrete jungle where dreams are made of in minutes! Of course, if you thought we'd leave that here and not tell you about the places where we like to go when we need a break from the hectic city life of Athens, you thought wrong and we are very offended!

Here are our top picks regarding the luscious greenery of Athens:

The National Garden

national gardens Anastasios71 shutterstockAthens National Gardens - credits: Anastasios71/Shutterstock.com

Visiting the lush National Garden in Athens, one of the most famous examples of an oasis in the heart of a cement city, with its tree-lined alleys, six ponds, and pets and birds, grants a great escape from the hectic city pace and the perfect opportunity for relaxation and recreation. The Athens National Garden, known for many years as the 'Royal Garden,' open every day from sunrise to sunset, was and remains one of the favorite walks of the Athenians.

However, many visitors of Athens are unaware of the garden's value in botany and archeology. Regardless, the garden has been designated by the International Commission on Historic Gardens and Landscapes as a rare example of 19th-century landscape architecture and Europe's cultural monument.

The history of this garden in Athens goes back to ancient Greece when it was a private garden - a gift of Dimitrios Falireas to his teacher philosopher and herbalist Theophrastus. The National Garden, stretching across 154,000m², began to take its present form during the reign of Otto, being the work of Queen Amalia, known for her love for the land and her effort to create beautiful green spaces in Athens.

From 1839, plants began to be imported mainly from abroad to Athens, because queen Amalia wanted the garden to have an "exotic" vibe.

The National Garden was initially only open to the public only a few days a year when the royal couple was not in Greece. After Otto's eviction, George I took care of the Garden and established a small zoo in Athens within its premises. In 1927, its wooden fence was replaced by the iron railings and marble pillars that we see today. The 'Royal Garden' was renamed 'National Garden' in 1974.

The garden has seven entrances around Athens, with the main one on Amalias Avenue. Walking through the intricate alleyways, which are 7 km long and 3-5 meters wide, the visitor gets lost in the vegetation that consists of 500 species of plants -some so rare you won't come across anywhere else in the western world or even the middle east.

In addition to the famous ponds, the National Garden in Athens has pergolas with benches, a playground, a small collection of birds (ducks, geese, ducks, hens, hens goats), as well as many decorative elements such as statues of leading Greeks figures that famous Greek artists have crafted.

Within the National Garden, one can also come across Athens Children's Library, founded in 1984, Athens Botanical Museum, and a greenhouse. So plan a leisurely walk across the luscious Athenian gardens, and you won't regret it; whether it is relaxation, reading, physical exercise, or even sunbathing you're after, the National Garden in Athens will become your favorite spot in the city!

Lycabettus Hill; A Breathtaking View From the Highest Point of Athens

lycabettus hil overview at dusk milangonda depositphotosLycabettus Hill overview at dusk - credits: milangonda/Depositphotos.com

A treat to the romantics among us, Lycabettus Hill is one of the most dreamy places in Athens that no one -yes, even you cynics out there- should miss. With a height of 277 meters (745 ft), Lycabettus is the tallest hill in Athens, offering a panoramic view of roughly the entire capital city including its most prestigious archaeological sites, such as the Acropolis, which stretches for miles in a wide mesa surrounded by high mountains and the sea.

In antiquity, even though Lycabettus Hill was larger and higher, its lack of natural springs sealed its fate as inferior to the neighboring hill of the Acropolis, resulting in remaining unoccupied. However, Lycabettus' mystifying entice created a world of myths around its creation. According to the most popular one, the hill of Lycabettus was formed after the goddess Athena dropped a rock she was carrying.

During medieval times, a small church was built on the top of the hill on the grounds of an ancient shrine, which the visitors of the hill can still admire. Today, perched on the top of the hill, you can also find a luxurious bar/restaurant where you can enjoy local delicacies and a striking view of Athens, that extends all the way to Piraeus port, which will leave you speechless.

Accessing the Lycabettus Hill

Accessing the Lycabettus Hill is relatively easy: you can either drive up to a point and continue on foot, or you can opt for a cable car that is available at the end of Plutarch Street, which is probably the best favorite way, as the ascend is both fun and quick. Lycabettus Hill will tick all of your boxes if you are a lover of nature and spine-tingling views. We promise that you will feel just like Olympian Zeus overlooking the Greek capital! 

Beyond Athens

Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon

Sounio Aerial motion shutterstockSounio - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

Within a 1,5 hours drive along the delightful coastline of Athens' Riviera lies another impressive archaeological site of Athens that, apart from its historical interest that goes back to ancient Greece, also possesses an unrivaled beauty resulting from the triumphant combination of the ancient columns against the deep-blue waters of the Aegean Sea.

The Doric Temple of Poseidon stands perched on top of a cliff overlooking the crystal-clear waters and giving Sounio's visitors a sight to behold. Giving off an island life ambiance despite being 70 km from Athens' city center, everyone should take their sunglasses, camera, and high spirits, and visit the southernmost point of Athens that is easily accessible while being utterly breathtaking.

Sounio's many inviting beaches are perfect for a quick swim, apart from enjoying the archaeological ruins.

Plan a day trip to Sounio to catch its magnificent, and much-talked-about sunset in the afternoon. Moreover, enjoy an atmospheric dinner in one of its seaside taverns; a wonderful time is guaranteed whatever you choose to do. 

Islands Near Athens, Greece

Aegina

aegina leoks shutterstockAegina Island - credits: leoks/Shutterstock.com

A little more than an hour away from Athens -or 40 minutes if you opt for the speed boat- you will find the island of Aegina, one of the best examples of the Saronic islands, which compensates for its small size with its vast history that dates back to ancient Greece and good looks. The city of Aegina is dominated by buildings that follow 19th-century architecture, giving the island a vintage vibe everyone loves.

Embrace the island's heritage by paying a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Kolonna or taking a trip to the historic Temple of Aphaea, a temple that holds a strong resemblance to the Acropolis of Athens. Enjoy the island's stunning beaches by swimming in Agia Marina, the blue flag awarded beach on the island. Take a scenic stroll throughout the length of the picturesque port and gobble down fresh fish and seafood on the welcoming seaside tavernas. We promise it will be a day you'll never forget!

Agistri

Agistri Aerial motion shutterstockAgistri - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com

Ten minutes away from the island of Aegina and around 1,5 hours away from the port of Piraeus, Agistri is another gem of the Saronic Gulf, wonderfully picturesque and significantly smaller than its neighboring islands. Its lush landscape dominated by dense pine forests and crystal clear waters has placed the small island very near and dear to the Athenians' hearts, who visit the island at every opportunity.

During antiquity, the island was known as Cecryphaleia, with many of its ancient settlements now lying underwater, mainly in the western part of the island.

Among the top attractions of the island is the Folk Art Museum at Megalochori, a small museum that will transport you back in time and introduce you to the past everyday life of Agistri islanders. Don't hesitate to plan a quick trip to Agistri to experience for yourself the laid-back life of a Greek island without having to spend too many hours on a boat!  

Spetses

Spetses Konstantin Sokolov1973 shuttestockSpetses - credits: Konstantin_Sokolov1973/Shuttestock.com

Last but not least, the islands of Spetses is undoubtedly the most picturesque of the Saronic islands, and probably of most Greek islands, looking like it has come straight out of a fairytale. Spetses combines revolution and tradition sprinkled with superb cuisine and spirited nightlife. It is classy, sassy, and makes you fall in love with it right from the get-go.

One of its additional perks? Cars are not allowed on the island, meaning that it is always quiet and peaceful, following a slowed-down pace most of us beg for. No one can deny that it offers one of the best deals for summer vacation! 

If you explore the Greek islands that are one hour away from Athens or even a bit longer, and you'll soon realize that their proximity to the city doesn't take away from their beauty; on the contrary, it adds to it the element of convenience and ease, precisely what people look for during their holidays!

Day Trips From Athens, Greece

Meteora clifs Killinson depositphotosMeteora cliffs - credits: Killinson/Depositphotos.com

If you want to broaden your horizons without getting too far away from Athens and its striking Acropolis, there are several options for a day trip from Athens, filled with guided tours, you should consider.

From Athens to Delphi

The site of Delphi was the most famous and notable oracle in ancient Greece. Praised worldwide, visitors from across the globe used to come seeking the prophecies of God Apollo. Traditionally, the only person allowed to enter the sacred chamber of Apollo's temple was his high priestess, Pythia.

Sitting on a golden tripod covered with the skin of Python, Pythia inhaled the fumes coming out from the chasm and chewed laurel leaves while giving out prophecies that were believed to come straight from the god's mouth.

Take the approximately 2-hour drive from Athens to marvel at the archaeological site of Delphi and immerse yourself in ancient Greek spiritualism. Since your trip to this transcendental destination will be entertaining and educational, check out the things you’ll learn on a day trip to Delphi. The captivating stories you will hear and the striking landscapes you'll get to enjoy will make your day trip an utter success!

From Athens to Nafplio

At the shores of the Argolic Gulf, located in the striking peninsula of the Peloponnese and only a couple of hours away from Athens, Greece you can find one of the most whimsical and romantic cities of Athens, Nafplio. The city of Nafplio, much like every corner of Greece, has a far-reaching past that is evident in its architecture.

Fun fact: Nafplio was the first capital of the modern Greek State, before Athens, and the place where the murder of Ioannis Kapodistrias, a Greek statesman who served as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire and was one of the most distinguished politicians and diplomats of Europe, took place Its charm, however, doesn't derive only from its heritage.

The city of Nafplio harmoniously combines its history with a flawless urban aesthetic, incredible beaches, and an intense cultural agenda that keeps its visitors on their toes. Here's a short traveler’s guide to Nafplio to make your day trip a smooth sail!

From Athens to Ancient Corinth

anc corinth ruins Tatiana Popova shutterstockAncient Corinth - credits: Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock.com

With an impressive history that dates back to almost 8000 years, it stands to reason that the region of Corinth has played an integral part in ancient Greece and the development of not only modern Greece but the whole western world as well. From hosting one of the most significant sports festivals during antiquity to becoming a founding city of Christianity, Corinth has changed the world as we know it.

Located 80 km. southwest of Athens, Corinth is the only county bordering the region of Attica and is therefore perfect for a short excursion or a day trip from Athens.

Due to the magnificent waters of its sea and its small, scenic villages, such as Vrachati, Kiato, Derveni, among others, it also offers an ideal setting for your summer vacations and a great alternative to the Greek island.

But, of course, when talking about Corinth, one cannot leave out the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth, where the famous Temple of Apollo - not the largest temple, but certainly one of the most popular ones-, the mythical Fountain of Glaucus, the street of Lechaio, the Asklepieion, the ruins of the theater, and the conservatory, as well as the remains of a series of fountains adorning the city, are waiting to be explored.

Just 3km from Ancient Corinth, Acrocorinth, the oldest castle in the Peloponnese, is built 575 meters above the ground, providing visitors with a mind-blowing view of the prefecture.

Don't wait any longer: plan your trip to Corinth and stop to snap Instagram-worthy pictures of the impressive Corinth Canal on your way to the city. A comprehensive guide to Corinth will ensure your life will be made a lot easier during your short time there; enjoy!

From Athens to Meteora

Often described as 'the place between heaven and earth,' Meteora is one of the most awe-inspiring regions of Greece and the western world despite being far away from the sea. Located in the region of Thessaly, Meteora is a place that calls for isolation, seclusion, and spiritual wondering.

The region is famous for its steep rock formations that hold no resemblance to any landscape around the world, on the tops of which some of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world are still perched.

The geological miracle of Meteora is located in the northern part of the region of Trikala, nearby the modern city of Kalambaka. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; a visit to the otherworldy land will help you realize why in a matter of minutes!

Here is how to spend one day in Meteora without leaving anything out of your radar; this magical place will steal your heart. It is a sight not even Olympian Zeus could have dreamt of!

From Athens to Mycenae

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mycenae, occupies the hillsides of Peloponnese close to the modern town of Argos.

It is the city that named a whole civilization after itself, something which is indicative not only of its great importance to the then known Greek world during the ancient times but also of its old age; it is known that the excavations that have taken place on the region of Mycenae have unveiled monuments so old that even ancient Greeks considered them ruins of antiquity.

Erected on a naturally guarded and reinforced location, you can't help but notice the Acropolis of Mycenae standing tall upon your arrival to the historic region. Immerse yourself into the history and natural beauty of the area and get to know the birthplace of Agamemnon; it is no coincidence that Mycenae served as one of the most significant sources of inspiration for Homer!

From Athens to Epidaurus

Νοt to toot our own trumpet, but Greece is full of places that have earned a spot in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, and the Theater of Epidaurus is one of them.

Located in the beloved region of the Peloponnese within a couple of hours from Athens, the short drive to Epidaurus will reward you with a luscious natural landscape and an archaeological site that exceeds the expectations of even the most demanding of travelers.

The open theater of Epidaurus is said to be the best-preserved in all of Greece, maintaining its glamor up to this day and making the whole region a must-visit destination for Athens' visitors, who can even enjoy a modern play on its ground if they plan their visit to coincide with the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival that takes place during the summertime.

The theater is famous for its unmatched acoustics, attributed to the architecture and the materials used for its construction in ancient Greece.

As a result, you can hear a pin drop at the exact same volume no matter where you sit, elevating your theater experience to another level. There is no doubt about it: Epidaurus is a modern miracle, and all lovers of theater and culture should hurry to it!

From Athens to Nemea

Known for its superb wine production that has its locals engaged with the -almost sacred- process of winemaking in Greece since the days of yore, Nemea lies on the border with the prefecture of Argolis and is surrounded by countless vineyards.

Apart from the many indigenous wine varieties you must try, there are archaeological monuments that are also worth your time. Some include the Temple of Jupiter, the baths, and the Nemea Stadium.

Most people, however, are familiar with Nemea -even if it's just its name, they're familiar with- from the famous tale of Greek Mythology regarding the labors of Hercules, and in particular, the killing of the Nemean lion; one of the most popular tales of ancient Greece.

If you're an admirer of history, wine and all things nice, we highly suggest you visit this brilliant part of Greece conveniently close to Athens. Check out the top things to do in Nemea and make the most out of your day trip! 

Athens' Itineraries

If you want a complete and specific day-by-day guide on how to spend your days in Athens without being restricted to the famous Acropolis, we have everything under control as I have designed the ultimate guidebooks for your stay in the historic capital that include the best deals in guided tours you can during your trip to Athens:

More Reasons to Visit Athens

acropolis at nightime Lambros Kazan shutterstockThe Acropolis at nighttime - credits: Lambros Kazan/Shutterstock.com

If you're that much of a doubting Thomas and need even more reasons to visit Athens than what is already stated in our Athens travel guide, we're happy to report that we still have multiple fail-safe get-out-of-jail-free cards for you.

Furthermore, reading why Athens deserves more of your time or why Athens is the ideal city break destination will give you an even better overview of the wide selection of entertainment, education, and relaxation opportunities while staying in Athens's exhilarating and intoxicating city as experienced travelers.

Visit Athens for special occasions

Moreover, If you're a bride or a groom-to-be, you can get inspired by some of the best ideas for your bachelor and bachelorette getaway in Athens, Greece to help you live up to the last days of your life as a single!

Finally, suppose you want to visit Athens on a business trip and look for the best team-building activities in Athens, Greece such as a street art tour or cooking classes. In that case, you're in it to win with suggestions that will impress your colleagues;  Athens' street art and local cuisine are as impressive as our Acropolis and the culture that has inspired the western world!

Is Athens safe for tourists?

Athens has been described as an attractive destination even for female solo travelers. The crime rates are low, so you'll always feel safe at home. The majority of trips go smoothly, however, pickpocketing is something you should be mindful of,  especially in subway stations or in busy tourist destinations.

Is it worth visiting Athens Greece?

Athens is one of Greece's gems and spending time there is a blessing. Despite being overlooked by many tourists in their haste to visit the Greek island, the wealthiness of culture and history the Greek capital offer is incomparable. For that reason, we would highly suggest you design your itinerary to include at least a couple of days in Athens to get the full Greek experience.

How many days do you need in Athens Greece?

Ideally, four days in Athens are usually enough to visit most of its attractions and get an authentic feel of it. It's possible for you to travel back to the beautiful capital of Greece after your tour of the Greek islands, but for those interested in a more immersive experience, a four-day stay would be the best option. At the same time, if you're dead set on not spending time in a big city, you could fit the highlights in a couple of -busy- days. 

Is Athens good for a city break?

With all the sights to visit, Athens offers everything you could possibly desire. The Ancient Greece memory is everywhere from the Acropolis Museum to the Ancient Agora, and we can confidently say that Athens is the ultimate city break. 

Is it worth just going to Athens?

Athens is certainly a popular destination for tourists in Greece. The ancient city has plenty of treasures and the modern attractions make visiting Athens worthwhile at any time. So yes, it is well worth just going to Athens. Its rich culture, vast history, local delicacies, and amazing coast will make sure you don't regret your choice. 

How do you get around in Athens Greece?

The best way to get around during your visit to Athens is by foot and Metro, the most important sites of the city are easily accessible. You can also opt for rentals, or, even better, book a transportation service that will take you comfortably and easily anywhere you want to go. 

Last thoughts

Acropolis photoshoot NataliaD DepositphotosAcropolis photoshoot - credits: NataliaD/Depositphotos.com

And voila, there you have it: the ultimate Athens travel guide that will make you feel cooler than the other side of the pillow and help you get around the city during your trip with ease, competence, and confidence even if you're not some of the most experienced travelers.

Athens is truly one of the most incredible destinations around the world -and has been since the golden ages of ancient Greece. With an average temperature of 28°C and archeological sites such as the Acropolis and Hadrian's Library, it is hard to beat.

Although the Greek islands get most of the hype, Athens, the capital city, with its ancient charm, urban aesthetic, and travel deals is just as gorgeous and fascinating while also being diverse, vibrant, and fabulously welcoming; perfect for your summer trip!

No matter if you arrive at Athens International Airport, Pireus Port, or Rafina Port, the city of Athens is exactly where you need to be.

Visit Athens, Greece and you'll get to find out the beauties of the largest city in the country for yourself!