How to Spend One Day in Athens

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Key Takeaways:

  • The Acropolis is a must-see attraction if you're spending only one day in Athens, featuring iconic landmarks such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaea. 
  • The charming neighborhood of Plaka is full of narrow, winding streets and is known for its quaint shops, traditional tavernas, and picturesque alleyways.
  • Athens is known for its delicious cuisine, so be sure to sample some local dishes during your visit. Some must-try items include souvlaki, moussaka, and Greek salad.
  • Athens is known for its amazing views, so be sure to take advantage of this by visiting one of the city's many rooftop bars or lookout points, such as Lycabettus Hill or Philopappos Hill.

Do you plan to visit Athens for only one day to see as many attractions and points of interest as possible? Check out the following one-day Athens survival guide and get to explore the city like a local!

Calm but vigorous, colorful, sophisticated, hip, and vibrant: Athens is the ultimate mix of captivating culture and vigorous social life.

Its beauty lies within the unique combination of these contradictions that are evident on every corner of the city. Its rich historical heritage, urban and natural beauty, as well as its energetic vibe will make you fall in love with Athens at first sight.

If you have just 24 hours to spare in Athens and you want to visit the city's highlights, both the common and the off-the-beaten-track ones, go ahead and bookmark this page on your browser because we have prepared a full-day guide to Athens.

Let’s see how we can ensure you'll experience Athens to its fullest potential in just one day, from dusk to dawn! 

How to reach the center of Athens

Accessing Athens' city center is fairly easy whether you've arrived in Athens via airplane, ferry, or railway.

  • Upon your arrival at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, you'll have to transport to downtown Athens following the options below: Athens Metro from the airport: The airport of Athens is connected with the city through the metro system. After exiting the airport waiting hall, follow the signs leading you to the metro station. Use one of the available touch-screen ticket machines and choose the 10€ Athens airport one-way ticket. Make sure you don't lose the ticket, as you are going to need it in order to open the gates when entering and exiting the metro stations.

Tip: Keep in mind that the metro routes from/to the airport are only available during service hours (from 6.30 am until midnight). You might want to keep your ticket since it is a rechargeable paper ticket at every ticket machine. 

Public buses from the airport: The 24/7 public bus lines that connect Eleftherios Venizelos to downtown Athens are another option for you.

Despite the fact that taking the bus to get to Athen's city center is much more time-consuming, in comparison to taking the metro, the price of the ticket is significantly lower as well

  • For 6€, you can choose the lines X95 (Airport- Syntagma Square) and X96 (Airport- Piraeus port). Please keep in mind that you can buy your tickets from either the ticket machines, the bus driver, or online. 

Tip: For efficiency and more information, download the OASA telematics app on your device and check the locations and arrivals of the line you are interested in.

  • Taxi from the airport: Just outside the waiting hall of the airport, taxis are waiting for arrivals 24/7. The price for the route from/to the airport is fixed, ranging from 38€ if you travel from 5 am to midnight to 54€ if you travel from midnight to 5 am.

  • Private vehicles: If comfort, efficiency, and punctuality are important to you, we highly recommend you consider treating yourself to a private luxury Athens transfer.

  • In case you arrive in Athens by train, you will need to find your way from the Central Railway Station of Athens (Larisis station) to the city center. The train station is about 3 km away from Syntagma Square (the most central point of the city). Your options include either using the Athens metro (the station is located just outside of the train station), one of the public buses or taking a taxi.

Tip: The amount you have to pay for a taxi from the Central Railway Station (Larisis Station) is dependent on the traffic and your starting point. To avoid mishaps, download one of the taxi apps for Athens on your device, so you get an estimated price and the opportunity to pay by card.

Athens Evening Food Tour & Wine Tasting (Semi-Private or Private Tour)

If Athens is one of the stops of your cruise, your ship will dock at the port of Piraeus, the central port of Athens and Greece in general. Public transport from/to the center of Athens includes Line 1 of the Athens metro system and public buses.

The metro station of Piraeus is located right at the heart of Piraeus' port, close to the E8 gate. If you're heading to Syntagma Square, use Line 1 to reach Monastiraki station -  also located at the city's center- and change for Line 3.

Taking a public bus might prove to be a bit more complicated, therefore, do not forget to consult your OASA telematics app.

Tip: Taxis in Athens are available both on call and on the street -New York style! Just raise your hand and hop on a taxi to your destination for ease and comfort.

Experience the Athenian breakfast bliss

Greek breakfast - credits: Esin Deniz/Shutterstock.com

An empty belly bears nobody; therefore, before you start your Athens exploration, you should have a full, delicious, and filling breakfast.

If you're at a loss with the sheer number of breakfast choices, we suggest one of the hippest Athenian neighborhoods at the moment, Koukaki.

This charming and creative corner near the Acropolis will bring a picture of an urban village into mind. Paved sidewalks and orange trees, a combination of old and modern apartments, as well as a mix of cafes and eateries, are going to make you understand why this neighborhood is visitors' and locals’ top selection for accommodation, as it boasts many top romantic hotels in Athens.

Some of our favorite spots to eat -and drink later in the day- are 7 Cactus, Bel-Ray, Lotte, and Monsieur Barbu.              

Explore Athens' most significant monuments

 The Acropolis - credits: S.Borisov/Shutterstock.com

Kick off your stay in Athens with the basics of sightseeing. The most important site of Athens is by far the ancient citadel of the Acropolis. A number of events that have determined Athenian history throughout the centuries have taken place on the majestic hill.

However, it is not only the heritage of the Acropolis that makes the site awe-inspiring but also its impeccable architecture.

After all, it doesn’t take an art or history enthusiast in order to admire the magnitude of the Acropolis and its monuments, such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Secret Acropolis Tour

Just make sure you take with you on this Greek sightseeing adventure a big bottle of water and a hat, especially if you choose to visit Athens during the summer months!

Additionally, during the high season months, try to visit the Acropolis as early in the morning as possible; the site is open from 8 am to 8 pm during the summer months, so the earlier you ascend onto the rock, the less crowded and hot it's going to be.

The cost of a single ticket is 20 euros, and it includes both the Acropolis and the sites lying on its slope.

For 30 euros, you can have the Special Ticket Package that includes most of the sites of Athens and free admission to the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Agora and Kerameikos, valid for 5 days.

Relax at the Museum Café and visit the Acropolis Museum

Cafe of the Acropolis Museum - credits: Maria Chavdarova Mavrona/Shutterstock.com

Descending from the hill of the Acropolis, take a break for a refreshing coffee at the elegant café of the Acropolis Museum. Have your coffee by the underground excavation stretching beneath the whole building of the museum, or choose the sunny terrace to gaze at the Parthenon!

Except for a quick coffee, you can also have a small snack or even a delicious brunch at the premises of the museum. The products served are of top quality, reflecting the upscale Greek cuisine for every traveler to enjoy. 

Ranked as the 6th most popular museum in the world on Tripadvisor, the Acropolis Museum is an experience that you should definitely not miss. Walk around its impressive halls, enjoy the natural light that illuminates its galleries, and admire its clear lines that operate as a frame for the impressive artifacts of the Acropolis.

The whole museum is dedicated to the hill of Athena and includes artifacts from the nearby temples that existed at the foothills of the Acropolis.

Tip: In order to avoid waiting in queues, pre-purchase your Acropolis Museum tickets online here.

After having finished with the Acropolis Museum, a good way to keep exploring the city while filling your bellies with delicious Greek food is to head to the Market district of Athens. Located in the middle of Athenas Street, the building of Athens' Central Market stands as a meeting point for the Athenians.

Every local household prefers to do their shopping at the Market, choosing from a wide variety of fresh products.

Wander around the meat and fish market, taste some delicious cheese from across the various different regions of Greece, and let your nose lead you to the vegetable market, where you will find everything you could possibly think of at really affordable prices.

Don't forget to try the traditional taverns found inside the Market; the tavern of Epirus is our favorite, and if you're an adventurous eater, make sure to try its patsa, a local tripe soup that is the traditional Greek hangover dish!

Afternoons are made for walking 

Plaka neighborhood - credits: scaliger/Depositphotos.com

Ready to explore the city center? The team of Greeking.me has designed a route in order for you to visit some of the most important attractions of Athens.

Start your walk from Monastiraki Square, located at the very center of the city, and wander around the neighborhood of Plaka, the oldest part of the city, where you can see from up close the impressive ruins of the Ancient Agora and the Roman Forum.

Allow yourselves to get lost in the narrow alleys, take in the neoclassical houses and picturesque corners, and find yourselves right next to the walls of the Acropolis.

Witness the unique monument of Lysicrates, a small architectural wonder of the 4th century BC, built to commemorate a victory of dramatic games, and head to the temple of Zeus, one of the largest ancient temples decorated by the magnificent Arch of Hadrian.

Visit the Zappeion Hall, a jewel of the first modern Olympic Games, and enter the relaxing National Gardens, the personal project of the first Queen of Greece, with hidden treasures in every corner.

Continue your walk by visiting the Greek Parliament, the former Royal Palace, and check out the change of the guard with the Evzones, the members of the presidential guard.

Follow Panepistimiou street and marvel at the Athenian Trilogy, a unique example of Greek neoclassical architecture.

The Academy of Athens, with the patron gods of the city standing on high columns, the University of Athens, with paintings of the personification of Sciences and the National Library, with its impressive staircase of griffins, will definitely enchant you.

Finish your walk at Mitropoleos Square, where the Cathedral of Athens and the small -but striking- Byzantine church of St. Eleftherios stand.

Find the route below with more info:

For those that want to probe a bit deeper into the fascinating history of Athens, have a truly local experience, and enjoy their stay in Athens with the element of stress completely eliminated, we offer a selection of Athens and Greece tours for you to choose from.  

Acropolis Delights: Acropolis & Athens Food Tour

Evening wandering in Athens

Clumsies Bar near Kolokotroni Street - credits: http://theclumsies.gr/

Psyrri, the last stop of your walk, reflects a very dynamic side of Athens, with lots of places that suit every taste and age group, from modern bars that serve delicious rare cocktails to local traditional taverns, where you can taste authentic Greek dishes.  Psyrri is also a district we visit during our popular Athens night food tour and wine tasting.

If you are in the mood for a drink -or two- and you don’t want your day to come to a close after dinner, Athens has so many options available that your only worry should be not to get overwhelmed; don't restrict yourself, if you feel like it, go ahead and indulge in barhopping, it‘ll be totally worth it!

Right next to Psyrri, there is an up-and-coming area with promising venues and hidden bars. Kolokotroni Street and some other narrow streets that surround it are full of sophisticated and modern bars. Delve into this cozy complex of Athenian nightlife and enjoy some homemade cocktails and selected wine varieties and enjoy your night like a local in the city!

The Clumsies: This all-day bar lies at 30 Praxitelous Str., and it is one of the most popular bars to be found in the city center. Pass through the neon light-decorated entrance and find yourselves in the home-like environment of 'The Clumsies'.

Let loose and put your trust in the hands of the skilled bartender, who will suggest you some delicious drinks and cocktails able to satisfy even the most demanding customer. 

The Baba Au Rum:  This small award-winning bar in Athens will definitely take you by surprise. Its persistence in high-quality cocktails and spirits, its unique design, and the confluence of people waiting in queues to enter the place are some of the things you should expect if you decide to spend your night there.

Located at the city center at 6 Klitiou Str., it will take you only minutes to reach this small jewel of Athenian nightlife.

Cantina Social: Located close to the ancient temple of Hephaestus, in the district of Monastiraki at 30, Leokoriou Str., 'Cantina Social' is a dearly beloved bar of Athens. Located in a tiny alley, it is easy to miss it, so follow the noise of the bar crammed full of people, and you will find yourselves in one of the hippest places in Athens

Noel: For those that want to have their drink in a classier, more posh bar, 'Noel' is the way to go. Extremely popular, especially during Christmas, because of its impressive holiday decoration, 'Noel' is the place where elegance comes to life.

One of the few exclusively non-smoking places in Athens, 'Noel' will enchant you and spoil you rotten with its delightful drinks and snacks. 

Final Thoughts

That was it! After having spent so much time exploring the city of Athens with one of our Greece vacation packages, it is safe to say that you have fed your wanderlust and seen some of the most iconic attractions in the city!

Athens, however, cannot be fully experienced in just a day. Therefore, you'd better renew your appointment with the alluring city of the god Athena. Check out some ideas for things to do in Athens and plan your trip to Athens accordingly.

We hope to see you soon!

Our Tailor-Made Trip Planning
Hop on a quick call with a local expert from our team
Receive a tailor-made itinerary for your journey
Fine-tune the details and you're ready to go

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to see the main attractions of Athens in one day?

What is the best mode of transportation for a one-day visit to Athens?

How can I maximize my time to see both historical sites and experience local culture?

Are guided tours recommended for a one-day visit to Athens?

What are the recommended dining options for a quick yet authentic Greek meal? 

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