Are you arriving in Athens and you only have a 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 also vigorous, colorful, sophisticated, hip, vibrant: Athens is the ultimate mix of cultural and social life elements. Its beauty lies within the unique combination of these contradictions that you can find in each and every corner of the city. Lots of historical heritage, urban and natural beauty will make you fall in love with the city by first sight.
So! Let’s say that this “first sight” is the only time you have in the city. Do you only have one day in Athens and want some highlights of classic and off-the-beaten-track things to see? Then go ahead and bookmark this because we have prepared a full-day guide for one of the top city tours within 24 hours! Let’s take one day from dusk till dawn and see what you can do in Athens so that you enjoy it to the fullest.
Erechtheion at Acropolis Hill - credits: www.shutterstock.com
How to reach the city center
If you are arriving in Athens most likely you are using one of the following means of transport: airplane, ferry, or the railway.
In case you are landing at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport and you want to find yourselves in downtown Athens you have to choose from the following options:
- 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€ airport one-way ticket. Make sure you do not lose the ticket because you are going to need it to open the gates while entering and exiting the metro stations.
Tips: Keep in mind that the metro routes from/to the airport are only available during service hours (from 6.30am 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 is another option for you. Despite the fact that it definitely takes more time to reach the city-center the price of the ticket is lower than the one of the metro. For 6€, you can choose the lines X95 (Airport-Syntagma Square) and X96 (Airport- Piraeus port). You can buy your tickets from the ticket machines, the bus driver or online.
Transportation services in Athens - credits: Corepics VOF/ Shutterstock.com
Tip: For efficiency and more information download the OASA telematics app on your device and check live 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:
from 5 am to midnight - 38€
from midnight to 5 am - 54€
Tip: Keep in mind that the price of is fixed according to your time of destination arrival.
- Private vehicles: If comfort, efficiency, and punctuality are important for you, we recommend you to check the following link for private luxury Athens transfers.
In case you are arriving in Athens by train, most likely you will have 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 metro system (the station is located just outside of the train station), use one of the public buses or take 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 available on the App Store.
If Athens is a stop of your cruise, your ship will definitely 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 metro system and public buses. The metro station of Piraeus is located right at the heart of Piraeus port close to the E8 gate. Use Line 1 to reach Monastiraki station (located at the city-center as well) and change for Line 3 if you are heading to Syntagma Square. 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 either on call or you can also catch one on the street New York style! Just raise your hand and hop on a taxi to your destination for ease and comfort.
Morning in the city
An empty belly bears nobody, therefore before you start your Athens exploration you should have a nice, filling breakfast. Wondering where to go? We suggest one of the hippest Athenian neighborhoods at the moment; Koukaki. This charming and creative corner near the Acropolis will bring a sense of urban village into mind. Paved sidewalks and orange trees, pre-war 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.
Brunch at 7 Cactus in Koukaki neighborhood
Image by Greeking.me
Start with some sightseeing
Starting with the basics, the most important site of Athens is by far the ancient citadel of the Acropolis. A number of events that have determined the Athenian history throughout the centuries have taken place here. Not only the history but also the architecture of this monument is definitely going to make you gaze around in awe. After all, it doesn’t take a person to be an art or history lover in order to admire the magnitude of the Acropolis and its buildings (Parthenon, Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and many more). Just make sure you have a big bottle of water and a hat with you if you choose to visit during the summer months!
- Tips: Especially during the high season months make sure to visit the Acropolis way early. The site is open from 8 am to 8 pm during the summer months, so the earlier you are going to ascend onto the rock, the less crowded and warm it is going to be.
The cost of a single ticket is 20 euros and it includes the Acropolis and the sites lying on its slopes. 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. For more info click here.
To avoid mishaps and have the greatest experience possible check the Skip the Lines: Acropolis & Acropolis Museum tour and let us deal with everything on your behalf!
Relax at the Museum Café and visit the Acropolis Museum
Descending from the hill of the Acropolis, have a rest for a refreshing coffee at the elegant café of the Acropolis Museum. Have your coffee by the underground excavation stretching beneath the whole museum building or choose the sunny terrace to gaze at the Parthenon at the same time!
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 a more upscale Greek cuisine for every traveler. You can check the schedule of the cafeteria and the restaurant of the museum here.
Visiting the Acropolis Museum
Ranked as the 6th most popular museum of the world on Tripadvisor, the Acropolis Museum is an experience that you should definitely not miss. Walk around its impressive halls of austere but light in volumes modern architecture, 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. Engage in an experience like no other and meet gods and heroes fighting beasts and Titans, Sphinxes and magical beasts, Kores and Kouroi standing as offerings to Athena and marvel at the magnificent sculptures of the Parthenon at the top gallery with a unique view to the Acropolis.
In order not to wait in queues pre-purchase you Acropolis Museum tickets online. Click here.
After having finished with the Acropolis Museum, a good way to keep exploring the city and fill your stomachs with some delicious Greek food is to head to the Market district of Athens. Located at the middle of Athena Street, the building of the Central Market stands as a meeting point for the Athenians. Every single 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 all over Greece, and let your noses lead you to the vegetable market where you will find everything you could imagine in a really cheap price. Do not forget to try the authentic restaurants inside the Market building and if you are feeling brave enough, order a dish of patsa (tripe soup)!
Recommended restaurant: Epirus
Afternoons are made for walking
Ready to explore the city center? The team of Greeking.me has designed a route for you to visit some of the most important attractions of Athens. Start your walk from Monastiraki Square located at the very centre of the city and wander around the neighborhood of Plaka, the oldest part of the city, and see from up close the impressive ruins of the Ancient Agora and the Roman Forum. Allow yourselves to get lost in the narrow alleys, sink in pictures of 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 Neoclassical architecture. The Academy of Athens with the patrons 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 Sq. where the Cathedral of Athens lies and the small but fantastic Byzantine church of St. Eleftherios.
Find the route below with more info:
For those that want to probe a bit deeper into the fascinating history of Athens, want to have truly a like a local experience and enjoy their stay in Athens with no worries, check one of the Athens and Greece tours we offer.
Psyrri, the last stop of your walk, reflects a very dynamic side of Athens, with lots of places that fit every taste and age group, from modern bars that serve delicious rare cocktails to local traditional “tavernas” where you can find authentic Greek dishes. If you are in the mood for some drinks and don’t want your day to finish after dinner, Athens has so many options that you won’t know which one to choose (feel free to visit more than one, it ‘ll be totally worth it!). Just 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 the Athenian nightlife and enjoy some homemade cocktails, 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 into the home-like environment of the Clumsies. Let loose on the hands of the skilled bartender and try 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 surprise you. Its persistence in high-quality cocktails and spirits, its particular design and the confluence of people waiting in queues to enter the place are some of the things you will definitely experience if you decide to spend your night there. Located at the city center at 6, Klitiou Str., it will take you only some minutes to reach this small jewel of Athenian nightlife.
Cantina Sociale: Located close to the ancient temple of Hephaestus, in the district of Monastiraki at 30, Leokoriou Str., Cantina Social is a dearly loved bar of Athens. Found at a small alley, you cannot miss it! Just follow the noise of the bar crammed full of people and you will find yourselves in one of the hippiest places in Athens.
Noel: For those that want to have their drink in a more posh bar, Noel is your option. Extremely popular, especially during Christmas because of its impressive holiday decoration, Noel is the place where elegance comes alive. One of the few exclusively non-smoking places in Athens, Noel will enchant you and make you feel spoiled for a day.
Clumsies Bar near Kolokotroni Street - credits: http://theclumsies.gr/
That was it! After having spent so much time exploring the city of Athens, it is safe to say that you have fed your wanderlust and seen some of the most iconic attractions in the city! Athens though cannot be fully experienced in just a day, therefore, you'd better renew your appointment with the city of Athena. Plan your trip to Athens, check out some city-life tips and check out the rest of our Greece tours.