Visiting Athens is an exciting adventure full of historical and cultural stimuli and visiting the Acropolis is an integral part of it, whether you're a history buff or just curious to see what the fuss is all about. Follow our guide and make sure you set on your Acropolis exploration adequately prepared and fully educated!
The Acropolis of Athens, or the ‘sacred rock’ as it is often referred to, is located on a rocky hill in the heart of today’s Athens, consisting of several monuments of great cultural, architectural and historical magnitude, with the most popular and recognized being the Parthenon.
‘Acropolis’ is a compound Greek word that consists of the words ‘acro’, which means ‘edge’, and ‘polis’, which means ‘town’, and is a generic term used across Greece to describe the citadels ancient Greeks used to put on a steep hill in the middle of their cities for defensive purposes. Due to its popularity, however, the term ‘Acropolis’ is now associated solely with the Acropolis of Athens, replacing the name ‘Cecropia’ given during antiquity in honor of the first alleged Athenian king, Cecrops.
Despite historical evidence proving the hill was populated since the fourth millennium BC, it was only in the fifth century BC that it became the significant site it is now, when Pericles, the general of Athens during its Golden Age, ordered the construction of the hill’s most emblematic monuments, including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike.
After surviving hundreds of years in pristine condition, the Parthenon, along with many other buildings on the Acropolis hill, was seriously damaged during the 1687 blockade by the Venetians during the Morean War, due to a massive explosion that took place when a cannonball hit the gunpowder being stored inside the temple.
Undeterred by the extensive damage, the Acropolis of Athens remains the most important archaeological site in Greece and the most popular attraction of the country, leaving its visitors awestruck.
If you’re planning your visit to the Acropolis, here is some practical information you should know about and a couple of tips to keep in mind.
Acropolis entrance fees 2020
The entrance fees to the Acropolis are relatively cheap, while they are subject to change from time to time. Depending on the season of your visit, the prices may also vary. Here is the price list of the Acropolis entrance fees for 2020:
- 20€ in the summer season and 10€ in the winter for people from 25 to 65 years from countries both within or outside the European Union.
- 10€ all year round for people from 6 to 25 years old from countries outside the European Union.
*Please note that people who are eligible for free access or a reduced ticket (10€) will need to show their ID to confirm their age and country of origin.
Who is entitled to free access to the Acropolis?
- People up to 25 years old from countries within the European Union.
- Children up to 5 years old from countries both within or outside the European Union.
- People above the age of 65 from countries within the European Union.
Free admission days
There are several days within the year when Acropolis admission is free for everyone:
- 6 March (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
- 18 April (International Monuments Day)
- 18 May (International Museums Day)
- The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
- 28 October
- Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
How much time do you need to see the Acropolis?
The Acropolis rock is a rather large archaeological site packed full of fascinating monuments and mythical stories under every nook and crevice. Therefore, in order to be able to fully appreciate it and thoroughly wander around its premises, you will need at least 2 hours; any less than that and you won’t have the time to get a proper taste of it.
Can you buy tickets to the Acropolis online?
Yes, fortunately, the Acropolis hasn’t stayed back in its ancient times but has rather kept up with the modern, digital world. You are able to buy tickets to the Acropolis online here, and the way to do so is by clicking on ‘Visitors’, completing the 4-step form and there you have it, your online ticket is ready to go! One thing you should take into consideration, however, is that while the simple 20€ adult ticket can be printed from your computer, if you wish to buy a reduced ticket, you can only print a voucher with which you will need to go to the Acropolis ticket office to issue your ticket upon showing your ID/passport.
*Please keep in mind that having a prepurchased ticket in hand will help you skip the lines at the ticket office, but the Acropolis rock itself may still be quite crowded.
Explore the sacred rock through fascinating Acropolis tours
If you want to get an authentic Acropolis experience and appreciate the Acropolis in all of its glory, your best bet is to join a guided ‘Acropolis and Acropolis Museum Tour’ and let the experts show you around, sharing their valuable knowledge and making you gain a better grasp of the ancient civilization.
If you’re visiting the Acropolis with kids, joining an ‘Acropolis for Families Tour’ will make your life incredibly easy, as our family-friendly, fun guide will make sure to keep your children engaged throughout the whole experience, interacting with them through discussions, story-telling, and entertaining games. In case your kids are fascinated with the enchanting world of Percy Jackson, you can opt for an ‘Acropolis and Acropolis Museum tour inspired by Percy Jackson’, where with the help of a specially-trained guide, you’ll retrace the steps of the mythical character and watch his adventures come to life!
Additionally, mythology buffs will be glad to know that by booking a ‘Mythology tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum’, they will get local insight into the imaginative tales of Greek mythology associated with every monument they’ll come across on the hill of the Acropolis.
Of course, like true Greeks, we couldn’t help but present you with the opportunity to discover both the magical Acropolis and the riches of Greek cuisine at the same time! Therefore, if you’re a foodie, we highly suggest you take part in the ‘Acropolis Delights: Acropolis & Athens Food Tour’, a 4-hour walking tour that is the perfect blend of history, mythology, culture, and gastronomy. Alternatively, you can follow the ‘Greek Breakfast Experience With Acropolis Tour’ and upgrade your tour to the Acropolis with a premium Greek breakfast in a cozy, local bistro in the hip neighborhood of Koukaki, made with fresh, traditional Greek products.
Acropolis opening hours
The archaeological site of the Acropolis opens its doors to the public from sunrise to sunset, which means that the opening hours depend on the season of your visit. In the summertime, the opening hours are from 08:00 to 19:00, while in the winter, they are from 08:00 to 17:00, with the last admission taking place at 16:30.
Of course, there are a number of days when the archaeological site remains closed, and these are the following:
- 1 January: closed
- 25 March: closed
- 1 May: closed
- Easter Sunday: closed
- 25 December: closed
- 26 December: closed
Can I ensure skip-the-line access to the Acropolis?
If you opt for one of our Acropolis tours, we can provide you with repurchased Acropolis tickets that will help you avoid the huge line that forms at the ticket house, especially during the summer months. However, on the basis of a new legislation, all minors under the age 18 need to show their ID or passport to confirm their age in order to enter the archaeological site.
In that case, the reduced cost tickets must be reserved online and you’ll need to get them at the ticket office on the day of your visit, which may result in some waiting by your side. If, however, you are not a minor and don’t travel with one either, having a ticket in hand is a godsend and you should -without a doubt- take full advantage of it. Just let us know and we’ll make it happen!
Amenities for the physically challenged
Unfortunately, the Acropolis site as a whole is not very physically challenged-friendly, due to its steep hill, uphill trails, and numerous steps. It is only partially accessible for disabled people and you can examine the accessible part here.
There is a specially-made elevator available on site to accommodate wheelchairs, but it is located at about 350 m. far from the main entrance of the archaeological site, while it is not always open to the public. For that reason, if you wish to use the elevator, please make sure to contact the Acropolis in advance for additional information (+30 210 3214172, +30 210 9238470), keeping in mind the service is not available during extreme weather conditions and strong winds.
Access to the Acropolis
Being at the heart of Athens, the site of the Acropolis is thankfully incredibly easy to access by car, public transportation, or on foot from the city center. The metro stations that are the closest to the site are the following:
- Metro Station ‘Acropolis’, from which you can then walk up Dionysiou Areopagitou street to reach it.
- Metro Station ‘Monastiraki’, from which you can then walk through the archaeological site of Ancient Agora, or the picturesque district of Plaka to reach it.
Tips for visiting the Acropolis
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and make sure to dress in layers. It can get incredibly hot or a bit chilly depending on the time of your visit. Additionally, make sure that your shoes are not only comfortable but also slip-resistant, as there are parts of the site that are very slippery due to the thousand-years old rocks and marble that decorate its ground.
- Bring a hat, sunglasses, a bottle of water -or two- and plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from the blazing Athenian sun. Even the locals struggle up there.
- Carry with you as little as possible; everything feels like it weighs a hundred pounds when you carry it up a lofty hill under direct sunlight. Please keep in mind that, for security reasons, you can’t enter the site with large luggage, but only with small backpacks and handbags.
- Plan your visit to the Acropolis as early as you can to escape the large crowds and the intense heat, especially during the summer months. You want your exploration of the Acropolis to be a fun, memorable and comfortable experience, not an exhausting obligation!
- Take your time on the hill. This is a once in a lifetime experience and you don’t want to rush it. Explore the sacred rock at your pace, taking in everything before you; you don’t want to return to the hotel and have no recollection of any of its monuments. We know it sounds odd, but excitement and speed can make the whole visit seem like a blur afterward.
- Don’t skip visiting the Acropolis Museum. Although much less exciting to look at, it is by no means lackluster or boring. There, you will have the opportunity to marvel at the artifacts, sculptures and everyday items brought to light from the Acropolis’ excavations and the fascinating stories behind each and every one of the exhibits are sure to leave you in awe!
If we’re talking about cool things to do in Athens, visiting the Acropolis is up there on the list! It is an attraction you can’t miss whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning fan of Greece. Now that you have all of the practical information at your disposal and a number of tips to make your visit to Athens more enjoyable, you have no excuse but to delve into the magical world of the Acropolis the right way and leave with heaps of knowledge and a better understanding of Greek culture.
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