The 15 Very Best Things to Do in Athens, Greece

Things to do in Athens, Greece
Things to do in Athens, Greece
Things to Do in Athens, Greece

Looking for things to do in Athens? The Bumper Crew has it covered! Greece has a special place in our hearts. Stacey and I (Joel) grew up travelling to Greece, where we would spend time on various Greek islands during the summer holidays. However, neither of us had visited the capital city, Athens! But we finally made it, and it quickly became one of our favourite city breaks.

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Athens has plenty of things to do to keep you occupied for a few days. It’s also home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. Considering everything, Athens remains one of the most fascinating and historically rich cities we’ve ever visited. That’s because Athens has an exciting history dating back over 3,400 years, and it’s even credited with being the birthplace of democracy, where the first democratic government was established.

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Plus, it’s always warm! This also makes Athens perfect for visiting any time of year because it’s one of the warmest cities in Europe. So whether you love summer’s baking heat or the cooler winter months, Athens has temperatures to suit all visitors. The other great thing about Athens is that it’s the gateway to some of Greece’s most famous islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini, which are less than an hour away by air. Without further ado, read on to discover the very best things to do in Athens!

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Things to Do in Athens

1 | Visit the Acropolis of Athens

Have you even been to Athens if you didn’t visit the Acropolis? Ha! The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of the world’s most famous landmarks: the Parthenon. If you didn’t know, the Acropolis is the hill that contains the landmarks. The renowned building you’ve seen in the pictures is the Parthenon, pictured below.

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Things to do in Athens – visit the Parthenon

The Acropolis is home to other important ancient buildings, including the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion, but they don’t carry the fame of the Parthenon. A visit to Athens wouldn’t be complete without a wander around this ancient landmark.

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Things to do in Athens – visit the Acropolis

2 | Take a Free Walking Tour

Walking tours are a great way to explore a city centre without trying to find things out for yourself, and we try to find one whenever we visit a city. We love a bit of history, and we love walking, so it’s win, win! The beauty of Athens is the centre isn’t that big, and the free walking tour takes you to a few great spots, including a few places on this list of things to do in Athens, including the incredible Anafiotika District and National Garden.

Be aware – free walking tours aren’t necessarily free. The idea is you pay what you think it is worth, whether a few Euros or 10 or 20 Euros. The choice is yours based on your experience and enjoyment.

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Things to do in Athens – take a free walking tour

3 | Explore the Anafiotika District

The Anafiotika district is an unusual part of Athens and the most delightful of all central districts. That’s because Athens isn’t a pretty city, like Bruges or Paris, but the Anafiotika district has a charm unlike anywhere else in Athens. It sits on the slopes of the Acropolis and was built in the 19th century by workers from the island of Anafi. It’s a picturesque area with a maze of narrow streets and traditional Greek houses that leads up to the Acropolis.

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Things to do in Athens – explore the Anafiotika district

4 | Explore the Plaka District

If you’re visiting Athens, you must visit Plaka. It’s a great place to wander. It’s also considered the oldest district in Athens and is probably the most beautiful. It’s known for its maze of charming narrow streets, picturesque houses and traditional Greek architecture, making it a must-visit spot for travel photos! Plaka is also home to several of Athens’ archaeological sites and monuments, including the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds. The Plaka district also has a great night scene and is home to Brettos, the oldest bar in Athens. So, if you like to hit the bars, Plaka is the place to go!

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Things to do in Athens – explore Plaka

5 | Watch the Sun Set From Mount Lycabettus

Chasing sunsets is one of our favourite things to do in Greece, and one of the best in Athens is seen from Mount Lycabettus. Chasing sunsets is one of Stacey’s favourite things to do anywhere! Ha! Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in Athens and offers unrivalled panoramic views of the city. It’s a decent hike from central Athens and rises to an altitude of 277 metres, so be prepared for that! Atop Mount Lycabettus, you’ll find the Chapel of Agios Georgios, a theatre that seats over 3,000 people for concerts and other events, and restaurants and cafes. The hill is accessible by a funicular railway if you don’t fancy walking up.

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Things to do in Athens – hike up Mount Lycabettus

6 | Race at Panathenaic Stadium

Can you believe it’s possible to run on the track of the stadium that hosted the first international Olympics Games in 1896 or walk down the tunnel that athletes used over 2000 years ago? No, nor could we. But you can! We’ve all heard of the Olympics Games, and it all started in a place called Olympia in Greece. Fast forward a few years to 140AD when the Panathenaic Stadium was rebuilt to host the Panathenaic Games, a religious and athletic festival in honour of the goddess Athena, which then went on to host the first modern Olympic Games.

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Things to do in Athens – visit Panathenaic Stadium

It remains the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble too! You can walk around the stadium seating and take a tour inside, where you’ll find a bit of nostalgia in a series of old Olympic Games posters. The Panathenaic Stadium is a wonderful place you can’t miss when visiting Athens because of its significance towards the Olympic Games we all know and love.

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7 | Visit Monastiraki Square

Avoiding Monastiraki Square would be almost impossible. It’s a central hub in Athens city centre and the very heart of the city. Monastiraki Square is lively, not only because it’s a major hub but because it is surrounded by shops, cafes and restaurants and provides access to some of the archaeological sites on this list.

The square is also home to the Monastiraki Flea Market and the start of Ermou street, one of the main shopping streets in Athens. So, if shopping is your thing, visit Monastiraki Square. And if you’d prefer to admire the square from a distance, the best views of Monastiraki Square are from one of the rooftop bars surrounding the square. It looks even more spectacular at night with the Acropolis illuminated!

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Things to do in Athens – visit Monastiraki Square

8 | Explore the Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora was the centre of ancient Athens’s political, social, and commercial life, where the people of Athens met to discuss politics, philosophy, literature and art. It was also the location of the city’s main administrative and religious buildings and home to the central marketplace. Today, visitors can explore the remains of the Agora and see ancient buildings such as the Stoa of Attalos and the Temple of Hephaestus and learn about Athens’ rich history and culture.

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Things to do in Athens – explore the Ancient Agora of Athens

9 | Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is another archaeological site you can visit in Athens. Can you guess who the temple was dedicated to? Ha! Zeus, of course! The area is spacious, peaceful, and a must-visit if you’re interested in history. The Temple of Olympian Zeus building started in the 6th century BC but wasn’t finished until the 2nd century AD.

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Things to do in Athens – visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus

The temple is one of the largest ancient temples in the world and was built using marble and had 104 columns, of which only 15 remain today. The temple was one of ancient Athens’s most important religious sites and was used for religious ceremonies and sacrifices. The temple was also an important political symbol and was the focal point of the city’s political and religious life.

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Things to do in Athens, Greece

10 | Visit Zappeion Megaron

The Zappeion Megaron is a unique and impressive building with a mix of Greek Revival and Neoclassical architectural styles. It was built in the 19th century and was designed by the famous architect Theophil Freiherr von Hansen. Built as an exhibition centre, Zappeion Megaron was used in 1896 to host the first modern Olympic Games, and today it’s used for cultural events, conferences and exhibitions. The Zappeion Megaron is a great place to explore the history of Athens and the Olympic Games and offers a great glimpse of the modern history of Athens.

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Things to do in Athens – visit Zappeion Megaron

11 | Stroll Through the National Garden

The National Garden is a beautiful park in the centre of Athens. It’s a great place to take a stroll to escape the bustle of Athens and a rare bit of green space in the urban sprawl of Athens. The garden was designed by Queen Amalia in the mid-19th century and was opened to the public in 1838 and is also known as the “Royal Garden” because it was once the private garden of the Greek royal family.

Inside, you’ll find a variety of plants, trees, flowers, birds, statues, fountains, a small lake, a café, a botanical museum and a small zoo, so there is plenty of stuff to keep you occupied for a while! Zappeion Megaron, the next of our things to do in Athens, also sits in the National Garden.

12 | Visit Hadrian’s Library

Hadrian’s Library is another archaeological site you can visit in Athens and offers the opportunity to explore the ancient past and learn about the rich history and culture of Roman influence on Athens. Built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD 132, it was one of ancient Athens’s most important cultural institutions. The library was part of a larger complex that included the Athenaeum, the Roman Agora, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Hadrian’s Library was a significant learning and scholarship centre used by philosophers, scholars, and students. It was also a cultural and intellectual exchange place and was essential in transmitting knowledge and ideas.

13 | Visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier

The Monument of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial in Athens built in 1929 to honour the Greek soldiers who died during World War I and the subsequent conflicts. Located in Syntagma Square and guarded by the Evzones, the ceremonial unit of the Greek military, the Monument of the Unknown Soldier is an important site for the Greek people because it’s a symbol of the sacrifices made by Greek soldiers in defence of Greece. Remember to observe the guard changing in front of the monument once an hour. Our free walking tour also ended at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier!

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Things to do in Athens – visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier

14 | Explore the Roman Agora

The Roman Agora is yet another archaeological site in Athens. There are loads in Athens if you have yet to notice! The Roman Agora was the commercial and administrative centre of the city during the Roman period. The Roman Agora is also home to the Tower of the Winds, considered the world’s first meteorological site.

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Things to do in Athens – explore the Roman Agora

The Roman Agora is small and takes only 15-20 minutes to walk around. You will notice the Italian-inspired buildings outside the site, which are worth a quick snap and are the first indication this site is Roman.

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Things to do in Athens, Greece

15 | Visit the Central Market

Be aware that the Central Market (AKA Dimotiki Agora Central Market or Varvakios Central Market) is unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians if you don’t want to see dead animals. It reminded us of the one in Birmingham, which is also not for the faint-hearted.

But if you’re a foodie or want to experience something we don’t see much of these days in the UK, head to the Central Market. It’s lively, vibrant, and a feast for your eyes because it’s full of foods from local produce to herbs and spices, traditional Greek delicacies, meat, fish and fruit and vegetables. There are also a few tavernas dotted around, so you can take the weight off your feet and enjoy a bit of food or a drink.

FAQs

Is Athens worth visiting?

Yes! Athens is a great city with plenty of things to do to keep you occupied for a few days. Athens has a fascinating history, some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and many other significant landmarks. Athens isn’t one of the pretty cities, but it has a character, unlike any other major city. The weather is also great all year round, so you don’t have to worry about the best season to visit. Just beware – it gets boiling in the summer!

What is Athens most famous for?

Athens is most famous for the Acropolis and, more specifically, the Parthenon. But that’s only the surface of what Athens has to offer. It has a wonderful array of other archaeological sites, including the stadium used for the first modern Olympic Games – and you can even run around it!

Things to Do in Athens, Greece

  1. Visit the Acropolis of Athens
  2. Take a Free Walking Tour
  3. Explore the Anafiotika District
  4. Explore the Plaka District
  5. Watch the Sun Set From Mount Lycabettus
  6. Race at Panathenaic Stadium
  7. Visit Monastiraki Square
  8. Explore the Ancient Agora of Athens
  9. Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
  10. Visit Zappeion Megaron
  11. Stroll Through the National Garden
  12. Visit Hadrian’s Library
  13. Visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier
  14. Explore the Roman Agora
  15. Visit the Central Market
Things to Do in Athens, Greece

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