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Must do things in Athens – Visit Athens Like A Local
by Dave Briggs
See Athens like a local with this guide to traditional and unusual things to do in Athens Greece.
Here's my local's choice of things you must do in Athens. Includes areas to visit, things to see in Athens, and what to experience.
See and Do in Athens, Greece
Athens is a fantastic city, and overflowing with ancient sites, museums, and historic landmarks. I've been living here for five years, and am extremely fortunate to have spent a great deal of time exploring Athens.
In this travel guide to Athens, I want to share with you some of the essential things to do and places of interest in Athens you should experience for yourself.
These suggestions come from realizing that visitors to Athens might have limited time, and may only be in the city once in their lives.
Whether you are visiting Athens for just a few days, or are spending longer, here's some things you must do in Athens while there.
Must See In Athens, Greece
Experience Athens like a local by including these ideas into your Athens city break sightseeing itinerary.
No visit to Athens is complete without going to the Acropolis! This magnificent UNESCO World heritage site dominates the historic center of Athens, as it has done for thousands of years.
Of course, you can just as easily visit the Acropolis yourself, and you can see the main highlights such as the Parthenon and admire those great views over the city. With a guide though, your Acropolis experience is more complete, and you'll get a better understanding of Ancient Athens and its importance to the Western World.
Athens has over 100 museums and art galleries, so it was no easy task narrowing the field down to just the top 5 museums in Athens. Even if you are visiting Athens for 2 days, you should have time enough to visit these places.
Many people marvel at the Acropolis museum, but personally I love the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. It's a big place though, and you can spend hours in here if you're into that sort of thing!
If there's one day trip I'd recommend you take from Athens, it's the trip to Delphi. The Ancient Greek considered Delphi to be the center of the world, and its setting is simply sublime.
Delphi is a difficult place to visit by yourself on a day trip from Athens, so I'd suggest an organized tour. They offer fantastic value for money, and you learn a lot as the guide shows you around one of the most important UNESCO sites in Greece. Allow a full day when planning to visit Delphi from Athens.
If you've seen the ancient sites before, and want to check out the more contemporary side of Athens, you need to read this guide. I've listed the best neighborhoods in Athens that might interest visitors to Greece, including areas with cool cafes, street art, and even upscale shopping. Put on a pair of comfortable shoes, and get exploring Athens like a local!
If you're visiting Athens for 3 days and want a done for you itinerary, this guide is for your. I've laid out a step by step approach to fully experiencing Athens over 3 days, and you can slot in and out extra activities and interests as you see fit.
Three days in Athens is about the ideal amount of time to properly see the must do highlights of the city. This travel itinerary is a great place to start building your own city sightseeing plan!
I've always felt that a bike tour is the perfect way to orientate yourself in a new city you plan to spend time in. It gives you a chance to get your bearings, spot places you want to return to later, and get some inside knowledge from a local guide.
On this Athens bike tour, you'll get to see the historic center of Athens from two wheel in the company of a fun guide who helps really make things come to life. A highly recommended activity you must do in Athens!
When you've got some dates planned for your trip to Athens, why not see if there is a festival or event happening when you are in town? In this guide to what's going on in Athens, I describe the main festivals and events that take place in the city throughout the year. If you're visiting Athens in the summer, be sure to keep an eye out for the Athens and Epidaurus festival - you might get the chance to see some cool acts in ancient theatres around Athens!
The Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora of Athens is one of the best preserved temples from ancient Greece surviving today. Nestled underneath the Acropolis, the Agora is a must visit when in Athens.
There's also a really nice museum in the Ancient Agora which does a very good job of explaining Greek history in an easy to follow way that doesn't quite blow your mind! Allow a couple of hours for visiting the Agora in Athens.
The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens was originally built back in the 4th century BC. Restored in 1895, it is one of the most impressive monuments in Athens. After its reconstruction, the Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first ever Modern Olympics in 1896. It was due to the success of this Modern Olympics, that the tradition of holding the games has continued ever since then.
If you're a fan of the Olympics or are interested in sports, a visit to the stadium is a great idea. There's also a very interesting little museum with lots of memorabilia from different Olympic Games over the years.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony take place at the Presidential Mansion and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier opposite Syntagma Square. It is one of the more unusual and symbolic guard changing ceremonies in the world, and something you should definitely see when in Athens.
The Changing the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier takes place on the hour every hour. If you can though, try to schedule 11.00 am on a Sunday morning when the ceremony is a huge affair involving dozens of the special Evzone guards!
If you prefer classic cars to ancient landmarks, then it might be worth dropping by the Hellenic Motor Museum. There's some very nice cars on display inside a uniquely designed building. This museum is a good back-up option if you are visiting Athens with kids and they are getting bored of rocks and stones!
And finally, you must try the food when visiting Athens! The events of 2020 have meant that I've not been able to update this places to eat in Athens post as much as I'd like, but it should give you a good indication of where to enjoy a good meal when in Athens.
Athens things to see and do
Prefer to see the city with a tour guide? These guided tours in Athens are perfect for making the best use of your time, and getting insights into this remarkable city.
If you've never been to Athens before, you'll definitely want to see the main archaeological sites in the city center. These are:
The Acropolis Hill and Acropolis complex including Parthenon more
The Ancient Agora
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Best Museums in Athens
As you might expect from such an historic city, Athens has some world class museums you can visit. These include:
The Acropolis Museum
The National Archaeological Museum
Visit Athens FAQ
Readers planning a trip to Athens to see the historic sites before continuing their journey on to the Greek islands often ask questions similar to:
Is 2 days enough in Athens?
Athens is a city with plenty to see and do, and two days is only enough time to see the main highlights. You can squeeze in a visit to the Acropolis site and a few museums, as well as other ancient sites and places of interest.
Is it worth just going to Athens?
Athens is a city with plenty of history and culture to offer visitors. There are a number of ancient sites and museums to visit, as well as lively neighborhoods full of restaurants and bars. If you are visiting from Europe, Athens can be a good weekend break destination.
What are the most important archaeological sites in Athens?
The most important archaeological sites in Athens are the Acropolis Hill and Acropolis complex including Parthenon, the Ancient Agora, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Roman Agora, Hadrian's Gate, and Hadrian's Library.
Is the Acropolis museum in the Acropolis complex?
No, the Acropolis Museum is a separate museum located close to the Acropolis complex. There are two different tickets required.
Can I buy skip the line tickets for the Acropolis ruins?
Yes, there are a number of different skip the line tickets that are available for purchase for the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum.
Dave is a travel writer originally from the UK and now living in Athens. He's been writing at Dave's Travel Pages since 2005, and has produced hundreds of blog posts and guides about Athens and Greece. He has a somewhat ambitious (maybe impossible) goal of visiting every Greek island and writing about them. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!