Is Athens worth visiting? Absolutely! Athens is the gateway to Greece as most international travelers will come to Greece through Athens International Airport. However, Athens is not a city to just pass over. A city with 3,000 years worth of history and culture, delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife, lively markets, and friendly people, Athens is definitely worth visiting.
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23 Things to Do and Reasons Why Athens is Worth Visiting
There are so many things to do in Athens, Greece. The city has thousands of years worth of history and is a paradise for history buffs and culture enthusiasts. The city has a lively culture with beautiful shops, markets, nightlife, and the food? The food is simply amazing.
There is truly something for everyone in Athens – Just check out the list below of all the reasons Athens is worth visiting.
1. The Acropolis of Athens – The #1 reason why Athens is worth visiting
The Acropolis of Athens is a highlight of visiting Athens and a bucket list destination. The word Acropolis actually refers to the entire fortified citadel, including the famous buildings such as the Parthenon, Propylaia, Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and several more.
There is over 3,000 years worth of history at the Athenian Acropolis and it is arguably the most historically significant site in all of Greece. Due to this I highly recommend booking a guided tour such as this Athens All Included: Acropolis and Museum In a Cultural Guided Walking Tour.
We tried to visit the Acropolis without taking a tour, and regretted it. The buildings are impressive, but its much more interesting to learn the stories behind them. Additionally, lines at the Acropolis can be long, and so a tour or skip the line ticket is worth it.
For those that aren’t big into history, I recommend this highly rated Athens Highlights: a Mythological Tour which combines some history with fascinating myths and legends of Ancient Greece.
The Acropolis of Athens includes the remains of several historically significant buildings, with the most famous being the Parthenon. The Parthenon is the highlight of the Athens skyline, and is the building many people think of when they picture Athens. The Parthenon dates back to the 5th century BC, and was a temple dedicated to the Greek Goddess Athena.
Another highlight of the Acropolis is the Propylaia. The purpose was to be the monumental gates to the Acropolis but it was never completely finished. To the right of the Propylaia, you will find the Temple of Athena Nike. This temple was dedicated to both the goddesses Athena and Nike, and was where ancient Athenians would worship for success in war.
Other notable buildings include the Erechtheion, which has the famous Athena statues, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The Odeon of Herodes is an impressive Roman stone theater that once hosted up to 5,000 attendants. It was built in 161 AD during the Rome-controlled era of Athens.
2. The Acropolis Museum
If you enjoy history, you’ll love the Acropolis Museum. The museum is a perfect addition to visiting the Acropolis, as the museum contains all the artifacts, statues, and artwork found at the Acropolis’ excavation site.
The museum takes around 1-2 hours to visit, depending on your level of interest. Tickets are 10€ from Nov 1-March 31 and 15€ From April 1-Oct 31. You can also book a guided tour that includes both the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum.
There is also a café with outdoor seating which makes for a perfect break with great views of the Acropolis in the distance.
3. Wander around in Plaka
Plaka is the old historical neighborhood in Athens, in fact this area has been largely inhabited since the days of ancient Greece. The neighborhood includes historically significant sites like the Roman Agora, and also borders the Acropolis.
Plaka is an absolutely beautiful area of Athens, with picturesque cobblestone streets full of shops and restaurants. The main street of Plaka is Adrianou, and is a great place to wander through boutique shops.
Plaka is a must visit stop on any trip to Athens, and also makes for a great area to stay in as it is charming and central to all the major attractions.
4. Explore the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus
The word “Agora” means market place or central area. The Ancient Agora is the best known example of a classical age agora in Greece. Founded in the 6th century BC, this would have been the center of town, with merchants selling goods and also where important decision would have been voted on by Athenians.
Located in the Ancient Agora, you will find the Temple of Hephaestus, which was completed in 415 BC. The Temple was dedicated to Hephaestus, who was the patron god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire.
5. Check Out the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds
The Roman Agora is similar to the Ancient Agora in that it was considered the central market of the town. However, the Roman Agora was the central public area during the Roman controlled era of Athens and was likely built around 11BC.
A highlight of the Roman Agora is the Tower of the Winds. The Tower of the Winds was originally constructed as a water clock to tell time, but was also used for weather forecasting.
6. Indulge on a Greek Food Tour
Greek food is world famous, and for good reason. There are so many must-try food items when travelling to Greece. The absolute best way to try Greek food is to join a food tour, such as this Gourmet Food Walking Tour in Athens.
The Gourmet Food Walking Tour in Athens has over 5,000 5 star reviews and will take you on a walking tour of Athens to try authentic Greek food from some of Athens best cafes, markets, and street food joints. Book this Athens Food Tour today.
7. Is Athens Worth Visiting? Yes to see historical sites such as Hadrian’s Library
Located just outside of the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library was once the largest library in all of Athens. The library was built under the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 132AD, and was used to store literary works, administrative documents, and was home to some of the philosophical schools.
8. Hike up Mount Lycabettus for Incredible Views
Standing 277m (909 ft) above sea level, Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in central Athens. At the top, you’ll find the church of Agios Georgios, a cafe serving lunch and dinner, and a viewing platform that offers incredible views of the city.
To reach the top of Mount Lycabettus you can either hike up or take the funicular cable car up to the top. If you choose to hike up, plan on around 30-90 minutes one way depending on your speed and starting point.
9. Ride Around Athens on an Electric Bike Tour
Looking to see all the sites Athens has to offer but have a short amount of time? I recommend checking out this tour as it will take you around to the top places in Athens within 2-3 hours!
On the tour, you’ll take an electric bike and follow your guide around Athens to learn all about top sites and areas of Athens, such as the Acropolis, Old Town of Plaka, Monastiraki, and much more.
I highly recommend booking this Electric Bike Tour in Athens through Viator. This tour has over 500+ positive reviews and also includes free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance! Tours run daily, and there are different options for start times.
10. Dive Into History at the National Archaeological Museum
For history buffs, Athens National Archaeological Museum is worth visiting when in Athens. This museum houses some of the most historically significant artifacts from Greece’s prehistory all the way through late antiquity.
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in all of Greece. A big difference between this museum and the Acropolis Museum is that the Acropolis Museum is limited to artifacts found at the Acropolis excavation site.
11. Explore a Hidden Gem Neighborhood: Anafiotika
Located in the Plaka area, Anafiotika is a small scenic neighborhood with pedestrian only streets. Although it is located right next to the Acropolis, this small neighborhood is a hidden gem, undiscovered by most tourists. Anafiotika is the perfect place to wander around, sit at a cafe, and just enjoy.
12. Is Athens Worth Visiting? Yes to Enjoy the Nightlife in Psiri
The Psiri district is known for having lively cafe’s and bars and is a great spot for nightlife in Athens. On the weekends, you’ll find this area to be full of people going out and enjoying the night. Psiri is also a very artsy part of Athens, full of incredible street art and graffiti.
13. Visit the Monastiraki Square and Flea Market
Monastiraki Square is a large square in the center of Athens and is full of shops, bars, and cafes. Every Sunday, there is a large flea market that takes place in Monstiraki Square where you will find antiques and other unique miscellaneous items. Bargaining is a common practice here, so try to get some deals!
14. Enjoy a Drink at a Rooftop Bar with Views
The views of the Athens Acropolis are stunning. Enjoying a drink at one of Athens best rooftop bars will truly make you feel that Athens is worth visiting. There are several rooftop bar options in central Athens, but two well rated choices include 360 Cocktail bar and Thea Terrace.
15. Watch the Changing of the Guard
Every Sunday at 11am there is a Changing of the Guard Ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider off from Syntagma Square. The ceremony is performed by the Evzones (members of the presidential guard). The Sunday 11am Changing of the Guard is a special because the Evzones are dressed in the traditional white kilts.
There is also smaller changing of the Guard Ceremonies every day at the beginning of each hour, but they wear the normal winter or summer uniform.
16. Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Solider
The Tomb of the Unknown Solider is a war memorial dedicated to Greek soldiers that died during war. Located just off from Syntagma Square, this is an important monument in Athens that is guarded by the members of the presidential guard.
17. Run an Olympic Lap at the Panathenaic Stadium
On April 6th in 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. This historically significant site is definitely worth a visit for any sports or Olympics fan.
Although the ancient Olympics were first held in Olympia, Greece, the stadium in Athens is still very historically significant as it was build in 566 BC. The stadium is also the only stadium in the world to be built completely of marble.
18. Visit the Iconic Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a large, former colossal temple in Athens. The temple was dedicated to Zeus, the god of the sky and was seen as the father and protector in Greek Mythology. This temple took over 600 years to be built, with construction starting in the 6th century BC and not finishing until 131 AD.
19. Is Athens worth visiting? Yes if you are a cat person!
All around Athens, you will see cats roaming out and about. The locals take care of these cats, and you likely see food and water bowls around as well. Athenian cats are everywhere!
No worries if you are allergic, the cats tend to keep their distance unless you pet them or give them food.
20. Admire the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea
Located off the popular Ermou Street, the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea is a Byzantine church that was built in 1050AD. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of Athen’s most significant Byzantine edifices.
21. Check out the Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum has pieces of art and artifacts from Greek history, as well as artifacts and collections from cultures that influenced the development of Greek culture. The museum is very affordable to visit, costing only 9 euros for adult admission, and free admission on Thursdays.
22. Hit the Beach on the Athenian Rivera
One thing most people don’t realize is that Athens is nearby to some amazing beaches! There are over 30 beaches along the Athenian coastline, which makes many to choose from. One of the closest to Athens is Edem beach. This beach is easy to access by taking the tram to the Edem stop from central Athens.
23. Take a day trip from Athens
One of the best things to do in Athens is to take a day trip to see more of the amazing sites in Greece. The most popular day trip is to visit Delphi. Delphi is the site of the Temple of Apollo and was home to the famous Delphi Oracles.
Another great day trip option from Athens is to soak up the Mediterranean sun on a boat tour. This Day Trip to goes to 3 small islands nearby Athens, and includes drinks and lunch. This is a great way to escape the heat if going to Athens in the summer.
Only have a half-day? Another incredible day trip is to visit the Temple of Poseidon, which is perched along the Mediterranean. This is a great option as it is close to Athens and takes a few hours to visit. This Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon small group tour is a great option that includes transportation.
Is Athens Worth Visiting? Best Time of Year to Visit Athens
Athens is worth visiting, but your experience can be better at certain times of year. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the most ideal, due to lower prices and more comfortable weather. On average, temps range from around 60-75F, which is great weather for sightseeing.
Summer is high season in Greece, and prices in Athens will be high. What else will be high in summer? THE TEMPERTURE. It gets very hot in Athens, especially in July and August with average temps between 73-90F. Athens also does not have a ton of shade, which makes walking around pretty warm.
You can also visit Athens in winter, and this is when you will find the least amounts of tourists and the lowest prices. However, it can get cold and even snow in Athens during winter.
Getting to Athens
Most international travelers will get to Athens by flying into the Athens International Airport, located just outside the city. When arriving at the Athens International Airport, its best to schedule a transfer in to the city of Athens, as the only other option is a taxi.
I recommend using Welcome Pickups for your airport transfer from Athens Airport. We used this service personally and it was so convenient after a 10 hour flight! Welcome Pickups guarantees an English speaking driver, who will meet you by the baggage claim holding a sign with your name on it. It makes you feel like a VIP, and the best part is that it was actually Welcome Pickups was more affordable than a taxi.
✔️Click Here to Book your Athens Airport Transfer with Welcome Pickups
Getting around Athens
Athens is a walkable city, especially if you are staying in a central location such as Plaka and venturing around to the main sites. We stayed in Plaka and walked everywhere – the only time we needed transport was to the airport.
There is also public transportation available in Athens, however as with any large city be extra cautious of pickpockets on public transport. Additionally, there are taxis available throughout the city. Keep in mind, Uber does not really exist in Greece, instead it is Uber Taxi (to connect you with a taxi) or you can use the Bolt app as well.
Do not rent a car for the city center of Athens. Parking is problematic and the driving in the city is chaotic and confusing. If you plan to visit places outside of Athens, spend a few days in Athens and then travel back to the airport to rent your car before heading to your next destination.
Where to Stay in Athens
I highly recommend staying in central Athens, as it is walking distance to all the major attractions. Staying near the Plaka district is ideal if its your first time in Athens, as it is a safe and charming part of the city.
Here are my best hotel recommendations – all in a central area and highly rated:
📍 Fun Budget Hostel: Athens Hub Hostel
📍 Mid-Range Hotel with Acropolis View/Jacuzzi Options: Elia Ermou Athens Hotel
📍 Mid-Range Hotel with Acropolis View Rooftop Bar: A for Athens Hotel
📍 5 Star Luxury Hotel: Hotel Grande Bretagne
Is Athens Safe?
According to the US Department of State website, Athens is a safe city to visit and travelers can exercise normal precautions. In our experience felt completely safe during our entire stay in Athens. Greek people are also incredibly friendly and helpful to tourists, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions if needed.
As with any large city, pickpocketing can be an issue here, especially in crowded tourist areas and on the metro. Keep close watch over your belongings, especially if you are in a crowded area.
There are also some common scams that take place in Athens. These scams are aimed at either distracting someone so they can be pickpocketed or making you feel pressured to giving someone money. The one we came across was a woman handing out roses, and then claiming you would need to pay. There are similar scams done with bracelets and other items. In this case, hand the item back or just say no firmly and walk away.
Is Athens Worth Visiting? If So, How Many Days Should I Spend in Athens?
Athens is the largest city in Greece, and is worth a visit. For first timers, its recommended to spend a minimum of 2-3 nights in Athens to see the major sites like the Athens Acropolis. However, spending 4-5 nights will allow you to experience more that the city has to offer and add in a day trip or 2!
In Conclusion: Is Athens Worth Visiting?
Yes, Athens is worth visiting. It is an incredible city that if full of vibrant culture, thousands of years of history, delicious food, and best of all- wonderful and friendly people.
Most people that visit other destinations in Greece, such as Santorini or the Greek Islands, will do so by way of the Athens airport. This makes stopping in Athens for a few nights very convenient, and it truly is a must visit place if you come to Greece.
Looking to Visit more of Greece?
Looking for more hidden gem places in Greece? Check out our guide to Meteora, a jaw-dropping destination in central Greece. If you want to visit all the hidden gems, check out this Main Land Greece Road Trip Itinerary.
If you decide to check out one of Greece’s famous islands, make sure to visit Santorini. Santorini is one of the most visited places in Greece, for its blue domed churches and white cave houses perched across a stunning caldera cliff. Check out this Ultimate Guide for Visiting Santorini on a Budget for all the best tips to visiting Santorini.