How to Spend a Day in Athens: 10 Incredible Things To Do

28/07/2022Melissa Keeling

With so much to see and do in the Greek capital, follow us on a whistle-stop tour as we show you the best things to do in Athens.

Athens: home to the Acropolis.
Athens: home to the Acropolis & so much more. Photo credit: Mohammed Zar, Pexels

Visiting Athens is a must if you ever get the opportunity. Seamlessly blending ancient temples and Greek history with the contemporary, it’s easy to immerse yourself in galleries, architecture and mythology with a side helping of incredible food and drink.

The city itself is super easy to navigate and many of the most popular sights are within walking distance, or the metro is really easy to use.  So, where should your 24 hours in Athens begin? We’ve rounded up the pick of the bunch to ensure you get the best from your visit.

10 Must-Do’s in Athens

  1. Try a Greek coffee
  2. Experience the city views from Mount Lycabettus
  3. See the Acropolis
  4. Explore the Acropolis Museum
  5. Dine at Montastiraki
  6. Stop by Syntagma Square
  7. Stroll through the National Gardens
  8. Have a photo at the Temple of Olympian Zeus
  9. Visit the Panathenaic Stadium
  10. Party in Psiri

Try a Greek coffee

First things first, the Greeks love coffee. So, fuel up for your day in the Greek capital with either a traditional coffee or an iced coffee. Both will be among the best you’ve ever tasted if you’re something of a coffee connoisseur. Coffee shops are plentiful so if you need more refreshments throughout the day the nearest café won’t be too far away.

Get a caffeine hit to start your day
Get a caffeine hit to start your day. Photo credit: Nick Karvounis, Unsplash

Experience the City Views from Mount Lycabettus

Now you’ve got your caffeine fix we recommend a trip to Mount Lycabettus. One of the highest peaks in the city is accessible by a short hike through a forest or, take the cable car to the summit. You’ll be rewarded with epic panoramic views of the city. Embrace the stunning vista and pick out the iconic sights including the Temple of Olympian Zeus and sublime views of the Acropolis, but more on those later. While you’re here catch a glimpse of the pretty church of St George with whitewashed walls.

Top tip: tick this one off your list early before the city heats up especially if you’re attempting the hike.

Mount Lycabettus overlooks the city.
Mount Lycabettus overlooks the city. Photo credit: Klavs Taimins, Unsplash

See The Acropolis

From here head back down to the heart of Athens and visit the Acropolis in person. Think of Athens and the Acropolis is probably the first thing that springs to mind. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.  Perched atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the modern metropolis lies this iconic sight that is sure to wow you. Discover the remains of ancient buildings at this impressive archaeological site. One of which is the Parthenon, a former temple built for the goddess Athena.

Explore the Acropolis Museum

Another one of the best things to do in Athens is visit The Acropolis Museum. It’s home to a vast array of ancient artefacts discovered in and around of the Acropolis. The museum itself is built over ancient ruins and the foundations are visible from the glass panels on the ground floor. Embark on a chronological journey through the decades as you learn about the past with some sprinklings of Greek mythology thrown in for good measure.

Dine in Montastiraki 

Next up, time for lunch. Who could resist a traditional Greek gyros packed full of tasty Mediterranean flavours. The Montastiraki Square area is home to a wealth of eateries. Choose Varvakios Agora, the indoor and outdoor food market for an unforgettable atmosphere as the vendors entice the crowds with their inviting displays. It’s a true taste of Athenian life. Plus, squeeze in some time to peruse the enormous flea market filled with handicrafts and antiques.

Stop by Syntagma Square

After lunch, head over to Syntagma Square which is within walking distance of Montastiraki. This central square is home to Greek parliament and an abundance of neoclassical buildings. Be sure to stop and see the changing of the guard where the Evisones (that’s the Greek soldiers to you and me), guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This spectacle is one not to be missed, as the soldiers expertly carry out their duties dressed in full regalia. 

Stroll through the National Gardens

Subsequently take a leisurely stroll through the National Gardens, tucked away in the heart of the city. The gardens are home to a botanical museum, a small zoo, and with it being in Greece you might also notice a few mosaics and columns, all remnants of time gone by. 

Have a photo at The Temple of Olympian Zeus

Continue a little further from the National Gardens to view the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch for some great photo opportunities.

This former colossal temple was dedicated to Zeus, the chief of the Olympian Gods. It used to be the largest temple in Greece and housed many impressive statues. Unfortunately, the temple soon became unused following an invasion. Today, sixteen of the original giant columns remain and it is still an archaeologically important location. You’ll be impressed with the enormity of the columns.

Visit the Panathenaic Stadium

A visit to Athens isn’t complete without acknowledging it as the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. Take a tour of the Panathenaic Stadium which is the only stadium in the world to be made entirely from marble. Home to stadiums in all kinds of forms over the years, the stadium in its current form was built in 1896 and hosted both the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics held in the same year. It was a key venue for the 2004 Olympic Games that were held in the city and is the finishing point for the annual Athens marathon.

The stadium is packed full of history, and you can hire headsets that will talk guide you around the arena, highlighting all the best bits. Don’t miss the views of the Acropolis and National Garden from the highest seats in the house. And of course, take your place on the winners’ podium as you imagine what it’s like to be adorned with a gold medal.

Party in Psiri

By late afternoon you’ll be ready for a well-deserved break to rest your legs. Take the metro to the Thissio neighbourhood and discover plenty of outdoor cafes and bars, making it a firm favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. Did we mention you’ll have the stunning views of the Acropolis in the background too?

If you have time at the end of your day in Athens make your way over to Psiri, home to the best nightlife in the city plus a myriad of tavernas, restaurants and cafes. The perfect way to end your 24 hours in the Greek capital.

Get yourself to Greece

Athens is easy to access from many of the Greek islands where there are some incredible luxury resorts. Check out our guide to the Domes Resorts for some Greek getaway inspiration. 

Go to Greek Getaways
Go To Greek Getaways

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