Be warned, if you dislike history then don’t waste your time reading this article. You’re only one sentence in, two including this one. Now, if you think visiting an ancient city where many say western civilization began sounds interesting, then read on. Because there is probably no place in the world where you will find such a rich, pivotal history in world affairs still intact. A history that proved fundamental in changing the course of the West. You can walk among the ruins where men first decided the best way to govern society was through democracy. You can stand where they stood as they voted with their hand and voice. And that is special. As for accommodation, there are plenty of options - from the top hotels with a view of Acropolis to the best Airbnb Plus homes in Athens. Explore this magnificent city and read on to know more about the best things to do in Athens, Greece.
This tour will make you feel as if you have been transported into The Odyssey, Homer’s epic poem. The first leg of this activity will see you enjoying the sight of the sun sinking in the Aegean Sea. From there, you will head over to the Temple of Poseidon, considered as one of the most significant religious structures in ancient Greece. Besides seeing the ruins of the ancient temple, you can also see graffiti on the marble, left by famous authors, including some attributed to Lord Byron, who is considered as one of the greatest English poets. The last part of the trip is a stroll along the Athens Riviera. The tour is hosted by an archeologist who will tell stories about the sites visited and the culture of ancient Greece.
Athens: Sunset Trip to Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon
Duration: 5 hour
2. Catch a performance at the Athens Concert Hall
Not all of the attractions in Athens date back to ancient times. One of the more contemporary attractions in the city is the Megaron Mousikis, otherwise known as the Athens Concert Hall. Built in 1991, the establishment features two concert halls, as well as two smaller spaces for smaller productions and activities. Performances will differ depending on the season but expect a classic opera to be staged during winter and a concert in the gardens to be organized during summers. The Music Library of Greece can be found in the Athens Concert Hall.
Athens Concert Hall
Address: Leof. Vasilissis Sofias, Athina 115 21, Greece
Website: Athens Concert Hall
This tour takes guests on a leisurely cycling tour to see the top tourist attractions in the city. Included in the itinerary of this activity, which runs for approximately 3.5 hours, are the Panathenaic Stadium, the Presidential Mansion, the Roman Agora, the National Observatory of Athens, the National Gardens, and the ancient burial site of Kerameikos Cemetery. The tour will also see you traversing historical neighborhoods such as Thission and Plaka. Do be aware that the tour does not include entrance charges to the sites. However, time will be devoted to taking photographs in each site, and for the guide to give information about the stop.
Athens: Morning Bike Tour
Duration: 3.5 hour
Who doesn’t love Greek/Mediterranean cuisine? This activity, which takes about four hours, gives guests the opportunity to learn how to prepare a three-course meal. The lesson starts with a trip to the Central Food Market, where the host will provide you with tips on how to buy ingredients to make the tastiest dishes. At the end of the class, recipes of the food you have prepared will be provided to all those who joined. This means that you can prepare the dishes easily even when you’re already back home.
Athens Half-Day Small-Group Traditional Greek Cooking Class
Duration: 4 hours
If you have always wanted to develop your wine-tasting and pairing skills, sign up for this class. This intimate class is one that Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, will surely be proud of. Guests will be presented with five different kinds of Greek wines, each of which is produced in a different wine region using different varieties of grapes, and be taught what would work best with them: cheeses, cold cuts, olives, and/or breadsticks. Even as your tastebuds savor the various flavors, you will also be taken on a figurative journey through the history of winemaking in Greece.
Best rated Acropolis Wine Tasting
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
6. Learn about the evolution of Greek art at the Benaki Museum
Located in the downtown area of Athens, Benaki Museum features art pieces from the different periods of Greece’s history, from prehistoric times to works from the 20th century. There are also other artifacts, including jewelry, embroidery, ceramics, and costumes on display. Originally, Islamic art was also featured in the museum, but these have been moved to an extension of the Benaki Museum in the Kerameikos district.
Address: Koumpari 1, Athina 106 74, Greece
Website: Benaki Museum
This activity provides a fantastic opportunity for travelers to make a unique souvenir made using their own hands. The activity starts with a lesson on ancient Greek art, specifically ceramics and sculptures. After this orientation, you will then be given the opportunity to choose what type of ceramic you want to create and design. Beginners or those who have absolutely no experience in pottery making need not worry because the instructors are available to give you instructions on how you can produce a product that you will be proud of displaying. Once done, you can choose to have your output - which will be baked by the organizer - shipped to either your hotel in Athens or to your home.
Athens Pottery Workshop: Make Your Own Souvenir
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
This activity allows guests to enjoy a bird’s eye view of Athens as they feast on a six-course meal. You can choose between two options: sunset dinner or city lights dinner. Whichever option you select, you will be treated to an aerial dining experience where you will be suspended in the air, with the table slowly rotating so you get to enjoy views of the city from different angles. Unlimited wine, beer, and soft drinks are served with the food. The entire experience runs for approximately 1.5 hours. Do make sure to inform the host of any dietary requirements or concerns prior to booking so that these can be factored in when the meal is prepared. Be aware that this dinner experience follows a smart casual dress code, so dress accordingly.
Dinner in the Sky Athens
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Want to enjoy the best of the nightlife in Athens but don’t know where to start? Instead of worrying about what to include in your itinerary, join this pub crawl tour instead and get the chance to visit three of the best bars in the city. The first bar on the list is either a rooftop bar that provides you with fantastic views of the city (if you’re joining the tour on a Friday or a Saturday) or a popular cocktail bar (if you join the tour between Sunday and Thursday). The second destination on the itinerary features an open bar setup that will allow you to enjoy unlimited beer or sangria for an hour. The final stop is a bar and club where you can have fun dancing and enjoying the beat of the music. This club is open until 5:30 am, so you can literally dance the night away on the last leg of the tour.
The Original Pub Crawl - Athens Drunk Tour
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
This walking tour brings guests to sample the best of Greek cuisines, from well-known dishes such as koulouri, bougatsa, and loukoumades to more obscure offerings that travelers may not be able to find without the help of a local. The tour includes a visit to Varvakeios Market, where participants will get to learn about the herbs and spices typically used in Greek cuisine. The tour is about 3.5 hours long and features around eight stops where guests can have their fill of the tastiest Greek food offerings. If possible, try to skip breakfast on the day of your tour so that you will have plenty of space in your stomach for all of the treats you will be enjoying.
Athens Small-Group Culinary Walking Tour with Tastings
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes
This experience will make you feel as though you are bar hopping with some good friends while enjoying fantastic views of the city. The tour brings travelers to three of the top rooftop bars of Athens. The host is not just knowledgeable about where to bring her guests around the city, she also provides excellent drink recommendations and can suggest local brews and drinks if you’re unfamiliar with the bars’ offerings. She hares fun anecdotes and stories to make you feel at ease and enjoy the experience.
Rooftop bar hopping with local friends
Duration: 3.5 hours
Greek mythology is awash with stories involving prophecies and predictions. You can experience a version of this activity while allowing you to indulge your love for coffee at the same time. The host will first prepare the coffee for her guests, although you will be more than welcome to learn from her how to make authentic Greek coffee. Once the coffee has been drunk, the cups will then be turned upside down and left to rest for a short period of time. During this lull, the host will provide some information about the art and history of coffee cup reading. Once the cups cool, the host will then provide her guests with instructions on how to read the shapes and patterns that form from the grounds. At the end of the activity, you will be given a hand-written guide on how to interpret patterns, as well as some tips on how to make the perfect cup of Greek coffee. Bring an open mind with you when you join this activity.
Learn the Art of Reading a Coffee-Cup
Duration: 2 hours
13. Examine the artifacts at the Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum, as the name suggests, houses the ancient artifacts of the Acropolis. This building is actually the third incarnation of the museum and it is called the New Acropolis Museum: the artifacts had to be transferred twice as more artifacts were found so that the pieces can be housed under one roof. Currently, there are over 4,000 pieces on display, and there’s space allotted in the event that the Elgin Marbles are returned to Greece. The building was designed to resemble the architecture of the Parthenon, and the interiors - and the exhibits - have been arranged such that these will mirror how the buildings and structures in the Acropolis were arranged.
Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42, Greece
Website: Acropolis Museum
14. Visit the Parthenon
If you’re wondering what to see in Athens, then the Parthenon should be at the top of your list. Built in 447 BC, the Parthenon was a wonder of the ancient world, and is now one of the modern. Dedicated to the Goddess Athena, it is the most important surviving building of classical Greece and is a symbol of democracy and western civilization. It’s amazing that it has held up for over two millennia. To walk among the Doric columns and the surrounding ruins is not an opportunity you want to miss. If you are going to Athens, this is a must-see.
Website: The Parthenon
15. Wander the authentic Plaka neighborhood
If you happen to stumble upon the Plaka district when roaming Athens, then you will immediately register a difference. The Plaka neighborhood holds the oldest neighborhoods in Athens. The neoclassical buildings are painted bright colors and hanging flowers adorn their walls. There are many cafes and shops; the area caters to tourists. The neighborhood is known as the ‘Neighborhood of Gods’ since it lies below the Acropolis. It is a great place to spend a few hours and buy gifts for your friends and family back home.
Address: Plaka, Athens 105 58, Greece
Website: Plaka district
16. Explore the Temple of Hephaestus
Those wondering what to do in Athens can consider exploring the Temple of Hephaestus. It is perhaps the most intact landmark from Greek antiquity in Athens. It is located on the Agora of Athens and is surrounded by well-kept lawns and shrubs. It’s a great place to take a stroll and admire ancient Greek architecture. For those who weren’t a Greek mythology nerd like I was growing up, Hephaestus is the god of metal working, craftsmanship, and fire. Just one question now. Is it a coincidence that the God of craftsmanship’s temple is in spectacular shape, by far the temple in best shape, or not?
Temple of Hephaestus
Address: Athens 105 55, Greece
Website: Temple of Hephaestus
17. Check out the ruins of Ancient Greek civilization at the National Archaeological Museum
History buffs, come one, come all. If the weather looks foreboding take refuge in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The museum holds some of the rarest Greek treasures in the world, ranging from prehistory to late antiquity. As you walk through the rooms, just by observing their sculptures, tools, and bones, you will witness the rise and fall of Greek epochs. The museum is sleek and elegant and offers an array of rotating exhibitions. The Odysseus and Ithaca exhibitions are recommended!
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
Address: 28is Oktovriou 44, Athina 106 82, Greece
18. Scale Mount Lycabettus for a great view of Athens, and a great sunset view
Have you ever wished that you could just go to the middle of a city and have a perfect view of it in all directions? Meet Mount Lycabettus. You can’t take an elevator up for this view, but the hike is more than worth it. Scaling Mount Lycabettus is one of the most fun things to do in Athens, Greece. From the top you have an unimpeded view of all that is Athens. I recommend going here one of your first days in Athens so you have a good mental image of the city in your head as you explore it. The top has an open-air amphitheater where the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Radiohead, and James Brown have played.
Website: Mount Lycabettus
19. Don’t miss the Temple of the Olympian Zeus
One of the best things to do in Athens is to visit the Temple of the Olympian Zeus. If you’re the superstitious sort, it’s probably wise to pay your respects at the temple. Started in the 6th-century BC and completed in the 2nd-century AD, the temple originally had 104 colossal columns. Today, 16 still stand. That may not sound like much of a temple, and admittedly it isn’t. But these ancient columns are worth seeing just by the virtue of how large they are. You will probably not find anything like them in Greece.
The Temple of the Olympian Zeus
Address: Athens 105 57, Greece
Website: The Temple of the Olympian Zeus
20. Get lost in the National Garden of Athens
If I was a kid, this is where I would play tag. The National Garden is 38 acres (15 hectares) of trimmed grass, tunnels covered with vegetation, and open spaces of fountains, statues, and trees. Not to mention it has a duck pond, botanical museum, cafe, children’s library, and playground. There’s much to see and enjoy in this calm, peaceful refuge away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The National Garden of Athens
Address: Amalias 1, Αμαλίας 1, Athina 105 57, Greece
Website: The National Garden of Athens
21. Go for a run at Panathenaic Stadium
Panathenaic Stadium has the distinction of being the only one in world that is made entirely out of marble. Originally built in 330 BCE for the Panathenaic Games, it has been rebuilt many times since then. In present times, it is used to host various marathons and sports events, including the final stop for the Olympic torch handover ceremony. Visitors can take a tour of this stadium, go for a run on the track and even strike a pose at the original winner’s podium.
Address: Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athina 116 35, Greece
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 5.6 USD
22. Shop at Monastiraki Flea Market
Take some time off sightseeing and stroll through Monastiraki Flea Market. This eclectic market consists of rows of cramped shops selling all manner of goods, including souvenirs, army surplus, clothing, jewelry, art, home decor objects, trinkets, and more. Consisting of many alleys lined with shops and stalls selling secondhand items, this flea market is a bargain hunter’s paradise. Historic excavation sites surround this market and it is the perfect place to spend a few hours in the city.
Monastiraki Flea Market
Address: Ifestou 2, Athina 105 55, Greece
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 8am - 6pm; Sun: 10am - 6pm
23. Take an astronomy tour at the National Observatory of Athens
One of the oldest research institutes in Greece and entire southern Europe, National Observatory of Athens is a great place to visit in Athens. It has two visitor centers, but the one at Thissio, opposite Acropolis is the most popular one. It houses the Doridis telescope through which you can observe the beautiful sky of Athens during a guided astronomy tour. You can sign up for a special night sky astronomy tour and spend an evening learning about the stars and planets at National Observatory of Athens.
National Observatory of Athens
Address: Lofos Nymphon - Thissio, PO Box 20048 - 11810, Athens
Website: National Observatory of Athens
Opening hours: 9am - 2pm (daily)
Price: 5.6 USD
No trip to Greece is complete with sampling some authentic and delicious Greek food. Go one step further and take a Greek food cooking class in Athens. In this tour, you will prepare a three-course meal consisting of traditional Greek dishes like spinach phyllo pastries, tzatziki, and more. A local chef will share authentic recipes with you and afterwards, you will make your way to the rooftop for a scrumptious dinner accompanied by a glass of wine and a gorgeous Acropolis view.
Athens Greek Cooking Class with Rooftop Dinner, Acropolis View
Duration: 4 hours
Now, these are only a few things you can do in the capital of Greece, the cradle of western civilization. When you go to these destinations, ask staff there what other popular attractions are around. Athens is a large city, and if archaeology, museums, and gardens aren’t your cup of tea, climb to the top of Mount Lycabettus and see what is out there for yourself!
Get Trip101 in your inbox