City Trip Athens

Athens city trip – the capital of Greece is a popular destination for a city trip. The city guarantees culture, delicious food, sun and historical sights. Athens buzzes day and night. A stay of one day is not enough! Be sure that your city trip is at least three days so that you can include many sights. If you want to spend some time on the beach make it into a four or five-day trip.

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Central Athens has a population of about 750,000, greater Athens more than 4 million. Given its central role in antiquity, it not surprising that Athens has many archaeological sites, the most famous is the Acropolis. Yet, Athens has much more to offer. It is a lively metropolis and each neighbourhood has a specific character. The Greeks are hospitable and friendly people. Drink ouzo (and dance the sirtaki) in the Plaka or go to a wine bar in Psiri: two attractive neighbourhoods. The Gazi neighbourhood is the new hotspot and full of restaurants, cafes and music. The Exarcheia neighbourhood has an alternative vibe, bars and clubs host live music, including rembetika. Athens is also a shoppers’ paradise especially the Plaka and Monastiraki and surroundings.

Tip: Treat yourself to a hassle-free stay in Athens and buy the Athens City Pass or Athens Tourist Card. This allows you to save time and money during your city trip!

Citypasses for Athens

Athens City Passes have only advantages! Make the most of your time in the Greek capital and buy this pass. City passes guarantee a relaxed stay in the city. No need to find out what bus ticket to buy and where. No waiting in line at famous museums and attractions. City passes allow free access to the most important sights and museums in Athens. This way you save time and also money because you need not buy separate public transport tickets or tickets for museums which is usually more expensive. What’s more, you are entitled to skip-the-line entry to the main museums and sights e.g at the Acropolis. Public transport or the hop-on hop-off bus is included in many passes. Athens passes come in two varieties: Athens City Pass and the Athens Tourist Card. Purchase them online in advance so that you can start sightseeing the moment you arrive in Athens.

City passes at a glance:

  • The Athens City Pass is the most extensive city pass for Athens. It includes free entry to various attractions and museums in Athens. A free two-day (48 hour) ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus is included. There are two types of Athens City Pass: mini and all inclusive. The all-inclusive type includes fast-track entry to the Acropolis. There are always long waiting lines as the Acropolis is the star attraction of Athens.

  • The Athens Tourist Card is especially suitable for people who do not want to see all sights and museums during their city trip to Athens. This card allows free entry to the Acropolis Museum and offers discounts at other sights and museums in Athens. Included in the Athens Tourist Card are a tour with the hop-on hop-off bus through Athens and the airport shuttle from Athens airport to the city.

Compare Athens tourist cards:

Athens City Pass (mini)

hotel en bed breakfast rome

Included:

  • Acropolis Museum

  • Hop-on Hop-off bus

    • 48 hours

  • 2 Walking tours

  • Discounts on museums

  • Public transport (optional)

Athens City Pass (all-in)

hotel en bed breakfast rome

Included:

  • Acropolis

    • skip-the-line

  • Free entry to 12 other attractions

  • Hop-on Hop-off bus

    • 48 hours

  • 2 Walking tours

  • Discounts

  • Public transport (optional)

     

Athens Tourist Card

restaurants en bars in rome

Included:

  • Acropolis Museum

  • Hop-on Hop-off bus

    • 24 hours

  • Airport Transfer

  • Discounts

To Athens by plane

The most comfortable way to get to Athens is by plane. Many worldwide airlines fly direct to and from Athens like Delta Air Lines, British Airways, Canada Air, Air France, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines, Iberia and more. Transavia, Ryanair, Jetcost, Easyjet, Aegian Airlines and more operate direct flights from European cities.

Athens Airport, Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, is the largest airport in Greece and 30 km east of central Athens. This new airport, opened in 2001, has all modern facilities and is easily reached on public transport (metro and bus). As from 2021, a direct metro line will also connect Piraeus to Athens Airport.

From the Airport to Athens City Centre

Metro line 3 (Aghia Marina – Doukissis Plakentias – Athens International Airport) connects the Athens Airport with the city centre. Trains run every 30 minutes, 7 days a week from 6.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. The trip from the Airport to Syntagma and Monastiraki stations takes 40 minutes. Tickets are valid for 90 minutes and cost €10 per person and €5 if below 18 or over 65.

Please note: The platforms are used by both the metro and the suburban train. Make sure that you board the right train! Validate your tickets before boarding.

The Airport Express bus X93 X95, X96 and X97 take about 1 hour to get to the centre of Athens. The travel time to the port city of Piraeus is 90 minutes. A single journey by bus costs €6,-. The fixed price for a taxi ride from the airport to the centre is €38.

Hotel or B&B in Athens

After a day full of culture, history and shopping, it is wonderful to relax in a comfortable hotel, apartment or B&B in Athens. Hotels in Athens range from intimate boutique hotel to low-budget hostels and from luxury five-star hotels to comfortable B&Bs. The choice is yours! Would you like a hotel right in the centre or do you prefer one with Acropolis view or one on the Athenian Riviera? Athens has accommodation for every taste and price.

The City Circus Hostel is budget-friendly and in the middle of the Psiri district (Sarri 16). Hotel Diethnes (Peoniou 52) is also a low-cost hotel. Good mid-price hotels in the centre of Athens are the Athens Center Square Hotel (Aristogitonos 15), close to the lively Varvakeio market, Central Hotel Athens (Apollonos 21), Plaka Hotel (Kaprikareas 7), Sweet Home Hotel (Patroou 5), near Plaka and Syntagma Square. Luxury hotels in the centre of Athens are King George on Syntagma Square (Vasileos Georgiou A’ Street), Electra Metropolis, near Syntagma Square (Mitropoleos 15) and AthensWas Design Hotel (Dionysiou Aeropagitou 5), with a magnificent view of the Acropolis.

In addition to hotels and hostels, Athens also offers a small number of bed & breakfasts. These are usually small-scale where the owner welcomes you personally, provides you with a good bed and hearty breakfast as well as tips for sights, events, walks and other activities in the city. Alice Inn Athens (Tsatsou 9) is a comfortable B&B in the center of Athens.

Athens sights and museums

The Acropolis crowned by the Parthenon is Athens’ most famous landmark. Wherever you are in the city, the Parthenon determines the skyline. Athens has a long history. The city is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Its impressive history is still visible everywhere: the Temple of Zeus, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian to name just a few. In 1896, the first Olympic Games were held in the Olympic Stadium. The Zappeion was used during these first Summer Olympics as the main fencing hall. Lycavittos hill with a sweeping view of Athens and the National Garden are other must-see attractions in Athens.

Athens has not only historical buildings but also museums with imposing collections. The National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in Greece and one of the most important archeological museums worldwide. The New Acropolis Museum is housed in a modern building where the finds from the slopes of the Acropolis are exhibited.

Acropolis

How to get there

Bus and trolley bus

Buses and trolley buses stop at the Makrygianni stop. From here it is a 10-minute walk to the starting point for climb uphill.

The Acropolis crowned by the Parthenon is Athens’ most famous landmark and the hallmark of the Greek capital. No visit to Athens is complete without walking up to this important relic of antiquity. This Doric temple dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, was built on the ruins of a temple destroyed by the Persians. Today, it hosts the Athens Festival in the summer. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is another ancient amphitheater and the main venue of the Athens Festival. This is the theatre where Maria Callas, Pavarotti, Nana Mouskouri and many others performed. Other noteworthy sights are the Erechtheion embellished by the Caryatids whose originals are on display in the Acropolis Museum, the Temple of Nike and the Temple of Roma and Augustus.

Acropolis Museum

How to get there

Location

The Acropolis Museum is located at Dionysiou 15, near the Acropolis

Metro, trolley bus and bus

Metro line 2 stops at Acropolis station. Trolley lines 1, 5 and 15 and many other bus lines stop at the Makrygianni stop, from there it is a 3-minute walk to the museum.

The Acropolis Museum is an absolute must-see during your city trip in Athens. Opened in 2009, it replaces the Old Acropolis Museum which had become too small and was difficult to find. The new Acropolis Museum has a more prominent location. The museum contains almost all portable objects that were removed from the Parthenon to avoid corrosion and include the authentic Caryatids who supported the roof of the Erechtheion, a temple dedicated to several Gods. The star exhibit is the Parthenon Marbles, shown in all their glory against a direct view of the Parthenon itself. The restaurant, all glass, allows you to have a meal or a drink against the backdrop of the Acropolis. Especially at night when the temple is illuminated, this is an impressive place to be.

Ancient Agora

How to get there

Location

The Adrianou street runs along the Agora.

Subway

Metro line 1 takes you to Thissio (Theseiou) station, near the Agora (a 4-minute walk).

In ancient Greece an agora was the central city square. The Greek word ‘agora’ means market, but the agora was much more than simply a market. It was a meeting place where justice was administered, the latest gossip were exchanged and political meetings were held. Socrates delivered his speeches here and the apostle Paul preached Christianity in the Agora of Athens. It was also the place where athletics competitions and theater performances took place. The agora is the best preserved antiquity of Greece. It was inhabited for at least 5000 years and got its rectangular shape in the 2nd century BC. After the Persians had destructed it, the agora was rebuilt at the same time that the Acropolis was built. One of the most important monuments in the Agora is the temple of Hephaestus reconstructed in 1975. Other important monuments are the Vasileios Stoa, the Central Stoa, the Odeon of Agrippa, Nymphaion and Tholos. A visit to the Agora of Athens Museum is worth while. It is located in the impressive building of the Stoa of Attalos.

Roman Agora

How to get there

Location

Polignotou, Lisiou and Pelopida streets run around the Roman Agora

Subway

The nearest metro station is Monastiraki. From here it is only a few minutes to the Roman Agora.

When the Romans were in charge in Athens (from 146 BC), the city centre moved from the Ancient Agora to the Roman Agora. Excavations near Adrianou and Eillou streets give an impression of Athens in Roman times.

The Roman Agora (also known as the Agora of Caesar and Augustus) was built as the new commercial centre of Athens. On the west side, you can still see the Gate of Athena Archegetis with four immense Doric columns. On the north side of the agora are the remains of the Fethiye mosque, one of the few reminders of the Turkish occupation. The best preserved Roman building is the Tower of the Winds on the edge of the Roman Agora. This octagonal structure of 12 metres tall is world’s first meteorological station. On top of the tower is a weather vane with relief images of the eight most important Greek gods of the winds. In Roman times, it was topped by a weathervane in the shape of Triton indicating the wind direction. In its interior, there was a water clock, driven by water coming down from the Acropolis.

Temple of Zeus

How to get there

Location

Andrea Siggrou Avenue

Metro, trolley bus and bus

Trolley buses (lines 1, 5 and 15) and buses stop at the Makrygianni stop, a 5-minute walk from the Temple. Acropolis Metro Station is only a 5-minute walk away.

The Temple of Zeus, also known as Olympieion or Columns of the Olympian Zeus, is one of the largest temples of ancient times. Its construction started in the sixth century BC but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. The temple was colossal: 110 metres long and 40 metres wide and consisted of 104 Corinthian columns that were each 17 metres tall with a diameter of 2 metres. Today, only 15 columns remain. Close to the temple is the Hadrian’s Gate, an 18-metre tall gateway across the road which connected the centre of Athens with the east of the city, a clear sign that Hadrian was now the new ruler.

Lykavittos

How to get there

Location

Lykavittos Hill is located in the suburb of Kolonaki

Foot, taxi metro, bus or cable car

The hardest way is on foot all the way. The easiest way is to take a taxi from anywhere in Athens but you still have to walk up part of the way. You can also take the metro to Evangelismos station and walk uphill. Bus line 60 runs to the bottom of the hill and stops near the cable car station at the corner of Ploutarchou Street. When you get off you follow the footpaths leading to the top.

Standing 277 metres above sea level, Mount Lykavittos is the highest point in Athens. A small white chapel and a restaurant crown the hill top. From here the view of Athens and the Acropolis is breathtaking. On a clear day you can easily see the port of Piraeus, the Gulf of Corinth and the Peloponnese beyond. When the sun sets, this is one of the most romantic spots of Athens. Climb up via hiking trails or take it easy and go by cable car which leaves every 30 minutes from the station at the end of Ploutarchou street. Return tickets cost € 7.

Olympic Stadium

How to get there

Location

Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue

Bus and trolley bus

Bus lines 209 and 550 and trolley lines 2, 4, 10 and 11 stop near the stadium (Stadio stop)

Athens has so many historical sites that it is difficult to decide where to go. As Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, the Old Olympic Stadium is an absolute must-see. The games were held in Olympia, not far from Athens but the Panathenaic Games were held in the Old Olympic Stadium. Built in 329 BC, it could accommodate an estimated 50,000 people. The remains of this horseshoe-shaped stadium were uncovered in 1870, after which they was restored for the first modern Olympic Games of 1896. The Panathinaiko stadium as it is called in Greek, is also known as the Kallimarmaro, which means good or beautiful marble because it is the only stadium in the world that is entirely made of marble. The Kallimarmaro stadium is still used as the finish for the annual Athens marathon in November.

The new Olympic Stadium is part of the Olympic sports complex of Athens. It was built in the early 1980s and is named Spiros Louis after the winner of the first modern Olympic marathon. To be fit the 2004 Games in Athens, the stadium was thoroughly renovated to accommodate more than 70,000 people. A futuristic steel and glass roof was also built to protect the spectators from the bright sun.

Syntagma Square

How to get there

Metro, trolley bus and bus

When you step outside of Syntagma metro station, you see the parliament building right in front of you. Trolley bus lines 1, 2, 4, 5, 11 and the bus lines 227, 230, 790 and 856 also have a stop at Syntagma Square.

All roads seem to lead to Plateia Syntagma – Constitution Square – the centre of the modern city. The Greek National Parliament, an ochre and white Neo-classical building, overlooks the square. Two evzones stand guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The square buzzes day and night and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating. If you want to splash out spend the night in luxurious and elegant Grande Bretagne Hotel. Demonstrations are also held at Syntagma. In front of the parliament building is the Monument of the Unknown Soldier with a relief depicting the naked male figure of a dead warrior lying on the ground. It is a cenotaph dedicated to the Greek soldiers killed during war. Evzones, the soldiers of the Presidential Guard, stand guard on both sides. Their traditional uniform is based on the uniform that the freedom fighters wore during the war of independence against the Ottomans. The pleated skirt and special shoes with pompoms are the most important feature. The changing of the guard ceremony takes place every hour. On Sunday morning at 11 am there is a ceremonial change of the guard with military music. When you like to sit quietly in the shade, go to the National Garden of Athens, a lush and green park behind the parliament building.

Restaurants and bars in Athens

Greeks are foodies! And this is reflected in the number of places where you can eat. They range from informal cafeterias to fine dining with waiter service. Sit down in one of the outside cafes and order ouzo that is always served together with ‘mezedes’, several small plates of titbits. Whether you are looking for souvlaki, traditional ‘gemista’, stuffed peppers, or moussaka or an international dish, Athens has it all. Trendy restaurants, hip eateries, Grandma’s cuisine, Athens is the place to be for a culinary experience.

A good restaurant to taste Greek dishes is Mana’s Kouzina in Aiolou 27,the perfect place to try authentic Greek dishes prepared the way your Greek grandmother would (if you had one). To Kafeneio in the popular Plaka district (Epicharmou 1) and Karamanlidika tou Fani (Sokratous 1) are two restaurants highly recommended. You will find plenty of traditional and budget restaurants near Varvakios Central Market in Athinas shopping street. There is no written menu in restaurant Dioporto in the basement of one of the market halls. Market vendors are the regulars and they know what they want. Just go to the kitchen and point at what you want to eat.

Athens has a vibrant nightlife and offers something for everyone. The Psiri district is a popular place for drinks. Brimming with bars and cafes and outside seating, this district never seems to sleep. More touristy are the rooftop bars of Monastiraki Square where you enjoy your restina or ouze against the backdrop of the Acropolis. Whatever time of day, Agia Irini Square lined with many bars and cafés is a popular place for a drink, a snack or a meal right in the centre of Athens.

The entertainment district with the most popular clubs is Gazi, named after the gas factory that operated here until the 1980s. In recent years, the industrial buildings around the old gas factory have been transformed into hip clubs, where DJs play the latest dance music until the early hours. Popular at weekends are the bouzoukia bars, a must for Greek music and dance lovers. Most bouzouki clubs are located on the Poseidonos coastal road towards Glyfada.

Shopping in Athens

Central Athens is a shoppers’ paradise. Vintage and antiques, large fashion chains and expensive design fashion, small local Greek shops, delis and concept stores, you’ll find them in Athens. Ermou is the main shopping street especially for shoes and clothes. This traffic-free street starts at Monastiraki and ends at Syntagma Square. Here you will find famous stores such as Zara, H&M, Adidas, Mango, Forever 21 and Hondos, a giant cosmetic store. Are you a fan of vintage, antiques, second-hand and tourist souvenirs? Monastiraki Square and in the surrounding streets is the place to be. Don’t expect to find bargains because the flea market in Ifestou Street is very touristic and the prices accordingly. A must-visit is the fruit, vegetable and meat market, Varvarikos Agora, in Athinas Street.

Kolonaki is the up-market district of Athens with excellent restaurants and trendy bars, luxury boutiques selling branded clothes, shoes and fashion. Here you will find Greek designers boutiques, antique shops and art galleries. Kolonaki is a pleasant part of Athens for buying or browsing. The best shops are in Voukourestiou and Tsakalof, two pedestrian streets near Syntagma. The large shopping centres are in the suburbs. The best known are the Athens Heart Mall, Athens Metro Mall, Attica and Mall Athens.

Shopping hours can be a bit daunting as opening hours are not regulated. Most shops stick to the following hours: Mon, Wed, Sat: 09.00-15.00 and Tue, Thu, Fri: 09.00-14.30 and 17.00-20.30. Department stores are open non-stop from 09.00 – 21.00. All shops are closed on Sundays except pastry shops, wine and spirits shops, flower shops and emergency pharmacies.

Open-air and covered markets in Athens

If you really want to experience Athens, you should visit one of the markets. The Varvakeio market is the largest covered market in Athens and located in two 19th-century market halls in the middle of the city in Athinas Street. Slightly resembling a Turkish bazar, this market is a must-visit during your city trip. It is paradise for foodies and brims with local delicacies! This were the locals do their daily shopping. Located next to Monastiraky metro station is the Monastiraki flea market selling everything from leather goods, jewelry, icons to souvenirs and many more things you probably don’t need but are nice to have.