This list of places what to see in Athens will help you to know a city with more than 3,000 years of history and cradle of Western civilization. It is usual to hear that Athens is a city, that as soon as you step on it. You love it or hate it. We can say that after spending three days in the city, we are sure that if you dedicate enough time to visit neighborhoods like Plaka, Monastiraki, and Psiri, you will end up loving her and wanting to return.
In addition to its old neighborhoods, in the city you will find important archaeological sites, of which the Acropolis stands out, endless markets, incredible viewpoints or Orthodox churches, that together with the kindness of its people and, one of the best gastronomies in the world, will turn your Trip to Athens and Greece in general, in all a discovery.
What to see in Athens?
So based on our experience, in the time we spent in this city during our trip to Greece, we have made a list of what we think, are the 10 places to see in Athens essential. We start!
1. The Acropolis
The Acropolis, located on a hill more than 150 meters high, is the most important place in Athens and one of the must-see places in Greece.
Despite being in an easy position to defend, it has been plundered and destroyed many times throughout its history, although thanks to the different restorations you can get a pretty accurate idea of the importance it had during the classic era.
Most of its buildings, such as the imposing Parthenon, were built during the Pericles era (from 499 BC to 429 BC) and, in addition to the Parthenon, other buildings such as the entrance of the Propylaea, the Dionysus Theater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Temple of Erechtheion and that of Athena Nike.
After our experience, we recommend you to enter in the first hour, open at 8 in the morning, to go straight to the top and enjoy the Parthenon and the other temples with the greatest peace of mind.
After touring all the old buildings and see the magnificent views that are obtained from the city, you can go down to see other archaeological remains, which are on the site.
After leaving the Acropolis, we recommend climbing the small Areopagus mountain, with good views of the Acropolis, both during the day and at sunset.
To complete the visit nothing better than entering the impressive Acropolis Museum, another of the places to visit in Athens, in which important pieces of the different buildings of the Acropolis are conserved, including the impressive Caryatids.
A magnificent opportunity to know the history of the most interesting monuments of the city is to book this visit with a guide in Spanish or this one that includes the guided tour of the Acropolis Museum.
Opening hours of the Acropolis: Every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (summer).
Museum visit hours: Mondays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays it closes at 10 p.m.
2. Plaka neighborhood
Located at the foot of the Acropolis, the picturesque district of Plaka is another of the places to visit in Athens. This neighborhood, the oldest in the city, still retains the charm of traditional Greece with narrow streets, beautiful facades of 19th-century buildings and old taverns where you can devour a good moussaka, a gyro, some olives or the typical Greek yogurt.
And although this neighborhood, in recent times has become a very popular area, which also abounds in souvenir shops and terraces with a more touristy and less quality menu, you just have to get out a little more of the streets centric to find that charming neighborhood of yesteryear again.
When you are here, bear in mind that next to Plaka, on the slope of the Acropolis, is the small neighborhood of Anafiótica, with its small white and blue houses, that will take you for a moment to the beautiful villages of the Greek islands.
We recommend strolling early in the morning or at dusk, through the labyrinthine alleyways of the upper Plaka, avoiding the crowds, and ending up in a terrace serving traditional Greek food.
3. Lycabettus Hill
At the top of Mount Lycabettus, at 227 meters, is for us the best viewpoint of the city and one of the must-see places in Athens.
From this point, the highest in Athens, you will get fantastic panoramic views of the entire city and the impressive Acropolis.
Although the mountain is a little away from the center, about 2 kilometers, if you have time, we recommend you to get there on foot and to get to know other less touristy areas of the city. Once at the base, to get to the top of the mountain you have two options: funicular or on foot. If you do it on foot, you have the advantage of stopping at the different natural viewpoints before reaching the top, although with the heat the climb can become somewhat strenuous.
According to our experience, the best time to get up to the viewpoint is one hour before sunset, to be able to see the city day and night. The moment when the sun sets behind the Acropolis with the red sky, we are sure that it will be one of those that will remain forever in your memory and will become another of the most recommended places to visit in Athens.
And if you arrive soon, you can make time visiting the chapel of San Jorge and having dinner at one of the restaurants of the viewpoint, which although very tourist, we have to say that they are highly recommended.
4. Temple of Olympian Zeus
Located 500 meters from the Acropolis, in a flat area, the temple of Olympian Zeus still conserves 15 of the 104 impressive Corinthian columns of 17 meters high, which it had at its inauguration.
Although the temple began to be built in the 6th century BC, it was not until the 2nd century AD that it was finished and the great statue of Zeus could be placed inside. The Roman emperor Hadrian was the main architect of the completion of the work and in honor of him, you can see the huge door of Hadrian 20 meters high next to the temple.
The huge columns next to the views that are obtained from the Acropolis make it for us, in another of the best places to see in Athens.
Many of the archaeological sites in Athens have few remains, so a very interesting option is book this guided tour of the city in which a guide in Spanish will tell you the history and the most interesting anecdotes of each monument, or this free tour of Athens. Free! You consider both of the best excursions in Athens.
Visiting hours: every day from 8 am to 3 pm.
5. Monastiraki neighborhood
Walking west of the Acropolis you will pass from the old Plaka neighborhood to the bustling Monastiraki, another of the most famous neighborhoods and places to visit in Athens.
This district with Turkish influences, has in its markets in the form of souks its great attraction, along with several Orthodox churches and mosques, we recommend you not to miss out on the visit.
The most prominent place in the neighborhood is Monastiraki Square, from which several shopping streets run through the historic center and are perfect for buying all kinds of souvenirs.
Other interesting places in the neighborhood are the Tower of the Winds, the Library of Hadrian, the Fethiye and Tsistaraki mosques, the Pantánassa Church and the Pazari open-air market, which are very interesting to complete the visit to this amazing neighborhood of Athens.
Also, Monastiraki is a perfect area to try traditional Greek food at local restaurants such as All That Jazz or Kallipateira.
Book the best-valued tours and excursions in Athens by travelers:
- Cruise to Hidra, Poros and Aegina
- Excursion of 2 days to Delphi and Meteora
- Classic circuit of 4 days
- Excursion to Delphi
- Excursion to Corinth, Mycenae, and Epidaurus
- More excursions and tours here
6. Ancient Agora
The Ancient Ágora was the meeting place of the old inhabitants of the city, in which the social and political activity was mixed with the commercial one. With a certain resemblance to the Roman forum, in this enclosure they were from administrative buildings, markets, temples to theaters and their origins go back to the year 600 BC, although the passage of time and the numerous sackings make that nowadays a great need is needed. Imagination to move to the time of its greatest splendor.
Although most of the buildings are not standing, you can take a pleasant walk seeing the remains of important places such as the Odeon of Agrippa, the Panathenaic Way. The Stoá de Atalo and the impressive Temple of Hephaestus, in style similar to the Parthenon and which is the best-preserved building and another of the places in Athens.
Visiting hours: every day from 8 am to 3 pm.
7. Central Market
They say that to know a city, you must go through its markets. We, in addition to agreeing with this statement, recommend you especially visit the Central Market, one of the most interesting places to visit in Athens and that will bring you closer to the local life of the city.
This traditional market located between the streets of Mitropoleos and Athinas, a little away from the center, is the place where life and personality of the city are felt and where we are sure, you will fall in love a little more, whenever that is possible, of Athens.
The market has a covered part located in a neoclassical building of the XIX century, where you can find the meat and fish stalls, in two separate enclosures. Outside and in the adjacent streets, you will find the fruit and vegetable market, stands of olives, spices, sweets, and nuts, among other products.
Keep in mind that it is a market in which they buy mostly local and that we could define as a bit chaotic in the oriental style, where you will listen to the vendors offer their product to screams while people try to make their way through the narrow corridors left between the posts.
If you arrive at lunchtime, we recommend the restaurant Oinomageireio H Epirus to try a good traditional Greek food, with fresh products.
A good option to get to know this area and try local food is to book this gastronomic tour.
Visiting hours: Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sundays.
8. Psiri neighborhood
Psiri, located to the west of Monastiraki Square, is the fashionable district of the city and is currently known as the SoHo of Athens. With a troubled past, Psiri has been transformed to become one of the favorite areas of the locals to go out for a drink, shop in its designer stores or walk quietly away from the hustle and bustle of the most touristic neighborhoods. In addition, this small neighborhood is also characterized by its graffiti and the young and multicultural environment.
We recommend to walk the whole street Anargiron, one of the best things to do in Athens, where the majority of bars with a terrace are concentrated, find the Plaza de los Héroes with a magnificent graffiti in the upper part and, above all, enjoy a different atmosphere from the rest of Athens.
The Phaedra Hotel, located in the picturesque Plaka district, 250 meters from the Acropolis Museum and 150 meters from the Temple of Zeus, is for us the best option to stay and tour Athens. The rooms are spacious, have good wifi, the staff is friendly, and the rooms have incredible views of the Acropolis
9. Hill Filopappou
The Hill Filopapo or Filopappou, with 147 meters of height, is one of the best viewpoints of the city and another of the places to visit in Athens essential. Located to the south of the city, the hill receives the name of Filopapo by the monument that is in the top in honor to the Roman consul Cayo Julio Filopapo.
Keep in mind that although from the bottom the climb may seem quite hard, for us it did not present difficulty, besides being full of vegetation, something that will allow you to rest in the shadows of the trees.
We recommend going up one hour before sunset and stopping at the different natural viewpoints until you reach the highest point, where you will get fantastic views of the Acropolis and the city.
10. Agora Romana
Another place to see in Athens is the Roman Agora built by Emperor Augustus, between 19 BC and 11 BC, and which became the center of power, meeting, and business of the Roman Empire in the city.
Located near the Ancient Agora, this large rectangular square 100 meters long, preserves the remains of several important buildings such as the magnificent Tower of the Winds, the Gate of Athena Arquegetis and the Library of Hadrian, another place to visit in Athens.
If you do not have a lot of time to travel around the city, a good way to amortize time to the maximum, is to book the tourist bus that stops at the main attractions of the city.
Visiting hours: every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.