Things to do in Athens

A bucket-list must. Pair visits to the Acropolis' top with walks through the Greek Capital's grungy underbelly.

Our most recommended things to do in Athens

Athens: Acropolis Guided Tour with Entry Ticket

1. Athens: Acropolis Guided Tour with Entry Ticket

Enjoy skip-the-ticket line access and discover the cradle of Western civilization on a guided visit to the Acropolis. Choose from either a shared or private guided experience and indulge in tasty Greek treats when you upgrade to include a street food tour in Athen's old town. At the start of the tour, meet your dedicated guide at a hot spot for traditional Greek delicacies, where there are restroom facilities and you can purchase water or snacks. Let your guide take you onto Pnyx Hill, which is the actual birthplace of democracy. Continue to immerse yourself in Ancient Greek history on a 50-minute tour of the world-famous Acropolis in Athens. Admire the stunning architecture of the Parthenon Temple, learn the importance of the Erechtheion Temple, and hear myths and stories about ancient Athens. After your guided tour, you have the option to stay on the hill to explore further at your own pace and enjoy the view over the city and up to the Aegean Sea. Your guide will show you a different route towards the south exit so that you also see the Altar of Asclepius and the Theater of Dionysus, the birthplace of theater drama. Upgrade and extend your tour by adding a Greek street food experience. Follow your guide to explore additional areas of the Acropolis hill and the south slope. Afterward, walk into the Old Town for a guided tasting of popular Greek street foods.

Athens: Acropolis & Top Attractions Tickets with Audio Guide

2. Athens: Acropolis & Top Attractions Tickets with Audio Guide

Explore the ancient Acropolis at your own pace with skip-the-line e-tickets. Choose to upgrade your experience with optional combo tickets to the city's top archaeological attractions and museums, including Acropolis Museum, Ancient Agora, Kerameikos, Olympieion, Roman Forum, Hadrian's Library, Aristotle's Lyceum, and the National Archaeological Museum. You can select the ticket-only option or the ticket with audio option to access up to 6 captivating audio tours on your smartphone. Uncover the history of the city as well as a number of fascinating sites that shaped contemporary Athens on a self-guided audio walking tour. After booking, simply download your ticket and audio tours on your phone with the link sent to you. Once you enter each attraction, put on your headphones and discover the sites through the power of storytelling and learn historical information and uncommon anecdotes from ancient times.

From Athens: Full-Day Rail Tour to Meteora w/ Hermit Caves

3. From Athens: Full-Day Rail Tour to Meteora w/ Hermit Caves

Travel by train through the countryside on a day trip from Athens to the Meteora monasteries and Hermit caves, with the option to upgrade to first-class tickets. Take a scenic drive from Kalambaka and visit 3 of the monasteries atop their rock pinnacles along with the caves of Badovas with a guide. Catch the train to Kalambaka in the morning from the Athens railway station and enjoy a trip that will give you the chance to admire the beauty of the countryside. Arrive in Kalambaka by noon, a small town built at the foot of the majestic grey rocks, and crowded by the Meteora monasteries. Meet your driver and board a VIP Mercedes minibus to transfer to the UNESCO-listed clifftop monasteries of Meteora. Travel through a landscape of green valleys until you reach the rock formations. Visit 3 active monasteries over the next 5 hours (entrance fees not included). Next, discover the caves of Badovas, where the last of the hermit monks of Meteora lived more than 2 centuries ago. Stop for frame-worthy photos at each site, learn the stories and legends, and enjoy great views from the most panoramic spots. At the end of the day, be driven back to Kalambaka. Enjoy an hour of free time to walk in the town’s center or to have a light lunch (at your expense) before hopping on the return train to Athens.

Athens: Sunset Trip to Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon

4. Athens: Sunset Trip to Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon

With a guide, experience the Athens Riviera and uncover the history behind each turn. Witness the sun melt over the Aegean Sea on Cape Sounion and see the Temple of Poseidon. Depart Athens by bus from Halandri Metro station and reach Cape Sounion in time for the mesmerizing sunset. Learn about Sounion’s past and present from your archaeologist guide. Explore the Temple of Poseidon, one of the most important temples in Greece. See the signatures on the temple marble left by famous authors who visited, including the Romantic poet Lord Byron. Watch the sunset over the clear waters of the Aegean Sea. After, a short stop at the magical Lake Vouliagmeni, a unique natural treasure on the Athenian Riviera.

From Athens: Full-Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros and Hydra

5. From Athens: Full-Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros and Hydra

Climb aboard the new "Cosmos" cruise vessel on a day trip from Athens to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra. Explore the 5 spacious lounges, state-of-the-art audiovisual systems, and 5 bars of the 70x10 meter boat. Take an optional bus tour of the Temple of Aphaia and Monastery of Agios Nektarios in Aegina. Set sail for Hydra and discover an island untouched by time. Explore its cobblestone alleys and unique architecture, and see the donkeys that still provide public transportation. Take an optional walking tour of the town to see historic landmarks and traditional houses. Next, cruise to the leafy island of Poros, full of green pine forests and scented lemon groves. Experience the romance and calm of the island at tranquil beaches. Then, go to Aegina, known for its pistachio groves and beautiful beaches. Take an optional bus trip to the majestic Temple of Aphaia and the Byzantine Monastery of Agios Nektarios. Experience Greek hospitality at its finest along the way, and enjoy live entertainment and dancing. A modern kitchen, a VIP area for 60 people, and a VIP cabin add to the sense of luxury.

Athens: Acropolis, Parthenon, & Acropolis Museum Guided Tour

6. Athens: Acropolis, Parthenon, & Acropolis Museum Guided Tour

Meet your licensed tour guide, an experienced archaeologist, and then start your unique combination of a tour. Enter from the south slope of the acropolis and set off on your leisurely walking tour of some of the world’s finest monuments. Along the way, listen as your guide shares knowledgeable insight into the citadel’s ruins including excavation details. Visit the Theater of Dionysus, an amphitheater that is arguably the birthplace of performing arts. Perch yourself on a stone seat to imagine the sights and sounds experienced by ancient theatergoers who came to watch plays by Greek writers Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Also, pass the Odeon of Herodes Atticus; the theater is still used today during the Athens Festival from May to October. Find peace and quiet at an Asclepius, a healing temple that honored the god of medicine Asclepius, before the Parthenon. Wander around the temple to learn about how it was constructed for the goddess Athena. Once you familiarize yourself with the site's classical architecture, head indoors to the New Acropolis Museum for a brief break and refreshments (at own expense) in the cafe. Ranked one of the top 5 museums in the world, the New Acropolis Museum boasts collections of statues and other relics of everyday life in several galleries. In the Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, the glass floor occasionally reveals an archaeological excavation site.

From Athens: Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon Sunset Tour

7. From Athens: Cape Sounion & Temple of Poseidon Sunset Tour

Visit the scenic coastal views of Cape Sounion on a private or semi-private tour from Athens with hotel transfers. Travel along south Attica’s shoreline roads to reach the ancient Temple of Poseidon. Get panoramic vistas of the Aegean and explore the ruins of this temple before catching a beautiful sunset. Start your day with pickup at your accommodation in Athens. Enjoy a comfortable 50-minute drive along the coastal roads of Attica in an air-conditioned minivan and admire the idyllic beaches and small villages that pass by. Arrive at Cape Sounion and make your way to the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, dedicated to the Greek god of the sea, and embark on a guided tour of this historic landmark. Learn about the mythology linked to the temple before having time to relax and take in the panoramic views over the Aegean. Continue to one of Cape Sounion's blue flag beaches to admire the sunset or swim in the paradisical Aegean Sea. After the tour, travel in comfort back to your accommodation in Athens.

Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip by Train in English or Spanish

8. Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip by Train in English or Spanish

Take a day trip from Athens to Meteora with a guide, with round-trip train tickets to Kalambaka and onward transportation included. Get a panoramic view of all 6 holy monasteries and enter 3 of the most popular ones. While exploring the region’s hidden gems, visit the hermit caves of Badovas. Redeem your e-ticket for the early morning departure from Athens at and travel to Kalambaka using the train tickets sent to you in advance. Sit back and admire the beautiful landscapes along the way.  The train ride takes about 4 hours and it is recommended that you bring your own food and drinks. Upon arrival in Kalambaka, meet your guide at the train station and start your customized Meteora tour. See all 6 monasteries of the stunning rock formation over 5 hours. Look inside 3 of the UNESCO World Heritage monuments for a glimpse behind their imposing walls. Stop taking photos of locations that only the locals know about. Have the chance after the tour for a nice walk in the city of Kalabaka and be prepared for the departure of the train. Be dropped off at Kalambaka Train Station to make the late afternoon departure for Athens.

From Athens: Guided Day Trip to Delphi and Arachova

9. From Athens: Guided Day Trip to Delphi and Arachova

Embark on a tour of Delphi from Athens and explore this Unesco World Heritage Site. Take in the spectacular views from Parnassus and discover the picturesque village of Arachova. Meet your guide at the Halandri Metro Station and journey to Delphi via bus. As you drive towards Delphi, you’ll see the sacred site emerge from two terraced rocks known as Fedriades.  Discover what the ancient Greeks called “the navel of the earth.” Visit the Oracle of Delphi, the holiest site in Ancient Greece. Learn about great figures of ancient history such as Alexander the Great and Cicero as you take a trip to Greek mythology. Explore the archaeological museum of Delphi, and see artifacts from the Archaic through the Roman era, including the Sphinx of the Naxians, the Iniohos, and the statue of Antinoos. Afterward, enjoy a delicious homemade lunch at a nearby restaurant (at your expense). Before returning to Athens, see the picturesque village of Arachova nestled in the foothills of Mt. Parnassus.

From Athens: Meteora Day Trip by Train with Hotel Pickup

10. From Athens: Meteora Day Trip by Train with Hotel Pickup

Explore the UNESCO-listed Meteora monasteries on a full-day guided trip from Athens. Take the train to Kalambaka and ascend to the clifftop to admire the monasteries and hermit caves of Badovas. Enjoy your morning wake-up, avoiding any stress regarding your transfer to the rail station with our free-of-charge pick-up service. Arrive at the Athens railway station and catch the train for Kalambaka. Admire the beauty of the countryside along the way before arriving in Kalambaka, a small town built at the foot of rocky grey cliffs crowned by the monasteries of Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spot your driver upon arrival in Kalambaka, holding a signboard with your name on it. Be shown to the vehicle that’ll take you to the monasteries, where you'll have time to visit 3 of them, as well as the hermit caves of Badovas. At the end of the day, be transferred back to Kalambaka. Enjoy some time to explore the town and enjoy a light lunch (not included in the tour price). Afterward, the train departs Kalambaka, arriving in Athens in the evening.

Frequently asked questions about Athens

What are the best day trips and excursions from Athens?

The best day trips and excursions from Athens are:

Delphi, Greece

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Athens

Thomas Dowson is the founder of Archaeology Travel, a website for those seeking adventures in archaeology and history. As a professional archaeologist Thomas enjoys visiting archaeological and historical sites around the world. And sharing these experiences so that others can explore the world’s pasts more deeply. On his blog, you can find more information and all the details for planning a trip to Athens.

What should I do on my first trip to Athens?

Perhaps an obvious suggestion, but really no one should miss the Acropolis, and the Acropolis Museum. Find a guide, in whatever form, that will help you see more of this ancient citadel than the Acropolis of the 5th century BC. As spectacular as these ancient monuments are, there is more to the Acropolis than the Parthenon and Erechtheion.

What are some hidden gems to see in Athens?

Besides the Acropolis, and the other 5 well known ancient sites, there are many ruins dotted about the city. One of my favourites is in view of the Tower of the Winds. Just beyond the Roman Agora is a doorway that was once the entrance to an Ottoman era theological school, and then a prison. Very little of Ottoman Athens survives today, much of it destroyed deliberately - such as the mosque on the Acropolis. Little remnants like these add a lot to the story of Athens.

How much time should I spend in Athens?

Not surprisingly most people come to Athens to see the ancient sites. For this, three or four days will not only give you enough time to see most of these plus a day trip to Delphi and/or an afternoon trip to Sounion to watch the sunset. But, I strongly recommend adding a day or two to explore beyond the historical centre of Athens. Each neighbourhood has its own character: visit the Central Varvakios Market in Psirri or go in search of street art in Exarchia.

What food is Athens known for?

Athens is great for walking. And if anything goes well with walking it is street food. Gyros and souvlaki are my go to choices while exploring the city on foot. A gyros is a pita bread filled with shaved meat cooked on a rotisserie. Souvlaki on the other hand is diced meat on a stick cooked on a hot plate. Add a good tzatziki sauce to either and for me that is heaven in your hands. Vegetarian versions made using grilled cheese are just as good!

What is the best way to get around Athens?

Central Athens is easy to get about on foot. Here are all the main attractions and lots of good hotels. For those who want to stay a bit further out, there is a good metro system. Whether you arrive by air or sea, the metro also serves both the airport and the port.

What are the best months to visit Athens?

Having been visiting Athens for over 20 years, my favourite times of the year are the beginning of May and the beginning of October. In May the city is gearing up for summer and not yet crowded, and the Jacaranda trees are in bloom. In October the summer crowds have left, and it is not too hot.

What is neighborhood Exarchia known for?

Most visitors to Athens will only experience the Exarchia neighbourhood through the National Archaeological Museum. The streets might not look as inviting as in other areas, but this is definitely an area to explore, particularly if you like graffiti and street art. Exarchia is also known as the riot area of Athens, being the site of some major street riots in the history of Athenian politics.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

As many of the historical attractions are in the Monastiraki and Plaka areas, there are also many restaurants serving the usual Greek cuisine for tourists. A better area in my opinion, and not far from the centre of Athens, is Psirri. I was introduced to this area on a food walking tour of Athens. Besides the central market area, you will find some great restaurants, bars and cafes, filled with local Athenians as well as a few visitors.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

The southern slopes of Lycabettus Hill, between Syntagma and Evangelismos metro stations, is Kolonaki - one of the most upmarket areas of central Athens. Kolonaki is perfect for high-end shopping. A more affordable shopping experience can be found on the streets running between Syntagma and Monastiraki Squares.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Athens?

Given how popular a tourist destination Athens is, there is a good choice of accommodation in most areas of the city to suit all budgets. When it comes to choosing one of these areas, I keep coming back to central Athens. For me, nothing beats a hotel with a view of the Acropolis.

What are the best annual events in Athens? 

The beautifully preserved Herodes Atticus Theatre just below the Acropolis, provides a truly evocative setting for the annual Greek Festival. On offer is a varied programme of dance and music from June to August.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Athens? 

For anyone who enjoys hiking, Athens has a number of green spaces that provide the perfect opportunity to get some outdoor activity while on holiday. And with spectacular views. Closer to the city centre is Filopappou Hill, a vast area with many walking routes through ancient ruins. For those feeling a bit more energetic, climb Lycabettus Hill - the tallest of the seven hills.

What are the best beaches around Athens? 

Although there are sandy beaches from the port of Piraeus to Cape Sounion, those closer to the port are probably not top of anyone’s list. And of course nothing could beat swimming in clear blue waters below the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. But the most popular beaches with easiest access from Athens can be found in the Kavouri-Vouliagmeni area.

Other Sightseeing Options in Athens

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What people are saying about Athens

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 23,420 reviews

The location was exceptional… such great views. The restaurant ambience was very good … the waiters were skilled…. Even the water was served with professionalism. The sommelier was affable and knowledgeable and served a good range of Greek wines focussing on local varietals. Good explanation of each wines characteristics. I thought the event was good value .. as to taste the numbers of wines would have otherwise been an expensive venture!

This was a perfect mix of Athens culture and history accompanied by food, wine and sweets. Our guide Panos was easy going, full of knowledge and kept the pace lively and interesting. I’d highly recommend this tour

The walk was wonderfully calibrated - it's not easy, nor is it too difficult - and the sights are simply the finest imaginable.

Excellent trip - it was great to head out of the city to see and learn about somewhere so fascinating. Would recommend.

The bus was clean and comfortable. The guide was knowledgeable. Worth the time to do. Steve