Must Do in Athens: Essential Travel Guide

Athens, the capital of Greece, is a city that exudes history, culture, and charm.

When considering the must-dos in Athens, whether you have just one day or several days, this essential travel guide will help you make the most of your time in this ancient and captivating city.

The image shows the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens, featuring several tall, ancient columns under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds.

Must Do in Athens: Travel Checklist

All the below attractions are a must-do in Athens. To make the most of your visit, ensure you visit the Acropolis with its rich history, relish Greek cuisine in a local taverna, and witness the ceremonial Changing of the Guard. Don't miss out on exploring the Ancient Agora and indulging in the culture at the Acropolis Museum.


The Acropolis is undoubtedly the highlight of any visit to Athens. Perched high above the city, this ancient citadel is home to iconic monuments that date back to ancient Greece. The most famous of these is the Parthenon, a majestic temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Acropolis also offers stunning views of Athens and the surrounding landscape.

Acropolis Museum

Boasting artifacts dating back to the 2nd century AD, this museum offers a glimpse into the ancient Greek world. Housing sculptures, statues, and treasures from the Acropolis provide insight into the rich heritage of Athens. The museum, strategically located near the Acropolis itself, complements a visit to the iconic landmark. With Greek artists' masterpieces on display and educational exhibitions, the Acropolis Museum is a cultural gem in the city.

Ancient Agora & Temple of Hephaestus

This ancient marketplace was the center of social, political, and commercial life in ancient Greece. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of various structures, including the Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved ancient Greek temples. The Temple of Hephaestus, also known as the Hephaisteion, is dedicated to the god of fire, metalworking, and craftsmanship. Built in the 5th century BC, it is a stunning example of ancient Greek architecture. The temple's well-preserved columns and intricate friezes are a testament to the skill and artistry of the ancient Greeks.

Roman Agora

Built in the 1st century BC, the Roman Agora served as a marketplace and social hub during the Roman era. One of the main attractions in the Roman Agora is the Tower of the Winds, a magnificent marble clocktower that dates back to the 1st century BC. This octagonal tower features intricate carvings and a sundial, which was used to tell the time in ancient Athens. Another notable structure in the Roman Agora is the Gate of Athena Archegetis, a monumental gateway built by the Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. This impressive structure is adorned with reliefs depicting scenes from Greek mythology.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Built over several centuries, the temple was dedicated to the king of the gods, Zeus. Although only a few columns remain standing today, the sheer size of the temple is awe-inspiring. The temple's Corinthian columns, which reach a height of 17 meters, give visitors a sense of the grandeur and scale of ancient Greek architecture. Visiting the Temple of Olympian Zeus is a must for history enthusiasts and provides a fascinating glimpse into the religious practices and architectural achievements of ancient Greece.

Plaka Neighborhood

Nestled under the Acropolis, the Plaka neighborhood in Athens is a historical area known for its charming cobblestone streets, neoclassical architecture, and vibrant atmosphere. Explore the picturesque alleys with bougainvillea-covered houses while soaking in the rich history that surrounds you. Discover traditional Greek tavernas serving mouthwatering delicacies and quaint shops offering unique souvenirs. Uncover hidden gems like the Lysicrates Monument and the Tower of the Winds as you wander through this lively district.

Psyrri Neighborhood

This up-and-coming area is home to a thriving arts scene, with galleries, theaters, and live music venues showcasing the best of Greek talent. The Psyrri neighborhood is a favorite among young locals and artists, making it a unique and lively place to explore. Here, you can find trendy bars, eclectic shops, and a wide range of restaurants offering both traditional Greek cuisine and international flavors.

Monastiraki Neighborhood

This historic area is a favorite among both locals and tourists, offering a unique shopping experience and a glimpse into the city's rich history. The Monastiraki flea market is a must-visit for those looking to shop for unique souvenirs, antiques, and traditional Greek products. The narrow streets are filled with stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to handmade crafts and artwork. Monastiraki Square, located in the heart of the neighborhood, is a popular meeting place and a hub of activity. The square is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it the perfect spot to relax and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Athens.

Lycabettus Hill

Rising 277 meters above sea level, this hill is a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking breathtaking views of Athens. To reach the summit of Lycabettus Hill, you can take a leisurely hike or opt for a more convenient ride on the cable car. Once at the top, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the Acropolis, the city skyline, and the Aegean Sea. There is also a charming chapel, Saint George, nestled on the hilltop, adding to the picturesque beauty of the area.

Monastiraki Square

lively meeting place is known for its energetic atmosphere and its central location, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists. Surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops, Monastiraki Square is the perfect place to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and people-watch. It is also a hub of transportation, with the Monastiraki metro station located nearby, providing easy access to other parts of the city. Visiting Monastiraki Square allows you to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Athens and experience the lively energy of this bustling neighborhood.

National Archaeological Museum

Located in Athens, this museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from ancient Greece, spanning thousands of years of history. The museum's collection includes sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and other artifacts that offer a glimpse into the daily life, religious practices, and artistic achievements of ancient Greece. Highlights of the museum include the iconic Mask of Agamemnon, the bronze statue of Poseidon, and the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient analog computer.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Located in the heart of the city, this museum houses one of the most important collections of Cycladic art in the world. Cycladic art refers to the art and artifacts created by the ancient Cycladic civilization, which thrived in the Aegean Sea during the Bronze Age. The museum's collection includes marble figurines, pottery, and other artifacts that offer a glimpse into the artistic achievements of this ancient civilization. The Museum of Cycladic Art is also connected to the Benaki Museum, which features a wide range of art and artifacts from various periods of Greek history.

Panathenaic Stadium

One of the key highlights of Athens is the Panathenaic Stadium, also known as the Kallimarmaro Stadium. This historic stadium is not only a testament to ancient Greek architecture but also holds great significance as the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. Dating back to the 4th century BC, the Panathenaic Stadium was originally built as a venue for the Panathenaic Games, a religious and athletic festival held in honor of the goddess Athena. Over the centuries, the stadium has undergone several renovations and restorations, including its reconstruction in marble in the late 19th century. Today, visitors can step back in time and imagine the ancient athletes competing in the stadium's grand arena. The stadium also houses a small museum that showcases the history of the Olympic Games and displays various artifacts related to the sporting event.

Cape Sounion

Located just a short drive from Athens, Cape Sounion is a picturesque promontory that offers breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. The main highlight of Cape Sounion is the Temple of Poseidon, an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the god of the sea. Built in the 5th century BC, the temple is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of ancient Greek architects. The temple's columns and architectural details are still remarkably well-preserved, providing a glimpse into the grandeur of ancient Greek architecture.

The image shows three Evzones, members of the Greek Presidential Guard, marching in traditional uniforms during the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Cultural Must-Do in Athens Activities

When visiting Athens, several cultural activities should not be missed. From ancient theaters to traditional tavernas, these experiences will immerse you in the rich cultural heritage of the city.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stunning ancient theater located on the southern slope of the Acropolis. Built in the 2nd century AD, this open-air theater was originally used for musical performances and other cultural events. Today, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus continues to host various performances, including ancient Greek dramas, operas, and concerts. During the summer months, the theater comes alive with music and theater enthusiasts from around the world.

Varvakeios Central Market

For food lovers, a visit to Varvakeios Central Market is a must-do activity in Athens. Located in the heart of the city, this bustling market is a feast for the senses. At Varvakeios Central Market, you can explore a wide variety of stalls selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, spices, and other Greek delicacies. The market is a vibrant hub of activity, with vendors shouting their wares and locals shopping for the best ingredients for their meals.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Located in front of the Greek Parliament Building in Syntagma Square, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a somber memorial dedicated to the Greek soldiers who have lost their lives in war. Guarded by the elite Evzones, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a symbol of honor and remembrance. The changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place every hour, is a popular attraction for visitors to witness. The Evzones, dressed in their traditional uniforms, perform precise and synchronized movements as they guard the tomb.

Changing of the Guard at Syntagma Square

One of the main attractions at Syntagma Square is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Changing of the Guard ceremony is a highly choreographed and symbolic event that attracts both locals and tourists. The elite Evzones, dressed in their distinctive uniforms, perform a synchronized routine as they replace the guards at the tomb.

Greek Delicacies in a Traditional Taverna

Tavernas are cozy, family-run restaurants that serve a variety of traditional Greek dishes. From moussaka and souvlaki to fresh seafood and Greek salads, is something to satisfy every palate. Don't forget to pair your meal with a glass of Greek wine, which is known for its exceptional quality and distinct flavors. In addition to the delicious food, tavernas also offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere, allowing you to immerse yourself in the Greek dining experience.

The National Gardens

Located in the heart of Athens, this lush green space offers a peaceful retreat from the urban landscape. The National Gardens cover an area of 38 hectares and feature a wide variety of plants, trees, and flowers. Visitors can stroll along the shaded pathways, relax on the benches, and admire the beautiful statues and monuments scattered throughout the gardens. In addition to its natural beauty, the National Gardens also houses a small zoo with various animals, including goats, peacocks, and chickens. It's the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a leisurely afternoon in the heart of the city.

The Ellinikon Experience Park

Situated on the stunning Athenian Riviera, The Ellinikon Experience Park offers a delightful escape from the bustling city life, making it a must-do in Athens. This former airport site is being transformed into a vast recreational area, promising a blend of nature, culture, and entertainment. Once completed, the park is set to house sports facilities, green spaces, art installations, and various leisure activities.

Onassis Stegi

Onassis STEGI is a prestigious cultural center in Athens that hosts various artistic events and performances. Situated at the vibrant Syggrou Avenue, it serves as a meeting place for artists and art enthusiasts alike. With a modern architectural design, Onassis STEGI offers a unique cultural experience in the heart of the Greek capital. From contemporary art exhibitions to live music concerts, this venue showcases the diversity of Greek artists and their creative works, adding a sophisticated touch to the city's cultural scene.

Cine Paris

Experience the magic of outdoor cinema at Cine Paris, one of Athens' most iconic open-air cinemas. Located in the heart of the city, Cine Paris offers a unique cinematic experience under the starry summer sky. The cinema screens a variety of films, ranging from classic Hollywood movies to contemporary Greek films. The outdoor setting, with its comfortable seating and panoramic views of the city, provides a truly memorable movie-watching experience.

Athens is a vibrant city with a rich historical and cultural tapestry waiting to be explored. For those seeking the must-do experiences in Athens, start with the ancient marvels of the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Explore the charming neighborhoods of Plaka and Psyrri, which offer something for every traveler. Don't miss out on cultural experiences like the Odeon of Herodes Atticus or indulging in Greek delicacies at a traditional taverna. Athens offers a blend of ancient wonders and modern delights that will leave you enchanted.

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