Last updated on October 18th, 2021 at 12:22 pm

If you’re planning to see Athens in 3 days, here’s the ultimate guide and the best 3-day Athens itinerary, curated by yours truly, two Athenians who love to hate their home city but never stop looking at it through the eyes of two enchanted travellers, eager to uncover even its best-kept secrets.

This image shows a panoramic view of the city and Lycabettus Hill.
Hello Athens!

It’s true. Katerina and I love to hate Athens. To be more accurate, we love Athens but we hate the way it has turned out. We love it not only because it’s the city we call home but also because Athens is packed with history and culture. A city where you can genuinely have an unforgettable time. Yet we hate the fact that it could have been one of the prettiest cities in Europe. But it’s not. And that hurts.

That said, no one can argue that Athens is one of the most exciting cities in Europe, if not the world, and no trip to Greece is complete without a visit to its vibrant capital. Therefore, if you’re wondering how to spend 3 days in Athens, you’ve come to the right place. If there’s a true insiders’ guide to Athens out there, it’s this one. Get ready to see Athens in 3 days through our eyes!

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This image shows Maria and Katerina in Pnyx Hill and the Acropolis in the background.
We always nag but we love Athens!

Where Is Athens Greece

Athens is the capital of Greece, our sunny home country in Southeastern Europe. It’s one of the world’s oldest cities, spanning a history of over 3,400 years. Athens is situated in the historical region of Attica in Central Greece.

Is Athens Worth Visiting?

Often referred to as the Birthplace of Democracy and the Cradle of Western Civilisation, Athens would be worth a visit for its century-old history alone. Yet it’s also a vibrant metropolis, renowned for its nightlife and superb dining scene.

However, it’s no secret that Athens is one of the least beautiful cities in Europe. We can’t blame you if this might give you second thoughts about visiting. Also, we’ve no intention of sugar-coating this ugly truth (pun intended). The fun (and sad) part is that Athens used to be one of the prettiest cities in Europe, abundant in neoclassical buildings, shiny squares and grand avenues, with rivers running through it. So, what happened?

Recent history hasn’t been kind to the Greek capital. This was an excuse for people to treat the city even worse. In the first half of the 20th century, major historical events, among which the Axis Occupation and the disgraceful Civil War that followed it, brought about poverty and hardships. Greeks living in the countryside joined refugees from Asia Minor in their quest for a better life in Athens and that quadrupled the capital’s population in a matter of decades.

The need to house all these people was urgent. There was no plan. Only despair on the part of all the newcomers who sought a better future in the city but also the Athenians who could no longer afford to repair and live in their neoclassical mansions and were desperate to sell them.

That’s when the contractors of the time saw an opportunity to profit and grabbed it. With the government’s blessings, of course. Just like that, the city’s gorgeous neoclassical mansions were knocked down, often overnight. Prison-like concrete blocks of flats replaced them, changing the urban landscape of Athens forever. This reconstruction spree was also why the city’s rivers were covered by new roads that emerged as a result of zero urban planning.

However, some of the city’s past grandeur has survived, albeit fragmented. As you walk around Athens, you stumble upon the occasional neoclassical mansion overshadowed by its tall, concrete neighbours. Over the years, this dissonance has granted Athens its unique character.

Exploring the city’s architecture that ranges from priceless ancient relics and neoclassical wonders to grim concrete blocks and repurposed industrial remnants is one of the reasons to visit Athens.

This image shows three different architecture styles on a closeup.
Diverse architecture in Athens

To answer the question of whether Athens is worth a visit or not, it would be short-sighted and utterly unfair to stick to how the city looks alone. Because Athens is so much more than its looks. Athens whispers history to your ears with every step you take; it promises jasmine-scented nights you’d wish never ended; it takes your breath away with every sunset or sunrise that paints the glorious sky of Attica.

Athens isn’t a city to look at and gasp at its beauty. It’s a city to feel with all your senses, to live to the fullest and, ultimately, to keep in your hearts forever. So, yes, Athens is worth visiting.

This image shows the view to Plaka from Areopagus Hill. In the foreground, there is a man resting on the rocks.
A concrete jungle with a touch of past grandeur

How Many Days in Athens

Having lived (almost) our entire lives in Athens, it’s not very easy for Katerina and me to try and fit all the amazing things to do in Athens in just a couple of days. You could spend months in Athens and still never get bored. Yet we’ve come to realise that Athens is very often overlooked. Travellers tend to plan multi-day trips to the Greek Islands or elsewhere in the country but spend only a few hours, one day or a weekend in Athens. And that’s a huge shame.

However, we know the pains of planning a trip to any foreign country, let alone Greece, a country with so many fantastic things to do and see. That’s why we’ve published our ultimate guide to planning a trip to Greece. Also, that’s why we thought we’d meet you in the middle regarding how many days to spend in Athens by putting together this amazing 3 days in Athens itinerary.

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The Only 3-Day Athens Itinerary You’ll Ever Need

While reading our Athens 3-day itinerary, there are a couple of things we’d like you to keep in mind.

First of all, we did our best to include some of the best things to do in Athens in general, without prioritising the monuments of Classical Athens. We’re helplessly in love with the Acropolis and the other ancient ruins but Athens is a lot more than just its classical past. Therefore, if you’re spending 3 days in Athens, it makes sense to get to know a little bit of everything the city has to offer.

Secondly, to see Athens in 3 days our way means that you’ll set your alarms early in the morning to fall in the arms of your comfy hotel beds late in the evening.

That said, this 3-day Athens itinerary isn’t set in stone. You can adjust it to your preferences accordingly. Also, you may have to reorder some of the activities in Athens we recommend, especially with regards to the season you’re visiting, as this would affect opening/closing times of archaeological sites, sunset times etc.


Without further ado, here’s what to do in Athens in 3 days!

Day 1: Introduction To Athens

We know what it’s like to land in a foreign country, eager to explore its treasures but super tired after a long-haul flight or a sleepless night. Or both. That’s why we think it’s best to take it (relatively) easy on the first day of this 3-day Athens itinerary, leaving the bulk of your major sightseeing in Athens for the next two days. By that, we don’t mean that Day 1 isn’t full of exciting things to do in Athens. Far from that.

Syntagma Square & The Changing of The Guard

Start your day in Syntagma Square, one of the two central squares in Athens – the other is Omonia Square. By the way, you can get from Syntagma Square to Omonia Square on foot by walking the entire length of Stadiou Street. Keep in mind that Omonia Square, the Omonia Metro Station and the surrounding area are among the places to avoid in Athens as they can be sketchy, especially at night.

Syntagma Square was constructed in the early 19th century. It was originally called Palace Square after the Old Royal Palace that was built there. The latter was the official residence of King Otto, the first king of the modern Greek State. Following an uprising in 1843, King Otto granted the first Constitution of Greece. To honour this event, Palace Square was renamed Constitution Square. Syntagma is the Greek word for the constitution.

Nowadays, the Old Royal Palace dominates the upper part of the square and it houses the Greek Parliament. Therefore, it’s not open to the public. The lower part of Syntagma Square comprises an open space made of marble and decorated with fountains and trees. It’s less fancy than it sounds if we want to be 100% honest.

This image shows the Greek Parliament building in Syntagma Square.
The Old Royal Palace that now houses the Greek Parliament

Another thing to check out in Syntagma Square is the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier, an open-air war memorial dedicated to Greek soldiers who lost their lives during wars. The Tomb of Τhe Unknown Soldier is where the Changing of The Presidential Guard takes place every one hour daily. The latter is a rather simple procession. If you want to watch the fancy version, it takes place every Sunday at 11 in the morning.

Closest Metro Station: Syntagma (Lines 2 & 3)

This image shows the change of the Presidential Guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Greek Parliament building in Syntagma Square.
The Changing of the Guard

National Garden

Right next to the Old Royal Palace, you can stroll around the former Royal Garden. Commissioned by Queen Amalia (King Otto’s wife) in 1838, the now called National Garden offers refuge from the concrete jungle that is Athens. Complete with a duck pond and a row of palm trees that were planted by the Queen herself, the National Garden feels rather rough around the edges. Yet it’s still a great – and gratis – place to have a break from sightseeing.

Closest Metro Station: Syntagma (Lines 2 & 3)

This image shows the National Garden in Athens, and more specifically, the row of palm trees that Queen Amalia planted.
Queen Amalia’s palm trees at the National Garden

Zappeion

Situated next to the National Garden, Zappeion was a building commissioned for the first modern Olympic Games that took place in 1896. In particular, Zappeion was the main fencing hall during the 1896 Olympic Games.

Nowadays, Zappeion hosts special ceremonies and exhibitions. If you’re not attending one of those, you can’t see what Zappeion looks like inside as it’s not open for visits otherwise. However, it’s worth a stroll outside Zappeion to admire its splendid architecture. Zappeion is a work of Theophil Hansen, a famous architect that designed many of the prettiest buildings in Athens.

For a quirky experience, you can book this Olympic Games workout that starts in Zappeion and ends in the Panathenaic Stadium.

Closest Metro Station: Syntagma (Lines 2 & 3)

This image shows the main facade of Zappeion.
The Zappeion building

Hadrian’s Gate & The Temple of Olympian Zeus

It was about time you started checking out the classical treasures of Athens, don’t you think? For a first taste of Athens sightseeing, walk from Zappeion to Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Hadrian’s Gate, also known as the Arch of Hadrian, was probably constructed to celebrate the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian to the city of Athens.

This image shows Hadrian's Gate and the light trails of traffic at night.
Hadrian’s Gate

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is also called The Olympieion. As its name suggests, it was a temple dedicated to Zeus, the king of gods. Its construction began in the 6th century BC but it was completed in the 2nd century AD, under the reign of Emperor Hadrian. During this time, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was the largest in Greece. However, it wasn’t meant to last for long.

After suffering a barbarian invasion in 267 AD, the temple was reduced to ruins. In the following centuries, the temple’s material was taken to be used in other constructions around the city. Out of the temple’s initial 104 columns, only 15 are still standing today. A sixteenth is lying on the ground since 1852 when a terrible storm that hit Athens caused it to fall.

Admission Tickets: 8€/adult for the Temple of Olympian Zeus
Closest Metro Station: Akropoli (Line 2)

This image shows the Temple of Olympian Zeus. In the background there is the Acropolis.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus

Panathenaic Stadium

It’s a pleasant stroll from the Temple of Olympian Zeus to the imposing Panathenaic Stadium. Also called Kallimarmaro (Greek for beautiful marble), the Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world that’s entirely built of marble. Nestled in the green embrace of Ardettos Hill, the stadium is built in a former natural ravine.

Throughout its history, the Panathenaic Stadium was abandoned, destroyed and reconstructed many times. It was in 1896, before the first modern Olympic Games, that the Panathenaic Stadium was rebuilt for the last time, taking the form it has to this day.

This image shows the Panathenaic Stadium from above.
The Panathenaic Stadium

Apart from visiting Kallimarmaro and learning its exciting history, consider walking the scenic path that runs along the top of the stadium, following its U-shape, for a different viewpoint to the dramatic construction. You can access the path via a gate behind the stadium, on Archimidous Street.

If you have time, you can take a stroll around Mets, a beautiful neighbourhood next to the Panathenaic Stadium, or visit the First Cemetery of Athens which is home to masterpieces of sculpture.

Admission Tickets: 5€/adult for the Panathenaic Stadium. Tickets grant you the privilege to run on the century-old track.
Closest Metro Station: Akropoli (Line 2)

This image shows a street in Mets neighbourhood.
Strolling around Mets

Lunch Break in Pagrati

Pagrati or Pangrati is a residential area a stone’s throw from the Panathenaic Stadium. It’s the perfect location to take a breath and enjoy a stroll and a light lunch on your first day in Athens. Pagrati is one of the most vibrant Athens neighbourhoods and a major artistic hub. Many prominent Greek artists lived in Pagrati, while the area has become hipsters heaven recently.

Pagrati is home to many squares and quaint streets with countless options for a light lunch, a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. Among the best places to eat in Pagrati is Tre Sorelle for amazing pizza and cocktails and Baba Ghanoush, a vegetarian restaurant with delicious falafel wraps.

Closest Metro Station: Evagelismos (Line 3)

This image shows a pedestrianized street with neoclassical buildings in Pagrati.
A quaint street in Pagrati

Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation or The National Gallery

After your light lunch, it’s time to walk to either the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation or the National Gallery to fill your eyes with glorious art.

Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation

Greek shipowner Basil Goulandris and his wife Elise were passionate about art. They were avid collectors and they did everything in their power to promote art. Suffice it to say that they often supported young Greek artists at the start of their careers.

This image shows Olive Picking, a painting by Vincent Van Gogh that's on display in the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens.
Olive Picking by Vincent van Gogh (Elise and Basil’s private collection)

In 1979, the couple established the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation. That’s also when they opened the first Museum of Contemporary Art in Greece on Andros Island. Their dream was to do something similar in Athens.

Many years after the couple died, specifically in 2019, the Athens-based Foundation opened its doors to the public, showcasing Elise and Basil’s massive private collection of paintings that includes masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, El Greco and many others.

This image shows the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Pagrati.
The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation in Athens

As you walk around the halls of the Foundation, Elise and Basil’s love for art is almost tangible. It feels as though the paintings and sculptures were their cherished children and the painters themselves their best friends, family even. We’d highly recommend a visit to the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation on a guided tour that’s very informative and incredibly eye-opening.

Also, the Foundation’s official website is an endless source of knowledge about the works of art that are on display there.

This image shows a painting of El Greco (The Veil of Saint Veronica) in Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation in Pagrati.
The Veil of Saint Veronica by El Greco (Elise and Basil’s private collection)
The National Gallery

The recently re-opened National Gallery is one of the top sites in Athens. The permanent exhibition at the National Gallery showcases the works of mostly Greek but also foreign painters and sculptors. At the National Gallery, you can admire paintings by famous Greek artists, such as El Greco and Yannis Moralis. The National Gallery also hosts temporary exhibitions.

This image shows the National Garden in Athens. In the foreground, there is the glass-made Dromeas (Runner) sculpture.
The National Gallery in Athens with the glass-made Dromeas (The Runner) Statue

Admission Tickets: 8€ or 12€ (with guided tour)/adult for the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, 10€/adult for the National Gallery
Closest Metro Station: Evagelismos (Line 3)

Lycabettus Hill

To wrap up the first of your three days in Athens, how about some of the most breathtaking views of the Greek capital and beyond? One of the best viewpoints in Athens is Lycabettus Hill, the highest point in the city.

To get to Lycabettus Hill, you can either walk the winding uphill path or take a taxi. In the latter case, keep in mind that the taxi can get you as far as the large parking lot outside the Theatre of Lycabettus. You’ll still have to climb a considerable amount of steps to get to the top.

This image shows the view of Athens from Lycabettus Hill. We can see the Acropolis and the sea in the far background.
View of Athens from Lycabettus Hill

One of the best things to do in Athens and the most exciting way to get to Lycabettus Hill, though, is to ride the Lycabettus Funicular. It starts from Aristippou Street in Kolonaki and ends near the top of the hill. The funicular runs every day from early in the morning until after midnight. Don’t expect to enjoy the view along the way as the entire ride is in a tunnel. Another fun way to get to Lycabettus Hill is to ride a tuk-tuk from downtown Athens.

Once on Lycabettus Hill, head to the whitewashed Church of Saint George at the top of the hill for the best panoramic views of Athens. Whether you’re up there around sunset or after it’s already dark, you’re in for a unique experience. You can hang out for a pricey drink either at the posh bar at the top of the hill or at Prasini Tenta on the hill’s southwestern slope. Yet, if you want to experience Lycabettus Hill like a local, the canteen at the parking lot is the place to be.

Admission Tickets: 5€ (one way) or 7.5€ (round trip)/adult for the Lycabettus Funicular
Closest Metro Station: Evagelismos (Line 3)

This image shows the church of Saint George on Lycabettus Hill.
Saint George Church at the top of Lycabettus Hill

Dinner in Kolonaki or Exarchia

After all this sightseeing in Athens, it’s time to enjoy a well-deserved dinner either in upscale Kolonaki or in alternative Exarchia. These two Athens neighbourhoods attract different crowds and seem to have absolutely nothing in common. Only that they are right next to each other with Ippokratous Street acting as their border. And this is hilarious.

Kolonaki

Kolonaki is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Athens, abundant in shiny designer brand stores and high-end restaurants and bars. The area’s main square is Kolonaki Square, one of the best places in Athens to people-watch while sipping an overpriced cup of coffee or cocktail.

Yet Dexameni Square is what steals the show in Kolonaki if you ask us. Dexameni is the Greek word for the cistern. The square got its name from the cistern that was constructed there during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. This cistern is part of the elaborate Hadrian’s Aqueduct. The latter consists of a network of tunnels that’s 20 kilometres long. Nowadays, you can’t enter the impressive cistern, but you can have a sneak peek from the square.

You can have dinner in Kolonaki without breaking the bank at the historic Dexameni Traditional Café which is super close to the cistern. However, Kolonaki is the best place in Athens to splurge on a posh dinner at an expensive restaurant like Brunello or Zurbaran.

This image shows Dexameni Square and Hadrian's Aqueduct in Kolonaki.
Dexameni Square in Kolonaki
Exarchia

Alternatively, you can explore the bohemian side of Athens in the neighbourhood of Exarchia. Often referred to as the anarchist neighbourhood of Athens, Exarchia is an anti-fascist and intellectual hub with many bookstores and fair trade stores.

Exarchia used to be the most notorious neighbourhood in Athens, a part of the city to avoid, especially at night. Nowadays, there are still sketchy areas in Exarchia that you should indeed avoid, but there’s also a part filled with lovely cafés and restaurants that’s safe to roam around any time of day.

To keep safe and happy, remember to stick to the rectangle that’s bordered by Themistokleous, Panepistimiou, Ippokratous and Kallidromiou streets. That said, avoid visiting Exarchia altogether on November 17th and December 6th and the days immediately preceding and following these dates.

November 17th commemorates the 1973 Athens Polytechnic Uprising. You can read more on that further down. December 6th is the anniversary of the 2008 Greek riots that were ignited by the murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the police. Every year on both dates, Exarchia witnesses clashes between rioters and the police. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of this chaos.

Outside of these dates, though, it’s worth walking around Exarchia and mingling with locals. As far as dinner is concerned, there are countless options in Exarchia, among which Ama Lachei Stis Nefelis, one of our favourite restaurants in Athens for delicious food in a gorgeous urban setting.

Closest Metro Station: Evagelismos (Line 3) for Kolonaki, Omonia (Lines 1 & 2) for Exarchia

Day 2: Essential Athens

After a refreshing good night’s sleep, it’s time to enjoy the very best of Athens. Welcome to the most exciting of your 3 days in Athens!

This day starts with a visit to the Acropolis of Athens. Make sure you are at the gate of the archaeological site as early in the morning as possible, preferably at eight o’clock, when the site opens. Not only do you avoid the crowds (and the heat if visiting the Acropolis in the summer) this way, but also an early start is the best way to tackle a packed with wonders day.

Keep in mind that all the places we recommend for the second day of this 3-day Athens itinerary are very close to one another and often connect via pedestrianised streets. Therefore, feel free to reorder them to suit your schedule and preferences best. If there’s one thing we insist on though, it’s to visit the Acropolis of Athens first thing in the morning and, if possible, to buy a skip-the-line ticket in advance if you choose to visit without a guided tour.

Speaking of that, we highly recommend visiting the Acropolis of Athens on a guided tour to make the most of your time at one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. You can book this guided tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum that includes entry tickets to both.

However, if you plan to buy the combined ticket that grants access to seven archaeological sites, including the Acropolis, it’s better value-for-money to book this guided tour of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum.

The Acropolis of Athens & The South Slope of The Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens

Even on the worst of days, when Katerina and I hate living in Athens for one reason or another, our daily walking session makes us smile. Living within walking distance from the Acropolis, we have a constant visual reminder that there’s always light, no matter the darkness. For the Acropolis of Athens is nothing but that. Light. Blinding, resplendent, cathartic light.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the Acropolis of Athens is the ultimate icon of the Ancient Greek civilisation, but also the most powerful symbol of modern Greek identity. It represents panhuman ideals that transcend natural borders, as it has laid the foundations for democracy, philosophy, politics and the entire Western Civilisation.

The Acropolis is built on a rock in the heart of Athens. Even though the area was inhabited since prehistoric times, the grand buildings that survived to this day were constructed during the 5th century BC, the so-called Golden Age of Athens.

The most impressive of all the buildings in the Acropolis of Athens is the Parthenon, the ultimate symbol of Classical Greece and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. Built between 447 BC and 432 BC, the Parthenon was a temple dedicated to Athena, the Ancient Greek Goddess of wisdom and patroness of the city-state of Athens.

This image shows the Parthenon of the Acropolis, probably the most famous place to visit when you're seeing Athens in 3 days.
The Parthenon

The elegant Erechtheion is yet another building not to miss in the Acropolis of Athens. This temple’s most striking feature is its southern facade which is adorned by the statues of six women, known as Karyatides, instead of columns. Keep in mind that these statues are replicas. Five of the original Karyatides are in the Acropolis Museum, while the sixth is in the British Museum in London.

This image shows the Erextheion in the Acropolis. We can see the beautiful Karyatides instead of columns.
The Erechtheion

Other ancient relics you should check out in the Acropolis of Athens are the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike and the remnants of the Acropolis fortification wall. The Acropolis of Athens is completely accessible to the disabled and those with other mobility issues.

The South Slope of The Acropolis

When visiting the Acropolis of Athens, you must also make time to wander around the South Slope of the Acropolis. It is there that you can see the Asclepeion (also spelt Asklepieion) that dates back to 420 BC. The Asclepeion was a sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the Ancient God of medicine. It also functioned as a healing centre.

Another site not to miss in the South Slope of the Acropolis is the Sanctuary and Theatre of Dionysus, the Ancient God of festivity, wine and grape harvest. The Theatre of Dionysus was the oldest in Attica and had a capacity of 16,000 spectators in its heyday.

Admission Tickets: 20€/adult for the Acropolis and its Slopes (North and South)
Closest Metro Station: Akropoli (Line 2)

This image shows the Theatre of Dionysus in the south slope of the Acropolis.
The Theatre of Dionysus

Odeon of Herodes Atticus & Dionysiou Areopagitou Street

Speaking of ancient theatres, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is one of the best sights to see in Athens and the next masterpiece you should check out. This monumental structure was commissioned by Herodes Atticus, a prominent Athenian politician and benefactor. It was originally intended to host musical events, hence it’s an odeon rather than a theatre. Keep in mind that in modern Greek we simply call it Herodeum.

Nowadays, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus hosts concerts and plays mainly during the annual Athens & Epidaurus Festival. If you happen to be in Athens during the latter, don’t miss the chance to enjoy a performance at one of the world’s most beautiful open-air venues.

When there’s no event taking place at the Herodeum, you can only admire it from the outside. The best vantage point is either the South Slope of the Acropolis or Herodeum’s main entrance on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street.

This image shows the Odeon of Herodes Atticus from above.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Strolling along the pedestrianised Dionysiou Areopagitou Street is one of the best things to do in Athens in its own right. Named after Dionysius the Areopagite, the first Athenian to convert to Christianity, Dionysiou Areopagitou is without a doubt the prettiest street in Athens. Lined with superb neoclassical mansions and with unobstructed views of the Acropolis, Dionysiou Areopagitou Street is one of the best places to visit in Athens for a walk any time of day.

Closest Metro Station: Akropoli (Line 2)

This image shows Dionysiou Areopagitou street at night.
A winter evening on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street

The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum opened its gates to the public in 2009. Yet for us Greeks, it will always be the New Acropolis Museum. The old one was up there on the sacred rock, next to the Parthenon. The Acropolis Museum houses findings from the Acropolis of Athens alone. In a total area of 14,000 square metres, more than 4,250 objects from various historical periods are on display.

The museum enjoys a prime location on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street with jaw-dropping views of the Acropolis. The building itself is of great interest as it makes reference to the ancient site in various ways. For instance, the building’s top level has the same orientation as the Parthenon. Moreover, there are many glass floors at the Acropolis Museum, allowing visitors to marvel at the excavations below.

For a memorable experience, you can make a slight change to this itinerary and book a night tour of the Acropolis Museum followed by dinner with splendid views of the Acropolis.

Admission Tickets: 10€/adult for the Acropolis Museum
Closest Metro Station: Akropoli (Line 2)

This image shows a few statues in the interior of the Acropolis Museum.
Inside the Acropolis Museum

Lunch Break in Koukaki

Koukaki is one of the most diverse areas in downtown Athens. The part of Koukaki that’s near Dionysiou Areopagitou Street is a neighbourhood with neoclassical mansions, trees and cute Parisian-like cafés. As you move towards Syngrou Avenue though, Koukaki has a more vibrant, Berlin-like, ambience with two major pedestrianised streets (Drakou and Olympiou) that are lined with cafés, bars and restaurants.

The area around the Acropolis Museum is more often referred to as Makrygianni and it’s adjacent to Koukaki. There are many options for a quick bite in Koukaki and Makrygianni to choose from. Drupes Spritzeria, one of our favourite bars in Athens, is in this area. You can try what’s arguably the best Aperol Spritz in Athens with an Italian cheese plate on the side there. Drupes Spritzeria is open from early in the morning until 22:00, every day except Sunday.

Closest Metro Station: Akropoli (Line 2)

Filopappou Hill

After a well-deserved lunch break, it’s time to stroll around the loveliest green space in Athens. Filopappou Hill (also spelt Philopappos or Philopappou) got its name from the Monument of Filopappou, a marble burial monument that stands at the top of the hill since 116 AD. However, its official name is Hill of the Muses. Alongside the adjacent Hill of the Nymphs and Pnyx (Pnyka) Hill, this green area in the heart of Athens is collectively known as Filopappou Hill.

This image shows a closeup of Filopappou Monument.
The Monument of Filopappou

One of the best things to see at the foot of Filopappou Hill is Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris, a 16th-century church with amazing frescoes. Moreover, Pnyx Hill deserves a visit in its own right. This small rocky hill is where Ancient Athenians met for their public assemblies. This is why Pnyx Hill is often regarded as the actual birthplace of democracy. Nowadays, Pnyx Hill is probably the best viewpoint of the Acropolis of Athens.

This image shows Pnyx Hill taken from a drone. In the background the Filopappou Monument can be seen.
Pnyx (or Pnyka) Hill

The top of the Hill of the Nymphs is adorned by the impressive Sinas Building. The latter houses the National Observatory of Athens. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening, there are guided tours of the Observatory followed by night sky observation using the historic Doridis Telescope.

This image shows the Doridis Telescope, part of the National Observatory complex. The image was taken from a drone.
The historic Doridis Telescope

These are only the highlights of Filopappou Hill. There are many other interesting things to see scattered across its green slopes, while informative signs let you in on the hill’s history. Walking along the marble or dirt paths of Filopappou Hill and catching stunning views of the Acropolis, the city and the sea along the way are among the best things to do in Athens. Watching the sunset at Filopappou Hill isn’t bad either.

For a city that lacks public green spaces, Filopappou Hill is an oasis in the Greek capital’s concrete desert. Keep in mind that it’s best to avoid walking around Filopappou Hill after dark.

Admission Tickets: 5€/adult for a guided tour of the National Observatory of Athens with night sky observation
Closest Metro Station:
Akropoli (Line 2) or Thissio (Line 1)

This image shows the view from Filopappou Hill. The concrete grey of the urban scenery makes contrast with the green landscape of Filopappou Hill.
Gazing at the concrete jungle from Filopappou Hill

Thisseio

Thisseio (also spelt Thissio, Thisio or Thiseio) is one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Athens. It’s a traditionally residential area and one of the most touristic parts of the Greek capital at the same time.

The main thoroughfare of Thisseio is the pedestrianised Apostolou Pavlou Street which is lined with grand neoclassical mansions. Most of them are now turned into high-end restaurants and cafés. They are among the best places to visit in Athens for splendid views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill.

Apostolou Pavlou is one of the liveliest streets in Athens with street vendors selling everything from souvenirs to jewellery at their colourful stalls and street performers filling the Athenian sky with their voices.

This image shows the pedestrianized Apostolou Pavlou street at dusk.
Apostolou Pavlou Street

On Apostolou Pavlou Street, you can check out the world’s most enjoyable movie theatre according to CNN Travel. Built in 1935, Cine Thisio is one of the oldest, prettiest and most nostalgic open-air cinemas in Athens. It’s usually open between April and October (depending on weather conditions).

If you happen to be in Athens during this time, it’s worth watching a film under the shade of the Acropolis on a starry night with a glass of homemade sour cherry drink in one hand and a homemade cheese-pie in the other.

This image shows the interior of Cine Thisseio before the movie starts.
Waiting for the film to start at Cine Thisio

By the way, if you are outside Cine Thisio, there’s an iron gate right across the street. That’s the starting point of an utterly scenic path that leads to Plaka. Walking along this romantic path provides breathtaking views of the National Observatory, the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora of Athens.

Closest Metro Station: Thissio (Line 1)

This image shows the path that starts from Plaka and ends to Apostolou Pavlou street in Thisseio. It was taken after a rain during sunset and in the background there is the National Observatory of Athens.
The path that leads from Thisseio to Plaka after a storm

Ancient Agora of Athens

Time to visit yet another of the best archaeological sites in Athens. The Agora was the heart of the city in ancient times. It was a major commercial, social, political, religious and cultural hub. One of the most impressive buildings in the Ancient Agora of Athens is the Temple of Hephaestus. Built between 449 BC and 415 BC, the temple was dedicated to Hephaestus, the Ancient Greek God of fire. Nowadays, it’s the best-preserved ancient temple in Greece.

What dominates the Ancient Agora of Athens though, is the imposing Stoa of Attalos, a portico that’s 115 metres long. It was reconstructed between 1952 and 1956. Nowadays, it houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens. There are many other monuments scattered across the Ancient Agora of Athens. Therefore, make sure you have enough time to check them out at a leisurely pace.

Admission Tickets: 10€/adult for the Ancient Agora of Athens
Closest Metro Station: Monastiraki (Lines 1 & 3) or Thissio (Line 1)

This image shows the Ancient Agora in Athens.
Wandering around the Ancient Agora of Athens

Areopagus Hill

Affectionally called Vrahakia (little rocks) by locals, Areopagus is a rocky hill with breathtaking views of the Acropolis of Athens. It’s extremely popular with locals and visitors alike as it’s considered the perfect spot from where to watch the sunset in Athens.

Areopagus Hill was where trials for serious offences took place in Ancient Athens. It’s also where Saint Paul delivered his famous Areopagus Sermon in 51 AD, which resulted in the conversion of several Athenians to Christianity.

Closest Metro Station: Monastiraki (Lines 1 & 3)

This image shows the view to the Acropolis from Areopagus Hill.
View of the Acropolis from Areopagus Hill

Plaka

There’s no better way to wrap up this fascinating day in Athens than taking in the charms of the city’s indisputable jewel: Plaka, the so-called Neighbourhood of the Gods.

Leaving Areopagus Hill behind, walk along Theorias Street, one of the most scenic streets in Athens. Turn right on the first alley that you come across after the Church of Metamorphosis and get ready to pinch yourselves to make sure you’re not dreaming. You’ve arrived in Anafiotika, a proper Greek Island in the heart of Athens.

This image shows Anafiotika neighborhood in Plaka. There are whitewashed buildings under the shade of the Acropolis. A stroll around Anafiotika is a must during your Athens in 3 days itinerary.
Anafiotika in Plaka

When it was time for King Otto’s official residence in Athens to be built, he asked for the country’s best builders and craftsmen. At the time, builders from the Greek Islands, and especially Anafi, were famous for their skills. Therefore, they came to Athens to take part in the construction of a shiny new European capital.

However, the workers felt homesick before too long. But the king needed them in Athens. That’s when he suggested the builders brought their families to live with them in the Greek capital. The craftsmen from Anafi did so. Yet they never stopped missing their gorgeous little island. Therefore, they chose to build their new homes under the shadow of the Acropolis in the architectural style of their homeland.

As a result, this small neighbourhood in Athens was transformed into a slice of heaven dotted with whitewashed cubic buildings and narrow alleys.

This image shows a a quaint white street in Anafiotika neighbourhood in Plaka.
The magic of Anafiotika

Other things to see in Plaka include the Roman Agora of Athens and the Athens University History Museum. The latter is housed in the building that was used as the first university in the modern Greek state.

This image shows the Roman Agora in Plaka Athens during sunset.
The Roman Agora

One of the best places to have a drink in Plaka is Brettos, a distillery that dates back to 1909. You can try among 40 different flavours of liqueurs there. Two other of our favourite places in Plaka are Dioskouroi, an all-day café and bar, right below the sacred rock of the Acropolis and Vryssaki, a gorgeous café and art space that seems to have sprung out of the pages of a fairy tale. For the best Greek cuisine in Plaka at reasonable prices, head to To Kafeneio.

This image shows the interior of Brettos liquor store in Plaka, one of the best bars to visit on your Athens in 3 days itinerary. The entire wall is adorned with shelves filled with bottles of colourful liqueurs..
The interior of Brettos in Plaka

However, if there’s one place not to miss in Plaka, it’s Yiasemi (Greek for jasmine), probably the prettiest café – bistro in Athens. In a fairytale-like setting at the famous Plaka Stairs on Mnisikleous Street, Yiasemi is open from early in the morning with a breakfast buffet of delicious vegetarian treats until late in the evening for a drink at one of the most romantic spots in Greece.

This image shows Plaka Stairs. There are a lot of colourful cafes where people enjoy their food or drinks.
The famous Plaka Stairs

Plaka is one of those places where you’ll be better off if you ditch your maps, hide your cellphones in your pockets and simply stroll around, taking in the beauty. Better still, you can do so in the company of a local guide. Unlike the rest of Athens, Plaka is nothing but beauty. It’s the epitome of charm and the reason why you’ll start planning your next trip to Athens before you even get back home.

Admission Tickets: 8€/adult for the Roman Agora of Athens, 2€/adult for the Athens University History Museum (open only on weekdays)
Closest Metro Station:
Akropoli (Line 2)

This image shows a quiet street in Plaka. In the background there is the Acropolis.
Walking around Plaka Athens

Day 3: Farewell To Athens (It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later)

Time flies when you’re having fun and now you’re about to enjoy your last day in Athens. Don’t sulk, you can always come back for more. Day 3 is full of incredible things to do in Athens that highlight the Greek capital’s diversity.

National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens houses the largest collection of Ancient Greek artefacts in the world. It’s the largest museum in Greece with more than 20,000 exhibits.

Therefore, it would be wise to do a little bit of homework before you visit to figure out what you want to see or book an insightful 2-hour private guided tour. Otherwise, you can lose track of time and end up spending the better part of the last of your 3 days in Athens wandering around its rooms.

There are many invaluable items to see in the National Archaeological Museum, such as the Mask of Agamemnon and the Marathon Boy. Yet the ultimate thing to admire in the museum is the Antikythera Mechanism. Although words like mind-blowing are not our style, nothing can describe this ancient treasure better. The Antikythera Mechanism is indeed mind-blowing.

Granted the ultimate honour of being named the world’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism was retrieved from a shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera Island in 1901 – hence its name. Designed and constructed by Ancient Greek scientists, it was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. The elaborate Antikythera Mechanism was useful in navigation and mapping, too.

The way it did all this is the mind-blowing part of the story. But we won’t get into details we haven’t fully understood ourselves. The important thing is that once the Antikythera Mechanism left the bosom of the Aegean Sea to re-enter the world of the living, scientists realised that the technical knowledge and scientific expertise of the ancient civilisations were far more advanced than anyone could imagine.

Admission Tickets: 12€/adult for the National Archaeological Museum
Closest Metro Station:
Victoria (Line 1)

This image shows the National Archaeological Museum.
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens

National Technical University of Athens

After this fascinating look into Ancient Greece, it’s time to get a glimpse at one of the most significant instances in the country’s recent history. The National Archaeological Museum is right next door to the grand neoclassical mansion that houses the National Technical University of Athens, also known as Athens Polytechnic.

This is where the Athens Polytechnic Uprising took place in November 1973 when students protested massively against the military regime that had been imposed on Greece since 1967. The protests began on November 14th, with students occupying the Athens Polytechnic. The culmination of the protests came on November 17th, when the dictators sent a tank to crash through the university gates, leaving many civilians dead in the riots that ensued.

The Athens Polytechnic Uprising was the beginning of the end for the Greek military junta. This is why November 17th is observed as a national holiday for all educational institutions in Greece.

Closest Metro Station: Omonia (Lines 1 & 2)

This image shows the National Technical University of Athens where the Polytechnic Uprising took place in November 1973. We can see the neoclassical bulidings, a statue and the old door that was torn down by the tank.
The Athens Polytechnic. You can see the old iron gate that was torn down by the tank in 1973.

The Athenian Trilogy

A 15-minute walk or a short ride on a trolley bus will take you from the Athens Polytechnic to the glorious buildings of the Athenian Trilogy on Panepistimiou Street. The Athenian Trilogy comprises the buildings of the National Library, the University of Athens and the Academy. This complex of superb buildings is often referred to as the epitome of neoclassical architecture in Greece.

Commissioned by King Otto as part of his scheme to turn modest Athens into a lush European capital and to highlight the city’s connection to its grand classical past, these three buildings were designed by the elite of architecture of their time: Christian Hansen, his brother Theophil Hansen and the latter’s student Ernst Ziller.

This image shows the Univerity of Athens.
The University of Athens

All three buildings are made of fine marble from Mount Penteli near Athens (Pentelic marble). They feature superb interiors with wood-carved details and beautiful frescoes. The Academy in particular is inspired by the Propylaea of the Acropolis and it’s often considered the finest example of neoclassical architecture in the world.

This image shows the Academy of Athens.
The Academy

The only of the three buildings that was open to the public until recently was the National Library. However, ever since its precious archive was moved to new premises at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, the National Library is no longer open to the building.

The University of Athens houses some administrative services and it’s also where graduation and other ceremonies take place. Therefore, you can only admire the Athenian Trilogy from the outside.

Closest Metro Station: Panepistimio (Line 2)

This image shows the National Library of Athens.
The National Library

Lunch Break at The Commercial Triangle of Athens

The best place to take a break and enjoy a light lunch is the so-called Commercial Triangle of Athens. This is the area bordered by Athinas, Stadiou and Mitropoleos streets with Omonia, Syntagma and Monastiraki squares acting as the points of the triangle. This part of Athens was a large open-air market once. It was then neglected and the area became one of the sketchiest parts of the city.

However, in the last decades, the Commercial Triangle was revived and transformed into one of the liveliest parts of Athens. Now you can enjoy shopping, dining, drinking or simply strolling around and people-watching there. The heart of the Commercial Triangle beats at the vibrant Agia Irini Square.

This image shows a cafe at Aiolou street. In the background, we can see Agia Irini church.
Agia Irini Square

At the Commercial Triangle, you can find some of the best places to eat and drink in Athens. Falafellas is an excellent option for a light lunch, while Baba au Rum features on the list of the world’s 50 best bars for many years. Krinos is a historic café where you can sample the most mouthwatering loukoumades (the Greek version of doughnuts) in a setting that will take you back in time.

Closest Metro Station: Monastiraki (Lines 1 & 3)

This image shows a pedestrianized street in the commercial triangle in Athens.
At Baba au Rum

Monastiraki Square & Monastiraki Market

No Athens itinerary is complete without a stop at the vibrant Monastiraki Square. A favourite meeting point for locals and visitors alike, Monastiraki Square is buzzing with life all day and night long. One of the best things to do in Monastiraki is to pick your spot at one of the rooftop bars located on or near the square and try to take your eyes off of the beauty of the Acropolis. Some of our favourite rooftop bars are Loukoumi Bar, Buena Vista Social Bar and Anglais.

This image shows Monastiraki Square on a cloudy day.
Monastiraki Square

As far as sightseeing in Monastiraki goes, you can visit Hadrian’s Library while there. Moreover, don’t miss a walk along Ifaistou Street, the main thoroughfare of the Monastiraki Flea Market. The latter isn’t a flea market as you’d expect it to be. Monastiraki Market comprises regular shops that sell souvenirs, clothes, shoes and accessories.

However, if you happen to be in Athens on a Sunday, make sure you get lost in the maze-like streets of the market because it’s then that the street vendors come out to sell their vintage treasures. The highlight of Monastiraki Market on a Sunday is the movie-like Avissinias Square where the Athens Antique Market takes place.

Admission Tickets: 6€/adult for Hadrian’s Library
Closest Metro Station: Monastiraki (Lines 1 & 3)

This image shows the Monastiraki market before shops open.
Monastiraki Market early in the morning, before the shops open

Psirri Neighbourhood

Speaking of antiques, the neighbourhood of Psirri is another vintage heaven but with a modern-day, alternative ambience. Small shops selling old gems and quaint cafés that remind of times past co-exist with art galleries, impressive street art and the inevitably tacky shisha bars. This seemingly impossible blend makes Psirri worth a visit during your Athens in 3 days trip.

Psirri is also a mandatory stop if you want your sweet tooth to remember this trip to Athens forever. This neighbourhood boasts some of the best dessert shops in Athens, like Nancy’s Sweet Home, Ta Serbetia and the showy Little Kook. The latter has become one of the quirkiest things to see in Athens in its own right with its seasonally themed decorations.

Closest Metro Station: Monastiraki (Lines 1 & 3)

This image shows a street with tavernas in Psirri neighbourhood. There are Christmas lights but people still sit outdoors.
Christmas at Psirri

Archaeological Site of Kerameikos

Leaving Psirri behind, walk along the pedestrianised part of Ermou Street until you reach the gate to the Archaeological Site of Kerameikos. If you’re running out of time, you can admire the massive archaeological site from outside. That said, Ancient Kerameikos is one of the best places to visit in Athens in 3 days and it’s worth a proper visit if you can fit it into your schedule.

Kerameikos was initially the district in Ancient Athens where potters lived. Later on, it became the site of one of antiquity’s most important cemeteries. There are many impressive things to see in Kerameikos, such as the remnants of the Themistoclean Wall. The latter enclosed the entire city of Athens and divided Kerameikos into two parts. Inner Kerameikos was the residential area whereas Outer Kerameikos was where the cemetery was located.

Other things not to miss in Kerameikos are Dipylon and the Sacred Gate, two of the most important gates in Ancient Athens. Both of these gates are related to grand events in the life of Ancient Athens, namely the Panathenaic Procession and the Eleusinian Mysteries respectively.

Admission Tickets: 8€/adult. It includes a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos.
Closest Metro Station: Thissio (Line 1) or Kerameikos (Line 3)

This image shows the Archaeological Site of Keramikos.
The Archaeological Site of Kerameikos

Gazi Neighbourhood

Just a stone’s throw from Ancient Kerameikos, you can visit a site that’s related to the modern history of Athens. Gazi took its name from the old gas power plant that dominates the neighbourhood (gazi is the Greek word for gas).

The gas power plant was built there back in 1857. From 1910 onwards, the area became the red-light district of Athens. When the gas power plant was shut down in 1984, the district fell into despair and became one of the most notorious parts of Athens.

The area’s gentrification began in the early 2000s. Gradually, the shabby industrial neighbourhood became a mecca for Athens nightlife, while modern industrial buildings with overpriced lofts for sale or rent were erected. The former gas power plant is now known as the Technopolis of Athens. The latter is a major cultural venue where concerts, festivals and other events take place.

Gazi is an essential stop for anyone wishing to have a taste of the Greek capital’s wild nightlife scene. However, the nightlife is not the reason why we’ve added Gazi to this Athens in 3 days itinerary. But if you’d like to experience a night out in Gazi, by all means, do so. If you ask us, we’d stick to a visit to the Gas Museum and a quick stroll to admire the impressively lit Technopolis of Athens after dark before heading to neighbouring Metaxourgeio.

Alternatively, unless you are as afraid of heights as Katerina is, you shouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy having dinner 50 metres into the air of Gazi. Click here to reserve your spot at a dinner party in the sky you’ll never forget.

Admission Tickets: 1€ or 15€ (with theatrical guided tour)/adult for the Gas Museum
Closest Metro Station:
Kerameikos (Line 3)

This image shows a panoramic view of Gazi neighbourhood. We can see the chimneys of the old gas power station.
The Technopolis of Athens in Gazi

Dinner in Metaxourgeio

Metaxourgeio is yet another of the best Athens neighbourhoods that were heartbreakingly neglected and left to perish until recently. Initially, this area was where King Otto’s palace was supposed to be built. However, this idea was dropped and a silk factory (metaxourgeio in Greek) was established there instead. In the late 19th century, Metaxourgeio became a thriving working-class district. But from the 1970s onwards, people started abandoning Metaxourgeio.

As with many other Athens neighbourhoods, Metaxourgeio started coming back to life in the early 2000s. The transformation of Metaxourgeio into an artistic hub is largely the result of individual efforts by people who saw the neighbourhood’s potential and decided to open theatres, art galleries and other cultural spaces there.

Metaxourgeio is also one of the best places to go in Athens for street art. If your schedule allows it, it’s worth booking a 3-hour guided tour of the most impressive street art in Athens.

Avdi Square is the best place to have dinner and pre- or post-dinner drinks in Metaxourgeio. For dinner, we’d recommend either Seychelles, an amazing restaurant that locals swear by, or the recently opened Galiantra, which is the closest Athens has to a lively open-air food court. For drinks, Ble Papagalos (Greek for blue parrot) is a must, while in nearby Cabezon you can have a beer with a few meze dishes at one of the prettiest courtyards in Athens.

Closest Metro Station: Metaxourghio (Line 2) or Thissio (Line 1)

This image shows the beautiful cafes and restaurants in Avdi Square in Metaxourgeio.
Avdi Square in Metaxourgeio

Extra Tips For Your Athens in 3 Days Itinerary

  1. Instead of buying separate tickets for the major archaeological sites in Athens, consider getting the 30€ combined ticket. It’s valid for 5 days and grants access to the following: the Acropolis of Athens, the North Slope of the Acropolis, the South Slope of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Ancient Agora of Athens Museum, the Roman Agora of Athens, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, the Lykeion Archaeological Site and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
  2. Keep in mind that many metro stations in Athens are open-air museums where you can admire ancient ruins without spending a penny. These are the findings that were brought to light during the Athens Metro works. Syntagma, Akropoli and Evagelismos are among the metro stations that house ancient findings. At Monastiraki Station, you can have a look at the river bed of Eridanus, the ancient river that flowed from Lycabettus Hill to Kerameikos via the Ancient Agora of Athens.

What To Do in Athens in Less Or More Than 3 Days

If you have less or more than 72 hours in Athens to spend, here are a few more suggestions.

2 Days in Athens Itinerary

First things first. We genuinely believe that spending just 2 days in Athens won’t do the city justice. However, if you absolutely can’t add another day to your itinerary to see Athens in 3 days, here’s our suggested 2-day Athens itinerary.

What To Do in Athens in 2 Days

Day 1
  • National Archaeological Museum
  • Syntagma Square & The Changing of the Guard
  • National Garden
  • Zappeion
  • Hadrian’s Gate & Temple of Olympian Zeus
  • Panathenaic Stadium
  • Lycabettus Hill
  • Kolonaki or Exarchia
Day 2
  • Everything recommended on Day 2 of our 3-day in Athens itinerary.
  • If there’s enough time, a stroll around Monastiraki Square and a quick rooftop drink.

If you’re travelling on a tight schedule, one of the coolest ways to see the best of Athens in 2 days – in just 3 hours to be precise – is to book a tour on an eco-friendly, 100% electric tuk-tuk.

4 Days in Athens Itinerary

If you’re able to see Athens in 4 days, that’s great news. You can do everything we describe on our 3-day Athens itinerary, plus enjoy a day by the sea.

What To Do in Athens in 4 Days

Days 1, 2 & 3

Same as our Athens in 3 days itinerary.

Day 4
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre & Flisvos Marina

Start your day early with a stroll around the recently constructed SNFCC (Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre), the ultimate recreational and cultural hub and one of the best places to go near Athens. Complete with the Greek capital’s loveliest park, a seawater canal, cafés, food trucks, playgrounds, a running track and many more, the SNFCC is a public space that’s second to none by Greek standards.

Built with sustainability and the vision to reconnect humans with nature in mind, the SNFCC is a wonder of modern architecture. It houses the Greek National Opera and the National Library of Greece. In the summer, free live concerts, screenings and other events take place in its open spaces. A stroll around the SNFCC’s grounds is one of the best things to do in Athens any time of day.

Walking along the glorious esplanade that starts from the SNFCC and continues towards the sea, you’ll reach Plateia Nerou (Water Square), one of the best venues for summer music festivals in Athens. From there, continue your walk to the cosmopolitan Flisvos Marina.

If you have time, you can visit the Battleship Georgios Averof, a legendary warship that now functions as a floating museum. Stepping on board this historic warship and exploring its decks is one of the best activities in Athens.

Admission Tickets: 3€/adult for the Battleship Georgios Averof
Closest Metro Station: The SNFCC provides free shuttle service from Syntagma (Lines 2 & 3) or Sygrou – Fix (Line 2)
. Click here for the shuttle bus timetable.

Sunset at The Temple of Poseidon

There’s no better place to end your 4-day Athens itinerary than the stunning Temple of Poseidon in Sounio. One of the most remarkable monuments that date back to the Golden Age of Athens, the Temple of Poseidon enjoys a unique location at the tip of Cape Sounio. It boasts jaw-dropping views of the Aegean Sea that get even more enchanting at sunset.

Apart from the Temple of Poseidon, there are several other ruins to admire at the archaeological site of Sounio, such as the ancient settlement, the port and the old fortifications. Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon aren’t the easiest to get to from downtown Athens. That’s why you may want to consider booking a hassle-free half-day sunset trip to Sounio from Athens. Similarly, there’s the option of a private transfer to Sounio or the hop-on-hop-off bus.

Admission Tickets: 10€/adult for the archaeological site of Sounio
Closest Metro Station: Take the KTEL bus from Nomismatokopio (Line 3)

This image shows the temple of Poseidon in Sounio.
The Temple of Poseidon in Sounio

5 Days in Athens Itinerary

Being able to see Athens in 5 days sounds like the perfect opportunity to enjoy everything the Greek capital has to offer, plus take a day trip to a nearby island or a destination on the mainland.

Days 1, 2, 3 & 4

Same as our Athens in 4 days itinerary.

Day 5

Choose one of the best day trips from Athens recommended below.

Day Trip To Delphi From Athens

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, Delphi is one of the most stunning archaeological sites in Greece, second only to the Acropolis of Athens. Set amidst a landscape of rare natural beauty, Delphi was antiquity’s most powerful oracle. During the 6th century BC, Delphi was the ultimate religious hub and a Pan-Hellenic symbol of unity. Planning a trip to Delphi is one of the best day trips from Athens.

Admission Tickets: 12€/adult for the archaeological site of Delphi
How To Get To Delphi From Athens:
To get from Athens to Delphi, you can either rent a car or take the KTEL bus. However, the best way to enjoy Delphi is by booking a high-rated guided tour. This way, not only will you enjoy a comfortable and hassle-free ride, but you’ll also get the most of this glorious archaeological site if you visit in the company of a knowledgeable tour guide.

Day Trip To Nafplio From Athens

Nafplio is a favourite among Greeks and foreigners alike for an unforgettable day trip from Athens. Packed in history and charms, Nafplio is home to two dramatic fortresses (Palamidi and Bourtzi), a romantic Old Town dotted with neoclassical mansions, a handful of exciting museums and a nostalgic waterfront that reminds of times gone by. With the right logistics, you can visit the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Ancient Epidaurus on the same day trip from Athens.

Admission Tickets: 8€/adult for Palamidi, Bourtzi isn’t currently open to the public, 12€/adult for Mycenae, 12€/adult for Ancient Epidaurus
How To Get To Nafplio From Athens:
To get from Athens to Nafplio, you can either rent a car or take the KTEL bus. That said, we’d highly recommend a guided tour to Nafplio from Athens that will also take you to the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Ancient Epidaurus or Nemea for a wine tasting experience without you having to worry about the logistics.

This image shows a few fishing boats near the quaint port in Nafplio. In the background, there is Bourtzi, a gorgeous fortress in the middle of the sea.
Gorgeous Nafplio
Day Trip To The Saronic Islands From Athens

If you’re longing for a glimpse of the renowned Greek Islands, a day trip from Athens to one or more of the Saronic Gulf Islands is an excellent idea. You can learn about the glorious naval past of Greece in Spetses or Hydra, stroll along an evocative promenade in Aegina or relax in laid-back Agistri.

How To Get To The Saronic Islands From Athens: To get from Athens to the Saronic Islands, you must take the ferry or catamaran/hydrofoil from Piraeus Port. In this case, it’s best to plan a day trip to just one of the Saronic Islands. Otherwise, the logistics will prove too much of a trouble. Check timetables and book your tickets here. Alternatively, you can join a cruise to three of the best Saronic Islands from Athens.

This image shows the sea on Skala Beach dyed purple and the sun setting in the background. This is the featured image for our article What to do in Agistri, the best island near Athens.
Sunset in Agistri

The Ultimate Athens Travel Guide

Best Time To Visit Athens

If you’re wondering when to visit Athens, perhaps you should reverse the question to get a more straightforward answer. So, when is the worst time to visit Athens? The answer is simple: July and August. With so many amazing things to do in Athens, you can’t go wrong with any season. That said, you should avoid travelling to Athens during the months of July and August because Athens can will get unbearably hot then.

The coldest months in Athens are usually December, January and February. Therefore, you might want to keep that in mind if you’re dreaming of enjoying open-air cafés and restaurants. Which you should. However, it rarely gets REALLY cold in Athens. Most of the time, you’ll be able to sit comfortably at cafés with outdoor heaters even in the coldest months.

The best time to travel to Athens is March to June and September to November. If you had to choose between spring and autumn to visit Athens, you should probably go for spring, as it brings longer days, which are ideal for the sightseeing-packed Athens itinerary we are recommending.

This image shows Pnyka and the Acropolis in Athens on a snowy day.
February 2021 in Athens. That’s a sight you most probably won’t witness in Athens as it rarely snows in the city.

How To Get To Athens Greece

Athens International Airport is the main entry point to the Greek capital. There are direct and transit flights to Athens from all over the world, operated by major low-cost and full-service carriers.

To get from Athens International Airport to the city centre, you can use the Athens Metro (Line 3). One-way tickets cost 9€/person. Journey time is about 40 minutes from the airport to Syntagma Station. There are also 24-hour express buses from the airport to downtown Athens that cost 5.50€/person. Line X95 runs between the airport and Syntagma Square, while Line X96 connects the airport to the port of Piraeus.

You can also grab a taxi from Athens Airport to Athens for 38€ or 54€ (midnight to 05:00 am). However, if you’re travelling as a family or group, it makes sense to book a private transfer from Athens International Airport to the city centre. Your English-speaking driver will wait for you upon arrival and you’ll save yourselves valuable time trying to figure out how to leave the airport.

This image shows the X95 bus which goes to Athens airport and a line of taxis at Syntagma square.
X95 buses and taxis along Othonos Street in Syntagma Square

How To Get Around Athens

Even if you plan to rent a car to embark on a Greek road trip before or after your trip to Athens, don’t even think about driving in the Greek capital. Driving in Athens is too stressful and an absolute waste of time due to traffic jams and lack of available parking spaces. The best way to get around Athens is a combination of walking and using the public transport system.

The Athens public transport system comprises Lines 1, 2 and 3 of the Athens Metro, the suburban railway, buses, trolleybuses and the tram. You can use any of the above in any combination for 90 minutes with a single ticket that costs 1.20€. There are also bundles of five or ten tickets that will save you some cash. You can buy your public transport tickets from vending machines located at all Athens Metro stations.

Taxis in Athens use a taxi metre by law. Although there are some designated areas for the city’s yellow taxis to line up, it’s common practice to hail a taxi anywhere you want. To avoid scams, you’ll be better off using a taxi app, such as this one. Last but not least, getting around Athens can also be fun if you buy tickets for one of the city’s hop-on-hop-off buses.

Where To Stay in Athens

Athens is a large, often chaotic city. However, if you choose a central hotel for your 3-day Athens itinerary, you’ll never have to deal with the madness of constantly commuting in the city. Even if it seems that a hotel outside the city centre could save you a bit of cash, it’s not worth the trouble and the time you’ll waste commuting, trust us.

That said, not all central hotels are good accommodation options for your trip to Athens. The reason is that some Athens neighbourhoods are sketchier than others and you might not want to choose a hotel that’s located in one of those.

So, where to stay in Athens to make the most of your time in the city and feel safe at all times? The best neighbourhoods to stay in Athens are Plaka, Thisseio, Koukaki, Syntagma, Psirri and Monastiraki. All of these areas are walkable, they have many options to drink and eat and they are close to almost all the things to do in Athens we’ve included in this 3-day Athens itinerary.

Have a look at the best deals on Booking.com and make sure you book your rooms way in advance as good hotels in Athens fill up fast, especially during the high season.

This image shows a quaint street in Plaka with beautiful cafes. In the background there is the Acropolis.
Plaka is a dream

What To Pack For Athens

When packing for your Athens in 3 days trip, make sure you don’t forget a couple of things that are necessary, regardless of the season. These are your sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, good walking shoes, a plug adaptor and your thermal bottle.

If you’re visiting Athens in the autumn and winter, bring a waterproof jacket and, ideally, waterproof shoes, too. Always keep in mind to dress in layers in Athens, as temperatures can fluctuate during the day. If you’re visiting Athens during the warmer months, we have created the best summer packing checklist for you. You can download it here.

This image shows a red thermal bottle on yellow autumn leaves.
Autumn leaves at the National Garden of Athens

Safety in Athens

Is Athens safe to travel to? Compared to other major capital cities in the world, yes, Athens is a relatively safe city to visit. That said, you must avoid sketchy and dark neighbourhoods at night and always try to stick to the areas mentioned in the Where To Stay section above. Especially if you are a solo female traveller, a group of women or an LGBTQ couple.

Pickpockets in Athens absolutely love tourists. Therefore, do your best not to look like one, especially in crowded places. Be extra careful when you ride the Athens Metro or a bus because that’s where pickpockets put on their grandest show.

If you feel that there are two or three people – seemingly unknown to each other – way too close to you, squeezing you even, you’re probably dealing with a group of professional pickpockets. A couple of them will try to distract you while a third one’s hands will already be in your bag.

To avoid getting caught in the middle of a situation like this, always keep your belongings where you can see them. For instance, wear your backpack at the front of your body and don’t keep valuables in your pockets.

Travel Resources To Help You See Athens in 3 Days

Is Athens a stop on your way to the Greek Islands?
Have a look at all our Greek Island guides!

Agistri
Amorgos
Andros
Antiparos
Astypalaia
Elafonisos
Mykonos
Naxos
Paros
Serifos
Sifnos

Thank you for making it to the end of our 3-Day Athens Itinerary & Guide. It means a lot. It’s an article we compiled with a lot of love for the city we know better than any other place in the world. This is why we hope our insiders’ Athens Guide will help you plan your dream trip to Athens.

Now you know what to see in Athens in 3 days but it’s OK if you skip a couple or more of the best things to do in Athens we recommend just to sit back, have a beer and take in the essence of the Greek capital instead. That’s an equally – if not more – amazing way to get to know our home city. After all, even if you don’t manage to see everything on our Athens in 3 days itinerary the first time over, you can always come back for more!


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