Athens is a must-see for history lovers, or for anyone looking for some culture on their way to the Greek islands. The historical sites, although crowded in peak tourist season, are an important site-seeing stop for any visitors to the amazing country of Greece. With some planning, you can have a worry free visit to the most popular sites, even in the most popular months.
Visiting the Sites of Athens
The acropolis is a must-see for anyone visiting Athens, and for that reason it will be the most crowded tourist attraction. It’s best to go early in the day to beat the crowds and the heat in the summer months. To avoid long ticket lines, you can go to any of the other ancient sites and buy a combo ticket which will give you access to seven historical sites. We bought our combo ticket for 30 euro at Hadrian’s Library, the closest site to our hotel, then headed up the hill to the acropolis. (We didn’t even have directions, we just followed the crowds.) We arrived around 9:30 and even by then the line to the entrance was already long, and made longer by your guides pushing their large groups to cut the line. (Other tourists were not very happy.) We waited about 10-15 minutes to get in which wasn’t terrible, but it could have been avoided if we arrived closer to opening.
Once inside it was a bit crowded and a bit hot (definitely remember to bring a water bottle) but we were still able to navigate through the site.
We also visited the Roman Agora and the Ancient Agora – the latter being one of the larger sites with easy walking paths and even a small museum. If you run out of time, the combo ticket can also be used the next day to see any sites you may have missed.
Once you’re tired of the historical sites and want a place to relax, the National Garden is a shady spot to walk around or sit on a bench.
When it comes to neighborhood wandering, Psyri is a spot known for street art and is an easy walk from anywhere in central Athens. Plaka is also close by and is a more quaint, village-like setting that has more of a picturesque Greek island vibe with cobblestone streets and plenty of restaurants. This is definitely a neighborhood to explore for dinner.
Bars & Restaurants in Athens
Plenty of bars and restaurants boast a view of the Acropolis. 360 Cocktail Bar is one of them, with a rooftop that overlooks Athens’ best views. (The drinks are great too.) For a cool vibe on the ground, The Clumsies was named one of the “World’s Best Bars” and it was a great stop for a drink, dinner, or even brunch. Heteroclito is a great wine bar that we stumbled upon as it was next to our hotel, and for any oenophile this is a great spot for a pre-dinner drink.
Psaras Tavern is a great spot for a traditional Greek dinner in Plaka. Although very touristy, their menu is huge and each item is delicious, and you can wander in without a reservation.
For more recommendations check out the detailed map on our Greece page.
There are plenty of center city hotels to choose from, and if it’s your first visit staying as close to the action is definitely recommended. Athens is very walkable, and what looks far on the map often isn’t, so staying anywhere in central Athens is easily commutable to the main sites like the Acropolis. For a detailed description check out our guide for where to stay in Athens.