10+ Things to do in Athens

10+ Things to do in Athens

The southernmost capital city in continental Europe, Athens is a delightful mix of ancient icons of early western civilisation, vibrant contemporary culture & creativity, and a host of spectacular scenery and sights, from beaches to classical ruins. The Greek capital is a treasure-chest of alluring attractions and experiences, so here’s our top ten things to do in Athens so you can be sure to make the most of your time in this beautiful city.

Athens was ‘refurbished’ significantly ahead of its hosting the 2004 Olympics, so the infrastructure of the city is very visitor friendly and easy to navigate on foot, with key areas pedestrianised, while public transport is relatively cheap too. 

The ‘plus’ in our 10+ things to do in Athens title indicates that within each of the recommendations, there are some additional suggestions for things to see and do.

Visit the Acropolis

 The Acropolis

There’s going to be a few things on this list that you’ll see on every self-respecting list of things to do in Athens – starting with the Acropolis. Any list that doesn’t have this ancient citadel included probably shouldn’t be trusted; it’s simply a must-visit when in Athens.

What is the Acropolis in Athens?

Perched overlooking the city, on a rocky outcrop, the Acropolis is a hill in Athens on which stands some of the most iconic ancient buildings in the world. A Unesco World Heritage site, the Acropolis contains the ruins of some of the most important structures of ancient civilisation, the most notable of which is the Parthenon, a temple originally built in dedication to the Goddess Athena built from limestone and with marble columns crowned with intricate hand carvings and statues depicting scenes and stories of Athena and Greece.

We recommend visiting the Acropolis museum first, before venturing up to the top. This way you’ll get really great insight and context to just how historically remarkable the site itself is. The museum houses artifacts found on the Acropolis from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine times.

At almost 2,500 years old, the stone of the Acropolis has become smooth and surprisingly slippery, so be cautious of your footing in parts. Also, try to go early in the morning, before the midday sun makes for a scorching visit and when the lines ought to be shorter, and be aware there are two ticket lines – one for cash and one for credit card.


The Ancient Agora of Athens

The Agora is another significant site in Athens which contains the remnants of more than thirty monuments and buildings – though, as intriguing as these ruins are, the real fascinating aspect of the Agora is in its history and functions of Classical Athens.

It dates from the 6th Century BC and was the centre of the city’s public and political life, the seat of the judiciary, a commercial market, a religious centre & burial site, and hosted theatrical, cultural and athletic activities. Meetings took place here to enact laws and even to hold public forums on ostracism whereby potential threats to Greece were banished into exile.

There are plenty of reasons to join a free tour in Athens, but learning all about the ancient history of the Agora from an expert, knowledgeable local Athens guide is surely one of the best – an, you decide how much to pay! Don’t forget to book an Athens free tour on FREETOUR.com before your visit.


Visit the Plaka neighbourhood

If you’ve had your fill of ancient archaeological sites for one day, then we highly recommend a visit to the Plaka district of Athens. Plaka is centrally located, indeed it is known as "Neighbourhood of the Gods" as it is the old historical residential neighbourhood of Athens, close to the Acropolis, and is a wonderful array of neoclassical buildings, twisting labyrinthine streets and alleys, family-run stores & boutiques, tavernas and specialty food outlets.

Plaka is the place to be for an afternoon or evening of soaking up the authentic Athens atmosphere, perusing ceramics, jewellery and potential souvenirs, or indulging in a glass of wine or sampling delicious meze, olives and spices.

Of course, there are also lots of ancient archaeological sites in Plaka too (it is Athens after all), such as the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds, as well as a number of really interesting museums like the Jewish Museum and the Frissiras Museum which hosts modern art; but, there’s plenty of things to see and do in Plaka if you’re trying to spread out your history and culture intake among bouts of shopping or chilling out.

Two cool examples include the Al traditional bathhouse for an authentic steam-bath on warm marble where you can be bathed using a ‘ketse’ sponge & natural olive oil soap and enjoy a massage, or enjoy an al fresco cinema experience under the stars and in view of the Acropolis at Cine Paris, an outdoor cinema in Plaka that has been operating since 1920 – and, usefully, English language movies are not dubbed in Greece!

 Visit Athens

More top things to do in Athens

Okay, we’re rapidly reaching our word-count, so we’re into some quickfire things to do in Athens!

Mount Lycabettus

There’s lots of hills and summits in Athens from which to enjoy spectacular views of the city, but our favourite is Mount Lycabettus to the Northeast of the centre. You can scale pine-tree clad 300 metres on foot, but the Athens sun can be unforgiving so you might prefer to take the funicular to the summit which runs every thirty minutes.

From Mount Lycabettus, you’ll enjoy arguably the best panorama of Athens, taking in the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Acropolis, the stunning Piraeus Coast as well as the Parnitha and Pentelicus peaks.

National Garden

Nestled between old and modern Athens, the National Garden is close to Plaka and is the ideal spot for a bit of rest and recuperation while still being able to absorb Athenian daily life. Dating from the early 1830s, the garden is home to lots of species of flora, palm trees, ponds and plenty of wildlife – from ducks and turtles in ponds, to peacocks and even monkeys and wolves in the on-site zoo!

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

If you can catch a concert here at this Roman-era concert hall during your visit, jump on it. To do so will mean you’ll be experiencing something that local Athenian culture-vultures would have done two thousand years ago!

The Odeon of Herodes was raised in 161 AD and could seat five thousand people. A little over one hundred years later, in 267 AD, a Heruli invasion left it in ruins until it was excavated in 1848. In the 1950s, the theatre was restored using marble from the same original source of Mount Pentelicus.

Kapnikarea church

A little less ancient than the iconic archaeological ruins dotted all over Athens, this 11th Century Christian church is none-the-less worthy of seeing for its intriguing aesthetic, both inside and out.

Sitting on the upmarket commercial Ermou Street, this old church was built around 1050 above an ancient pagan temple and boasts an interior combining intricate décor among the detailed columns and friezes, as well as mid-20th century works by the painter Photis Kontoglou.

Athens Nightlife - Psiri

If you want to embrace the local Athens nightlife, then the Psiri district is the place to head to, especially on weekends when the party goes until sunrise.

The area is popular among the city’s night-owls and offers a plethora of clubs, bars, music tavernas, restaurants and cafes to suit many different tastes.

Eating in Athens

Something you are sure to do in Athens is eating, and there is plenty of eateries in which to dine on local delicacies and delights. Some must-try local eats include bougatsa - filo pastry covered minced meat, cheese or semolina custard, koulouri - circular bread topped with sesame seeds, tiropita – filo pastry with cheese and egg, or spanakopita – again, filo pastry covered spinach, feta cheese and onions, and souvlaki - delicious pork with tzatziki, onions and tomatoes in pita bread. Yummy!

Athens’ oldest house

And last but certainly not least on our list of 10+ things to see and do in Athens is The Benizelou Mansion, the oldest house in Athens and the only Ottoman-era residence left in the city. It once belonged to a nun, Sister Filothei  who has since been canonised as a saint, so the house is also known as ‘the house of St Filothei the Athenian’. Now it has been restored and opened to visitors, containing video and audio exhibits and interactive exhibits that give you a wonderful insight to life in old Athens

Bonus Tip – Street Tango!

If you’re in Athens on a Monday, head to the pedestrianised marble section of Ermou street to enjoy “Street Dancing Milonga,” where dancers of all ages from different dance schools in Athens meet to perform, learn, and enjoy dancing together.


There you have it, dear travellers, our top 10 Athens attractions for things to do, see and experience in the Greek capital. As always, the best way to really get to grips with the city and its incredible history and local culture is to join a free walking tour of Athens with a professional local guide. You decide the price at the end and you’ll be sure to get invaluable insight to the place around you, some excellent local insider knowledge and tips, and get orientated with Athens for the rest of your stay – book the best free tours of Athens on FREETOUR.com.

Have you already been to Athens? Tell us and your fellow travellers your top recommendations in the comments.
Better Features in the App
cashless tips
Cashless Tips
cashless tips
Google / Apple Pay
cashless tips
Nearby Map