Acropolis of Athens
Greece and Athens’s biggest tourist magnet is the Acropolis, located on a 150-meter high hill in the middle of the city. This was the centerpiece of Ancient Athens. Centrally located here is the famous temple of Parthenon, built 500 BC in honor of the goddess Athena, after which the city is named. Here you can see the remains of the Dionysos Theater, and the Erechteum Temple.
Also bring with you Agora, which was Athens’ social and political center from 600 BC, and the place where Socrates and his followers met. The Acropolis is open every day from 0800 to 1800. Entrance tickets must be purchased. Of course, the entire Acropolis is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- See DigoPaul for dictionary definitions of Athens, Greece. Includes geographical map and city sightseeing photos.
Olympics in Athens
Another ancient temple that you should bring with you is the Olympics, or Naos tou Olympiou Dios, which was begun around 600 BC, but not completed until 129 AD This was at one time the largest temple in all of Greece, and originally had over 100 giant Corinthian marble columns. Only 13 of these are still standing, but it is still easy to imagine how majestic this building was in its heyday.
Olympeion is open from 0830 to 1930 in the summer, to 1530 in the winter, and admission tickets are reasonable. Olympeion is located just south of the central Plaka district, at Vas Olgas and Amelias.
The National Archaeological Museum
Of course, a city with so much history has many fascinating museums, and you can spend days in places such as the Athens Museum, the National History Museum, the National Gallery and the Byzantine Museum.
The National Archaeological Museum has the world’s largest collection of Greek art from antiquity. Located in Patission 44 in the Exarchia district, this is open daily from 0800 to 1900 in the summer, and from 0830 to 1500 in the winter. Reduced opening hours on Mondays. Reasonable entrance tickets.
Also, take with you the Benaki Museum, located on the corner of Vasilissis Sofia and Koumbari. Here you will find an impressive collection of Persian, Egyptian, Chinese and Byzantine art. Benaki is open from 0900 every day, but closed on Tuesdays. Closes 1700, but 1500 on Sundays and midnight on Thursdays. Entry around 50 kroner, free for children, pensioners and students. Free on Thursdays.
Lycavittos in Athens
A clear detour from the city center is Athens’ highest point, Lykavittos, which lies east of the Plaka area. At the top, 270 meters above sea level, there is a restaurant where you can have a drink while all of Athens is at your feet with a 360 degree panorama, and on a clear day you look all the way to Piraeus.
You can walk up the very steep hill and zigzag stairs to the top, or take a gondola train from Ploutharou, and transport up and down for a few euros.
National Gardens and Zappeion
Another green respite is the National Gardens, located just off Athens’ main square Syntagma Square. Here is a large and spacious area with a small lake with hordes of ducks and turtles, and a small zoo with wolves, monkeys, peacocks and a seemingly lonely lion. There is also a children’s playground. Free admission.
Zappeion is a huge building located in the National Gardens of Athens (Athens) in Greece. The building is named after Evangelos Zappas and no ancient idol. Zappas was for information the founder of the modern Olympic Games.
Zappeion is historic since it was the first building specifically designed for the Olympic Games of modern times. During the 1896 Olympics, Zappeion was used as an arena for drawing. More than a hundred years later, in 2004, Zappeion was used as a press center for the last Olympic Games in Greece.
Attica Zoo is the largest zoo in Athens. This is a new and privately owned zoo that opened in May 2000. Attica is trying to make a good home for the animals, without cages. The zoo protects endangered species, such as white lions and snow leopards.
The park is open every day all year from 0900 until sunset, and the entrance fees are pleasantly priced. There are discounts for children between 3 and 12 years. Attica is located at At Yalou in Spata.
If you go to The Hils of the Nymphs, you will be able to see the National Observatory of Athens and the beautiful red and white church of Agia Marina.
Agia Marina is built on the ruins of an ancient temple, where it is believed that they initially worshiped Zeus. Agia Marina is today a Christian church, and now consists of one new and one old building. The latter acts as a baptismal chapel. Here you will see very old murals. The new part of Agia Marina (see photo) was built in the period 1924-1927, and the interior is decorated by famous artists.
Agia Ekaterini is one of the few ancient Byzantine churches that is kept open in Athens. The church can probably date back to the 11th century.
The church of Agia Ekaterini (Agia means Saint) is located in the Plaka district, more specifically at Herefontos and Lysikratous streets. This is in the middle of the tourist area, so you will definitely see Agia Ekaterini. Definitely worth the trip into Agia Ekaterini.
Tourist in Athens
Athens’ sights are largely within walking distance of each other in the city center, and the city is in fact well-suited for those wanting to stroll. A four kilometer long traffic-free promenade links together the major archaeological attractions. Choose the street Dionissiou Areopagitou from the Acropolis metro. Then Apostolou Pavlou leading to Thissio metro station, Adrianou east to Monastiraki, and Ermou to Keramikos.
You can also hop on the Athens 400 bus, which has a route that runs along most of the attractions. The tour takes approx. 90 minutes. The bus route starts from the Archaeological Museum, runs every half hour, and you can hop on and off whenever you want.
Day 1 in Athens Attractions and Tourist
Start today’s tour of Athens by getting to the Monastiraki district, for example by metro. You will then get up from the station at Monastiraki Square, which the district is named after. A large flea market is organized here, and in the streets around the square there are many antique shops and stalls selling souvenirs at significantly lower prices than in the more touristy areas of Athens.
As you move east on Monastiraki’s main street Pandrossou, you will reach Mitropoleos Square. Here is Athens Greek Orthodox Cathedral, which was built in the period 1842 to 1862. Turn south into Agias Filotheis, and you will soon reach Athens’ oldest street, Adrianou.
Old town Plaka in Athens
You are now in the historic Plaka district, located at the foot of the Acropolis northeast slope. Plaka is a maze of jagged cobblestone streets between low-rise houses with neo-classical architecture, and here are several of Athens’s museums, such as the Greek Folk Art Museum and the Jewish Museum. Here you will also find thousands of other tourists and countless dining places mainly aimed at visitors.
You can easily spend hours strolling around Plaka. If you cross the street Tripodon, look out for the nearly 2400-year-old Lysicrates monument. This is a 6.5 meter high stone pillar nearly 3 meters in diameter with Greek inscriptions from 335 BC. There are imitations of this monument in both England and the United States.
Zappeion Park in Athens
If you continue east, you will reach the Zappeion Park. Here is the beautiful neo-classical Zappeion Hall from the 1870s, which is now the conference and exhibition center of the Olympia institution. It is named after Evangelis Zappas, who was able to restart the Olympic Games in modern times.
In front of Zappeion Hall are two Roman monuments; Hadrian’s Arch and the remaining Corinthian pillars of the Temple of Zeus. Just east lies Panathinaiko Stadium, which is not the home ground of the Panathinaikos football team, but a stadium that has been used for sporting events since about 330 BC.
The stadium facility was completely restored to the 1896 Olympics, and during the 2004 Summer Olympics it was used for archery and the target area for marathons. This is the only stadium in the world built entirely in white marble and can seat around 80,000 spectators sitting on long stairs.
Presidential Residence and Parliament of Athens
If you go north through the National Gardens, you will pass the Presidential Residence before you reach the magnificent Parliament Building. This was formerly a royal castle. Here, the monument is guarded around the unknown soldier around the clock by the tight Evzones, the Greek garden with its traditional uniforms. Try to bring with you the shift, which happens every hour.
West of Parliament, on the other side of the busy street of Leoforas Amalias, lies the great Syntagma Square, or Plateia Syntagmatos. This is a traffic hub, but is also used for demonstrations and as a meeting place. At the outdoor cafes you will see a large marble staircase leading down to Syntagma metro station, and this is actually where you will find the main sights.
When the Athens subway was constructed, many objects and ruins of buildings were found during the excavations, and these are now painstakingly recreated and exhibited inside the stations. And the Syntagma Station is almost a museum in itself, where you can see ancient tombstones, a mosaic from the 400s, an aqueduct from about 400 BC and a 2000 year old hive.
Art and panoramic views of Athens
Take the street Leoforos Vasilissis Sofia east and you will pass the Benaki Museum of Art, and Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art. Here you can also easily spend a few hours. Turn up into Ploutharou, and at the end is a gondola lane that takes you up to Athens’ highest point, Lykavittos. At the top, 270 meters above sea level, there is an expensive restaurant, Horizons, where you can have a drink while all of Athens is at your feet with a 360 degree panorama.
On a clear day you can look all the way to Piraeus from the view terraces. The slimmest ones can possibly go up the very steep hill and zigzag stairs to the top.
After a trip back to the hotel for a probably much needed shower, it’s time to start thinking about dinner, as the average Greek consumes late at night. The few restaurants outside the main tourist areas open before 11:00. 1900 or 2000. Plaka abounds with eateries and is a pleasant area, but prices are often higher than other districts because of all the tourists.
If you want to try something more local and authentic, head back to Monastiraki, where you can get quality food at a very reasonable price in the many tavernas in the streets around the main square, Plateia Monastirakou. Afterwards you have a short distance to Athens nightlife, either in Psirri where the Greeks go out, or in Plaka, where most tourists gather.
Day 2 in Athens Attractions and Tourist
After breakfast, it’s time to take a thorough look at Greece’s foremost attraction. The Acropolis is located at a height of 150 meters in the middle of Athens. You can take the subway to the station of the same name and walk from there. A combined entrance fee for both the museum and the area with the temple ruins costs around 100 kroner, which you should definitely take your time and afford.
The Acropolis was the centerpiece of ancient Athens, a fortress that ravaged the city. Centrally located is the famous Temple Parthenon, built about 440 BC in honor of the goddess Athena, after which the city is named, and the Erechteum Temple. Of course, the entire Acropolis is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The ticket gives you access to other interesting areas for 48 hours.
Get with you Agora, which was Athens’ social and political center from 600 BC, and the place where Socrates and his followers met. Just south of the Acropolis you can see the remnants of the Dionysos Theater, which in its heyday over 2000 years ago accommodated over 17,000 visitors.
Another ancient temple that you should bring with you is the Olympieion, or Naos tou Olympiou Dios, which was begun around 600 BC, but not completed until in 129 AD.
This was at one time the largest temple in all of Greece, and originally had over 100 giant Corinthian marble columns. Only 13 of these are still standing, but it is still easy to imagine how majestic this building was in its heyday.
If you dined at a reasonably priced Greek tavern last night, you may want to splurge today. Among the city’s better restaurants we can mention Hermion in Pandrossou 15 in Plaka. This is far from being Athens’ least expensive restaurant, but the food here is well worth a few extra euros.