Don’t leave Athens city center without seeing these ten famous sights and places!
Are you planning your first visit to Athens city center?
If so, start with the following top 10 attractions and legendary sightseeing destinations.
These are the historical, cultural, and famous places everyone associates with Athens city center.
Your love affair with the city may begin with a first glimpse of the Acropolis, then continue with strolls along the narrow streets of Plaka and the pedestrian street of Dionysiou Areopagitou.
If you want to organize your trip with attention to every detail, make sure you check out my step-by-step itineraries with the best places in town and their pins on Google Maps.
They are carefully and clearly designed, depending on the number of days at your disposal: Athens in 1 day, Athens in 2 days, Athens in 3 days, Athens in 4 days, or hidden gem in Athens if you plan to stay even more days.
The best Athens city center destinations
Syntagma is the center of modern Athens. Your visit to the city is not complete if it does not include a stop here.
Arriving at Syntagma Square, you can see the Hellenic Parliament.
Initially, the building served as the palace of King Otto and got its current use in 1929.
In front of it is the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, which the Evzones of the Presidential Guard symbolically guard.
The Changing of the Guard occurs every hour, regardless of the weather; you can watch it whether it’s a rainy winter’s night or the hottest summer noon.
Opposite Syntagma Square, you can find Ermou Street.
It is one of the most commercial streets in Athens, with dozens of shops and famous brands.
Continuing to walk it, you end up in Thiseio and the archeological site of Kerameikos.
In the surrounding streets, many rooftop bars are worth visiting.
Spend an hour of your trip and enjoy your coffee, drink, and food with a unique view of the Acropolis.
9) Lycabettus Hill
To enjoy the best view of the city of Athens, you will need to go up Lycabettus Hill.
There are three ways to do this: by funicular, car, and foot. My favorite option is walking.
However, because it is pretty uphill, you should pay attention to the following: a) have relatively good endurance and b) not attempt to do it on a very hot day.
Otherwise, it might be exhausting.
Once you make it to the top, you will have a unique view throughout the city.
Keep in mind that you will notice many people sitting in the parking lot as soon as you go up.
It’s better to continue hiking a little further, up to the Holy Church of Saint Isidore and the nearby viewing area.
From there you will be able to enjoy the best Athens views, as well as the islands of Salamina and Aegina.
Local’s tip: the location is also ideal for relishing an unforgettable sunset in Athens.
8) National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest in Greece and one of the most important in the world.
Its original purpose was to house the 19th-century excavations in Attica and the rest of the country.
Over the years, however, it was transformed into a central National Archaeological Museum, enriched with finds from all parts of the Greek world.
Thus, today it hosts more than 11.000 great exhibits and the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide.
You will need a whole day to enjoy all its exhibits in peace.
But even if you have less time, it is worth dedicating a few hours of your trip to it.
A must-visit museum if you love ancient history.
Local’s tip: If you can’t afford a guided tour, consider downloading an app for an audio tour. It will make your visit much more valuable, as you will better understand what you see.
7) Panathenaic Stadium
Panathenaic Stadium is an imposing marble venue that you should not miss when you visit Athens.
It was built in 330 BC on a natural hollow part of the ground between the two hills of Agra and Ardettos.
Locals also call it Kallimarmaro, which means “Beautiful Marble”.
It’s one of the most significant city’s monuments since it has been used for sports events for almost 2.500 years.
At the same time, its history is closely linked to the Modern Olympic Games.
Specifically, in 1896, it was the Stadium of the first Modern Olympic Games, while in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games it was the finishing line of the Marathon race.
Once here, do not forget to run a lap, take a photo on the podium, and sit in the spectators’ seats.
Complete your visit by climbing to the top to enjoy a unique view of the city.
6) Filopappou Hill
One of my favorite places for walking in Athens city center is Filopappou Hill.
Located next to the Acropolis hill, it’s full of beautiful paths to take a hike and imagine the ancient philosophers wandering around.
As you walk on the multiple pathways, you will meet many significant historical landmarks.
Among them, don’t miss the Church of Saint Demetrios Loumbardiaris, the Monument of Philopappos, and The Pnyx, one of the most critical sites in creating democracy.
Filopappou Hill is also one of the best places to enjoy stunning views of Acropolis Hill and all of Athens.
Surprisingly, most viewpoints are often empty, even though countless tourists are within a few meters.
Local’s tip: wear comfortable shoes and make sure to pack some sunscreen with you before your visit.
5) Ancient Agora of Athens
While studying at the University of Athens, one of our professors chose to do her classes in the Ancient Agora.
To this day, it remains one of my best memories as a student.
The place has something unique that makes you travel back in time.
Inside the archeological site, you can visit many important attractions.
The Temple of Hephaestus is one of them, as it is one of the few ancient temples to be almost entirely preserved.
Stoa of Attalos is another, allowing you to imagine what the buildings were like in ancient Athens.
But what always stands out as an experience is walking in the area.
When you are here, take your time, walk the paths without haste, sit on one of the benches, and enjoy the tranquility. It is a memory that will accompany you forever.
4) Plaka and Anafiotika
The most impressive feature of Plaka is its ability to remain equally popular among visitors from abroad and Athenians.
How does it achieve it?
It has a magical way to give you the feeling of carefree and a sense of Greek summer.
Full of shops and people, it manages to make you think you are on a favorite small Greek island.
Especially Anafiotika is the best example of the area. A tiny neighborhood under the Acropolis hill looks like a dreamy village from a Cycladic island.
It was built by workers from the island of Anafi, who came to Athens in the middle of the 19th century to help with King Othon’s palace’s construction, today’s Greek Parliament.
A walk here is a must!
3) Dionysiou Areopagitou street
Nothing compares to the feeling of walking on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street on a sunny spring day.
People everywhere, street vendors, neoclassical houses, music, ice creams, and iced coffees, compose a unique setting in the Athens city center.
The pedestrian street, located just below the Acropolis, passes by the most important attractions of Athens, such as the Acropolis Museum and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and ends at Filopappou Hill.
Thus, it is always full of people and makes you feel like you are participating in a spontaneous celebration.
As long as you are in Athens, do not forget to wander here – and do it like the locals.
Wear your sunglasses, grab a cold coffee (freddo espresso) in hand, and feel the vibe of the city.
2) Acropolis Museum
Housing every artifact found on the rock of the Acropolis of Athens, the Acropolis Museum is one of the most important museums you could ever visit.
You will find it in the historic area of Makryianni, standing only 300 meters southeast of the Parthenon.
You could easily spend half a day at its premises, enjoying the exhibits.
The first large gallery features a glass-floored ramp that emulates the Acropolis’s slopes and showcases the archaeological discoveries made there.
On ascending to the first-floor level, you can find displays from the Archaic Acropolis, sculptures from the Athena Nike temple and the Erechtheion, as well as architectural members from the Propylaia.
The third floor is devoted exclusively to the statues of the Parthenon.
The final exhibition unit, reached after returning to the north wing of the first floor, includes works from the 5th century BC to the end of antiquity.
Overall, it’s truly an extraordinary place, a must-visit while in Athens!
1) Acropolis of Athens
At the top of the destinations could not be the world-famous Acropolis, the largest and finest sanctuary of ancient Athens.
And if you believe that it’s awe-inspiring only to the tourists of the Athens city center, think again.
I see it almost every day as I go to work, I have visited it many times, and yet the feeling always remains the same.
The location is dedicated primarily to Athena, the city’s patron and goddess of wisdom, olive tree, and war.
Recent archaeological research shows people have inhabited the hill since 4.000 BC.
Over the centuries, local rulers used it, but it experienced its greatest glory in the 5th century BC.
I am referring, of course, to the golden age of Perikles, when Athens flourished.
The most influential artists, architects, and sculptors of the time created the significant monuments you will see today: the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Unique spirit of the ancient world
To say that Acropolis is a “must-see” is an understatement.
Being here, you will feel the unique spirit of the ancient world and enjoy the place where democracy was born.
Take your time to climb to the top, walk through the archeological remains, enjoy unforgettable views of Athens, and fill your soul with joy.
You have to visit this place at least once in your life!
Make Your Trip Easier
I always book my accommodation with a reliable service like Booking.com. Besides their price guarantee, you can rest assured that you will have 24/7 support in the event of any problems with your hotel. Always make sure you read reviews from other guests before booking.
If you want to get to and from Athens Airport with peace of mind, I recommend pre-booking your taxi with Welcome Pickups. Their flat rate is a few euros more expensive than random taxis, but they are totally worth it. They use local English-speaking drivers, wait for you at the arranged meeting point, even if your arrival is delayed, and introduce you to the city along the way.
Don’t forget to use Skyscanner before booking your flights as it compares different airlines to provide the cheapest and fastest solutions. Moreover, you can save a lot of money if you are flexible with your dates.
Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on a trip. However, these things can happen, so do not miss taking out travel insurance: SafetyWing is the one I use, as its plans are affordable and can save you a lot of trouble.
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