How to spend 1 unforgettable day in Athens. The 18 best spots of the city and their pins on Google Maps, so you don’t miss a thing.
Last updated: 13 Dec 2023
Is 1 day in Athens, Greece, enough to have an excellent first taste of the city and create unforgettable memories?
Definitely, yes, if you are ready to take enough walks to explore its top attractions, which are up to 2,500 years old.
What will you need?
First of all, good mood. Don’t worry; the sunny weather in Athens will significantly help you.
Secondly, the appetite to wander in one of the world’s oldest cities.
Third, and most importantly, the following easy and reliable itinerary, designed after a lot of research to help you enjoy your trip to the fullest.
The recommended route
Smart tips for your trip:
- The starting point is Syntagma Square. However, the recommended route is almost circular, so you can start from whichever point serves you best.
- If you can stay in the city center, do it! Here you can find Athens best areas for your accommodation. If you are in a hurry, check the recommendations below.
- For your convenience, I have added links to all points of interest. Each of them leads to Google Maps to add them to your map and make sure that you won’t miss anything.
- The itinerary is quite tight and assumes that your visits to archeological sites will last about 1-1.5 hours. Therefore, if you feel that it’s too much for you, I recommend the points you can skip at the end of the article.
- Save money by choosing the proper admission to archaeological sites. More in the first time in Athens survival guide.
- If you have more days, then from the top menu, you can choose the days that suit you best.
Where to Stay For One Day In Athens
Staying in the city center is a must if you visit Athens only for one day.
Two great neighborhoods are Syntagma and Plaka.
In a nutshell, Syntagma offers some of the best hotels in the city.
Plaka, on the other hand, is more scenic, with houses at least 100 years old.
Now, let’s start our walk:
1. Monument to the Unknown Soldier
Why: Any tour in Athens could not but include Syntagma Square, the center of modern Athens. The Hellenic Parliament and the Monument of the Unknown Soldier are located above the square. Get your camera ready for the picturesque Evzones, also known as Tsoliades, who symbolically guard the Unknown Soldier Monument.
2. Athens National Garden
Why: The National Garden is the most famous garden in the heart of Athens; don’t miss crossing it as you head to Panathenaic Stadium. Locals often come here to exercise, read a book, or play with their children, as it is an ideal refuge from Athens’ heat and traffic.
3. Panathenaic Stadium
Why: The first imposing ancient attraction of your walk is the Panathenaic Stadium. Athenians usually call it Kallimarmaro, meaning “Beautiful Marble”. It was built in 330 BC and used as the first modern Olympic Games stadium in 1896. Nowadays, it hosts only selected concerts and sporting events, such as the Athens Classic Marathon’s finish.
4. Zappeion Hall
Why: Opposite the Panathenaic Stadium, you will find the Zappeio Hall. It started its operations in 1888, and in 1896 its circular atrium housed the fencing events of the first modern Olympic Games. Today it is one of Athens’s most important neoclassical buildings, hosting exhibitions and conferences.
5. Temple of Olympian Zeus
Why: The gigantic Temple of Olympian Zeus is a must-see in Athens’ center. It was devoted to Zeus, the “Father of Gods and Men”, who ruled the Gods of Olympus. Note that its construction began in the 6th century BC, but it was completed about 700 years later, in the 2nd century AD.
6. Hadrian’s Arch
Why: Two minutes away from the Temple of Olympian Zeus, you can find the 2,000-year-old Hadrian’s Arch. It was founded around 131 AD, probably to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in Athens, a great benefactor of the city. If you want to modify your itinerary, it is worth checking out at night as well, as its lighting is impressive.
7. Dionysiou Areopagitou str.
Why: Leaving Hadrian’s Arch, cross Leoforos Vasilisis Amalias and proceed to Dionysiou Areopagitou str. It’s one of Athens’ most beautiful pedestrian areas, just below the Acropolis, leading you to some great attractions. Do not forget to grab an ice cream or an iced coffee for your walk here, as the locals usually do.
8. Acropolis Museum
Why: Your first stop for photos on your walk on Dionysiou Areopagitou str. is the Acropolis Museum. Don’t think about it and get in: you will be amazed, but try to spend up to 1-1.5 hours here. It’s the best museum in Athens and one of the most important museums globally, housing every object found on the Acropolis.
9. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Why: The next stop at Dionysiou Areopagitou str. is the well-known Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It was built by the Athenian benefactor Herodes Atticus in 161 AD, in memory of his Roman wife Appia Annia Regilla, and it was renovated in 1950. It is an excellent reason to return to Athens and enjoy an unforgettable concert here.
10. Acropolis of Athens
Why: Walking a little further, you will find the entrance to the Acropolis of Athens. Only a few places on our planet can offer what the Acropolis has to offer, so take 1-2 hours and enjoy 2.500 years of history and unique views over the city. Check this combo ticket if you want to skip the line and save time.
11. Apostolou Pavlou Str.
Why: After the Acropolis experience, your promenade continues on Apostolou Pavlou str’s pedestrian area. If you want a break, the surrounding cafés and restaurants are ideal for enjoying your coffee or lunch. I usually visit The Underdog for great coffee and decent brunch. If you prefer a place with a great view, then check out the rooftop of Chocolat Royal.
12. Ancient Agora of Athens
Why: As you walk to Apostolou Pavlou Str, the most significant attraction you will encounter is Athens’s ancient Agora. Here was located the financial center and the central gathering place of the city of ancient Athens. Take an hour and enjoy a walk among numerous notable monuments.
13. Temple of Hephaestus
Why: One of the most significant sights in Ancient Agora of Athens is, without doubt, the Temple of Hephaestus. According to mythology, Hephaestus was the god of fire, volcanoes, and metallurgists. His temple is one of the few ancient temples to be almost entirely preserved, partly because it was transformed into a Christian church.
14. Stoa of Attalos
Why: Another notable landmark in the Ancient Agora of Athens is the Stoa of Attalos. Reconstructed between 1953 and 1956, it will allow you to imagine what the buildings were like in ancient Athens. Nowadays, it houses the Museum of the Ancient Agora; don’t miss the upper floor view.
15. Roman Agora
Why: Once you have completed your walk through Ancient Agora, proceed to Adrianou street and go up to Athens’s Roman Agora. This city’s central market during Roman times was built between 19 and 11 BC. The most remarkable ancient sight to see here is the impressive octagonal Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes. Also known as the Tower of the Winds, it is considered the world’s first meteorological station.
Why: Leaving the Roman Agora, you now enter the famous neighborhood of Plaka. Let yourself go here and enjoy the route, walking in whichever picturesque alley you like. As you wander, you will find many restaurants and cafes to pause for a breath; my personal favorite is Klepsydra, where they serve traditional Greek coffee. Take your time, but make sure you won’t leave before visiting Anafiotika (read below).
Why: Welcome to the “island of Athens”! Anafiotika is a tiny neighborhood under Acropolis Hill, which looks like a dreamy village on 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.
Why: I’ve saved the best for last. You can’t leave Athens without trying baklava, one of the finest local desserts. Mitropolitikon is only a few blocks away, and it’s one of the city’s oldest and most elegant pastry shops. Their tiny baklava is a must-try — it literally melts in your mouth. It’s definitely not to be missed.
Athens In 1 Day: Summary
The above walk should be enough for you to have a full 1 day in Athens and get a great first taste of the city.
However, if you find the itinerary too stressful, you can skip the points from 9 to 13.
While leaving the Acropolis of Athens, head directly to Plaka instead of continuing to Apostolou Pavlou Str. This way, you will have more time for food, coffee, and shopping.
On the contrary, if you believe you can add a few more things to your day, then after Anafiotika, visit Ermou Street for shopping.
Finally, if you decide to add one more day to your 1 day trip to Athens, we’ve got you covered.
Here, you can find a more comfortable 2-day itinerary in Athens with many extras like Filopappou Hill and the Koukaki neighborhood.
Do not also forget to check the 10 best neighborhoods for your stay in Athens for additional reliable accommodation options.
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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