Are 2 days in Athens enough? How to turn 48 hours into an epic adventure: a reliable and updated itinerary for 2024, by a travel-lover local!
Last updated: 13 Dec 2023
Have you got 2 days in Athens, Greece, to spare?
That’s enough time to explore the city’s most famous ancient monuments, some up to 2,500 years old, and to get a great taste of modern Athens.
In the following comprehensive guide, I’ll point you towards the 24 spots you absolutely should not miss
What will you need?
Firstly, a good mood.
Don’t worry; Athens’ sunny weather will assist you greatly.
Secondly, a keen appetite for wandering through one of the world’s oldest cities.
And third, and perhaps most crucially, this step-by-step itinerary.
It’s been designed following extensive research to ensure that you enjoy your trip to the absolute fullest.
Smart tips for your trip:
- Each route is designed with points of interest located close to each other. Thus, I recommend you start following the routes from their beginning or their end to avoid double travel and to be able to enjoy as many attractions as possible.
- 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 to get a maximum of 2 days in Athens. Therefore, if you feel it’s too much for you, I recommend which spots you can skip at the end of the guide.
- You can save money by choosing the proper admission to archaeological sites. More in the first time in Athens survival guide.
- If you have fewer or more days, then from the top menu, you can choose the days that suit you best.
Where to Stay For 2 Days In Athens
Choosing Koukaki for your accommodation is an excellent option, as it’s located right in the heart of Athens.
It’s the area where you will end on Day 1, full of locals, great bars, and cafes.
It is also easily accessible by metro, useful for the beginning and end of your Day 2.
Now, let’s start our walk:
The recommended route for your first day
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, which will lead you to some great attractions. For now, walk just 200 meters and head towards the Acropolis entrance, which you will find at the beginning of Thrasillou Street.
8. Theatre of Dionysus
Why: Your first stop as you go up the Acropolis hill is the ancient Theatre of Dionysus. It is considered the first theatre in the world and has been associated with the birth and development of drama. Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Menander, wrote their tragedies and comedies to be performed at this site.
9. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Why: The next stop 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. Note that an excellent idea for your trip would be to attend a concert here. Here you can find more hidden gems of Athens like this.
10. Acropolis of Athens
Why: Walking a little further, you will find the Acropolis of Athens’s entrance. Only a few places on our planet can give you what 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. Areopagus Hill
Why: Leaving the Acropolis of Athens, head towards the hill of Areopagus. In ancient Athens, the reputed court of the Areios Pagos was located here. Furthermore, Saint Paul first proclaimed Christianity to the Athenians from this rock in 51 AD – don’t confuse it, however, with today’s Areios Pagos, the Supreme Court of Greece.
12. Filopappou Hill
Why: After Areopagus, go down Theorias str. and continue your walk on the stunning paths of Filopappou Hill. It’s worth spending a few hours here and, depending on your stamina, visiting the Church of Saint Demetrios Loumbardiaris, The Pnyx, and the Monument of Philopappos. At the top of the hill, you will enjoy panoramic views across Athens but also a unique view of the Acropolis.
13. Acropolis Museum
Why: Going back to Dionysiou Areopagitou str., it’s time to visit the Acropolis Museum. You will be amazed, so take 2-3 hours and enjoy it. It’s the best museum in Athens and one of the most important museums globally, housing every object found on the Acropolis.
14. Koukaki Neighborhood
Why: The Koukaki neighborhood is located behind the Acropolis Museum, a less touristy area than Athens’s historic center. With this in mind, it’s a great choice to enjoy quality food and drinks at reasonable prices among many locals. The tavern O Lolos is a great option if you want to try local Greek food. Otherwise, given that you will spend 2 days in Athens, you can enjoy your dinner at Meno Male for great pizza or Tuk Tuk for Thai food. Then, you can have a drink at the casual Bel Ray.
The recommended route for your second day
Why: The starting point of the second day is the Kerameikos metro station. Heading towards the pedestrian area of Ermou Street, you will notice Technopolis, Athens’s former gas plant. Today it has been transformed into an industrial museum, where artistic events such as concerts and exhibitions take place.
16. Archaeological Site of Kerameikos
Why: Walking on the pedestrian area of Ermou Street, on your left, you will enjoy a panoramic view of the Archaeological Site of Kerameikos. If the name “Kerameikos” sounds familiar, it is because the word “ceramic” is derived from the area. As a matter of fact, the famous Attic pottery was built here, while the area was part of one of the largest municipalities of ancient Athens.
17. Ancient Agora of Athens
Why: Once you reach Thiseio metro station, continue on Adrianou Street and enter the ancient Agora of Athens. Here was located the financial center and the central gathering place of the city of ancient Athens. Take your time and enjoy a walk among numerous notable monuments.
18. 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.
19. Stoa of Attalos
Why: Another notable landmark in the Ancient Agora of Athens is the Stoa of Attalos. Reconstructed between 1953–1956, 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.
20. Roman Agora
Why: Once you have completed your walk through Ancient Agora, return 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.
23. Local Food and Dessert
Why: By now, you’re probably feeling quite hungry. Just a few blocks away, Victory and Iliada offer casual and affordable lunch with local dishes like moussaka and souvlaki. If you prefer something more upscale, the Italian restaurant OVIO is a great choice. And once you are done with your meal, head to Mitropolitikon for the best baklava you will find in Athens.
24. Ermou Street
Why: The best way to end your day is by walking in the Ermou Street shops and having your drink in one of Athens’ rooftop bars. First, head to Syntagma Square and then go down Ermou Street towards Monastiraki Square. Meanwhile, do not miss a detour to Mitropoleos Street to see the Cathedral Church of Athens. Among my favorite rooftop bars are Retiré at the ERGON House and Couleur Locale.
Athens In 2 Days: Summary
The above routes should be enough for you to have 2 unforgettable days in Athens.
However, if you find the itinerary too stressful, you can skip points 11 and 12 or 14 during Day 1. A milder alternative to Day 2 would be to skip points 15 and 16 and start your walk from the Thiseio metro station.
On the contrary, if you believe you can add a few more things to your day, do the following. At the end of Day 2, once you reach Monastiraki Square, visit the area of Psyri, where you can find some cool shops, restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, etc.
Finally, if you decide to add another day to your 2 days in Athens, we’ve got you covered.
Here you can find the Athens 3-day itinerary with many extras like the Old Parliament, the National Library of Greece, and the National Archaeological Museum.
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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