If you’re trying to decide what to see in Athens you could find yourself spoilt for choice. A city synonymous with history, the list of places to visit in Athens is immense. From iconic landmarks like the Acropolis to hidden gems such as the Philopappos Monument, Athens simply has so much to explore!
So if you’re planning a visit to this ancient city and want to make the most of your trip, then our selection of the best things to do in Athens could be just the ticket. Our expert guide highlights what to see in Athens on a short trip, with our top ten places to visit in Athens set alongside a handful of additional recommendations that didn’t quite make the cut but shouldn’t be ignored if you have more time. And if that’s not enough, you can also explore our full list of sites in Athens to your heart’s content.
Of all the places to visit in Athens, the Acropolis is by far and away the most popular. However, there’s more to this site than just the Parthenon temple for which it is best known. Indeed, the Acropolis contains a number of other fascinating things to see, including the Erechtheion, the Propylaia and the temple of Athena Nike. Usually pretty swamped with tourists and guides, it’s not a particularly peaceful experience, but you simply can’t visit Athens without seeing the Acropolis.
The Acropolis is one of the most recognisable historic sites in the world and remains an inspirational monument to the achievements of Ancient Greek civilisation. Standing tall above the Greek city of Athens, the Acropolis contains a number of buildings and monuments from Greek Antiquity, including the Parthenon,... Read More
For truly spectacular views you can’t beat a short half- or full day-trip down to Sounio to see the Temple of Poseidon. This partially ruined Greek temple sits atop a coastal cliff, with the deep blue ocean below combining to make for one picturesque backdrop – certainly one of the most picturesque places near Athens to visit. If you can catch it at sunset, then the scene will be complete. It’s roughly an hour out from Athens and there are loads of tour options available.
The Temple of Poseidon of Sounio is a picturesque ruin of a fifth century BC Greek temple dedicated to the deity of the sea. Dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, the Temple of Poseidon of Sounio is now made up of a rectangle of restored large Doric columns. For... Read More
This partially restored Greco-Roman theatre is visually stunning. If you forgive the fact that much of the site is probably more Greco-Modern than Greco-Roman then you’ll definitely enjoy your visit. Built by an affluent Greek-born Roman senator in the mid-second century AD, the theatre is startlingly photogenic and offers some great shots of the city. Not one of the most famous places in Athens, it’s nevertheless one of the most appealing.
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus, also known as the Odeon, is a Greco-Roman theatre built in 161 AD. It is named after an affluent Greek-born Roman senator, Herodes Atticus, who constructed it in commemoration of his wife, Regilia. Able to seat up to 5,000 people, the Theatre of Herodes Atticus was mostly... Read More
Strangely ignored by many lists of the best things to see in Athens, the Temple of Hephaestus is actually the best preserved of Athens’ ancient temples, and by quite some margin. It’s remarkably good condition is due to its conversion for use as a church in the 7th century. Today it largely stands in its original form; remarkable given it was built almost 2,500 years ago. Despite all its clear advantages however, it has been and remains overshadowed literally and figuratively by the larger and more famous temple on the hill, the Parthenon.
The Temple of Hephaestus is an imposing ancient Greek temple in the Athenian Agora and site of worship of the Greek deity of fire, blacksmiths and sculpture. Built in the fifth century BC, the Temple of Hephaestus was later incorporated into the Church of Agios Georgios, this accounting for its excellent... Read More
Unmistakably perched atop the Acropolis, many people come to Athens just to visit the Parthenon. Indeed, it always ranks among the top 10 places to see in Athens, often sitting at number one. And while there’s no doubt the Parthenon is impressive and you simply can’t come to Athens without visiting it, it gets hot and jam packed in the tourist season and it’s not as well preserved as some of the other ancient temples in Athens. Visit as early in the day as you can and be aware that there is on-going preservation work underway.
The Parthenon is probably the most famous surviving site from Ancient Greece. Standing at the heart of The Acropolis in the centre of Athens, the Parthenon is a monument to Classical Greek civilisation. Built during the golden age of Pericles - the famous Athenian statesman - the Parthenon was originally constructed... Read More
One of the more tucked away places to see in Athens, the charming Byzantine church of Agios Eleftherios is definitely worth a visit. Built in the 12th century, it’s a beautiful example of later-Byzantine architecture. Located alongside the far larger Cathedral of Athens, this small yet perfectly formed medieval church is a pint-sized hidden gem among the hustle and bustle of Athenian life.
Agios Eleftherios is a very small yet important Byzantine church in Athens set in the shadow of the city’s cathedral. Built in the twelfth century, Agios Eleftherios was once the main church in Athens. This fact, coupled with the vision of the diminutive church next to the monolith of Athens... Read More
A visually stunning stadium and the site of the first modern Olympic games, the Panathenaic Stadium is well worth a visit. Built on the site of its ancient predecessor, the sporting history of this place stretches back 2,300 years. Today the site is one of the most fun things to do in Athens - you can explore the stadium, find out more about Olympic history, and even hold an Olympic torch! Great for kids, the track is open for visitors, so you can follow in ancient footsteps and gain your own Olympic glory.
The site of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, the 2,300-year-old Panathenaic Stadium in Athens is one of the most significant historical sites in Greece. Originally built around 330 BC, the ancient stadium was used to host the Panathenaic games every four years. The stadium was rebuilt in the mid-second... Read More
If you’re mulling over what to see in Athens, the Ancient Agora is an interesting and easy to reach option. Once the thriving heart of the city, today it contains the remains of a number of important ancient buildings as well as the impressive Agora Museum, contained within the reconstructed building known as the Stoa of Attalos.
The Ancient Agora of Athens was a market, a meeting place and the social, political and commercial hub of the ancient city. Whilst initial developed in the sixth century BC, the Ancient Agora of Athens was destroyed, rebuilt and renovated several times, including attacks by the Persians in 480BC, the... Read More
A hidden gem that takes a little extra effort to discover, Kerameikos seems very much to be the most ignored archaeological park in Athens. However, this quiet and peaceful place definitely ranks among the more interesting and rewarding things to do in Athens. Containing the remains an ancient cemetery, Kerameikos includes the ruins of a series of famous monuments and even what’s left of the old city walls. The small museum helps to bring a bit of context to the site and is also well worth a visit.
Kerameikos is an archaeological site in Athens which contains the remains an important ancient burial ground as well as a series of famous monuments. Once home to the city’s potters - hence its name meaning pottery - Kerameikos developed to also become the site of a cemetery. In fact, some of... Read More
One of the most prominent archaeological institutions in the world, this great museum is absolutely packed with ancient artefacts, far too many to discover in one go. Like any museum of this type, it can be somewhat exhausting once you’ve explored several dozen collections, and with such a treasure trove on show the novelty can wear off after a time. That said, with permanent exhibitions ranging from the Neolithic and Mycenaean, right through ancient Greece and into the Romans era, the museum is full of fascinating artefacts and stories and certainly ranks among the most interesting places to visit in Athens.
Athens National Archaeological Museum is the largest museum in Greece, housing over 20,000 exhibits spread over 8,000 square metres of an imposing nineteenth century building. With permanent exhibitions ranging from the Neolithic era and the Mycenaean era to the Ancient Romans and even the Ancient Egyptians, the Athens National Archaeological Museum’s... Read More
Built in the nineteenth century, this attractive cathedral, known as the Great Mitropolis, is worth a quick visit if you’re looking for a couple of extra things to do in Athens. Inside the Cathedral has a few noteworthy elements, including some interesting tombs and frescoes. It’s certainly not the world’s most remarkable cathedral, but still worth a look if you have the time.
Athens Cathedral (Metropolis) was built over the course of two decades in the nineteenth century.... Read More
Many of the most famous places in Athens to see date back more than 2,000 years and are steeped in ancient Greek history. However, there’s more to this city than the ancient past and perhaps nothing signifies this more that the Averof Museum – located aboard the most famous Greek warship of modern times. Now home to this maritime and nautical museum, the ship saw service for over 40 years, including both world wars. One of the lesser known things to do in Athens, it’s quite something to explore this 20th century cruiser and will certainly add a different dimension to your trip.
The Georgios Averof is the most famous of all Greek warships and was in service for over 40 years, including seeing action during both world wars. Today the Averof is home to a maritime and nautical museum in Athens. Launched in 1911, the warship was built at the Orlando Shipyards in... Read More
One of the most prestigious museums in Greece, the Benaki Museum tells the story of Greek history – no small undertaking! The exhibits incorporate a whole range of Greek art and artefacts, spanning from pre-history right up to the present day. Foremost among these is an enormous collection of Greek art and sculpture ranging from Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine Greece to the Ottoman age and right through to modern times. Alongside some of the other excellent museums in the city, the Benaki Museum is one of the most interesting places in Athens to visit.
The Benaki Museum in Athens houses over 100,000 artefacts from Greek history and showcases the many eras, civilisations and cultures which have influenced the development of Greece. Spread over a number of locations, the museum ranks among Greece’s foremost cultural institutions. The main museum is located in the centre of Athens... Read More
When planning which places to see in Athens, most people don’t get around to the Byzantine Museum. However, this impressive institution boasts over 25,000 artefacts dating from the 3rd to the 20th centuries and includes some fascinating works of ancient art, religious artefacts and sculpture.
The Byzantine Museum in Athens contains over 25,000 artefacts of national importance and is a popular attraction for visitors to the Greek capital. The museum’s vast collection covers the Early Christian, Byzantine, Medieval and post-Byzantine eras. It includes religious artefacts, stunning iconography, sculpture, textiles, paintings, manuscripts, jewels, ceramics and art. The museum... Read More
For those who are willing to head further from Athens on day trips, then a number of great options await, not least of which is Corinth. A major city to both the Ancient Greeks and the Romans, its fascinating ruins are a popular tourist destination and a number of tour operators offer day trips from Athens. It’s ruins include the famous Temple of Apollo as well as the ancient theatre and Roman fountain.
Ancient Corinth, the ruins of which can be found in the modern town of Korinthos, was a city of major importance in Ancient Greece and in Ancient Rome. Located in between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese, Corinth was a vital port and a thriving city-state as well as being of... Read More
One of the closest archaeological parks to Athens is Eleusis, once one of the most sacred places in the ancient Greek world. The ancient settlement was renowned as the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which ranked among the most sacred religious rites of ancient Greece. Today, the Greco-Roman ruins at the site are beautifully preserved and steeped in the richness of Greek mythology. Usually free of crowds, the combination of ancient ruins and space to explore ensures this ranks among the most enjoyable things to do on a trip to Athens.
Eleusis archaeological site contains a range of impressive Greco-Roman ruins, steeped in the richness of Greek mythology. Surrounded on all sides by a thriving modern industrial town, the site of Eleusis is renowned as the home of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a series of annual initiation ceremonies for the cult of Demeter... Read More
Visiting Epidaurus from Athens in a day takes commitment, but is certainly worth the effort given the incredible UNESCO-listed ruins on offer, particularly the stunning ancient theatre. Built to accommodate 15,000 people, the fourth century BC theatre remains extremely well preserved. A number of tours run from Athens, but it’s a long day with a two-hour drive each way. But when considering what to see in Athens, it’s definitely worth casting your net slightly wider in order to see this truly astonishing ancient location.
Epidaurus was a major city in Ancient Greece famed as a centre for healing. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Epidaurus thrived as a sanctuary devoted to the healing deities including Apollo, Asklepios and Hygeia and contained hundreds of spas, the remains of many of which can be seen today. The main sanctuary area,... Read More
A visit to the monument of Philopappos is a great idea for two reasons. Not only do you get to view this 2nd century AD mausoleum, built to celebrate the life of one of Athens’ most important benefactors, but you also get to see some magnificent panoramas of the city below, with an excellent view of the Acropolis.
The Philopappos Monument is a magnificent mausoleum celebrating the life of one of Athens’ most important benefactors, Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappos, and built by the citizens of the city after his death in 116 AD. When Philopappos died, the citizens of Athens built a spectacular two-storey Pentelic marble mausoleum... Read More
Not necessarily the most frequented of the places in Athens to visit, the Roman Agora or Forum actually contains some interesting ruins and is well worth exploring. Among the remains found here is the imposing Gate of Athena Archegetis and the monument known as the ‘Tower of the Winds’ – which is an ancient clock, weather vane, sundial and compass all rolled into one.
The Roman Agora of Athens - also known as the Roman Forum of Athens - was founded in the late first century BC / early first century AD and its construction was funded by Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus. Probably the most impressive historic site at the Roman Agora of... Read More
Opened to the public in 2009, this delightfully modern museum exists in a sympathetic contrast to the ancient structure for which it is dedicated. Among a wealth of other collections, the museum houses a number of the Parthenon Marbles in a stunning glass gallery at the top of the building; the Acropolis itself providing the beautiful backdrop to the exhibit. Definitely one of the best places in Athens to visit.
The Acropolis Museum is a stunningly located and constructed archaeological museum housing a myriad of Ancient Greek artefacts, particularly those relating to the Acropolis and the Parthenon, both of which can be seen from the museum's top floor panoramic windows. Housed in an eminently modern building and using multimedia presentations side... Read More