Top 10 Things To Do In Athens, Greece
Hello, or as they say in Greece, Yiá sas! (YAH-sahs)
Athens is a must-see in your lifetime! It’s a city like no other. There aren’t many places you can visit that are 7,000 years old! With its long and complicated history leaving relics everywhere, there’s an outdoor museum around every turn.
As the capital of Greece, one out of every three Greeks (the people from Greece) lives here.
It’s super easy to get around, and within a small area, there is SO much to see and do!
We highly recommend at least two full days here then you can head to the islands. Stay downtown so you can walk everywhere.
Now onto our Top 10 Things to Do in Athens. It may look like a long list, but it’s doable in 2 days!
Here are my 10 Top Things to Do in Athens!
High on the hill in the middle of the city stands the glorious heart of Athens, the Acropolis, dating back to 5th century BC. Acropolis means ‘high city.’
There was a time when people lived atop the Acropolis, but in 510 BC it was ruled to dedicate the area to the Greek gods.
In 480 BC Persians captured and destroyed all the structures on the Acropolis. It lay in ruins.
In the mid-5th century, the statesman Perikles persuaded the Athenians to rebuild the temples on the Acropolis on a grand scale. It is during the second half of the 5th century B.C. that construction took place for the most famous buildings on the Acropolis; including The Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike.
You can also visit the beautiful Acropolis Museum to see over 4,000 artifacts.
Coming Soon: More about the Acropolis.
Crowing the Acropolis and visible all over town, The Parthenon is a 2,500-year-old ancient temple.
The Parthenon is one of the most famous buildings in Greece and the world! It was initially a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena. The city of Athens is named after Athena!
It is the largest Doric temple in Greece (100 feet x 228 feet) and took just nine years to build.
Coming Soon: More about the Parthenon.
The world’s first theater and plays began in Athens!
The Acropolis has two theaters, or “odeon.”
The Theatre of Dionysus, considered to be the world’s first theater dating back to the sixth century BC, was dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine. Tragedies and comedies by playwrights like Sophocles were performed here. It could seat 17,000 people.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus was built in 161 AD. Performances are still held here today like the Athens Festival in the summer.
Coming Soon: Read more about the Theaters.
Take the easy stroll to the top of Philopappou Hill, known as “the hill of muses,” for amazing views of the Parthenon and 306-degree views across Athens including all of southern Athens down to the sea.
The hill gets its name from for Roman senator Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappos who retired in Athens and died here in about 114 AD. There’s a Philopappu Monument marble tomb and monument to him at the top.
You can also see the cave believed to be where Socrates was imprisoned and condemned to death. Yes, kind of grim, but it is history!
Coming Soon: More about Filopappas Hill
At the base of the Acropolis sits the Ancient Agora. Agora means “gathering place.”
The Agora was once the ancient heart of Athens and the center of public life for ancient Athenians; political, social, and commercial.
Greeks invented Democracy here, and Socrates preached here!
You can imagine the activity that used to take place as you walk among the stones looking up at the Parthenon.
- Temple of Hephaestus – Constructed in 449 BC, it’s the best-preserved Classical temple in Greece and only temple in the ancient Greek world with a completely intact roof.
- Stoa of Attalos – A stoa (stoh-AH) is a covered walkway. The Stoa of Attalos was world’s first shopping mall. It has 45 Doric columns on the ground floor and today houses a museum with all the finds from the Agora.
Outside the Agora, and partially built into the Acropolis rocks, is Plaka, the old quarter of Athens and once considered the neighborhood of the Olympic gods.
We LOVE strolling through this area. You can feel the history.
Its narrow winding streets are full of houses, ancient monuments, shops, and tavernas.
There are tons of restaurants, cafes for a Greek coffee or drink, and shops, including the Monastiraki Square/Flea Market.
Coming Soon: More about Placa
Built during the reign of Julius Caesar in the first century AD, the Romans moved Athens’ marketplace here from the older Agora.
Tower of the Winds is the highlight. An astronomer designed the octagonal structure in the first century BC. It is considered the world’s first meteorological station and features a combination of sundials, a water clock, and wind vane.
Coming Soon: Read more about the Tower of the Winds
Built in 329BC (or 556 AD) for the athletic competitions of Panathenaia (the major festival honoring patron goddess Athena), it was home to The Opening Ceremony for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Also known as Kallimarmaro, which means “beautifully marbled,” it is the only major stadium in the world built entirely of white marble.
The Panathenaic Stadium is the venue where the Olympic flame handover ceremony takes place before every Olympic Games.
Coming Soon: More about the Panathenaic Stadium
At one time the largest temple in all of Greece, only 16 of the original 104 columns remain.
Just the size of the 16 columns you see is overwhelming…its hard to imagine 104 of them!
Started in the 6th century BC, it took 700 years to finish in 132 AD!
Coming Soon: More about the Temple of Olympian Zeus
Known as Constitution Square, you have to visit this center of the city to see the changing of the Evzones, a special infantry of the Greek Army, taking place every hour. They guard the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
The Evzones are famous for their skirts (400 pleats symbolizing each year of the Turkish/Ottoman occupation), pompom shoes and elaborate changing of the guard.
11 am Sunday is a full changing of the guard with a band.
Coming Soon: More about Syntagma Square