Nestled in the heart of Greece, Athens stands as a living testament to the rich history, mythology, and cultural heritage that has woven itself into the very fabric of this ancient city. From its role as the birthplace of the first civilization, democracy to its association with the majestic Greek gods, Athens has long been a source of inspiration for scholars, poets, and travelers alike.
The Cradle of Civilization
Athens, often referred to as the birthplace of Western civilization, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Its history spans over 3,000 years, dating back to the Mycenaean civilization and the ancient Greek city-states.
Let’s explore Athens’ rich history as well as its vibrant places of interest; Things to do in Athens.
Entrance fee (adults): 20€ April 1st to October 31st | 10€ from November 1st to March 31st
The Acropolis is a prominent ancient citadel located on a rocky hill above the city of Athens, Greece, showcasing architectural marvels such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaea
Going up to the Parthenon on top of the Acropolis is an enjoyable journey. As you climb, you can explore the remnants of classical Greek architecture. It also offers amazing panoramic views of Athens.
On the way up you can see the gateway to the Parthenon (the Propylaea) in the centre and the Temple of Athena Nike on the right
The Parthenon is the most famous and well-preserved temple on the Acropolis. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, the patron deity of Athens, the Parthenon is an example of great Classical Greek architecture. According to one of the most well-known myths, Athena was born from the forehead of her father, Zeus. Her influence extends beyond mythology, as the city of Athens and its cultural achievements are intricately tied to her worship and symbolism.
It was constructed in the 5th century BCE and is renowned for its Doric columns and intricate friezes.
Herodes Atticus Odeion
During 161 CE, on the south slope, the RomanHerodes Atticus built his grand amphitheater or odeon.
The museum itself is an architectural masterpiece. The transparent floors, allow visitors to see archaeological excavations beneath.
Ground Floor – Acropolis Slopes Gallery
It contains finds from the Acropolis slopes that hosted sanctuaries, entertainment venues, private residences
From the 5th century BC to the end of antiquity
Οn the north side of the first floor, visitors follow the trail of Acropolis history from the 5th century BC to the end of antiquity such as Dedications on the Acropolis in Classical times, Athenian Foreign Policy, honoured citizens and foreigners, Alexander the Great, etc.
Perikles’ Building Programme
Perikles, an influential statesman and general of Athens, initiated a monumental building program on the Acropolis during the 5th century BC, often referred to as the “Golden Age” of Athens. This program aimed to transform the Acropolis into a grand center of art, culture, and democracy.
Visitors can explore exhibits that feature artifacts and sculptures from the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike, among other structures on the Acropolis. These structures were not only architectural marvels but also served as powerful symbols of the city-state’s prosperity and cultural achievements.
3rd Floor – Parthenon Gallery
The highlight of the museum is the Parthenon Gallery, located on the 3rd floor. The exhibition displays sculptures of the Parthenon arranged in a way that matches the original dimensions and orientation of the ancient temple, combining original marble sculptures and plaster copies. Be amazed by the frieze, metopes and pediments, with sculptures depicting scenes from Greek mythology, battles, and religious ceremonies. This gallery offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Acropolis.
Located at the foot of the Acropolis, Plaka is a historic neighborhood known for its neoclassical architecture, traditional Greek tavernas, and vibrant street life.
Head to this part, the intersection of Lisiou and Mnisikleous street, you will find the picturesque Mnisikleous stairs with restaurants and cafes. Ask for Outdoor or balcony seating to enjoy your meal in a scenic setting.
Mnisikleous Stairs – Intersection of Lisiou and Mnisikleous street
The Lycabettus Hill Funicular: 10€ roundtrip 7€ one way
Go up the Lycabettus Hill either by a hike or a funicular (cable car) ride, you will be greeted with unparalleled views of Athens, making it a must-visit attraction. The hill offers breathtaking views of the cityscape, sunset, the Acropolis, and the Saronic Gulf in the distance as well as restaurants and cafes. The St. George’s Chapel and the bell tower at the top, add a touch of serenity to the stunning backdrop.
The Ancient Agora, situated beneath the Acropolis, served as a marketplace and a central hub for political and social activities. Highlights include the well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus (patron of metal workers) on the hill, and the Stoa of Attalos.
The Stoa of Attalos at Ancient Agora in between the Lycabettus Hill and the Acropolis
Aristotle, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great, and Socrates, the famed philosopher once engaged in philosophical discussions within this historical agora. There is a museum in the stoa that showcases artifacts excavated from the site from the late Neolithic until the Byzantine Period.
Temple of Hephaestus (Patron of metal workers) – very well-preserved
This whimsical café located in the Psiri neighborhood is popular for its vibrant, eccentric and very instagramable seasonal decorations
You can take the tram from Athens to the Edem beach, and enjoy a 2km coastal walk along the well-maintained promenade of Athens Riviera to Flisvos Marina. The coastal walk features parks, stunning views of the sea and Athens, public sculptures and displays.
Flisvos Marina is a Yacht-lined Harbor and you can dine at Restaurants overlooking the marina.
The National Archaeological Museum has the most comprehensive collections of Greek artifacts.
Highlights of the Museum:
Take note of Key Exhibits: The Antikythera Mechanism (Metalwork GF), the Mask of Agamemnon (Mycenaean Antiquities GF), Bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon, found at the bottom of the sea off cape Artemision (Metalwork GF)
Explore Mycenaean Antiquities GF: Pay attention to the gold artefacts and Mycenaean pottery.
Admire the Sculptures GF: Marvel at the precision and artistry of pieces like the Hellenistic bronze statue of a young boy riding a horse, Marble statue of Poseidon from Melos Cyclades and the Kouros statues.
Centrepiece: Bronze statue of Zeus or Poseidon, found at the bottom of the sea off cape Artemision (GF)
Greek Gods and Mythology:
The pantheon of Greek gods, including the mighty Zeus, Apollo, Athena, and Poseidon, has left an indelible mark on Athens’ cultural identity. The mythology surrounding these gods is intricately intertwined with the city’s landmarks, with temples and statues dedicated to their worship scattered across Athens. The Temple of Olympian Zeus, an imposing structure in the heart of the city, stands as a testament to the reverence bestowed upon the king of the gods, Zeus.
Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, holds a special place in the history of this global sporting event. The ancient Olympics, initiated in 776 BCE, were a celebration of physical prowess and a demonstration of unity among the Greek city-states. In the modern era, Athens hosted the first contemporary Olympics in 1896, rekindling the flame of this ancient tradition. The Panathenaic Stadium, a marvel of marble construction, hosted the track and field events during these historic games.
While Athens honors its historical roots, it is also a vibrant modern metropolis. The city’s streets are lined with neoclassical buildings, bustling markets, and lively cafes, creating a harmonious blend of antiquity and contemporary life.
No city landmark rivals the Acropolis in Athens. Its unobstructed visibility from nearly every corner of the city contributes to the open cityscape of Athens, thanks to longstanding regulations in place that limit the height of buildings in order to preserve the view of the Acropolis.
5 Days Itinerary
Day 1: Explore the Acropolis
Explore the Acropolis Museum to learn more about the history of the site.
Visit the Acropolis and its iconic structures like the Parthenon.
Walk along the Dionysiou Areopagitou street and explore the beautiful architecture, serene street, you may stumble upon some street performances
Wander around Plaka, a charming neighborhood with narrow streets, shops, and traditional Greek tavernas.
Day 2: Ancient Agora
Visit the Ancient Agora, an archaeological site with historical ruins, functioned as a central marketplace, political assembly space, and cultural hub in ancient times, dates back to the 6th century BCE
Take a stroll through Monastiraki, known for its flea market.
Coffee and dessert at Little Kook
Day 3: National Archaeological Museum
Spend the day at the National Archaeological Museum, home to an extensive collection of ancient Greek artifacts.
Visit Lycabettus Hill for panoramic views of the city.
Shop at Ermou Street, very busy shopping area in Athens
Day 4: Athens’ Modern Side
Explore Syntagma Square
Visit the National Garden of Athens.
Discover the contemporary side of Athens in areas like Kolonaki and Exarchia.
Day 5: Relax and Enjoy
Explore the Athens Riviera.
Dine and unwind in a restaurant overlooking the marina
This is just a suggested itinerary, and you can customize it based on your interests. Athens has a lot to offer, from historical sites to vibrant neighborhoods and delicious food. Make sure to check the opening hours and any travel restrictions that might be in place during your visit.