Athens, the capital city of Greece, is a blend of ancient history and modern urban life. Its picturesque streets, rich history, and vibrant nightlife make it a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. Whether you’re a history buff or a foodie, there’s something for everyone in Athens.
In this guide, we’ll cover what to see, where to eat, where to sleep, and the best travel tips to make the most out of your 3 days in Athens.
Travel Tips in Athens
Before we dive into the best things to see and do in Athens, let’s go over some travel tips to make your trip more enjoyable.
- Plan your trip in advance: Athens is a popular tourist destination, so it’s best to book your accommodations and activities in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Be mindful of the weather: Athens has a Mediterranean climate, which means hot summers and mild winters. If you’re visiting during the summer months, be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Get an Athens City Pass: The Athens City Pass offers free admission to over 30 of Athens’ top attractions, as well as discounts on tours, dining, and transportation. It’s a great way to save money and time during your trip.
- Use public transportation: Athens has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, and a metro. It’s an affordable and efficient way to get around the city.
- Be respectful of local customs: Greece has a rich cultural heritage, and it’s important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and be mindful of your behavior in public.
What to See in Athens
Athens is home to some of the world’s most iconic ancient landmarks, but it’s also a city with a thriving contemporary art scene and a vibrant food culture. Here are some of the best things to see and do during your 3 days in Athens.
Day 1: The Acropolis and Ancient Athens
No visit to Athens is complete without a trip to the Acropolis, the ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city. The Acropolis is home to some of the most famous ancient landmarks, including the Parthenon, the Propylaea, and the Erechtheion.
After you’ve explored the Acropolis, take a stroll through the ancient Agora, the central gathering place in ancient Athens. The Agora was the heart of Athenian public life, and it’s where ancient Greeks came to debate politics, philosophy, and culture.
End your day with a visit to the National Archaeological Museum, which houses a vast collection of ancient Greek artifacts, including sculptures, pottery, and jewelry.
Day 2: Modern Athens and the Food Scene
Start your day with a visit to the National Gardens, a sprawling green oasis in the heart of Athens. The gardens are home to over 7,000 trees, as well as a zoo, a botanical museum, and a small lake.
After you’ve explored the gardens, head to the trendy neighborhood of Psirri, where you’ll find some of Athens’ best restaurants and cafes. Psirri is known for its lively atmosphere and its excellent food scene, so be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as souvlakiand moussaka.
Next, make your way to the Benaki Museum, which showcases Greek art and culture from prehistoric times to the present day. The museum is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building and features a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
In the evening, head to the Monastiraki neighborhood, where you’ll find the bustling Monastiraki Flea Market. The market is a great place to find souvenirs, antiques, and local crafts, and it’s also a hub for street food vendors selling everything from savory pies to sweet pastries.
Day 3: Coastal Athens and the Riviera
On your final day in Athens, take a break from the city and head to the coast. Start your day with a visit to the Temple of Poseidon, located on the southern tip of the Attica peninsula. The temple is dedicated to the god of the sea and offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
After you’ve explored the temple, head to the seaside town of Glyfada, known for its upscale shopping, trendy cafes, and beautiful beaches. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun on the beach, shopping, or trying some of the local seafood at one of the town’s many restaurants.
In the evening, head back to Athens and take a sunset stroll along the Athens Riviera, a scenic coastal stretch that runs from Piraeus to Sounion. The Riviera is home to some of Athens’ most beautiful beaches and marinas, as well as plenty of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a cocktail or a meal with a view.
Routes in Athens
Athens is a compact city that’s easy to navigate on foot or by public transportation. Here are some suggested routes for exploring Athens:
- The Ancient Athens Route: This route takes you through the heart of ancient Athens, including the Acropolis, the Agora, and the National Archaeological Museum.
- The Modern Athens Route: This route takes you through some of Athens’ most vibrant neighborhoods, including Psirri, Monastiraki, and Glyfada.
- The Coastal Athens Route: This route takes you along the Athens Riviera, from Piraeus to Sounion, with stops at the Temple of Poseidon and the seaside town of Glyfada.
Where to Sleep in Athens
Athens has a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Here are some suggestions for where to sleep in Athens:
- Hostel Zeus: Located in the heart of Athens, Hostel Zeus offers affordable dormitory-style accommodations and private rooms.
- AthensWas Hotel: This stylish boutique hotel is located in the historic center of Athens and offers chic, modern rooms with stunning views of the Acropolis.
- Grand Hyatt Athens: This luxury hotel is located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Kallithea and offers spacious rooms, a rooftop bar, and a spa.
Where to Eat in Athens
Athens is a foodie’s paradise, with a rich culinary tradition that spans centuries. Here are some suggestions for where to eat in Athens:
- Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani: This traditional deli and restaurant serves up some of the best cured meats, cheeses, and meze in Athens. The cozy, rustic ambiance and friendly staff make for a memorable dining experience.
- Karamanlidika tou Kyriou: Another great spot for traditional Greek meze, this restaurant serves up a variety of cured meats, cheeses, and homemade bread. Don’t miss the smoked eggplant dip!
- Varoulko Seaside: Located in the Mikrolimano Marina, Varoulko Seaside is one of Athens’ most renowned seafood restaurants. The menu changes daily based on the catch of the day, so you’re guaranteed fresh, delicious seafood.
Free Tours in Athens
If you’re traveling on a budget, there are plenty of free walking tours in Athens that offer a great introduction to the city’s history and culture. Here are some of the best free tours in Athens:
- Athens Free Walking Tour: This 2.5-hour tour takes you through the historic center of Athens, including the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, and Monastiraki. The tour is free, but tips are appreciated.
- Sandeman’s New Athens Free Tour: This 3-hour tour takes you through some of Athens’ most vibrant neighborhoods, including Psirri, Monastiraki, and Plaka. The tour is free, but tips are appreciated.
- Alternative Athens Free Tour: This 2-hour tour takes you off the beaten path and introduces you to some of Athens’ alternative art and cultural scenes. The tour is free, but tips are appreciated.
Visit the official tourism website of the city of Athens to learn more about these tours and to book in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time of year to visit Athens?
The best time to visit Athens is during the spring (March to May) or the fall (September to November), when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. Summer (June to August) can be very hot and crowded, while winter (December to February) can be rainy and cold.
Do I need a visa to visit Athens?
Visa requirements vary depending on your country of origin. Citizens of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Greece for up to 90 days. Check with the Greek embassy in your country to determine if you need a visa.
Is Athens a safe city to visit?
Athens is generally a safe city to visit, but as with any large city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid theft and pickpocketing. Avoid walking alone at night in unlit areas and keep an eye on your belongings in crowded tourist areas.
How do I get from the airport to Athens city center?
The easiest way to get from Athens International Airport to the city center is by metro. The metro runs 24/7 and takes about 40 minutes to reach the city center. Taxis are also available, but they can be expensive during peak hours.
Athens is a city that’s steeped in history and culture, with plenty to see and do for travelers of all interests. Whether you’re exploring the ancient landmarks of the Acropolis, indulging in Athens’ vibrant food scene, or soaking up the sun on the beaches of the Athens Riviera, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. By following these travel tips and suggested routes, you’ll be sure to make the most out of your 3 days in Athens. Don’t forget to check out the official tourism website of the city of Athens for more information and to book tours in advance. Enjoy your trip to Athens!