We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to amazing European city breaks, but the Greek capital of Athens competes with the very best. And whilst most people’s image of Athens starts with the magnificent Parthenon, there’s so much more to this bustling city in the middle of the Mediterranean.
Although no one can deny the beauty of the Greek islands, Athens is teeming with an array of impressive ancient monuments and sites which are difficult to match. It’s a history lover’s paradise, a traveller’s bucket list must, and a place that’s begging to be explored by anyone that sets foot in its winding streets.
3 days is perfect to relish this city’s wonders. Our 3-day guide includes a great mix of museums, ancient sites and tranquil gems.
Take in the Acropolis
It’s difficult not to resist visiting Athens most famous and recognisable landmark, the Acropolis, on day one. You’ll need a good few hours to explore this world-famous site, and some good footwear too. There can be a bit of uphill walking to get to the top!
The fascinating Acropolis Museum is a must-visit too, but thankfully its location at the base of the site means uphill walking won’t be necessary. That doesn’t mean this museum is small though. There’s a wide-ranging collection of artefacts and it’s worth taking the time to marvel at the wonders on display.
Gaze up at the Temple of Olympian Zeus
Just a short walk away, with the Acropolis still in view, the Temple of Olympian Zeus stands tall. Built in the 6th century BC only 15 of the original 104 columns remain, but leaving what was there to your imagination is part of this attractions appeal.
Take a stroll through the Plaka district
The oldest part of Athens, the mostly pedestrianised Plaka district is a tourist favourite, with plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, and cute cafes.
Known as the “Neighbourhood of the Gods”, this delightfully pretty district lies just beneath the Acropolis, and can easily take up a whole day to explore. It also makes for a great place to base your stay, with plenty of hotels to choose from in the area.
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Visit the National Archaeological Museum
One of the most important archaeological museums in the world, the National Archaeological Museum is the largest in Athens with over 11,000 exhibits. History fans could easily spend more than a day here but set aside at least a few hours to savour the highlights.
The amazing collection includes The Kore and Kouros, considered to be one of the most important pieces of Archaic art in the world, and the Mask of Agamemnon, one of the most famous artefacts of the Greek bronze age.
Take a breather at the National Gardens
Athens is a bustling, busy city. At some point, you might want to take a break from the crowds. With 24 acres of greenery, rare plants and over 7000 trees, the National Gardens (previously known as The Royal Gardens) is an oasis well worth visiting.
You’ll likely encounter an array of wildlife too, with a large duck population, birds, hedgehogs and even turtles making their home here. And it wouldn’t be Athens without some ancient ruins, with columns and mosaics also making an appearance.
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See Athens’s largest building, the Panathenaic Stadium
Athens’s largest building is a classic cultural monument of Greece and has a capacity of over 60,000 spectators.
Constructed in the 4th century B.C. the stadium has been abandoned and reconstructed several times. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 19th century reconstructions led to its current form.
Take in the views from Mount Lycabettus
As much of a pleasure it is to explore Athens from ground level, Mount Lycabettus allows visitors to view the city from a different perspective. The highest point in Athens provides incredible views over the city and sea, and a tempting chance to dine at the glitzy Orizontes restaurant.
The hill can be accessed via a challenging but rewarding walk, or to avoid the summer heat, the funicular can also take you straight to the top. The drawback is the funicular navigates through a closed tunnel, meaning you’ll miss the views on the way up and down.
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See the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square
Bustling Syntagma Square is the transport hub of Athens, with buses, trams and the metro all converging here. Nearly all the historic events in Greece have been celebrated in this place, making it a must-visit for tourists.
The square boasts a central fountain and several green areas, making this a great place to sit and watch the world go by. And don’t miss the official ceremony of the changing of the guards, which occurs every Sunday at 11 am.
Written by Richard King
King Copywriting ✒️