Since Greece is packed with picturesque places to discover, you will probably only want to spend a few days in its capital. This is why we have created this 48-hour itinerary of Athens.
We have written this circuit imagining you arrive in Athens on Friday afternoon and depart on Sunday evening. If you plan to visit the city another day of the week, we suggest you check the opening times of the various sights in case these vary.
Since the opening hours differ greatly between summer and winter, we have used the winter timetables, so you don't find any of the landmarks closed.
The best starting point is Monastiraki Square, a plaza in the historic center of Athens and hub of Athenian life. From there, stroll down Ermou Street to Syntagma Square, which is home to the Hellenic Parliament. Then take Adrianou Street. The west of Adrianou is full of fantastic restaurants with views of the Acropolis, and the east part of the street is home to dozens of souvenir shops.
If you want to discover the city’s nightlife, we recommend two neighborhoods in downtown Athens: Thiseio, a traditional neighborhood with trendy bars to the west of Adrianou Street (climbing up the steps), and Psiri, considered the nightlife district of the capital with hundreds of bars, clubs and cafés.
On the first full day in Athens, we suggest you first visit the striking Acropolis, the world-famous complex located on a rocky hill. The best way to do this is to head to the lively Plaka district and wander up the steep and narrow streets of Anafiotika, a small and picturesque neighborhood. This district does not have many direction signs to the “upper city”, so you might have to ask the locals. For this visit, we recommend you get up early to avoid the crowds of tourists, and this way, you will also make the most of your weekend in this fascinating and chaotic city.
The Acropolis is home to several striking ancient Greek monuments, including the majestic Parthenon, the large Propylaea, the Erechtheion and the beautifully preserved Temple of Athena Nike. Once you have explored all these sights, walk down the southern side of the outcrop to discover the Theatre of Dionysus, erected in the sixth century BC. It could seat up to 17,000 spectators.
Circle the Acropolis to get to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and then down to Thiseio, on one extreme of Adrianou Street. Walk down this street until you come upon the Ancient Agora, one of the most famous ancient Greek agoras. The most impressive buildings in the Agora are the Temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalos.
Continue by foot down Adrianou Street until you get to Hadrian’s Library, created in AD 132 and once a beautiful bibliotheca. Nowadays, there is practically nothing left of the ruins.
Very close to this landmark is the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds. This ancient spire once combined a sundial and water clock. In the sixth century, it was transformed into a church and for this reason, is magnificently preserved.
After topping up your energy level, the next stop is the Acropolis Museum. From your restaurant, find your way back to Adrianou Street (head east) until the end of the boulevard. Advance on Vyronos Street, pass by the Theatre of Dionysus until you locate the museum.
Once you tour the most-visited museum of Athens, we suggest you spend the rest of the afternoon meandering the streets of Athens to get a feel of the city. We recommend exploring Ermou Street from Monastiraki (walking back down Adrianou street) till you get to Syntagma Square.
Stadiou Street and Panepistimiou Street are two popular shopping streets that branch out of Syntagma Square. If you want to discover the city’s high-end boutiques, then explore Voukourestiou Street that leads to Kolonaki, the classiest neighborhood in Athens.
After a bit of shopping, head to Mount Lycabettus and have a drink in one of the numerous panoramic terraces. This hill is 300 meters above sea level and offers the best views of the capital. This attraction is extremely enjoyable both by day and by night, and you can either walk up or take the funicular.
The first stop of day two is the Hellenic Parliament, near Syntagma Square. You will see the Changing of the Guard in front of the Greek Parliament at 11am.
After admiring this popular tourist ceremony take Panepistimiou Street until you get to Omonia Square. Panepistimiou is flanked by beautiful buildings like the National Library.
Then, continue down Leoforos Vasilissis Olgas until you get to the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were celebrated. The audio tour is quite interesting and explains the history of this world-famous sports competition.
If your flight departs in the afternoon, you probably won’t have time to do anything else. We recommend you find a restaurant in Syntagma Square and its surroundings.
Over 2 days in Athens?
If you are staying in Athens for over two days, we suggest you explore the charming natural port Piraeus, and other attractive museums like Benaki and the Museum of Cycladic Art. Kerameikos, an ancient cemetery is also worth exploring.