We visited Athens during August. We were in Athens for 3 days and 3 nights. If you need information about booking a flight, hotel and transportation in Athens, I wrote a very detailed post about it .
I enjoyed my time in Athens. It was a good mix of new and ancient buildings, beautiful people , tasty food and charming cafes !
- The Acropolis & The Parthenon – This is the top site to visit in Athens . The Acropolis of Athens is a group of ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance located on the top of a large rock/hill in the middle of Athens ! The Parthenon is the most famous building and the most beautiful ! There is very deep history to the various buildings located on this rock ! Matt Barrett’s guide is a great read and will let you prepare before for visiting The Acropolis. If you are more interested in the history behind all of these buildings, Wikipedia is a good starting point. My second favorite building after the Parthenon is Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus . It is a beautiful building and you could imagine how it might have been when it was in use . Being around all these ancient buildings is humbling and rewarding. You should find a spot to sit and ponder about what has passed through these buildings over thousands of years! We went early morning and bought our tickets at the front. It gets to be really hot – so take water to drink.
2. My second favorite site in Athens was The Temple of Olympian Zeus – This is an ancient building located in the middle of Athens . This building is also thousands of years old ! The pillars of the temple is very large and is not held together by anything other than pillars being stacked on one another ! Entrance fee is around 6 Euro .
3. Panathenaic Olympic Stadium – This stadium has been the site of races/sports since the 6th century BC and it hosted the first Olympics . We were near this area two times and it is not very crowded. The entrance fee is about 5 Euros per person. Being able to enter the stadium, explore and read about the history of it is worth the entrance fee !
4. Mount Lycabettus – This is one of the highest points in Athens. It is a hill with a church. We walked over to this hill from our hotel and took the funicular railway to the top of the hill. You can also hike to the top of the hill. We wanted to see the sunset – so to save time we took the railway to the top. Definitely recommend visiting Mount Lycabettus. It has incredible views and is a great place to see the sunset form. People talk a lot about the sunset in Santorini – Athens I found had incredible sunsets as well. This hill is a great place to see the sunset from.
5. Syntagma Square and National Garden of Athens – Syntagma is a pretty town square that is in front of the Parliament of Athens. Right beside the Parliament is the National Garden of Athens . Both areas are worth a visit . At the Syntagma you can watch the changing of the guards . The garden is beautifully designed and worth strolling through. Both of these places are good for people watching and are good places to get a sense for Greek culture and people.
Athens has many other smaller ancient ruins . If you are short on time you can definitely skip visiting these other ruins. One of my favorite thing to do that was not visiting a historical site was to stroll through different areas of Athens . I loved the European concept of restaurants with beautiful outside seating areas ! There were hundreds of such restaurants and cafes ! It was great to stroll through them during day time and at night . Athens also had many gift shops with beautiful souvenirs . Definitely a great place for souvenir shopping. At night time the streets were filled with music and people and was great to stroll through.
It is a city I would definitely visit again and well worth a stopover on your way to the Greek Islands !