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How to Do Athens in 24 Hours

Only have one day in Athens? Here’s our 24-hour itinerary to help you clock those essential highlights, from the classic sites to the best nightlife.

Athens is one of those cities that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. Even if you only have one full day in Athens, there’s enough time to check off the classical sights and world heritage landmarks, and taste the city’s legendary nightlife. Hit neighbourhoods from Plaka to Koukaki and eat at classic traditional tavernas and panoramic cafes. Our breakdown of the city’s greatest hits will help you make the most of a 24 hour stay in Athens.

Morning

Start where it all began. Beat the crowds with an early-morning visit to the Acropolis —Athens’ sacred rock, inhabited since Neolithic times—and its iconic pinnacle, the Parthenon. Be sure to pick up a multi-site ticket that allows multiple entry to most major archaeological sites, including the Ancient Agora and Keramikos Cemetery, both just a short walk along the marvellous pedestrian promenade that circles the Acropolis.

You’ve explored Athens’ 2,500-year-old ancient wonder. Now put it into context at a modern architectural marvel—the Acropolis Museum. This unmissable landmark ranks among the world’s top museums. Don’t leave until you’ve seen the ingenious Parthenon Gallery on the top floor and paused for coffee at the glass-walled café, in full view of the leading lady herself.

Stroll along what is probably the most beautiful street in Athens: Dionysiou Areopagitou. Admire neo-classical and art deco architecture on one side of the street, as you tick off ancient monuments like the Theatre of Dionysus (the birthplace of Greek drama) and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (still used as a summer venue) on the other.

Take a left at the 16th century chapel of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris and wander up the forested slopes to the Pnyx. Stand on the spot where democracy took root: the ancient speaker’s corner, where great orators like Pericles and Demosthenes held court.

Lunch

No doubt all this history and hiking have made you hungry. Set your google map for the scenic stage of Mnisikleous Street in Plaka. Here, on this postcard-worthy artery that appears to run straight up to the Parthenon, the ancient stone steps are lined on both sides with lively places to eat and drink. Choose between traditional Greek tavernas or old-school cafes and settle back for some prime people-watching and Instagram gold.

Afternoon

Scout for everything from kitsch souvenirs, to antique prints, second-hand-vinyl and vintage army surplus in Monastiraki flea market. Top up on culture and caffeine at TAF (The Art Foundation), an Ottoman dwelling re-booted as a fashionable gallery and courtyard café, with a brilliant Greek design emporium thrown into the mix.

For sophisticated souvenirs and edible gifts, hand-made sandals and accessories, hit Adrianou Street, the main shopping street in the old town of Plaka. Or simply amble along Plaka’s twisting, pastel-coloured lanes with no other agenda than to watch the Acropolis play hide and seek between the Byzantine churches, neoclassical mansions, whitewashed cottages, and touristy but irresistibly quaint tavernas.

Evening

Athens’ legendary sunsets signal that it’s cocktail hour.  Drink in the city’s red-hot cocktail scene at a rooftop bar tucked high above the narrow streets around Syntagma and Monastiraki (look up; you’ll find them all around you!). Or jump in the cable car and whizz up to the summit of Lycabettus Hill, the city’s highest peak and a classic spot for sunset selfies. 

Athenians eat late (never before 9 pm), so follow their lead. You won’t go wrong if you head for Koukaki, one of the most rapidly-evolving pockets of central Athens, wedged between the ancient glory of the Acropolis hill and the rumbling traffic of Syngrou Avenue. Cool Koukaki combines intimacy with authenticity. Take your pick from trendy bars and hip street eats, to fiery ethnic cuisine or family-run tavernas. You’ll be dining alongside locals and clued-up tourists like you.

Bedtime? Forget it. Athenians are just getting started for the evening. Whether you’re in the mood for sinking crafty cocktails and microbrews inside the fashionable drinking dens of Kolokotroni and Praxitelous streets - nexus of the capital’s sophisticated bar action - or going full Greek cliché and dancing on the tables at a bouzouki club, Athens has all the ingredients for a great (and very long) night out.

The next morning

We wouldn’t dream of sending you on your way without witnessing this famous Athenian ritual that hasn’t changed since 1868. Every hour, on the hour, the changing of the Presidential guard takes place outside Parliament on Syntagma Square. (On Sundays at 11 am, you’ll catch the evzones in full traditional dress.)

Pick up a breakfast on the run, like most Athenians do, with a takeaway coffee and a cheese pie from one of the outstanding bakeries you’ll find in just about every street in downtown Athens.

If time is on your side, make a quick final stop to clock Athens’ shiniest cultural and recreational landmark, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC), designed by Renzo Piano. There’s always something exciting going on at this beacon of sustainable beauty, which is home to the Greek National Opera, the National Library, a scenic canal and fragrant Mediterranean parklands.

 

How to do Athens in 48hour itinerary

Only have two days in Athens? Here’s our 48 hour itinerary to help you see everything you can, from the classic sites to the best nightlife.

Athens is one of those cities that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime. Even if you only have two days here, there’s enough time to check off the classical sights and world heritage landmarks, and get a taste for the city’s legendary nightlife and seaside magic. Hit neighbourhoods from Plaka to Exarchia and eat at the city’s traditional tavernas. Our breakdown of the city's greatest hits will help you make the most of a 48-hour stay in Athens.

 

Day 1

Morning

Start where it all began. Beat the crowds with an early-morning visit to the Acropolis—Athens’ sacred rock, inhabited since Neolithic times—and its iconic pinnacle, the Parthenon. Be sure to pick up a multi-site ticket that allows multiple entry to most major archaeological sites, including the Ancient Agora and Keramikos Cemetery, both just a short walk along the marvellous pedestrian promenade that circles the Acropolis.

Lunch

If all this history and hiking have made you hungry, stroll downhill to the Monastiraki area.

Afternoon

Scout for everything from kitsch souvenirs to antique prints, second-hand-vinyl and vintage army surplus in Monastiraki flea market. Top up on culture and caffeine at TAF (The Art Foundation), an Ottoman dwelling re-booted as a fashionable gallery and courtyard café, with a brilliant Greek design emporium thrown into the mix. 

For sophisticated souvenirs, edible gifts, hand-made sandals and accessories, hit Adrianou Street, the main shopping street in the old town of Plaka. Or simply amble along Plaka’s twisting, pastel-coloured lanes with no other agenda than to watch the Acropolis play hide and seek between the Byzantine churches, neoclassical mansions, whitewashed cottages, and touristy but irresistibly quaint tavernas.

Evening

Athens’ legendary sunsets signal that it’s cocktail hour. Drink in the city’s red-hot cocktail scene at one of the rooftop bars hidden high above the narrow streets around Syntagma and Monastiraki. Or jump in the cable car and whizz up to the summit of Lycabettus Hill, the city’s highest peak and a classic spot for sunset selfies. 

Athenians eat late (never before 9 pm), so follow their lead—you don’t want to dine in an empty restaurant. But be sure to make a reservation at one of the creative Athenian restaurants where a new generation of chefs are deconstructing classic Greek dishes in surprising new ways.

Bedtime? Forget it. Athenians are just getting started for the evening. Whether you’re in the mood for sampling cocktails made with Greek spirits, listening to live music, or going full Greek cliché and dancing on the tables at a bouzouki club, Athens has all the ingredients for a great (and very long) night out.

 

Day 2

Morning

Although brunch in Athens is a new trend, most locals make do with a takeaway coffee and a cheese pie from their local bakery for breakfast.

There’s one morning ritual in Athens that hasn’t changed since 1868. Every hour, on the hour, the changing of the Presidential guard takes place outside Parliament on Syntagma Square. (On Sundays at 11 am, you’ll catch the evzones in full traditional dress.)

One of Athens’ best cultural double-bills awaits a stone’s throw away on stately Vassilissis Sofias Avenue. First stop? The Benaki Museum, a superb showcase of Greek civilisation from the Bronze Age right up to the 20th century. A couple of blocks away, the Museum of Cycladic Art contains a thrilling collection of early Bronze Age art, including enigmatic marble figurines that have inspired the likes of Picasso and Giacometti.

Lunch

Athens has the longest coastline of any European capital—but it’s only about 10 kilometres from downtown to Piraeus harbour. As well as the gateway to the Greek islands, Piraeus is home to some of the best seaside restaurants in Athens. Choose between Michelin-starred seafood restaurants in pretty Mikrolimano or more casual hotspots in budget and family-friendly Hatzikyriakio and Akti Themistokleous. From May to October, you can combine seaside lunch with a swim. Just head along the glittering Athens Riviera to Kavouri or Vouliagmeni and take your pick from traditional fish tavernas or five-star seafood. Lunch by the sea is a quintessentially Athenian experience.

Afternoon

There’s always something exciting happening at Athens’ shiniest new cultural and recreational landmark, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC). While away what’s left of the afternoon exploring Renzo Piano’s beacon of sustainable design, which is home to the Greek National Opera, the National Library, and a Mediterranean park. Rent a bicycle and tour the grounds on two wheels, catch a concert in the scarlet auditorium, or enjoy one last sunset from the solar-powered Lighthouse.

Evening

Toast your last night in Athens at one of the city’s hip wine bars. If you’re around the Historic Centre, head to Oinoscent. This wine cellar-turned wine bar lets you create your own cheese or cold cuts platter, while the constantly-updated wine list features many Greek and international wines by the glass. The night is still young in Athens.

Contact Details

Athens Development and

Destination Agency

 

Xenofontos 7, 105 57

Athens, Greece

 

+30 210 32 53 123

+30 210 52 01 611

 

info@developathens.gr

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