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Best things to do in Athens

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Greece  /  Attica  /  Athens
Many things to do in Athens revolve around the city's immense and invaluable heritage. Dig into the world of the ancient Greeks at Acropolis of Athens, a cluster of imposing ruins dominating the city's skyline. At nearby Acropolis Museum, you can discover additional archaeological treasures showcasing the artistic achievements of Classical Greece. You can also wander through the narrow streets of Plaka District, a historic neighborhood filled with trendy shops, exquisite restaurants, and quaint cafes. Add some shopping to the equation by visiting Monastiraki, a neighborhood with strong Ottoman and Byzantine influences, where you'll find many open-air stalls packed with all kinds of goods.

Athens is best known for its Ruins, History Museums, and Architectural Buildings.

Top 15 things to do in Athens

1. Acropolis of Athens

A cluster of ancient ruins of great architectural and historical significance, Acropolis of Athens has been the star attraction of Athens for many centuries and is a World Heritage Site. Sitting on a rocky hill just above the city, this age-old citadel contains ruins of temples constructed during the 5th century BCE. The "City on a Hill," as its name roughly translates, contains outstanding examples of Classical architecture that continues to influence the building styles of modern cities around the world. Although pollution and exposure to weather continue to take their toll on the ancient buildings, the historical hill remains an important reminder of the cultural influence and political power ancient Greece once exercised on the rest of the world.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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2. Acropolis Museum

Established to preserve the rich heritage of ancient Greece, Acropolis Museum brings together thousands of artifacts found at the world-famous ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above Athens. Opened in 2009 just a short walk from this heritage-listed archaeological site, the museum exhibits nearly 4,000 objects, including items formerly held in storage or displayed by foreign museums. The collection focuses on statues from the 5th century BCE, widely regarded as the finest examples of ancient artistic achievement. The museum building, a major tourist attraction in itself, features exhibit spaces designed to give each artifact a clear historical context. Finish your visit at the second-floor restaurant, which offers panoramic views of the city's historical hills.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Plaka

The oldest residential neighborhood in Athens, Plaka sits in the shadows of the city's ancient ruins, welcoming visitors with a labyrinth of pedestrian-friendly streets and notable examples of Neoclassical architecture. In the 1990s this district transformed itself from a primarily working-class neighborhood to a tourist-driven area rife with trendy shops, upscale restaurants, and sidewalk cafes. Though most visitors come to this area--the heart of the ancient city--to soak up the authentic street atmosphere, you can also visit several historically important sites here, including a 5th century temple and an 11th century church, one of the oldest in the city. The neighborhood also houses a good selection of museums and galleries, displaying ancient artifacts and folk art.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. National Archaeological Museum

The largest of Athens' many museums, National Archaeological Museum houses a vast collection of ancient artifacts unearthed from a variety of excavation sites around Greece. The museum's world-famous Mycenaean collection includes the 19th century finds by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, featuring golden funerary masks, relief stelae, alabaster tools, ivory carvings, and jewelry. The museum also displays a staggering array of ancient figurines, frescoes from the volcanic island of Santorini, and the oldest known mechanical computer, designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. There's so much to see here, it may take you several visits to absorb it all. Make your trip through ancient history a bit more comprehensible by arranging for a guided tour of the museum's most representative exhibits.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Temple of Olympian Zeus

What remains standing today of Temple of Olympian Zeus serves as a testament to the grandeur of ancient Greek architecture. Built over several years and completed in 456 BCE, the temple was dedicated to Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Badly damaged by both fire and earthquakes, much of the temple is in ruins, but some columns still stand. At 10.5 m tall (34.4 ft) and 2.25 m (7.4 ft) in diameter, the columns were built of local limestone and covered in white stucco. Admission is included in the ticket to the nearby Acropolis.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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6. Mount Lycabettus

Local legend claims wild wolves used to seek refuge on Mount Lycabettus, a tall hill noted for offering unbeatable views of Athens. Tradition has it that Athena, the goddess of wisdom, created this hill when she accidentally dropped a mountain she had intended for the construction of the city's famed citadel. You can access this "hill walked by wolves," as its name roughly translates, by a funicular railway departing from a station in the central part of the city. The hill rises to 277 m (908 ft) above sea level, its peak featuring a 19th century chapel, theater, and restaurant. Pick a sunny day for your visit if possible, and don't forget your camera.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Archaeological Site Mycenae, Mycenae

Take a trip back to the Bronze Age at Archaeological Site Mycenae, one of the world's most significant archaeological sites. Featured on the World Heritage List, the site was once a major military stronghold. The ruins stand on a rugged hill 90 km (55 mi) southwest of Athens. At its peak in the 14th century BCE, the fortress and the surrounding town housed a population of more than 30,000. To see the remains of the palace complex and the famous beehive tombs, purchase a ticket at the main entrance, known as the Lion Gate. The path to the main gate is steep, so wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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8. Monastiraki

A quintessential Athenian attraction, the old town neighborhood of Monastiraki draws visitors by offering a blend of history and shopping. The atmospheric neighborhood is crisscrossed by a network of narrow backstreets, lined by open-air stands and cramped shops offering bargains on everything from vintage shoes and new furniture, to rare books and handmade instruments. Named after its main square, the compact neighborhood represents the Ottoman and Byzantine influences on the city by serving as a home to both an Islamic mosque and Christian church. Avoid the worst of the crowds by exploring the neighborhood early in the morning.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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9. Archea Korinthos, Corinth

View the imposing temple of Apollo, the centerpiece of Archea Korinthos. The extensive site showcases the remnants of a thriving ancient Greek city. The museum on site details the history of the area and offers a glimpse into the daily life of ancient Greeks. Walk around the site and watch archeologists at work as they continue to discover pieces of history.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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10. Ancient Agora of Athens

The commercial, political, and religious center of ancient Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens offers you a chance to gain insight into the origins of democracy. Founded in the 6th century BCE, this large open area stood in the middle of the city and served as a meeting place used to enact laws, make decisions about the city's defense, and hold public forums to discuss ostracism, the expulsion of a citizen for a period of ten years. Visit this archeological site to see two of ancient Athens' major landmarks, a temple dedicated to the god Hephaestus and a two-story covered walkway, reconstructed in the 1950s to house a museum of ancient clay, bronze, and glass objects.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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11. Food Tours

Taste your way through the ancient streets of Athens on a guided food tour of the city's rich gastronomic heritage. The experience will awaken your senses as you sample mouth-watering delicacies and traditional "mezzes"--finger food that'll tease you for more. Your guide will satisfy both your appetite for food and intellectual stimulation, providing an informative overview of the city's culinary landscape and cultural heritage. Tours average four hours and take place throughout the day, with private options available through some local operators.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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12. National Garden

Take a break from the heat and the crowds of the city at National Garden. Created by Queen Amalia in 1839, these gardens once belonged to the royal palace. Now, the 15.4 hectare (38 acre) property is open to the public throughout the day. Walk among the multitude of trees, flowers, and other greenery, or sit on one of the many benches to picnic and watch the ducks in the pond. Stop into the on-site mini zoo to view turtles, birds, goats, and some other animals.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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13. Walking tours

Suggested duration: 3 hours
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