If you only have a few days in Athens, it’s best to spend one or two days visiting the major sites. Then head out for a day trip to nearby islands or join an experience (cooking class, wine tasting) on the third day.
Start with a tour of the Acropolis, which will give you a sense of how the city evolved over the centuries. Then, head down to the Ancient Agora which was a central place for trade and political gatherings.
The Acropolis is a world-renowned Classical landmark and one of the most iconic sites in Greece. Situated on a rocky outcrop above Athens, it’s the city’s crowning jewel.
The main attractions on the Acropolis include the Parthenon, Erechtheion temple, and Roman theatre Odeon Herodes Atticus. Each one is a masterpiece of classical architecture.
There are tours that take you to the Acropolis daily. Or you can visit the site on your own and explore it at your own pace.
The Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum is one of Athens’ most popular museums, with a vast collection of artefacts and exhibits dating back to antiquity. It offers a captivating overview of Greek history, from the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Asia Minor disaster of 1922.
The collection is housed in several buildings, including a main building that dates back to 1930 and was founded by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel.
In addition, the museum also has a separate building for its Islamic Art collections. This is a large collection of artifacts from throughout the Islamic world and has become one of Europe’s leading collections of Islamic art.
The Church of Panagia
Located in Ermou Street, the Church of Panagia is one of Athens’s oldest churches and a must-see. The structure is a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and has been adorning this pedestrian street for over 11 centuries.
The church was built over the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. It was later re-dedicated to St. Eleftherios, the protector of pregnant women in Greek Orthodox Christianity.
It is possible to visit the Church of Panagia on your own, but a guided tour is recommended for a more in-depth look at the site. A combo ticket also includes the Ancient Agora.
The Ancient Agora
The Ancient Agora, located beneath the Acropolis, was the heart of Athens and a hub for political and cultural activity. It was where sages, philosophers and citizens alike debated politics, social conscience and justice.
The site is well worth a visit, especially if you’re into ancient history. It’s got some fascinating ruins, including the Temple of Hephaestus, which is one of the most well-preserved temples in Greece.
Another building worth seeing is the Stoa of Simon the Cobbler, which served as a home and a meeting place for Socrates’ students. It’s also one of the best preserved buildings in the entire Agora.
A must see on any Athens tour, Hadrian’s Library is a fascinating archaeological site to visit. Its imposing entrance facade still stands and parts of the interior wall, including some original niches for documents, are in place.
Hadrian’s Library was built in 132 AD by the Roman emperor Hadrian and was one of the largest buildings he erected in Athens. It followed a typical Roman Forum architectural style with high walls enclosing a vast area of 10,000 square meters.
If you are looking for something to do to break away from the busy city, head to one of Athens’ many beaches. Some of them rival those found on the Greek islands and can be easily reached by car or public transport.
The southern suburbs of Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza are home to some great seaside options. These include long sandy beaches with everything you need to max out your day at the beach.