Athens, the capital city of Greece, is a popular tourist destination known for its rich history, culture, and architecture. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip to Athens, especially if you only have one day to explore the city. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive one day itinerary for Athens that covers the most iconic landmarks and attractions.
Our itinerary starts bright and early at the Acropolis, the most famous landmark in Athens, and takes you on a walkable route that covers around 5 kilometers. You’ll get to see many of the main attractions and monuments of Athens, including the Parthenon, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Panathenaic Stadium. We’ve also included recommendations for food and drink stops, as well as shopping and relaxation options for your one day in Athens
Table of Contents
- Must-See Sights
- Exploring the Neighborhoods
- Museums and Galleries
- Parks and Gardens
- Getting Around
- Additional Sights and Activities
If you only have one day in Athens, there are a few must-see sights that you cannot miss. These attractions are the highlights of the city and offer a glimpse into its rich history and culture. Here are some of the top sights to visit during your one day in Athens itinerary.
|Time||Destination||Travel Mode||Travel Time||Aprox. Distance (km)||Eating Options|
|08:00 – 09:30||Acropolis and Parthenon||Start Point||–||–||Breakfast at local café|
|09:30 – 10:30||Ancient Agora||Walk||15 min||1.1|
|10:30 – 11:30||Temple of Olympian Zeus||Walk||20 min||1.4|
|11:30 – 12:30||Changing of the Guard||Walk||15 min||1.0|
|12:30 – 13:30||Lunch in Plaka||Walk||10 min||0.6||Lunch at a traditional Greek tavern|
|13:30 – 14:30||Anafiotika||Walk||15 min||0.8|
|14:30 – 15:30||Acropolis Museum||Walk||20 min||1.3|
|15:30 – 16:30||National Garden||Metro||15 min||2.5|
|16:30 – 17:30||Panathenaic Stadium||Walk||20 min||1.5|
|17:30 – 18:30||Mount Lycabettus||Funicular||15 min||2.0|
|18:30 – 19:30||Syntagma Square||Walk||25 min||2.0|
|19:30 – 21:00||Dinner in Monastiraki||Walk||15 min||1.0||Dinner at a rooftop restaurant|
|21:00 – 22:00||Odeon of Herodes Atticus||Walk||20 min||1.6|
|22:00||End of Itinerary||–||–||–|
Acropolis and Parthenon
The Acropolis and Parthenon are the most iconic landmarks of Athens. The Acropolis is a rocky hill that rises above the city and is home to several ancient ruins, including the Parthenon. The Parthenon is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and is considered one of the greatest surviving examples of ancient Greek architecture. It was built in the 5th century BC and has survived earthquakes, invasions, and wars.
To get to the Acropolis, you can take a taxi, bus, or walk up the hill. Once you reach the top, you can explore the various ruins, including the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion. The Parthenon is the highlight of the Acropolis and is a must-see attraction. Be sure to take plenty of photos of this iconic landmark during your visit.
The Ancient Agora is a marketplace that was the center of Athenian life in ancient times. It was a place for political, social, and cultural activities, and it was also the site of the world’s first democracy. Today, the Ancient Agora is a popular tourist attraction and a must-see sight during your one day in Athens itinerary.
Some of the notable ruins at the Ancient Agora include the Temple of Hephaestus, the Stoa of Attalos, and the Tholos. You can also visit the Museum of the Ancient Agora to learn more about the history of this important site.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the largest temples in ancient Greece and is dedicated to the king of the gods, Zeus. It was built in the 6th century BC and took over 700 years to complete. Today, only a few columns remain standing, but they are still an impressive sight to see.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is located near the Acropolis and is a short walk from other popular attractions like the Arch of Hadrian and the Hellenic Parliament Building.
Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard is a ceremonial event that takes place in front of the Hellenic Parliament Building. The guards, known as Evzones, wear traditional uniforms and perform a choreographed routine that is a must-see sight during your one day in Athens itinerary.
The Changing of the Guard takes place every hour on the hour, and it is recommended that you arrive early to secure a good viewing spot. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this unique cultural experience.
During your one day in Athens itinerary, be sure to visit these must-see sights to get a glimpse into the city’s rich history and culture. From ancient ruins to modern-day ceremonies, Athens has something for everyone to enjoy.
Exploring the Neighborhoods
Athens is a city of charming neighborhoods, each with its unique character and vibe. Exploring the neighborhoods is one of the best ways to experience Athens in a day. Here are some of the most popular neighborhoods to visit:
Plaka is Athens’ most picturesque neighborhood, with cobblestone streets, neoclassical houses, and charming squares. It’s a great place to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, and cafes to explore, and the area is particularly popular for its street art. Some of the top sights to see in Plaka include the Tower of the Winds, the Lysicrates Monument, and the Museum of Greek Folk Art.
Monastiraki is a lively neighborhood located in the heart of Athens. It’s famous for its flea market, which sells everything from antiques to souvenirs. The area is also home to some of the best rooftop bars and restaurants in the city, offering stunning views of the Acropolis and the surrounding area. Some of the top sights to see in Monastiraki include the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, and the Monastiraki Flea Market.
Anafiotika is a hidden gem located on the slopes of the Acropolis. It’s a small, picturesque neighborhood with narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and stunning views of the city. The area is particularly popular for its Greek tavernas, which serve up delicious traditional dishes. Some of the top sights to see in Anafiotika include the Church of Saint George, the Anafiotika Quarter, and the Acropolis Museum.
Exploring the neighborhoods is a great way to experience Athens in a day. Whether you’re interested in sightseeing, trying out delicious Greek food, or relaxing at a rooftop bar, there’s something for everyone in Athens’ charming neighborhoods.
Museums and Galleries
If you are a history or art enthusiast, Athens has a lot to offer in terms of museums and galleries. Here are some of the top options to consider:
The Acropolis Museum is an absolute must-visit for anyone interested in ancient Greek history and culture. The museum is home to a vast collection of artifacts from the Acropolis, including sculptures, pottery, and other objects that offer insight into the daily lives of ancient Greeks. The museum is also home to the Parthenon Gallery, where visitors can see the frieze from the Parthenon, one of the most famous works of art from ancient Greece.
National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important in the world. The museum’s collection spans thousands of years of Greek history, from prehistoric times to the Roman period. Visitors can see everything from ancient pottery and sculptures to jewelry and everyday objects. Highlights of the collection include the Mask of Agamemnon, a gold funeral mask from the Mycenaean period, and the Antikythera Mechanism, a complex ancient Greek astronomical device.
The Benaki Museum is a cultural institution that houses a vast collection of Greek art and artifacts. The collection spans from prehistoric times to the 20th century and includes everything from ancient pottery and sculptures to modern paintings and photographs. The museum is also home to a library and archives that offer insight into Greek history, philosophy, and culture.
Whether you are interested in ancient history or modern art, Athens has something to offer. The Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, and Benaki Museum are just a few of the top options to consider. Plan your visit accordingly to make sure you have enough time to explore all these amazing museums and galleries.
Parks and Gardens
Athens is known for its ancient ruins and bustling city life, but it also boasts several parks and gardens that offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The National Garden is a beautiful park located in the heart of Athens. It is home to a variety of plants and trees, as well as several ancient ruins and monuments. The garden was originally created in the mid-19th century as a royal garden, but it was opened to the public in the early 20th century.
Visitors to the National Garden can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the park, taking in the beautiful scenery and admiring the various statues and monuments scattered throughout. Some of the highlights of the garden include the Zappeion Mansion, the Botanical Museum, and the Children’s Library.
For those looking for a more active experience, the National Garden also features several walking and jogging paths, as well as a small zoo and playground for children.
For those looking for a more adventurous outdoor experience, Mount Lycabettus is a must-visit destination. This 300-meter-high hill offers breathtaking views of Athens and the surrounding area, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
Visitors can reach the top of Mount Lycabettus by either hiking up the hill or taking the funicular railway. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city, as well as several restaurants and cafes.
In addition to its stunning views, Mount Lycabettus is also home to several ancient ruins, including a small chapel dedicated to Saint George and the remains of a 19th-century observatory.
Overall, Athens’ parks and gardens offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, and are a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Greece’s capital city.
When it comes to getting around Athens, there are several transportation options available to visitors. Depending on your itinerary and preferences, you may find that some modes of transportation are more convenient than others. Here are some of the most popular ways to get around Athens:
Metro and Bus
The Athens Metro and bus system is a convenient and affordable way to travel around the city. The Metro has three lines that serve the city center and outskirts, while the bus network covers almost every corner of Athens. Both systems are interconnected and use the same ticketing system, so you can easily switch between them.
The Metro operates from 5:30 am to midnight, while buses run from early morning until late at night. The frequency of service varies depending on the time of day and the route, but in general, you can expect a train or bus every 5-15 minutes.
If you plan on using public transportation frequently during your one day in Athens, consider purchasing a day pass. It costs 4.50 euros and allows unlimited travel on all Metro, bus, and tram lines for 24 hours.
Taxis in Athens are relatively cheap compared to other European cities, and they are a good option if you’re short on time or want to avoid public transportation. Taxis can be hailed on the street or ordered by phone, and they are available 24/7.
The starting fare is 1.19 euros, and the rate per kilometer is 0.74 euros. Keep in mind that there may be additional charges for luggage, night rides, and trips to the airport.
If you’re not familiar with Athens, it’s a good idea to have your destination written down in Greek to avoid any confusion. Also, be aware that traffic in Athens can be heavy, especially during rush hour, so plan accordingly.
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
If you’re looking for a convenient way to see the top sights of Athens without the hassle of navigating public transportation, consider a hop-on hop-off bus tour. These tours operate on a set route and allow you to get on and off the bus at any of the designated stops.
The advantage of a hop-on hop-off bus tour is that you can see many of the top sights in a short amount of time, and you don’t have to worry about planning your own itinerary. However, keep in mind that these tours can be crowded, and you may not have as much flexibility as you would with public transportation or a taxi.
In summary, Athens has a range of transportation options available to visitors, including the Metro and bus system, taxis, and hop-on hop-off bus tours. Consider your itinerary and preferences when choosing a mode of transportation, and don’t hesitate to ask locals or your hotel staff for advice.
Additional Sights and Activities
If you have more than a day in Athens, or if you’re a fast-paced traveler, you can add on a few more places of interest to your itinerary. Here are some additional sights and activities that you might consider:
Syntagma Square, or Constitution Square, is the central square of Athens and the site of the Greek Parliament. It’s a great place to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place every hour in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Evzones, the elite soldiers who guard the Parliament and perform the ceremony, wear traditional uniforms and march to the rhythm of a brass band. The ceremony is a popular attraction for tourists, so arrive early to secure a good viewing spot.
The Panathenaic Stadium, also known as the Kallimarmaro, is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. It was originally built in the 4th century BC for the Panathenaic Games, and was reconstructed in its current form in 1896 for the first modern Olympic Games. Today, visitors can walk around the stadium, sit in the marble seats, and even run a lap on the track.
Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike
The Erechtheion is a temple on the north side of the Acropolis that was dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. It’s famous for its porch of Caryatids, six female statues that serve as columns. The Temple of Athena Nike, located on the southwest corner of the Acropolis, was dedicated to the goddess of victory. It’s a small temple with a unique design, featuring four Ionic columns on the front and back and two on the sides.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theater located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. It was built in the 2nd century AD by the wealthy Roman Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife. Today, it’s used for concerts and other cultural events during the Athens Festival, which takes place every summer.
Roman Agora and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Roman Agora is a marketplace located to the north of the Acropolis. It was built in the 1st century AD and was the commercial center of Athens during the Roman period. The Agora features a number of interesting ruins, including the Tower of the Winds and the Gate of Athena Archegetis. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in front of the Parliament building in Syntagma Square, and is a monument dedicated to the Greek soldiers who died in wars. It’s guarded by the Evzones, who perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
Overall, Athens offers a wide range of sights and activities for tourists to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in ancient history, modern culture, or simply soaking up the Mediterranean atmosphere, there’s something for everyone.