3 Things You Must See in Athens


So it took me a while to narrow this down – I absolutely love Athens and think everything is essential! However, these are my three absolute MUST see things in Athens, Greece ❤

  1. New Acropolis Museum

This is a wonderful place – it is an air-conditioned, beautifully planned, and exceptional example of Greek history on show. Yes there are other museums which cover more, but the sheer extent of the collection in the NAM and the knowledge you can gain from a visit there is worth a visit.

The statue gallery and the view from the top floor are worth the visit all on their own.

It is 5 Euro for general admission (3 Euros reduced and free for a range of people including students from EU Countries. Details http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/content/reduced-free-admission-acropolis-museum)

  1. The Athenian Agora

A sprawling gorgeousness in the centre of ancient Athens, this was the spot for all of the important things – politics, markets, worship. It sits under the acropolis, you can look up and see the fortifications built after the Persian Wars. The Agora houses some lovely inscriptions and two gorgeous buildings. The Stoa of Attalos was built in the Second Century BC, and reconstructed in the early 1950’s by the American School in Athens as faithfully as archaeology would allow. It is a beautiful building and fronts the Agora Museum. Also in the Agora is the Temple to Hephaestus, its amazing condition is thanks to its varied and continued use from its construction in 415 BC until 1934 when it stopped being a museum and became an archaeological site.

Open Daily 08.00-20.00 Last Admission: 19.45 (However I have heard that it closes at 3pm so CHECK LOCALLY before planning your visit! Admission is 8 Euros, Reduced: 4 Euros (details at http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh355.jsp?obj_id=2485 )

  1. Psyrri

Psyrri is my favourite neighbourhood in Athens, you can find almost anything here. Amazing local restaurants? Yes. Cool stores? Yes. Cheap but good accommodation? Yes Actual local life? Yes. Plus – markets, street art, and an amazing atmosphere. You can spend hours wandering around this little area of Athens, if you stay here you can see it and have easy access to the rest of Athens.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned the biggest, most famous attraction? You know, that big temple thing on the big hill? The acropolis is incredible, I have lost count of how many times I have been up there. The acropolis and the Parthenon are on MY OWN PERSONAL absolute must do list, but I am not everyone. If you are not in Athens for a long time, don’t like the heat, have a problem with crowds (hello anxiety friends, you are not alone) or don’t have the physical ability to climb a big hill** – then you don’t need to go up to the acropolis. Obviously you get a more vivid experience of the place if you climb the steps, face up to the sheer size of the Parthenon, and see the incredible sprawl of Athens. But I believe that if you choose not to go, and go to the New Acropolis Museum instead you won’t have done the Parthenon – or yourself – a disservice.

The museum houses all the wonderful things found on the acropolis and they are displayed beautifully, with accompanying information as well as a kid’s challenge. There is a restaurant, which is the first place I had baked feta and for that alone I am grateful, from which you can look up at the Parthenon and wonder at the sight. The floor which showcases the Parthenon frieze (controversy in a different post perhaps) is laid out so you can follow the procession as you would walking around the Parthenon itself.  For an ancient site other than the acropolis I suggest the Athenian Agora for a few reasons: it is shady – not everywhere but considerably more so than the acropolis, it is more accessible (more does not equal completely unfortunately), and it has some gorgeous ancient ruins.

This is my absolute must do in Athens, it may be different from yours – what would you say is an absolute necessity in this amazing city?

** I mean this in a sprained ankle/severe asthma kind of physically unable, there is a lift for access to wheelchair users installed a few years ago. For a much fuller treatment than I can give on disabled access to the acropolis please see http://www.sagetraveling.com/Disabled-Access-at-the-Acropolis

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60 thoughts on “3 Things You Must See in Athens

  1. Great tips! Were heading to Athens (unfortunately for too short) in 2 weeks so we will have to hit up these places. Its always nice to have options outside of the normal “must-see” places.

  2. Athens is my fave city too!

    I agree it’s not entirely necessary to enter the Acropolis site, you can get a better view of the Parthenon from Filopappou Hill or one of the many rooftop bars.

    Also, the restaurant in the Acropolis Museum is a good choice if you’re looking for something central that isn’t overpriced mediocre taverna food.

  3. This makes me wish I had had more time in Athens. I only did a day there on a cruise and spent half the day at Poseidon’s temple. I need to go back and explore more.

  4. Thansk for sharing your list 🙂 I agree that I usually tend to avoid the biggest tourist places like the acropolis that everyone says you HAVE to do – usually i get there only to be greeted by huge crowds. So I appreciate your list of lesser known but more rewarding attractions instead!

  5. Local food, culture and sights – looks like Psyrri would be my kind of place. I do plan to head to Greece this summer so will bookmark this.

  6. As a Greek I can never tell how tourists see Athens and what they think about it. I totally agree with your choices and with your comments. I would add the Stavros Niarchos Foundation which is our new gem. Psyrri is regaining its old fame given that during the last few years it has lost a bit of its charm. Thanks to new bars and cafés, it is more hip now!

    • Oooooh I havent been to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, I’ll have to go this June! I love that Psyrri is picking up – I’ve loved it for years and to hear it’s getting better is awesome news 🙂

  7. Greece is a place I have always wanted to go! All the history and culture is incredible! I will definitely be saving this post for future reference.

  8. This is a fresh perspective of Athens that looks beyond the Acropolis which is in many ways an iconic sight. I have always been fascinated by Greek history and culture and found this post really interesting and appealing. The new Acropolis museum seems like a pretty interesting place to visit.

  9. This is really great. The Acropolis is magnificent, of course, but it’s also on every Athens list ever written, so I love that you’ve included some lesser discussed options! The only one I’m familiar with is Psyrri, which is such an amazing neighborhood. I could wander there for hours!

  10. Street art is popping up everywhere, even in Athens! I love that street art that is featuring that beautiful dog. From museums to amazing architecture and street art, what is not to love about a visit to Athens, right?

  11. We also visited the National Museum, which was nice and cool and housed some amazing pieces of art and sculpture. On another day, we took a bus from Athens to see Delphi, which I highly recommend!

  12. I have been wanting to go to Athens for quite some time. This is a very concise and detailed post of what to do, etc. I love how you integrated your IG photos along with what you liked about your trip. I honestly don’t know much about the Greek Islands and I looking forward to seeing everything.

  13. I’ve only been to the Greek islands and not to mainland Greece. Now I have an excuse to do so. The Acropolis Museum looks absolutely fabulous. Lots to learn about Greece and the Greeks.

  14. As someone who lives half the year in Athens I have to agree – well summarised!
    It’s great to explore the place like a local – and Psyrri district is distinct, as is Exarchia – well known for an ‘anarchist’ area but in actual fact, is pretty hip with many student bars (just with a lot of riot geared cops on street corners).
    I love that Athens is my second home!

    • I loved Exarchia – spent a lot of time there last year, the first time i saw the riot police i was a bit like woooow ok… but i got over it as soon as the band started playing and the beer started flowing! XD

  15. I wanted to go to Athens for such a long time now! Psyrri sounds like a great neighbourhood to stay – the street art looks amazing! I cannot wait to visit one day.

  16. Good recommendations! It’s been on bucket list for aaaages. I think I never got around to it because the different alphabet is intimidating lol

  17. I’ve been to so many Greek Islands and not the mainland, what is wrong with me. I studied Ancient History so I feel like I know Athens’ history well, I really should go see it in person. Really informative and interesting post!

    • Athens is amazing, I’m an ancient historian too! There’s something really incredible about having this information in your head and actually being in the place where it happened 😍

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