Athens is an incredible place to visit in Greece. If you plan to go to Greece, some people say that Athens should be skipped, but I think that there is more to Athens than what first meets the eye. When in Athens, you’ll discover both mountain and city hikes, incredible day trips, ancient history, and the famous Greek seaside, all of which will be explained, and more, in this guide.
Table of Contents
1. Best Things to do In Athens
- Acropolis/Acropolis Museum
- National Archaeological Museum
- Kolonaki/ Mount Lycabettus
- Saronic Islands
2. Where to Stay In…
3. Best Restaurants In…
4. How To Get Around Athens By…
5. How to Get to Athens By…
Best Things to do In Athens
The Acropolis is the one of the most, and most likely, the most famous and visited historical site in Greece. It is a large, mountain-like place in the middle of the city that has a number of historical places on it, like the Parthenon, the ancient temple to the goddess Athena, or the Temple of Athena Nike.
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis Museum is the museum next to the Acropolis that stores much of its historical artifacts. The Acropolis Museum is a very interesting museum, but another thing that it is famous for is the actual architecture of the museum, which is very modern and interesting.
National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is north of the Acropolis, near the Exarcheia Square. It is an interesting museum with artifacts from all over Greece. It houses some of the most important archaeological artifacts in Greece. It was established in 1829 and is the largest museum in Greece.
National Archaeological Museum
Plaka, the town under the Acropolis is one of the funnest and best places to stay in Athens. Even though Athens is a city, there are little subsection towns.
It is a wonderful town with some of the best hotels. Also, it is in the center of Athens, so it is close to practically everything. Many times, you can see the Acropolis when walking around in the Plaka.
Like Plaka, Kolonaki is also one of my favorite places to stay in Athens. Not only is it about a 15 minutes walk from the Acropolis, it is also under a massive mountain of its own: Mount Lycabettus. A good idea is to hike Mount Lycabettus, which would take about three hours and will give you panoramic views of Athens.
Also like Plaka, Kolonaki has some of the best hotels in Athens, as well as some of the best restaurants.
A Street in Kolonaki
Syntagma is another place in Athens. It neighbors Plaka. Syntagma is the governmental area of Athens and a cheerful area. It is a short walk to the Acropolis as well as other squares in Athens.
In Syntagma, you can visit an interesting place, the Monument of the Unknown Soldiers, which is a monument to Greek soldiers.
Monastiraki is another large square in Athens. It also has some of the best hotels, and is close to the Acropolis. Some historical sites are in it, like Hadrian’s Library. Monastiraki also has some of the best restaurants and cafes in Athens. Another thing Monastiraki is famous for is Psiri, even though that’s another subsection of Athens. But, the two of them are so close, they are commonly just put together.
There are many day trips you can take from Athens, but Delphi is probably my favorite. Delphi is an interesting historical place northwest of Athens. Many tours like this Guided Tour of Delphi from Athens, are group tours that include a stop at another town along the way and a lunch.
For a little bit of history, Delphi was known by the Ancient Greeks to be the center of the world. Apollo, the prophecy god made it a place of prophecy, so it was fabled that you could visit the Oracle of Delphi and have your fortune told.
A ruin at Delphi
The Nafplio/Corinth/Mycenae/Epidaurus day trip, also known as the northern Peloponnese trip. This trip goes to the Corith Canal, which is a narrow strip of water that separates the Peloponnese from the rest of Greece, it goes to Nafplio, which is a pretty city by the sea that has 17th century acrhitecture, then Mycenae, which is an important historical site and it was also a place where Hercules went in the stories, and Epidaurus, which is known as the healing center of ancient times.
Going to the Monasteries of Meteora is probably the most famous day trip from Athens. So what makes these monasteries famous?
Well, first, they’re perched on tall, majestic cliffs that make the monasteries look beautiful, but also a little imposing.
Also, these monasteries have a rich, interesting history that you’ll learn about while there.
Meteora is a north of Delphi, and sometimes, the two of them are combined on a fun but definitely busy and maybe rushed day trip. But, many times Meteora and Delphi are combined into a trip for two days, not one.
A Meteora tour from Athens: At GetYourGuide.com
A two day Meteora and Delphi tour from Athens: At Viator.com
The Monasteries of Meteora
The Saronic Islands make a perfect day trip from Athens, especially if you want to experience the Greek Islands from Athens. The Saronic Islands are pretty much directly south of Athens, and to reach the closest island would take about 20 minutes, and to reach the farthest would be about an hour and a half.
Some of the most famous Saronic Islands are Hydra, which is a popular place for tourists and Athenians alike to visit, and what’s interesting is that there’s no cars allowed, and there’s also Aegina, which is closer to Athens. It is famous for its islands beaches and charm, clear, great for snorkeling water, tasty pistachios, and historical sites. There’s also another famous island, Poros, which is near Hydra and is famous for its deep blue water.
Aegina, Saronic Islands
Piraeus is the ferry town of Athens, as well as Greece. Piraeus isn’t much of a popular tourist destination, except for when people come to take ferries to the Greek islands and sometimes even places like Turkey, but it is still an interesting place to see, with the water lapping the sides of seafront restaurants.
The Harbor of Piraeus at sunrise
Where to Stay In…
As stated before, Plaka has some of the best hotels in Athens. I’ll be listing budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels there.
Hotel Phaedra– Budget hotel in the center of the Plaka with amazing views of the Acropolis and an optional breakfast. It is one of the best value for money hotels in Plaka.
Acropolis House– This hotel located in Plaka is historical, a 150 yeara old restored mansion. It offers free breakfast and it is a step from the Acropolis and other touristy places in Athens.
Plaka Hotel– Great hotel with modern rooms and views to the Acropolis, Mount Lycabettus, or Plaka. There’s also a great included breakfast.
Central Hotel Athens– This hotel, located in the middle of the Plaka has a great buffet breakfast, a rooftop terrace, and has some rooms with an Acropolis view.
Electra Palace Athens– A quite well known 5 star hotel in the Plaka with views of the Acropolis, a rooftop pool, and buffet breakfast.
AthensWas Hotel– My favorite pick of a hotel in Plaka, with a great breakfast, clean, modern rooms that are both large and comfortable. There are also views of the Acropolis.
The rooftop swimming pool in Electra Palace Athens Hotel
Soho Apartments– Apartment with fully equipped kitchen and dishwasher. This hotel was a great location in the center of Kolonaki, so it is near most things.
COCO-MAT Athens Jumelle– Great hotel with spacious, clean rooms and an included breakfast.
Bohemian Suites Athens– Hotel with beautifully decorated rooms and an excellent included breakfast. One of the best value for money hotels in Kolonaki.
Coco-Mat Hotel Athens– This 4 star hotel features nicely decorated, spacious, and clean rooms, some with an Acropolis view. It also has an included breakfast. This is one of my favorite hotels in Athens.
St George Lycabettus– A great, well known hotel in Athens wit amazing views to the Acropolis and Mount Lycabettus. It has breakfast, a rooftop pool, and other amenities such as a spa.
A map of Athens, showing Kolonaki, Syntagma, Plaka, Monastiraki, and other areas.
Omiros Hotel– A typical budget hotel in a great location a couple minute’s walk from Syntagma Square. It has simple, clean rooms and a buffet breakfast.
Sweet Home Hotel– A great hotel with a convenient location close to both Syntagma and Monastiraki. It has a wonderful free breakfast and tastefully decorated rooms, some of which have Acropolis views.
In[n] Athens– A great modernly decorated hotel in Syntagma Square. It offers a great breakfast and city and atrium views. One of the best value for money hotels in Syntagma.
NJV Athens Plaza– NVJ Athens Plaza has elegantly decorated rooms in the middle of Syntagma Square. It has a great breakfast and there are also really great Acropolis views from some rooms.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, A Luxury Collection Hotel– This amazing luxury hotel is probably the best hotel in all of Athens. There’s a rooftop restaurant, too. the rooms are very elegantly and tastefully decorated, and there is a wonderful included breakfast.
Hotel Grande Bretagne’s Rooftop Restaurant
Attalos Hotel– Even though this hotel is one of the less expensive ones in Psiri, it is still a wonderful hotel. Attalos has a very good breakfast, amazing Acropolis views, and comfortable, spacious, and clean rooms.
Pella Inn Hostel– A great budget hotel. It has some views of the Acropolis and is in a great area.
360 Degrees Athens– This hotel has a wonderful location in the center of Monastiraki, but the thing it is most famous for is its rooftop bar which has some of the best views of the Acropolis in all of Athens. It also has a great included breakfast. And, the rooms are tastefully, and cleanly decorated. This is one of the best value for money hotels in Monastiraki/Psiri.
A For Athens– An awesome hotel in the Psiri/Monastiraki area that has great views of the Acropolis, a highly rated breakfast, and clean spacious rooms.
Best Restaurants In…
I’ll be listing the best places to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast: Klepsidra Cafe– an amazing cafe with a beautifully arranged breakfast.
Lunch: Pantheon– A great place that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a wonderful restaurant in the Plaka.
Dinner: Dinner In the Sky– This restaurant isn’t in the Plaka, nor is it in any of the other places I mention, but it’s so great that I have to mention it. This place is in the sky (literally) and you get panoramic views of Athens while eating your multiple coursed meal. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Athens.
Breakfast: Happy Blender– A cafe that serves fresh juice, smoothies, Acai bowls, and other breakfast goods.
Lunch: Oroscopo– A great Italian restaurant a few minute’s walk from the edge of Kolonaki. It is highly rated and has some of the best food in Athens.
Dinner: Scala Vinoteca– This is one of thee top restaurants in Athens, having both a comfortable, well decorated restaurant, and amazingly delicious food.
Breakfast: The Pie Shop– Great pies in Syntagma. It is good for breakfast, but it is also a highly rated dessert place.
Lunch: Avocado– Wonderful restaurant in Syntagma, especially for lunch. It is famous for lots of vegetarian options.
Dinner: Tudor Hall– Tudor Hall is a really wonderful restaurant in Syntagma, and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has amazing views of the Acropolis, and I highly recommend coming here on your first day in Athens, because this place gets you to know the area.
Breakfast: Kafeneio Oraia Ellas– A wonderful cafe in Monastiraki famous for its great coffee, tea, and other breakfasty things.
Lunch: Masters Bar– A great place for pizza in Psiri. It also has seafood, salads, and more.
Dinner: Oinias Restaurant– A clean, comfortable restaurant with amazing food. It is a highly rated place in Psiri.
How to Get Around In Athens By…
There are more than 14,000 taxis in Athens, so you can find when almost everywhere. But, sometimes, the drivers make you pay more, so you should make sure that you’re paying the right amount before you pay anything.
Athens also has a good bus system. The tickets are fairly inexpensive and the system is large and it takes you to a lot of place in Athens. Another common way to travel is the metro, which also take you almost everywhere in Athens.
Athens Tour Bus
If you wanted to, you could rent a car in Athens. Just keep in mind that driving in Greece is different than driving in other places in the world.
Even if you could, I wouldn’t really rent a car since the public transportation is pretty good in Athens.
A street with cars in Athens
How to Get to Athens By…
Athens has an international airport. It has flights to all over the world. Its the most well known way to get to Athens from another country (and the only way, unless you count driving or walking). The airport is quite large, and well organized.
Athens Intl Airport
Another way to get to Athens is by ferry. If you want to get to Athens from a Greek island, this is a common way to do it. Most Greek islands have ferries to Athens, like Santorini, Paros, Mykonos, Naxos, and a lot more. You can also opt for an overnight ferry, which is more common for long distance trips, like going from Crete to Athens.
A ferry docked in Athens
Hopefully you learned a lot about Athens, and you know what to do it you go there.