22 Top Tourist Attractions in Athens

Martina Rosado
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Best Time to Visit Athens

Attractions in Athens are as diverse as the people who come here to see them. Every year in May, thousands of people flock to Athens to celebrate the anniversary of the first Modern Olympics in 1896. The festivities last for a full month of food, wine and festivities. There are also dozens of sporting events to attend and Olympic flaming torches to burn.

While you might think that May may not be the best time to visit Athens, many attractions are open to the public year-round, even in the Winter. The majority of the Ancient and Medieval remains that you’ll want to see are part of these sites:

You can see many of these attractions during a weekend trip to Athens. If you plan to stay longer, here are some great places to see during your week or two in Athens.

Most of the most commonly visited sights are located within a ten-minute walk of Vouliagmeni Metro Station, which is an important stop for connecting you to other key areas in the city.

KAMARA GALLERY- This gallery is in a small, unassuming location just off of Vouliagmeni Metro Station.

It is a bright and airy space filled with beautiful paintings by Greek artists. There are also smaller rooms with additional works from other artists.

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus was originally founded in 508 BC. It is situated on the slopes of the Acropolis hill at the edge of the old town.

Built in the 5th century BC by the Athenian demagogue Pericles. The theatre was mainly rebuilt by the Roman emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, and was restored and modified by the Ottomans.

The theatre is built from the limestone of the hill on which the ancient theatre had been built and below is exactly the same relative level.

The entrance to the theatre starts in the southwestern corner of the retaining wall that fortified the ancient stadium where rival Athenian factions met, the Gigamestorion.

It was chosen for its position on a natural terrace at a vulnerable position of the city where the slope down towards the Piraeus is steepest.

The design, as proposed by Pericles, was an architectural model more than that of living.

Pericles envisaged that the theatre would accommodate 6,000 people, in the pit and on the stadium that surrounded the stage structure.

What you see today is only a fraction of the original which was destroyed by the Athenian democracy in 404 BC.

The theatre of Dionysus, like most Roman theatres, was also an open-air entertainment area, accustomed to the noise and merrymaking of the masses.

Byzantine and Christian Museum

Located on the top of the hill of Philopappos, ancient Agra-Kiznia has stunning views on the whole area of Athens and the sea. The museum was founded by the American Philopappos Foundation in 1931, in order to create an archaeological research center dedicated to studies about Byzantine and Christian monuments. It was donated by the Foundation to Greece in 1966 after the Greek defeat during WW2.

The building houses collections of archaeological material from the Byzantine period, the 17th and 18th century, as well as some of the oldest monuments of Athenian Christian antiquities from the 3rd to the 6th century.

There are floor-to-ceiling glass walls with an exquisite view overlooking an archaeological park, in a marvelous setting. The Byzantine collection is representative of the artistic aspects of the "Venetian renaissance" and of the Parisian French baroque period. Among the unique pieces are a beautiful gilt wood and silk altar and the Sinai silver vessel, a jewel of Corfu school.

The museum shows you some old Athens houses, which have been restored by the American Philopappos Foundation with the help of "Sikelianos" and "Loggos" architects. There are also two Byzantine house churches and the restorations of the Halidon cave, Lidias chapel, Repous Ancient Greek wall, plus sculptures and mosaics.

Roman Agora

One of the top attractions to be seen, the Roman Agora is a treasure that has been designated a World Heritage Site. It’s as exciting as it is beautiful, and the best part is that most of it can be explored without having to wait in line too long.

Its rooms and shops are some of the most elaborate structures that were ever made, and there is still a lot to be learnt as well. Many schools and research centers have reached out to the site as well as to the present-day Greek Chamber of Commerce to get involved in the research about the stones that have been placed on the island since 4th century BCE.

You can visit the Agora every day, since it is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It’s hard to not want to visit the Greek marketplace once you see the unique stones that were used only in this structure, the great architecture, and the impressive workmanship that has been used to create the agora.

Museum of Cycladic Art

In the heart of downtown Athens, this museum is recognized to be one of the best science museums in the world. With over 40,000 exhibits, the museum is most famous for its work in the field of archaeology; however, the exhibitions also showcase paintings, archaeological findings, and sculptures.

The museum is not only an important venue for art enthusiasts, it is also a unique opportunity for travelers to get a glimpse of the development of art in the Cycladic islands stretching back to the Bronze Age, as well as the contemporary art scene. The museum holds a variety of temporary exhibitions every year. The museum was established in 1972 and is located at 25 Papadiamantou Street.

Philopappos Hill

Temple of Athena Nike

If you are visiting Athens, you need to visit the Temple of Athena Nike. Athena Nike was the Greek goddess of victory and had a high place in the worship of the ancient Greeks.

This Greek temple is a stunning white building that is dedicated to the victories of the Ancient Greeks. If you are in the area, you cannot miss it, and you definitely need a picture. The temple was built in the 4th century B.C. and contains wonderful Greek and Roman relics all around.

Dominating the exterior of the temple is a beautiful sculpture of the armored statue of Athena Nike. As far as we know, there is no statue of Athena Nike in the ancient temples. The statue was used only in this temple, and we only have a fragment of the sculpture in the temple’s grounds.

The temple was originally the Panhellenic sanctuary of Athena Nike, but in the 5th century it became a Christian church. We believe that around the 6th century the temple was destroyed by an earthquake. There are no records of the temple’s existence after then.

Today, the Temple of Athena Nike is a part of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. If you want, they even allow civilians to enter the site for a small fee. They have to be a member of the Archaeological Service of Greece.

Anafiotika

Benaki Museum

(The Benaki)

Visitors' attention is immediately attracted to the three impressive tholos (round buildings from the initial period of Cycladic Islands' settlement) which house the Archaeological Museum's collections.

At the centre of the museum is the courtyard, also part of the original building complex. The courtyard houses the main sections of the Benaki Museum, including the archaeology collection, an exhibition devoted to the history of ancient Greek art and the museum shop.

The courtyard, overlooking a large grassy area is overlooked by two terraced pavilions: the Loggia and the House of Dionysios Solomos, the first homonymous Greek writer.

The central section of the museum houses the Archaeological Museum Collection, which includes the major part of the museum's collection from the prehistoric, protohistoric and classical period.

Special exhibits that can be viewed outside the museum include the theatre masks from the pre-historic Sangarios cave, the findings from the minoan shipwreck Reggio (1961), the Kynosarges archaeological site, the Nike of Samothrace statue, the Louvre's copy of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Panathenaic amphora.

The two other sections of the museum are dedicated to the history of ancient art and philosophy and the museum shop.

Treasury Museum

National Garden

(Paralia Kifisias)

The national garden or Kifisias garden, as the locals call it, is located in Athens and is considered one of the most beautiful green areas in the whole city. It was established in 1869 by the Bavarian King and Empress, and today is one of the most popular recreational areas for Athenians. The garden is 205 acres large and consists of three different sections.

According to the tradition, the garden was created by the German king and queen as a resting place for the royal family who were visiting Athens. The purpose was to provide them with a place where they could see the suffering of the Greeks who were being chased by the Ottoman army.

The royal couple wanted to give them hope, so they built a relief to show the invaders that the Athenians were not afraid of them. They can still see the relief today and while visiting the garden, you will find them at the center.

The first section of the garden is decorated with terraces and mermaids fountains. In this part you will also find a small hill which offers the best views of the city and the sea. In the center of the hill, however, you will find a sculpture of a mermaid which is a copy of the French artist Jules Chevalier’s original.

Panathenaic Stadium

Watch the parade of the athletes each year during the Olympics.

An amazing tribute to athletic history with an amazing view!

What makes it so good? The glory and the participatory aspect of the Olympics are amazing. Your whole family can come and watch! This is also one of the most important historical sites in the city!

What events would I see? Probably the Olympic Marathon!

Where do I book a room? I love the beautiful guest houses and the hotel options near the stadium!

Where do I eat? Kyttaro is my favorite! Try the Baklava and try not to go back for more. Yum yum yum

Click here for more information about the Panathenaic Stadium.

Monastiraki

Market, the largest food market in Greece and the biggest in the Balkans. As you walk through the almost 100 booths inside this historic building, you are starving (so good). Outside of the market, there are plenty of places to eat and explore.

Monastiraki is located right near the metro station, making it extremely easy for tourists to arrive and leave quickly.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

In the 7th century, a Greek citizen of Athens named Herodes Atticus paid for the construction of a marble theater complex of three auditoriums, arcades, and a library to house the works of his favorites. Most of these works presumably deal with Stoic philosophy and epic poetry, as the names of the works belonging to him indicate.

The most beautiful of the auditoriums is the huge one known as the Odeon, which was partially burnt down in 1909, during the construction of the new Public Library, but was subsequently restored. It has a capacity of 2500 seats.

The Odeon Theatre was constructed from marble. It is in the Ionic order, with a double-sharp ceiling in the first row, and a higher, less sharp ceiling in the middle aisle, as well as rows of half-height columns along the stage sides. The scene doors, which are in the front, are big and adorned with plastic reliefs, which most likely portray Greek mythology or the city's ceremonial procession.

New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum was built in the Olympic complex in Athens. It is one of the city’s best ads for Athenian culture and the historical legacy that it has acquired over the centuries. The museum website explains that the museum will for the first time give visitors a chance to be spectators and not passive observers. The architecture is based on the rules and proportions that were used in the Acropolis of ancient times.

Mount Lycabettus

(2925 ft)

Mount Lycabettus is the highest summit of Athens and the highest point on the Attica-Boeotia Prefecture. It is a flattened dome-shaped mountain which lies between the municipality of Nea Smyrni, west and the municipality of Filothei, east. Heightening from a base of 150 meters to a maximal altitude of approximately 505 meters, it marks the edge of Athina mount.

The mount is covered by the forests of Megara Alonia National Forest Park.

A unique feature of the mountain is that at a height of 774-705 meters, it splits into two opposite sides. This is due to the �Angle of Mount Lycabettus�, a mountain promontory that runs towards the south. This is the historic peak that remains after the mountain has been blown off by horizontal winds, forming a wind gap in the center of the mountain.

In this wind gap is the highest waterfall on the island of Attica, known as �The Afentoura Waterfall.��

National Archaeological Museum

Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square, meaning “federal square”, is a large public plaza in the heart of Athens, Greece, with the old Athens city hall. The square’s site is marked by a small garden containing a monument to the Unknown Soldier from the Greco-Turkish War, the graves of the Greek soldiers who fought in the First Balkan War (1912) and “the wedding tomb,” where Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (Britain’s heir) and his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, married. The square lies in front of the parliament building, which was completed in 1888.

On the north side of the square are the Greek Parliament and the Greek Supreme Court. The statue of national hero Leonidas I stands in the center of the square.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Parthenon, is a building standing on the western side of the Acropolis, overlooking the ancient Agora.

Standing at the top of the hill where it was built in 415 BC, the temple now serves as an exhibition center. Although the style is not the original and has seen many alterations over the years, the temple is an amazing testament to the great architectural and engineering skills of the ancient Greeks.

The position of the Parthenon has always been a natural one, dominating the skyline and providing, with clear vision across the city of Athens.

According to the Ancient Monument law, which was the first one in the history of Greece, the Parthenon was classified with such living beings as the sea and the forest, for its awe-inspiring and magnificent natural beauty.

Throughout time the Parthenon has been constantly damaged and modified, having been used for different purposes which, with the case of the Romans, had to do with the building of aqueducts, baths, temples, etc.

According to the inscription at the entrance of the Propylaea, the temple dates back to the dedication of the Themistocles to the god alone, while according to the literary sources it was the construction of the temple that took place at the same time with the erection of the two out-buildings on the back.

Erechtheum

This temple to heroes stands next to the Acropolis. It is one of the oldest buildings in Athens, and the only temple to be partially constructed on the Acropolis. The building contains an intact ancient Roman treasury and an intact Roman copy of the Elgin Marbles.

Number five on our list is the Erechtheion (one of the most amazing places to visit in Athens), otherwise known as the temple of the ‘Nymphs’. The Erechtheion was built in the 3rd century BC to house a cult statue of the Greek goddess Athena. When the Romans ruled the city, they did their best to emulate the culture and way of life of the Greeks, and the Erechtheion was no different. They added water to the cult statue and from that point on, the building became known as the ‘Temple of the Nymphs’.

The building is situated right next to the Parthenon in Athens, standing directly on the Acropolis. The temple was built in the Doric order, with seven Ionic Corinthian columns supporting the roof. Because the temple is thought to have been built in honour of Athena, it was built on the site of a previously constructed building dedicated to that particular deity.

Ancient Agora

Plaka

(Ancient Greek: Plakastro), one of the oldest and most picturesque neighbourhoods of the city, derives its name from the Greek word kalathos which means “cap.” Here, at the foot of Acropolis hill, is the “Old Quarter,” the heart of Athens, with its narrow, winding streets lined with stunning neoclassical buildings. It retains a feeling of ancient times, with visitors still boarding the “Plaka trolley” to tour the attractions. The Plaka is famous for its museums, active cafes, boutique shops and street life.

Parthenon

The Parthenon is one of Athens’ most treasured monuments. It was originally erected in the fourth century B.C. by the Greek statesman Pericles, to serve as the Parthenon on the Acropolis.

The structure consists of a magnificent building with four columns arranged around a central octagonal cella. The interiors of the building are decorated with great reliefs and paintings that depict the most important events in the history of Greece.

It was built at the same time the Athenian city state was passing into its golden age. The Parthenon was designed by the architect Iktinos and was completed in about 438 B.C. Today standing approximately 48 meters tall, it is considered by many to be a symbol of democracy.

The Parthenon was the most sacred spot of the ancient Greek city-state. The building was built with white Pentelic marble carved from the nearby mountain of Pentelicus.

Although the Parthenon contains wall paintings, most of the ornamentation on the Parthenon is made of marble. After the Parthenon was finished, the building was dedicated to Athena.

The building was erected during the height of Athens’ period of military and naval domination; only two original major buildings exist from this era.

Acropolis

You won’t be able to come to Athens and not see the Acropolis, it’s the most recognizable icon of the city. It’s easily spotted from nearly every part of the city, once you spot it, you’ll always know you’re in the right place.

It’s on the “Mountain of the Gods” where the ancient gods were worshipped and where most of the Greek gods were born. It’s where the Oracle of Delphi resided and where the ancient Greeks believed all knowledge was taught.

There’s so much history and attraction to be had at the Acropolis that it’s hard to research the top tourist attractions, but I’ll help you with that with this article. There’s so much to see and do at the Acropolis that you should have more than a day to explore both it and the wider city of Athens.