Founded in 508 BC, Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, with history sprawling over 5 000 years. Today Athens is the capital of Greece and has more than 3 000 000 residents. In Athens you can find the world’s largest collection of Ancient Greek ruins and artifacts. Athens is usually the starting point for a lot of travelers when visiting Greece and it’s islands, the Cyclades islands are fairly close to Athens. Even though I travel to Greece every summer and have been to Greece more than 40 times I had never been to Athens until now. It was on my travel list for this year and I am really glad I got to visit it.

In this post I will share with you my travel guide for Athens, general tips and info as well as what places you should not miss when in Athens.

Getting to and around Athens:

By plane- probably the easiest and fastest way to get to Athens. The airport is located 30 minutes from the city center and there is public bus and metro connection to the center, so it is very convenient. There are a lot of budget airlines that fly to Athens, and you can easily find cheap tickets. 

By boat, if you are in some of the neighboring islands in the area, the fastest way to get there is by taking a boat or a ferry. There are daily ferries that have routes to Athens

Athens is a big city, with 3 million people living in it and sprawls around 3000km. Parking may not be the easiest to find, but also you don’t need a car if you are staying in the center. Public transport is well organized and you can reach any point of Athens with it. Fastest way to get around is with the metro, and buses run 24h. However, if you plan on taking day trips to places around Athens unless you book a tour that has transportation included you would need to rent a car. Car rental is fairly inexpensive in Athens, we used the company VEGA and had great experience with them. I made the booking few days in advance using their website, the best thing about VEGA is that they have a rental location in the center of Athens so no need to go all the way to the airport.

Best time to visit:

Athens is known to be boiling hot in the summer month’s and people tend to avoid it. Lucky for me the weekend that I went to Athens the weather was warm but windy so it wasn’t so terrible. I will definitely recommend visiting Athens in Spring or Fall.

Where to stay:

For first time visit I would say to book accommodation in the city center so all the attractions and sights are close to you as well as metro stations and bus stops. However, research well the location/neighborhood of the accommodation before booking, since there are many parts of Athens that are sketchy and not that safe. If it’s not your first time I would definitely suggest to book accommodation in Glyfada or Vouila. There are 20-30 minutes drive from Athens and are right next to the beaches.

Some general information & tips:

  • Bit basic but the currency is euros, and cars are accepted almost everywhere, but make sure to always carry a bit of cash with you
  • Athens is pretty safe, however there are areas that are sketchy and not so safe. Research well before you book your accommodation.
  • Bars and restaurants work till late and dinner is usually after 8-9pm.
  • To avoid queues for sights and museums purchase your tickets in advance online.
  • Metro and bus tickets are bought in the metro stations around the city.

Must see and do:

Acropolis Museum- opened in 2009 is the Acropolis Museum that has artifacts found at the Acropolis as well as copies of artifacts that are at the British Museum. The design of the museum is an architectural masterpiece. A highlight was the glass floor on top of ancient ruins of a neighborhood. From the museum you have a wonderful view of the Acropolis as well as a cafe and restaurant overlooking it.

Acropolis- The Acropolis is a 5th-century BCE citadel overlooking Athens. The hilltop includes ancient buildings and ruins like Propylaea, the temple to Athena, and the famous Parthenon. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s undoubtedly one of the best historical spots in the city. Lots of plays are hosted in the Odeon of Herodes here in the summer too. To avoid  crowds go early in the morning. The sight opens at 8am. Admission is 20 EUR, or for 30 EUR you can get a 5-day combined ticket that includes many other archaeological sites in Athens. There are discounts and free admissions for you people, students, elderly and EU residents/citizens. I would suggest purchasing the tickets online since there is a line to purchase tickets even at 8am.

Ancient Agora- is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located on Market Hill near the Acropolis. The sight has a museum and ruins from the Ancient Agora. The Agora’s initial use was for a commercial, assembly, or residential gathering place. If you buy the combo ticket Ancient Agora and the museum are also included.

Hadrian’s Library- created by the Roman Empire Hadrian in 132 AD. The building followed a typical Roman forum architecture. Papyrus rolls and books were kept in the library. The library was severely damaged during the Heerulian invasion in 267 AD. During Byzantine times 3 churches were built on the site, which remains you can find today.

Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhoods- are considered the most beautiful and historical neighborhoods in Athens. Located just bellow the Acropolis. Here you can find many restaurants, bars, coffee shops and local stores. It is a very lively area and one of my favorite parts of Athens.

Have a drink on a rooftop- there are many rooftop bars in Plaka and Monastiraki neighborhood that have amazing views of the Acropolis and Parthenon. Visit one during sunset to enjoy a magical view, once it gets dark the Parthenon is lit up and looks beautiful. Rooftop bars tend to get very busy so I would recommend booking in advance. 

Watch the guard change- every hour the military guard changes in front of the Parliament. However, every Sunday at 11am is the official guard change, when the guards are dressed in special uniforms. Here you can also see the famous monument of the “Unknown soldier”.

Food & drink places recommendations:


Mona Lisa

Street Souflaki

MS Roof Garden

Day trip ideas:

Comming soon [next week :))]

Travel guides for other places in Greece