Top 5 Things to See and Do in Athens
- Must-do and sights in Athens
1. Visit the Acropolis
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel overlooking Athens, It includes the Propylaea, the temple to Athena, and the famous…Read More
1. Visit the Agora-Athens Central Market
Come early to watch the produce and fish being unloaded. There are a ton of Greek specialties, like olives, halloumi, and feta for sale here! It’s one of my favorite places to wander and nibble. It’s open every day of the week except Sunday, from early morning until late afternoon (and it gets very crowded around lunch time).
2. Go to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon is remarkably preserved, and it’s never as busy as other temples in Athens. Constructed in 444 BC, the temple sits on a rocky outcrop and served as a welcomed sight for sailors returning from sea. The sunset from here is incredible, and there are several beaches nearby in Legrena or Lavrio.
3. Visit the Kanellopoulos Museum
This former mansion dates back to 1884. Now, it’s home to a collection of jewelry, weapons, clay-and-stone vases, Byzantine art, various figurines, and furniture that once belonged to the wealthy Kanellopoulos family. Some pieces in this private collection date back to 3,000 BC. Although there isn’t much English signage, you’ll rarely have to compete for views with other visitors.
4. See the Tower of the Winds
Originally built by Andronicus in the first century BC, this tower once functioned as a sundial, weather vane, compass, and water clock. Basically, it’s the first weather station in history! The real mystery is who funded it — the entire tower is made of Pentelic marble, which is the same used for the Parthenon and was rarely used for anything other than temples. So it’s a bit of a mystery to historians!
5. Witness the Easter Vigil
If you happen to be in Athens during Easter weekend, don’t miss the enchanting vigil procession. Every Good Friday around 9PM, thousands upon thousands of people form a procession throughout the city, all holding lit candles. Head to Lycabettus Hill and join the crowds ascending to the St. George church. Even if you’re not religious, it’s a cultural experience worth seeing.
6. Hike in Parnitha National Park
Here you’ll find several caves, gorges, and springs to explore. There are about 75 well-marked paths, so a guide isn’t really necessary. For an easy hike, the trek to Bafi Refuge from the church of Ayia Triada only takes 40 minutes. For something more challenging, try the 12-mile (20-kilometer) trek from Avlona to Agia Marina.
7. Stroll through Anafiotika
Anafiotika is a 19th-century neighborhood built into the northern side of the Acropolis hill. It lies above Plaka, near the entrance to the Agora, but has none of the hustle and bustle of the city center. This place embodies the feel of the Greek islands — its whitewashed walls, shuttered windows, and tiny sidewalk cafes feel far removed from Athens! It’s one of the most traditional parts of the city.
8. Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
Dating from the sixth century BC, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was once the largest in Greece, and it took over 700 years to build. Peisistratos started its construction, and then abandoned after funds ran dry. Hadrian finished the job in AD 131, and then built an enormous statue of Zeus (and then an enormous statue of himself). There are several Corinthian columns still standing, although many have fallen.
9. Take a food tour
Athens is one big gastronomic adventure. Athens Walking Tours has several different options, including street food tours and cooking classes. You’ll try filo-layered bougatsa, fried donut balls (loukoumades), grilled meats, fresh feta, Greek olives, and some tasty local wines.