The capital of Greece attracts the most tourists from spring to autumn, placing Meteora behind, the second most visited sight in the country. Athens offers so many attractions, so if you are planning your next sightseeing trip there, you will not be bored.
The city was named after the ancient Greek mythological city protector goddess - Athena. Not only in Greece but in the whole world, Athens is one of the cities with the richest culture and history.
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Located in the southern part of the country, many people speak English. Understanding yourself in restaurants, shops, or museums won't be difficult.
The area of Athens is 38,964 km², and its population does not reach 1 million people. Of course, the number of tourists arriving in the summer significantly increases the number of people staying in the city. There's no need to be afraid; the many attractions are guaranteed to compensate for the crowds.
Where is Athens located?
The Greek capital, Athens - spreading over 50 kilometres - is located in the south a couple of kilometres from the shores. It is in the central plain of Attica (or Athens Basin). 4 large mountains surround the city: Mount Aigaleo, Mount Parnitha, Mount Pentelicus and Mount Hymettus.
- Distance from Pireas: 10 km / 20 minutes
- Distance from Meteora: 360 km / 4 hours
The center of Athens
The old center of the city is located around the rock cliff of the Acropolis. You will find the center of the modern city at Syntagma square.
The former Royal Palace, the building of the Greek Parliament and other public buildings from the 19th century are located here. The older, wealthier parts of the city are also located around this area, just as most of the museums, tourist attractions and foreign embassies.
Things to see & attractions
The attractions are not listed in order of popularity! Another name for Athens is Athina, so you will also come across this version in the addresses below.
#1 Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis is the most well-known complex of buildings in Athens and perhaps also in Greece. Its name means citadel, which is quite apt, as it was built on top of a huge white rock in ancient times, sometime in the 5th century BC.
The ancient "giant" is popular among tourists, and not by chance, since its monumentality is almost unparalleled in the whole world. And all of this is worth admiring from a little further away, climbing one of the nearby hilltops you can enjoy an impressive view. The entire building complex has been part of the world heritage since 1987 .
The most famous part of the Acropolis is the Parthenon and the Theatre of Dionysus, but you should also visit the Sanctuary of Zeus.
- Address: Acropolis, Athens 105 58, Greece
The Temple of Athena Pallas, or the Parthenon, is perhaps the best-known building of the Athenian Acropolis. Huge, Doric-style marble columns give the building its characteristics, of which there are far fewer today than were built by the Greeks back then.
In the 17th century, the building functioned as an ammunition warehouse, and at that time an explosion caused serious damage. Since 1975, they have been working continuously to restore the damaged parts.
You can see a significant part of the church's sculptures in the Acropolis museum, and if you're in London, you can also come across art treasures that once belonged here in the British Museum.
- Address: Acropolis, Athens 105 58, Greece
#3 Acropolis Museum
This museum keeps many treasures from the Acropolis. In the museum, not only ancient treasures are exhibited, but also those from later periods.
The building is located in an area under which there was once a city in ancient times, and its buildings and road networks are literally waiting for you to look down on them through a glass floor. It can be particularly interesting to observe how the archaeologists work down there. Maybe they'll find another relic just as you're walking over them.
- Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athens 117 42, Greece
#4 Theatre of Dionysus
The first performance was held more than 2,500 years ago in the Theatre of Dionysus at the base of the Acropolis. If there is a cradle for ancient acting, you must look for it in Greece, and you are probably on the right track if you do so here.
In the beginning, only a stage was needed, as well as the spectators, who settled on the hillside, and soon the constructed auditoriums also appeared.
Its current state reflects the stage of the theatre 2,300 years ago, and at that time around 16-18 thousand people could follow the performances. If not that many, but almost as many people can still be accommodated today, and occasionally performances are held here to this day.
- Address: Mitseon 25, Athens 117 42, Greece
#5 Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus does not look like a temple at all. Although it appears at present to be just a group of columns, and in fact it is, they were once part of the sanctuary of Zeus.
The biggest attraction of the temple, once built around 104 columns, was a huge statue of Zeus made of gold and ivory, but unfortunately there is no trace of it anymore.
Currently, only 15 columns stand against the mud and the iron grip of time. You can also admire a 16th column, which was blown off its feet by a storm in 1852. The special feature of these is that their foundation started out in the Doric style, but at the same time, the largest part was built in the Corinthian style. It became the largest church in Greece up to that time.
- Address: Athens 105 57, Greece
#6 National Garden
The National Garden is an island of tranquility in the bustling world of Athens. If you want to rest for an hour between visiting so many places, then visit the park to hide from the crowd. It is one of the few green areas in Athens where you can actually retire to the shade.
Already at the entrance, giant palm trees await, and inside, all kinds of special plants, which were planted here by botanists from different parts of the world. The park is home to a rich fauna, and there is even a small zoo in the middle - with mainly turtles.
- Address: Leoforos Vasilisis Amalias 1, Athens 105 57, Greece
#7 Central Municipal Athens Market
The Central Market, or as the locals call it, Varvakeios, is the largest food market in Athens. On one side of the street, butchers offer their products, all kinds of meat and fish specialties. The other side is the animal-friendly section, where different vegetables, fruits, seeds and spices are available.
Athenians typically go here if they want to get high-quality ingredients for their dishes at a good price. If you're curious about local people and their food, this is a great place to get to know them.
Pamper yourself with local cheese specialties and sweets. There are several restaurants operating here, which also purchase their ingredients from the market.
- Address: Athinas, Athens 105 51, Greece
#8 Areiospagos (Areopagus Hill)
Areiospagos, or if you like, Areios Pagos means the hill of Ares. In Greek mythology, Ares is the common child of Zeus and Hera, the god of war.
According to the legend, it was here that the other gods judged him after a misdeed, and that's why it was named after him. From the 5th century BC, the legislature and the judicial body held their meetings here - making verdicts for many years.
It is worth climbing the hill because of the view, there is a magnificent view of Athens from here. Almost the entire city can be seen with the Aegean Sea as a background. It is worth waiting for the sunset, when the landscape is the most beautiful.
- Address: Theorias 21, Athens 105 55, Greece
#9 The Prison of Socrates
On Philopappos hill is the prison where Socrates was allegedly imprisoned, among other things, for his theological views. Although several historians are of the opinion that he was actually not held here, it can still be interesting to see a more than 2,500-year-old prison carved into a rock.
By the way, like the National Garden, the hill improves the number of the few green areas in Athens, as the park is full of trees and other plants. It is a peaceful and quiet place, and climbing to the top of the hill offers a beautiful view.
- Address: 43, Rovertou Galli 39, Athens 117 41, Greece
#10 National Archaeological Museum of Athens
Here you can find Greece's largest archaeological collection. The museum is located in a huge building designed in neoclassical style.
You can see more than 11,000 objects in the permanent exhibitions, and the temporary exhibitions increase this number even further. Perhaps the most famous treasures are the funerary jewellery from Mycenae, made of gold and about 3,500 years old.
The place offers an insight not only into the eventful history of Greece, but also into Egyptian culture, as many treasures from the country of the pharaohs rest within the walls of the Archaeological Museum.
- Address: 28is Oktovriou 44, Athens 106 82, Greece
#11 Ancient Agora (Roman Agora)
From the 6th century BC onwards, the political, social and commercial life of Athens took place here. It was here that the tile votes (which may be familiar from the history classes) were held, and it was also here that the already mentioned Socrates was condemned.
The agora was not treated kindly by the iron teeth of time, it was first destroyed in 480 BC, and then again in 267 by the enemy. The remains of about 400 buildings were excavated, which survived from the 11th century.
Only the ruins of most of the buildings remain, but the Doric-style church of Hephaestus is in very good condition. The sanctuary, named after the god of blacksmithing and fire, was able to survive because it continued to function as a church.
- Address: Adrianou 24, Athens 105 55, Greece
#12 Panathenaic Stadium
Greece is also the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Several of these competitions were held in the Panathenaic stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro. The stadium run was held here, as well as other athletic events and boxing matches. In 1896, Athens also hosted the first modern Olympic Games, for which the ancient stadium was rebuilt to meet the modern needs.
The monumentality of the stadium is quite fantastic. If you are a sports fan, then the stadium is an unmissable stop, as is the accompanying museum, which preserves Olympic relics.
As is common with other stadiums, this building is also used for concerts. Among others, Placido Domingo and Depeche Mode, and in 2018 Scorpions performed here.
- Address: Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athens 116 35, Greece
#13 Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Like the Theatre of Dionysus, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was also located on the slopes of the Acropolis, but here, at the same time, they did not primarily host theatre performances, but operas. The theatre, also known as the Herodeon, was built in the 2nd century BC and currently has 4,680 seats.
It was renovated several times in the 20th century, and the Greek National Opera Company performed a few times here. The Epidaurus festival is held every summer from mid-July to mid-August.
#14 Hadrian's Arch + Hadrian's Library
Hadrian's Arch is a more than 2,000-year-old monument made of marble. If you visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus, it will be on your way. It's definitely worth setting off at sunset to admire the way the sun shines through the arches.
In 132, the Roman emperor Hadrian had a cultural center built in Athens, one of the main functions of which was to store papyrus scrolls. For this reason, they like to call this building a library, on the territory of which there were once several churches. Only the marble columns are standing, as the buildings are only ruins today.
- Address of Hadrian's Arch: Leoforos Vasilisis Amalias 50, Athens 105 58, Greece
- Address of Hadrian's library: Areos 3, Τ.Κ. 105 55, Athens, Greece
#15 Archaeological Site of Kerameikos
Kerameikos is one of the most important archaeological sites in the city of Athens. Once upon a time, potters lived and worked in this part of the city, which is why an amazingly large amount of objects are still found today.
The excavations here were also successful because Kerameikos was once a burial place. That's why it's not so popular among tourists, because this place doesn't have the same relaxed atmosphere as most popular attractions.
There is a small museum right next to the entrance, where some of the objects found during the excavations are exhibited. If you visit this archaeological site, you should also visit the museum.
- Address: Ermou 148, Athens 105 53, Greece
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