Athens is the capital city of Greece and is one of Europe’s oldest cities. The ancient metropolis is widely considered as the birthplace of Western Civilization and is home to some of the most historic archaeological sites in the world. Additionally, Athens is the cultural and financial heart of Greece and serves as the primary gateway to the country’s top destinations.
Because Athens is Greece’s major transportation hub, most tourists who are looking to visit the top holiday destinations enter through the capital. As such, Athens is often overlooked in favor of the famous Greek islands and the majority of tourists simply pass through the city without seeing what it has to offer.
Athens has plenty to offer travelers of all kinds. This vibrant capital with a population of nearly 4 million is home to world-renowned museums, ancient sites, unique neighborhoods, compelling street art, and flavorful local street food.
Most people will tell you that one day (or two at most) is enough time to visit Athens. While this is possible, three days in Athens is the ideal option; this length is enough time to see the top sights in the city without having to rush. A three-day stay also allows you to truly take in the beauty of Athens and immerse yourself in the local culture.
With so much to see and do, you might feel overwhelmed by the options. To make your life easy, we’ve created the perfect itinerary for 3 days in Athens. This guide goes beyond the usual bucket list items and allows you to experience more of the city’s top areas and really get a sense of Athens’ way of life.
Out and about and feeling weighed down by your bags? Store your shopping bags and large backpacks with Bounce luggage storage in Athens and then continue to be amazed. From ancient Greek art to picturesque streets, visiting Athens is a wonderful adventure!
Athens Itinerary – Day 1
Morning: Learn about ancient history at the Acropolis
The Acropolis is a historical complex that is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses some of ancient Athens’ most popular archaeological landmarks. A visit to the Acropolis is a must when in the Greek capital as it is a major part of world history and the sites are something to behold.
The centerpiece of the Acropolis is the Parthenon, an ancient temple standing atop the Acropolis hill and was once the most glorious building in the ancient world. The temple was built in 438 BC and was dedicated to Athena, the city’s patroness and the Olympian goddess of war and wisdom.
The Acropolis Museum is another noteworthy landmark found within the complex. One of the world’s most important museums, the Acropolis Museum houses the recovered artifacts from the Acropolis archaeological site dating back to Greek Bronze Age up until the Byzantine Period.
Other noteworthy sites that you will surely encounter while exploring the Acropolis include the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an ancient theater that still functions as an events venue. Not to miss as well are the Temple of Athena Nike, the Monument of Agrippa, and the Erechtheion.
If you have time, there are plenty of other historic landmarks not too far from the Acropolis, such as the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Gate of Athena Archegetis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Library. It might seem like a lot of places to cover in half a day but most, if not all of these sites are covered in case you booked a guided tour. Another option would be to buy a combined ticket, where you get access to all the sites for the price of one, as opposed to buying single entrance tickets per site.
Afternoon: Take in the charms of Monastiraki
After an eventful day of exploring the ancient sites of Athens, head over to the nearby neighborhood of Monastiraki for a lunch break. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Monastiraki is a lively district where you can find famous landmarks and hidden gems. The area is also home to a number of restaurants where you can refuel for the latter half of your day.
You can find several tavernas in the neighborhood where you can get souvlakis, gyros and other local food. Some of the best restaurants in the area for regional Greek cuisine are Mani-Mani and Diodos. If you’re looking for other international flavors, there’s the Aglio, Olio and Peperoncino, which serves Italian cuisine, and Osaka Sushi Bar, which specializes in Japanese fare. There are also numerous cafés where you can enjoy a cup of coffee.
Once you’re done eating, you can explore the funky neighborhood and check out the different shops in the area. Enter the small alleys and you just might discover some hidden stalls selling everything from vintage items and antiques to souvenirs and clothing.
Evening: Have dinner and drinks at Plaka
For your evening plans, head over to the trendy Plaka district for a bite and maybe even some drinks. Known as the “neighborhood of the gods”, Plaka is known for its buzzing atmosphere, an impressive collection of restaurants as well as a vibrant nightlife scene. The dining options in the area range from local cuisine to bolder, international flavors.
Some of the Plaka dining options to choose from include vegetarian restaurant Avocado, the upscale Daphne’s, or the famous taverna Platanos. For a fun night out, head over to Kimolia Art Café for some live music or Oinoscent for a glass of wine.
Athens Itinerary – Day 2
Morning: Visit some of the city’s best museums
When it comes to museums, Athens is unmatchable; there are over 20 museums in the city, all of which have their own unique style and flavor. That being said, it is close to impossible to cover all of these spots in a single day. In this itinerary, we’ve narrowed it down to a few museums that you definitely should not miss.
Your second day in Athens will start at the National Archaeological Museum, located in the neighborhood of Exarcheia. One of Athens’ finest cultural institutions, this museum houses important artifacts recovered from various archaeological locations in Greece. The museum’s permanent collection is comprised of historic objects such as vases, bronze statues, Egyptian funerary masks and frescoes.
Just a short distance away from the National Archaeological Museum is another prominent facility that’s worth checking out – the Byzantine and Christian Museum. Housed inside a secluded courtyard, this museum boasts a collection of more than 25,000 works of art from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine eras. Pro tip: You can buy a single ticket package that gives you access to both museums (in addition to the Epigraphical Museum and Numismatic Museum), which is a more economical option than buying single-use tickets.
Afternoon: Check out the Kerameikos area
After visiting some incredible museums, head over to the neighborhood of Kerameikos (Ceramicus) for some more sightseeing. The area, which was named after the potters that used to inhabit it, has a calmer atmosphere compared to the other neighborhoods in Athens.
One of the main draws of Kerameikos is its namesake cemetery, which is the largest and most important cemetery in Greece. The site is now open to the public and serves as a final resting place for citizens of Ancient Greece.
After you finish wandering the Kerameikos Cemetery, grab a bite at one of the many restaurants located in the neighborhood. Some of the local favorites include Proveleggios, To Piroliki, San Francisco, Thai Zab and Athiri Restaurant.
Evening: Experience the nightlife scene at Psiri
Arguably the coolest district in Athens, Psiri is the go-to place to experience the city’s authentic nightlife scene. Located not too far from the Acropolis, Psiri is one of the city's oldest neighborhoods and has a bohemian feel to it; there are plenty of cool street art, coffee shops, restaurants and artisan stores found all over the neighborhood.
At night, however, Psiri transforms into a lively nightlife district; the restaurants and bars come to life and stay open until the wee hours of the morning. For a guaranteed good time, some of the top nightlife options in the area include the Barrett, Cantina Social, Tranzistor and Drugstore.
Athens Itinerary – Day 3
Morning: Hang out at the Syntagma Square
Located right in the city center is Syntagma Square (also known as Constitution Square), Athens’ most famous square and the busiest area in the city. As a hub for activity, it’s no surprise that you will find a wide range of accommodations, quaint restaurants, cozy cafés and shops that sell all kinds of products. Syntagma Square is also home to Ermou, the most popular shopping street in Athens.
The Syntagma Square is the perfect place to start your final day in Athens; you can have breakfast or a cup of coffee here while watching the people go about their days. Some of the most beloved cafés in the square are Hip and Brazilian. You should also watch out for the changing of the guard ceremony, held every hour on the hour.
After you’ve had a bite to eat, wander around and check out the various landmarks in Syntagma Square. Some points of interest in the area include the tomb of the unknown soldier, the Greek Parliament House (which is free to tour), and the historic Grand Bretagne Hotel rooftop.
Afternoon: Stroll along the National Gardens
After exploring the busy Syntagma Square, you may want to get away from all the hustle and bustle and relax in a serene environment. If so, the best place to go to is the National Gardens, a historic park situated right in the heart of Athens. A former royal garden, it was founded in 1838 and has since become the most popular public park in the metropolis.
The National Garden is a favorite hangout spot for both Athenians and tourists who want to get away from the chaotic traffic and hot weather. Additionally, the public park is home to a number of landmarks and interesting spots that are worth checking out. One of the must-see sights within the park is the Panathenaic Stadium, which is where the first modern Olympic Games were held.
It will also be hard to miss the Zappeion, a national exhibition hall founded in 1878 and is one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in Athens. Also found within the park is the Benaki Stadium, which is home to an impressive selection of Greek art, and the striking Discus Thrower statue.
Evening: Explore the Kolonaki district
Ascending up the side of Lycabettus Hill is Kolonaki, one of Athens’ oldest and hippest neighborhoods. Locals and tourists come together in this chic district to enjoy the high-end shops, buzzing nightlife scene, art galleries and world-class restaurants. If you’re looking to get even more cultured, the district is home to some of Athens’ most famous museums, such as the Museum of Cycladic Art.
The Kolonaki district is the perfect place to have dinner; some of the area’s best restaurants include the French bistro l’Abreuvoir, the Italian restaurant La Cantina and Prytaneion for some authentic Greek fare. After a fulfilling meal, it’s time to check out the nightlife action in Kolonaki.
Kolonaki’s nightlife scene is perfectly balanced and attracts partygoers of all ages. The bars at Milioni Street, Tsakalof and Skoufa cater to all tastes and preferences; some of the most popular drinking spots here include Mommy, Cinco, Poco a Poco and Bardot. Meanwhile, the newly opened club, Heart, draws a young crowd.
Ancient Athens and Beyond
Flying into Athens Airport? With this itinerary for 3 days in Athens, you will be able to cover most of the famous landmarks and attractions in the city while still able to enjoy some downtime and relaxation. A three-day stay in the Greek capital allows you to get the best of Athens and Greek culture.
Get ready to experience fabulous Greek food (live like a local and try the Varvakios Central Food Market), explore ancient ruins and meander through modern Athens. Don't miss Hadrian's Arch, built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian – this piece of Greek history awaits!
Still planning your visit to Athens? Check out these guides for more ideas!