Athens On a Rainy Day: 12 Things To Do
Athens is the capital city of Greece and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in all of Europe. Among the many reasons why tourists from all over the world flock to the city is because of the lovely weather. Greece in general is regarded as the land of sunshine and attracts visitors all year round.
If you are planning a long overdue trip to the Greek capital, you will likely be greeted by warm weather and sunshine. However, every once in a while, there are instances when you may experience some rainy days, especially if you time your visit during the winter season. Although the chances of precipitation are mostly slim, it is not a totally impossible scenario.
Even if you end up experiencing a rainy day in Athens during your stay, don’t fret because this does not mean that your trip will be ruined. You may not be able to sit at a lovely rooftop restaurant, but grab your umbrella to wander the streets or visit outdoor attractions! If you prefer to be dry, there are plenty of other fun things to do to create beautiful memories even if the skies are grey all day long.
Athens is home to an array of world-class museums and a rainy day is a perfect time to explore some of them. From the Acropolis Museum to the Benaki Museum, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to cultural attractions to visit. Or do some shopping instead; Athens boasts a range of malls and retail destinations where you can stay dry and spend some dough.
To make the most out of unpredictable weather while in the city, we have compiled this list of the best activities to do in Athens on a rainy day. Before you tick these places off your bucket list, look for Bounce luggage storage in the city where you can leave your bags and other belongings safely – and keep them dry, too.
The ancient citadel known as Acropolis is undoubtedly the most famous attraction in all of Athens. One of the main draws of the complex is the Parthenon, a historic temple that was built in honor of the goddess Athena. However, visiting this world-renowned site is not possible on a rainy day. Instead, you may opt to head next door to the Acropolis Museum.
Opening its doors to the public in 2009, the Acropolis Museum spans 25,000 square meters and is built on top of an ancient Athenian neighborhood, which can be seen through the glass floors. Inside this massive facility is one of the world’s biggest and most significant collections of Greek art, dating back from the Archaic period to the Roman period. The museum is open seven days a week from 8 AM to 8 PM, except on Mondays (closes at 4 PM) and Fridays (closes at 10 PM) and is an ideal place to visit in Athens on a rainy day.
Benaki Museum of Greek Culture
Athens has enough interesting museums to keep you occupied when it is raining; one that you should absolutely include in your list is the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture. Widely regarded as one of the best museums in Greece, the three-story cultural facility is found inside the former mansion of the prolific Benaki family and houses a permanent collection of over 120,000 artworks from the prehistoric era to the modern times.
Additionally, the Benaki Museum also has a library with more than 180,000 books and documents, making it the biggest Muslim library in the country. The museum also has another branch in Keramikos known as the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art, which houses works of art related to Islamic culture. There are also several Benaki satellite museums that were built to accommodate art donations over the years. The museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM every day except on Thursdays (12 AM closing time), Sundays (4 PM closing time), and Tuesdays (closed).
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art is another museum in Athens that is worth exploring while in the city, regardless if it is raining or not. Located in the vibrant Kolonaki area, the private museum was established by the Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris Foundation in 1986 and houses the Goulandris’ personal art collection that they have collected over the years.
The museum’s permanent collection is comprised of over 3,000 objects that date from the 4th century BC to the 6th century AD; these works represent ancient Greek art, ancient Cycladic art and Cypriot art. Aside from its impressive permanent collection, the museum also regularly hosts temporary exhibitions at the adjacent Stathatos Mansion. The Museum of Cycladic Art is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM except on Tuesdays (closed) and Thursdays (8 PM closing time).
Dimotiki Agora (Athens Central Market)
If you want to have a peek at the local culture while sampling some excellent food, head over to the Athens Central Market in the neighborhood of Monastiraki. Known locally as Dimotiki Agora, this public food market has been in operation since 1886 and is where the locals come to shop daily for their fresh food and produce – from meat and seafood to fruits and vegetables.
But the Central Market isn’t just famous for its fresh offerings. You'll find several stalls selling delicacies as well as tavernas where you can some local street food at cheap prices. Don’t forget to sample some ouzo and meze, which is Greece’s version of tapas, or the famous patsas soup from Ipiros, which is made using veal hooves, belly and tripe. Alternatively, you can book a food tour of the Athens Central Market to make sure that you don’t miss any of the highlights.
National Archaeological Museum
One of the best ways to spend a rainy day in Athens is to visit the incredible National Archaeological Museum, which is the largest museum of its kind in Greece. Completed in 1889, the Neoclassical-style museum has one of the finest collections of Ancient Greek art in the world; these works span different periods – from prehistoric times to late antiquity. Boasting an exhibition space of over 8,000 square meters, the museum is home to five more than 11,000 exhibits divided across five collections.
Some of the incredible artifacts that you can see on display at the National Archaeological Museum include ceramics, sculptures, golden funerary masks, mummies, carved pots and more; one of the highlights is their incredible collection of Greek antiquity gems. The museum is open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM (shortened to 3 PM during the winter season) except on Tuesdays (1 PM to 8 PM).
Shopping is one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Athens. These malls will keep you dry and will keep you busy throughout the day. Fortunately, the Greek capital is filled with shopping malls and retail spots where you can find great deals and go on a spending spree. Among the best options in the city is the massive Golden Hall shopping complex.
Found along the city’s most famous street, Kifisias Avenue, the Golden Hall is the best shopping mall in Greece and perhaps the most popular retail destination in Athens. The complex covers over 40,000 square meters of space and is filled with shops, restaurants, and even a cinema. You can spend an entire rainy day at the Golden Hall shopping (or window shopping), dining or even people-watching.
A visit to the Athens Planetarium is one of the best things that you can do in Athens on a rainy day. The planetarium was founded in 1966 and is the first of its kind in the country. In 2003, the Eugenides Foundation decided to expand it and create a digital planetarium with more advanced features. Today, the Athens Planetarium is among the largest and best-equipped planetariums in the whole world and is the perfect activity on a rainy day, especially if you're traveling with kids or with friends.
The highlight of the facility is its 950-square meter central dome where visitors can get amazing 3D virtual trips to space and where other realistic and high-definition images can be seen. The planetarium also has a state-of-the-art cinema screen where high-budget science films are projected. Shows at the Athens Planetarium are available on weekdays, from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM, and on weekends, from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
Byzantine and Christian Museum
Stay dry while brushing up on your Greek history by visiting the Byzantine and Christian Museum, located along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue. Situated within the 19th-century Villa Ilissia, the museum offers an insight into Greece’s Byzantine Empire through its impressive art collection.
Guests of the museum can view over 25,000 artifacts on display, most of which are from the Byzantine period and a number of pieces from the Medieval and Christian eras. The museum’s permanent collection includes works such as paintings, frescoes, mosaics, textiles, sculptures and religious icons. There is also an on-site cafe where visitors can unwind after walking around the museum all day. The Byzantine and Christian Museum is open every day from 8 AM to 8 PM, except on Tuesdays (1 PM to 8 PM).
Situated right next to the Greek Parliament, just behind the Temple of Olympian Zeus, is the National Garden, one of Athens’ most popular landmarks and a lovely oasis within the city center. The massive green space is a favorite spot for locals and tourists who want to escape the busy city life, especially when the sun is out. However, even on a rainy day in Athens, the garden is still worth exploring; just make sure you have an umbrella with you.
The former royal gardens cover 15 acres of land and have numerous trails where you can walk while enjoying the smell of the rain and taking in the surroundings. The great part about exploring the National Gardens on a rainy day is that the area will most likely be deserted, which means you have the gardens all to yourself. Don’t forget to stop by the nearby Zappeion, an open-air hall used as a venue for events.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC)
Perched on a man-made slope on the bay of Faliron in Kallithea, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a world-class building that houses the National Library and the Greek National Opera. Completed in 2016, SNFCC is one of the best places to visit in Athens on a rainy day. The impressive venue hosts a wide range of exhibitions and events throughout the year, most of which are free of charge. The complex has a cafeteria and offers WiFi connection, which means you can stay here for an extended period of time.
Nicknamed the “neighborhood of the gods”, Plaka is one of Athens’ oldest districts and a trendy hangout spot for locals and tourists alike. Located not too far from the Acropolis, the historic neighborhood is lined with a mix of shops, restaurants and pastel-colored houses.
On rainy days, you cannot really spend time wandering the streets of Plaka to go sightseeing. Instead, you can fill your tummy with some delicious Greek specialties! The district is filled with quaint tavernas and eateries that whip up some authentic local fare. There are also a number of Plaka restaurants where you can enjoy mezes (small bites) with a glass of ouzo (Greek wine).
If there is one thing that the Greeks take seriously, it would have to be coffee! This is why there is a plethora of quaint coffee shops found all over the city. The Greeks have a lovely coffee tradition where one can spend long hours finishing a single coffee. In fact, the average coffee drinking time per person is 90 minutes.
If you are in Athens on a rainy day, you can visit one of the beautiful cafes found in the city center, in Plaka, or in Monastiraki, order a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate if you don’t drink caffeine) and sit at one of the tables. You can even read a book or simply enjoy the sound of the rain as a way to pass the time.
Athens, Greece on a Rainy Day
What's the weather forecast? Are the next few days calling for rain? Even if you experience inclement weather during your trip to the Greek capital, don’t despair; Athens has an abundance of indoor attractions that can keep you busy when the weather isn’t cooperating. Whether you plan to go museum hopping, visit the local markets, or even just relax while sipping on a cup of joe, you won’t run out of fun things to do in Athens on a rainy day.
Looking for even more things to do in Athens on a rainy day? Check out these other guides: