9 must see parks in Athens

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Athens, one of the world’s oldest cities, is a sprawling capital with a wealth of history. When it comes to museums, iconic monuments, and archaeological sites, you are spoiled for choice. Among its magnificent landmarks, the Acropolis remains one of the world’s most incredible ancient ruins perched on a rocky hill that preserves what’s left of the old city. But besides the historic attractions, many gardens, hills, and parks in Athens deserve your attention.

The capital of Greece may not be a city of parks, but if you know where to look, you’ll find unique natural wonders in Athens. There are lush hills offering panoramic views, national gardens, and sprawling lawns, with play areas and sports facilities. Tucked behind famous sites are other natural treasures providing a quiet respite from the maddening crowds.

Whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, this guide to the best parks in Athens is for you. Drop your bags before you venture out to one of these green spaces, and use reliable backpack storage in Athens to leave your worries and burden behind.

Pedion Tou Areos Park

Need a quick break from all the sightseeing? Head to Pedion Tou Areos Park, a lovely oasis in the middle of the buzzing city.  It’s one of the largest parks in Athens, established in 1934 to pay homage to the heroes of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Its name translates to “Field of Ares,” the ancient Greek god of war and courage.

Catching everyone’s attention at the main entrance is the six-meter equestrian statue of King Constantine I of Greece, created by the Italian artist Francesco Parisi. One of the park's sculptural masterpieces is the Athena marble statue that stands on a tall marble column near the south entrance. At its foot is a memorial in honor of the Commonwealth soldiers who fought during World War II in Greece.

As you stroll the walking trails, you’ll see numerous sculptures, including a collection of marble busts of the most prominent leaders who led the Greek Revolution and the sacred band monument. There are also two churches and a small artificial cave inside the park. If you’re tired from all the walking, sit on the grassy area, chat with friends, or watch people. You’ll also encounter locals cycling around, playing football, roller-blading, or just chilling below the marble statue of Athena.

Athens National Garden

Formerly the Royal Garden, Athens National Garden is a vast green space covering an area of 160,000 square meters. It’s located in the heart of the city, next to the famed Syntagma Square in the very heart of Greece’s capital. The Garden is a perfect example of 19th-century landscape architecture, featuring a complex network of winding paths, a water feature, historical plantings, lush flower beds, and lawns. For centuries, the National Garden of Athens has become an essential urban oasis for Greeks and foreign visitors, regardless of age.

The Garden is considered the most successful project of Queen Amalia. It’s Modern Greece’s first landscaped green area and the country’s one-of-a-kind historical garden that served as the Palace’s garden, designed in 1839 by Friedrich Schmidt. It became accessible to the public in 1923 and was renamed National Garden.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly attraction in the middle of the thrills and action, this park in Athens is a must. It is home to 40,000 bushes and plants, 7,000 trees, and six lakes and offers a range of activities for all ages. There’s also a children’s library, conservatory, and a small café to refuel during your tour. The National Garden is busier on weekends as locals and tourists come here to relax, stroll, and visit several significant sights in the park’s vicinity, including the Benaki Museum and the Hellenic Parliament.

Zappeion Gardens

The Zappeion Gardens can be a separate tour or included in your trip to the National Garden; both are considered the city’s green belt. It comprises 83,000 m2 of planted area, 41,000 m2 of paved surfaces, and 2,400 m2 of atriums and patios. If you’re visiting with kids, they will love the inclusive play areas with modern equipment, toys, and special installations for those with mobility issues.

While there, check out the Zappeion Hall, also called Zappeion Megaron, distinguished for its prominent architecture. It was constructed between 1974 and 1888 and was the first building established for the Olympic Games’ revival in the modern world. It’s part of the Greek civilization’s national heritage, hosting critical cultural events, conferences, and other sports and scientific exhibitions. Visiting the Zappeion Gardens combines relaxation, history, discovery, and recreation.

Lycabettus Hill

Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the top at Lycabettus Hill, the highest and most central point in Athens. At 277 meters above sea level, Lycabettus stands proud as the capital’s highest hill and one of the most romantic places to visit, no matter the time of the year. You can tackle the winding path on foot or use the cliff railway to reach the top. It takes about thirty minutes to climb up to Ploutarchou St. and can be steep and a bit strenuous for some, so the funicular is your best option. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with truly stunning vistas.

Lycabettus Hill is a gorgeous spot any time of the day, but it’s particularly perfect for viewing the sunset from the observation deck. If you come in summer, you might get lucky and hear free music from the peak. Other attractions you will find on the summit are the Saint George’s Chapel and an open-air theater used as a popular venue for concerts, live shows, and other events in summer.

You don’t need to pay an entrance fee to visit the hill, but you must buy a ticket to use the cable car. Also, remember that it can be busy and crowded at sunset, so if you want to avoid the crowd, it’s recommended that you visit early in the morning. The temperature is cooler around this time for hiking.

Filopappou Hill

Another scenic place you don’t want to miss is Filopappou Hill. It’s a famous promenade southwest of the Acropolis, offering great views of the ancient citadel, the entire city of Athens, and the Aegean Sea surrounding Attica. It’s not as high as Lycabettus at 147 meters, but it will give you a spectacular panorama of Athens away from the city noise.

Filopappou Hill is less crowded than Lycabettus but just as impressive. It’s also more of a park in Athens, offering opportunities for picnicking, hiking, and lounging with views. In addition to the view, visitors can also admire a few attractions, such as the Dora Stratou theater, Socrates' prison, and the Philopappos Monument, a mausoleum that the Athenians erected in honor of Julius Antiochus Philopappos. Sadly, the monument was destroyed in the 17th century, though two-thirds of its façade has been preserved.

You will find several walking paths leading up the hill. The hike can be steep, so wear a comfy pair of shoes. Walking to the hill can take only about ten minutes. The best time to go is late afternoon and stay for the sunset to witness the wonderfully glowing orange sky and watch the sea of lights in the city shine. The nearest station is the Acropolis Metro Station, a six-minute drive from the hill.

Flisvos Park

Are you searching for a place to take your kids on a weekend? Perhaps you want to take an evening stroll or an opportunity to enjoy the sea breezes. No matter the case, Flisvos Park will grant your heart’s desires.

Lots of fun activities await you at Flisvos Park, featuring an open-air cinema, paved walking paths, and numerous playground facilities, separated into different zones for every age. It has extensive green spaces, diverse trees, and seating areas on every corner where you can sit and chat over refreshing snacks. If you want to be more active, take advantage of the bike rentals or run and jog on the dedicated routes around the park.

Entry to Flisvos Park is free, allowing visitors unlimited fun without spending a dime. You can also walk to the Flisvos Marina, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and boutiques for shopping and dining. Overall, the park and marina are a pleasant escape from the city center.

Attica Zoological Park

Attica Zoological Park is one of the most visited parks in Athens, especially for animal lovers and families. It opened as a Bird Park in May 2000, boasting the world’s third-largest bird collection, three impressive walk-in aviaries, which are miniatures of the three continents, and farm animals for younger visitors. Each year, different wildlife displays are added to the park, and it’s now home to over 2,000 animals from 400 different species, including desert animals, felines from the African savannah, reptiles, primates, some rare Greek animals, dolphins, and more.

This Zoological Park is the only zoo you will find in Greece, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It combines entertainment with education, providing visitors with an exciting journey to various continents through the lives of animals it hosts in an area covering over twenty hectares.

Explore on your own, participate in a special guided tour, or pick an interactive program that works for you. Attica Zoological Park in Athens also organizes educational programs and tours for school groups, catering to over 75,000 students annually from all over the country. Besides entertainment and recreation, it offers ample information on environmental issues and wildlife for visitors of all ages.

Stavros Niarchos Park

Situated in Kallithea, about five kilometers southwest of central Athens, Stavros Niarchos Park is a vast park near Delta Marina Kallithea. It stretches over an area of twenty-one hectares, featuring a wide variety of plants and trees, including carob trees, evergreen shrubs, olive trees, cypress, laurels, and an outstanding selection of indigenous Greek aromatic plants, arranged to create awe-inspiring textures and color schemes.

Right in the middle of the park is a wide-open green area called the Great Lawn. It’s where all the pathways cross and numerous activities and events happen, especially in summer, including concerts, film screenings, and more. There are also playgrounds for endless hours of adventure and fun for children.

Another highlight here is the Cultural Center, which often organizes high-quality events and collaborations. It was designed by architect Renzo Piano and includes the National Opera House and the Greek National Library, built on the site of a former horse racing track. The entire facility combines modern architecture and nature, overlooking the sea.

Diomedes Botanical Garden

This botanical garden is a hidden natural treasure in Haidari in the western part of Athens. It was named after its donor, Alexander N. Diomedes, the Bank of Greece’s first governor. Almost unknown to many, Diomedes Botanical Garden covers an area of 1,860 square meters, hosting more than 2,500 different kinds of plants. It’s the largest of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean and Greece, ideal for horticulture enthusiasts.

You can’t pass the beautiful flower-covered archway without taking a photo to share with friends on social media. While it’s a fantastic destination year-round, spring at the botanical garden is more beautiful with fragrant blooming flowers. There are also plenty of places to play, sit, and escape the heat and city crowds.

Students at the University of Athens Agronomic Department also use the Diamedes Botanical Garden for studying. It features new sections, including an arboretum, an ornamental plant area, and a network of paved paths, ponds, greenhouses, and playgrounds.

Relax in the best parks in Athens

Whether you need fresh air, a break from the capital hustle and bustle, or a place to reconnect with nature, these must-see Athens parks have got you covered. Climb the hills, tackle the trails, and immerse yourself in a nature-rich environment. They can be explored individually if you want to do something different or included in your itinerary as you tour the ancient ruins and historical sites for a quick break.

There are many things to do and places to see in the largest city in Greece. For more information on outdoor adventures, read our other guides on the best 15 hikes in Athens and 5 beaches near Athens for sun, sand, and surf.

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