Although Athens is a big city in Greece, most historic sites and museums are within approximately one square mile. This makes it a very walkable city. This also makes Athens a great city to visit if you only have a short amount of time to explore.
We always love showing up to a new city and exploring on our own. Turning a corner and finding some famous monument you didn’t know would even be there. There is always a rush of excitement finding things on your own. However, we know that not everyone has the time to explore and would like an itinerary to follow.
If you’re only going to be in Athens for a couple of days, we highly recommend staying in a central location. The neighborhood of Plaka is not only a great central location to explore from, but it’s filled with tiny streets bustling with shops and restaurants. We have found the best places to stay are in apartments rented through a site like Home Away, rather than the centrally located hotels.
Top Sites to See in Athens
- Acropolis (Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheion, Theater of Dionysus, Odeon of Herod the Atticus, Propylaea)
- Acropolis Museum
- National Archaeological Museum (choose between the Acropolis Museum or this museum to visit)
- Hadrians Library
- Temple of the Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Gate
- Panatheanic Stadium
- Syntagma Square (Parliament, changing of the guard, and tomb of the unknown soldier)
- National Gardens
- Ancient Agora
- Roman Agora (Tower of the Winds)
- Plaka Neighborhood
- Ermou and Adrianou Streets (shopping and souvenirs)
- Monastiraki Sq. (flea markets)
Here is how to see Athens in two days.
8am – The Acropolis
Start your day early at the Acropolis before the crowds start arriving. You’ll want to spend about 1.5 – 2 hours exploring the ruins. We recommend entering the main entrance off of Theorias and exiting by the Theater of Dionysus.
10am – Breakfast
There are many cafés along Dionysiou Areopagitou that you can grab a coffee or a light breakfast after the Acropolis. We also love the atmosphere at the cafes down Vyronos around the Lysikrates Monument.
11am – Acropolis Museum
After your break, take a stroll around the beautiful Acropolis Museum. You’ll want to spend a couple of hours discovering the different areas of the museum — from the elaborate entrance that has a glass floor displaying ancient ruins, to the full size display of the Parthenon Frieze.
1pm – Shopping, Lunch and Exploring Plaka
Grab your map of the city and find your way to Adrianou Street near the museum. This street is full of artisan and tourist shops. It also cuts through the Plaka neighborhood where you can find a number of restaurants. Find one where you can post up to have a great lunch and people watch for a couple of hours!
If you want an Athens “post card” lunch at a restaurant located on stairs, head over to Mnisikleous Street at the base of the Acropolis. There you’ll find great food, great views, and see a lot of people making their way up to the Acropolis.
3pm – Roman Agora and Hadrian’s Library
Walk off your lunch before heading back to rest by walking around the Roman Agora, Tower of the Winds, and Hadrian’s Library. You can choose to pay to go in if you wish, but you can see everything from outside the gates.
4pm – Rest Up
You will be exhausted from a morning of exploring and eating a big lunch. Go back and rest for a couple of hours before you go out and explore again.
8pm – Nighttime Stroll and Dinner
Most dinner places start opening up around 8-9pm. Consider strolling around the Monastiraki neighborhood looking at menus. Check out Pandrossou or Mitropoleos Streets, these are both densely populated with restaurants. Spend the rest of the evening strolling the streets before heading in for the night.
8am – Ancient Agora
Start the morning off at the Ancient Agora. 1.5-2 hours should be enough time to explore the ruins, visit the small museum and see the tortoises wandering around!
10am – Monastiraki Square
Here you can check out the Flea Market (it’s more like a grand market place) selling anything and everything. If you’re visiting on a Sunday you’ll see a more traditional flea market. You can continue down Pandrossou for a morning coffee and pastry before heading a couple of blocks North to Ermou Street.
Ermou Street is a pedestrian street and an outdoor shopping mall. Walk down Ermou window shopping and people watching until you arrive at Syntagma Square.
11am – Changing of the Guard and Syntagma Square
Make your way to the Parliament building where you’ll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guarded by Evzones. Evzones are the name of the members of the Presidential Guards. Every hour you can watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On Sundays there is a big ceremony for the Changing of the Guard at 11am.
11:30am – National Gardens and Panathenaic Stadium
Head south down Vasilissis Amalias Avenue until you can enter into the National Garden. Check out the Zappeio on your way to see the Panathenaic Stadium. You can pay to enter the stadium, however, you can see a lot from the street. The stadium was home to the first modern day Olympic games in 1896.
12:30pm – Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Gate
Slowly make your way west along Vasilissis Olgas Avenue to the entrance of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. You can see the site from outside the gates, but we highly recommend paying the small entrance fee to get up close to these ruins.
After roaming the ruins, exit through the same gate as you entered and head south towards Hadrian’s Gate. You will probably see it while visiting the ruins. A quick stop at the gate to take pictures and then head to lunch!
1:30pm – Lunch
Hadrian’s Gate is across the street from the Plaka neighborhood. If you head up Lysikratous Street, it will bring you back to Lysikrates Monument. You can grab lunch here or in the surrounding neighborhood.
3:30pm – Walk Off Lunch and Nap
Walk off lunch on the way back to your apartment or hotel. Take a nap and relax before heading out to dinner.
8pm – Dinner
Head out for dinner and an evening stroll. We recommend going back to your favorite spot you saw while exploring the city for your last night in Athens!
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Most breakfast is served around 11am-noon and consists of coffee and pastry.
- There are lots of cats throughout the city (we bought snacks and fed some of them).
- Stay in a hotel, hostel, or apartment centrally located.
- Grab a map – there are a lot of tiny streets!
- Don’t bother with the hop on hop off bus if you are only there for a short period of time (you can walk to almost everywhere the main line takes you).
- Try new types of food — ask your waiter for suggestions.
- English is widely spoken.
- Free days to the Acropolis (March 6, April 18, May 18, Last weekend of September, October 28, First Sunday between November 1st to March 31st).
The most important thing to remember when visiting Athens in two days is that you can’t go wrong! Regardless of whether you show up and relax for a couple of days then wander around on your own, or walk from one fabulous restaurant to the next, or follow a daily itinerary, you will have a great time! Have fun and remember to taste and eat as much Greek cuisine as you can!
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