Visiting Athens for a day?
Here’s how you can experience most of this beautiful ancient, historical and mesmerising city in less than a day.
We transited via Athens on our trip to Italy, with less than 24 hours to roam around. Well precisely 12 hours, actually. To make the most out of our time there, we went to the Acropolis area (old Athens city).
Getting Around :
Trains: It is best to take the public transport (Metro trains) in Athens if you are staying there for such a short while. It is well connected with the Airport and goes to most major areas in the Athens city. For the time we spent there, we just took a round trip ticket from Airport to Akropoli train station for approx 18 Euros per pax. All Athens historical sites are walking distance from this train station.
Taxis: We really did not explore this option much as the public transport was good enough. Taxis are available easily in Athens though!
On foot: We went to Athens in December end, the weather was chilly and breezy but amazing for walking around the entire old city once we reached the train station. 🙂
Right at the exit of the Arrivals at Athens Airport, there are locker services to store your baggage. If you are not doing a night stay in Athens you can leave your luggage at the airport at nominal prices. We had a – hassle free, comfortable and baggage free – sightseeing experience because of this.
Just like any other city, it will be difficult to explore the whole of Athens in less than 24 hours. Here are our picks on the top places to visit considering the time crunch.
1. Acropolis of Athens Area:
Once you arrive at the Akropoli train station, head towards Acropolis of Athens. This is the historical site which houses famous Greek temples and is a testament of the beautiful Greek – roman Architecture. You can take a guided tour from the entry gates. Acropolis has the most sweeping views of the Athens city. You can spend close to 3-4 hours going around the Acropolis of Athens.
Tip : There are small stalls and shops right outside the Akropoli train station. We grabbed the most authentic Greek Salad Wrap and Greek Coffee from there before starting our little Athens adventure :). If you want to stay connected throughout your EU trip, buy a SIM card from one of the telecom shops in the same area.
Parthenon : Probably the most famous temple of Acropolis. This iconic temple is dedicated to the Goddess Athena after whom the city is also named. It was built in 447 BC. It stood through the test of time and many destructive wars. It is still under restoration work.
Erechtheion : Built in around 400 BC, in the honor of the legendary Greek king Erechtheus and is dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Look out for the famous porch of 6 caryatids, the single olive tree planted beside it and the gaps in the roofs and floors. You may want to hire a local guide or buy a guide book to understand the history behind these monuments.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus: Classic Amphitheatre, built in around 160 AD.
Hungry much? Once you cover the sites around Acropolis , head for lunch towards hillside Plaka. With a complete village feel to it, it’s lined with family run boutique shops and cafes.
3. Hadrian’s Arch and Temple of Olympian Zeus :
Hadrian’s Arch encompasses a beautiful view of the Acropolis of Athens. The temple is dedicated to the Olympian God, Zeus. The temple is in ruins and only a few columns remain standing from the original 104 colossal columns.
4. Panathenaic Stadium :
The only stadium built entirely with Marble, is the multipurpose stadium in the heart of the Athens city. Opened at around 550 BC, the very first modern Olympic Games were held in this stadium in 1896. This marble marvel was filled with a cheering crowd of over 50000!
5. Mount Lycabettus :
For the perfect sunset and panoramic views of Athens city and Acropolis overlooking the sea, trek up the Mount Lycabettus. Heads Up : Though it can be a little bit difficult to climb up after a long day, the view from top is worth it!
We walked to Syntagma Square as we wanted to sit by the fountain and cafes there. We later took a train from there back to Airport! You may skip going to the square if you have time crunch and head back to the airport from a train station nearer to Mount Lycabettus!
We didn’t have enough of Greece in less than 24 hours and would love to go back one day ! ❤