Not many cities in Europe can match the glory of Athens. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world, named after the goddess of war herself and played center stage for many milestones of the our Western world. Aside from it’s historical accolades, modern day Athens is a gorgeous, soulful city that offers it’s visitors an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re in it for the history, the food or the shopping, we guarantee that Athens will leave its mark on anyone who visits.
Check out our list below for the ultimate Athens Bucket List!
Explore the Acropolis in Full
The Acropolis is without a doubt, the shining star of Athens. It’s most famous for the ancient Parthenon that sits on top, but that’s not all the Acropolis offers to visitors. In addition to entering the official ancient grounds, structures and ruins, visitors can explore the maze-like neighbourhood that’s woven within the mountain’s curves. These “streets” offer a less direct route up to the Parthenon and a beautiful look into the ancient roots of the old city. Once you’ve explored the winding pathways, you can stop to watch the sunset over the city at one of the many platforms and sitting areas located along the mountain path.
An Afternoon in La Plaka
At the base of the Acropolis you’ll find one of Athens’ most charming features, La Plaka! This neighbourhood seems more like a village on a small island than a neighbourhood in a big city. The streets are winding, covered in flowers and littered with restaurants, bars and shopping venues. You can easily spend an entire afternoon here, shopping at the boutiques and picking up souvenirs, grabbing a quick drink on a rooftop terrace and exploring the many nooks and crannies. You will find yourself running into structures and ruins from the Roman Agora, old Orthodox churches and homes that have been standing for centuries.
Enjoy Free Walking Tour
Some cities can be explored easily without a guide, but a city like Athens has many stories to tell. Each ancient wall or pile of stone may mean nothing to a passer by. But, a guide will bring to life. While searching online you’ll find many licensed professional tour guides who offer entry into some of Athens’ historic sites for astronomical prices. The truth is, there are many local tour operators who are just as knowledgeable about their city even if they can’t go inside the top sites. Opting for a free tour is a great way to meet new people and tour the city with a passionate guide who isn’t in it for the cash! Of course, they usually ask for a tip at the end of the tour, but you choose what to pay and it’s certainly not an obligation. We recommend Athens Free Tours to find your next amazing tour!
Homemade Wine by the Jar
Possibly one of the best Greek traditions you’ll come across is the house wine. No matter which restaurant you visit you will always find the house wine list. These wines are homemade and significantly cheaper than the other bottles on the menu. You can order these wines by the jar or half jar which makes them perfect for sharing different wines around the table. Once you experience the jar, you will never want to order a single glass of wine again!
Sample Everything on the Menu
Greek food is amazing, no doubt about it! Not only is it delicious but the cuisine is quite vegetarian friendly which is a huge bonus! We recommend ordering several starters and entrees to share around the table. This way you can try a bit of everything and you won’t miss out! Another tip is to look up the food before you leave for your trip so you know what it looks like before you actually sit at the table. This is because the descriptions can be a bit confusing once you get there. For a great list of all the Greek dishes you’ve just got to try, check out Bucket List Journey’s list here.
Rooftops at Monastiraki Square
Monastiraki square is the center of Athens’ downtown and historical area. From here you can get to the Acropolis, La Plaka and the flea market. But the most amazing spectacle of this square can’t be found within in, but above it! The square is surrounded by various hotels and restaurants that all offer rooftop terraces with a clear view of the Acropolis. Some of the venues include A for Athens, MS Rooftop Garden and 360 Hotel.
Go Temple Hopping
Just because Athens was named after Athena, the goddess of war, doesn’t mean the Athenians only ever worshiped her! Yes, the Parthenon is arguably the most famous temple in Greece, but there are plenty more where that came from. Athens is also host to The Temple of the Olympian Zeus – one of the largest temples ever built in Greece. The Ancient Agora – an ancient “city center” which encompasses something similar to the Roman Forum in Rome. The Roma Agora – similar to the ancient Agora, but in the Roman style. Depending on how many sites you want to see, you can either pay individual entry to each location, or get the combined pass and see nearly all of them!
Visit the Many Museums
One of the oldest cities in the world could easily be considered an open air museum in and of itself. But, Athens is also home to some top cultural and historic museums. Many of them were founded with the goal of preserving the city’s ancient artifacts from weather and time. The Acropolis Museum, for example. Unfortunately, there are too many museums and you most likely won’t have enough time to see them all! So we recommend taking a look at this comprehensive list of museums in Athens so you can choose which ones you’d like to visit.
Mingle with the Locals at the Markets
Public markets are still a very prominent feature in Greek culture. Produce markets, flea markets, fish markets, meat markets, so on and so forth. Sometimes shops will even have items overflowing into stalls in the streets. Which makes for a lot of fun window shopping! Even if you don’t intend on purchasing items at these markets, wandering through the crowds and soaking up all the local life is a truly special experience. Take a look at all of Athens’ brilliant markets here.
Conquer Lycabettus Mountain
At first, most people believe that the highest point of the city is the Acropolis. But in reality, that honour goes to Lycabettus Mountain. The confusion is understandable considering the Acropolis means “highest city point” in Latin. But Lycabettus was never the location of an ancient city. Rather, it was home to a pack of wolves. Now the mountain serves as a tourism hub where the brave can hike to the top and the less-so can take a tram. From the top visitors can enjoy the terrace restaurant with a view the entire city of Athens.
If you’re a lover of the history, food, or simply just a lover of travel, we promise that Athens will not disappoint! For those planning a trip to Greece, check here to search for cheap flights, hotels, and rental cars! Finally don’t forget to take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Planning Weekend Trips, to help with all of your future travels!
Your friendly neighbourhood travel guide,