If you are heading for mainland Greece, then Athens is the top destination. As the capital of Greece, it is central to the history of the country, and it is where you will find many of the top attractions. You will find plenty of things to see and do during your stay in Athens, from visiting historical landmarks to visiting areas of natural beauty, and from dining out in excellent restaurants to having a laugh at the city’s fun attractions. To get the most out of your stay, you should plan which activities and attractions you would like to include in your trip in advance. If you are visiting this city for the first time, here are the 20 best things to do in Athens for first-timers.
20. Have Some Family Fun at the Children’s Museum
A fantastic activity if you are visiting Athens as a family is the Children’s Museum, says 10 Best. Although it is targeted at children, there are things for all the family to enjoy. There are themed areas that offer visitors the chance to learn through play. Some areas are for everyone, while others are specifically for younger visitors. This is a fantastic place to visit to keep the children entertained.
19. Stroll Through the Roman Agora
The Roman Agora was once the center of Classical Athens, and it was reserved for public gatherings and trade, It was built in the 6th-century BC, and it is now a collection of ruins of more than 30 monuments and buildings. Close to the entrance to this site is the Agora Museum, which is an opportunity to learn more about this site’s role in the history of Athens, and it contains many interesting artifacts from the site.
18. Enjoy Traditional Greek Cuisine at O Thanasis
Wherever you go in the world, you should always try the local cuisine as this will add to your experience of any location. One of the best places to enjoy some traditional Greek cuisine in Athens is a casual eatery called O Thanasis. This is a popular venue for the locals, and it also attracts many tourists. Two of the best dishes to try at this restaurant include Yogurtla and Souvlaki. The former is a type of beef kebab that is covered in yogurt and served on pita bread. Souvlaki is a dish in which grilled meat and vegetables are served on a skewer.
17. Take a Day Trip to Hydra
For many people, the Greek Islands are far more beautiful than anywhere in mainland Greece. There is no reason why you cannot combine a trip to Greece’s capital with the chance to see some of the beauty of the Greek islands. According to Goats on the Road, Hydra is a small and beautiful island that is easily accessible by boat from Athens. It is a peaceful island on which cars are not allowed. There are several outstanding restaurants on the island, and the port is surrounded by shops. Visitors to the island can also relax on the beach or take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. Ferries to Hydra leave Athens from the Piraeus Port throughout the day, and it is less than an hour’s ferry ride to reach the island. Alternatively, you can take a boat tour from Athens that stops off at three of the nearby islands, including Hydra, Poros, and Aegina.
16. Goulandris Natural History Museum
The focus of the Goulandris Natural History Museum is to educate people about plants, animals, and the balance of ecosystems. The exhibits and interactive activities at this museum are divided into topics, including minerals, entomology, paleontology, botany, and marine biology. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Children and adults alike will find plenty of points of interest at this attraction.
15. Go Shopping in Plaka
Plaka is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, and its history is evident in the narrow, cobbled streets and ancient buildings. Many of the buildings have now been converted into shops, so this is one of the best neighborhoods to visit to enjoy a spot of retail therapy. In Plaka, you will also find many small museums and ancient ruins to explore. Furthermore, there are lots of cafes and restaurants in Plaka and the surrounding area, so you will find plenty of dining options in this neighborhood.
14. Temple of Poseidon
Of the many temples in Athens, the Temple of Poseidon is one of the best to visit. It is a palace that was built to honor Poseidon, the god of the oceans, and to guide the sailors home. This marble temple sits 60 meters above sea level on Cape Sounio. Much of the temple is now in ruins, and only the towering columns remain. They create a stunning silhouette if you visit the site at sunset.
13. Enjoy the Views at Lycabettus Hill
One of the best places to enjoy views across Athens is from the summit of Lycabettus Hill, also known as Mount Lycabettus, as this is the highest point in the city. You can reach the summit by hiking through a forested slope. If a hike is too challenging for you, then there is a cable car that will transport you to the top of the hill. One at the summit, you will find St. George’s church, a restaurant with a terrace offering spectacular views and an open-air theater that hosts various events and performances throughout the year.
12. Cultural Park
Cultural Park is an attraction located on the outskirts of Athens in the Mesogeia area that has something to offer to people of all ages. This park contains a variety of activities and attractions. It is a chance to learn about Greek culture and folklore in natural surroundings, and a section of the park is devoted to learning about old-fashioned trades. Some of the activities for children include planting herbs, pony rides, a small train, and retro bicycles. There are various workshops to enjoy, and the park is home to the Museum of Greek, Ethnography.
11. Go to the Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum showcases a chronology of Greek history and culture. It was founded in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, an art collector. The museum spans three floors, and visitors take a journey from prehistoric times to the present day through the artwork on display. In addition to the paintings, there are also interesting collections of Archaic ceramics and Neolithic vases.
10. See the Art at the National Museum of Contemporary Art
One of the top venues to visit for art enthusiasts is the National Museum of Contemporary Art. This is the Greek equivalent to the Tate Modern, and it is filled with works of art that are conversation starters. The permanent exhibition contains both Greek and international art, with pieces covering all media types. You will see paintings, videos, sculptures, and experimental architecture. There are temporary exhibitions and events held throughout the year.
9. Stroll Around Varvakios Agora
Varvakios Agora is an indoor and outdoor market that is a hive of activity in the city. When you enter this market, it sill stimulate all your senses as the colors and aromas are amazing. Greek vendors sell the best produce available locally, and there are also stalls selling international products. In addition to the food stalls, there are also stalls selling souvenirs and handmade goods.
8. Spend Time at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is a parkland in the center of the city that is an oasis of Mediterranean greenery. There are stunning gardens, an eco-friendly glass complex, playgrounds, and a manmade river. The park is also home to the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. Another reason to visit this park is that it offers excellent views of the Acropolis.
7. Have Some Family Fun at Allou! Fun Park
10 Best lists Allou! Fun Park as the best activity for families to enjoy in Athens. While many of the attractions in this city are historical landmarks, this attraction offers something different. This funfair boasts a carousel, a Ferris wheel, multiple rides, amusements, stalls, entertainment, and restaurants. If you plan to visit this attraction, you should set aside a full day so that you have time to try all the rides, dine at one of the restaurants, and enjoy the entertainment.
6. Visit Parliament Buildings
Parliament Building was originally the home to the first modern King of Greece, and it was constructed between 1836 and 1842. It later became the Parliament building in 1935 after the abolition of the monarchy in 1929. If you plan to visit this building during your visit, there are two times that you should consider visiting. The best time to visit is on Sunday mornings as this is when the Changing of the Guard takes place. If you cannot make it on Sunday mornings, then visit in the evenings as the building looks beautiful when it is lit up at night. This structure is sometimes referred to as the Old Royal Palace.
5. Stroll Through The National Gardens
Much of Athens is built up with concrete structures, so it is hard to imagine that there is a beautiful oasis hidden in the heart of the city. Many visitors to the city are surprised to find this beautiful retreat in a city location. Queen Amelia, the first queen of Greece, commissioned this grandiose park in 1838. In addition to the pretty gardens and ponds, there is also a small zoo that houses chicken, goats, and peacocks. This is an excellent place to visit if you need some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city.
4. See the Sculptures at the Museum of Cycladic Art
Amongst the many museums in Athens, one of the most fascinating to visit is the Museum of Cycladic Art. This attraction contains more than three thousand artifacts from ancient Greek, Cypriot, and Cycladic origin. There are various collections, including a Greek art collection with more than 150 objects, a collection of marble figurines and statues from the Bronze Age, and a variety of other interesting themed collections.
3. Visit the National Archaeological Museum
The Crazy Tourist recommends a visit to the National Archaeological Museum as one of the best things to do in Athens. This museum is packed full of interesting artifacts that uncover the mysteries of Greece through the ages. Some of the most interesting items in the museum include items that were taken from the Antikythera wreck that dates back to the 4th-century BC, including the Antikythera Mechanism, which experts believe is the oldest analog computer in the world.
2. See The Parthenon
The Parthenon is one of the structures at The Acropolis, although this structure is worth a mention in its own right as it is one of the most iconic of all the structures. It is a temple that is dedicated to the goddess Athena. The structure is considered the finest Doric masterpiece in the world.
1. The Acropolis
According to Time Out, the best thing to do when you visit Athens is to visit The Acropolis. When you think of Athens, it is scenes of ancient structures that probably spring to mind. The Acropolis is one of the best places to admire the extraordinary architectural feats of the ancient Greeks, as this is a collection of iconic structures that have stood on top of a rocky outcrop for more than 2,500 years. There is also a museum close to the entrance to the Acropolis where you can learn more about the history of the site. It is important to note that there is an additional charge to visit the museum.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn