Athens for First-Timers: Top Attractions and Must-Do’s
Athens, the capital of Greece, is a city with an ancient past and a vibrant present. The city is also known as the cradle of Western civilization as it is home to some of the most significant historical and cultural landmarks in the world. Athens attracts millions of visitors each year, and for first-timers, there are endless possibilities to explore, learn and experience from the rich culture and history that this city offers.
In this article, we will take you through the must-do’s and top attractions in Athens, including a FAQs section to help you make the most out of your trip.
1. The Acropolis
The Acropolis is the most famous landmark in Athens, and it’s a must-see destination for first-timers. The Acropolis is home to some of the most famous structures in the world, including the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum and the Propylaea.
The Parthenon, one of the most well-known structures in the world, stands majestically at the top of the Acropolis, and it was built in honor of the goddess Athena. It is said to have been built between 447 and 438 BC.
2. The Acropolis Museum
After visiting the Acropolis, you should also visit the Acropolis Museum. The museum is home to tens of thousands of artifacts that tell the story of Ancient Greece, and it is located at the bottom of the Acropolis.
The museum has an impressive display of sculptures, temple models, and many other architectural wonders that come from the ancient site. It’s a great place to visit after touring the actual archaeological site of the Acropolis.
3. Ancient Agora
Located in the heart of Athens, Ancient Agora is a must-see site for first-timers. This is the place where people gathered to discuss politics, economy, and other aspects of daily life in ancient Athens.
The Agora is full of ancient monuments like the Temple of Hephaestus, the Stoa of Attalos and the Bouleuterion. There are also many informative plaques and drawings around the grounds that provide a great overview of the place’s historical significance.
4. Syntagma Square
Located near the Greek Parliament, Syntagma Square is a lively hub of activity and is the center of the city’s modern life. The square is surrounded by some of the city’s most famous historical landmarks, including the National Gardens, the Zappeion, and the Royal Palace.
It is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where soldiers stand guard every hour of the day. Tourists can watch the changing of the guard ceremony every day at 11 a.m. This is definitely one of the top attractions in Athens.
Plaka is the oldest district in Athens, and it is the perfect place to explore if you want to immerse yourself in the Athenian culture. Located at the bottom of Acropolis, this historic neighborhood is home to many shops, restaurants, and cafes.
The area has unique architecture, narrow streets lined with colorful flowers, and it is the perfect place to buy souvenirs and enjoy a relaxing meal after a long day of touring the city.
6. National Archaeological Museum
For history lovers, the National Archaeological Museum is a must-visit destination in Athens. It is the largest archaeological museum in Greece, and it houses some of the most important artifacts from ancient Greece.
The museum is home to more than 11,000 treasures, including sculptures, pottery, and ancient manuscripts, as well as showcasing the artistry of the Mycenaeans, Egyptians, and Byzantines. You can plan on spending a good couple of hours here to fully appreciate the treasures on display.
7. National Gardens
The National Gardens in Athens is a green oasis in the heart of the city, and it is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring the city. This park has well-manicured gardens, fountains, and walking paths.
The park is home to many species of trees, plants, and flowers. It is a popular place for tourists and locals to come for a picnic, stroll, or simply to admire the beautiful scenery.
8. The Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium, also called Kallimarmaro Stadium, is one of the most ancient sports stadiums in the world that’s still in use. It is a magnificent spectacle, and it’s where the first modern Olympic Games were held.
The stadium was rebuilt in 1896 to host the first modern Olympic Games, and it has a seating capacity of 50,000 people. You can visit the stadium, sit in the stands and imagine the athletes taking their place on the track.
9. Lycabettus Hill
Lycabettus Hill is a beautiful vantage point that overlooks the city of Athens. If you are interested in beautiful views or landscape photography, this is a great place to go. You can walk up to the hill or take a funicular to the top, where you will see the chapel of Saint George.
It is also a great spot to watch the sunset over Athens. There are a number of cafes and restaurants located around the hill where you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful views.
10. Monastiraki Flea Market
If shopping or collecting memorabilia is your thing, then you should visit the Monastiraki Flea Market. The market is held every day and is a great place to buy souvenirs, antiques, and other unique items.
It’s a great place to bargain and haggle for prices. You will find a wide variety of vendors selling everything from clothing and shoes to jewelry, art, and crafts.
Q. What are the opening hours for the Acropolis?
A. The Acropolis is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Q. Do I need to purchase tickets in advance for the Acropolis?
A. Yes, purchasing tickets in advance will save you time and ensure that you can enter the attraction without the need for a long wait in lines.
Q. What is the best time of year to visit Athens?
A. The best time to visit Athens is from April to June, September, and October. The weather is mild, the crowds are smaller, and the prices are generally lower.
Q. Is Athens a safe city for tourists?
A. Yes, Athens is generally a safe city for tourists, but just like any city, it is always wise to take the necessary precautions.
Q. What is the currency used in Athens?
A. The currency used in Athens is the Euro (€).
Athens may be an ancient city but it surely is a city that preserves history, culture, and tradition. Visiting Athens is a never-ending journey of exploration and discovery, from historical landmarks to modern-day attractions, you will find it all in this magnificent city. The Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, Ancient Agora, Syntagma Square, Plaka, National Archaeological Museum, National Gardens, Panathenaic Stadium, Lycabettus Hill, and the Monastiraki Flea Market are the top 10 attractions in Athens that every first-time visitor must experience. We hope this article has been helpful in planning your first visit to Athens.