14 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Athens
Once home to philosophers, scientists, and artists, Greece is a cradle of civilization where one could be struck by the profound sense of history and tradition.
And the lessons in history are readily apparent today at every turn. Greece's grandest icons—the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Colossus of Rhodes—are the country's most memorable legacy.
While Athens is Greece's modern capital, and home to its political and financial centers, many travelers also find a Mediterranean-like allure here. Whether they come to lie on the beach and watch the sunset, enjoy a fresh seafood dinner on a quaint cobblestone street, or just shop for shoes and handbags, they'll find ample reasons to linger.
With so many wonders to see, there are plenty of things to do in Greece when traveling outside of the city, too. From relaxed coastal getaways to rushing sports centers and world-class archeological sites, this country offers so much to its visitors.
Visit Greece with our list of the top attractions in Athens.
One of the most ancient districts in Athens, Plaka is the city's oldest and most popular area. It features a charmingly low-key pedestrianized street bordered by well-preserved examples of the typical blue-roofed buildings of the area, including the impressive Treasury of Atreus, the oldest surviving building in the area. The area also boasts a number of buildings that predate the time of Pericles, including the remains of an early Christian basilica. A string of little tavernas and restaurants are squeezed in among the touristy shops and cafés along Filopappou street, making it a pleasant place to spend a lazy afternoon. Plaka is easy to reach by bus or metro from Syntagma Square, or from Omonoia Square in the Monastiraki district.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The most popular sight in Athens is the rebuilt Temple of Olympian Zeus (Olympieion), located on the Acropolis, built in the fifth century BC. Known as "the crown jewel of ancient Greece," this archaeological site was once home to one of the largest surviving complexes of Greek architecture, and for visitors the Acropolis is an atmospheric place to visit on a gray, drizzly day in Athens. Visitors who are lucky enough to visit Greece in the height of summer will, of course, not be let down by what the Acropolis has to offer, as it has its very own Mediterranean climate. The site of the temple is dedicated to Zeus, the Roman version of Greek god of thunder and fertility. The visible remains of the site date back to the sixth century BC, however it was extensively restored in the years after 1753 by members of the Committee of Public Works under the direction of Sir Roger
National Archaeological Museum
The museum is divided into three large display areas that cover the full range of ancient Greek artifacts, including Mycenaean pottery, Minoan jewelry, vases, and sculpture from the classical and Hellenistic periods. Although most of the displayed artifacts are made of marble, bronze, or precious metals, they still give a rich and vivid impression of the cultural heritage of a rich and wealthy people. One particularly striking item is the massive 6th-century BC statue of the sphinx from the Grave Circle of Mycenae, a superb example of the Maenad phase of Greek sculpture.
Athens is the nation's capital and the jewel of the Greek isles. The great metropolis of Greece contains a high density of sites of interest including Ancient Agora, the Acropolis, the University of Athens, the National Library of Greece, and the Acropolis Museum. It is here that you can see some of the most important cultural and historical monuments, including the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Parthenon, the most popular landmark of Ancient Greece. The Acropolis is an urban hill, which rises from the northern edge of the city to its greatest height of nearly 250 meters. It is here that you can get the most spectacular view of Athens, one of the most romantic cityscapes in the world, the city surrounded by clouds.
Vitae taurii Oidos, which means "Death of oxen" in ancient Greek, is a modern museum dedicated to the history and culture of modern Greece. Since 1998, it has been located in a former Greek army air base in the northeastern corner of Athens. In addition to the small permanent exhibition and a rotating one, the museum boasts a rooftop garden with spectacular views of the city. The museum traces the history of modern Greece from the antiquity to the modern day, focusing mainly on the history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Art exhibits have included the influential work of the Ionian School of artists and the avant-garde.
Athens' gateway is Piraeus, where it has landed for thousands of years. An excursion to the ruins at Phalerum gives travelers a taste of Athenian history, while the Presidential Palace and Aghia Sophia are excellent places to spend some time. The Palace of the University, built in 1839, still attracts many important visitors and has superb views of the Acropolis. From Piraeus, take the metro to get to the city center, or hop on a tourist bus.
Part of the world-renowned Acropolis museum, this magnificent stadium is perhaps the most beautiful and monumental of the world's national stadium. Built between 196-178 BC on the site where the Olympics were first held, it is the largest stadium of its kind and was also used to host the summer Olympic Games in 1896. The stadium can be visited for free, but tickets to attend an event can be purchased. There are a variety of stadium tours available, including stadium sightseeing, stadium visitors' tours, stadium museum tours and opera house tours. It also houses the 1896 Olympic Games, site of the first Olympic torch to be lit, a piece of marble from the temple of Zeus at Olympia and an Egyptian standing statue of a naked young woman.
Athens Concert Hall
The Acropolis Museum of Athens is housed in a building constructed in the 1950s for the prestigious Athens State Music Conservatory. Although the exterior is quite uninspiring, the interior is impressive with an unmistakable air of grandeur. Perhaps its greatest selling point is its collection of art and artifacts from the Acropolis. The museum also houses some incredible works from the Acropolis Museum in Berlin, Germany, the Vatican Museums and the Louvre. Outside, there is a museum of ancient Olympic antiquities, and a large auditorium with fantastic views over the Acropolis.
Fancy visiting the top spot for incredible views of the surrounding seas? Well, this is where you come to be transported from the world to the horizon. Covered with impressive sights, the capital of Greece's Dodecanese group is the perfect choice for spending an amazing few days. The harbour is the town's showpiece, and like many of the best-known landmarks, is an architectural masterpiece. Built to be impregnable in 1460 and once known as Kastellorizo, it still comes across as awe-inspiring in its majesty today. The town is a maze of cobbled streets, streets lined with unique architecture, and ancient chapels, yet in all its bustling, spontaneous, lively essence, it is easy to see why it is Greece's second most popular destination.
Read more 👉 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Rhodes
Samos was one of the first and most significant settlements in Greece. Although the famous ancient Greek philosopher Thales was born here, the island is famous now for the home of some of the greatest religious monuments of Greece: the 10th century Byzantine Catholic church of Agios Ilarion and the nearby 5th-century Greek Orthodox monastery of Panagia Paraportiani, where the current Patriarchate is located. Although less impressive than Athens, which was founded in the early 5th century BC, the island's main towns, Pythagorio, Ammochostos and Kolossi are all worth visiting for their churches and monasteries. The later Roman-period city, Pythagorio, was founded around 200 BC and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe, together with the very early village of Chalandritsa and the small, picturesque, medieval town of Ammochostos. The island is a nature lover's paradise with a vast number of forests, woodland parks, and nesting places for birds and other fauna.
Church of the Holy Trinity
Although large Greek basilicas can be found all over the country, Athens has only one, built in the 6th century AD, the Church of the Holy Trinity (Theatraliki Perivlepti), located in the capital's Christian Quarter, at the northern edge of the city's Ancient Agora. Despite being a few hundred years older than St. Sophia's Cathedral in Istanbul, the Christian Trinity church is currently closed due to an archaeological dig; when it reopens it will be renamed in honor of the Greek-American politician Markos Zafiropoulos.
Situated close to the Acropolis, the Erechtheion is a building that's taken its name from the Erechtheus, one of the mythical King's who was present at the celebration of the Olympic Games. It's said that the Erechtheion is the only building in the world to be named after its deity. While it's technically the Temple of Zeus, the entrance is at the top, not the bottom, so the title is also applicable. Though the main temple has long been destroyed, in its time, it was said to have had a number of graceful statues, some of which still remain. The Erechtheion dates from 421 BC and has been beautifully restored to its original glory in the last few years.
Dating back to the 2nd century AD, Hadrian's Arch (Hadrianoupolis, literally "Athenian Athens") was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as part of the Via Egnatia, the Rome-to-Constantinople highway. The arch is very beautiful with a wooden Greek cross on top of an octagonal base. At night, it is lit up with twinkling lights and plays music. To find out more about the arch, visit the Hadrianoupolis archaeological site or Hadrian's Arch archaeological park.
Delphi, at 1,400 meters above sea level, is known as the center of the world for its fame as a religious, political and philosophical center of classical antiquity. Visitors can see the most important temple to Apollo, the legendary temple of Athena Polias, and the best-preserved monumental entrance to the theater. Visitors can also travel via the recently reopened subterranean route to explore a network of tunnels, galleries and museums in the old labyrinth. Delphi has an international airport (VSA), connected to Athens by international and domestic flights.