There is so much to see and do in Athens, Greece! While visiting Athens, I had three days to explore the ancient city and make the most of my vacation.
Here are my tips on what to do in Athens in three days!
Where to Stay in Athens
Athens Studios is a really nice hostel/hotel in the heart of the city just within walking distance of the Acropolis. My friend and I split the cost of an ensuite room which ran us 60€ per night.
It even has a small kitchen!
Right next door is an amazing restaurant, Fish Café, a laundromat and sports bar. It’s not quite backpacker “cheap” but they also have shared dorms and a sister hostel called Athens Backpackers nearby which offers inexpensive beds. I’d highly recommend it!
Tips for Getting Around Athens
- Flying In: If you fly into Athens, it’s 8€ (or 14€ for two people) to take the metro to the Acropolis station. The Athens metro system is incredibly easy in Athens and you will only need to make one change from the blue line at Syntagma to the red line and exit Acropolis.
- Ferry from Greek Islands: Ferries will vary in price if you are coming from another Greek island. I actually came to Athens from Mykonos on a fast ferry for around 50€. When you arrive at the port you can get a cab (don’t pay more than 20€) and have them drop you off at your hotel or the Acropolis metro if they aren’t familiar.
Note: The journey takes around 45 minutes, so if you decide to take the metro back to the airport when you leave plan accordingly.
Here’s a metro map for reference:
Day 1: Get Your Bearings of the City
- Walking tour with Athens Backpackers: I went on a walking tour my first morning in the city so I could get some background info and get a feel for navigating the city. Show up at Athens Backpackers a little bit before 10 am and bring cash.
The tour is awesome and offered Monday-Saturday at 10 am for only 6 euros.
The tour lasted over 3 hours and took us to all of the archeological sites in Athens. Our guide, George, was incredibly knowledgable and gave us really good advice on how to spend our time in Athens. (6€)
- Visit the Acropolis Museum: Take an hour or so to get some history and view some of the preserved ruins of the Acropolis. The Acropolis Museum is a must see! The entrance and parts of the museum have glass floors that look down on ancient ruins. (5€/3€ students)
- Lunch at the Acropolis Museum: You cannot beat the view from the café at the museum. After you finish exploring the museum be sure to stop in for a bite to eat. It is on the second floor and the outdoor patio looks out to the Acropolis in the distance.
It is absolutely stunning!
Also, every Friday night the Acropolis Museum Café is open until midnight offering a specialty dinner. (Free WiFi)
- Stroll the Royal Gardens & Window Shop: Enjoy the beautiful gardens in the late afternoon. They’re fairly small so you can walk through them in under and hour. You can then walk to Syntagma Square and down Ermou Street to the main shopping areas. (Garden entrance free)
- Sunset at Athens Backpackers: Enjoy the sunset behind the Acropolis from the rooftop at Athens Backpackers. Grab a drink from the rooftop bar and enjoy the view! (Free)
- Greek Dinner: Be sure to try a traditional Greek salad and Gyro Pita! It’s cheap, tasty and you can find them on EVERY corner! (Salads 6€/Pitas 2.50€)
Day 2: Start Visiting the Archaeological Sites
- Acropolis: After breakfast get an early start at the Acropolis. Enter at the South entrance across the street from the Museum and explore the perimeter of the Acropolis on your walk up the Sacred Rock. The whole visit will take anywhere between 1-2 hours. (Buy your pass for all of the sites here 12€; 6€ for students)
- The Ancient Agora: Take the north exit and walk down to the Ancient Agora. Parts of it have been beautifully restored and the museum is fantastic. (Included with your pass)
- Lunch: I grabbed a light lunch of a feta filled crossaint and freddo cappuccino from one of the many cafés across from the Acrolopis metro station. It was a good power lunch to keep me going without filling up. (2.50€ coffee with free pastry)
- Walk to the Athens Flea Market: Check out the cheap souvenir shopping and grab some fresh fruit to snack on. There are little fruit stands all over selling inexpensive cherries, nectarines and pretty much everything you could imagine!
- Dinner by Recommendation: While you’re out during the day, ask some of the shop owners/vendors where they like to eat. Best advice ever: Do as the locals do! (Especially with food!)
Day 3: Last Day of Sightseeing
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus: The largest temple of the ancient ruins in Athens and conveniently located in the heart of the city. It won’t take long to visit the site but it is quite impressive. Be sure not to miss it! (Included with your pass)
- Lunch at Fish Café: Located next door to Athens Studios… this place rocks! Honestly one of the best meals I had in Athens. It’s cheap, delicious and they bake their bread fresh every day. Try the veggie or fish burger! (3-8€)
- The Library of Hadrian: The last of the major ancient Archeoligical sites to visit! Be sure to get there with time to visit the museum inside the site. I got there 30 minutes before closing and didn’t have time to check it out. (Included with your pass)
- Snack Attack: Summertime in Athens is HOT! I ended up there on the hottest day of summer. Luckily, there’s Snoyo! It’s a Greek frozen yogurt shop on the strip across from the Acropolis metro station. Try the plain yogurt with cherry spoon sweets.
To. Die. For.
Helpful Tips for Visiting Athens:
- Archeoligical sites: Closed on Sunday and all sites (except the Acropolis) close around 3 pm every day. The Acropolis is open until 7pm. All sites open at 8 am. Buy the 12€ pass (6€ for students) for entry to all sites. It’s good for four days.
- Brush up on your Architectural History: Well, maybe not necessary. But, at least for a general understanding of how old things really are, refresh yourself on the classical order. Here’s a guide on the three types of columns you will see at the ancient ruins. Doric being the oldest, then Ionic and then Corinthean.
- The Acropolis Museum is closed on Mondays: 5€ for entry (3€ for students) Opens at 8 am and closes at 8 pm.
- Watch the video below on the Parthenon: It’s very interesting!
- Beware of Gypsies: While it may sound a bit odd there are a lot of gypsy children around Athens! And they work in pairs. If a child comes up to you asking for money or they are playing an instrument (usually the accordion) it can be to distract you while the other child pickpockets you. Beware!
- Allow for Free Time: As with all travel, be sure to allow for variations in your schedule. This is just a guideline to help you through some parts of the city, so be sure to spend plenty of time wandering and discovering the city on your own!