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, and is where I stayed when I was backpacking through Greece! If you’re on a budget, check out BedBox Hostel in the city center.
Tips for Getting Around Athens
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.
Note: The journey takes around 45 minutes, so if you decide to take the metro back to the airport when you leave plan accordingly.
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.
Read More: Helpful Tips for Traveling the Greek Islands
Day 1: Get Your Bearings of the City
Walking Tour of Athens
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. The tour lasted over 3 hours and took us to all of the archeological sites in Athens.
Our guide was incredibly knowledgable and gave us really good advice on how to spend our time in Athens.
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 National Gardens & Window Shop
Enjoy the beautiful gardens in the late afternoon. They’re fairly small so you can walk through them in under an hour. You can then walk to Syntagma Square and down Ermou Street to the main shopping areas. (Garden entrance free)
Be sure to try a traditional Greek salad and Gyro Pita! It’s cheap, tasty and you can find them on EVERY corner!
Day 2: Start Visiting the Archaeological Sites
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. (More info to buy your pass for all of the sites here €20; €10 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)
I didn’t have time to do a cooking class, but I wish I had! This Traditional Greek cooking class includes a market visit and a full meal.
I grabbed a light lunch of a feta-filled croissant and freddo cappuccino from one of the many cafés across from the Acropolis metro station. It was a good power lunch to keep me going without filling up.
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!
The Library of Hadrian
The last of the major ancient archeological 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)
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.)
Read More: 10 Local Foods to Try in Greece
Helpful Tips for Visiting Athens
Closed on Sunday and all sites (except the Acropolis) close around 3 pm every day. The Acropolis is open until 7 PM. All sites open at 8 AM. Buy the €20 pass (€10 for students) for entry to all sites.
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 Corinthian.
The Acropolis Museum is Closed on Mondays
Just double-check before you go!
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!
Recommended Tours in Athens!