Athens, the ancient capital of Greece, is a city steeped in history, culture, and vibrant energy. While 24 hours might seem like a short time to explore this multifaceted metropolis, it’s still enough to get a taste of its rich heritage, indulge in delicious Greek cuisine, and marvel at iconic landmarks as a stop on your way to some of our favorite islands. From the magnificent Acropolis to charming neighborhoods and bustling markets, Athens promises a memorable adventure in a single day.
Athens in 24 Hours
Moring: Exploring Ancient Treasures
1. Acropolis and Parthenon
Start your day early with a visit to the Acropolis, the crowning jewel of Athens. Explore the awe-inspiring Parthenon, a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 5th century BC. As you ascend the ancient rock hill, you’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the city below. Starting early is important if you want less crowds and less heat in the summer. If you don’t want to pay to go all the way up (although not unreasonably expensive), you can get some good views from the neighborhoods below or by picking a hotel that has a view.
2. Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike:
Admire the Erechtheion’s iconic Caryatid Porch and the delicate Temple of Athena Nike. These remarkable structures offer insights into Athens’ golden age and its dedication to the goddess Athena.
Before continuing your exploration, kickstart your morning with a hearty Greek breakfast at “Avocado.” Indulge in avocado toasts, Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, and freshly brewed coffee. The cozy atmosphere and healthy offerings will energize you for the day ahead.
Late Morning: Stroll Through Plaka
3. Plaka Neighborhood
Head to Plaka, Athens’ charming old neighborhood known for its narrow streets, neoclassical buildings, and traditional tavernas. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, shop for souvenirs, and grab a Greek coffee or pastry at a local café. If you’re a photographer, this is where you want to spend your time finding the perfect alleys full of bougainvillea and a backdrop of the acropolis.
Within Plaka, discover the hidden gem of Anafiotika. This picturesque enclave feels like a Greek island village, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city.
Lunch: Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani
For a delightful lunch, head to “Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani,” where you can savor a platter of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and delectable mezes. Pair your meal with a glass of local wine and soak in the authentic Greek flavors.
Or Opt for Traditional Gyros
For my favorite lunch options, make your way to the best gyros spots in the city. Places like “Tasty Corner” and “O Kostas” offer mouthwatering gyros packed with flavorful meat, fresh vegetables, and zesty tzatziki sauce. Sink your teeth into this iconic Greek street food and savor the true taste of Athens. Not everywhere can do it, but we always like to ask for french fries placed inside our gyros for some extra texture and saltiness.
Afternoon: Discovering Modern Athens
5. Syntagma Square and Changing of the Guard
Make your way to Syntagma Square to witness the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The ceremony takes place every hour and is an interesting event.
7. Monastiraki Flea Market
Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Monastiraki Flea Market, where you can shop for antiques, jewelry, handicrafts, and local delicacies. Bargain hunting is encouraged!
Evening: Sunset Views and More Culinary Delights
8. Lycabettus Hill:
As the sun sets, head to Lycabettus Hill for panoramic views of Athens illuminated by city lights. You can hike up or take a funicular to the top.
For dinner, treat yourself to an exquisite meal at “Kuzina.” This restaurant offers a modern twist on traditional Greek dishes, prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy a candlelit dinner with Acropolis views as the perfect backdrop.
Even within a 24-hour window, Athens offers an unforgettable blend of ancient wonders, modern charm, mouthwatering cuisine, and the warmth of Greek hospitality. From the historic landmarks to the bustling markets and welcoming neighborhoods, your day in Athens will be a journey through time, culture, and culinary delights that will linger in your memory long after you’ve left. We’ve been to Athens a number of times on our way to Milos and other islands.