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Temple of Hephaestus in Athens

What to do with your time in Athens!

Athens has many things to see and do, it’s just narrowing down what to do that can be difficult, especially when you have a limited amount of time. To help you out we have collated a list of the ten best things to do while visiting the city. With this list you”ll easily fill up an itinerary for your time in the capital that will incorporate all the sun, seaside, history and culture that it has to offer.

Summer in Acropolis Definitely Greece
© Canva Library

Indulge In The Coffee Culture

When you arrive in Athens, as with anywhere in Greece, you’ll be delighted by the sheer number of coffee places available to you. Whenever you’re in need of a pick me up, coffee won’t be far away. Some coffee stores are quiet, quaint and stylishly decorated, others are bustling hubs for tourists who are also grabbing a traditional snack. Some are frequented by the younger generation, having been deemed as Instagram-worthy, while others may be shabby and uninviting, but a local favourite. Greeks know how to do coffee and when you hit that afternoon lull, overwhelmed by the sightseeing that travelling entails, a cold cappuccino will really hit the spot on a scorching summer day. To stop for a coffee is to indulge in some Greek culture. Their ability to approach life at a slower more relaxed pace is easily attributed to such rituals. So, sit down, place your order and embrace the chance to catch your breath.

☞ Related4 Top Coffee Spots In The Centre of Athens For Your Caffeine Dose

coffee spot Athens Greece
© Definitely Greece

Go to the Museums 

In summer, what better thing to do to escape the heat than go to a museum. But regardless of the time of year you’re in Athens, the museums are a fascinating and informative way to learn about the extensive history that lies behind the city. There are many different museums to choose from and there are so many that are within close proximity to the city centre.

 

☞ Related4 Museums You Need to See in Athens

columns museum entrance Athens - Marcia Welch
© Marcia Welch

Watch The Changing Of The Guard

Every hour on the hour, the changing of the guard occurs outside Parliament in Syntagma Square. Here you will see the guards, known as Evzones which are a unit of the Hellenic Army, standing rigid and unflinching in front of the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, which commemorates all the unknown soldiers who lost their lives at war. After their hour of guarding is complete, they are replaced by new soldiers in a traditional ceremony in which they perform a series of coordinated moves. This is a popular thing to do for tourists, so you’ll need to get in early for a front-row view.

© Definitely Greece

Go To The Outdoor Cinema

The open-air cinema in Athens offers you the perfect opportunity to embrace the balmy summer evening weather while watching a classic movie under the stars. While there are many around the city, the Thision cinema is renowned for its wonderfully central location near the Acropolis, and here you can even catch a glimpse from your seat! Showing times are at 20.30 and 23.00, so there is plenty of time to grab some dinner and a drink before you watch a late-night screening. Thision cinema has a relaxed feel, that makes you feel right at home. Their store has all the essential movie snacks so you can buy an ice cream or some popcorn before you settle in to watch the show.

 Directions to Thission Open Air Cinema

☞ Related4 Of The Best Greek Movies For Lovers of Greece

Go To The Theatre

Going to the theatre in Athens is not only an incredibly entertaining cultural experience but also a historical one. 
The roman theatre Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which was completed in 161 AD is a mesmerizing place to spend an evening in the city, and given it’s age you are quite literally transported back in time.
Situated on the slopes of the Acropolis under an open Athenian sky, with the illuminated temple of Athena Nike behind you, there is no better place to watch a show. I watched the Italian performance of La Traviata, which also happened to be my first opera. It was a heart wrenching and powerful performance, and I feel humbled to have sat where those before me once did over a thousand years before. 

☞ RelatedBest Green Escapes in Athens

Athens Definitely Greece
© Definitely Greece

Do A Walking Tour

I find walking tours are a great way to orient yourself when arriving in a new city.

The tours usually take about 2 to 2 and a half hours and pin point the main monuments and attractions of Athens. You’ll be guided through the city by expert locals that are fun, enthusiastic and often quite humorous, making for a fun and entertaining way to learn something new.

There is an incredibly diverse range of walking tours available that will cater to everyone’s needs and even to different languages. You can go on food tours, historical tours, mythological tours, museum tours even street art tours.

Most tours come at a fixed price, however for the free walking tours you simply need to sign up and attend. All they ask in return is for a contribution in the form of a tip at the end of the tour, which is an affordable way to gain some great knowledge of this fascinating city.

 

☞ Related: A Walking Guide For The Best Monuments In Athens

Grey Moody Day Athens Anafiotika Monastiraki
© Ilias Massaros

Do A Bike Tour

If you’re looking for something different to do, why not try a bike tour? 

The advantage of a bike tour is that you’re probably able to cover more ground and see more of the city when compared with walking. While there are many different tour possibilities, you may be wondering what is one to do. Our suggestion is COCOMAT.bikes, a company that offers a fun and informative way to see the city all while getting some exercise and cruising about on their wooden eco-friendly bikes. Their guided ‘Ancient Tour’ will take you around all the highlights of Athens, including some lesser known spots. 

Visit The Acropolis

When you ask what there is to do in Athens, this will often be the first response you get. The Acropolis lies at the heart of the city. It’s preserved, treasured and frequented by over a million visitors each year. Be sure to climb its slopes, enjoy the beautiful views of the city and take in the extraordinary architecture and history that is the Parthenon. The Acropolis might be the main ‘to do’ on your Athens buckelist and we don’t blame you. What we will tell you is that, as well as the Acropolis, there are also many other important archaeological sites that must not be missed. 

 

☞ Related10 Archaeological Sites in Athens You Can’t Miss

acropolis Definitely Greece photoshoot
© Definitely Greece

Shopping

Shopping central is what Ermou Street in Athens is known for making it a must do for those keen to buy some authentic Greek merchandise or get gifts for their family and friends. 

When Beginning in Syntagma square and running down the centre of Athens for over a kilometre, it’s the perfect place to do your shopping and see some of the city. The markets in Athens are also a great experience. They have a good range of bargains and souvenirs, while also giving you a taste of what everyday Athenian life is like.

I loved exploring and seeing the authenticity of the Piraeus market and being among the hustle of everyday Athenians bartering and going about their daily business. I also found many affordable souvenirs for friends and family at the Monastiraki flea market. 

☞ Related10 Unforgettable Markets You Need to Visit in Athens

Athens Monastiraki Market Definitely Greece
© Marcia Welch

Head to the Coast 

Escaping the city is another great thing to do in Athens. 
Depending on what you prefer you can find an organized beach for a swim or a more secluded spot up the coast. For example, Vouliagmeni is a suburb of Athens, located only 25km out of the city and here you will find many beaches to choose from. Sounion is another one of the great coastal destinations that are close to Athens. If you go, make sure to visit the Temple of Poseidon. Perched on the cape, overlooking the Aegean it offers spectacular views and a wonderful spot to watch the sunset. I went for a swim at a private beach near Sounion. Being able to swim in the warm waters beneath this archaeological marvel was an amazing experience. 
© Definitely Greece
  •  Athens has stolen the hearts of many. Will you let it steal yours? Let us know what the most compelling thing on this list for you.

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things to do athens
things to do athens
things to do athens
things to do athens

Comments:

  • February 15, 2020

    Loved this post! There are so many things to do in Athens and this post just reminded me that I should visit more often 🙂

  • February 15, 2020

    I’ve been living in Europe for over three years now, and I still haven’t been to Greece! I’m definitely hoping to change that soon. I had no idea that they had a strong coffee culture. As someone who enjoys coffee, I know I’d love visiting all the coffeeshops!

    • Rania Kalogirou

      February 15, 2020

      Well, we need to change that! Grab a map and pick some islands ASAP! Also not just islands but other wonderful mainland destinations. And dresses for each day of course 😉

  • February 15, 2020

    Such a great list. Athens is so beautiful with so many amazing places to visit.

    • Rania Kalogirou

      February 15, 2020

      Glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! We sure love our capital.

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