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ONE-DAY ITINERARY FOR ATHENS
Enjoy your breakfast in Monastiraki
Kick off your trip in Athens’ Monastiraki neighborhood, the beating heart of the city. Grab breakfast-to-go in Monastiraki Square from one of its many bakeries, restaurants, or coffee shops, and take a seat in the square to soak up its buzzing atmosphere. Marvel at the magnificent Acropolis above while daily Athenian life bustles around you. Go first thing in the morning to avoid the heat of the sun and the crowd, and enjoy watching the market shop owners setting up in the cool morning air.
Visit Ancient Agora
For 5,000 years, this area was used as a marketplace, gathering place, and residential area. The ground of this large site is littered with the ruins of buildings and walkways.
Located in the Ancient Agora is the Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved Greek temples. It was constructed in the 5th century BC to honor the god Hephaestus, the patron god of fire, metal working, and craftsmanship.
Next, walk to Hadrian’s Library. This was constructed in 132 AD under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was built to house rolls of papyrus books.
Take a tour in the Acropolis Museum
From the square, make your way through the pretty streets of the Plaka neighborhood to reach the Acropolis Museum. Take the long way around so you can admire a string of monuments en route, including the Gate of Athena, the Roman Forum, and the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Tripodon Street — the oldest street square in Europe. You’ll find the Acropolis Museum housed in a contemporary building, just below Acropolis Hill. Make sure you pay special attention to the top floor of the museum, which was built to be an exact mirror of the Acropolis itself and includes all of the sculptures that used to line the monument’s exterior. The subterranean part of the museum, where an entire neighborhood was found and excavated, is also worth a look.
Refuel with a traditional Greek lunch
Head back out into the sun drenched streets of Athens to sit down for a well-earned lunch in Makrygianni, opposite the museum, ahead of a historical afternoon. Try the ‘Moussaka’ which is a must-order.
Follow in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates in the Archaeological Park
Athens is a city packed with so many historical buildings and monuments that it can be hard to take it in all on your own. Book a guided tour of the ‘Archeological Park’, which is a neat loop of the city’s most significant sites — not a classic green space. selection of the most unmissable sites, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Supreme Court, the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch, as well as the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first Olympic Games took place.
See 2,500 years of history at the Acropolis
The Acropolis is without doubt the most significant place to visit in Athens, and visiting the Museum first puts it all into perspective. It’s best to visit first thing in the morning, having picked up a breakfast smoothie from one of Plaka’s fresh fruit stands, before the majority of tourists — and the hot sun — rise. Straight across from the west entrance of the Acropolis is Areopagus Hill, where a set of stairs will lead you to one of the most magical (and free) vantage points of the city.
Cool off in Athens’ former royal gardens
Feeling the heat? Step inside the city’s 38 acres of National Garden. Originally designed for the royal family as their palace gardens, it’s been open to the public since the 1920s. Get lost in its winding, labyrinthine paths, stopping to explore its small zoo, ancient ruins, and the many statues and art installations as you chance upon them.
See the guards change at Syntagma Square
Leave the National Garden in Syntagma Square, which stands in front of the Old Royal Palace, now home to the Greek Parliament. Spend some time simply sitting in the square, iced coffee in hand, and enjoy some good people watching — many young Athenians hang out in this area. After paying your respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, catch the Changing of the Guards ceremony on the hour, every hour — on Sundays at 11:00 AM, this custom is especially elaborate.
Taste the flavors of Greece at Athens’ Central Market
Make your way to the Central Market for a late lunch (it’s open until 6:00 PM), stopping on the way to visit Kapnikarea Church. Built in the 11th century on the site of an ancient temple, it has an exquisite Madonna and Child mosaic on its facade, as well as Byzantine frescoes and ancient Corinthian columns within. This central part of town is also packed with clothing boutiques, hip bars, and restaurants, but it’s best to hold off and take up position at one of the many restaurants and cafes surrounding the market when you arrive there.
See the sunset at Filopappou Hill
The top of Filopappou Hill, a vast and lush green area in Athens, is a wonderful place to watch the sunset. Try and get there in plenty of time so that you can make the most of its views over the Acropolis and the rest of the city while it’s still light. There are also many things to see inside, such as the ancient monument of Filopappou — where myth has it that a cannon was placed and helped in destroying the Parthenon — the National Observatory, and the Prison of Socrates.
Soak up some Greek nightlife with a view
Take an evening walk around the Psryi and Monastiraki neighborhoods for a delightful blend of nightlife and ancient ruins. From the many bars and restaurants along Adrianou Street, you can admire the ancient Agora of Athens and Stoa of Attalos, both lit up at night, with a glass of Greek wine and dessert. Fancy a rooftop session? Look for amazing ‘rooftop bars’ there are plenty!