Athens is a city that’s famously steeped in history and culture from the jaw-dropping ancient ruins tucked away throughout the city to fascinating museums on offer.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into ancient Greece itself when visiting highlights such as the Acropolis or the Temple of Zeus.
It’s not all just history though; Athens also boasts a thriving modern side thanks to its sleek hotels, vibrant nightlife and epic foodie scene.
To help you narrow it down, we’ve put together a handy travel guide to the city including the top attractions you won’t want to miss, the best places to eat and drink, and how to find cheap city breaks.
What’s included in the guide?
- Best things to see and do in Athens
- Best places to eat and drink in the city
- Where to find cheap packages, flights and hotels
Best time to visit Athens
Best things to see and do
1. Acropolis of Athens
If you only visit one landmark during your stay, make it this jaw-dropping ancient citadel which overlooks the city. It’s thousands of years old and home to some seriously incredible ruins including the world-famous Parthenon.
Want to learn more? While away an afternoon at the Acropolis museum which sits about an eight-minute walk away and is home to hundreds of artifacts, fascinating exhibitions and plenty more surprises to discover.
This former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom was considered the patron of the city. The towering ancient building dominates the Acropolis and never fails to wow visitors looking to absorb the history to be found here.
3. Syntagma Square
The central square in Athens is popular with tourists thanks to a range of sights and quirky things to do. For example, the Public Bookstore often hosts free lectures, or you can take a tour of Parliament House which sits on the east side.
There’s a changing of the guard ceremony every hour on the hour, while other highlights include the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the bustling bazaars right by the metro station.
4. Plaka neighbourhood
With its colourful buildings and narrow cobbled streets, the Plaka neighbourhood is well worth a visit. Expect plenty of local boutiques selling everything from souvenirs to local ceramics, as well as cafés and tavernas where you can tuck into that glorious Greek cuisine.
5. Temple of Zeus
Not to be confused with the one in Olympia, the Temple of Zeus in Athens was once a colossal temple which stood at the heart of the city. Nowadays only a few columns remain but it’s still more than enough to picture just what it could have looked like during its former glory days.
6. Monastiraki square
Here you’ll find plenty to see and do, so it’s well worth a visit even if you’re short on time. Highlights include the ruins of Hadrian’s Library, the Ancient Agora and the Stoa of Attalos, as well as a museum and the bustling flea market which never fail to attract both locals and tourists.
Best places to eat and drink
Greek cuisine is famous for serving up exciting flavours and hearty portions, so when you sit down for a meal prepare to leave it feeling full and satisfied!
Dinner is eaten later in the evening in Athens, with most restaurants often staying quiet before 9pm. However if you want an earlier sitting, head to the busier tourist spots where you may find more hustle and bustle.
For traditional Greek cuisine, Klimataria should be top of your list as here you’ll find authentic local dishes, served up with a side of local music and even a spot of dancing.
After something a little more intimate? Taverna Tou Oikonomou could fit the bill thanks to its cosy interiors – or there’s a charming outdoor terrace for those who love to people watch too.
If it’s a laidback vibe you’re after, then head to the likes of Kouzina Kouzina or Oroscopo where you’ll find some seriously tasty dishes as well as a chilled out vibe.
As for dinner with a view? Tudor Hall boasts an incredible outdoor dining area with direct views over the Acropolis and Parthenon, or head to the bar at the Hilton Athens for a pre-dinner tipple with breathtaking panoramics.
Looking for more inspiration? TripAdvisor has a round-up of the best restaurants in Athens according to diners’ reviews.
Where to find cheap packages to Athens
If it’s a flight and hotel package that you’re after, then the likes of Expedia, Lastminute.com, Thomas Cook and easyJet Holidays can be quite useful for finding budget-friendly options, whether you’re planning a last-minute getaway or booking months in advance for something to look forward to.
If it’s a hotel only you’re after, then websites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com can be useful tools for seeking out the best budget hotels right by the biggest attractions, and some even have prices from £13 a night.
As for flights, there are plenty of direct routes from the UK to Athens – and the good news is that you won’t have to break the bank.
Cheap flights to Athens include:
- Ryanair has fares from £12.73 each way flying from London Stansted.
- Cheapflights.co.uk has fares from £24 each way – although some do include a stopover.
- easyJet has fares from £25.18 each way and flies from Bristol, Edinburgh, London Gatwick and Manchester.
- Skyscanner has fares from £30 each way from a host of UK airports.
British Airways has fares from £51 each way which includes luggage allowance.
Best time to visit
Summer in Athens can bring some pretty high temperatures so if you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing, you may want to consider a trip during spring (March-May) or autumn (September to November).
You’ll still enjoy balmy sunny weather with much more agreeable temperatures, not to mention you’ll get to avoid the peak summer crowds.
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