Top Things to Do in Athens? Which are the Best Attractions In Athens? The capital of Greece was the heart of ancient Greek civilization. It is also the historical-cultural capital of Europe. Athens’s history starts from the Neolithic age and there is settlement found in the area and many excavations in Athens and Attica. It was the Golden age of Pericles in the 5th Century BC that gave the city’s values. At that time the Ancient Greek civilization saw its magnificent peek and gained their universal significance. Acropolis and the Parthenon are the greatest landmarks of this era. The Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are the most known museums in Athens. Visit them and see some of the most known statues, vases, jewelry, pottery, and much and more from Ancient Greece.
Athens was over its century-long history conquered and occupied by many civilizations. Romans, Byzantine, Ottoman have erected great monuments. In 1834, Athens became the capital of modern Greece and it evolved in the last two centuries to a modern metropolis. The historic center, the surrounding mountains, the beautiful beaches, make Athens a great place to visit all year long.
The list of what to see in Athens is pretty endless if you are a first time visitor. We tried to make a guide at the most important places to visit both at the historic center and around Attica.
Best Attractions In Athens
The Acropolis and the Parthenon are the absolute landmarks of Athens for 2500 years. Build on a hilltop these magnificent monuments overlook Athens and give you the best view from the Acropolis to the city of Athens and the surrounding temples are one that will stay in your hearts and minds forever.
At the Acropolis, you can join a private tour and combine them with several different activities like lunch or dinner, food tours, etc.
The Acropolis Museum next to Acropolis is a must-see after the Acropolis and usually, it is combined in the tours with Acropolis. You can purchase a discounted ticket that allows access to both, plus other local attractions. If you prefer, you can also book an organized tour ahead of time.
Fully renovated the National Archeological Museum is one of the biggest and most remarkable museums in the world. You will travel back in several different times in Ancient Greece and to several different locations. There is no doubt that its treasures, sculptures, jewelry, wall paintings, will mesmerize you. Many travelers do not visit this Museum and they miss a great opportunity! You must visit it and make sure that you have plenty of spare time. You can have a fast visit, but a proper visit will take around 2-3 hours. Having a licensed tour guide will simply make the travel in history majestic with all the info you will get from all these amazing artifacts. You will start with the Cycladic Island civilization and the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the late antiquity. The National Archaeological Museum is a must-see of Athens with numerous Athens Tours!
The great Temple of Poseidon the god of Sea, at Cape Sounio is an absolute must. A perfect day or a sunset trip from Athens. This is a hot spot both for locals and travelers. It’s probably the best spot for a sunset in Attica that combines a unique view of the Temple that gets a great orangish color from the Sun. The temple of Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the sea, dominates the southernmost tip of Attica.
The stories regarding the Temple are Endless. King Menelaus stopped while he returned from Troy at the Temple. The most known myth is the one of King Aegeus who drowned himself on that spot and the Aegean Sea got named after him. Above all, about the people who built a temple using local marble to honor the god of the sea and safeguard the profits from the neighboring Lavrio mines.
The sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron is an early sacred site on the eastern coast of Attica near the Aegean Sea in a small inlet. You will have the chance to see the Attica countryside with the olive trees, the pines and most important with the vineyards. During the small road trip, you will have the full attention of a private licensed English speaking tour guide, not just a driver, who will inform you about the history of the Mesogeia area.
A day trip to Marathon and a visit to its archeological site and museum is something you must do when you will visit Athens. Above all, this area of Attica is one of the most beautiful places as you will discover when you get there Marathonas. The road passes by gardens, vineyards, olive groves, and wild vegetation as well as by the artificial Marathonas Lake with the impressive marble dam.
The Plaka & Other Neighborhoods in Athens Greece
When we talk about the historic center of Athens we mostly mean the Plaka neighborhood. This graphic place in the city center is inhabited without interruption since antiquity. Plaka is the area of winding streets around the Acropolis. It’s renowned for its small shops, restaurants, and local architecture. While it’s touristy, you’ll still find the area charming.
Plaka is developed across the ruins of Ancient Agora of Athens in an area that has been constantly inhabited given that antiquity. During the Greek War of Independence, Plaka, like the rest of Athens, turned into temporarily deserted by its inhabitants due to the severe battles. The region was repopulated at some point in the primary years of King Othon’s rule. In 1884 a fire burned down a huge part of the community, however, gave the possibility for the archaeologists to behavior excavations within the Roman Market and Hadrian’s Library. Excavations had been taking place constantly for the reason that the 19th century.
Plaka is visited by way of hundreds of lots of tourists around the year and is below strict zoning and conservation regulations. This is the handiest neighborhood in Athens where all utilities (water, power, cable television, telephone, internet, and sewage) lie underground absolutely accessible, custom-made tunneling. Stroll thru Plaka’s slim streets, some for foot traffic best, and experience a mess of shopping picks from tiny stores with a local flavor to stylish boutiques, resting at one of the several comfy cafes or enjoy one of the many tavernas with tasty Greek food.
Stop somewhere for a frappe (iced instant coffee), especially during the summer, and watch the people stroll by. It’s also nice to visit at night with the tavernas staying open until late. The whitewashed homes of the adjacent Anafiotika neighborhood give the area a Greek-island feel.
When you walk through the narrow labyrinthine streets lined with houses and mansions from the time of the Turkish occupation and the Neoclassical period (19th c.), you will have the impression of traveling with a “time machine”.
Also, you will encounter ancient monuments, such as the Lysicrates Monument, erected by a wealthy donor of theatrical performances.
The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the Acropolis of Athens was erected by the choregos Lysicrates, a wealthy patron of musical performances in the Theater of Dionysus, to commemorate the prize in the dithyramb contest of the City Dionysia in 335/334 BCE, of which performance he was, liturgist.
The monument is known as the first use of the Corinthian order on the exterior of a building. It has been reproduced widely in modern monuments and building elements.
Also, the Roman Agora with the famed “Tower of the Winds” (1st c. B.C.) and Hadrian’s Library (132 A.D.). Bigger and smaller churches, true masterpieces of Byzantine art and architecture are everywhere in Plaka. Also some remnants of the Ottoman period. For example the Fetihie Mosque, Tzistarakis Mosque, the Turkish Bath near the Tower of the Winds, etc.
Also, there are some interesting museums. For instance the Folk Art, Greek Children’s Art, Popular Musical Instruments, Frysira Art Gallery, etc.. Finally, you will find lots of picturesque tavernas, cafés, bars, as well as shops selling souvenirs and traditional Greek products.
This is the stadium where the first Modern Olympic Games took place. The first modern Olympic Games commenced on 25 March and concluded on 3 April, and were a resounding success. Especially, the victor in the Marathon race, the most popular contest, was the Greek Spyros Louis. It was in the Panathenaic Stadium that the Olympic Hymn was heard for the first time. The lyrics are written by poet Kostis Palamas and the music by composer Spyros Samaras.
The Panathenaic Stadium is a classical cultural and touristic monument of Greece. Its history is directly connected to the Modern Olympic Games, from their revival in 1896 until the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. It is also the place from which the Olympic Flame is delivered to all the Olympic Games, Winter, Summer, and Youth.
The Panathenaic Stadium has a long and interesting history that spans throughout the centuries. It was constructed in the 4th century B.C. and was used to host events related to the celebration of the city of Athens, the “Great Panathenaia”. During its long history, the Stadium has seen major changes, having been abandoned and reconstructed more than once. In the late 19th century, the Stadium underwent major reconstructions and took its final form.
The Stadium is open 7 days a week, throughout the year.
Adults: 3 €
Students and senior visitors (over 65 years old): 1, 50 €
Groups of schoolchildren and their escorts, and children under the age of six.
Daily: March to October 08:00-19:00
Daily: November to February: 08:00-17:00
The Panathenaic Stadium also features an audio tour, included in the price of the ticket. Upon entering the grounds, each visitor receives an audio guide device in 10 languages (English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian) and a brochure containing information about the Stadium, available in English, French, and Greek. The audio tour lasts approximately 10 to 20 minutes, according to the user’s preferences.
Also, the stadium stands next to Zappeion Megaron and is within walking distance to Syntagma Square. It is usually combined with an Athens City Tour.
Finally, one of the Best Attractions in Athens is the Ancient Agora of Classical Athens. Located northwest of the Acropolis and on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill of Agoraios Kolonos. An easy wandering spot, with the almost-perfect temple of Hephaestus and a rebuilt colonnade housing the museum (Stoa Attalos). Also, a combo ticket makes it a particularly good bargain to combine a visit here with the Acropolis and other nearby sites.
The Agora of Athens nowadays is an archaeological website online positioned underneath the northwest slope of the Acropolis. The word “agora” applies to an assembly of humans and by extend marks the gathering vicinity. In modern Greek, the time period means “marketplace”.
Just about each historic and contemporary metropolis includes a place for an agora, and the Agora of Athens, being placed at the coronary heart of the town, remained in use either as an assembly, as a commercial, or as a residential area for approximately 5000 years. Consequently, the region has undergone infinite building, destruction, and rebuilding cycles. Today this strata of history have been distilled thru excavations to expose Agora’s vital features from Archaic to Greco-Roman and Byzantine times.
With minimal restoration for the maximum part, a visitor could have an impossible mission to recognize the location in its glory days without some historic background. For the most part, for the traveler today, the Agora is not essential for the splendor of its homes, but for the significance of its history.
Contrasting with the austere ruins inside the center of the archaeological website, however, two notable homes stand as testaments to its past glory: the humble Temple of Hephaestus, that’s the pleasant preserved historical Greek temples from the Classical era, and the marvelous Stoa of Attalos–a building of the Hellenistic duration that turned into rebuilt from the floor up primarily based on its historic appearance.
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