An Athens Itinerary: 3 Days in the Greek Capital
Fill your short visit with the very best of the city
Athens is cool again. The Greek capital has had a reputation in recent years as simply a place to pass through on your way to a gorgeous Greek island, but a recent influx of young, creative types has reinvigorated the city. Not that this capital of the ancient world has ever been worried about its popularity, of course. Athens is large and can be noisy, hot, and dusty, but it’s well worth pressing through the crowds to explore the gems of this city. We’ve put together an ideal Athens itinerary, covering three days, that will take you from wondrous monuments, to hip neighbourhoods, to some of the best Greek food you’ll ever eat. We here at Plum Guide are the travel experts, after all. Let’s explore Athens together.
Day 1: Discover Athens' most famous site
Morning: Visit the Acropolis
We’re starting our Athens itinerary with one of the big hitters: the Acropolis. It’s a good idea to visit this centuries-old building on day one to really get a sense of the city's history, and truly get under the skin of the city. Throughout the years, the Acropolis has been everything from a tourist attraction, to a home of the Gods, to a citadel, to a religious centre - it has even withstood enormous earthquakes, vandalism, and bombardment. Yet it still stands strong. Head here (and to the Acropolis Museum) on your first morning, to get up close and personal with antiquities both above and below ground.
Afternoon: Sample some popular Greek wine
All that history has probably made you hungry. Once you’re done at the Acropolis, pop to Kostas, home of the best kebab in Athens. Fair warning that the wait may be long (you’ll be waiting in line with office workers, off-duty chefs, and hungry students), but trust us when we say it’s worth it. Owners Kostas and Poppy work in synchrony to prepare spicy meat skewers wrapped in pitta. Order a classic kebab and an ice-cold Fix beer, and you won’t spend more than €5. Be sure to get there by 2.30pm - don't risk them selling out. Suitably stuffed full of delicious meat, it’s time for a drink. Former printing press Warehouse (in the buzzy Exarchia neighbourhood) is a temple to Greek wine, which is becoming more and popular. You can order more than 70 wines by the glass, and thus create your own tasting flight. Good thing you lined your stomach first.
Day 2: Embrace the culture of the Greek capital
Morning: Head to the Athens Central Market
What better way to work off your ever-so-slight wine hangover than a trip to the market? Athens Central Market, or Varvakios Agora, is an unmissable part of any three day Athens itinerary. If your head doesn’t hurt too much and you can face getting up early, it’s a real treat to watch the fish and local produce being unloaded around 7am. There’s Greek delicacies aplenty, so stuff your face with feta, bread, yogurt, halloumi, and olives. This is a great spot for picking up gifts for loved ones at home, too.
Afternoon: Make your way to the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum is on your docket for this afternoon. Founded in the 19th century, you can expect to spend the rest of your day gazing in wonder at one of the most extensive collections of ancient Greek artefacts anywhere on the planet. With five permanent exhibitions (spanning Prehistoric Antiquities, Sculpture, Metalwork, Vases and Minor Arts, Egyptian Antiquities, and Cypriot Antiquities), there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Admission is a very respectable €12 in the summer and €6 in the winter - a fantastic deal considering that you’ll likely spend hours here.
Day 3: Visit a charming Greek neighbourhood
Morning: Stroll around Koukaki
There’s no better way to get to know a city than by spending some time wandering around one of its charming neighbourhoods. Koukaki fits this bill perfectly - located near the Acropolis, its streets are filled with fascinating art galleries, charming cafes, and shops galore. Breakfast on a tasty quesadilla and a juice at Bel Ray, and then stroll to Underflow, a gallery and record shop. If you want to see some nature after days in the city, get a picnic lunch at Pantopwlion, and plan to spend lunchtime in the pine forests of Philopappou Hill - the summit of which has the best views of the Parthenon in the entire city.
Evening: Catch the sunset from the Parthenon
We’ve saved the best for last. It’s time for sunset at the Parthenon. We recommend heading here right before dusk to get the best spot, and really drink in the atmosphere of this ancient monument. The Parthenon shows the glory of ancient Greece, and is dedicated to Athena Parthenos, a Goddess who represents the power and glory of Athens. It took 15 years to build and is the largest Doric temple every completed in the country, with construction finishing in 438 BC. There’s no better way to round off your trip that watching the sun dip below the horizon from this famous site - just don't forget your camera.