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The Best Things to Do in Athens

Beaches, art, history, and coffee - Athens has it all

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A side-on view of the beams at the front of the Parthenon at the Acropolis on a sunny day, Athens, Greece

Pondering the best pastimes in Athens? From exploring the Acropolis to discovering the city’s burgeoning creative scene, Athens has no shortage of activities to help visitors fill their itinerary. The Greek capital has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to history, culture, and cuisine - after all, it is known as the cradle of Western civilisation. And on top of all that, there are beaches on your doorstep, so you needn’t choose between a city break and a seaside sojourn. We appreciate all this choice can be overwhelming, but fear not, because that's exactly where we come in. Here at Plum Guide, we've gone above and beyond to make sure you experience the best that Athens has to offer, so without further ado, here is our guide to the best things to do in Athens.

  • Step back to Ancient Greece
  • Discover the famous Athens art scene
  • Put your feet up at Glyfada beach
  • Savour Greek cuisine and coffee
  • Take a hike up Strefi Hill
  • Visit the Evzones

Step back to Ancient Greece

A low-angle close up of the beams of the Parthenon at the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

A low-angle close up of the beams of the Parthenon at the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Awaken your inner archaeologist and climb the slopes of the Acropolis to reach the Parthenon, before filling in any gaps in your historical knowledge with a visit to the Acropolis Museum. After delving into the treasures of the Acropolis - with the museum’s diverse collection running the gamut from amphorae to coins and daggers - you can even get a sense of how the iconic structure looked in its glory days by walking around a simulation of the temple. To further scratch your archaeological itch, head to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, and National Archaeological Museum. To experience ancient history in a whole new way, take your seats at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. This amphitheatre on the southern slopes of the Acropolis regularly hosts ancient Greek tragedies, ballets and orchestra performances.

Ancient Athens, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Ancient Athens, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Discover the famous Athens art scene

In recent years, Athens has seen the growth of a dynamic creative scene, featuring a rich mix of established galleries and independent spaces. Among the big-hitters are the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, set within a repurposed 1920s neoclassical mansion, the National Gallery, devoted to Greek and European art dating between the 14th and 20th centuries, and the Museum of Cycladic Art. If you prefer your art a little more current, don’t miss Onassis Stegi (which also plays host to theatre, dance and music performances), the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre, Hot Wheels, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art. To enjoy some al fresco creativity, take a stroll around the Gazi, Exarchia, Metaxourgeio and Psirri neighbourhoods to find some of Athens’s most exciting street art.

Acropolis Rise, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Acropolis Rise, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Put your feet up at Glyfada beach

Can’t decide whether to dig into local culture or simply lie back on the beach with a good book? You don’t have to - combining Athens with a rejuvenating beach break is a cinch. One of Athens’s prime selling points is its proximity to the seaside, meaning that after ticking those all-important museums and archeological sites off the list, you can grab your bucket and spade (and/or sunglasses, glossy magazine, and iced coffee) and head straight to the coast. The most popular nearby beaches include Glyfada and Voula (both accessible by tram), as well as Vouliagmeni, while a slightly longer journey to the southernmost part of the Athenian Riviera brings you to the idyllic sandy stretches of Sounio. If you’re wanting to get a taste of Greek island life, hop on a ferry or hydrofoil from Piraeus to the islands of Aegina, Hydra or Agistri.

Under The Eye of The Parthenon, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Under The Eye of The Parthenon, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Savour Greek cuisine and coffee

A view of a traditional Greek salad with tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese from above

A view of a traditional Greek salad with tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese from above

When deciding on things to do in Athens, make sure you factor in time for a coffee break - i's essential to sample the best of local cuisine. When the moment comes for caffeination, opt for a rich, grainy Greek coffee in a traditional kafeneio (make a beeline for Mouria or Panellinio), or get a taste of the city’s third-wave coffee scene in stylish surroundings at Taf or the Underdog. Making your way through the taverna menu is a noble goal (it’s all about supporting local businesses, right?), but certainly not a trial, with dishes as tasty as horiatiki (Greek salad), moussaka (layered minced meat, potatoes and aubergines, topped with thick béchamel) and creamy yoghurt dip tzatziki - all taverna staples. Though you’ll find hundreds of high-quality haunts throughout the city, Maiandros in Monastiraki and Klimataria in Psyrri are great places to start.

Acropolis Adieu, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Acropolis Adieu, Plum Guide home in Athens, Greece

Take a hike up Strefi Hill

So, you’ve seen the Parthenon up close, but still need to get that all-important Athens panorama. To see the awe-inspiring structure in the context of the Athens skyline, combine impressive vistas with a mini hike by climbing the nearby Lycabettus, Philopappos, or Strefi Hill – preferably around sunrise or sunset. If you’d rather enjoy the views from the comfort of a chair with a drink in hand, give the terraces at MS Roof Garden or Skyfall Restaurant and Bar a try.

Visit the Evzones

A man who is part of the Evzones dressed in white marching while holding a rifle, Athens, Greece

A man who is part of the Evzones dressed in white marching while holding a rifle, Athens, Greece

Among the most popular things to do in Athens is paying a visit to the Evzones. Allegedly the second most photographed sight in Athens after the Parthenon, not least due to their distinctive uniforms (ft. pompoms) and choreographed walk, the Evzones stand guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion. Time it right and you’ll catch the changing of the guard (every hour on the hour), but the Sunday march (at 11am) of all guards from the barracks to the tomb, accompanied by a marching band, is particularly captivating.

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