New Rules for Visiting the Acropolis: Count Your Chickens Before They Tour

Visiting the Acropolis. Acropolis of Athens now has limits on the number of poeple who can visit

Thinking of visiting the Acropolis in Athens? Well, as of this year (2024) and due to overcrowding on the Acropolis of Athens over the last few years, there are now limits on the number of people who can visit. Yes, you read that right – only 20,000 people per day will be allowed to grace the ancient stones with their sneakers and sandals. To break it down even further, 3,000 early birds catch the worm in the first hour, followed by 2,000 history enthusiasts per hour until the daily cap or the sun sets, whichever comes first.

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Visiting the Acropolis? There are Now Limits

Whilst 20,000 per day or 2,000 an hour may sound like a lot, the number of people visiting the Acropolis of Athens each day has significantly increased over the last five years. 2022 saw 3 million hit for the very first time. And last year, there was a 70% increase from 2021. 

Also, the number of cruise ships docking at the port of Piraeus and offloading passengers by coaches in their hundreds and even thousands to the Acropolis of Athens has been steadily growing.

Last year (even outside the summer season), there were just too many instances of multiple queues of up to half an hour forming while walking up the Acropolis. And that’s before you even get to see the Parthenon. With hundreds queueing at the entrance just to buy tickets, the Greek government has said, “Enough is enough.”

So, What Exactly Does That Mean for You

So, what’s the takeaway here? Well, booking your tickets online and in advance is more important than ever. Booking online not only ensures you won’t miss out on seeing the Acropolis but also offers the convenience of skipping long lines and the peace of mind of knowing your place is secured. 

Another advantage to buying online before you go is being let in first as soon as the gates open. Those who do not have a ticket have to wait in a different queue for up to 15 minutes before the kiosk selling them opens.

Book Online or Risk Being a Modern Sisyphus

Forget the past when you could swagger up to the Acropolis ticket booth and charm your way in. Those days are as gone as the Oracle of Delphi. 

Now, if you don’t book your ticket online, you might as well be trying to enter the Underworld without a coin for Charon. With the new system, showing up without a booking could mean you’ll be doing more sightseeing of the exterior walls than the ancient wonders inside.

Booking online doesn’t just dodge disappointment; it’s like a VIP fast pass away from the sprawling lines. And let’s face it, nothing ruins the majesty of historical exploration quite like the back of someone else’s head because you’re stuck in a queue. Secure your online booking and skip straight to the good stuff: wandering freely among the world’s most storied columns and ruins.

Navigating the Time Slot System: It's All Greek to Me!

So, because of these new changes, what happens when you book online? Do you have to arrive at the exact time for the slot you booked? Do you now have only an hour to visit? Well, no. In fact it’s quite the reverse and all positive.

Let’s say you choose 9 a.m. This means your time slot is 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. You can arrive up to fifteen minutes before or after your time slot. So, you can arrive from a quarter to nine, to quarter past ten. That’s a lot of leeway. Also, this doesn’t mean you only have one hour. Once inside, there’s no limit to how long you can stay, except when it closes, of course.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Picking the Perfect Ticket

So, as someone who’s been to Athens more than times than he can remember, what tickets do I recommend? I’ve included links to them below, but essentially there are tickets just for the Acropolisand then what I use every time: combination tickets which saves me a lot of money.

One of my favourites is the Athens: Acropolis & Archaeological Sites: Combo Ticket. Not only does it give you entry to the top most popular sites, including the Acropolis of Athens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Library, and the Roman Agora. It also gives you access to a lot more, and all for around £32 per person ($40) Not bad, especially when you consider it’s £20 ($25) per person just to get into the Acropolis.

The Fine Print on Your Tickets to Antiquity

Opting for the combo ticket? This is your key to more than just the Acropolis – it opens the doors to multiple historic sites around Athens for five days. The clock starts ticking not when you book but when you first use the ticket. So if you plan to start with the Temple of Olympian Zeus, that’s when your time begins.

Be aware of the seasons—high season tickets open on April 1st and low season on November 1st. If you’re planning a summer trip and it’s still icy February, don’t despair if bookings aren’t available. Just circle back on April 1st, and you’ll have your pick of the historic lot.

Tips for a Hassle-Free Visit

While you’re smartly navigating these new booking rules, here are some insider tips to enhance your visit:

  • Early Morning Magic: The early hours not only have a higher visitor allowance but offer cooler temperatures and softer light—perfect for photos.
  • Stay Hydrated: Greek sun can be relentless, even among ancient ruins. Carry water, wear a hat, and slather on sunscreen.
  • Dress Comfortably: You’ll be walking on uneven surfaces. Comfortable shoes and clothes can make or break your experience.
  • Explore Beyond the Acropolis: Use that combo ticket to explore lesser-known sites like the Ancient Agora or Kerameikos, which are often overshadowed by their famous sibling but are breathtaking in their own right.

In Conclusion: Book Online, Arrive on Time, and Enjoy

Embrace the change and plan ahead to make the most of your visit to the Acropolis. By booking online and choosing your time slot wisely, you’ll be setting yourself up for a day of unforgettable historical exploration. Remember, each visit is limited to ensure everyone can enjoy their time without the crush of the crowd. So, when you walk through those ancient gates, know that you are part of a select group that day, each sharing a moment with history.

And just think, while you’re standing there, where philosophers once debated, and priests once prayed, you’re not just a tourist—you’re a temporary guardian of history. Enjoy the privilege, and maybe take a silent bet on how many in your group can pronounce ‘Thucydides’ correctly. 

After all, it’s quality time in quality company that makes for the best memories at the Acropolis.

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