The Acropolis of Athens is not only one of the most popular things to see in Athens but also perhaps Greece. It’s at the top of many people’s list of things to do in Athens, and more than 2 million tourists visit it each and every year.
However, there are a few things that visitors should avoid doing if they want to make the most of their experience. Here are the 5 worst mistakes people make when visiting the Acropolis of Athens and how to avoid them.
1 Assuming the Acropolis of Athens and the Parthenon are the same thing
They are not. It’s a common mistake, but not worry, as I thought the same thing many years ago. The Acropolis of Athens is situated on the Acropolis of Athens, whilst the Parthenon is the temple that sits on the Acropolis of Athens. The Acropolis of Athens is home to many of the top things to do in Athens, including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the Propylaia.
It has been many things: A home to gods and kings, a citadel and fortress, the centre of many religions, and now a tourist attraction. It has withstood earthquakes, bombardment and explosions, and vandalism.
The Parthenon is situated on top of the Acropolis of Athens and is dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens worshipped and considered their patroness. Construction of the temple began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC, although decoration of the building continued until 432 BC.
It served as a treasury for a time, and around 590 AD was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman conquest, the Parthenon was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s.
2 Not knowing you can jump the queues by booking tickets in advance
Undoubtedly, the Acropolis of Athens is the most visited place in the city of Athens and almost certainly, at the top of many people’s list of things to do in Athens. More than 2 million tourists visit this prominent and sacred rock outcrop that looks down on the city yearly.
So, even though the entrance gates open at 8 am from 1st April to 31st October and from 9 am 1st November to 31st March, the queue builds up extremely quickly. It s not uncommon that by 10 am, the queue of people stretches into the Plaka with a wait of around two hours. Even before the gates open, it is almost certain there will be a crowd of people waiting to buy a ticket.
But there is a way around this. A perfectly acceptable way that I have been doing for years. I purchase my tickets online before flying to Athens or while there. That way I can turn up, no matter the time, go straight to the front of the queue and immediately go through the entrance gates. I even do this for many of the most popular attractions, including the Acropolis Museum.
I’ve set out below the website that I use to search for jump-the-queue tickets. I also search for tickets that provide additional services, including group and private guide tours. Many of these tickets are even fully refundable up to 24 hours on the date of the ticket.
3 Wearing the wrong shoes, clothes or not using sunscreen
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people walking up the Acropolis of Athens in sandals, flip-flops, little or no tops (in the case of men), and their skin already showing a nice sunburnt red. Even in the winter, the sun in a cloudless sky is often beaming down from 8 am with a nice 18°C (64° F). In July and August, the temperature almost daily hits 33°C (91°F) by 11 am.
As I mentioned in the previous section about how quickly waiting times to enter the Acropolis are often up to two hours, it’s no surprise that even before they begin the not-so-short walk up the Acropolis, many are suffering from the sun and heat.
Walking up the Acropolis of Athens is not easy for everyone. Depending on your route and the other ancient sites you wish to see, it can be up to a mile. Whilst there is a path, there are also cobbled stones, which over the centuries have been worn down to an uneven and sometimes slippery walkway, especially when it has rained (yes it can rain in Athens)
During your walk, there is very little opportunity to step into the shade, so I would recommend taking a small umbrella with you. You may receive a few strange looks when you open it. But believe me, this will change to envious ones as they see you are completely shaded from the burning sun.
4 Not bringing enough water or snacks
As you walk through the entrance gates, several vending machines will dispense water bottles from 0.5 euro to 2 euro. However, they are not always filled, especially during the summer months when they are most used.
Likewise, there are no places to eat on the Acropolis of Athens. There are no restaurants, tavernas, cafes, bars, ice cream vans…absolutely nothing.
Considering the average time spent at the Acropolis of Athens is around 2-3 hours, I would recommend, especially if you have children, to consider taking at least a 500ml bottle of water per person and some tasty snacks.
5 Only going to see the Parthenon
Yes,I do understand that the Parthenon is perhaps top of the list on most peoples things to go and see in Athens. But trust me when I say, that there is so much more to see on the Acropolis of Athens. These include the Erechtheion, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the Propylaia. So, I have included a site plan of the Acropolis of Athens showing everything you can see.
2 Old Temple of Athena
4 Statue of Athena Promachos
6 Temple of Athena Nike
8 Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia
12 Altar of Athena
13 Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus
14 Sanctuary of Pandion
15 Odeon of Herodes Atticus
16 Stoa of Eumenes17
17 Sanctuary of Asclepius
18 Theatre of Dionysus
19 Odeon of Pericles
20 Temenos of Dionysus
And there you have it, my guide to the 5 worst mistakes people make visiting the Acropolis of Athens and how to avoid them. I’m sure my blog post did not put you off seeing the Acropolis of Athens. In fact. now that you have it, I’m pretty confident it will make your day out even more special.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you do have any comments, please put them below.