The Ultimate Guide To The Top 7 Things to See In Athens

The Acropolis of Athens is one of the best things to see in Athens
Table of Contents

So, what exactly are the top things to see in Athens? Ancient temples? World-class museums? Mediterranean sunshine and deep blue skies? Athens has it all and brings together the best of ancient and modern. It is dynamic, indulgent, and exhilarating.

I’ve been visiting Greece for over 20 years, and when it comes to Athens, I’m often asked:

  • What are the top things to see in Athens?
  • Tell me about them.
  • What are the best things to see and do at each one?
  • Where are the best places for photos and the perfect Instagram?
  • Can I get tickets in advance to jump the queue?

So, In this blog post, I will list the top seven things to see in Athens, answer all those questions, and provide a lot more helpful information.

1. The Acropolis (Number one on the top 7 things to see in Athens)

The Acropolis of Athens and Lycabettus Hill as viewed from Filopappou Hill Athens
The Acropolis of Athens

About the Acropolis

Without a doubt, the Acropolis of Athens is the most visited place in the city of Athens, Greece, 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.

Situated on the Acropolis hill, The name “Acropolis” comes from two Greek words: “ἄκρον” (akron) meaning “highest point” and “πόλις” (polis), meaning “city”.

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, the Acropolis has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

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.

Still, the Acropolis of Athens stands today as a reminder of the rich history of Greece and a lasting monument to the ancient city. It is even a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site, for many of its structures, including the Parthenon, which everyone who visits the Acropolis wants to see.

The Athenian Acropolis was a daily part of ancient Greek culture. So much so that even today, it is considered by many to be “the” symbol of Greece.

Where is it located?

Opening Hours

Summer (April 1st to October 31st)

Monday – Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Winter (November 1st to March 31st)

Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 18:00

Closed

January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and 26th

Best things to see and do

The Parthenon

No holiday to Athens should go without a visit to the Parthenon. It is the most famous building on the Acropolis of Athens. It was during ancient Greece and is still one of Greece’s most iconic buildings today. 

It was built in the 5th-century BC between 443 BC and 430 BC and was originally dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Parthenon is an excellent example of classical Greek architecture. It is one of the most photographed buildings in the world.

The Parthenon Marbles are a series of sculptures and architectural elements removed from the Parthenon in Athens by Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin, in the early 1800s. The marbles have been a source of controversy ever since they were removed from the temple. Greece has rightly claimed that they are an essential part of its cultural heritage.

The British Museum, where some of the marbles are currently housed, has argued that they were acquired legally and should remain in London and not Athens as a part of the museum’s collection. A debate about the ownership of the marbles has been going on for centuries, and it is likely to continue for many more years.

The Propylaia

The Propylaia is the gateway to the Acropolis of Athens and was built in the 5th-century BC between 460 BC and 450 BC. It is a magnificent example of classical Greek architecture. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Athenian Acropolis.

The Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is said to be where Poseidon left his trident marks on a rock, and Athena’s olive tree sprouted in their battle for the city’s patronage.

Named after Erechtheus, one of the mythical kings of Athens, the temple was a sanctuary to both Athena Polias and Erechtheus-Poseidon.

The large rectangular inner chamber is divided into three rooms. One contained the holy olive-wood statue of Athena Polias.

The Erechtheion complex has been used for a range of purposes, including a harem for the wives of the Ottoman commander in 1463. A Turkish shell almost destroyed it in 1827 during the War of Independence.

The Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike is located on the Acropolis and was dedicated to the goddess Athena. It is believed to have been built in the late fifth century BC, around the same time as the Parthenon. The Persians damaged the temple in 480 BC, and the Athenians repaired it after the Battle of Marathon. 

The Temple of Athena Nike is best known for the Nike Relief, which depicts the ancient Athens goddess Nike’s victory over Poseidon. The relief is located on the east pediment of the temple. In 421 BC, the Spartans damaged the temple again, and it was not repaired until 413 BC.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a small theatre that was built in 161 CE. It is located on the south side of the Acropolis. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the site.

Areopagus Hill

The Areopagus hill is located northeast of the Acropolis. With some of the best views of Athens and the Acropolis, Areopagus Hill is one of the most popular places where the locals and tourists gather to watch the sunrises and sunsets.

Areopagus Hill was probably named after the ancient god of war Ares (Mars). The Ancient Greeks believed the hill was connected to mythological events, including the first murder trial conducted by the gods. As a result, the oldest supreme court Arios Pagos of Ancient Athens was established on the hill.

Theatre of Dionysus

The Theatre of Dionysus is an ancient theatre that was built in the sixth century BCE. It is located on the south side of the Athens Acropolis, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the site.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

The Parthenon

The Parthenon is the most popular spot for photos on the Acropolis. It is best to take your photo from the west side of the temple, as this is where the sun will be in the afternoon.

The Propylaia

The Propylaia is another popular spot for photos, as it is the gateway to the Athens Acropolis. It is best to take your photo from the west side of the building, as this is where the sun will be in the afternoon.

The Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is a popular spot for photos and is dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. It is best to take your photo from the east side of the building, as this is where the sun will be in the morning.

The Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike is a popular spot for photos, located at the entrance to the Acropolis. It is best to take your photo from the south side of the temple, as this is where the sun will be in the morning.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a popular spot for photos. It is a small theatre located on the south side of the Acropolis. It is best to take your photo from the west side of the building, as this is where the sun will be in the afternoon.

My photos of the Acropolis

Access for those with disabilities and impairments

Thanks to the Greek Government, from the beginning of 2021, visitors with mobility issues now have access to the Athens Acropolis thanks to a new lift and specially designed paths facilitating wheelchair access.

The modern lift, which replaces a repeatedly malfunctioning one, is located on the north face of the Acropolis along the ancient promenade and will transport wheelchair users and individuals with Disabilities and Impairments to the top of the hill.

The specially designed and renovated 500-meter-long and four-meter-wide pathways also provide access to and around the Parthenon.

Where to find the best tickets and tours to the Acropolis

2. Acropolis Museum

Front of the Acropolis Museum in Athens
The Acropolis Museum in Athens

About the Acropolis Museum

Completed in 2009, the Acropolis Museum is without doubt the most popular museum in Athens, with almost 2 million visitors each year.

It exhibits all the significant finds from the Parthenon, the Acropolis of Athens and the surrounding area, providing a fascinating insight into daily life in ancient Athens. The museum is situated opposite the entrance to the Acropolis, making it an essential stop for tourists and visitors to Athens.

One of the most popular things to see at the Acropolis Museum is the “Daily Life in Ancient Athens” exhibit. It showcases artefacts from all aspects of ancient Athenian life, from furniture and tools to clothing and jewellery. The museum also has a children’s section, which is excellent for learning more about ancient Greece.

Covering 25,000 square metres, this all-glass museum was constructed under three strict conditions:

  • To provide breathtaking views of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the surrounding hills from transparent glass walls.
  •  To exhibit the Parthenon sculptures.
    Not interfere with the archaeological findings during excavations.

At it’s base, the museum appears to be floating, as it’s supported by more than 100 concrete pillars, which provide an impressive shelter for the site’s archaeological excavation.

The museum hosts its collections across three floors and the below-ground excavation site. Located on the ground floor, the Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis houses finds from the sanctuaries established on the slopes of the Acropolis and objects that Athenians used in everyday life from all historical periods.

The nine-metre high and naturally lit Archaic Gallery in the east and south sections of the first floor hosts the magnificent sculptures that graced the first temples on the Acropolis. It also displays the worship’s votive offerings, such as beautiful archaic Korai (depictions of young women), the Hippeis (horse riders), statues of the goddess Athena, sculptures of male figures, marble reliefs, and smaller bronze and clay offerings.

The museum’s exhibition culminates on the third floor, in the glass-encased Parthenon Gallery. The relief sculptures of the Parthenon frieze depicting the Panathenaic procession is exhibited in continuous sequence along the perimeter of the external surface of the rectangular concrete core of the gallery. The metopes, the marble slabs with relief representations from Greek mythology, are exhibited between the stainless steel columns of the gallery, which are the same in number as the columns of the Parthenon.

If you’re looking for things to do in Athens, the Acropolis Museum should be at the top of your list. It’s a great place to learn more about the ancient Greeks and see some of their most impressive artefacts.

Where is it located?

Opening hours

Winter Season – November 1st to March 31st

Monday to Thursday 09:00 – 17:00

Friday 09:00 – 22:00

Saturday and Sunday 09:00 – 20:00

Summer Season – April 1st to October 31st

Monday 08:00 – 16:00

Tuesday to Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Friday 08:00 – 22:00

Closed

1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25th & 26th December

Best things to see and do

The Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles are one of the most iconic attractions at the Acropolis Museum. These sculptures once adorned the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis. Lord Elgin removed some in the early 1800s and sold to the British Museum.

The Athena Promachos

The Athena Promachos is a large statue of the goddess Athena, once located on the Acropolis. This impressive statue is over 9 metres high and is made from marble and bronze.

The Caryatids

The Caryatids are a set of six female statues that once supported the roof of the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis. These statues are made from marble and are over 2 metres high.

The Nike of Panionios

The Nike of Paionios is a statue of the goddess Nike, once located on the Acropolis. This statue is made from marble and bronze and is over 4 metres high.

Mosaics from Zea Harbour and the Athenian Agora

The mosaics from Zea Harbour and the Athenian Agora are two of the most impressive mosaics in the Acropolis Museum. The Zea Harbour mosaic is a large, circular mosaic that depicts scenes from everyday life in ancient Athens. The Athenian Agora mosaic is a smaller mosaic that depicts several different animals.

The “Daily Life in Ancient Athens” Exhibit

The “Daily Life in Ancient Athens” exhibit is one of the most popular sections of the Acropolis Museum. This exhibit showcases artefacts from all aspects of Athenian life, from furniture and tools to clothing and jewellery.

The Acropolis Museum Gift Shop

The Acropolis Museum Gift Shop is the perfect place to buy souvenirs of your visit to the Acropolis Museum. The shop sells a range of products, including books, postcards, and jewellery.

The Children’s Section

The Children’s Section is an excellent place for kids who want to learn more about ancient Greece. This section of the museum has several interactive exhibits, including a play area and a quiz zone.

The Museum Cafe

The Museum Cafe is a great place to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat after exploring the Acropolis Museum. Walk outside, and you will be enhanced with the breathtaking views of the Acropolis, The Parthenon, and views over Athens. The cafe offers a range of snacks and drinks, including sandwiches, salads, cakes, and hot meals.

Statue of Athena Parthenos at the Acropolis Museum

The Statue of Athena Parthenos is a large statue of the goddess Athena, which was once located on the Acropolis. This impressive statue is over 9 metres high and is made from marble and bronze.

Fragments from the Temple of Athena Nike

The Fragments from the Temple of Nike are a set of fragments from the Temple of Athena Nike, which was once located on the Acropolis. These fragments are made from marble and limestone.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

The Acropolis Museum is one of the most photogenic museums in Athens. Here are some of the best places to take photos, videos, selfies and the perfect Instagram at the museum.

The Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles are one of the most iconic attractions at the Acropolis Museum. These sculptures once adorned the Parthenon on the Acropolis. Lord Elgin removed some in the early 1800s and sold them to the British Museum.

The Athena Promachos

The Athena Promachos is a large statue of the goddess Athena, once located on the Acropolis. This impressive statue is over 9 metres high and is made from marble and bronze.

The Caryatids

The Caryatids are a set of six female statues that once supported the roof of the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis. These statues are made from marble and are over 2 metres high.

The Nike of Panionios

The Nike of Paionios is a statue of the goddess Nike, which was once located on the Acropolis. This statue is made from marble and bronze and is over 4 metres high.

Mosaics from Zea Harbour and the Athenian Agora

The mosaics from Zea Harbour and the Athenian Agora are two of the most impressive mosaics in the Acropolis Museum. The Zea Harbour mosaic is a large, circular mosaic that depicts scenes from everyday life in ancient Athens. The Athenian Agora mosaic is a smaller mosaic that depicts several different animals.

The “Daily Life in Ancient Athens” Exhibit

The “Daily Life in Ancient Athens” exhibit is one of the most popular sections of the Acropolis Museum. This exhibit showcases artefacts from all aspects of Athenian life, from furniture and tools to clothing and jewellery.

The Museum Cafe

The Museum Cafe is a great place to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat after exploring the Acropolis Museum. Walk outside, and you will be enhanced with the breathtaking views of the Acropolis, The Parthenon, and views over Athens. The cafe offers a range of snacks and drinks, including sandwiches, salads, cakes, and hot meals.

Statue of Athena Parthenos

The Statue of Athena Parthenos is a large statue of the goddess Athena, which was once located on the Acropolis. This impressive statue is over 9 metres high and is made from marble and bronze.

Fragments from the Temple of Athena Nike

The Fragments from the Temple of Athena Nike are a set of fragments which was once located on the Acropolis. These fragments are made from marble and limestone.

My photos of the Acropolis Museum

Access for those with disabilities and impairments

The Acropolis Museum in Athens is wheelchair accessible and has several disabled access ramps and lifts. The museum also has Braille guides and audio guides for the visually impaired. Facilities include:

  • Special ramps for wheelchairs and wheelchairs at the entrances of the museum.
  • Lift and toilets for people with disabilities at all levels.
  • Lending wheelchairs at the Information Office.
  • In Greek and English, a brief guide to the Museum in Braille at the Information Office.
  • Free access to guide dogs accompanying people with disabilities.

Where to find the best tickets and tours to the Acropolis Museum

3. The Parthenon

The Parthenon is one of the best ancient sites to visit in Athens
The Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens

About the Parthenon

The Parthenon is the most popular thing to see in Athens with around two million visiting every year. Perhaps the most famous building in the world, the Parthenon, is the epitome of ancient Greece. Built as an expression of ancient Athen’s glory, it remains the city’s emblem to this day.

Situated on top of the Acropolis, it 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.

For a time, it served as a treasury, 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. 

On September 26th 1687, an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment during a siege of the Acropolis. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. 

From 1800 to 1803, The 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles.

The Parthenon itself replaced an older temple of Athena, which historians call the Pre-Parthenon or Older Parthenon, that was demolished in the Persian invasion of 480 BC. 

The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, democracy and Western civilization and one of the world’s most significant cultural monuments. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon served a practical purpose as the city treasury. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art.

To the Athenians who built it, the Parthenon, and other Periclean monuments of the Acropolis, were seen fundamentally as a celebration of Hellenic victory over the Persian invaders and as a thanksgiving to the gods for that victory.

Since 1975, numerous large-scale restoration projects have been undertaken to ensure the structural stability of the temple.

The Illusion of Perfection

Every aspect of the Parthenon was built on a 9:4 ratio, e.g. 9 wide and 4 high, to make the temple completely symmetrical. The sculptors also used visual trickery to counteract the laws of perspective. 

The base of the Parthenon is higher in the middle than at the edges.
Each column leans inwards very slightly. 
The steps curve slightly upwards at the centre to make them appear level from a distance.
The ongoing dispute over the Parthenon marbles

The dispute centres around the Parthenon Marbles removed by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, from 1801 to 1803, which are in the British Museum. 

A few sculptures from the Parthenon are also in the Louvre in Paris, in Copenhagen, and elsewhere. More than half are in the Acropolis Museum. 

The Greek government has campaigned since 1983 for the British Museum to return the sculptures to Greece. The British Museum has steadfastly refused to return the sculptures, and successive British governments have been unwilling to force the museum to do so (which would require legislation). 

Where is it located?

Opening hours

Winter Season – November 1st to March 31st

Monday to Thursday 09:00 – 17:00

Friday 09:00 – 22:00

Saturday and Sunday 09:00 – 20:00

Summer Season – April 1st to October 31st

Monday 08:00 – 16:00

Tuesday to Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Friday 08:00 – 22:00

Closed

1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25th & 26th December

Best things to see and do

Admire the perfect proportions of the temple – it was designed to represent the ideal human form.

Take in the panoramic views of Athens from the Parthenon’s summit.

Learn about the history of the temple and its construction at the on-site museum.

See the impressive remains of the Parthenon’s roof, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1801.

The frieze on the east side of the Parthenon, above the main entrance, depicts the mythical battle between the Olympian gods and the Giants.

The frieze on the west side the mythical battle of the Athenians against the Amazons.

The frieze on the south side shows the battle of the legend people of Thessaly aided by Theseus against the half-man, half-horse (Centaurs).

The mythological figures of the metopes of the East, North, and West sides of the Parthenon had been deliberately mutilated in the late roman empire.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

Get there early – the early morning light is perfect for photography.

Stay away from the crowds – try to find a spot where you can take photos without people in them.

The front of the Parthenon, with the cityscape in the background.

The side of the Parthenon, with the steps leading up to it.

The back of the Parthenon, with the Acropolis in the background.

The top of the Parthenon, with a bird’s eye view of Athens.

The bottom of the Parthenon, looking up at its impressive structure.

At night when it is lit up.

Covered in snow.

Against a clear blue sky.

My photos of the Parthenon

Access for those with disabilities and impairments

Thanks to the Greek Government, from the beginning of 2021, visitors with mobility issues now have access to the Athens Acropolis thanks to a new lift and specially designed paths facilitating wheelchair access.

The modern lift, which replaces a repeatedly malfunctioning one, is located on the north face of the Acropolis along the ancient promenade and will transport wheelchair users and individuals with Disabilities and Impairments to the top of the hill.

The specially designed and renovated 500-meter-long and four-meter-wide pathways also provide access to and around the Parthenon.

Where to find the best tickets and tours to the Parthenon

4. Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens

About the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Nestling in a rocky hollow on the southwestern side of the Acropolis of Athens is one of the world’s oldest and finest open-air theatres.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is much more than a fascinating archaeological site. Just as it was almost 2000 years ago, it is still used today for performances for up to 5,000 spectators.

Such legendary stars as Jean Michel Jarre, Ennio Morricone, Jethro Tull, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Luciano Pavarotti, Diana Ross, and Elton John have enchanted audiences with their performances in the magical setting of the ancient Odeon under the beautiful Athenian night sky.

Constructed in 161 AD, the Roman theatre was funded by a wealthy benefactor of Athens, Herodes Atticus, who wanted it to be a gift to the people of Athens and built in honour of his late wife, Aspasia Annia Rigilla.

As well as steep semi-circular rows of seating, it had a three-story facade built in stone and a roof made from cedar wood brought from Lebanon.

During the Second World War, when the Germans occupied Greece, the Odeon continued to host many concerts performed by the Athens State Orchestra and the newly formed Greek National Opera.

Further restoration work began on Odeon Herodes Atticus during the 1950s. The city funded the work, and a grand opening ceremony was held in 1955. The Odeon became the main venue for the Athens & Epidaurus Festival – and it remains so to this day.

The Odeon measures 87 metres in diameter. The seating is semi-circular of 36 tiered rows made in marble from Mt Hymettor.

The stage is 35 meters wide and made of coloured Pentelic marble. It has a magnificent and distinctive backdrop made in stone with windows overlooking Athens. It is decorated with columns and niches for statues.

The audience stands, and the orchestra (stage) were restored using Pentelic marble in the 1950s. Since then, it has been the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year, featuring a variety of acclaimed Greek and international performances.

Events, Bands, Artists and Concerts that Appeared at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

1957 – Maria Callas performed at the Odeon as part of the Athens Festival, and in the same year, Edith Hamilton was pronounced an honorary citizen of Athens at ninety years of age. 

1962 – Frank Sinatra gave two Benefit concerts for the city of Athens. 

1973 – The venue for the Miss Universe 1973 pageant. 

1984 – A memorable performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was given by the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri after 20 years of absence.

1991 – Luciano Pavarotti 

1993 – Vangelis and later that year Yanni

1996 Sting during his Mercury Falling Tour

1998 – Mikis Theodorakis

2000 – Elton John as part of his Medusa Tour

2004 – Luciano Pavarotti 

2008 – Sylvie Guillem performed Boléro in company with the Tokyo Ballet as part of the Athens Festival.

2010 – The tenor Andrea Bocelli held a concert at the Odeon to raise funds for cancer research.

2012 – Mario Frangoulis performed the leading role in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana

2018 – Sting for two special concerts.

2020 – The first art exhibition was held by Greek artist Dionisis Kavallieratos, entitled ‘Disoriented Dance / Misled Planet’ organised by NEON Organization and the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

Other artists who have performed at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Alicia de Larrocha, Calexico, Cockney Rebel, Dead Can Dance, Diana Ross, Dionysis Savopoulos, Ennio Morricone, Fairuz, Florence and the Machine, Foo Fighters, George Dalaras, Goran Bregovic, Haris Alexiou, Jean Michel Jarre, Jethro Tull, Joaquín Cortés, José Carreras, Karolos Koun, Kathryn Morgan, Leonidas Kavakos, Liza Minnelli, Manos Hatzidakis, Marinella, Maurice Béjart, Mikis Theodorakis, Montserrat Caballé, Nikos Koundouros, Paco de Lucía, Patti Smith, Plácido Domingo, Sivert Høyem, Spiros Evangelatos, Steve Harley (without the usual band, the Bolshoi Ballets, Yann Tiersen, Yannis Markopoulos

Where is it located?

Opening hours

Winter Season – November 1st to March 31st

Monday to Thursday 09:00 – 17:00

Friday 09:00 – 22:00

Saturday and Sunday 09:00 – 20:00

Summer Season – April 1st to October 31st

Monday 08:00 – 16:00

Tuesday to Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Friday 08:00 – 22:00

Closed

1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25th & 26th December

Best things to see and do

Attend a concert or play at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Take a tour of the structure.

Enjoy the views of the Acropolis from the theatre.

Have a picnic on the grounds of the theatre.

Relax in the gardens of the theatre.

Take a walk through the ruins.

Learn about the history of the structure.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

After a short walk up to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and just before you turn to continue your journey up the Acropolis, is a perfect opportunity to capture the quintessential photographs of the theatre and the view over Athens.

My photos of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Where to find the best tickets and tours to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

5. National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Musuem in Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens

About the National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum is the museum to visit for unique exhibits in Athens, including fabulous Mycenaean gold and an unrivalled quantity of sculpture, pottery, and jewellery. 

This museum is, without doubt, one of the world’s finest museums. It was opened in 1891, and it took a further 65 years of renovation and reorganization to do justice to its collection.

Along with the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum is a must-see when visiting Athens. The museum has an impressive collection of artefacts from various periods in Greek history, including gold jewellery from the Mycenaean period, sculptures, pottery, and more. The museum is large, and it may take a few hours to see everything, so be sure to allow enough time when planning your visit.

Some of the National Archaeological Museum highlights include the Mask of Agamemnon, a gold mask discovered at Mycenae, and the statue of Poseidon from Cape Artemision. 

The museum also has an extensive collection of pottery from the Archaic period and an extensive collection of coins. There is something for everyone at the National Archaeological Museum, so be sure to add it to your list of must-see attractions when visiting Athens.

Where is it located?

Opening Hours

Winter Season – November 1st to March 31st

Tuesday: 13:00 – 20:00

Wednesday to Monday: 08:30 – 15:30

Summer Season – April 1st to October 31st

Tuesday: 13:00 – 20:00

Wednesday to Monday: 08:00 – 20:00

Closed

December 25th and 26th, January 1st, March 25th, Easter Sunday, May 1st.

Best things to see and do

The Mask of Agamemnon

The Mask of Agamemnon is one of the most famous exhibits at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The mask was discovered at Mycenae, and it is made of gold. It is believed that the mask was worn by Agamemnon, the king of Mycenae, during his funeral. The mask is a stunning piece of art, and it is one of the most popular exhibits at the museum.

Poseidon Statue

The statue of Poseidon from Cape Artemision is another popular exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The statue is made of bronze, and it was discovered in 1920. It is believed that the statue was part of a group of statues that depicted Poseidon and his children. The statue is impressive, and it is a must-see for anyone visiting the National Archaeological Museum.

Mycenaean Gold

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is home to some of the world’s finest examples of Mycenaean gold. The jewellery dates back to the 16th century BC. It is some of the most beautiful gold jewellery you will ever see. The gold jewellery from the Mycenaean period is truly stunning. It is well worth a visit to the museum to see it for yourself. Be sure to add the Mycenaean gold to your list of must-see attractions when visiting the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

The statue of Poseidon from Cape Artemision

The statue of Poseidon from Cape Artemision is one of the most popular exhibits at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The statue is made of bronze, and it was discovered in 1920. It is believed that the statue was part of a group of statues that depicted Poseidon and his children. The statue is impressive, and it is a must-see for anyone visiting the National Archaeological Museum.

The sculptures from the Archaic period

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is home to a large collection of sculptures from the Archaic period. The sculptures date back to the 7th century BC, and they provide a fascinating insight into the art and culture of that time. The sculptures are impressive, and they are well worth a visit if you want to learn more about the Archaic period in Greece.

The statue of Athena from the Parthenon

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is home to many impressive statues, including the statue of Athena from the Parthenon. The statue was discovered in 1838, and it is made of marble. It is believed that the statue was part of a group of statues that depicted Athena and her family.

The Nike of Samothrace

The Nike of Samothrace is made of marble, and it was discovered in 1863. It is thought that the statue was part of a group of statues that depicted the goddess Nike. The Nike of Samothrace is a stunning statue, and it is well worth a visit to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens to see it for yourself.

The Demeter of Knidos

The Demeter of Knidos is another popular exhibit at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The statue is made of marble, and it was discovered in 1874. It is thought that the statue was part of a group of statues that depicted the goddess Demeter.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is one of the best museums in the world, and it has some fabulous photo opportunities. Here are some of the best places to take photos at the National Archaeological Museum:

The Mycenaean Gold Exhibit – This exhibit features some of the most stunning Mycenaeangold in the world. It makes for a great photo op.

The Sculpture Gallery – The National Archaeological Museum has an extensive collection of Greek sculptures. The gallery is a great place to take photos of these incredible works of art.

The Pottery Collection – The National Archaeological Museum also has one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of ancient pottery. The pottery gallery is definitely worth a visit for some photo opportunities.

The Jewellery Exhibit – This exhibit is home to some of the finest jewellery from antiquity. It makes for a great place to take photos.

The Museum atrium – This is the central area of the National Archaeological Museum. It is a great place to take photos of the museum’s architecture.

My photos of the National Archaeological Museum

Access for those with disabilities and impairments

The National Archaeological Museum has a separate entrance for the disabled from the side of Vas. Heraklion Street, which can be accessed either through a ramp from the main side of the museum or directly from the sidewalk of Vas. Heraklion 

Also, there is a toilet for the disabled on the basement level with all the appropriate infrastructure. There are lifts for access to both the basement and the first floor. 

A wheelchair is also available at the museum information desk. 

Those with total or partial loss of vision can request the 20 exhibits of the Sculpture Collection that can be accessed in the museum information.

Finally, there are organized educational programs and services for groups of people with total or partial vision loss (tactile thematic tours and workshops), with deafness and special educational needs, which are implemented by archaeologists of the National Archaeological Museum, depending on the demand of those interested or in the context of special anniversaries.

6. Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens

About the Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium (Panathinaikos Stadio, or just Panathineio) is a multi-purpose stadium in Athens. It is one of the top things to do in Athens, and it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

The stadium was initially built as a simple track and field venue by the Athenian statesman Lykourgos. It was rebuilt in marble by the Roman emperor Herodes Atticus in 144 AD after being damaged by an earthquake. It was used for various athletic games, including foot races, boxing, wrestling, discus and javelin throwing.

It is an oval-shaped stadium with a capacity of approximately 45,000 spectators. The long sides of the stadium are 156 m (512 ft) in length, and the short sides are 110 m (360 ft). The stadium is built on a gentle slope, which provides good visibility of the track from all parts of the stadium.

The track of the Panathenaic Stadium is made of marble, which gives it its unique characteristic among all other stadiums in the world. The stadium has fifty-two rows of seats, with twenty-four rows on each long side and four rows on each short side.

The first row of seats on each long side is reserved for the members of the Athens Academy, who are given free tickets to all events held at the stadium.

The Panathenaic Stadium was the venue for the athletics events and the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896. 

It also hosted the athletics events of the 1906 Intercalated Games and the 1999 World Championships in Athletics.

The stadium is still used for athletics competitions, such as the Athens Classic Marathon, held every year in November. It is also used for various cultural events, such as concerts and political rallies.

In May 2001, the Panathenaic Stadium was the finishing point of a visit by Pope John Paul II. More than 80,000 people had gathered at the stadium to hear the Pope’s address.

It is also the finishing point of the annual Athens Classic Marathon, a running event every year in November. The marathon course starts at the Marathonos Gate, near the town of Marathon, and finishes at the Panathenaic Stadium.

The stadium is also used as a concert venue. It has hosted concerts by some of the world’s most famous musicians, including Elton John, Madonna, Rolling Stones, and U2.

Where is it located?

Best things to see and do

Take a guided tour

There are plenty of tours available to take you around the stadium and explain its history. This is a great way to learn more about the site and see some of its most essential features up close.

Watch a sporting event

Of course, one of the best things to do at the Panathenaic Stadium is watching a sporting event. The stadium hosts various sports, so there’s sure to be something going on during your visit.

Visit the museum

The Panathenaic Stadium is home to a museum that contains a lot of information about the history of the site and the events that have taken place there. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re interested in learning more about the stadium and its significance.

Climb to the top

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually climb to the top of the Panathenaic Stadium for some great views of Athens. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.

Take a walk around the stadium

Even if you’re not interested in doing any other activities on this list, simply walking around the Panathenaic Stadium is a great way to experience it. The stadium is massive, so you’ll definitely get a good workout.

Take a walk over the starting line

This is where the athletes would start their race in ancient times, and it is still used as a starting line today. 

Other things to do

Go for a run around the track and in the footsteps of the great and famous athletes. The track of the Panathenaic Stadium is made of marble, which gives it its unique characteristic among all other stadiums in the world.

Take a break in one of the 45,000 seats for spectators. They offer a great view of the track and the surrounding area.

Take a walk over to the finishing line and imagine yourself competing with the greats.

Go and stand on the podium. It is where the race winners would be crowned in ancient times, and it is still used today.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

The starting line

This is where the athletes would start their race in ancient times, and it is still used as a starting line today. It makes for a great photo opportunity, especially with the beautiful backdrop of the stadium.

The track

The track is still in use today and is one of the most popular places to take photos at the Panathenaic Stadium. It is a great place to get a photo of the beautiful architecture and the athletes in action.

The seats

The seats are another popular place to take photos at the Panathenaic Stadium. They offer a great view of the track and the surrounding area.

The finish line

The finish line is where the athletes would finish their race in ancient times, and it is still used as a finish line today. It makes for a great photo opportunity, especially with the beautiful backdrop of the stadium.

The podium

The podium is where the race winners would be crowned in ancient times, and it is still used today. It is a great place to get a photo of the winners and the crowd.

The entrance

The entrance to the Panathenaic Stadium is a great place to take photos. It is a great way to get a photo of the beautiful architecture and the people entering the stadium.

The exit

The exit from the Panathenaic Stadium is also a great place to take photos. It is a great way to get a photo of the beautiful architecture and the people leaving the stadium.

From above

The Panathenaic Stadium offers a great view from above. This is a great place to take photos of the whole stadium as well as the surrounding area.

From below

The Panathenaic Stadium also offers a great view from below. This is a great place to take photos of the beautiful architecture and the people in the stadium.

The surroundings

This is an excellent place to take photos of the surrounding area and the people in the stadium.

My photos of the Panathenaic Stadium

Access for those with disabilities and impairments

The stadium is located in the background of an enormous square with two steps with portable steel ramps in the middle. 

There are two more steps at the entrance with a portable steel ramp.

To avoid the ramps, I suggest that you approach the stadium from the left or the right side, where there are no steps. 

At the sides, the square is flat, and there are also gates to enter the stadium from the same level.

7. Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Athens and the Stoa of Attalos
The Ancient Agora of Athens

About the Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Athens was the heart of the ancient city and the centre of Athenian democracy. It was the focal point for political, commercial, administrative and social activity, the religious and cultural centre, and the seat of justice. 

The most important buildings were centred around the central open space, or Agora, a meeting place for citizens to gather, discuss politics, conduct business or hear speeches. Today, the Ancient Agora is one of Athens’s most popular tourist attractions. Its well-preserved ruins provide a fascinating insight into life in Ancient Greece.

From the 6th century BC, many public buildings gradually surrounded the open space. It was adorned with temples, altars, stoas (covered walkways), fountains, portraits, and statues.

Many famous and well-known people have walked through the Agora and addressed the people, including Socrates and St Paul. Many essential roads ended in the Ancient Agora of Athens, including Piraeus St, which connected the city with the town and port of Piraeus.

There were around 35 buildings, structures and monuments located in the Ancient Agora of Athens, among which I have listed the most popular in the section “Best Things to do and See”. Here is the list of all those discovered so far.

North side of the Ancient Agora of Athens

  • Stoa Poikile (Painted stoa), a building built in the 4th century BC, used purely for socialising, unlike many other buildings in the Agora.
  • Altar of the Twelve Gods.
  • Stoa Basileios (Royal stoa).
  • Temple of Aphrodite Urania.
  • The south end of what is believed to be a Basilica has been uncovered near Hadrian Street and is dated to the mid 100s AD.

East side of the Ancient Agora of Athens

  • The Stoa of Attalos, a stoa lined with shops built in the 2nd century BC, has since been reconstructed for use as the Museum of The Ancient Agora.
  • The Peristyle Court was a law court located initially under the northern end of the Stoa of Attalos.
  • A collection of buildings were added to the southeast corner: the East stoa, the Library of Pantainos, the Nymphaeum and a temple.
  • The Library of Pantainos was more than just a library. The west and north wings were a series of rooms used for other purposes other than storing books. With the construction of the Library of Pantainos, the official entrance into the Agora was now between the Library and the Stoa of Attalos.
  • The Mint is a building used for the minting of bronze coinage in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. Still, there is no evidence of it being used for the minting of Athenian silver coinage.
  • The Monopteros was located south of the Basilica and dated to the mid 100s AD. It had no walls, was a dome supported by columns and was about 8 meters in diameter.
  • The Bema was a speakers platform located near the Stoa of Attalos.

South side of the Ancient Agora of Athens

  • The Middle stoa was the most extensive monument built during the 2nd century BC.
  • A small Roman temple was added in front of the Middle Stoa.
  • South-east Fountain House.
  • South Stoa I.
  • Aiakeion.

West side of the Ancient Agora of Athens

  • Strategeion
  • Agoraios Kolonos
  • Tholos
  • Boundary stone
  • Monument of the Eponymous Heroes, a monument for the ten heroes of the tribes of Athens which, was also used as a notice board for new legislation, public events and military conscription.
  • Metroon (Old Bouleuterion)
  • Bouleuterion
  • Temple of Hephaestus (Hephaestion)
  • Temple of Apollo Patroos
  • Stoa of Zeus
  • The Temple of Zeus Phratrios and Athena Phratria dated to the 300s BCE and is located near the Temple of Apollo Patroos.
  • A statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian was located near the metroon.

Other things to see

  • A number of other notable monuments were added to the Agora. Some of these included:
  • An Altar of Zeus Agoraios was added to the east of the monument to the Eponymous Heroes.
  • The Temple of Ares, dedicated to Ares, the god of war, was added in the north half Agora, just south of the Altar of the Twelve Gods.
  • The Odeon of Agrippa and accompanying gymnasium were added to the centre of the Agora.
  • There is evidence of a Synagogue in the Agora of Athens in the 3rd century.

If you want to get a feel for what life was like in Ancient Greece, then the Ancient Agora of Athens is definitely worth a visit.

Where is it located?

Best things to see and do

Stoa of Attalos

The Stoa of Attalos is one of the most impressive buildings in the Ancient Agora of Athens. It was built by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon, who ruled between 159 BC and 138 BC.

It is thought to have been a kind of ancient commercial centre with up to 22 shops and stalls on each of the two floors lining the western wall. The truly impressive dimensions are 115 metres (377 feet) by 20 metres wide (65 feet ) and made from the same marble as the Parthenon is.

​In the early 1950s, the Stoa of Attalos was fully reconstructed on the original foundations using the original materials found on-site by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus in Athens is the best-preserved ancient temple in the world.

This magnificent Greek temple stands on the top of the low hill of Agoras Kolonos in Athens, and it is just northwest of the famous Ancient Agora.

It is particularly special to visit the temple first thing in the morning as it looks stunning and stands as a testament to the sophisticated world of the Ancient Greeks.

The temple is so well preserved for centuries because from the 7th century BC until 1834 it was used as a place of worship.

It is dedicated to Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalwork (who made the legendary shield of Achilles) and to Athena, the goddess of pottery and crafts. Interestingly, archaeologists discovered the remains of many small pottery and metal workshops surrounding the temple.

Work began constructing the temple in 445 BC when Pericles was in power, and he was keen to make Athens the focus of Greek culture. The temple was designed by the architect, Iktinus, and was not completed for 30 years, as both Iktinus and the funding were temporarily diverted to the construction of the Parthenon.

Altar of the Twelve Gods

The Altar of the Twelve Gods (also called the Sanctuary of the Twelve Gods) was an important altar and sanctuary at the Ancient Agora of Athens. It was established by Pisistratus the Younger (the grandson of the tyrant Pisistratus) around 521 BC. It marked the central point from which distances from Athens were measured and was a place of supplication and refuge.

The exact identities of the twelve gods to whom the Altar was dedicated are uncertain. Still, they were most likely substantially the same as the twelve Olympian gods represented on the east frieze of the Parthenon: Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, and of course Zeus.

Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens

The Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens is located inside the Stoa of Attalos, and most of the well-preserved collections are about Athenian democracy.

The collections include bronze, clay and glass objects, coins, sculptures, and inscriptions from the 7th to the 5th century BC, the pottery of the Byzantine period, and the Turkish occupation. The exhibition within the museum contains a work of art that describes the private and public life in ancient Athens.

In 2012, a fascinating and extensive sculpture exhibition was added to the museum, including items from the excavation at the Ancient Agora of Athens.

The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes

Situated near the Metroon (An ancient Greek temple dedicated to a mother goddess) is the Monument of the Eponymous Heroes. It was a marble podium that bore the bronze statues of the ten heroes representing the tribes of Athens.

It was a centre of information and used to post items of importance to all Athenians, including, proposed legislation, decrees and announcements.

Best places for photos, videos, and the perfect Instagram

The Ancient Agora of Athens is a photographer’s dream, with its stunning ancient architecture set against the backdrop of the Acropolis. There are many beautiful places to take photographs at the Ancient Agora, but some of our favourites include:

Stoa of Attalos

Capturing the entire left side with the front showing the impressive size and the columns.

Temple of Hephaestus

Looking up towards the temple from the base of the low hill of Agoras Kolonos.

Standing at the front to capture the size and beauty.

In the small grass area to the left to capture the length and the columns.

Lots of opportunities to photograph the amazing views of the entire Ancient Agora of Athens, and the surrounding area.

Lots of places to photograph the Acropolis of Athens and the Parthenon.

Altar of the Twelve Gods

In from the Altar of the Twelve Gods and to the side to include buildings.

Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens

There are many opportunities to take photos of some fantastic artefacts, objects and art.

The Monument of the Eponymous Heroes

Capturing the length and side of this monument is always a great choice.

My photos of the Ancient Agora of Athens

Access for those with disabilities and impairments

The Archaeological Site of the Ancient Agora of Athens is wheelchair accessible through the main entrance, at Adrianou 24 (assistance by a companion is advisable).

In the Temple of Hephaestus area, wheelchair access is possible through the entrance at the Thiseion Square (Apostolou Pavlou Street), upon communication (210 3214824, 3210180). You can see the accessible passage in the image at the end.

Both levels of the Museum of the Ancient Agora at the Stoa of Attalos are wheelchair accessible. To access the upper floor using the lift visitors are encouraged to ask the guards. There are also toilets for individuals with disabilities within the building.

At the Museum of the Ancient Agora (Stoa Attalou – Information desk), tactile site plans and brochures in Braille in Greek and English are available for visually impaired visitors.

Summary

Well, there you have it. I hope I have provided you with the information you need. If you are ever in Athens and at the same time as me, maybe we could meet for a coffee and chat.

Of course, if you have any suggestions, please do let me know in the comments below.

Thanks

Ian

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