Updated: Jan 4
Athens is filled with historical sites, ancient ruins, temples, and hilltop views. Although we recommend 2 full days in Athens, below is an itinerary of this great city that can easily be completed in just 24 hours.
Morning in Athens
1. Grab some Loukoumades at Lukumades
Deep fried fluffy doughnut-like balls drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. If that description does not sound heavenly enough, Loukoumades were offered up to the gods during the time of ancient Greece, meaning they should certainly satisfy the sweet tooth of any of us commoners. Perfecting this ancient and traditional recipe is Lukumades. While they do offer many different topping for your Loukoumades, be sure to order plain Loukoumades drizzled it honey and cinnamon for an authentic taste.
Try: Order plain Loukoumades drizzled in honey cinnamon at Lukumades
Timeframe: 5th century BC
Cost: €20 (€10 from Nov 1st - March 31st) or *Free on Select Days
As the birthplace of democracy, with much historical and archeological significance, visiting the Acropolis is a must while in Athens. Most people confuse the Acropolis & Parthenon. The Acropolis is a fortress that was built in the 5th century BC and houses many ancient buildings such as the Temple of Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, the theater of Odeon of Herodes, and the most famous being the Parthenon.
Admission: €20 (€10 from Nov 1st - March 31st)
The Parthenon is a marble temple dedicated to the goddess of wisdom & war, Athena. Located at the very top of Lycabetous hill, the Parthenon has withstood many battles, natural disasters, and lootings. The walk up Lycabetous hill takes about 20 minutes and is not too strenuous. There are archeological sites to view throughout the entire Acropolis hill, therefore, depending on your interest and appreciation, the time spent at the Acropolis could be anywhere from one to three hours.
Theater of Odeon of Herodes
Walking on these grounds is truly walking through history, which to us, was priceless. However, there are ways to see the Acropolis for free. If you plan your trip around the below *free entry days, you will be able to walk right into any archeological site, monument or museum in Greece for free
Free Entry Days to the Acropolis
March 6th: Melina Mercouri Remembrance Day
April 18th: International Monuments Day
May 18th: International Museums Day
Last weekend in September: European Heritage Days
October 28th: Oxi Day
1st Sunday of each month: November 1st - March 31st
Temple of Athena Nike
If your travels do not fall on one of the above free-entry days, tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the Acropolis within their ticket office for €20 (or €10 if between Nov 1st - March 31st). Lines can be long here, and online third parties do sell tickets ahead of time that allow you to skip the line, however, we recommend getting a combo ticket. A combo ticket is €30 and will allow you entry to not only the Acropolis, but six additional archeological sites around Athens. These sites include: the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Agora and Museums of Ancient Agora, Library of Hadrian, the Roman Agora, Aristotle's School, and Kerameikos Cemetery.
Temple of Erechtheion
J&L Tip: We avoided the lines at the Acropolis and bought a combo ticket at the Temple of Olympian Zeus for €30 (no line! We went the end of May). This combo ticket allowed us to skip the lines at all remaining archeological sites included in the combo ticket, including the long lines at the Acropolis! Additionally, the combo ticket is valid for one visit to all seven archeological sites within a five-day period so you can take your time exploring, appreciating, and learning all of Athens' history.
Timeframe: 2nd century AC
Dedicated to the Olympian Zeus, this temple was the largest in Greece and housed the largest statue in all of ancient Greece. There was a wall built around the temple, Roman bathes, and a monumental arch. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in an earthquake and only 15 columns remain.
Start your day here and buy your combo ticket or €6 separately
Afternoon in Athens
4. Refuel after a morning of history with some Souvlaki
We are still salivating over Greek Souvlaki, it is incredible! Similar to gyros, however, souvlaki meat is cooked horizontally on a rotating skewer vs. gyro meat which is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Souvlaki is filled with a warm Greek yogurt sauce and French fries seasoned in paprika. We highly recommend trying Souvlaki at Street Souvlaki. With multiple locations around Athens and Souvlaki under €4, you may find yourself stopping here more than once (we certainly did!)
J&L Tip: Our favorite food in Greece!
5. Head to the Ancient Agora of Athens
Timeframe: 6th century BC
"Agora" in ancient Greece refers to a "marketplace" or "gathering place". This agora, located in the center of the city, was likely used as an assembly. While many of the building within the agora have been destroyed, restored, and/or restructured since their origin, the Temple of Hephaestus is known to be one of the most well preserved temples from its era.
Admission: €10 or included in combo ticket
6. Next, visit the Library of Hadrian
Timeframe: 2nd century AC
This library was build under the Roman Emperor Hadrian in order to impress the people of Athens with its grand appeal. The library not only housed literary words, but also offered a place to listen to lectures and host schools. Parts of the library still stand today and the grounds have a small museum that houses artifacts and statues excavated from the site. Below shows the courtyard which housed various churches outside the library.
Admission: €4 or included in combo ticket
7. Final stop on a day of sight-seeing, the Roman Agora
Timeframe: 2 BC
While the Ancient Agora mentioned above was used as a political gathering space, the Roman Agora was used as a marketplace. Not much different from the open-air markets we have in cities today, the citizens of ancient Greece would convene to buy, sell, & trade their crafts, foods, and talents. The grand gate entrance to the Roman Agora still stands today, as well as, several columns from its marketplace structure.
Admission: €6 or included in combo ticket
Evening in Athens
8. Enjoy a Parthenon view at Savvas
Savvas in in the heart of Athens, offering many Greek cuisines such as stuffed gyros, salads, and kebabs. With affordable prices for both food and beverages, this was one of our favorite dining experiences within Athens. Exceptional customer service, delicious foods, and priceless views, we would recommend Savvas to any family and friends visiting Athens.
J&L Tip: Ask to be seated on the rooftop for views of the Acropolis!
9. Relax with a brew at Noctua Brewery
Recommended Brew: Night Vision (Black IPA - 7.2% ABV)
When Noctua opened in 2016, it was the only microbrewery in Athens. Its founders dreamed of raising Athens’ craft beer scene to the level they had enjoyed worldwide. Noctua’s name derives from the owl of Athena, the city’s patron and the ancient goddess of wisdom. Night Vision is a full bodied dark IPA with a moderate bitterness that combines baked malts with a lot of hops.
Also Read: Top Craft Breweries of Europe
Historical data about Archeological Sites is from the World History Encyclopedia