City Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Athens

Athens is one of the oldest European cities, widely regarded as the birthplace of Western Civilization. Its history begins in the Neolithic period between 4th and 3rd millennium BC. The first settlement on the site of Athens was situated on the rock of Acropolis which means “high city” in Greek.

According to the Greek mythology, the name “Athens” emerged from a competition between the goddess of wisdom, Athena, and the god of sea, Poseidon. Both wanted to become patron of the city. To please the locals, Poseidon used his power to create a massive, foamy stream of water. Initially, the people were excited with the generous gift, but then realized that it was actually seawater, unfit for human consumption. Athena, in turn, gifted the city with an olive tree. A highly practical choice, it gave the people food, fuel, and wood to build homes. So, ultimately, they decided in favor of Athena to be their patron and named the city in her honor.

The period of 5th and 4th century BC marked the zenith of Athens as a European center of literature, philosophy and arts. Some of the most significant cultural and intellectual figures in western civilization of that time lived in Athens. Among them dramatists Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides and Sophocles, philosophers Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon, poet Simonides, and sculptor Phidias.

The city passed through periods of decline after the fall of the Roman Empire. By the early 19th century, its population had fallen below 5,000. The period of rebirth started in 1832 under King Otto who re-established Athens as the capital of Greece. The city enjoyed significant comeback after the World War II seeing migrants from villages and islands coming in search of work. Greece's entry into the European Union boosted the growth further.

On this walk, extending from the Parthenon to the Ancient Agora, we are going to explore Athens as the cradle of Western Civilization and discover some of its many archaeological gems, plus visit several popular shopping and recreation areas. To obtain directions to the sights in question, tap the sight's name below this introduction and then tap it on the map at the bottom of the sight's information screen. The GPS navigation function will guide you to the chosen destination.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Parthenon
  • Erechtheion
  • Temple of Athena Nike
  • Odeon of Herodes Atticus
  • Theater of Dionysus
  • Acropolis Museum
  • Arch of Hadrian
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus
  • Panathenaic Stadium
  • National Garden
  • Hellenic Parliament House
  • Syntagma Square
  • Ermou Street
  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Pandrossou Street Market
  • Temple of Hephaestus
  • Ancient Agora of Athens
  • Ancient Agora Museum / Stoa of Attalos
1
Parthenon

1) Parthenon (must see)

Parthenon is the most imposing structure sitting at the very top of the Acropolis which still evokes a great deal of awe, particularly at a close range. It was built around 440 BC in gratitude to goddess Athena, patron of the city, for her blessings during the war with the Persians. Climbing to the temple, albeit not difficult as such, is a bit challenging in terms of taking care not to slip along the way. Still, the Parthenon is well worth it and is a great spot for taking pictures, given the panoramic views of Athens, the port of Piraeus and the Aegean Sea opening from up there.

The construction of the Parthenon was commissioned by Pericles, leader of the ancient Athens metropolis, while Phidias, a renowned master sculptor and mason, supervised its ornamentation. The building itself makes one of the best examples of Doric architecture in Greece; however, the sculptural embellishment is more of an Ionic order. Guides to the temple often use photos with an overlay showing what it looked like complete with roofs and all the other elements. The nearby Acropolis Museum is worth checking out, in this respect, to see the facade marble tiles and other decorations attesting to the grandeur of this site.

The Parthenon remained unchanged until the 5th century AD when it was converted to a church. Under the Turkish rule, it served as a mosque. In 1687, during the siege of the Acropolis by Francesco Morosini, the Parthenon was bombarded and largely destroyed. Another great damage to it came in the early 19th century at the hands of Lord Elgin of Britain, who looted much of the temple's sculptural decoration and sold it to the British Museum.

Despite that, the Parthenon remains one of the most important surviving architectural monuments of Greece and, over the years, has served an inspiration for many public buildings worldwide: parliaments, universities, museums, libraries and more. All the recent renovations of the Parthenon further reveal the timeless beauty of this masterpiece.

Why You Should Visit:
An imposing monument that still evokes a sense of awe when you see it close up. The views of the city from this point (one of the highest) are beautiful, too.

Tips:
Go to the Acropolis early in the morning – otherwise, you may spend 1-2 hours in the line.
There are two gates at the Acropolis. Make sure you enter and leave at different gates so you don't miss anything.
You will save money by buying a combination ticket which also covers Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Theater of Dionysus, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Ancient Agora of Athens.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 11am-7:30pm; Tue-Sun: 8am-7:30pm (Apr-Oct); Daily: 8:30am-3pm (Nov-Mar)
2
Erechtheion

2) Erechtheion (must see)

The Erechtheion forms part of the Acropolis and is one of the finest examples of Greek Ionic architecture. It was also the most sacred among temples on the Acropolis due to serving as a sanctuary of the city's main cults. The temple was dedicated to Athena – goddess of wisdom, Poseidon – the god of sea, and the snake-bodied hero Erechtonius. According to legend, this legendary hero was killed by Poseidon during the battle for the patronage of Athens.

Around 400 BC, the leader of Athens, Pericles commissioned sculptor and mason, Phidias to build the structure you may see today. It is made of marble and the friezes were of black limestone.

The temple has three main parts: the main temple, the northern and the southern porches. The main temple has two cellae, one dedicated to the Goddess of wisdom, Athena, and the other to the God of sea, Poseidon. It symbolized the reconciliation between the two after their battle for the patronage of Athens. The northern porch has Ionic columns and a Propylon. The most striking feature, however, is the famous porch of maidens. These six massive female figures seem to be supporting the porch roof on their heads. No other temple has such detail for pillars. The maidens are, in fact, plastic copies of the originals now housed in Acropolis Museum. This was done to prevent them from melting further in the caustic climate around Athens.

At night the temple's foundation lights up and illuminates the entire structure on the north side of Acropolis. It's a beautiful sight to see from a rooftop restaurant or bar within the vicinity.

Why You Should Visit:
Similar to the other temples on Acropolis, this one reflects the ancient Greeks boasting and passion for the powerful gods, glorious heroes, and honorable kings during their time.
At night the temple's foundation lights up and illuminates the entire structure on the north side of Acropolis. It's a beautiful sight to see from a rooftop restaurant or bar within the vicinity.

Tip:
Try and have a guided tour to experience the full explanations and history of the site. However, if you skip the tour, you can manage better at your own pace and time.
Also, make sure to visit early in the morning as it may get very hot later in the day and carry water as you won't get anything inside.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-7pm; Sun: 10pm–12am
3
Temple of Athena Nike

3) Temple of Athena Nike (must see)

At only 11 feet – or 3.3 metres – in height, this small temple is easy to miss on the Acropolis. It sits atop the rock wall to the right of the Propylaea Gate, and you'll get a good view of it at the upper right as you enter the Acropolis. Destroyed twice in history, it was successfully rebuilt so you can admire its perfect symmetrical architecture with four Ionic columns at each end. A full-scale restoration was completed in 2010, so it looks very much like it would have looked in 420 BC when Athenians worshiped Athena Nike there.

In Greek mythology, Nike was the goddess of speed, strength and victory. Athenians left offerings and prayed that she would help them defeat Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. Unlike other Nike statues which usually had wings, the one at this temple was wingless so that victory could never abandon the city. Looking up, some of the pieces that make the temple's frieze are still there. Fragments of the frieze are exhibited in the Acropolis Museum and the British Museum.

Tip:
Get your multi-ticket pass from somewhere else to skip the queue.
Whichever entrance you go in, exit at the other one (i.e. if you enter from the North Entrance, leave by the South) so you see everything.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 8am-4pm; Tue, Thu, Sat-Sun: 8am-8pm; Wed, Fri: 8am-1am
4
Odeon of Herodes Atticus

4) Odeon of Herodes Atticus (must see)

This stone amphitheater is one of the largest surviving classical Greek theaters in Athens. From ancient times to the present days it has been the venue of musical and theater performances of well known Greek and international performers.

The Odeon, also called the Herodeon, was built by the rich Greek aristocrat and Roman senator, Herodes Atticus. It was dedicated as a memorial to his wife in 161 AD. The structure has a stone wall that supports two levels of seats. In classical times, both popular and serious plays were performed at the venue. Today, the marble seating in the gallery has been restored and cushions cover the marble seats for the comfort of spectators.

After extensive renovations in 1950, the Odeon has returned to its former glory and is the venue of the summer Athens Festival that features music performances and opera. Acclaimed performers like Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, and Sting have given memorable shows at the venue. International acts continue to appear there, so it's worth checking the schedule in advance. Watching a concert here on a beautiful night with the moon above you may be the greatest experience you could have. Otherwise, you can just see it as part of a tour of the city.

Why You Should Visit:
To admire the majesty of ancient Greek architecture at its peak! Watching a concert here on a beautiful summer night with the moon above you may be the greatest experience you could have. Otherwise, you can just see it as part of a tour of the city.

Tip:
International acts are frequent, so it's worth checking the schedule in advance of travel to Athens.
Of course, getting tickets ahead of time is reliant on good weather for a show in this open-air theater.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-8pm
5
Theater of Dionysus

5) Theater of Dionysus (must see)

The theater of Dionysus is one of the earliest surviving theaters of classical Greece and is known as the birthplace of European theater. As such, it's a great opportunity for both theater lovers and kids to get a feel for what ancient theater must have been like. While you can't climb all over it, access is nicely provided to walk all around the perimeter of the stage and to sit in the seats, which is a great way to make history come alive.

Around 500 BC, the theater was erected near the Acropolis for the performance of plays, which were a popular form of entertainment in ancient Greece. The location chosen was near the temple of Dionysus, the God of wine and the patron of drama. Like all the major ancient Greek theaters, the shape of the stage was semicircular and the gallery could seat 25,000 spectators. The theater had fallen into and remained in disrepair until the Roman Emperor Nero ordered its restoration and renovation.

The first drama by classical playwright Thespis from whom the word Thespian was coined, was performed at the venue in 530 BC. Plays of classical Greek dramatists like Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Euripides and Menander were subsequently staged. These well known classical dramatists often competed for a prize awarded for the most popular among plays. Serious Greek tragedies that propounded philosophy in the form of a drama, as well as light popular plays, were also staged at the theater.

Why You Should Visit:
Great opportunity for theater lovers, students and kids to get a feel for what ancient theater must have been like.
While you cannot climb all over it, access is nicely provided to walk all around the perimeter of the stage and to sit in the seats, which is a great way to make history come alive.

Tip:
Access to this site comes either separately or with your Acropolis/Ancient Agora/Temple of Zeus Combo Ticket (well worth the investment).

Opening Hours:
Mon: 11am-7:30pm; Tue-Sun: 8am-7:30pm (Apr-Oct); Daily: 8:30am-3pm (Nov-Mar)
6
Acropolis Museum

6) Acropolis Museum (must see)

The Acropolis Museum houses all artifacts found in and around the Acropolis in Athens since 2009. It is a four-story modern building located on the southeastern slope of the hill and offers spectacular views of the Acropolis. Collections are displayed on the first three levels while the fourth level holds the museum shop as well as a café serving authentic Greek food.

At the entrance, visitors are greeted by an ancient owl, the sacred bird of Athena, dating back to 500 BC. There is an impressive display of corks, free-standing sculptures of Gods and humans, marble figures, fragmented artifacts and friezes. The outside entryway and walkways are mostly glass floors, so as you walk, you can see the dug-out remains of civilization beneath you. There are also models of the Acropolis and replicas of the Parthenon marbles that are now in the British Museum.

The multimedia presentation of the exhibits is interesting and visitors can hire personal guides for a better understanding of the significance of the displayed items. This is an excellent place to get a great introduction to the Acropolis and the birthplace of democracy, with the added advantages of being well organized and air-conditioned.

Why You Should Visit:
To get a great introduction to (or great overview of) the Acropolis and the birthplace of democracy, with the advantages of being well organized and air-conditioned.

Tip:
Start with the excellent video on the 3rd floor, which ties the museum nicely to the Acropolis (also stunning views of the Acropolis from the windows there), then work your way down (there is an outside terrace on the 2nd floor). There are places on the ground level where you can see through the floor to the active excavation underneath.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 8am-4pm; Tue-Thu, Sat, Sun: 8am-8pm; Fri: 8am-10pm (Apr-Oct);
Mon-Thu: 9am-5pm; Fri: 9am-10pm; Sat, Sun: 9am-8pm (Nov-Mar)
7
Arch of Hadrian

7) Arch of Hadrian (must see)

This triumphal arch was built to celebrate the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian and to honor him for his many benefactions to the city. It serves as a gateway between the ancient part of Athens and the then new district constructed mostly during the rule of Hadrian, who reigned over the Roman Empire until the year 138 A.D. Hadrian was a great admirer of classical Greek literature, philosophy and arts. During his reign, he sponsored a number of important projects in Athens, including the Library of Hadrian and the Hadrianic Aqueduct, as well as the completion of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, among others.

The entire monument to honor Hadrian is made of marble from Mt. Pentelikon, located 18 km away. The design is fully symmetrical from front to back and side to side; however, while the lower part recalls similar Roman arches, the top is typical of a Greek arch. There is one inscription on the west side that reads, "This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus." There is also an inscription on the east side that reads, "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus." This monument can be viewed for free on your walk through Athens; but, if you want to get up close you'll need to either buy a ticket to the Temple of Olympian Zeus or a combination ticket for the major archaeological sites of Athens.

Why You Should Visit:
Worth a stop to understand the relationship between the Roman Empire and its province of Achaea, conquered by the Romans in the year 146 BC.

Tip:
It can be viewed for free but if you want to get up close you'll need to either buy a ticket to the Temple of Olympian Zeus or a combination ticket for the major archaeological sites of Athens.
8
Temple of Olympian Zeus

8) Temple of Olympian Zeus (must see)

Right behind Hadrian’s Arch, with a clear view of the Acropolis, is the Olympieion, also known as the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Its construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who planned on building the greatest temple in the ancient world. Their plans seem to have not worked quite well, as the temple was only completed some 640 years after, under the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian, a known admirer of classical Greek culture.

When construction was at last completed, the Olympieion was renowned as the largest temple in Greece, housing a gold and ivory statue of Zeus that was one of the largest in the ancient world. It also had 104 colossal columns of which only 15 remain standing today. The other columns were destroyed by successive conquerors that used them as building material, but also by natural causes such as earthquakes. A 16th column that fell during a storm in 1852 lies near the ruined temple. The ruins extend past the gigantic columns, but you're not always allowed down into them as it's still an active archaeological site. If you have purchased the Acropolis multi-site ticket you can get into the temple for free.

Why You Should Visit:
Although a lot of the temple is missing the sheer scale of the remaining columns and size of the site excites one's imagination. There is also a great photo backdrop with Acropolis in the distance.

Tip:
If you have purchased the Acropolis multi-site ticket you can get into here automatically.

Opening Hours:
Summer: Daily: 8am-7:30pm
Winter: Daily: 8:30am-3pm
9
Panathenaic Stadium

9) Panathenaic Stadium (must see)

The Panathenaic is the world's only major stadium that was built entirely of white marble. It's also one of the oldest in the world. In ancient times, the stadium on this site was used to host the athletic portion of the Panathenaic Games every 4 years in honor of the Goddess Athena. In 329 BC it was rebuilt in marble and in 140 AD was enlarged and renovated, giving a seated capacity of 50,000. After the late 4th century AD, however, the stadium was abandoned and fell into ruin.

The remnants of the ancient structure were excavated and refurbished for the revival of the Olympic Games that were held in the late 19th century. The stadium is much smaller than the Olympic stadiums built today, but one still has to be impressed with its simplicity and, of course, its five Olympic rings. At the entrance, you can see four stones carved with all the interesting history of the Olympics from the late 19th century to present day.

The first international Olympic Games in modern history were held in this stadium in 1896 and King George I of Greece opened the ceremony. Among participants were 241 male athletes from 14 countries, competing in 9 sports and 43 events. The first 9 modern Olympic sports were athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, tennis, shooting, swimming, weightlifting and wrestling. Every four years since then, athletes from all over the world came together to compete against each other. Only the great wars of the 20th century have prevented the normal schedule of the Olympics – but as soon as those wars ended, the tradition went on. The last time Athens hosted the Olympics was, in fact, in 2004. The stadium itself is very nice to visit but note that you'll probably get the best experience with the free audio guide provided.

Why You Should Visit:
It is a beautiful stadium and the place where modern Olympics were born.
The small museum on site offers an exhibition on the history of the Olympics.

Tip:
Make sure you ask for the audio guide (included in the affordable entry ticket) upon entry and then climb to the upper tier for stunning views of the stadium.
10
National Garden

10) National Garden (must see)

The National Garden is a large green refuge right beside Syntagma Square and the Greek Parliament in the heart of Athens. It is open dawn to dusk, and is quite popular with tourists. Along with the large variety of plants and trees, this garden encloses some ancient ruins, Corinthian capitals of columns, as well as mosaics, and other features. On Southeast side are the busts of Capodistrias, the first governor of Greece, while on the South side is the bust of celebrated Greek poet Dionysios Solomos, author of the Greek National Hymn.

The park doesn't charge an entrance fee, but there is a fence surrounding the gardens, so you'll have to find an open gate for entrance and exit. The main entrance is on Leoforos Amalias, the street named after the Queen who envisioned this park. In the National Garden you will find a duck pond, a small zoo, a small cafe, and a Children's Library and playground. The place is quite clean, suitable and safe for everyone in daytime.

Why You Should Visit:
By far the best park in the center of Athens. Large variety of plants and trees. Quite clean, safe, and suitable for everyone in daytime. Could perhaps be nicer with a bit more upkeep but it is almost as good as it gets by local standards.

Tip:
No entrance fee, but there is a fence surrounding the gardens, so you'll need to find an open gate for entrance and exit.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-7:30pm
11
Hellenic Parliament House

11) Hellenic Parliament House (must see)

The building that houses the Hellenic Parliament was once the old palace of the Greek Royal Family. After being damaged by a fire at the turn of the 20th century, the Royal Family moved to the new palace which is now the Greek Presidential Mansion.

This neoclassical building was originally completed in 1840 based on the plans of Bavarian architect, Friedrich von Gärtner. It served as the official residence of Otto, the first King to rule Greece after the end of the Turkish occupation. Otto’s father King Ludwig of Bavaria financed the building's construction, which was later remodeled to make it a suitable parliament house. It became the building of the National Assembly of Greece in 1935.

The building now houses the offices of the President of the National Assembly, along with archives and other services. To the front is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by an elite regiment called the Evzones. The changing of guard by the Evzones takes place on the hour and is a popular tourist attraction. The traditional outfit and the ceremony are something not to miss!

Tip:
Keep in mind that you cannot step on the marble stairs and only enter one side of the palace that shows the beautiful marble walls/floors as well as the artistic ceiling of a palace. No tour guide needed.
12
Syntagma Square

12) Syntagma Square (must see)

Syntagma Square is a large public square located in front of the 19th-century Royal Palace, that houses the Greek Parliament since 1935. The square is named after the Constitution that Otto, the first King of Greece, was obliged to grant to the Greek people, after a popular and military uprising in 1843.

The square is now a bustling destination located near many major tourist attractions and connected by many busy roads. It is also a major transportation hub where trams, buses, and the subway take people to several important destinations in and around Athens. At the same time, the square remains an important venue for public meetings and political demonstrations.

Syntagma Square is laid in two levels, with the Eastern part being higher than the Western. There is a fountain at its center and several benches where visitors relax or use free public WiFi internet. There are two green areas with pine and orange trees as well as cafes that offer refreshments. The city has recently renovated the square with white marble and new lamp posts. The fountain and benches around it have also been restored. You'll probably find yourself in this square at some point as it's so central and is also one of the most common meeting points.

Why You Should Visit:
Undoubtedly the most important square of modern Athens from both a historical and social point of view, it sits at the epicentre of commercial activity and Greek politics.
You will probably find yourself in this square at some point as it's so central, connects many places and is also one of the most common meeting points.

Tip:
At the bottom of the square is the beginning of Ermou Street, the main shopping street of Athens filled with different stores and a flea market to browse around.
13
Ermou Street

13) Ermou Street

Ermou Street is a one-and-a-half-kilometer-long road in central Athens, right off Syntagma Square. It is the most expensive shopping street in Athens and one of the most expensive in Europe. The shops are selling everything from high-end clothing to trinkets, leather goods, embroidery, and higher quality jewelry – but you can also find a few great local grocery stores or have a rest for a coffee or tea at the many cafes lining the street.

Tip:
Please be aware that the majority of the shops are actually closed on a Sunday.
14
Metropolitan Cathedral

14) Metropolitan Cathedral

This cathedral church, more popularly known as the "Metropolis", has recently been cleaned, restored and reopened to visitors. The interior decoration, with elaborate icons, decorations, and detailed murals, is beautiful and a great example of Greek Orthodox faith.

Construction of the church began on Christmas Day, 1842, with the laying of the cornerstone by King Otto and Queen Amalia of Greece. Workers used marble from 72 demolished churches to build the structure's immense walls. Three architects and 20 years later, it was complete.

Inside are the tombs of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Ottoman period: Saint Philothei and Patriarch Gregory V. In the Square in front of the Cathedral stand two statues of the last Byzantine Emperor, killed defending Constantinople against the Turks, as well as of the World War II Archbishop who worked to save Athens' Jews from the Nazi persecution. The square itself is much quieter than Syntagma Square and is a great spot to escape the bustle while having a drink in one of the cafes.

Opening Hours:
Daily 6:30am-7pm
15
Pandrossou Street Market

15) Pandrossou Street Market

The busy market on the narrow Pandrossou Street is a cluster of nearly one hundred shops. Vendors offer almost anything, from postcards to a range of souvenirs and local memorabilia. The choice is enormous and the quality of items on sale is generally good, including traditional and locally-made stuff. Alongside regular souvenir stalls, there is a fairly good choice of antiques and other valuable items. Plus, the flea market held on Sundays is a sight to behold. So if you plan to bring home some locally made souvenirs or Greek specialty products, this is definitely a good place to visit. Just stay aware of the occasional pickpocket, and you'll be fine.

Tip:
The flea market here on Sundays is a particularly great time to visit. The range of antiques, junk and sometimes, valuable items, are strewn all across tables, over cars and even along the street.
16
Temple of Hephaestus

16) Temple of Hephaestus (must see)

The temple dedicated to Hephaestus is the best preserved ancient Greek temple, partly because it was transformed into a Greek Orthodox church from the 7th until the 19th centuries. It is located at the north-west side of the Agora, on top of a hill, and really gives a feel of the true scale of an actual Greek temple, due to the structure being basically intact.

In Greek mythology, Hephaestus was the god of fire and metalwork, so he is also described as the god of blacksmiths and artisans. No one but him was able to build the beautiful, indestructible bronze mansions where all the other Olympians lived.

The temple's construction started in 449 BC, and some scholars believe the building has not been completed for some three decades, as funds and workers were redirected towards the Parthenon. According to the “Description of Greece” written by the great Greek traveler Pausanias in the 2nd century AD, the temple housed the bronze statues of Athena and Hephaestos. Trees and shrubs were planted around the temple, creating a small garden. So if you visit, you will have some shady spots as well as great views of other sites from the temple. It is really advisable to get an audio guide as soon as you arrive, as it provides a much better story to the experience.

Why You Should Visit:
Not as enormous as the remains of the Parthenon or the few ruins of the gigantic temple of the Olympian Zeus but it gives a feel of the true scale of these amazing structures, as the structure is basically intact.

Tip:
You can visit this site as part of the Acropolis multi-site ticket, which is highly recommended.
It is really advisable to get an audio guide, as this provides a much better story to the experience.
While you cannot walk inside the structure, you can walk around it to see the decorative frizes that surround it.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-6pm (Winter); 8am-8pm (Summer)
17
Ancient Agora of Athens

17) Ancient Agora of Athens (must see)

The ancient Agora of Athens sits below the sacred hill of the Acropolis. This massive site has the ruins of what was once a vast complex. In ancient times, the Agora was the heart of public life in Athens city-state. Over the centuries many administrative buildings, temples, altars, stoas and fountain houses were built around the open square. The square received its final form in the 2nd century A.D. Common citizens would come there to discuss politics and vote for the proposed laws. It was on this square that democracy was born and flourished.

In the year 507 B.C., Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a system of political reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people.” This system was comprised of three separate institutions: one was the ekklesia, a sovereign governing body that wrote laws and dictated foreign policy; another was the boule, or a council of representatives from the ten Athenian tribes; and finally there was the dikasteria, the popular courts in which citizens argued cases before a group of lottery-selected jurors. Although this Athenian democracy would survive for only two centuries, it was one of ancient Greece’s most enduring contributions to the modern world.

Aside for being the city's political center, the Agora was also a place for religious ceremonies, commercial transactions, theatrical and musical events, and even athletic contests. The site is otherwise well marked and includes the remains of the ancient drainage system. Entry to the museum on site is included in the Agora ticket, and there are some fabulous artifacts that you can see there.

Why You Should Visit.
Democracy is one of the most enduring contributions ancient Greeks gifted to the modern world. It all started here, right at this place.
The temple is beautiful, and the site is well marked, including the remains of the ancient drainage system.

Tip:
The price of entry to the on-site museum is included in the Agora ticket. There are some fabulous artifacts that you can see. Water fountains and restrooms are also close-by.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-8pm (last admission 7:30pm)
Closed: Jan 1, Mar 25, May 1, Easter Sunday, Dec 25/26
Free admission days: Mar 6, Apr 18, May 18, the last weekend of September, Oct 25, every first Sunday from Nov 1-Mar 31
18
Ancient Agora Museum / Stoa of Attalos

18) Ancient Agora Museum / Stoa of Attalos (must see)

The Ancient Agora Museum is housed in the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, a most impressive stoa originally built during the 2nd century BC. A stoa is a covered walkway that's commonly built for public use. This stoa was built by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon who made it a gift to Athens during his rule. The stoa was more elaborate and larger than earlier buildings in ancient Athens. Its dimensions are 115 meters long by 20 meters wide and it is made of Pentelic marble and limestone. The building skillfully makes use of different architectural orders. The Doric order was used for the exterior colonnade on the ground floor with Ionic for the interior colonnade. It is rather like a modern shopping mall but much more beautiful.

The exhibition in the Museum gallery holds archaeological finds from systematic excavations in the area. The exhibits are dated from the Neolithic to the Post-byzantine and Ottoman periods. And to no one's surprise, most are connected with Athenian democracy. The museum's collection includes clay, bronze and glass objects, sculptures, coins and inscriptions from the 7th to the 5th century BC. Notable also is the pottery of the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation. The museum has no separate fee as entry is always included in the Agora ticket.

Why You Should Visit:
Gives you a real sense of the size and grandeur of ancient public buildings; it is rather like a modern shopping mall but much more beautiful.

Tip:
The price of entry is included in the Agora ticket. Upper level has a sweeping view of the grounds!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-8pm (Apr 13-Oct 31)
On Tuesdays, the museum opens at 10am

Walking Tours in Athens, Greece

Create Your Own Walk in Athens

Create Your Own Walk in Athens

Creating your own self-guided walk in Athens is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Athens Food Walk

Athens Food Walk

The traditional Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world, and prices in all but the flashiest establishments afford excellent value. The prevalence of vegetable and dairy dishes makes eating out a delight for non-meat eaters. Carefully selected appetizers (tzatzíki, dolmádes, kalamarákia) can constitute a full meal. Greece’s most famous slow-cooked oven dish, however, is probably...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Known as the "Neighborhood of the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites, Plaka is atmospheric, romantic, and nostalgia-inducing. Follow this self-guided walk though narrow, winding thoroughfares to explore the area's main attractions, including ancient sites, Byzantine churches, 19th-century homes, and museums.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Walking Around the National Garden

Walking Around the National Garden

The National Garden is an impressive, historic park in the center of Athens. Formerly known as the Royal Garden, it was commissioned by Queen Amalia in 1838, reason why it is located right behind the Old Palace (currently the Greek Parliament). This self guided walk will take you on a stroll through the Garden and its many amazing surrounding sights and attractions.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Exarcheia Walk

Exarcheia Walk

Exarcheia is among Athens’ oldest, most well-worn districts with an abundance of historic buildings and landmarks. The location here of the National Library, the University and the National Academy confirm it as the intellectual heart of modern Athens. Follow this walk to get some idea of how the Agora of the ancient city may have looked in its prime, and make your way further through the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis

Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens is famous all over the world, it is the symbol of the city of Athens. The first habitation remaining on this site dates back to the Neolithic period. The Acropolis hill is also called the "Sacred rock" of Athens, as it was home to temples and churches throughout recorded history. It is the one historic site you cannot miss!

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


A Self-Guided Food Walk in Athens

A Self-Guided Food Walk in Athens

Just as many things in Greece, dining in Athens is very much laid-back with the majority of local eateries seeing patrons begin to congregate for dinner only after 8 pm. Eating-wise, the Athenians favor simplicity, leaning to the more casual and not so pricey tavernas where food is plentiful. To...
15 Best Cafes in Athens

15 Best Cafes in Athens

While in Athens it is immediately noticeable that the local cafe culture thriving. Through this directory you will get a chance to visit very different establishments, ranging from "kafenia", to hip, modern coffee shops and get first hand experience of the diversity of contemporary Greek...
Souvenirs Shopping: 19 Uniquely Greek Products to Bring from Athens

Souvenirs Shopping: 19 Uniquely Greek Products to Bring from Athens

A cradle of European civilization, Greece, in general, and Athens, in particular, have long been - from the days of the Roman Empire up until present - the lure for travelers and history buffs seeking to find and bring home something memorable. Today's Athens (much as its ancient self) offers a...