Walking Tour Along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens (Self Guided)

Vassilissis Sofias is a major avenue in the eastern part of the city. Walking along this street you will have the chance to see some of the most popular attractions of the Greek capital, such as the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the War Museum, and many others. Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy this interesting tour.
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Walking Tour Along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue Map

Guide Name: Walking Tour Along Vassilissis Sofias Avenue
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Author: emily
Syntagma Square

1) 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.

At the bottom of the square is the beginning of Ermou Street filled with different shops/stores and a flea market to browse around.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hellenic Parliament House

2) 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, Freidrich von Goertner. 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!

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.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Benaki Museum

3) Benaki Museum (must see)

The Benaki Museum is a repository of the collection of historical objects by Athenian resident, Antonis Benakis. It was established in 1930 in the house of Emmanouil Benakis, the father of Antonis.

The museum is in a house built in neoclassical style for the merchant, Loannis Peroglou who later sold the mansion to businessman, Panagis Charokopos. Emmanouil Benakis bought the building from Charokopos in 1910. The entire structure was redesigned and a wing was added to house the museum in 1930 after the death of Emmanouil. After 1974, several works of art were added that exceeded the capacity of the building. Many exhibits, especially the objects belonging to the Islamic era and the Chinese collection, were moved to other facilities and today the main Benaki Museum has only collections pertaining to Greece.

The Benaki Museum has three floors with exhibits that go back to 6500 BC. Objects include gold and silver bowls from 3000 BC, jewelry dating back to 1500 BC and an extensive range of ancient to modern costumes. There are also two rooms that are replicas of traditional Greek houses showing the typical lifestyle of the people.

The Benaki Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It is located close to Syntagma Square and has a cafe and well-stocked gift shop for the convenience of visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
Suitable not only if you're a fan of culture and arts, but also a history fan, especially if you're visiting Athens in a short period of time and want a museum that sums up the history of Greece.

Try to visit on Thursdays, when it is both free and open until midnight.
The museum's hidden asset is its rooftop cafe with delicious foods and marvelous vistas of the National Gardens and the House of Parliament.

Opening Hours:
Wed, Fri: 10am-6pm; Thu, Sat: 10am-12am; Sun: 10am-4pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museum of Cycladic Art

4) Museum of Cycladic Art (must see)

The core collection of this museum comprises artifacts from the Bronze Age Civilization that flourished in the Cycladic Islands of the Aegean Sea. It is a repository of the collection of Nicholas and Aikaterini (Dolly) Goulandris.

Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris collected Cycladic Art and built the main museum for the purpose of showcasing their collection. It was designed by architect, Loannis Vikelas and was opened for public viewing in 1986. In 1990, the museum obtained an additional venue. The magnificent neo-classical Stathatos Mansion also houses the exhibits of Cycladic art from the collection, today.

The exhibits in the museum cover four floors. The focus is on the collection of Cycladic art from 3000 to 2000 BC. Female figurines from the Cycladic Islands form the major part of the exhibits. There are also marbles, pottery and bronze sculptures. The upper floors have a collection of art and artifacts from Cyprus and other ancient Greek objects that formed part of the Goulandris collection. All objects are displayed elegantly with detailed information boards. The Museum also hosts temporary art exhibitions.

The Museum of Cycladic Art is run by the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation. There is a cafe in the courtyard and a well-stocked bookshop with books in Greek and English. The gift shop has reproductions of the exhibits in the museum including marble figurines and bronze replicas of ancient Greek bronze ritual vessels.

Why You Should Visit:
The four floors of this excellent museum present the history & culture of the Cycladic Islands in many ways: exhibits, artifacts, sound, and film. The collection is very good and well-presented.
Especially recommended if you plan to travel to Santorini – a visit here before or after will really enhance your enjoyment of the islands' histories!

Make sure to visit the second building. You may find an interesting temporary exhibition, but the building itself is worth a small stroll.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am-5pm; Thu: 10am-8pm; Sun: 11am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Byzantine and Christian Museum

5) Byzantine and Christian Museum (must see)

The collection in this museum is dedicated to exhibits from early Christian relics and art from the Byzantine Empire that flourished before the Crusades. The collection consists of art from the 4th to the 19th centuries AD.

The Byzantine and Christian Museum is located in the Llissia mansion that was once the winter residence of the Duchess of Piacenza. The old building was designed and constructed by architect Stamatis Kleanthis and completed in 1848. It was converted into a Museum in 1930. Three underground display halls were added in 1993 to accommodate the vast collection of objects belonging to the Museum. The courtyard has a fountain with an ancient Christian Mosaic and the surrounding walls have architectural fragments from many ancient Churches.

The museum has a collection of 15,000 ancient Christian exhibits. These include sculpture, costumes, paintings, ornaments, 3500 icons, oil lamps depicting scenes from Roman and Christian traditions from the 3rd to the 6th centuries and sacred jewelry. There are also rare gold coins from the Byzantine Empire and a ceramic collection of objects found from ships wrecked near Egypt.

The Museum has a conservation department that organizes educational programs for children for the purpose of teaching them about the Byzantine Empire that flourished in the region for over 1000 years.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the best museums of Christian art to see. Very rich collections, beautifully arranged spaces and valuable descriptions from which you can learn a lot.
The path of sightseeing is clearly marked, and there is no wandering around the halls like in many other museums.
The outside setting is peaceful and magical, with a lovely cafe at the back.

Don't miss the room of modern paintings just before the exit.
A combined ticket with the National Archaeological Museum is of good value.

Opening Hours:
Tue: 12:30pm-8pm; Wed-Sun, Mon: 8am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
War Museum

6) War Museum

The Athens War Museum is dedicated to the battles fought by the Greeks from the classical age to the present. This purpose-built structure has a late modernistic architectural style, popular in the 1950s.

The War Museum in Athens showcases all the wars that the Greek armed forces fought have been involved in throughout the ages. It was inaugurated in 1975. The first floor of the building is larger than the ground floor, thus giving it a mushroom-like appearance. The modern museum is the first in Athens that is fitted with an amphitheater for seminars and lectures. The building also has conference and reception rooms, a space for storage and offices that document and maintain the exhibits.

Exhibits at the War Museum are spread across three floors. The ground floor has weaponry used by the Greek armed forces in World War II, the Korean War and the exposition dedicated to the history of the battles in Cyprus. The first floor has paintings and objects depicting Greek war history from the classical age till World War II. Cannons fired through history are found outside the museum, along with the selection of war planes flown by the Greek Air Force over the years. The building also houses an extensive library and photographic archive.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Concert Hall (Megaro Mousikis)

7) Concert Hall (Megaro Mousikis)

The Athens Concert Hall is famed for its excellent acoustics and unique architecture. It was opened in 1991 and has hosted performances by famous Greek and international artists, opera and musical concerts all through the year.

The Athens Concert Hall was designed by architect, Christopher Alexander, and has a floor space of 8,000 square feet. There are two large halls and two smaller halls. The Christos Lambrakis Hall seats 1,961 spectators and is used for concerts and music recitals. The hall has the largest pipe organ in Greece with 6,080 pipes. The other large auditorium is named after singer Alexandra Trianti. It can seat an audience of 1,750 spectators and is used for opera, ballet and large scale music performances. The Dimitri Mitropoulos hall has a seating capacity of 494 and is used for dance performances and chamber music. There is another small hall named after composer, Nikolaos Skalkottas, that is also used for concerts.

The concert hall has a beautiful and spacious marble lobby. The building also houses a music library, a conference center, an exhibition center, a restaurant and cafe. In summer, there are free music performances transmitted from inside the theater to a large screen located outside, on the lawn.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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.
Walking Tour Around Athenian Exarcheia

Walking Tour Around Athenian Exarcheia

Exarcheia is a district of Athens, it is next to Kolonaki and shares in the abundance of historic buildings and landmarks. The district is home to the Academy of Athens, the National Archaeological Museum, Cultural Centre of Athens, and many others. Exarcheia is also a famed shopping destination, being originally named after a merchant who opened a large general store here more than a hundred...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Athens without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. As an ancient city, rich in culture and traditions, Athens certainly has something interesting to offer its visitors, including something one may take home. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs that are unique to Athens and will make a wonderful memento or...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Monastiraki Gift Shops

Monastiraki Gift Shops

It would be a pity to leave Athens without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. As an ancient city, rich in culture and traditions, Athens certainly has something interesting to offer its visitors, including something one may take home. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs that can be purchased in the shops of the famous Monastiraki Area.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Pláka is the old historic neighborhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets and neoclassical architecture. It is known as the "Neighbourhood of the Gods" due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 km
Athens for Children Walking Tour

Athens for Children Walking Tour

Traveling with children differs a lot from traveling alone or with other grown-ups, children require a constant source of entertainment and an outlet for their energy. Luckily, Athens has plenty of places that are suitable for families and offer something for kids to do. Take this guide to find your way to the best spots in town for a family visit.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
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

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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...
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...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Athens for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Athens has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Athens's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Athens Tourist Card, Athens City Pass, or Athens Museum Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Athens's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Athens hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: Electra Hotel Athens, Hotel Grande Bretagne, King George.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Athens, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Athens typically costs somewhere between US$15 and US$100 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of Athens from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the three interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for all three).

- Explore Athens in its entirety, from the beautiful beaches to historic treasures, on a similar hop-on hop-off double-decker sightseeing tour running straight from the sea shore all year round! Ideal for those arriving on cruise ships!

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of night Athens – this usually lasts about 3 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the Greek capital in its nighttime ambiance. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have by walking.

- Pedal your way around Athens on a 3.5-hour bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the city from an informative group leader.

- Acquaint yourself up-close with the wonders of Ancient Greece on a 3-hour walking tour of UNESCO-listed Acropolis and other fascinating sights within its walls, plus many more historic and otherwise notable attractions in Athens.

- Awaken your taste buds to an array of authentic Greek delicacies on a 4-hour guided gourmet food walk in Athens during which you will sample some of the finest street food in the city. Apart from feasting on the local specialties, with each bite you will also learn about the culinary history of Athens.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Athens, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Delphi, Meteora, Mycenae and Epidaurus, Corinth, or Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon. For as little as circa US$50 to US$120 per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including fascinating monuments of Greek mythology and history, immerse in Greece’s spectacular scenery, admire the beauty of the local countryside replete with breathtaking views, scenic monasteries and villages existent for centuries, explore ancient ruins, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Athens, and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach, minibus, train or private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.