Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis, Athens (Self Guided)

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!
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

Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis Map

Guide Name: Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis
Guide Location: Greece » Athens (See other walking tours in Athens)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 km
Author: emily
1
Acropolis Museum

1) 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)
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Museum of the Center for the Acropolis Studies

2) Museum of the Center for the Acropolis Studies

This museum forms part of the Acropolis Museum’s research workshops. It has original collections of sculpture and plaster models of ancient buildings that once made up Athens in classical Greece.

The Museum of the Center for Acropolis Studies occupies the Wilhelm von Weiler building which carries the name of the Bavarian engineer who built it in 1836. It later served as a hospital and barracks for gendarmes. The Archaeological Service took over this building in 1978 with the help of the actress and then minister of culture, Melina Merkouri. After extensive remodeling it became a museum.

Exhibits and collections at the museum include casts of sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon, Erechtheion sculpture and an exhibition devoted to the restoration and history of the Acropolis. Treasures at the museum include casts of pediment sculptures from the Parthenon, casts of the Metopes of the Parthenon depicting the Trojan War, casts of friezes from the Parthenon, models of the acropolis showing the hill as it stood in ancient Greece, paintings representing the facade of the Paroplaia as it was in classical Greece and examples of the clay tiled roofs that once covered the monuments near the Acropolis.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Theater of Dionysus

3) 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)
Sight description based on wikipedia
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
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Temple of Athena Nike

5) 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
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Propylaea

6) Propylaea

The Propylaea is the monumental gateway to the Acropolis in Athens. It is the main entrance through which thousands of tourists pass en route to the other monuments surrounding the Acropolis.

The Propylaea was commissioned by the Athenian leader Pericles. According to Plutarch the structure was designed by the architect, Mnesicles. It was constructed between 437 and 432 BC. It has a central building with two lateral wings. The colonnades in the east and west had a row of Doric columns. A row of ionic columns divided the gateway into three parts. The north wing called the Pinakotheke had painted walls. It was once a picture gallery. The south wing was the antechamber of the temple of Athena Nike. The ceiling was gilded and painted with decorative perforations. Entrance to the Acropolis was controlled in classical times by the Propylaea. Runaway slaves, miscreants and those not ritually clean were not permitted through the gateway. The State treasury that formed part of the Acropolis was also protected by the Propylaea.

The Propylaea survived without damage through the Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. In 1656, it was damaged by an explosion at a nearby Turkish gunpowder magazine. Since 1984, the structure has undergone extensive restoration under the supervision of Dr. Tasos Tanoulas.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Erechtheion

7) 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
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Parthenon

8) Parthenon (must see)

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the 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)
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.
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
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
Athenian Museums Tour

Athenian Museums Tour

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, steeped in history and culture, this is a fact know to everyone. As such, the city is literally packed with museums, museums which house an inestimable treasure of the Greek civilization. The tour below will guide you through some of the most significant museums in Athens.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
City Center Nightlife

City Center Nightlife

Athens is one of the hottest nightlife destinations in southern Europe. If you want to have an unforgettable night out, this walking tour is definitely what you need! We offer you a walk around the heart of the Greek capital, with stops at some of the most popular clubs and bars in this fascinating city.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

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...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 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...
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...
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...

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.