Athens is spectacular at any time of year, but in summer it can get crowded! If you want to escape the throngs of other tourists, visiting Athens in the winter is the perfect way to explore a quieter side of the city.
Yes, there’s a chance Athens will be covered in a delightful layer of snow, but it’s not like this all winter long. Instead, Athens winter weather fluctuates between enjoyably chilly and downright winter wonderland. Always check the weather right before you leave to make sure you pack the right clothes. We have packing recommendations at the bottom of the post to help.
Here are our favorite Athens winter activities, from the best things to do to escape the cold, how to see Athen’s best archeological sites in winter, our favorite museums, and the best Athens winter day trips.
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The Best Things to Do in Athens in Winter
In no particular order…
See the Best Athens Sites from Inside a Cozy Bus
See the Acropolis – Without the Crowds
Experience Greek Shade for Yourself at the Acropolis Museum
Learn about Modern Greek Art on an Athens Street Art Tour
See Ancient and Modern Religion Meet at Karameikos Cemetary
Wander the Vibrant Monastiraki
Stare at the Face of Agamemnon at the National Archeology Museum
Visit the Festive Athens Christmas Market
Learn about Greek Cuisine on a Food & Wine Tour
Or Learn How to Cook Greek Dishes Yourself!
Enjoy the Air at the Ancient Agora – Both the Greek and the Roman!
Ponder the Philosophical Underpinnings of the Universe at the Lyceum
Sip a thick Greek Coffee (Just Don’t Call it Turkish!)
See Fireworks Over the Acropolis on New Year’s Eve!
Watch the Changing of the Guard – But Don’t Try to Take a Selfie!
Take in the Sunset on Mount Lycabettus
Learn about the Greek Deities on a Greek Mythology Tour
Get a Deeper Appreciation for Athens Beauty on an Instant Photo Walk
Shop til You Drop at the X Flea Market
See Athen’s Most Notorious Neighborhood – Exarchea!
Enjoy Dinner in a Taverna in Plaka
Escape the Cold in a Turkish Bath
See if You Have What it Takes to Be an Ancient Athlete
Appreciate Ancient Byzantium at the Byzantine Museum
The Best Athens Winter Day Trips
Visit a Nearby Island for the Day
Take a Day Trip Out to a Snowcapped Meteora
See Spiritual Delphi
Take in the Magical Winter Sea Views at the Temple of Cape Sounion
Get Inspired by Greek Literature at Epidaurus and Mycenae
Fly South for the Day to Crete, Rhodes, or Santorini
If you have a very short amount of time but are set on seeing Santorini, Rhodes, Crete, or another of the country’s islands that are further south, check to see if you can visit as a day trip by plane. While it’s always better if you have a few days, I understand that travel time can be precious!
I was able to organize a day trip to Santorini from Athens by buying the earliest flight out on Ryanair and the latest flight back that same day. Sadly, I was too sick (read: terribly hungover) to make the journey, but this is always an option for someone without more time to devote.
(Luckily I live just one country over so I can go back to Greece often. If you’re coming from North America or Asia, that may not be the case).
Organized Tours Mentioned in this Post
Here are all the guided tours mentioned in this post in one easy-to-reference list:
What to Pack for Athens in Winter
We have an entire Greece packing list that includes exactly what to bring to dress for winter in Athens, but here are some essentials you don’t want to miss!
A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We own and recommend the Lonely Planet Greece book.
An ultra-light down jacket: You can wear this on its own or pair it with a warmer jacket for colder days. This rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one really similar to this (women’s) but there’s a men’s version as well. If you really want to be warm, I recommend a winter jacket like this North Face parka which I’ve owned for years and years.
Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides especially on mountain roads such as if you’re going to Meteora – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they actually work pretty well.
Where to Stay in Athens in Winter
We have a complete guide to where to stay in Athens, plus a separate post for those looking for the best hotels with Acropolis views. If you are looking for our overall top picks, here are the best places to stay in Athens for each budget category:
Budget: If you’re looking for a budget hotel in lively Monastiraki, book a stay at Fivos Hotel. Located right by Monastiraki Station, the hotel has free wifi and ensuite bathrooms. Most rooms include continental breakfast. You’ll be just minutes from Ermou Street, Monastiraki Flea Market, and the Cathedral.
Mid-Range: For my most recent trip to Athens, we stayed in a couple of different places, but my favorite was the Ares Athens Hotel off of Omonia Square. I loved it’s location, close to Omonia station, across the street from a Coffee Island (my personal version of Heaven), and with views of Mount Lycabettus. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and each room has a private terrace.
Luxury: To enjoy a bit of luxury in the middle of Monastiraki, check into the four-star Emporikon Athens Hotel. The rooms are sophisticated and swanky, with a mid of modern textures and colors with a traditional take on comfort. Located in Agia Irini Square, the building dates back to the nineteenth century. This is a true Athens boutique hotel in one of my favorite parts of the city.
More Greece Travel Resources
First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more.
Next, you’ll want to read our all-season Greece packing list.
We also have Athens safety tips so your trip can be hassle-free. We are currently working on our mega-post of things to do in Athens as well as our itineraries, so stay tuned!
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a good idea to have travel insurance for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world!
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Athens is safe, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel,” and we think it’s true!
Pin this Guide to the Best Things to Do in Athens in Winter & the Best Athens Winter Day Trips for Your Trip to Greece!