Looking for the perfect one day in Athens itinerary?
For many first-time visitors to Greece, a quick stop over in Athens whilst on route to exploring the gorgeous Greek isles is usually their first and only introduction to this incredible city.
With so much history, culture and charm, you really should be spending at least two to three days at minimum in order to really get to grips with the city.
Regardless, if you are pressed for time, you can certainly still see many of the major sights and attractions to get a feel for ancient Athens! In this guide I’ll provide a rundown of all the key essential information you may need to plan for a perfect day in Athens!
How To Get Around Athens In A Day
Getting around the capital city is easy.
If staying centrally, the city is easily walkable, especially for this one-day Athens itinerary.
Additionally, there are plenty of transit options provided. Take a look at some of the popular modes of transportation around the city to enjoy the top things to do in Athens.
Metro and Bus
The metro is considered one of the best ways to get around the city. It’s a cheap and reliable service and takes you within walking distance to some of the top attractions.
To save money, you should buy a day pass for €4.50, or you can purchase a 90-minute ticket for €1.20 – excluding airport transfer. Another inexpensive option to get around the city is the bus system.
Alternatively, you can take the tram. There are three tram lines that run between downtown Athens and some coastal destinations like Moschato, Glyfada and Palaio Faliro.
A taxi is the most reliable and safe way to get around the city. Keep in mind most taxis are metered, and you won’t know what your trip will cost in advance.
Athens used to have Uber, but now it’s been replaced by Taxibeat. We recommend downloading the app before going to avoid any taxi issues.
Hop-Off Hop-On Bus
Finally, if you want to get a combination of sites to see with a group, book a hop-on hop-off bus ticket and explore the city of Athens.
Where To Stay For 1-Day in Athens
With only 24 hours in Athens, you’ll want to stay somewhere that isn’t too far from the main attractions and has easy access to the public transportation system. Plaka is one of the best places to stay in Athens for sightseeing.
- Panorama Penthouse & Studios, is an affordable stay in a central location
- Plaka Hotel, provides a rooftop bar, room service and a comfortable visit
- Electra Palace Athens, for a sensual 5-star stay, a rooftop pool and buffet breakfast
Where To Eat In Athens
What better way to immerse yourself in the unique culinary heritage of the famous Mediterranean menu, than indulging in different Greek cuisines?
Apart from strolling the streets with an abundance of superb eateries, take a look at some of these exquisite restaurants to satisfy your tastebuds – for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast – Yiasemi
Start your day the right way and enjoy homemade tarts and delicious pies at this quaint traditional cafe-bistro, before venturing out for the day.
Lunch – 2Mazi
This restaurant captures the essence of classical Greek cuisine. Enjoy fresh salads, perfectly cooked fish and amazing tarts.
Dinner – Art Lounge
The Art Lounge is situated in Syntagma Square and provides delicious cuisine. A must-try is the Kritharoto, a delicious type of risotto, with sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and slow-cooked pork, yum!
What To See In Athens In One Day
Set your alarm clocks for a bright and early day to explore the ancient wonders around the spectacular city. You’ll want to squeeze as much into your one day as possible, before heading off to a magical island adventure, like the popular route from Athens to Mykonos.
Let’s dive straight into the ultimate city guide to Athens in a day.
When visiting Athens, the first stop on your one-day itinerary should be to Greece’s crown jewel, the Acropolis. An ancient complex that was built in the 5th-century and is made up of several structures.
Try and aim to leave your hotel by 7:30 am, so that you can get to the Acropolis as soon as it opens at 8 am. This way, you can avoid the crowds, and have time to absorb the historic sites.
Start exploring the Acropolis from the south slope. As you enter, you’ll first find the Theatre of Dionysos and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Climb the marble steps to the top of the hill. There, you’ll find ruins of the grand Parthenon, and a spectacular view of Athens below.
Your walk around the spectacular grandeur structures should take about 2-hours. You can book your tickets in advance, or join a small group tour . You can buy multi-site tickets for €30 (recommended), or you can purchase a single ticket to the Acropolis for €20.
As you leave the Acropolis, stop at the Areopagus Hill. Here you can get a sight of the Ancient Agora, where Socrates developed his philosophy.
Once you’re finished exploring the magnificent Acropolis, make your way to the city’s oldest and most colourful neighbourhood, Plaka. It’s one of the best places to visit in Athens.
It’s a pedestrian-friendly area lined with charming restaurants, cafes and fascinating architecture. Stroll along the shopping streets of Kydathineon and Adrianou. Interrupt your stroll and spend some time in an authentic Greek cafe. Along your way, keep a lookout for antiquated Athens sites such as the Byzantine churches, museums and 19th-century homes.
The Temple Of Olympian Zeus
From Plaka, it’s a quick 10-minute walk to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, a large temple that was built to honor the gods. It was completed in 131 AD, and today it houses 15 remaining Corinthian columns. Also on-site, you’ll find the remains of ancient Roman bathhouses and Hadrian’s Arch.
Learn about the fascinating history of the Temple of Olympian Zeus with a self-guided audio tour. Alternatively, if you’re interested in Greek mythology and legends, take a small-group walking tour to learn more about the Plaka neighborhood, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus.
Although this is one of the largest ancient temples of the Greek-Roman Empire, you don’t really need to spend much time here – maximum 15-minutes. A single ticket entrance fee is €6, or you can use the combination ticket.
The National Garden
Your next stop on the itinerary is the National Gardens, neighbouring the Temple of Olympian Zeus. On-site you’ll find the Zappeion Exhibition Hall, which was built in the 1880s for the first Olympic Games. The hall plays a significant role in Greek history and is certainly worth taking a look inside.
To get from the National Garden’s to your next stops, you can use the closest metro station to the Monastiraki Metro Station.
The Library of Hadrian
Located in the heart of the city, next to the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library was created by the Roman Emperor, Hadrian, in 132 – 134 AD. With its grandeur facades and large surrounding walls, it was clearly built to impress.
The building was used to store important legal and literary works. It also included lecture halls and served as a place for schools of learning and philosophy debates.
Combination tickets for the Acropolis are included here, otherwise, a single entry costs €6. Like most archaeological sites, opening times are from 8 am-8 pm, daily.
A 3-minute walk from Hadrian’s Library is the Ancient Agora. It was once the political and business hub of the Greek capital, and on the north side, it houses the 5th-century Temple of Hephaestus and Athena.
A single ticket entry fee to the Ancient Agora is €12 unless you have a combination ticket.
Your next stop will be a quick 5-minute walk from the Ancient Agora to the Roman Agora. These ruins date back to the 1st-century, during the reign of Julius Caesar and Augustus. It was once used as a commercial market place and is well worth the visit.
Another fascinating part of this site is the octagonal Tower of Winds, a Pentelic marble clocktower.
A single entry ticket to the Roman Agora is €6; otherwise, you can use your combination ticket to enter.
As your one day in Athens comes to an end, head to the Monastiraki Square.
It’s around 3-minutes walking distance from the Roman Agora and is a great place to shop around for souvenirs and enjoy the hustle and bustle of street musicians and street vendors.
About the Author
Born and raised in South Africa, Marco Santos from Travel-Boo, together with his partner moved to sunny Lisbon over 3 years ago. With an absolute love for Europe, he is on a mission to rediscover his own Portuguese heritage along the way.
Marco has set out to blog and share his passion for traveling through and exploring both Portugal, Spain, and throughout Europe, through his blog Travel-Boo.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.