Athens Itinerary Options – Classic, Foodie + Hidden Gems

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Athens, the capital of Greece, is a fascinating city to visit, with plenty to see and do. It is steeped in history with many ancient ruins to explore, such as the world-famous Acropolis, which towers over the city. There are exciting museums to visit and narrow cobbled streets to stroll down. However, there’s a modern side to the city with a fantastic shopping scene and a pulsating nightlife. Be prepared for long nights of partying, as the bars and clubs stay open until the early hours of the morning.

Athens is a food lover’s paradise with classic dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, gyros and fresh Greek salads on most menus. You can choose between authentic traditional tavernas, up-market restaurants and anything in-between. The drinks scene is exciting with traditional drinks such as ouzo, raki and Metaxa to try. Although many don’t think of Greek wines to be the best in the world, you will be pleasantly surprised at how refined they are. If you enjoy the sun, you will be in paradise in Athens as the summers are hot and the winters mild. Spring and autumn are great times for sightseeing as it isn’t as hot as the summer nor is it as crowded.

Athens Itinerary Planning

Best Areas To Stay in Athens

One of the best areas to stay in Athens is Plaka, which is central and ideal if you want to explore the city on foot.

It is close to major sites such as the Acropolis and the Roman Agora.

Plaka is lively and has many tavernas and shops to visit.

Other central neighbourhoods are Monastiraki and Psiri are also lively and close to archaeological sites, with excellent shopping such as the city’s main shopping avenue, Ermou Street.


The most fashionable district is Kolonaki, where you will find modern restaurants and luxury stores.

It is the place to stay if you want to explore hidden gems such as The Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art.

The public transport system here is good if you want to visit the more popular sites.

How To Get Around Athens

You can hire a car in Athens, but I would advise against it as driving is extremely hectic in the city and parking is difficult.

The public transportation system is excellent and reasonably priced; so why not take advantage of it and leave the stress behind?

There are plenty of modes of public transportation in the city – the metro, tram, bus and suburban railway.

If you arrive at Athens airport, get the metro or bus to the city centre.

You can buy tickets on public transport to last for 90 minutes, a day or five days but the tickets don’t include transportation to and from the airport.

You have to get a separate ticket unless you purchase a three-day tourist ticket which does include airport transportation.

If you plan to visit many sites, get the Athens City Pass which includes admission to numerous popular attractions.

You can add public transportation to the City Pass and get unlimited travel for one or five days,

How To Pay In Athens

The vast majority of places take credit and debit cards in Athens, but it is a good idea to have some cash with you just in case.

Tipping is appreciated but not a rule as Greeks tend not to tip. 10% is the normal amount if you do want to tip and it is usually preferred in cash.

3-Day Classic Athens Itinerary

Day 1

Parthenon Temple At Acropolis Hill In Athens
The Acropolis should be on every Athens 4-day itinerary.

The first place you have to visit on any classic tour of Athens is the UNESCO Heritage Site, the Acropolis, an ancient citadel built on a hill above the city.

Although it has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the most important buildings you will see were built in the 5th century B.C. when Greece was one of the most powerful nations in the world.

You can visit many important and outstanding structures here such as a temple dedicated to Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, the theatre of Dionysus, and, most important of all, the Parthenon.

It’s a temple dedicated to the goddess, Athena, and is a masterpiece of architecture and art.

It was made entirely of marble and was the most lavish temple built on the Greek mainland at that time.

It has withstood earthquakes, fires, and wars and stands as a powerful symbol of Ancient Greek culture.

If you are visiting in the summer, make sure that you get there early to avoid the searing heat.

You may even find that it is closed in the afternoon if it is too hot.

Another good idea is to buy a skip-the-line ticket beforehand, or book a tour, to avoid queuing for too long.

When you have toured the site, visit the Acropolis Museum which houses thousands of artefacts found at the Acropolis.

It was built over an Ancient Athenian neighbourhood which you can see below a glass floor in the museum. From the top floor, you will have fantastic views of the city.

For lunch, head to Plaka at the foot of the Acropolis.

It is a lively and popular neighbourhood with plenty of traditional Greek tavernas to choose from.

There are many small shops to explore where you can buy unique souvenirs to take home for yourself or friends.

After a long and relaxing lunch (you are never hurried in Greece), head to the Ancient Agora, an archaeological site which used to be the commercial and political hub of the city.

Here you will find the remains of several covered walkways and interesting ruins such as the Temple of Hephaestus, the Greek god of metalworking and craftsmen.

Most of the site is well-preserved which will give you a good idea of what the Agora was like in the 5th century B.C.

There is also a museum here housing artefacts found on the site.

In the early evening, go to Mount Lycabettus, which is the highest point in Athens.

Here you can experience a beautiful sunset and have a great view of the city.

If you have the energy, you can hike there, but if it’s a hot day, you may want to relax and take the funicular which gives great views all the way up.

You can have dinner at Lycabettus as there is a lovely restaurant at the summit.

Recommended tour: Athens: Acropolis, Parthenon & Acropolis Museum Guided Tour.

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Day 2

Apollo And Hera In Athens, Greece
The National Archaeological Museum is a gem to explore on your Athens 3-day itinerary.

In the morning, head to the recently renovated National Archaeological Museum.

I recommend taking a guided tour as you will have a knowledgeable guide who will be able to tell you about the artefacts on show and take you to the most interesting sections of the museum.

Highlights of the museum include statues of Aphrodite and Poseidon, ancient jewellery, bronzes, pottery, and the death mask of Agamemnon.

It houses pieces from all over Greece dating from the Neolithic to the Hellenistic Ages.

The museum has a beautiful garden filled with artefacts and mosaics.

There is a cafe so you can peacefully relax with a coffee in the midst of the bustling city,

The National Archaeological Museum is at 28is Oktovriou 44. Athens, 10682.

After visiting the museum, head to the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.

It is spectacular as it was built completely from marble.

From the highest tier, you will be able to experience fantastic views of the city.

While you are there, pop into the museum to see artefacts relating to the Olympics.

Head for a late lunch along Ermou Street, the main shopping street in Athens.

Relax after a hectic morning and then explore the shops.

You will find both international stores and traditional Greek shops where you can buy gifts to take home with you.

Spend the evening in the Gazi neighbourhood.

First, have a drink at one of the many rooftop bars which give spectacular views of the city and of the sunset.

If you get there when it’s dark, you will see the Acropolis beautifully lit up.

Then enjoy dinner and Greek music at a traditional taverna.

However, the fun doesn’t end there as Gazi has a lively nightlife scene and you will find many bars and clubs where you can dance the night away.

Gazi is the perfect place to mix the old with the new.

Recommended tour: Athens: National Archeological Museum Private Guided Tour.

Day 3

Tourists In Front Of The Greek Parliament Palace At Syntagma Square
Exploring Syntagma Square is one of the must-do’s on an Athens itinerary of more than 2 days.

Head to Syntagma Square in the morning to watch the changing of the guard in front of the Parliament building.

This happens every hour on the hour and is performed by the Evzones, a unit of the Greek army, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Then escape from city life and take a breather in the National Garden next door to the square.

It covers 24 hectares (59 acres) and houses more than 500 different types of plants.

In the afternoon, take a trip to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon.

To reach the cape, you will drive by the Athenian Riviera and the beautiful beaches.

It was at the cape that legend has it that King Aegeus threw himself into the sea.

You will also visit the Temple of Poseidon which is perched on the edge of a cliff 70 metres (229.65 feet) above sea level.

Before returning to Athens, watch the sunset from this perfect location.

Recommended tour: From Athens: Cape Sounion Sunset Tour.

3-Day Athens Itinerary For Foodies

Day 1

Greek Moussaka
Tasting Greek moussaka is one of the joys of a 3-day itinerary in Athens.

Get acquainted with the cuisine of Athens on this ultimate food walking tour.

Skip breakfast and don’t worry about lunch as you will be well-fed on this tour with 15 tastings.

These tastings are more than mouthfuls so be prepared for a feast.

The tour lasts for 4 hours and is led by a local foodie guide who will take you off the beaten track to eateries frequented by locals and will tell you about the gastronomy of the country.

You will try such delicacies as moussaka, stuffed tomatoes, and soutzoukakia.

The tour also takes you to Athens Central Market, the biggest market in the city.

After a short period of relaxation to allow your food to go down, take a Greek cooking class with a rooftop dinner enjoying the food you have prepared.

A local chef will teach you how to make two types of pie, spinach and milk, Greek salad, tzatziki, and moussaka.

The rooftop restaurant allows you to savour your meal with views of the Acropolis.

Recommended tours:

Day 2

Greek Tzatziki Yogurt Dip And Pita Bread
Tasting local tzatziki is another must-do on an Athens Greece itinerary.

First thing in the morning, visit the Evripidou Street Market where you will find everything dried, such as herbs, teas, and dried fruits, as well as nuts and cheeses.

It’s a great place to get authentic Greek foods to take home as gifts.

Afterwards, take a Hidden Gems Food Tour to try the most local food in the city, avoiding tourist areas.

The tour involves 14 tastings where you will enjoy such foods as olives, honey-glazed yoghurt, and breakfast treats, as well as smelling and learning about herbs and spices.

Then you will go to a traditional Greek restaurant for lunch, a cheese tasting, and a dessert.

The meal will be accompanied by locally produced wines and traditional spirits.

The tour also tells you how the dishes are prepared so that you can try to cook the dishes back home.

In the evening, head to Mnisikleous Street Stairs in Plaka, the best place to find meze and local wine.

It is a set of stairs lined with traditional tavernas and tables spilling onto the street.

The atmosphere is cosy, and it is popular with both locals and tourists.

Recommended tour: Explore the hidden food gems of Athens.

Day 3

Portion Of Fresh Greek Salad
Greek salad.

You shouldn’t visit Athens without heading to the Acropolis and this tour allows you to skip the line and visit the magnificent monuments such as the Parthenon.

However, this is not an ordinary tour as after visiting the Acropolis, you head to Plaka to Monastiraki Square to try local traditional products as well as more innovative Greek cuisine.

In the afternoon, go on a wine-tasting tour that starts at the foot of the Acropolis and introduces you to Greek wines, which deserve a much better reputation than they have.

Learn about the wine regions of Greece, the style of wines produced, and how to pair Greek wines with Greek foods.

You will taste different wines paired with local cheeses, olives, and homemade bread rusks.

In the evening, head to Gazi for a drink at one of the many rooftop bars where you will have a view of an illuminated Acropolis.

Follow this with dinner at one of the tavernas or ouzerias where you can enjoy traditional food accompanied by Greek live music and dance.

Recommended tours:

3-Day Athens Itinerary – Hidden Gems

Day 1

Spend the day visiting some lesser-known museums which are, nevertheless, worth your time.

Start with the Benaki Museum which showcases a wide range of Greek art from prehistoric to modern times, all coming from the private collection of the Benakis family.

You can even make a private appointment to hold some of the artefacts.

The Museum of Cycladic Art houses ancient art originating from the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea.

The highlights include well-preserved prehistoric figurines.

The Numismatic Museum exhibits a coin collection as well as seals and jewellery.

It tells you about how people have treated money in the past and how it has become less used.

The Numismatic Museum is at 12 Panepistimiou, 10871, Athens.

The Zoumboulakis Gallery showcases private collections of contemporary art and hosts themed exhibitions and events.

In the evening, go to Bebo Wine Bar hidden away from the tourist track where you can mix with the locals and have a glass of wine from the wide selection of both local and international wines.

Bebo also serves food so why not have dinner here? The food has an international theme and is outstanding. Try the burrata salad, the Tagliata beef fillet, or the smoked mackerel with baby potatoes, mayo, capers and pickled gherkins.

  • Bobo Wine Bar is at 36 A Zinni, 11742, Athens.
  • The Benaki Museum is at 1 Koumbari Street & Vas Sofias Ave., 10674, Athens.
  • The Zoumboulakis Gallery is at 20 Kolonaki Square, 10675, Athens.
  • The Museum of Cycladic Art is at 4 Neofytou Douka, 10674, Athens.

Day 2

Downtown Athens City Skyline In Greece At Sunset
Monastiraki Square Athens 1 day itinerary.

In the morning, pay a visit to the Monastiraki Flea Market which is a fantastic place to go to find hidden treasures.

You can buy all sorts of unique items such as jewellery, clothes and even postcards.

There are plenty of handmade gold and silver jewellery shops but beware, there are fake shops as well as genuine ones,

For lunch. head to IT restaurant which is mainly frequented by locals.

It offers healthy and fresh food with a creative twist.

There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer.

In the afternoon, visit Kaisariani Monastery and forest, located on the western slopes of Mount Hymettus.

The Byzantine monastery dates to the 11th century and here you will be able to see 16th-century frescoes, a bathhouse, a refectory, and cells which the monks inhabited.

If you enjoy hiking, the surrounding forest offers hiking trails, some of which lead to the top of the mountain.

From here you will have fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

At the top of the mountain, there is a kiosk, Kalopoula, which serves drinks and some simple, traditional Greek meals.

  • Monastiraki Flea Market is at Ifestou 2, 10555, Athens.
  • IT is at 29 Skoufa, 10672, Athens.

Day 3

Athens Plaka Anafiotika
Anafiotika is a hidden gem worth adding to your 3-day Athens itinerary.

In the morning, visit Anafiotika, a hidden gem in the Plaka district at the bottom of the Acropolis that isn’t touristy.

It is a few hundred years old and features Cycladic architecture.

The streets are narrow and the houses are white with colourful doors and windows.

There are two churches to visit, the Church of Saint Simeon and the Church of Saint George, both made from rocks from the hill of the Acropolis.

They are worth going into as they have beautiful frescoes adorning the walls.

The Kanellopoulou Museum showcases artefacts dating from prehistoric times to the recent past.

To top it all, the district offers beautiful views of the city and Mount Lycabettus.

In the afternoon, head to the Pnyx, which was the parliament of Athens from 507 B.C.

It is on a rocky hill overlooking the Acropolis and is surrounded by parkland where you can take a stroll.

At the Pnyx, you will see the bema, which was where politicians would speak.

It is surrounded by a defence wall built in the 4th century B.C.

Spend the evening in the Noel Bar which is a popular haunt for the locals but is off the tourist track.

It is sophisticated with baroque-styled rooms and vintage furniture.

The Noel Bar serves superb cocktails and there is a food menu.

Noel Bar is at Kolokotroni 59b, 10560. Athens.

Looking for more itineraries? Try these:

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Irena Nieslony
Irena Nieslony was born in Windsor, England but now lives on the island of Crete, Greece, in a small village called Modi near the city of Chania. She has visited 32 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Her favourite country is Tanzania as she loves wildlife and was lucky enough to see ‘The Big Five”. She also loves Egypt, as ancient history intrigues her, the southern states of the US and the cities of Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans for music. She has a B.A. Honours degree in English and Drama from Westfield College, University of London. She has been writing for over 13 years and has 13 novels, 7 short stories and thousands of articles published.