Crystal clear blue waters bathe the city’s shores while ancient olive trees grow in the middle of priceless archeological vestiges. Picture this and add a great love for savory food and a lust for life! I would say that this is the Mediterranean lifestyle, from Barcelona to Nice and all the way around to the beautiful Greek Islands.
But what makes Athens one of the best destinations to add to your bucket list?
Let’s just say the city earned its title of “cradle of civilization” for a good reason. The Greek capital is one of the oldest cities in the world, named after the goddess of war herself. And as legend has it, Athena won the honor of naming the ancient city, after offering its citizens the famous olive tree, the symbol of peace and friendship!
There are so many archeological and modern wonders in Athens that choosing what to see first might be the most difficult decision you have to make there. But for now, let’s just start discovering Framey’s selection: Best of Athens: 30 amazing attractions to put on your bucket list!
Starting at the top of the bucket list, this is one of Greece’s most iconic buildings, the Parthenon. The impressive monument is the symbol of western civilization and democracy and also, the very definition of Classic Greek Doric Style.
The impressive temple is dedicated to Athena. Parts of the original pediment sculptures and friezes can be found at the Acropolis Museum, while a good deal more of them were plundered in the 18th century and later made their way into the British Museum, where you can admire them today.
There is no way to get to Athens and miss out on a walk through Acropolis! Or at least there shouldn’t be!
The Acropolis is quite possibly the most famous part of Athens, with the ancient Parthenon sitting on top. But there is so much more about Acropolis! The grounds of the ancient city guide and lead you up to the Parthenon and the beautiful views you get from there. All you need to do now is let yourself wonder about the old pathways, and vestiges, and why not, later on, admire the sunsets from one of the many viewing platforms! Just imagine all how rich and beautiful life and culture used to be!
Legend-tip of the day: The famous Athena’s olive tree is supposed to have been planted here, atop the Acropolis.
3. Chapel of Saint George
A hike away to the top of Lycabettus Hill will get you to the stunning, white little Chapel of St. George. It’s not just the chapel, but it’s also the location that makes it so memorable. Saint George dates back to the late 19th century but it sits in the very location where the Zeus Extreme temple used to be.
After all the hiking and visiting is done, I suggest you take a moment to soak in the incredible views you get from the top or from the nearby restaurant.
If searching for thrifts or vintage is something you enjoy then head for Monastiraki. It is not just one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens, but also the best kind of Greek blend. You have a beautiful square full of life with its ever-living market status, with street artists and local flavors all around. It’s no wonder it has always been the favorite gathering place for locals and tourists alike.
For a great deal of more inspirational landmarks to add to your must-see list in Athens, you can always check Framey’s collection: Best Attractions in Athens!
5. Central Market
You can also never go wrong when getting to the Central Market in Athens.
The lively market has a totally different vibe from the historic area you’ve wandered up till now.
Here you will find one of the widest selections of meats, condiments, and delights so if you are a cooking enthusiast or simply someone who loves food, this is the place for you!
6. Museum of the Ancient Agora
You can not live or be in such an archeologic city-site and not expect to have countless museums to wander through!
The Museum of the Ancient Agora is not the biggest that you can visit while roaming the streets of Athens, but as you would expect, is the place where the artifacts from the Agora excavations are stored and displayed. So just enjoy this trip to ancient Athens.
7. Zappeion Conference & Exhibition Center
Culture and science feel right at home in Athens at the Zappeion Conference & Exhibition Center. The venue is one of the largest and most significant buildings and as you might expect, it is in fact part of the Greek National Heritage, where cultural exhibitions and events are held.
If you are wondering how democracy was born in ancient Greece, this is the place to go for an imagination exercise.
Imagine the town gathering and discussing all political issues that could affect the community. This is exactly what use to go on the Pnyx Hill dating back to 507 BC. That is how democracy would have looked like back in ancient Athens and this is why this place is so historically significant to this day!
9. National History Museum (Old Parliament)
If so far walking the city and looking at its history took you to ancient times, the National History Museum will feel like a great sequel to a glorious first part.
Housed in the Old Parliament’s House, and being the first one of its kind, the museum puts a focused emphasis on everything after Constantinopolis and the Ottoman occupation up to Second World War.
10. Roman Agora
The fascinating neighborhood of Plaka holds one hidden treasure, the Roman Agora. Located just a walking distance from its bigger sister Ancient Agora, the Roman one used to be one of the city’s main meeting areas and markets. Marble colonnades were placed all around the open courtyard and had two gateways. This site is still not fully excavated but to be fair, the remaining collonades leave room for imagining how beautiful this place was in its prime!
11. National Garden
The 12 iconic palm trees of Queen Amalia of Greece greet you at the entrance of the National Garden.
It kind of makes sense that in Athens, to find ancient ruins even the parks. It is like doing two things at one, both relaxing and going for a walk while wandering the paths of an outside museum.
If you are looking to get a true Greek experience, the best thing is to head into the Anafiotika neighborhood. There is something special and charming about this area. It preserved so well its Greek island architecture style and it is an adventure to find its location at the base of the Acropolis.
13. Mount Lycabettus
You can spot Mount Lycabettus from almost anywhere in Athens! So, there is no reason why you shouldn’t embark on a hike to reach its top for the great views or for the romantic atmosphere you can get all the way to Saint George Chapel or the viewing platform.
And if you are wondering what Lycabettus means, just know that the Hill used to be full of wolves, and Lycos literally means wolf in Greek.
14. National Archaeological Museum
Would you be surprised to find out that the National Archeological Museum in Athens is considered to be one of the best museums in the world?
With all the archeological treasures, relics, and ruins it would in fact surprising to be anything but the holy grail for history enthusiasts. What to expect to see in the museum? Everything from prehistory to late antiquity, with the Ancient Greek Collection being the most valuable and extensive.
15. Plaka Stairs
Plaka is the best place to check for anything you want to do in Athens. The idyllic narrow cobblestone streets are packed with colorful shops, lush vegetation, cafes, and world-famous family-owned tavernas. Climbing the Plaka Stairs leads to the Acropolis and they are one of the best places to capture the essence of the Greek style of living.
This is one of Athen’s bucket list destinations you do not want to miss!
16. Little Metropolis – Church of St. Eleftherios
If you are not paying enough attention, you might miss the small, strange building, next to the Cathedral in central Athens.
The modest Byzantine church has a lot of history to it. First of all, its date of build is somewhat unclear, the date varying anywhere from the 8th to the 15 century.
But what is clear is that it was first a pagan temple that was rebuilt as a church: Little Metropolis. And as you will discover, a lot of the Churches in Athens follow the same path. They were at first pagan temples that in time were converted into churches.
17. Panathenaic Stadium
Greeks sure know how to impress you with timeless buildings. And even the more recent constructions such as the Panathenaic Stadium follows the rule of incredible! And when I say more recent, I mean that it has been the Olympic Games stadium since 1896 so it is not quite recent only when comparing it to the usual landmarks!
Just imagine that the entire Stadium is built of marble! What a splendid display of beautiful materials and craftsmanship!
What sets Erechtheion temple apart from the other Greek temples?
The temple was built during the Golden Age of the city on the Acropolis and had not just ONE sacred place to accommodate but several, including the tombs of Erechtheus and Cecrops and the sacred Athena’s Olive Tree.
Another fascinating place is the Areopagus or Hill of Ares. This historic hill is a highlight on its own. And the views of the Acropolis and over Athens are just spectacular and really worth the ascend.
20. National Library of Greece
The Majestic old building of the National Library of Greece looks exactly how you would expect a Greek prestigious cultural building to look. Along with the Academy of Athens and the original University building, this Neo-Classical beauty is the work of art of the Danish architect Theophil Hansen.
You can not miss this site or you should!
21. The Academy of Athens
For sure, the Academy of Athens is one of the most important landmarks the city has to show you.
The highest research establishment in the country, the Neoclassical main building of the Academy goes back to 1926. Stone carvings and statues ornate the exterior, while the interior is decorated with murals and paintings. It is such a representative part of Greek culture!
22. The Monastery of Daphni
First built in the 6th century, the Monastery of Daphni is a masterpiece of Byzantine style, worthy of its Unesco Heritage site status. Lying only a few kilometers away from the capital, the Monastery impresses most with the exquisite masonry and the mosaics that depict Christian scenes on a gold background.
23. Lake Beletsi
Though it is an artificial lake, Beletsi is still one of the most beautiful green spaces to go to while in Athens. It’s like a little escape from the big city offering serene views and nature and it is simply a lovely place to go whether on a romantic date or for a family picnic.
24. Lycabettus Funicular
For those who find hiking all the way to the top of Mount Lycabettus a challenge, there is an easier or lazier way to get the scenic views! Take a ride on the Lycabettus Funicular. For those that have been with a Funicular in Budapest for example, it might not be such a new experience, but still very much worth it.
25. Tower of the Winds
One of a kind, this elegant old temple located in the Roman Agora, the Tower of the Winds, was constructed as a weather station and clocktower, so to speak.
But imagine how impressive it must have been in the 2nd century BC, with its sundials, water vane, and the clepsydra. A true masterpiece…
26. Strefi Hill Park
A short walk away from the Archeological Museum and you get to Strefi Hill Park. #
The urban Strefi Hill Park comes with such surprising views of the city and it’s also one of the local’s favorite places to gather. Sports grounds and playgrounds and even a small open theatre make this place great to just relax and enjoy!
27. Fethiye Mosque Museum
While we are on the chapter on surprising and yet incredible buildings to find in the center of Athens, add the Fethiye Mosque Museum to the list. The 17th-century ottoman Mosque is quite close to the Tower of the Winds so, you can add both impressive sites to your photo trip. If you are lucky you can see the interior of the Fethiye Mosques, as, after its renovation, the building was converted into a cultural exhibition venue.
28. The Sanctuary of Artemis
If you would like to see another ancient temple, on the Acropolis plateau, you can admire the ruins of the Sanctuary of Artemis.
The Greek goddess of hunt and childbirth was one of the most worshipped of the Greek gods but, unfortunately, only a small part of this most sacred temple in Attica was preserved. But it is still a wonder and a wonderful site to admire!
29. Church of Kapnikarea
One of the oldest churches in Athens is the Church of Kapnikarea. The Byzantine building, located so centrally in the middle of the busiest part of the city, survived centuries and is today one of the most significant samples of Greek history.
30. Temple of Hephaestus
At the top of Agoraios Kolonos Hill In Agora, you can wonder at what seems to be the very well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus. The iconic Doric ancient temple is such a sublime and classic Greek architectural wonder!
There is so much more left to discover in the wondrous Athens! There is so much more to explore and experience! And if I could add a feeling to the bucket list, it would be the heart-felt welcoming everyone gets anywhere in Greece!
I hope you found your inspiration while reading Best of Athens: 30 amazing attractions to put on your bucket list! But most of all I hope you get to enjoy Greece and the Greek hospitality!
Whenever you need a bit more inspiration, you can always just find it a download-away on Framey App! (It is available both on Google Play and App Store)