Best Sightseeing in Athens

Athens' Sightseeing Covers Many Historical Periods, Plus Attractions of Various Types

History and archaeology lovers will certainly appreciate and enjoy the many ancient monuments and historical sites of Athens. All those visiting Athens though are impressed and by the beauty and harmony of ancient architecture, the atmosphere, the variety of things to see. Plan your itinerary on foot, or if you prefer bicycle, follow a guided tour of the city or make your own way with the help of a map. Athenians will be only too happy to help you find your way should you get lost. Leave more time for a visit to the Acropolis which is one of the most celebrated ancient monuments in the world, the continue walking through Plaka and visit the picturesque Anafiotika neighborhood, built in the 19th century. The Ancient Agora is on your way, with the famous Attalus stoa, frequented daily by the ancient Athenians. Visit the Monastiraki Flea Market and discover quaint treasures in the antique shops, memorabilia and great bargains. Hadrian's Arch on busy Amalias Avenue is one of the most impressive monuments in Athens, built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The National Gardens, with the many different corners to discover,  are ideal for a peaceful walk after sightseeing. For the best panoramic view of Athens, take the funicular up to Lycabettus hill. Further away visit the busy harbor of Piraeus with fish taverns, cafes and interesting shopping. In the center of Athens dont miss the Changing of the Guard outside the Parliament. For an unforgettable sunset the temple of Poseidon at Sounion is by far the best place.


Outside the City

Sounio with the temple of Poseidon, god of the sea, is on many tourist itineraries, as both the archeological site and the environment are of great beauty. Situated on the south coast of Attica at a distance of about 68 klm, the impressive temple with its outstanding view of the Aegean sea is built in Doric style and the place is ideal for watching the sunset. Further down on the slope is the temple of Athena, goddess of wisdom. In the same area is one of the most ancient and less known ancient theatres, Thoriko, dating back to the 6th century B.C, also worth visiting. Nearby Lavrio is an important port from where shops depart to the islands and the Technological and Cultural Park is an important landmark.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The sunset is remarkable from this point of Attica

Nelly's expert tip: Myth and history in the temple of Poseidon

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Hadrian's Arch
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Hadrians Arch, on the western side of the temple of Zeus, was built in 131 A.D. by the Athenians as a triumphal arch in honor of the great Roman Emperor Hadrian, benefactor of the city. The famous marble from mount Penteli still maintains some of its ancient glory. The significance of the location in ancient times was the borderline between the ancient town of Athens and the new district , named Adrianopolis or new Athens. A landmark in the area, the Arch stands vigil and retains its magnificence notwithstanding the traffic and pace of life in the busy capital

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Situated on the side of a busy thoroughfare, Hadrian's arch is an imposing monument

Nelly's expert tip: In memory of the great Roman Emperor Hadrian, benefactor of Athens

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Ancient Agora
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

The Ancient Agora, with the renowned Attalus Stoa, includes a complex structure of buildings, which in ancient times were used to deposit the state archives amongst other things. Buildings include temples, the Vouleftirion, the Tholos, where the heads of the city met to discuss matters of state, and where weights and measures for commercial use were kept. In Roman times, the temple of Mars was added. The reconstructed Attalus Stoa, built by king Pergamus in the 2nd century B.C. operates as a museum, with the entrance from Adrianou street.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Remains of temples and buildings in the most frequented location of ancient Athens

Nelly's expert tip: Dont miss the museum in the Attalus Stoa, with interesting archeological finds

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Changing of the Guards - Parliament
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Visitors to Athens always enjoy watching the Changing of the Guards outside the Parliament on Syntagma Square. The evzones, or tsoliades, are young Greeks doing their military service and are chosen for this honorable post depending on their height. Every hour they march down Vasilissis Sofias Avenue from their barracks on Irodou Attikou and change posts with the previous evzones, following an elaborate ceremony with specific military steps and positions of their rifles. On Sundays at 11 a.m. the ceremony includes a larger number of evzones and is more impressive. The traditional costumes and shoes which they wear have special significance and symbolism and are entirely handmade by a special artisan in the barracks.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: The Sunday official parade, with the evzones in their best attire, is an impressive sight,

Nelly's expert tip: An impressive and unique in its kind sight, widely photographed by visitors

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Monastiraki Flea Market
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

A visit to the Monastiraki flea market in Athens is a must. Situated over a large area from Monastiraki square and metro station down to the end of Ermou street, the flea market is open every day, but on Sundays it is even more interesting to visit, as even more objects are on sale, especially on busy Abyssinias square. The flea market actually consists of shops which are open every day and on Sundays there is the extra bonus of open air improvised stalls. Things to buy range from clothes to old books, stamps, coins, furniture, bric a brac, postcards, memorabilia, decorative objects and more. The prices can vary and bargaining is always necessary. Even just browsing the shops and vendors is great fun.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Athenians and visitors love this quaint part of the center, famous for the antiques

Nelly's expert tip: Browsing through the shops and outdoor stalls with their melee of objects is an ideal way to spend Sunday morning

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National Garden of Athens
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

The National Garden of Athens was designed in 1836 by the German architect Friedrich von Gaertner, and was initially an idea of Queen Amalia, who reigned in that period. Until 1974 it was named Royal Garden. The area which it covers, extends from Amalias Avenue to Irodou Attikou, where the Royal Palace used to be situated and from Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the Zappion. Visitors to the Garden can see an interesting variety of plants and trees, some ancient remains, statues of famous poets and politicians, a sundial, ponds with ducks and fish, a small zoo and several pergolas and secluded romantic corners. Athenians love to walk in the quiet, cool Garden, which is open from sunrise to sunset, children can play in the specially designed playground with swings and seesaws, or visit the children?s library and adults can enjoy a coffee or a light lunch at the coffee shop.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: A cool and peaceful oasis in the center of Athens, ideal for a walk

Nelly's expert tip: The coffee shop is slightly overpiriced but the ambience is worth the expense

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Piraeus Cruise Port
Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Piraeus is the largest port not only in Greece, but also in Europe, and is third in the world regarding passenger traffic. Most shipping companies have their offices in Piraeus. It goes without saying that it is the main cruise port in Greece for homeporting or transit cruises through the Mediterranean. Like all ports it is a large bustling city with its own authentic character and history. The distance from the center of Athens is only 12 klm. and convenient train transport make it easily accessible. Piraeus is also famous for the many fish taverns and restaurants, its picturesque neighborhoods and busy shopping center. The view from Kastella, with its aristocratic villas, is magnificent. Pasalimani and Mikrolimano are two smaller harbors, where yachts tie. The Veakeio theater, the Hellenic Maritime Museum and the Archeological Museum are the most important landmarks. The main shopping center is in the streets around the Municipal Theater, where small cafes and bars on pedestrian streets are also located.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Fish taverns, cafes, attractions and wonderful views of the sea

Nelly's expert tip: A large bustling city with its own unique character and style

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Lycabettus  Hill

The view from Lycabettus, or Lykavittos, hill is spectacular, reaching down to the sea and the closest islands. The tiny 19th century church of Saint George, perched on the summit of Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens, is a favorite for romantic weddings. You can reach Lycabettus walking up the steep steps, or take the funicular railway from Aristippou street. The slopes of Lycabettus are a cool, restful place to walk amongst pine trees and shrubs. On the slope facing south, two cannons fire twenty one times at sunrise and sunset on all Greek national holidays. The parking lot close to the Lycabettus Theater, where performances and concerts are held every summer, is considered to have the most spectacular and extensive view of the city.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: Enjoy the panoramic view of Athens from the top of Lycabettus

Nelly's expert tip: This view is definitely not to be missed

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Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Anafiotika is a small neighborhood, part of Plaka, built right under the Acropolis, with narrow, uphill streets and village style houses. This picturesque part of Athens, which seems to belong to another century, was created in the 19th century by craftsmen from the island of Anafi, who travelled to Athens to work as builders in the construction of the palace of King Otto and the general reconstruction of the city. This quaint neighborhood is built in the Cycladic architecture style and still maintains its peaceful atmosphere. Over the years several archeological sites were discovered here, which today coexist in harmony with the houses and churches, the cafes and taverns, offering an intriguing image of past and present.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: A part of Plaka, famous for its Cycladic architecture and picturesque atmosphere

Nelly's expert tip: A picturesque neighborhood with narrow, uphill streets and island style houses

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Photo courtesy of Nelly Paraskevopoulou

The Acropolis, considered the emblem of the city of Athens is a complex of temples built on a high rock structure, symbol of the Golden Age of Pericles. The Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom Athena is still considered sacred ground and a magnificent example of ancient Greek architecture and geometry. Over the ages, the Acropolis and the temples of the ancient gods had a turbulent history, some were transformed into Christian churches, the rock was used as a fortress by the Turks and in the 19th century a large part of the Parthenon sculptures were taken to Great Britain where they still remain. Bearing a great cultural heritage, the sacred rock remains the most outstanding historic site in Athens and visitors always exclaim on the timeless beauty of this monument.

Recommended for Sightseeing because: By far the most famous archeological site of Athens

Nelly's expert tip: The most outstanding historic site in Athens

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Meet Nelly Paraskevopoulou

Born and bred in Athens, Nelly went on the move after finishing high school and spending some years working in textiles.  For her, Italy was the next chapter. But, after 12 years, it was back...  More About Nelly