- Dimos Kontovounisios
The 10 best things to do in Athens, Greece. Different sights, museums and ideas beyond Athens!
I'm happy to announce that DIG Tokyo Tours has recently joined forces with the Fat Tire Bike Tour Network. The partnership aims to shine a light on standout cycling tour operators from around the globe and hopefully attract the curiosity of a few new guests. Dimos at Athens by bike, one of those standout operators on the network, has kindly written the following post on his hometown Athens. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to jump on a bike with Dimos and the team in Athens and explore some of his recommended spots around town.
Enjoy the read, Andy!
Athens is a vibrant city that has so much to offer. You may wonder what to do in Athens during your visit. As a native Athenian, I would like to share with you my great list with ideas, tips and recommendations in order to make your stay in Athens the most pleasant one. So, out of a huge selection, I present to you my list with the 10 best things to do in Athens!
WHAT TO DO IN ATHENS CITY CENTER
You are in Athens and you do not have plenty of time to visit a Greek island? You miss your summer holidays in Santorini? Not a problem! Do not worry, you do not need to pack your things and book a ferry. Just take the subway, get off at Acropolis Metro station and just walk for 10 minutes. Out of nowhere, you will find yourself walking in the unique neighborhood of Anafiotika in Plaka, Athens. This place is basically a small island-looking village in the heart of Athens! The traditional white and blue houses were constructed about 170 years ago by Greek islanders originally from the tiny island of Anafi. Go there and make sure you have plenty of space in your camera for pictures! It is a must do in Athens and one of the top things to do in Athens for free!
If you are a street art lover but even if not, it is a must do in Athens to see how big this culture is here and a great recommendation on what to do in Athens. The whole city of Athens is basically a white canvas for the street artists. There is a bit of everything, from terrible tagging to amazing murals. The majority of the street art that you will see on the
streets is illegal, but it is not considered to be a serious crime. There are no gangs connected to the street art, so do not hesitate to walk all the street art neighborhoods! Best areas are Psirri, Keramikos, Gazi and Plaka, Athens.
Sunset on Lycabettus hill
One thing is for sure in Greece. Everywhere you go you will be advised by locals where to go in order to see the “best sunset in Greece”. For us Athenians, Lycabettus hill, right in the city center is one of the best things to do in Athens in order to escape from the hassle of the city. A must do in Athens also for trekking lovers, you can take the path to hike up to the top. For the rest of us, there is always the option to take a taxi. Up on top of the hill you can visit St. George’s church. The square outside the church is probably “the best balcony with a view” in Athens. It can be on the top of your list of the things to do in Athens for free. The place gets really busy during summer time, because many want to capture the sunset, so if you are planning to go, go early to get a spot. You can also enjoy a dinner or a drink, as there is a restaurant on top.
WHAT TO DO BEYOND THE CITY CENTER OF ATHENS
Athens has the privilege to be next to a beautiful coastline that starts in the port of Piraeus and ends after 70 kms at Cape Sounio. Along the route there are literally hundreds of bars, restaurants and nightclubs next to clean, sandy beaches and luxurious yacht marinas.You
can easily explore the Athenian Riviera by renting a car or there is always the option to book the Athens City & Sea Bike Tour with Athens by bike tour operator and have an amazing half-day adventure!
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is a big cultural center with a big variety of facilities. It houses the New National Library of Greece, the New Opera House of
Athens and a huge metropolitan park that is techinaly (and literally) the rooftop of the whole structure, making it a masterpiece of modern architecture! It is located between the southern suburbs of Kallithea and Faliro and it first opened back in 2016. It immediately became a meeting place for all the Athenians and people meet there to enjoy the premises of the park, to rent bikes and explore the area, to attend concerts and cultural events, to watch movies in the open air cinema and the list goes on forever! It is one of the best things to do in Athens for free, as there is no entry ticket! You can read more about the SNFCC in the official website.
If you are looking for ideas on what to do in Athens, but also beyond, then Aegina is a beautiful island, just 45 minutes away from the Port of Piraeus. This close proximity with Athens gives us Athenians a great opportunity to escape the city for a daytrip (or more). The island is beautiful, with a vast selection of things to do. You can visit the Ancient Temples, the archeological sites and museums, you can relax at one of the beaches with the crystal clear blue waters and eat fish next to the sea in a traditional tavern. You can check out the ferries timetables at viva.gr
Goulandris museum of contemporary art
Athens is a paradise for museum lovers, as there are more than 70 in the whole city. Must do in Athens museums are obviously the most famous ones, like the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, but since 2019 there is a new entry in the city, the Goulandris Museum, in the neighborhood of Pagrati, just a short pleasant walk from the city center. There you can see great art from famous international artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, El Greco and more! You can visit the official website of the museum for the lastest news.
Ancient Greek Agora
When visiting Greece, top on the list on what to do in Athens is of course to visit the Acropolis. There is one more archeological site in Athens that is not to be missed. The Ancient Greek Agora, a place so important for humanity that few unfortunately know. By visiting the Ancient Greek Agora, you will walk in the area where Democracy was invented
for the first time ever in history, you will walk the area where all the important philosophers like Socrates and Plato walked and teach their ideas to the people and basically the area where the modern western way of thinking was established. Have a great tour passing by the Greek Agora during the Athens Morning Bike Tour of Athens by bike.
Philopappou is a secret location in Athens hidden in plain view. It is also the only archaeological site that you can visit in Athens if you are on a limited budget and you are looking for things to do in Athens for free. It is the big hill right next to the Acropolis that on its surroundings can be found the National Observatory Institute and the Roman Ruin of Philopappos on top. Philopappou Hill is the perfect spot to capture by far the best picture of the Acropolis from any possible location in Athens! If you walk up there in the afternoon, stay a little bit longer to see the Acropolis getting all lit up, it is a thing that you will never forget.
One of the best non-touristy things to do in Athens is actually the farmer’s market, an open market where the farmers sell their agricultural products directly to the people. It is a really colorful place, full of loud voices, as vendors try to attract the buyers to buy from them. The
farmer market is a meeting place where people buy their groceries, fish, meat and even clothes! There are plenty of them around the city center and they operate all days except Sundays. You could visit one and get amazed by how cheap the prices can be in the following neighborhoods: Petralona, Koukaki, Exarcheia, Neos Kosmos, Pagrati.