Planning to spend 2 days in Athens, and looking to see as much as possible? There are so many things to see in the city over a weekend. This 2-day itinerary will help you make the most out of your stay in Athens.
Athens, one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history dating back to the 5th Century BC you’ll be able to witness the cultural and historical richness that is evident in all of its architecture and its streets. Every street leads to a fascinating monument, the Acropolis towers over graffiti-filled streets, tradition juxtaposes with modernity, and historical buildings sit right next to clubbing districts.
You’ll be spoiled for choice with all of the grand sights, the incredible cuisine, the nightlife, and the rich culture that has prevailed throughout all of these years. With all of the things you can do in Athens, it might be challenging to know where to begin, so here’s our recommendation on how to spend 2 days in Athens!
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Table of Contents
- 1 Two Days in Athens: Where to Stay?
- 2 How to spend 2 days in Athens, a Detailed Itinerary
- 2.1 Athens in 2 days: Day One
- 2.2 Athens in 2 days: Day Two
- 3 Practical Information for your 2-day Athens Itinerary
Two Days in Athens: Where to Stay?
Herodion Hotel: With views of the Parthenon and cafes and restaurants on the doorstep, this conveniently located hotel, close to all the tourist attractions and a metro station, is elegantly decorated in a modern style. Enjoy the view from 1 of 2 hot tubs on the roof terrace! – Click here for more information and to book your stay.
Arethusa Hotel: Ideally located, close to Syntagma square and the metro, this hotel has a roof terrace with panoramic views of the Acropolis. Decorated in a simple style, rooms are clean and spacious and come with a fridge. Click here for more information and to book your stay.
360 Degrees: Within walking distance of all the attractions, this hotel in Monastiraki, right next to the flea market street, is decorated in a modern style with industrial-design details and has a rooftop bar and restaurant with views of the Acropolis. Click here for more information and to book your stay.
How to spend 2 days in Athens, a Detailed Itinerary
Athens in 2 days: Day One
The Acropolis is the most important ancient Greek monument, and one of the most important monuments in the world. You will see the Acropolis majestically rising above the concrete jungle as you walk by. The most famous landmark, of course, is the Parthenon Temple. However, there are a lot more other things that you can check out.
You enter through Beulé Gate and then pass through Propylaia. From there you can choose to visit the Temple of Athena Nike built in the 424 B.C or the Parthenon.
The Parthenon is a breathtaking temple that worshiped the cult of Athena the Virgin back then, and even though you cannot enter right now, you may still walk around the exterior and check out the incredible details of craftsmanship, specifically on the columns. The columns and the sculpture all symbolize the wealth and class of Ancient Greece.
Theater of Dionysus
This fourth-century BC theatre is considered the birthplace of European theatre! It’s one of the earliest preserved in Athens and one of the most beautiful ancient theatres in Greece. Back then it was used for festivals, mostly ones in honor of Dionysus – the god of wine and theatre, and it can carry over 17,000 spectators. This is the theater where the most popular plays were performed for the first time including works by Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aristophanes.
Odeon of Herodus Atticus
This is another theater. However, this is one where you can actually experience a live classical performance. The ancient amphitheater, also sometimes called Herodion, is still functioning until today even though it was built about 161 A.D. by Herodes Atticus, a Roman philosopher, and teacher. The mixture of antiquity, the incredible acoustic experience, the performance itself of the tragedies, and the night sky filled with stars is enough to make you want to visit the theater right now!
Tip: Try to visit the archaeological site of the Acropolis as early as possible to avoid the crowds and the heat especially during the summer months.
Tickets: There is a special ticket package for visiting most of ancient Athens monuments costing 30 € full and 15 € reduced which is valid for Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis. The ticket is valid for five days.
If you just want to visit the Acropolis tickets cost 20€ from April 1st to October 30th and 10€ from November 1st to March 31st.
A great idea is a guided tour to the Acropolis: Here are my two favorites:
– A small group guide tour of the Acropolis with skip the line tickets. The reason I like this tour is that it is a small group one, it starts at 8:30 am, so you avoid the heat and the cruise ship passengers and it lasts for 2 hours.
– Alternatively, you can buy your skip-the-line tickets online and pick them up near the South entrance.
After you’re done visiting the actual sites, it’s time to visit one of the best museums in the world that is purely devoted to the Parthenon and its surrounding temples. Before going over parts of the museum that you need to see, you have to understand that the museum itself is a magnificent building and an incredible piece of architecture in and of itself.
Large glass panes, a wonderful sense of space, light, and all shades of marble existing around you, bathed in UV light, make just wandering around the museum a fun experience.
You can also have incredible views, since the museum is perched atop Athens, and you can check the panoramic views of Athens or the direct view of the Parthenon itself.
Things to see:
- Ground floor – “The Acropolis Skopes” which include all of the objects that were found in the settlements, houses, and sanctuaries that were all scattered around the Acropolis.
- On the first floor – Check out the Moschophoros, which is a statue of a man.
- On the third floor – take in the incredible views of both the Parthenon and all of Athens.
- The top floor – Educational 15 minute video that introduces all of the Parthenon structures,
Temple of Zeus
This impressive ruined temple lies in Central Athens to pay homage to the father of all the Olympian gods – Zeus. It was actually supported by over 104 Corinthian columns, but only 15 of those remain standing.
You would be surprised to know that this massive temple actually took 700 years to finish. You’ll be able to see the remains of Roman houses, the giant ivory and gold statues of the king of Olympian gods, the city walls and a Roman bath as well!.
Tickets: Included in the special ticket package of 30 €
Arch of Hadrian
This triumphal arch was built to celebrate the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian to thank him for his benefactions to the city of Athens. It actually once served as one of the seven gates that were used as a defense during the attack against the Albanian raiders.
You’ll be able to see the two different types of inscriptions that are varied in the architrave – one reads “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus,” and the second reads “This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus.” The first one looks towards the Acropolis while the other faces the new city. The reason for this is because the arch lies on the ancient street that was the bridge between the old city of Athens, to the new Roman part of Athens (made by Hadrian).
End your day by having dinner and walking around one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens where most of the streets are closed to pedestrians. It consists mainly of neoclassical houses, pedestrian streets, beautiful views, and much more.
Plaka was the oldest district in Athens, and it has now become an area full of restaurants, little taverns, jewelry stores, and cafes. There is a wide range of shop variety from normal touristy stores to more authentic ones selling weird, quirky souvenirs or antiques.
You can also cool off at a tavern and drink coffee as you watch people pass by or go to the Museum of Greek Folk Art!
OPTIONAL: If You Would Rather Have A Mythology Highlights Tour
If you find the monuments to be overwhelming and if you find that visiting them would be too much of a hassle, then you can take a 4 hour guided tour from 9 am every day in either English or French where you check out the most important highlights like the Acropolis, the Zeus Temple, the Ancient Agora, and much more.
You’ll also learn about all the Gods you’ve always heard of but never learned about, and you’ll learn about the ancient society and how people lived back then.
Athens in 2 days: Day Two
Slightly less busy than Acropolis but still as impressive, just the act of strolling around Agora will overwhelm you with the amount of history that hangs over this place.
Agora was the commercial hub of ancient Athens, the marketplace, and it was the focal point of all social, economic, political, and intellectual activities and it was the pulsing heart of all of Athens. After all, Agora directly translates to “a place of gathering”.
The Agora once had statues, shops, dozens of markets, schools, and even Socrates used to lecture young students there at the Stoa f Attalos II. You can also visit the Museum of Agora Excavation!
Tickets: Included in the special ticket package of 30 €
Now you’ll see the juxtaposition between modern and tradition as you move from the ancient pulsating heart of the city to the new one. The ancient square is what keeps this city going, and its main transport hub! It’s usually the place to meet friends, have a meal, relax after work, go shopping, or just people-watch!
Things to check out:
- The Parliament Building
- War Memorial of the Unknown Soldier – Dedicated to all of the unknown soldiers who died during the war. Changing of the Guard Ceremony takes place. Every hour exactly, the changing of the guard takes place where the presidential guards dress in their traditional uniform to pay tribute t all of the war victims. You are not allowed to touch them, however.
- National Garden
This stadium has an incredibly long, interesting history and is the birthplace of the Olympic Games. It was constructed in the 4th century B.C and its main purpose for it back then was for male athletes to compete in the games but now it has become one of the most important stadiums in the world. It is all made of marble and can hold up to 60,000 spectators today!
Check out the street art in Athens
Usually, when we think of Athens, images of completely ancient monuments come up to mind, right?
However, the streets of Athens are filled with incredible pieces of graffiti making it a very colorful town with all sorts of art and graffiti, from posters to murals, on the walls.
The Psyri neighborhood
This area used to be one of the most dangerous in Athens and had a dangerous reputation but it slowly and surely transformed itself into an incredible, fashionable, edgy neighborhood.
As you wander around, you will be able to see not only wonderfully authentic craftsmen’s stores, but also a lot of street art and art galleries like Sarilla12 and much more.
A lively square, a flea market, and a neighborhood that is so colorful with colors and murals. There are all types of graffiti there – from quirky and funny, to completely unprofessional, to very political ones!
After you’re done being inspired by the incredible street art and taking pictures of it, it’s time to go to the Monastiraki Market. Monastiraki is originally a busy square with street performers, shoppers, and of course – lots of tourists.
The market there is extremely diverse, with all types of shops offering the weirdest merchandise – both original and fake. It is the mecca of souvenirs and weird gifts you can bring your friends from jewelry to trinkets, to mass-produced T-Shirts with I love Coca-Cola on to antiques and vintage vinyl. You’ll find rare books, leather goods, traditional products, musical instruments and so much more…
After you’re done, you can go to the square and have a coffee at one of the many cafes that dot the streets.
Athens Central Market
This is where you go to truly get a feel of what Athenian life really is like, to live like a local for an hour or two! You enter this glass-roofed building called the Simotiki Agora and you are met with the best representation of the Athenian food scene. You get two sides of the market – one for meat and one for seafood, and there you see every type of meat and fish imaginable.
You’ll be a part of the hassle and the hustle and bustle of the markets as locals rush to buy the freshest produce and vendors shout out the prices and their promotions.
It’s the perfect balance between sensory and gastronomic delight.
OPTIONAL: The Original Athens Food Tour
You can discover a country through the gastronomic experience that it offers, and you can further discover Athens through its food. After checking out the most important monuments, you can embark on a journey of discovering the best Greek pastries, wine, cheese, and salamis. You’ll be going on a guided culinary tour of Athens, have an authentic Greek breakfast at a café that is a century old, purchase your choice of cheese and meat from a market, sample different types of food, try some Athenian coffee, and purchase souvenirs to take home.
Practical Information for your 2-day Athens Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Athens?
The best time to visit Athens is in one of the two shoulder seasons, either April-May or September-November, this way you’ll get the best weather (not too cold, not too hot), the best rates on hotels and flights (with the exception of Greek Orthodox Easter when prices go up), and avoid the worst of the crowds.
In April you can expect average temperatures of 16c reaching up to 20c on hot days, whilst in May, both of these months seeing the odd rainy day, the average is 20c with highs of up to 25c.
In September, the average temperature is 25c, dropping to 19c in October and 15.7c in November though even in November, you can get warm days reaching 19.2c though you do run the risk of a couple of days of rain if visiting in October and November, September pretty much guaranteed to be dry.
How to get to and from the airport
Metro: Line 3 of the metro (the blue line) takes you from Athens airport to Syntagma Square station or Monastiraki station. Metro trains operate every 30 minutes from 06.30-23.30. Price: €10 Duration: 40 minutes.
Bus: 3 express bus routes operate from the airport to the city center running every 30-60 minutes, 24 hours a day.
X95 takes you from the airport to Syntagma Square
X93 takes you from the airport to the Intercity Bus Station
X97 takes you from the airport to Elliniko Metro Station
Price: €6 Duration: 45-60 minutes
Taxi: Athens taxis have an official flat rate fee from the airport to the city center. There is a surcharge between midnight and 5 am, the charge determined by the time of arrival at your destination and not the time of your departure.
Price: €38 daytime or €54 between 00:00-5.00
Duration: 35–60 minutes depending on traffic.
Private Transfer: Welcome Pickups operate to/from Athens airport, also with flat-rate fees. Book online and you’ll be met outside the arrivals hall by a friendly English speaking driver who’ll give you a map of the city and a bottle of water before helping you load/unload your luggage. You can also pre-book travel extras including sim cards, skip-the-line attraction tickets, and more.
Price: €40 EUR daytime or €56 between midnight-5 am. Duration: 35-60 minutes depending on traffic.
How to get around the city
You can get to most of Athens’s tourist attractions on foot as they’re located close to each other and within pedestrianized zones. To save time and energy though, and to reach the National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum, you can make use of the metro which has 3 lines.
Tickets can be purchased from metro and tram stations and used throughout the public transport network.
Flat rate tickets cost €1.40 covering interchangeable journeys of up to 90 minutes (excluding airport journeys) with daily, 3-day, and 5-day passes also available.
The 3-day tourist ticket can be a good buy as it includes transport to/from the airport by bus or metro costing €22.00.
So this is how you spend two days in Athens, the perfect mixture of visiting historical monuments, museums, incredible neighborhoods, local markets, and quirky murals – all in 2 days.