Updated: Mar 24
Welcome to the land of ancient history, sunny beaches, and exquisite cuisine - Greece. Athens, the capital city of Greece, is a must-see destination for every traveler. In just 24 hours, you can immerse yourself in the rich culture of Athens, from the ancient ruins of the Acropolis to the bustling streets of Monastiraki. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to plan your visit, but fear not, this travel guide will help you make the most of your 24 hours in Athens. Get ready to discover the highlights of Athens and fall in love with the city's vibrant atmosphere.
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When to Travel:
We visited Athens in March, which is considered the low season in Greece. It is an excellent choice for several reasons. Firstly, the city is less crowded, and you can avoid the long lines and wait times that are typical of peak tourist season. Additionally, with fewer tourists around, you will have a more authentic experience of the city and its culture. The weather during March is mild, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 15°C, which is ideal for exploring the city without having to deal with the intense heat of the summer months. Just be sure to bring a jacket! Furthermore, the prices for accommodation, food, and attractions are lower during the low season, making it an excellent option for budget-conscious travelers.
In addition to the benefits of visiting Athens during the low season in March, there are many reasons why it is a good time to explore Greece as a whole. The country is less crowded during this time, allowing you to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of its stunning landscapes and ancient ruins without feeling overwhelmed by the masses of tourists. Many popular tourist destinations, such as Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, are still accessible during the low season, and you can enjoy them without the long lines or the jostling for space at the beaches. Travel from Athens to Crete is particularly ideal during late winter and early Spring. In March, you can witness the beautiful blossoming of wildflowers and experience the stunning colors of spring that Greece is renowned for. The locals are also more relaxed during this time, and you can have a more immersive experience of their culture and way of life. In short, the low season in Greece is a fantastic time to visit if you are looking for a more authentic, budget-friendly, and tranquil experience of this magnificent country.
Getting to Athens is relatively easy, as the city is served by the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, which is located approximately 30 kilometers from the city center. From the airport, you can take a taxi, a metro, or a bus to get to your destination. Taking a taxi is the most convenient option, but it can be quite expensive, especially during peak hours. During our stay in Athens, we booked a private taxi through our AirBnb host, who was able to arrange for transportation to and from the airport. A cheaper alternative is to take the metro, which runs from the airport to the city center and operates from 6:30 am until 11:30 pm. The metro journey takes around 40 minutes, and tickets cost €10 for a one-way trip or €18 for a round trip. You can also take the bus, which is the cheapest option but takes longer than the metro. Buses operate 24/7, and tickets cost €6 for a one-way trip.
Once you're in the city center, the best way to get around Athens is by metro, as it is fast, efficient, and covers most of the city's attractions. The metro system in Athens consists of three lines, and the tickets cost €1.40 for a one-way trip or €4.50 for a day pass. Alternatively, you can use the tram or the bus, which is cheaper but slower than the metro. Taxis are also available but can be quite expensive, especially during peak hours or if you're traveling to a remote area. Walking is also a great way to explore the city, as many of the attractions are located in close proximity to each other, and you can take in the beauty of the city at your own pace. We highly recommend walking, especially if you are in bustling parts of the city like Plaka or Monastiraki.
Athens offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every traveler's needs and budget, from luxurious hotels to cozy guesthouses. One popular accommodation option is AirBnBs, which are plentiful in Athens and offer a great way to experience the local culture and way of life. Staying in an AirBnB allows you to enjoy the city like a local, as you can stay in authentic neighborhoods and experience the local food, culture, and way of life. Additionally, AirBnBs are often more affordable than hotels and offer more space, privacy, and amenities such as a kitchen, which can be a great way to save money on meals. We stayed in a convenient AirBnB located in a part of town known as Plaka, which was perfect for accessing attractions and places to eat.
Apart from AirBnBs, there are several other alternative accommodation options in Athens, such as hostels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals. Hostels are a popular choice for budget-conscious travelers, and there are several great hostels in Athens that offer clean, comfortable, and affordable accommodation. Guesthouses are another great option, especially if you're looking for a more traditional Greek experience. Guesthouses in Athens are typically small family-run businesses that offer cozy accommodation, home-cooked meals, and a warm welcome. Finally, vacation rentals, such as villas and apartments, are another option if you're looking for more space, privacy, and luxury.
Top Things to Do in Athens in 24 Hours:
1. Visit the Acropolis
A visit to the Acropolis is a must-do activity during a 24-hour visit to Athens. The Acropolis is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and is home to several iconic structures, including the Parthenon, the Propylaea, and the Erechtheion. The Acropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting millions of visitors every year. To get the most out of your visit, we recommended visiting the Acropolis early in the morning to avoid the crowds. We arrived to the Acropolis at around 8:30 am and were able to beat many of the group tours and masses of school children on trips. You can explore the Acropolis on your own or with a guided tour, which can provide you with fascinating insights into the history and significance of the site. We purchased Acropolis skip-the-line tickets through Get Your Guide, which also included an audio tour that we were able to download to our phones.
Once you reach the Acropolis, you can climb to the top of the hill to explore the ancient ruins and admire the stunning views of Athens. The Parthenon, the most iconic structure on the Acropolis, is a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and a masterpiece of ancient Greek architecture. The Propylaea, the monumental gateway to the Acropolis, is another must-see structure, with its impressive columns and ornate decorations. The Erechtheion, an ancient temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon, is also worth visiting for its stunning architectural features, including the famous Caryatids, a series of six female figures serving as supporting columns. A visit to the Acropolis is an unforgettable experience, and a chance to immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of ancient Greece.
2. Tour the Acropolis Museum
A visit to the Acropolis Museum is an excellent addition to a 24-hour itinerary in Athens. The museum is located just a short walk from the Acropolis and is dedicated to the ancient artifacts found on the Acropolis site. The museum is modern and spacious, with stunning views of the Acropolis and the city of Athens. It is home to a vast collection of ancient Greek artifacts, including sculptures, pottery, and jewelry, dating back to the 5th century BC. The museum's exhibits are arranged chronologically and thematically, providing a fascinating insight into the culture and history of ancient Greece. Get Your Guide tickets to the Acropolis also have the option to include skip-the-line tickets to the Acropolis Museum.
One of the museum's highlights is the Parthenon Gallery, which features sculptures and friezes from the Parthenon, including the famous Elgin Marbles. The gallery is designed to recreate the Parthenon's dimensions and is an awe-inspiring space that allows you to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship of the ancient sculptures up close. Another highlight is the Archaic Gallery, which showcases ancient Greek sculptures from the 7th to the 5th century BC. The gallery features several life-size statues of kouroi and korai, as well as intricate pottery and jewelry. A visit to the Acropolis Museum is a must-do activity for any traveler interested in ancient Greek history and art, and it is an excellent complement to a visit to the Acropolis itself.
3. Explore Plaka
Exploring Plaka is a delightful way to spend a few hours during a 24-hour visit to Athens. Plaka is one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens, located just below the Acropolis. It is a maze of narrow streets, lined with colorful neoclassical buildings, small shops, cafes, and tavernas. Plaka is a charming neighborhood that exudes a relaxed and laid-back vibe, making it an excellent place to wander around, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy some of the best views of the Acropolis.
As you stroll through the streets of Plaka, you'll discover a wealth of interesting sights and landmarks, including several ancient ruins and historic churches. The Roman Agora, located in the heart of Plaka, is a well-preserved ancient marketplace that dates back to the 1st century BC. Another must-see attraction in Plaka is the Tower of the Winds, an ancient clocktower that dates back to the 2nd century BC. The tower is a remarkable example of ancient Greek engineering and features intricate relief sculptures depicting the eight wind deities. In addition to its ancient landmarks, Plaka is also known for its lively nightlife scene, with numerous bars and tavernas that offer traditional Greek music and dancing.
Where to Eat and Drink:
Thea Terrace Bar
Thea Terrace Bar is a popular rooftop bar located in the heart of Athens, offering stunning views of the Acropolis and the city skyline. The bar is situated on the seventh floor of the Central Hotel, and it is an excellent spot to enjoy a drink or a meal while taking in the breathtaking views of Athens. The bar's ambiance is relaxed and sophisticated, with modern decor and a laid-back atmosphere. The outdoor terrace is the main attraction, providing an unrivaled panoramic view of the Acropolis and the city below. The bar's extensive drink menu features an impressive selection of cocktails, wines, and spirits, as well as light bites and snacks. Thea Terrace Bar is a must-visit spot in Athens, providing an unforgettable experience and a chance to admire the city's beauty from a unique perspective. Try this spot for a romantic dinner out, and be sure to try the Ragu Cones!
Plakaki Cafe is a cozy and atmospheric cafe located in the heart of the historic Plaka neighborhood in Athens. The cafe's charming interior features rustic wooden furniture, vintage decorations, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is an excellent spot to enjoy a cup of coffee, a snack, or a light meal while taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling Plaka streets. The cafe's outdoor seating area is particularly inviting, with a beautiful view of the charming Plaka alleyways. Plakaki Cafe is a perfect choice for breakfast! We particularly enjoyed the Plakaki Brunch plate.
In conclusion, a 24-hour visit to Athens may seem like a short amount of time, but it is still possible to experience some of the city's most iconic landmarks, vibrant neighborhoods, and lively cultural scene. From exploring the ancient wonders of the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum to wandering around the charming streets of Plaka and enjoying a drink at a rooftop bar, Athens has something to offer every visitor. Plus, visiting during the low season in March means fewer crowds, lower prices, and a more authentic experience of the city. So whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Athens is a destination that should definitely be on your travel bucket list.
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