What to See in Athens: Top Attractions and Landmarks

What to See in Athens: Top Attractions and Landmarks

The Acropolis and the Parthenon

The Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is undoubtedly the most renowned landmark in Athens. Dominating the skyline, it features the illustrious Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, the city's patron goddess. Constructed in the 5th century BCE, this epitome of classical Greek architecture stands as a testament to ancient civilization’s ingenuity and artistic prowess.

Besides the Parthenon, visitors should explore other key structures on the Acropolis, such as:

  • Erechtheion: Known for its Caryatids, statuesque female figures serving as columns.
  • Propylaea: The monumental gateway to the Acropolis.
  • Temple of Athena Nike: A small yet elegant temple celebrating Athena's victories.

The Acropolis Museum

At the base of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum houses invaluable artifacts and sculptures uncovered on the sacred hill. Designed by Bernard Tschumi and Michael Photiadis, this modern structure offers a deep dive into ancient Athens’ artistic and cultural heritage.

Key exhibits include:

  • The Parthenon Gallery: Featuring a comprehensive collection of Parthenon marbles.
  • The Archaic Gallery: Hosting sculptures predating the Parthenon.
  • The Glass Floor: Offering a glimpse into the archaeological site beneath the museum.

The Ancient Agora

A stroll through the Ancient Agora, once the heart of Athenian public life, provides insight into the political, social, and commercial activities of ancient Athens. This sprawling archaeological site includes:

  • Stoa of Attalos: Restored in the 1950s and now home to the Museum of the Ancient Agora.
  • Temple of Hephaestus: One of the best-preserved Greek temples, dedicated to the god of metalworking and craftsmanship.

Plaka and Monastiraki

Plaka, the oldest neighborhood in Athens, is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, neoclassical architecture, and vibrant tavernas. This iconic district offers a unique mix of ancient history and modern vibrancy. Nearby Monastiraki is famed for its bustling flea market, eclectic shops, and eateries dishing out delicious Greek delicacies.

Must-sees include:

  • Hadrian's Library: An ancient monument once home to thousands of scrolls.
  • Tzistarakis Mosque: A testament to the city's Ottoman past, now hosting temporary exhibitions.

The National Archaeological Museum

This premier museum holds Greece's most extensive and impressive collection of artifacts spanning millennia. From Mycenaean treasures to Cycladic sculptures and classical artworks, the National Archaeological Museum offers a thorough exploration of Greek history and culture.

Noteworthy items include:

  • Mask of Agamemnon: A 16th-century BCE burial mask attributed to the legendary king.
  • Antikythera Mechanism: An ancient mechanical device often considered the world's first computer.
  • Vaphio Cups: Exquisite gold cups from the Mycenaean period.

Mount Lycabettus

For panoramic views of Athens, a trek or a funicular ride up Mount Lycabettus is a must. Standing 277 meters above sea level, the summit offers unparalleled vistas of the sprawling city below and distant landmarks like the Acropolis and the Aegean Sea.

The peak also houses:

  • Saint George’s Chapel: A quaint whitewashed chapel offering serene moments against a breathtaking backdrop.
  • Lycabettus Theatre: An open-air theatre hosting a variety of performances during summer.

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro, is the only stadium in the world entirely made of marble. It hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and continues to be an essential site for sports and historical events.

Visitors can learn about the stadium's storied past and even run on the famed track where legendary athletes once competed.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Near the Acropolis, the colossal Temple of Olympian Zeus remains a symbol of Athenian grandeur. Although only 15 of its original 104 columns stand today, the scale and ambition of this ancient temple are still awe-inspiring.

Adjacent to the temple are the ruins of the Roman Baths and the Arch of Hadrian, which once marked the city's boundary between the old and new Athens.

National Garden

For a peaceful retreat from the bustling city, the National Garden offers verdant pathways, shaded spots, and serene ponds. This lush green space, established in the 19th century, is perfect for leisurely strolls and includes:

  • Botanical Museum: Showcasing a variety of local flora.
  • Zoo: Home to a range of animals and birds.
  • Children’s Library: Offering educational resources for young visitors.
  • Small Café: Ideal for a relaxing break amidst nature.

Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square, the heart of modern Athens, is a vibrant hub of activity. It’s surrounded by neoclassical buildings, deluxe hotels, and is home to the Greek Parliament.

Key attractions include:

  • Changing of the Guard: A quintessential experience where Evzones, the elite presidential guards, perform meticulous ceremonies.
  • Zappeion Hall: A historic building now used for conferences and exhibitions.


From the ancient splendors of the Acropolis to the bustling streets of Plaka, Athens offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and modern vibrancy. Each landmark tells a story, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the timeless charm of this storied city.