Using this 5 day Athens itinerary as your guide you’ll be able to see so much – the historic sites and their museums, some of the best neighborhoods in the city and you’ll even have time to venture out of the city to explore more of Greece!
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A 5 Day Athens Itinerary for First-Timers
|BUS X95 to Syntagma Square||55 min||€6||24/7|
|Metro to Syntagma||50 min||€10||06:30–23:55|
|Welcome Pickups (private transfer)||30 min||€43 / daytime||24/7|
|Taxi||30 min||€38/ daytime||24/7|
My personal recommendation is to pre-book a Welcome Taxi, where your driver will wait for you outside of the arrivals hall with a sign bearing your name plus a bottle of water and a map of the city, he/she will also help get your luggage to the car and share information on the city.
For more information and to book your private transfer check here.
5 days in Athens: Day One
Famous for containing the Parthenon, the Acropolis and its surrounding slopes contain so much more besides – Allow yourself a good couple of hours to see it all including the 2nd century Herodeion Theatre and the 6th-century Theatre of Dionysus.
Check these great tours of the Acropolis: A small group guided 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. Another great option is the Athens Mythology Highlights tour. This is probably my favorite Athens tour. In 4 hours you will have a guided tour of the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Ancient Agora. It is great as it combines history with mythology.
When exploring the 4 floors of the award-winning Acropolis Museum that contains 4,000 artifacts uncovered from the Acropolis and slopes, don’t miss out on seeing the 160m long frieze from the Parthenon, the Caryatids statues, the Horsemen, or the Moschophoros, the first example of marble used in Greek architecture.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Taking 700 years to complete, this temple with its 107 Corinthian columns each measuring 17 meters tall was built to honor the King of Olympian Gods; Zeus. Only 15 of the columns remain standing today.
This ancient triumphal arch, built in 131AD to honor the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian, once linked Ancient Athens with Roman Athens but today stands in the center of the modern city.
This 6th century BC stadium was a venue for male-only track events in ancient times and is where the modern Olympic Games were revived in 1896. To this day, it’s the place where the Olympic Flame begins its journey.
Walking into the 15.5 hectare National Gardens is like entering another world with the hustle and bustle of the city streets instantly left behind. Wander the tree-lined paths as you discover 6 lakes and wildlife including turtles, parakeets, and peacocks.
Syntagma Square and Change of the Guards
Window shop and people watch your way down this vibrant 1.5km long pedestrianized street. It’s the main shopping street in Athens filled with local and global stores, indie boutiques, and numerous street performers.
Plaka at Night
When the sun goes down and the lights turn on, sit in one of Plaka’s family-run restaurant’s or rooftop bars and enjoy the view of the Parthenon at night and the night vibe of this historic neighbourhood.
5 days in Athens: Day Two
Monastiraki Square & Flea Market
The iconic square with its fountain, 18th century Ottoman Mosque, and metro station is always busy with locals and tourists, this being the entrance to the famous Monastiraki Flea Market where you’ll find a maze of eclectic shops selling antiques, furniture, jewelry, books, clothes and so much more.
Athens Central Market or Food Tour
Shop for picnic supplies at the bustling indoor market with its iconic glass roof as you watch the locals shopping for meat, fish, and vegetables. If you’re a foodie, consider doing the 4 hour Food Tour that takes you to the food market along with many other traditional food places.
Built in 132AD to house Hadrian’s huge papyrus collection, the library also contained lecture halls and music rooms. Today just the West wall remains, allowing visitors to understand how vast this Roman Forum would have once been with its 100 columns.
This open-air market place went on to become the administrative and commercial center of Roman Athens. Scattered ruins remain today but the Tower of the Winds standing in the corner of the Roman Agora is an impressive site, this being the world’s first meteorological station.
A place of commerce, politics, education (Socrates held his lectures here), religion, and sporting and social events, the Ancient Agora was the hub of Ancient Athens. Today the Temple of Hephaistos and the Attalos stoa remain, the later containing the Ancient Agora Museum.
This ancient cemetery is one of the lesser-visited archeological sites in Athens. It was in constant use from the 9th century BC until Roman times with visitors today able to see the engraved marble tombstones and ruined temples.
This 147 meters (480ft) hill with the monument to honor Roman consul Julius Antiochus Filopappos is a great place to watch the sunset with views of the Saronic Gulf and the Acropolis.
Get away from the tourist trail when you explore this traditional neighborhood (also known as Thiseio). Take in the views from Apostolou Pavlou Street that circles the Acropolis before settling down for food or drinks.
5 days in Athens: Day Three
Get enjoyable lost in the narrow backstreets that wind up and around the neighbourhood of Anafiotika. With its old whitewashed buildings, plants growing in old olive oil tins, and snoozing cats it’s like an island village.
Explore this old neighbourhood with its beautiful neo-classical mansions in the daytime and enjoy some souvenir shopping and some people watching from a street side cafe as you admire some of the city’s oldest monuments in the background.
Walk the street art filled neighbourhood of Psiri whether on your own or as part of a tour. This rejuvenated area is a quirky place, filled with art galleries, craft workshops, and cafes, bars, and clubs.
You’ll find more than 50 museums in Athens with something to interest everyone. Some of the best museums, that haven’t already been mentioned here, include the Cycladic Art Museum, the Byzantine Museum, and the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture.
Sunset from Lycabettus Hills
Enjoy the view from the highest point in Athens. Whether you hike up, drive up, or take the funicular you’ll find stunning views as well as pretty architecture and a taverna at the top.
Check here more Athens Hills, perfect to watch the sunset.
Dinner in Kolonaki
End your day in the stylish and upscale Kolonaki neighbourhood where you can window shop the designer boutiques and peruse the art galleries before enjoying some fine dining followed by a relaxed night in a jazz bar or perhaps a livelier bar with a DJ.
5 days in Athens: Day Four
The neoclassical architecture on Panepistimou Street has to be seen with the National Library, University of Athens, and the Academy being the 3 jewels that make up Athens’ academic heart.
With 11,000 artifacts from Greek antiquity ranging from 7th century BC – 5th century BC, you can see Minoan Frescoes, Egyptian mummies, sculptures, jewelry, funerary masks and so much more.
At the end of the day, explore this edgy indie vibed neighborhood filled with street art, bookshops, record shops, vegan and veggie tavernas, and clubs and bars playing rembetika music aka Greek blues.
Sounio Sunset Half Day Trip
End the day with a trip to Cape Sounion where views of the Temple of Poseidon and out to the islands of Kea, Kythos, and Serifos make for an incredible sight at sunset.
The best way to visit the Temple of Poseidon in Sounio is a guided tour, I recommend this half-day Sounio sunset tour from Athens
5 days in Athens: Day Five
End your trip with a full-day tour to explore another part of Greece. The following are some of the best day trips you can do from Athens.
Visit the sanctuary of the legendary oracle at this UNESCO site and step back into the world of Classical Greece to see the 4th century BC Temple of Apollo and more.
Marvel at the huge rock pillars whose summits hold the largest and most iconic monastic centre of Greece as you look around several of the still-working monasteries.
I recommend this rail tour (you will need to navigate the railway stations on your own) with a guided tour of the monasteries by bus upon arrival at the nearest town.
3 Islands Day Cruise
Take to the sea to visit Hydra, Aegina, and Poros, the 3 Saronic islands that lie the closest to Athens. With lunch and entertainment onboard, on land, you’ll take a guided tour of the highlights of each island.
Click here for my experience on the one day cruise from Athens.
Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nafplio
Take a tour into the Peloponnese to see 3 of Greece’s most historic towns. Mycenae is a ruined hilltop settlement, the most important city of the Mycenaean civilization. Epidaurus, a place of ancient healing, is where Apollo’s son was born and the seaside town of Nafplio was the first capital of modern Greece.
Where to stay in Athens on your 5-day trip
Here are some central recommended hotels in Athens. For more choices and information I recommend reading my guide, the best areas to stay in Athens.
$$$ Herodion Hotel – nestled beneath the foot of the Acropolis lies the Herodion Hotel, which is a spectacular hotel that offers gorgeous panoramic views of the city from its stunning rooftop garden, as well as modern and spacious rooms that each have a luxurious feel.
$$ Niki Athens Hotel – just 550 yards from the Acropolis lies Niki Athens Hotel, a modern and elegant hotel that offers luxurious rooms and high-quality services, with all of Athens primary historic and cultural sites in close proximity.
$ Evripides Hotel is located near Monastiraki square, close to all the city’s attractions. It offers simple air-conditioned rooms with free wi-fi.
Having read through this 5 day Athens itinerary I hope you’re feeling ready to pack your bags and jump on a plane… See you soon!