A Weekend in Athens by a Local

The magnificent Greek capital of Athens has a plethora of things to do, see and experience, ranging from landmarks and ruins from the ancient world, all the way to its contemporary culture of art, music, and nightlife. Though you could spend a lifetime in this brilliant city and still have hidden gems to uncover, it is nonetheless a fantastic destination for a weekend getaway; so, here is a day by day guide on how to spend the perfect weekend in Athens:

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How to spend a weekend in Athens

Friday

Afternoon

You will likely spend the Friday morning getting from the airport to the city center, and settling into your hotel or other accommodation; it is recommended to stay within walking distance from the key sites of Syntagma, Monastiraki, Plaka or Psiri, particularly if you are just staying for the weekend, as you will not want to spend the majority of your trip on public transport! These districts are the most central, tourist-friendly, and are incredibly well-connected.

Check below how to get from Athens airport to the city center. For more information, you can also read my detailed post here. My personal recommendation is to book a stress-free private transfer with Welcome Pickups .

For more information and to book your private transfer check here.

OptionDurationPriceAvailability
BUS X95 to Syntagma Square55 min€624/7
Metro to Syntagma50 min€1006:30–23:55
Welcome Pickups (private transfer)30 min€43 / daytime24/7
Taxi 30 min€38/ daytime24/7
Athens airport to city centre

Here are some centrally located hotels that I recommend in Athens. For more information, check my guide: Where to stay in Athens.

$$$ Herodion Hotel: 200 m away from the Acropolis metro station and within walking distance from the major sites, it offers elegant air-conditioned rooms and free wi-fi.

$$ Niki Athens Hotel: 100 m away from Syntagma Square, it is a fantastic spot for those wishing to be within walking distance of the key sites of Athens; it is clean, modern, and elegant and has free wi-fi.

$ Evripides Hotel is located near Monastiraki square, close to all the city’s attractions. It offers simple air-conditioned rooms with free wi-fi.

After relaxing for a while in your hotel, there are plenty of amazing things you can do on your first day in Athens, all of which are very central:

Change of the Guard in Syntagma Square

The Change of the Guards in Athens
The Change of the Guards in Athens

A fantastic way to start your Athens adventure is by experiencing the changing of the guard in the marvelous and historic Syntagma Square; this takes place every hour, and it is a wonderful sight to see; the guards wear traditional attire, and many tourists flock to enjoy the spectacle. There is also a bigger celebration every Sunday at 11 am.

Walk Ermou Street and Window Shop

Ermou Street in Athens
Ermou Street in Athens

Situated near to the historic Syntagma Square is Ermou Street, which is a haven for shopaholics; this street is where you can find all of the big international stores, such as H&M and Zara, and there is a fantastic atmosphere here. A great thing to do is to simply stroll down Ermou Street, and do a little bit of window shopping.

Turn to Mitropoleos Street for a view of Athens Cathedral

cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Athens
cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Athens

After you have strolled along the brilliant Ermou Street, turn to the wonderful Mitropoleos Street; from this street, you can see a fantastic view of Athens Cathedral, which was completed in the year 1862, and features some incredible frescoes; it is well worth spending some time admiring the façade of the cathedral, as well as the interior.

Walk Around Plaka

Plaka
Plaka Athens

Afterward, head to the popular neighborhood of Plaka for a stroll; this is the oldest section of the city, and there is a string of marvelous jewelry shops, souvenir shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants. There is a wonderful atmosphere in Plaka, making it the perfect place to walk around and soak in your surroundings.

Dinner in Platanos in Plaka

For your first experience of Athenian cuisine, head to Platanos in Plaka( Diogenous 4) for dinner; this wonderful taverna was established in 1933, and it has a long history of being a cultural hub for artists and creative thinkers. This restaurant serves some absolutely delicious, authentic Greek dishes with complementary wines in a cozy setting.

Go to Monastiraki Square for a rooftop drink

Monastiraki night view from rooftop bar

The famous Monastiraki Square is the perfect place to end your first night in the glorious city of Athens; there is a string of incredible rooftop bars to enjoy a delicious cocktail in. Many of these rooftop bars offer panoramic views of the city below, including the almighty Acropolis that towers above the city skyline.

Saturday

Saturday will be your busiest day for sightseeing, as it is your only full day during you Athens weekend getaway. There are so many incredible sites to see and experience, both in the city centre, and further afield. Here is a breakdown of how to make the most out of your Saturday in Athens:

Morning:

The Acropolis & Aeropagus Hill

Acropolis Athens
Acropolis Athens

Begin your first full day in Athens with an early start; the Acropolis is perhaps the most popular and frequently visited site in the city, so it is best to start here in order to see it without the hoards of tourists; if you are visiting in the summer months, it will also be a lot cooler at this time of day. Before you enter the site, make sure to check out the view from the Areopagus Hill outside the main entrance; it is absolutely fantastic.

Click here for more information and to book 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.

Opening Hours: Open daily 8 am-7 pm Summer and 8.30 am-5 pm Winter

Closed: 1 January, 25 March, 1 May, Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday, 25 December, 26 December

Basic Acropolis Tickets: €20 from April 1st – October 31st and €10 from November 1st – March 31st Includes Acropolis and the Slopes

Combined Tickets: €30. The combined ticket includes entrance to the Acropolis and the North and South Slopes of the Acropolis, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, Museum of Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Kermakeikos, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion – for 5 days, it’s the ticket that will save you money in the long run

Free Admission Days: 6 March, 18 April, 18 May, the last weekend of September, 28 October, every first Sunday of the month from November 1st to March 31st.

You can buy tickets online at the official e-ticketing service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.

Visit the Acropolis Museum

Acropolis Museum
Acropolis Museum

After taking in the sites of the almighty Acropolis, learn even more about its immense and vast history at the Acropolis Museum; this museum houses every artifact that was discovered upon the rock and nearby slopes and focuses on a range of different eras, such as the Greek Bronze Age, the Roman era, as well as the Byzantine. This is a great place to learn about the history of this iconic landmark, and the building itself is also impressive.

Here are some great options for visiting the Acropolis Museum:

Skip the line ticket to the Acropolis museum including the ancient excavation.

A small group tour to the Acropolis Museum with skip the line ticket.

Opening Hours: Winter(1st of November – 31st of March): Monday to Thursday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Friday 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, Saturday & Sunday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, Summer (1st of April – 31st of October): Monday: 08:00 am – 4.00 pm, Friday 8:00 am – 10:00 pm, Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm

Closed: 1 January, Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 December, 26 December

Reduced Hours: Good Friday 12:00 – 6:00 pm, Easter Saturday 08:00 am – 3:00 pm, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Tickets: Full: €10, Reduced: €5 from April 1st – October 31st and Full €5, Reduced: €3 from November 1st – March 31st

Free Admission: 6 March, 25 March, 18 May, 28 October

Hadrian’s Arch

Athens in March - Things to do
Hadrian’s gate from the temple of Olympian Zeus

Nestled between the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus is the breath-taking Arch of Hadrian; the construction of this immense archway dates back to the year 131 BC, and it was erected to commemorate and celebrate the arrival of Hadrian, who was the Roman Emperor. This historic arch symbolically marks the line between ancient Athens, and Hadrian’s new city.

Time for Lunch

Scholarhion in Plaka

After a busy morning of exploring the wonders of the ancient world, you will have likely worked up an enormous appetite; there are so many dining options in Athens, but some of the best include Scholarhion in Plaka (Tripodon 14), which is a gorgeous and romantic bistro-style eatery that serves delicious dishes with locally sourced ingredients, all for an incredibly reasonable price. Another fantastic dining option is Tzitzikas and Mermigkas in Syntagma (Mitropoleos 12), which is one of four restaurants in the city, that offer irresistible traditional Greek dishes, in a stunning, authentic setting.

Afternoon:

Sunset in Sounio

Sunset In Sounio
Sunset In Sounio

A wonderful way to spend your Saturday afternoon is by embarking on a half-day trip to the wonderful archaeological site of Sounio, which lies on the southernmost end of Attica. One of the most popular and magnificent landmarks in Sounio is the Temple of Poseidon, which was built to commemorate the ancient Greek god of the sea, Poseidon. This site is beautiful at any time of day, but it is particularly exquisite during sunset.

Check here my favorite Sounio sunset tour from Athens

Head back to Athens for dinner and drinks

After admiring the marvels of the ancient world in Sounio during sunset, head back to Athens for some delicious gastronomical delights, and sumptuous cocktails, in the heart of the wonderful Psiri district.

Sunday

Morning:

For your final day in Athens, there are so many things to do, see and experience before returning home. Here are some of the top things to do on a Sunday in Athens to make the most of your final day:

Monastiraki Flea Market

One of the highlights of Athens is the Flea Market that is held in the vibrant Monastiraki; this fantastic market sells a range of different items, from jewelry, artworks, homeware, souvenirs, and books, and there is a wonderful overall atmosphere. It is the perfect place to spend a Sunday morning, simply strolling around, taking in your surroundings, and people-watching

Archaeological Site of Ancient Agora

Ancient Agora in Athens
Ancient Agora in Athens

Nestled at the northwest slope of the Acropolis lies the brilliant archaeological site of Ancient Agora; this spot used to be the hub of commercial activity in ancient Athens and was a primary gathering place. It is a fantastic place to explore, and it is one of the top tourist attractions in the city.

Ancient Agora

Opening Hours: Daily 8 am-7 pm Summer, 8 am-5 pm Winter

Closed: 1 January, 25 March, Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 December, 26 December

Tickets: Full €10, Reduced €5

Combined Tickets: €30. The combined ticket includes entrance to the Acropolis and the North and South Slopes of the Acropolis, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, Museum of Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Kermakeikos, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion – for 5 days

Free Admission Days: 6 March, 18 April, 18 May, the last weekend of September, 28 October, every first Sunday of the month from November 1st to March 31st.

National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum Athens
National Archaeological Museum Athens

If you are a museum lover, make sure to check out the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, where you can view some brilliant artifacts from a range of different historical periods and places. The museum is housed in a grand and magical neoclassical building that was constructed in the 19th century, which is a reason in itself for visiting the museum. This is a particularly great option if the weather is a little too hot, as the museum is air-conditioned and cool!

Opening Hours: Winter (November 1st – March 31st) Tuesday 1:00 pm – 8 pm. Wednesday – Monday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm. Summer (April 1st – October 31st) 12:30 pm – 8 pm. Wednesday – Monday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm

Tickets: €6 Winter (November 1st – March 31st), €12 Summer (April 1st – October 31st) €12

There is also a combined ticket available that costs €15 valid for 3 days that includes entrance to the Archaeological Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Numismatic Museum, and the Byzantine and Christian Museum.

Free Admission: 6 March, 18 April, 18 May, last weekend of September, 28 October, every first Sunday of each month from November 1st until March 31st

Take a Food Tour

Miran Deli in Evripidou
Miran Deli in Evripidou Street

Alternatively, if you prefer something a little more contemporary, there is an abundance of amazing and unique food tours throughout the city of Athens, all of which provide a fantastic insight into the local food culture.

Click here for more information and to book this food tour.

Afternoon:

After a whirlwind weekend of sightseeing and exploring the gorgeous Greek capital of Athens, Sunday afternoon will be time to head back to Athens International Airport for your return flight home.

Athens is a beautiful city, and one that should be at the top of any curious traveller’s bucket list; it is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, as it seamlessly combines the old with the new, and has a string of fantastic sites and landmarks to check out.

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