1-day walking tour in Athens
On this tour you will make a circle around the Acropolis rock as you visit the city's key archeological sites. A pedestrianized walkway will get you to all these sites. Start at Dionysiou Areopagitou street, which begins just steps from the Acropolis metro station. Some landmarks you will pass on the way to the Acropolis are the New Acropolis Museum, the Dionysos Theater and the Odeon of Herod Atticus. Consider purchasing the Acropolis ticket (Euro12) which...read more
1 hide detailThe high city of the ancient Athenians
Quite possibly the most famous symbol of Athens, if not all of Greece, the Acropolis crowns the city and provides a romantic focal point amidst the modern-day noise and mess. The word "Acropolis" comes from "Acro" meaning "High" and "polis" meaning city.
The Acropolis as we know it was masterminded by Pericles in the fifth century BC after the original Acropolis was burned to the ground by the Persian army. The sacred rock was dedicated to the goddess Athena since Neolithic times, but was also used as a gathering place during times of danger due to its strategic positioning. The rebuilt grouping of temples, framed by the Propylaea, or gateway, was intended to be a testament to human achievement and unique in the world in their beauty. They include the demure Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheum or Erechtheion, hallmarked by the Porch of Caryatids (maidens) and the queen of them all, the Parthenon. The Parthenon and the Propylaea were completed first, in under ten years. The temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheum were built after the death of Pericles.
In the centuries that followed, the sacred rock was used as a church, a fortress, a mosque, an arsenal, and pillaged frequently by invaders and travelers taking advantage of the instability of the Ottoman-occupied city throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The most famous of these looters was the English Lord Elgin whose grand booty is the source of a modern day controversy between the British Museum and the Greek State, who have been asking for their treasures back for the last thirty years. The New Acropolis Museum, located across from the entrance to the Dionysos Theatre, was partly created to provide a home for the artifacts. There is still no official word of their being returned to Greece.
Visiting the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis
It is one of the most memorable things you can do while in Athens, and you're sure to note the absence of ropes or glass, bringing you up close and personal with one of the greatest works of art in the Western hemisphere. Get inspired by the great humans that walked there before, the history that happened after, the mystical rumors of being aligned with the stars, or simply the breathtaking view of the city. It's a place that touches the heart of Athens and the Athenians. All of the site is encircled by a cobblestone pedestrian path, the streets of Dionysou Areopagitou and Apostolou Pavlou. Areopagitou street runs along the South slope and is where both entrances to the sites are located, the first just on the Theatre of Dionysos, the site of the festival dedicated to the god of wine, ecstasy and theater. The second is further up past the Roman-era Odeon of Herod Atticus, where the Athens Festival takes place every summer. Go up the steps or the ramp (a bit further) and you'll find the main gates.
All of these sites can be accessed with the €12 admission of the Acropolis, as well as the Temple of Zeus, Keramikos Cemetery, Roman Agora and Ancient Agora.
What's Around the Acropolis
Facing the Acropolis are Pnyx, Areopagos and Philopappou hills which offer commanding views over the city. Areopagos Hill is the site of a famous sermon from St. Paul to the Athenians. Opposite the Acropolis is the unique Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry museum. Plaka, the oldest neighborhood of Athens, sprawls out at the base of the Acropolis rock. Delve in to explore its quaint streets and shops or spend an hour walking through the Ancient Agora.
Necessary Information for Visiting the Acropolis:
€12 except for minors. Teenagers under 19 should carry an ID to prove their age.
Seniors are not offered a discounted rate unless members of the EU.
Journalists and Government officials are granted free admission.
Days the site is free of admission
All Sundays between November 1st and March 31st. After that, the first Sunday of every month except July, August and September (peak season.)
All Greek national holidays ~ all religious holidays of the Greek Orthodox Church including Easter Monday and Tuesday as well as the Monday after Pentecost.
March 6 ~ Melina Mercouri Day
April 18 ~ International Monuments Day
May 18 ~ International Monuments Day
June 5 ~ International Environment Day
September 27 ~ International Tourism Day
The last weekend of September ~ European Heritage Days
And most spectacular is the annual late-night opening for the full moon of August, an event that is usually accompanied with live music and theatrical events.
Winter (November 1 - March 31) 8:30am - 3:30 pm
Summer (April 1- October 31) 8am - 7:30pm except Mondays 11am - 7:30pm
Both upper and lower entrances offer water fountains and toilets before entering the site. There are no opportunities once on the site. A small snack bar is just outside the upper entrance, though the prices are high and the quality poor. If you can, wait to refresh yourself with things found in the adjacent neighborhood of Thission or along Makriyannis, the road connected to Areopagitou.
A lift entrance is offered to those in a wheelchair. Ask the official at the upper entrance for assistance.
Words of Caution and Greek Reality
Please use caution while on the site, which is entirely out of marble that can be incredibly slippery! Those with limited mobility might have trouble, though it's certainly possible to see everything if you take your time and move carefully.
Be on guard for pickpockets. Keep phones, wallets, and money in places that are difficult for the nimblest of hands if not completely under your clothes.
There might be a number of vendors of cheap novelty gifts and/or umbrellas, fans, bottles of water. These are mostly illegal immigrants who are routinely chased off by the police. As of now there is no law penalizing those who patronize them but it has been discussed.
Try not to be too disappointed when you get to the Acropolis and find most of the temples surrounded by scaffolding. They are part of a restoration and conservation effort that will keep the site strong for generations to come. The Parthenon was temporarily scaffold-free in the summer of 2010, but since November is being worked on again for an indefinite period of time.
Greece is a country known for expressing itself and being politically active. Should you arrive and there is a strike that has closed the entrance of the Acropolis, there is little that can be done. Go to nearby Areopagos Hill and the area of Philapappou Hill for outstanding views of the Rock and history that's equal in importance. Neither are manned by ministry officials and therefore always open, and always free.
Those sun-loving mongrels you'll see lounging around the entrance, while stray, are typically friendly and laid back. Still, use caution when approaching one and don't reach toward it unless it's approached you first with a wagging tail. Under no circumstances should you inspect one that's sleeping. It isn't dead no matter how much it looks the contrary. We promise.
2 hide detailThe birthplace of theater.
South of the Acropolis stands the world's oldest theatre. It was constructed in the 6th century BC and rebuilt in the 4th century BC. All the works of the great ancient dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes were first performed at this location during the 5th century BC. Walking uphill towards the Acropolis, you will come across the Eumenes Arcade (constructed in the 2nd century BC) and the Asklepios Temple. Further to the west is the Odeon of Herod Atticus, a Roman theatre still used for concerts and performances.
3 hide detailExperience theater the traditional Greek way
The Odeon of Herod Atticus is an impressive open-air steep-sloped stone amphitheater situated on the south slope of the Acropolis. It was built by the Roman ruler Herodes Atticus in 161 AD in memory of his wife. It was originally constructed with a wooden roof with a seating capacity for 5,000. Since the 1950s the theater has been hosting musical, dance and theatrical events which are part of the Athens Festival. Check the Athens Festival calendar during the months of June through September. It is well worth experiencing a performance firsthand where you can admire this site in all its glory. It is located next to Dionysos Theater the world's oldest theatre built in the 6th century BC. Accessible by metro, Acropolis station.
4 hide detailFollow the footsteps of Socrates
Step in to what was once the 'agora" or marketplace of ancient Athens. This wasn't only a commercial center, but also where important political, religious and administrative transactions took place side by side. The Stoa of Attalos, an impressive two-story building built from Pentelic marble and limestone was donated by Attalos II, King of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC. Of note are the Doric and Ionic colonnades. The building was reconstructed in the mid 1950s and now displays objects unearthed during excavations. The archeological finds are housed within the Museum of the Ancient Agora. Just south of the Stoa of Attalos is the 11th century church of Agii Apostoli or the Holy Apostles, a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture. The exquisitely preserved 5th century BC Temple of Hephaistos, also know as Thission will definitely catch you eye. Continue to the Roman Agora and Tower of the Winds. The Keramikos Cemetery is a 7 minute walk south of the Ancient Agora along pedestrianized Ermou street in the direction of Gazi. Either the Monastiraki or Thissio metro stops bring you closest to the Ancient Agora's entrance.
5 hide detailWhere the ancients did their mingling.
The Roman Agora was built as an extension to the Ancient Agora in the 1st century BC. This marketplace contained a courtyard, shops, storerooms and stoas. Not to be missed is the Tower of the Winds, an octagonal marble tower which served as a water clock, compass, sundial, weather vane and water clock. On each of its eight sides is a depiction of a directional wind. There is also a relatively intact 15th century mosque north of the agora along with the Gate of Athena Archegetis. Visit the museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments (URL) literally down the street. Walk back towards Monastiraki metro station and view Hadrian's Library. Closest metro: Monastiraki. For a flavor of Greek island architecture, walk up to Anafiotika.
hide detailGone with the winds
- +30 210 324 5220
- visit website
- Pelopida & Eolou Streets (east of the ancient agora)
Octagonal tower known in Greek as Aeridhes, was designed by astronomer Andronikos of Kyrrhos in the 1st century BC. It is one of the most interesting sights within the Roman Agora. This marble tower served as a water clock, compass, sundial, weather vane and water clock. On each side of the tower is a relief of a floating figure personifying the eight winds (Eolou, Boreas, Skiron, Zephyros, Lips, Notos, Euros, Apiliotis and Kaikias).
6 hide detailDining next to the ancient marketplace
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- 23 Adrianou Street
Our Local Expert Says:
Tables outside have great views of the Acropolis and of people passing by. Indoors cozy.
Located along Adrianou Street next to the Ancient Agora, this place is great for people-watching as well. To Kouti (The Box) stands head and shoulders above its neighboring restaurants that seem to rely too much on their location. The place looks like children decorated it with bright-colored crayons -- even the menu is handwritten in brightly illustrated children's books. Beyond decor, To Kouti has an unusual but very tasty menu: Try the beef in garlic and honey or the shrimp in carrots or opt for some of its exceptional vegetarian dishes. The homemade bread is served in (of course!) boxes.
7 hide detailA serenade under the stars
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- 4 Angelou Geronda Street
One of the most authentic places for an alfresco dinner in Plaka is Xynos. Once you have managed to find the rather hidden entrance of this traditional taverna, you will discover the serene garden in the backyard where the tables have been set up. The unpretentious cuisine serves traditional Greek fare such as lamb, piglet and several vegetarian dishes. Musicians will accompany your dinner with a serenade of old songs.
hide detailTraditional Greek fare
- 30 210 321 8733
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- 16 Erecthios and Erotokritou Streets
- And 12 Erotokritou. The Plaka
Charming taverna nestled within the quaint historic Plaka district just below the Acropolis. Tou Psara, which means the fisherman's taverna, dates back to 1898 and occupies two restored homes, a tree-covered courtyard and a terrace. Choose a handful of flavourful appetizers or settle in for a more substantial meal by selecting a regional Greek dish. Yellow chequered table linens, exposed stonework and wood create a welcoming rustic ambience both in and outdoors. The bougainvillea-covered terrace offers views out over the city and the courtyard offers a neighbourhood charm. Dine to live folk music and enjoy the friendly service. This taverna offers a memorable Greek dining experience that sees many return guests, Athenians and visitors alike.
8 hide detailThe wealth of Greek folklore
The Dora Stratou Dance Theatre sponsors a festival each summer which offers an excellent opportunity for guests to sample this wealth of customs and traditions through a spectacular presentation of Greek folk dances. The dances and songs (from all parts of Greece) are performed by a group of 75 dancers, musicians and singers all decked in traditional costumes. This garden theatre which has a capacity for 900 persons is located at the back of Philopappou Hill, near the Acropolis.