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Athens in One Day

Athens has a lot to offer. First time visitors to Athens are often put off by its somewhat grimy 20th Century sprawl and run-down appearance, look beyond the modern detritus and you will be richly rewarded. Here is a brief guide that will help you understand what to see and do in Athens in one day. This one day itinerary will allow you to see Athen’s most famous attractions, and get a sense of the city:

Early Morning at the Acropolis

The truly remarkable monuments of the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaia atop the Acropolis stand as testament to the Athenian Golden Age. This is the cradle of Greek civilization and though it can become crowded later in the day, early morning is a great time to come, to avoid the worst congestion. The site is open from 8am.

Stroll through this ancient hilltop citadel and be sure to stop in at the Acropolis Museum, to see valuable artefacts from the site that reflect its long and fascinating history. Below the Acropolis, on the hillside, you can also see the remodelled remains of the Theatre of Dionysus, and, a few hundred meters away, the reconstructed Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

patricia bech
Acropolis © Patricia Bech

A Visit to the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Temple of Hephaestus & Kerameikos

Next, make your way down to the Ancient Agora of Athens, the hub and main meeting place of the ancient Greek city. While not all of the buildings are in good repair, the Stoa of Attalos, an ancient department store, has been rebuilt and now contains a museum.

Here you will also discover the Temple of Hephaestus. Built between 449 and 415 BCE, this is one of the best preserved temples of Ancient Greece.

Just to the north west of this site, you can also explore the extensive ruins of the Kerameikos Archaeological Site – ancient Athen’s largest cemetery and a museum which houses a collection of finds from the tombs.

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Lunch near Monastiraki Square – Check Out The Roman Agora and Hadrian’s Library

Make your way to Monastiraki Square. Near here you can check out two more of the city’s best known historic sites – both from the Roman era. There is the ancient heart of Roman Athens, the agora, and the remains of Hadrian’s grand library. There are also plenty of places to grab a bite to eat in the vicinity, throughout the charming Plaka neighborhood. You should also check out the flea market on the square.

Make Your Way to Syntagma Square

Next, walk east to reach Syntagma Square – an iconic square watched over by the Hellenic Parliament, built in the 19th Century as a Royal Palace for the first Greek king. In front of this building is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and you can see guards in traditional uniforms out front.

Syntagma Square © Patricia Bech

Stroll Through the National Garden to the Panathenaic Stadium

Take a walk through the green gardens to reach another of the capital’s most visited sites – the Panathenaic stadium. Located on the site of a race track, built in 330 BCE, and a grand white marble stadium built in 144 AD, this arena was completely rebuilt to its original plan when dug out during the 19th Century, and used to host the Olympic Games in 1896.

Head Past the Temple of Olympian Zeus Through Lively Monastiraki To The Psyrri Area

To finish the day, stroll back towards the heart of the city, checking out the Temple of Olympian Zeus, built in the 6th Century BCE and 2nd Century CE along the way. Make your way back through lively Monastiraki and into the Psyrri area, where some of the city’s best restaurants and nightlife venues are to be found.

There is, of course, plenty more to see and do in Athens. But this one day itinerary will allow you to see some of the very best the city has to offer, and get a sense of this city and its fascinating past.

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