The 35 best sights of Athens – descriptions and photos

Athens sights

Athens Acropolis Dionysus Temple Temple of Hephaestus Temple of Zeus the Olympic Constitution Square Parthenon Temple of the Holy Trinity Erechtheion

This website contains Athens sights, images, descriptions and traveler tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find answers on what to see in Athens, where to go and where the popular and interesting places of Athens are located.

Athens Acropolis

Athens Acropolis (photo)

The Acropolis of Athens is an exceptionally valuable architectural monument. It is thought that development of the hill on which it stands started a long time ago: as long ago as the Archaic period (650 – 480 BC) ancient temples and buildings were located on the hill in the Greek History, and in the III century BC the Acropolis was mainly a refuge for local citizens against foreign invaders.

Once the Acropolis was adorned with many beautiful sculptures, but both the structure itself and the sculptures were not spared either by people, time or natural disasters. Severely damaged this extraordinary architectural monument by human hands: for example, in 1827 were damaged by a Turkish shell, also the damage was increased by an earthquake in 1894. In addition, over time, both the marble and other materials used in construction tarnish, lose their quality and deteriorate.

The Greek government had several times to restore the structures, which now allows you to see much as it was centuries and millennia ago. Copies of the sculptures have also been made to fill the copies and recreate the beauty and grandeur that was in the Acropolis in ancient times. The original statues, sculptures, and reliefs of the Acropolis are preserved in museums including the British Museum, the Louvre, and the Acropolis Museum.

Coordinates : 37.97142100,23.72616600

Theater of Dionysus

Theater of Dionysus (photo)

The theater of Dionysus is considered the birthplace of Greek tragedy. The ruins are still standing in stone, but the theater was originally built of wood. For a long time, for every festival dedicated to Dionysus, temporary rows for the audience and the stage were erected from wood. They were not completely replaced by stone rows until 330 BC.

After the renovation the theater could accommodate from 14 to 17 thousand spectators. Even now the remains of the last row, which stood almost at the base of the Acropolis, are still visible. During Roman rule gladiatorial fights and circus performances were held here. In the 1st century during the reign of Nero the orchestra was clad in marble, and a hundred years later the area around the stage was decorated with reliefs of different myths about Dionysus.

Coordinates: 37.96938300,23.72767900

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Temple of Hephaestus

Temple of Hephaestus (photo)

Hephaestus was the ancient Greek god of fire and metalworking. Among the inhabitants of Olympus he was the only god who had a physical handicap – he was lame. Also, Hephaestus was the only god who engaged in hard physical labor, he worked as a blacksmith and his duties included repairing the damaged armor of Achilles. In addition, the temple was dedicated to the warrior goddess Athena, who was the symbol of the city, patronizing the pottery trade as well as some others.

The construction of the temple took place in 449-415 BC. The name of the architect, unfortunately, is unknown, but many scholars think that it was the same craftsman who had erected the Temple of Ares in the Agora and some other buildings.

Coordinates: 37.97608800,23.72145700

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Temple of Zeus the Olympic

Temple of Zeus the Olympic (photo)

Once upon a time there was a huge chrysoelephantine (gold and ivory covered) statue of Zeus in the center of the temple. It exactly copied the famous statue of Zeus the Olympic created by the great master Phidias.

Beside the statue of Zeus the statue of emperor Hadrian, under whom the temple was consecrated, was made in the same technique. Next to the temple in 130 BC Greek architects built Hadrian’s Arch, which played the role of the gate to the new city blocks, built by the emperor.

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It is always a pleasure to be here, because the place was chosen with a very subtle artistic idea: if you look in the direction of the Acropolis from the Temple of Zeus, you can see another ancient Greek shrine – the Parthenon, which is like framed by this arch. And if you look at it from the Acropolis, you will surely be amazed by powerful forms of the huge temple of Zeus the Olympic.

Coordinates : 37.96998200,23.73295800

Constitution Square

Constitution Square (photo)

Constitution Square, or Syntagma Square, is perhaps the main square of the country. It is located in the center of Athens, not far from the Acropolis Hill. It is always very crowded. In many ways because there are many attractions in the vicinity of the square.

The main decoration of the most stately and imposing Constitution Square is the building of the Greek Parliament (built in 19-20 centuries). Opposite it is located the Monument of the Unknown Soldier, near which two guardsmen in very original costumes constantly stand guard of honor. By the way, the tradition of changing the guard of the National Guard came from the Bavarian King Aton (Otton) I. It was his residence was once the building of the current parliament.

Another famous local building is the fashionable Grand Brittany Hotel, where celebrities and guests of the highest rank stay.

The square has seen many events throughout its history: the adoption of the Greek Constitution in 1843, the welcoming speeches of the King and Prince George I of Denmark, the proclamation of Greece as a “crowned republic” in 1864, the numerous rallies of the activists of this century.

Coordinates: 37.97546200,23.73488600

Parthenon Temple

Parthenon Temple (photo)

The Parthenon temple is the most famous monument of the ancient Greek civilization, built in 432 BC. It is an international symbol of Greece and is located in Athens, on the acropolis.

It was built in Doric style under the direction of the architects Ictinus and Kallikrates in honor of the patroness of the city, Athena Parthenos.

In the center of the temple, surrounded by 50 columns, is a statue of Athena made by Phidias in gold and ivory.

The frieze of the facade is decorated with images of the Centauromachy, the Amazonomachy and the Gigantomachy, while the cella has a bas-relief ribbon depicting the Panathenaic Procession, the main festival of ancient Athens. The gables of the sanctuary are decorated with magnificent sculptural compositions.

Coordinates: 37.97014200,23.72249500

The Church of the Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity Temple (photo)

The temple, which today is called the Russian Embassy Church, has a rich history. In ancient times on the site of the temple were Roman baths, which have been destroyed over time. It was on the foundations of the former baths that the early Christian church arose, which was consecrated in honor of the Most Holy Trinity. Since 1202, the church was a convent. Subsequently, it became a Benedictine monastery, and then a men’s monastery.

The temple had more than once fallen victim to tragic circumstances – in different periods of history, the temple suffered from earthquakes and attacks of foreigners. The temple became Russian in 1847, when it was purchased by the government of the Russian Empire. After that, the church had been restored for a long time.

The consecration of the temple took place in 1855. It is still active.

Coordinates: 37.97227800,23.73369700

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Erechtheion Temple

The Erechtheion temple (photo)

The Temple of Erechtheion, built in 421-406 B.C., is the sacred center of Athens and is rightly considered a gem of ancient Greek architecture. It is not far from the Parthenon temple in the Acropolis.

The temple, unparalleled in ancient Greek architecture, was built in Ionic style at the initiative of Pericles on the site of a dispute between Athena and Poseidon for power over Attica. Because of the variety of sanctuaries combined in the temple and the irregularities of the ground, it has an asymmetrical layout.

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On the south side you will see the famous portico of the Pandroseion, named after King Kekrop’s daughter Pandrosa. On the western facade is the Kekropeion, the tomb and sanctuary of the legendary Kekrop, the first king of Attica. Above it rises the world-famous portico of the caryatids, six marble statues of girls that support the ceiling.

Coordinates: 37.97202800,23.72570200

The most popular attractions in Athens with descriptions and photos for every taste. Choose the best places to visit famous places in Athens on our website.

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What to see in Athens: from the Parthenon to the anarchists

What to see in Athens

A great and honest guide to Athens. What’s worth seeing and what can you safely skip? Find out! We’ll tell you about all the interesting sights from ancient ruins to anarchist neighborhoods.

Content:

Deceptive Athens.

Athens is seen by many tourists in a romantic veil: as if ancient ruins are found at every turn, and here you are no longer just a tourist, but a time traveler. In fact, well-preserved ancient monuments are not so much, they are scattered in the city center and overgrown with ordinary houses, stores and taverns, so the effect of a time machine, as in the Turkish Ephesus, does not occur. I was in this reality all the time, among the same tourists, gazing at the remnants of former greatness, and there was no way I could bring the ruins to life in my imagination. So don’t expect too much, lest you be disappointed.

But Athens is a very lively city. I find it interesting from the point of view of gentrification, that is, the reconstruction of disadvantaged areas of the city. It’s fascinating to wander through the heavily tattered but colorful Exarchia and Psiri neighborhoods, covered in graffiti and murals, and to bump into hipster cafes and fashionably dressed young people with tattoos. Athens has a contemporary art scene, a rebellious spirit, and a touch of adventurism, which is appealing. One minus is the hopelessly bleak architectural construction, which resembles a stone jungle, strongly spoils the impression of the city.

Interesting places in Athens

Standing in the Ancient Agora Museum in Athens

Learn about Greece:

Antiquities

The Acropolis

Most of all in Athens we wanted to see the Acropolis, but it was a complete disappointment: the flow of tourists, even during the pandemic, does not allow to get into the moment, not much is preserved, you can not enter the buildings, and only connoisseurs and experts of the events of two and a half thousand years ago will be interested. I guess 99% of people go there purely for the tick, for it is a must see. Think about whether you need it, and feel free to ignore it if you have no interest. I liked the Erechtheion temple with its elegant caryatid maidens and the Parthenon, which is always under reconstruction, was not at all impressive.

Before visiting it be sure to read the book “An Amusing Greece” by Mikhail Gasparov or at least our note about the Acropolis in Athens. And if you want to immerse yourself in history, take this tour with a professional guide.

Athens sights

Crowds of tourists at the Acropolis. And it’s on a weekday in late October!

Ancient Agora

The Ancient Agora has a large area that is nice to walk around and many times less tourists than the Acropolis. Plus inside there is a small museum with a nice and quite illustrative collection of antiquities. But the most interesting thing in the agora is the towering temple of Hephaestus, which is surprisingly well preserved. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful ancient temple in Athens. You want to photograph it from all angles, it’s impossible to stop. Learn more about the Ancient Agora.

Athens sights

The Temple of Hephaestus in the Ancient Agora is very beautiful and perfectly preserved.

Roman agora

The Roman Agora is very close to the Ancient Agora. It was created during the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus. In that era, the beautiful square was surrounded by slender columns, and people entered it through the gate of Athena Archegetis. Today, there is little that has survived, and what attracts visitors to the square is the marble Tower of the Winds, an octagonal meteorological station with bas-reliefs of the gods of the winds. Also impressive is the level of the cultural layer – note how far below the agora is the modern city. The entire square and tower can be viewed for free around the perimeter (the view is even better than from it!), so there is no need to pay an entrance fee.

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Athens sights

The Tower of the Winds at the Roman Agora in Athens.

Hadrian’s Library.

Of the once huge and magnificent library building, only a small section of the wall now remains. It can be safely viewed through the bars and without having to pay an entrance fee.

Athens sights

The columns in the courtyard of the Hadrian’s Library.

Temple of Zeus the Olympic and Hadrian’s Arch

Check out the Temple of Zeus the Olympic (Olympion) in Athens, the largest sanctuary in Ancient Greece, which took 650 years to build! The historian Titus Livy wrote that it was the only temple worthy of Zeus himself. Although only one corner and a few columns are extant, the scale of the construction is impressive. It is a pity that temporarily it is under reconstruction. Learn more about the Temple of Zeus.

The arch in honor of Emperor Hadrian stands very close to the temple. It is made of solid blocks of Pentelian marble, without the use of cement or other building mixtures.

Athens sights

This is all that remains of the temple of Zeus the Olympic. Alas, this little piece during our trip, too, was covered by scaffolding due to reconstruction.

Kerameikos

Unexpectedly Kerameikos turned out to be an interesting place in Athens, so I advise you to see it. It is a necropolis where noble citizens and warriors were buried. Two important roads passed through it, the Panathenician and Sacred roads. They were used in festive processions. Look at the tombstones and be sure to look under your feet, because you’ll see many ceramic shards in the ground, some even with black paint. Don’t forget the museum, which houses the finds and – most importantly – Kouros, a statue of a young athlete.

What to see in Athens for the tourist

Tombstones in the Keramikos Cemetery.

Neighborhoods

As I wrote above, the neighborhoods in Athens are colorful, distinctive and very different from each other.

Plaka is super touristy, almost all filled with souvenir shops and noisy taverns. You can find quiet and pretty streets closer to the Anafiotica neighborhood, where it is nice to walk, but in general the area is overrated.

What to see in Athens

Street in the Plaka neighborhood.

Anafiotica is only a small part of the Plaka neighborhood, but it is its gem. The neighborhood consists of only two and a half streets, but what photogenic streets! There are colorful cozy little houses, blooming bougainvilleas, chubby seals, and stunning views of Athens. Learn more about the Plaka and Anafiotica neighborhoods.

We stroll through the quiet streets of Anafiotica. Lesha enjoys a great view of Athens from the observation deck in the Anafiotica neighborhood.

Psiri . A little dilapidated and covered in graffiti and murals, but a very cozy and colorful neighborhood. Lots of trendy bars, cafes, and coffee shops. In Psiri at 17 Karaiskaki Street, find Little Kook Café. It’s famous for its fantastic decorations, which change depending on the holidays and the time of year. For example, we caught the cafe’s Halloween decorations.

Psiri in Athens

Don’t threaten southern Psyri by sipping juice in your apartment.

Exarchy is an unusual anarchist neighborhood, all painted with graffiti. Despite its fame and complete lack of police, it is quiet, peaceful, and safe. In Exarchia you’ll find a lot of trendy places like cafes, bars, clubs, and galleries.

Where to go in Athens

Exarchia is a neighborhood of leftists and informals.

Kolonaki is a small neighborhood for the rich. Beautiful houses, expensive stores and restaurants.

Monastiraki . When you look at the temples, Hadrian’s library, both agora, know this is all Monastiraki. A lively and diverse neighborhood with stores, bars, restaurants, a market and ancient ruins.

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Gazi is an area for fun-loving partygoers. We did not visit it. In the former industrial quarter of the city there is a popular cultural complex “Technopolis”. It is a huge old factory, which has been converted into a museum and exhibition center with a stage.

You can get to know the neighborhoods on your own just by walking around them. Plaka, Anafiotica, Monastiraki and Psiri often offer tours – choose them on Tripster. I like this service above all because there you can always find sincerely passionate guides and unique programs.

Viewpoints

Athens has many hills that offer beautiful views of the city: the Areopagus, Philopappus, Likavit, Pnyx, and Strefi. We climbed only the Areopagus and Philopappa. From the latter is the best view of the Acropolis at sunset. You can easily climb them on your own or you can take this tour where a guide will tell you the stories associated with these hills. Read also about the observation hills of Athens.

View of Athens from the observation deck on the Areopagus. From the top of Philopappus you have the best view of the Acropolis.

Museums

Athens has many interesting museums and one wants to see them all. For starters we chose the Cycladic Art Museum and the Benaki Museum . There we spent a day and after that we did not go to any other museum because we risked getting an overdose of ancient Greek art. In Benaki you can see the development of Greek culture from the Neolithic Age until the end of the 19th century, and in the Cycladic Museum you can see unique idols up to five thousand years old, beautiful in their simplicity and sophistication. They are said to have influenced Modigliani’s work.

Museums in Athens

Cycladic Idol.

What other museums to see in Athens? Tourists really like the Acropolis Museum , they recommend visiting it before the Acropolis. There is a very rich collection at the Archaeological Museum, and many interesting paintings in the private gallery of Goulandris.

I advise to visit the souvenir stores at the museums. They sell not just Chinese trinkets, and works of local artists, designers and jewelers, inspired by museum collections. In the Benaki Museum store, for example, we bought a beautiful replica of an ancient ring.

Museums in Athens

Satyr on a donkey. A 510 BC cilicus from the collection of the Ancient Agora Museum, also worth a look while walking around Athens.

Temples

While walking around Athens, I advise you to see several curious temples at once:

  • The Panagia of Capnicarea was my favorite. Small, surrounded by a noisy crowd of tourists and locals shopping at H&M and Zara, it is a bastion of silence in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the world. Inside are beautiful and unusual frescoes.
  • Agios Eleftherios is a tiny church in the shadow of the giant cathedral next door. Walk around its perimeter and admire the marble carvings.
  • Aya Dinami is another tiny church sandwiched among modern buildings. It was closed the whole time.

Colorful changing of the guard.

There is a ceremonial changing of the guard outside Parliament every hour that draws a crowd of tourists. The soldiers of the presidential guard, the eusones, are dressed very colorfully. Red hats, shoes with big pompoms, and white garter belts. This is not to be missed!

The eusons move very slowly and make unusual movements when changing the guard. I read that there are 60 nails hammered into each shoe sole and they weigh 3 pounds each! That’s probably why the eusons’ feet are so pumped up. And in the evening you can also see how the Guardsmen sparks with their shoes. By the way, they write that their cute little pompoms on their shoes are designed either to hide little knives there, or to protect their toes from frostbite.

Changing the guard in Athens

Brave Guardsmen marching during the changing of the guard. Look closely at the soles, you can see nails driven in there.

What to see near Athens

Lake Vouliagmeni . The lake with warm, salty water that has healing properties is a favorite vacation spot for Athens residents and tourists. Vouliagmeni is visited at any time of the year as the water temperature ranges from +20 ° C to +27 ° C. It is a favorite destination for Athens residents and tourists. Learn more about Lake Vouliagmeni.

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Cape Sunion and the Temple of Poseidon . Everyone writes that the temple of Poseidon is a great place to meet the sunset. It’s true, but it’s better to come to the cape by rented car or with a tour, because late at night buses don’t go any more. The trip from Athens one way by bus takes two hours. Learn more about Cape Sounion and the temple.

Parnisa Park in the mountains . There are many excursion routes through the park. People come here to enjoy the nature, breathe the mountain air, drink spring water, see the cave of Pana, the fortress of Fili and the ancient chapel of Triada-Parnito.

Delphi and Meteora . These places are quite far from Athens, so you have to go by rented car or on a tour for 2 days. We visited Meteora by car, it is a very beautiful and unusual place.

Meteora. Meteora.

How many days you need to go to Athens?

Opinions here differ: especially enthusiastic about antiquity, people say that not even a week is not enough, while others believe that in Athens is enough and one day, and then it is better to rush to the islands. We found ourselves in the middle and allotted five full days of our Greek trip to Athens, and it was too much. Everything worthy of any attention we saw in four days, and the fifth was completely unnecessary. In addition, one of the four days was almost entirely devoted to visit two museums, and people who are less crazy can cross it out of the plan. In total, three or four days will be enough to get you acquainted with the Greek capital at a quiet pace.

Prices and working hours

In this article I did not write about the prices and working hours of all places, because the information changes frequently. All information about the archeological sites I looked at the official website. With museums it is different – each of them has its own website, and the actual information is better to look there.

Note that every Thursday from 6:00 pm to midnight you can get into the Benaki Museum for free. :) And then there are a few days when admission to museums and attractions in Athens is free: March 6, April 18, May 18, the last weekend of September, October 28 and every first Sunday from November 1 to March 31.

We always bought tickets on the spot, but you can also buy them online. The only place where there were lines was the Acropolis. I suggest going in from the secondary entrance, which is next to the Acropolis Museum, because there are far fewer people. Almost all tour groups go in through the main entrance. Here are the coordinates for the best place to go in: 37.969692, 23.728994.

If you are very passionate about antiquity and want to visit all the major sites in Athens, I advise you to take a combo ticket for 30 €. We bought it at the Acropolis ticket office. On it you will see seven locations: Acropolis, Ancient Agora and Museum, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Zeus, Ceramicos, Lyceum. This ticket is advantageous because admission to the Acropolis alone costs 20 €!

However, if you come in low season, you can do without a combo ticket because all places have reduced prices by half.

Moreover, a number of attractions can be seen from the side without paying: the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, the Temple of Zeus.

What you can miss

Panathenaic Stadium . A huge stadium built entirely of white marble on the site of an ancient stadium. The size is impressive, but nothing particularly interesting there. The 9€ admission price is too much.

Aristotle’s Lyceum . You can safely skip this place as there is nothing of interest here.

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