Athens Sights & Attractions
What to See and Do in Athens
The ACOPOLIS is the most important ancient site of the Western world, with the Parthenon overlooking all of Athens below it. That's the largest Doric temple ever built in Greece, created in 447 BC as the home of the great statue of Athena. Next to it stands the ERECHTHEION, the supreme example of Ionic architecture. It served as a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon, and is instantly recognized due to its much-photographed columns of female figures.
Found at the southern base of the Acropolis, the new Acropolis Museum incorporates ruins found during its construction. Partially opened in 2008 and fully accessible in early 2009, it houses the fascinating archaeological treasures of the Acropolis.
You should also not miss the National Archaeological Museum, one of the world's greatest museums. It houses most of the important finds from ancient Greece, including a huge bronze statue from 460 BC depicting Zeus or Poseidon (no one knows which), and superb prehistoric and bronze collections.
Other national treasures are found in the National Art Gallery. In addition to centuries-old Greek art it also includes European masters and contemporary works from the country's leading artists.
The Benaki Museum is also worth a look, a fine private collection containing art from around Europe and Asia. Among the highlights are Bronze Age and Egyptian treasures, together with Greek regional costumes.
Also outstanding is the Byzantine Museum, with its collection of Christian art from the 4th to the 15th centuries, including rare scriptures, paintings, pottery, and manuscripts.
The OAKA Athens Olympic Sports Complex is the city's most recent landmark, a massive stadium designed by Santiago Calatrava where the 2004 Olympics took place. You can visit it on an organized tour to better appreciate its futuristic design.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is the largest temple in Greece, begun in the 6th century BC. It originally featured a colossal statue of Zeus and had 104 Corinthian columns, of which only 15 remain standing.
Most Athenians and tourists do their shopping down the pedestrian ERMOU STREET, while at night they move on to the trendy bars of PSYRRI. Others prefer to go by the sea, and choose the Asteras Seaside Escape in the suburb of Glyfadas.
If you rather enjoy the city life, walk from SYNTAGMA SQUARE (overlooked by the Parliament Building) down Stadhiou Street to Omonia Square, from where you then go down Athinas Street to visit the city's central market. It also leads to KOTZIA SQUARE overlooked by the neoclassical Town Hall, and MONASTIKARI SQUARE, welcoming you to the oldest part of the city. That's where you'll find the most touristy shops and restaurants, especially in picturesque PLAKA, a mostly pedestrianized neighborhood.
TOURS & DAYTRIPSGoing on a tour of Athens will take you directly to the city's main attractions as well as give you an opportunity to see other destinations in Greece not far from its capital. They include:
Delphi Daytrip from Athens
2-day Visit to Meteora from Athens
Santorini Island daytrip
2-day Visit to Santorini from Athens
2-day Visit to Mykonos from Athens