How to Spend a Weekend in Athens

The Acropolis is just one thing to see during your weekend in Athens
The Acropolis is just one thing to see during your weekend in Athens | © Slawek Staszczuk / Alamy Stock Photo
Ethel Dilouambaka

So you’re off on a weekend break to one of the oldest cities in the world. While two days may not seem like enough, it still gives you plenty of time to dip your proverbial toes in and enjoy a taste of everything the city has to offer. Here is the Culture Trip’s guide to making the most out of a weekend in Athens, Greece.

Friday evening

After you’ve settled into your hotel or accommodation, head to Syntagma, the heart of the city. Use it as a landmark while you’re exploring town. Walk up to the Parliament house, where the Tomb of the Unknown soldier lies and watch the changing of the guards. This ritual is done on the hour every day, no matter what time of year. It is your chance to discover the evzones, the special guards in charge of watching over the monument.

Evzones changing the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Athens

Walk down towards Monastiraki on Ermou street, shop or do some window shopping. Once you reach Monastiraki, go wild. Head towards Plaka to explore the small streets with souvenir shops or head down to Monastiraki flea market for a leisurely stroll. Once you’ve reached Thisseio, head back on the road along the metro track to admire the view of the Acropolis and the Hephaestus temple. For dinner, you have many options, but we recommend Kuzina on Adrianou.

Adrianou Street, Athens

Saturday

Rise and shine early if you can, as the second day of your weekend in Athens will be packed. Head to the Acropolis through the small streets of Plaka (try to explore the Ancient Agora while you’re at it) to discover this monument dedicated to the goddess Athena, where you can also admire the stunning Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the sacred olive tree as well as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (Herodion). To enjoy spectacular views over the city, make a stop at Areopagitus hill before heading back to the Acropolis Museum, located on Dionysiou Areopagitou. The spectacular building comprises three levels of sculptures found on the Acropolis as well as a portion of the marbles which made up the Parthenon’s frieze.

Once you’re done there, if your stomach starts to grumble, you can either have your lunch at the museum cafeteria, or grab a take-away souvlaki at Mikro Politiko and savour it in the National Gardens, near Syntagma.

Herodes Atticus Theatre, Acropolis

Midday exploring

Now that you’ve regained some strength, head to the Archaeological museum in Exarcheia. The area is traditionally known as the home of the Greek anarchists and as such, it is full of character with little bookstores and laid-back cafes. There is nothing to fear there and you should take the opportunity to walk around the area and admire the street art available.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens

Walk back to the center by way of Panepistimiou street, where you can see the stunning Athenian Trilogy, which includes the National Library, the National University of Athens and the Academy of Athens. For an afternoon drink, head to urban retreat Black Duck Garden before climbing up to Lycabettus Hill to enjoy a magnificent sunset over the sea.

Once you’re back downtown, have dinner at Tzitzikas & Mermigas to savour traditional Greek dishes with a twist. For a nightcap, there are plenty of options available in Syntagma, Monastiraki and Psyrri.

The Academy of Athens

Sunday

This is the last day of your weekend in Athens, so try to make it count. If you haven’t had enough of sightseeing, you should visit Thisseio, where you can see the famous Temple of Hephaestus.

If you’re done with ancient wonders, head instead to the Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio districts, the up-and-coming, artistic neighborhoods in the center, where you will find several art galleries, cute coffee shops and quaint restaurants. Case in point: Seychelles. Drop by here for a tasty lunch at this in-demand hotspot. Come early and you should easily find an empty table.

Depending on the time of your flight, you might have to get back to your hotel and pack for departure. If you still have time, take a moment to explore next-door district Psyrri, a lively area that neighbors Monastiraki.

Temple of Hephaestus

Where to eat, drink and stay:

Dining:

Fouar

Asian cuisine meets minimalist decor in this sumptuous bar-restaurant located on the first floor of a neoclassical building off Mitropoleos. Tucked in a small side street opposite the big H&M store near Kapnikareas church, with a green room and stunning sunroof, Fouar is the place for a taste of Asia in Athens. This multi-functional eatery and bar also features an exhibition space, but it’s the simple yet excellent cocktail menu that will keep you enjoying DJ sets all night long. The gallery space hosts several exhibitions worth visiting throughout the year. Simply put, Fouar is a multipurpose venue where you’ll certainly never get bored.

Fouar, Athens

Drinking:

Materia Prima – Cava & Wine Bar

Just behind the new contemporary art museum, right in the hip district of Koukaki, is a beautiful place for wine lovers. Materia Prima is the newest wine bar in town and it has everything to make you fall hard for its charms. A well-stocked cave – with bottles from both Greece and abroad – pairs well with an interesting food menu of delectable snacks to nibble on, all made even better with a well-informed staff ready to advise you on which wine might suit your fancy.

Where to Stay:

New Hotel

Located in the heart of ancient Athens, New Hotel is an artsy spot designed by the outstanding Campana brothers. The restaurant is one of the highlights of the place, though the hammam-spa is another strong element which makes this hotel stand apart from the pack.

NEW Hotel, Athens

Concierge Athens

Concierge Athens is centrally located in Psyrri, near Monastiraki metro station. Offering elegant self-catering rooms with free wifi, the property has a charming cafe bar on the ground floor where guests can enjoy their breakfast or relax on the rooftop terrace. Thanks to its convenient location, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump to some of the city’s top bars and restaurants.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

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