24 Hours in Athens: A Culture Lover's Guide

Zappeion, Athens, Greece
Zappeion, Athens, Greece | © Thibaut Démare/ flickr

A modern city filled with ancient wonders, Athens is often seen as a layover before reaching the islands. While we think the Greek capital deserves more than a night, we’ve helped you narrow down the options with an itinerary of top cultural sights to see in the city if you’re there for 24 hours. Fair warning, this guide only scratches the surface of the vibrant and cultural city that Athens is, so we are pretty sure you’ll be begging for more.

Day One

5.30 PM

Now that you’ve settled in your hotel, don’t miss an opportunity to get acquainted with the city’s rich history. Head straight to the National Archaeological Museum, the largest museum in Greece. In this imposing neoclassical building, you will find artefacts from the nineteenth century excavations in and around Athens, as well as diverse treasures from all around the country, ranging from prehistory to late antiquity.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Greece | © Tilemahos Efthimiadis/ flickr

8.30 PM

For dinner, grab a cab or walk up to Kallidromiou Street in Exarcheia – the anarchist district of Athens – to find Ama Laxei, a stunning restaurant set in a former school, and boasting a beautiful courtyard. Trust us, you won’t regret it one bit. The menu is diverse and includes a plethora of mezes, and the atmosphere will help you relax after your journey.

10.30 PM

You may choose to head straight to your hotel at this point, but if you are in the mood for a nightcap, Warehouse is the place to be. Also in Exarcheia, this wine bar is a favorite among locals, with an extensive wine list including Greek and international labels. If you are not a wine fan, the cocktail menu is equally enticing. Don’t overdo it as tomorrow you have to wake up early to see what else Athens has in store for you.

Warehouse exterior | Courtesy of Warehouse

Day Two

8.30 AM

Start the day bright and early with a visit to the Acropolis, Athens’ jewel. If you’re visiting in summer, plan to be there extra early as it quickly gets crowded. After arriving at the Acropolis metro station, make your way up to the Sacred Rock, and be prepared to be amazed. As you climb up the Propylaea gates, you will be astounded by the beauty and splendor of its many monuments.

Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece | © Anastasios71 / Shutterstock

10 AM

Continue your exploration with a quick stop by the Acropolis Museum, a stellar example of modern architecture located opposite the Acropolis. Housing the numerous artefacts found on the Acropolis site, the museum is set upon pillars to allow visitors to admire remnants of a part of Ancient Athens.

12.30 PM

For a light lunch, stay inspired and head to Little Tree Books & Coffee. The bookstore/café is a quiet, inspiring place for a quick lunch. We recommend the open-faced sandwiches. If you prefer something more filling, Balcony Restaurant & Bar on Veikou Street is a solid option. With a menu filled with Greek flavors prepared with contemporary flair, Balcony offers delicious cuisine you can enjoy from the balcony if the weather allows it.

Courtesy of Balcony Restaurant & Bar

1.30 PM

Now that you’ve satisfied your taste buds, make your way towards Syntagma Square to admire the Parliament building, which used to be the former residence of the first king and queen of the modern state of Greece. Watch the evzones perform their distinctive walk as they stand and watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before you head over to the Museum of Cycladic Art, a little gem nestled in Kolonaki. The museum hosts a wide collection of prehistoric art from the Cyclades islands.

Cycladic Art Museum, Athens, Greece | © Tilemahos Efthimiadis/ flickr

3 PM

Before heading off to the airport, make sure to drop by Plaka, the picturesque district at the foot of the Acropolis, where you can snatch some souvenirs before leaving. All you have to do after that is head to your hotel, pack your bags and promise yourself to come back for more.

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