If you only have one day in Athens and want to see as much of the city as possible, the best way to explore is on foot. Dress accordingly, stock up on water (especially in the summer) and prepare to discover the best of the city. With a great public transport system and reliable, cheap taxis, there are also quick solutions if you get tired.
Get in early before the temperatures rise and crowds increase. Arrive at 8 or 9 am for the most relaxed walk up to the Acropolis, and to make sure you have enough time to explore the vast array of historical gems on display. From the Parthenon you also get great views of the whole city, stretching down to the sea and along the coast. It’s the perfect way to orient yourself before continuing your Athenian adventure.
Having ticked the Acropolis off your list, heading down to Koukaki is the most relaxing and hassle-free option for a coffee, and also gives you the chance to explore one of Athens’ most trendy neighbourhoods. Little Tree Books & Coffee is a great place to relax after the morning’s climb, while Lotte Café and Fourteen are livelier spots, perfect for people watching.
Relaxed and replenished, it’s time to walk across to the Mets area. Located behind the Panathenaic stadium, this neighbourhood is full of picturesque buildings and residential homes that are guaranteed to elicit Instagram jealously. Stroll around the area and then head to the first Athens Cemetery. The ornate and expansive grounds are home to some of Greece’s most celebrated figures, including icons like Melina Mercouri and former prime ministers.
If you really want to see as much of Athens as possible then a walk from the Mets area to Kolonaki through the National Gardens is a great route. Zappion Hall marks the start of the gardens from the Pangrati side, where visitors can enjoy a striking statue of Lord Byron receiving a wreath from Greece for his help in the Greek War of Independence. The gardens themselves are home to over 7,000 species of trees, and there are tortoise and terrapin-filled ponds in the middle.
Head to the restaurant at the Benaki Museum for lunch on the terrace, or continue into Kolonaki to enjoy a wholesome lunch at Nice and Easy, an organic restaurant that’s a favourite among locals.
Take a post-lunch stroll through Lycabettus, one of the most famous hills in Athens. If you have the energy, a climb to the top offers spectacular views of the city. However, a stroll along the bottom of the hill is just as pleasant and a little less strenuous, while still offering a tranquil atmosphere and glimpses of the surrounding city through the trees.
From Kolonaki, Lycabettus leads visitors to the top of the Exarchia neighbourhood. Walk down through Neapoli and into Exarchia proper (don’t be alarmed by the riot police, who surround the area all year round and are very friendly to visitors). There’s plenty of lively bars in Exarchia to drink at, and the neighbourhood is one of Athens’ more eclectic. From metal and goth bars to grungy spots and more polished hipster hangouts, there’s a bar for every taste. While you might not have time to visit an art gallery, make sure to check out the cool graffiti that can be seen throughout the area.
Take a taxi from Exarchia to the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Metaxourgeio. While parts of the area are still extremely run down, there’s a lively nightlife scene. Try one of the restaurants in Avdi Square and go for drinks at The Blue Parrot, where a decadent cocktail is the perfect way to finish your evening.
Taxis in Athens are everywhere and easy to hail on the street. If you prefer to do the same walking route by taxi, you’ll find them to be cheap and reliable. Download the Taxi Beat app to make sure you’re never far away from a driver.