Places of Interest in Athens
Information on the main tourist attractions, places of interest and sights to see in and around Athens...
There is a great variety of places to visit and things to do in Athens: climbing and other activities on Mount Parnitha, visiting ancient archeological sites at Marathon and Rafina and the temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the Attica Zoo and a multitude of museums.
The Acropolis is the most popular monument in Athens. Known as the sacred rock, this archaeological site is located on a hill and overlooks the city. It dates back to the 5th century B.C. and consists of the impressive Parthenon, the temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea and the Erechtheion. The entrance ticket also includes access to the Acropolis Museum, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, the Museum of the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora of Athens: all sites that lie nearby.
The new Acropolis Museum was designed by architect Bernard Tschumi. Opened in the summer of 2009, it houses over 4,000 ancient artifacts and was built to take advantage of the natural light. The collections date from prehistoric times up to late antiquity, and many objects are original sculptures that were once part of the Acropolis. The building is located at the foot of the Acropolis.
- Acropolis Museum
At: 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, 117 42 Athens (near the Acropolis metro stop in Makriyianni)
Tel: 210 900 0900
Open: Tuesday to Sunday 08:00-20:00
Mount Lycabettus offers a panoramic view of the city. It is located in the centre of the city and can be reached by car, foot or funicular (a small railway running up to the summit). At the summit there is an open-air theatre, two churches (Agios Isidoros and Agios Georgios), a restaurant and a large viewing platform, from which the entire city is visible. The funicular operates from Aristippou street (at Ploutarchou), in Kolonaki.
Kallimarmaro or Panathenaikon stadium is the ancient Olympic stadium, made from white marble. Situated near the Zappeion gardens in Mets, this is where the first official modern Olympic games were held in 1896. The stadium can seat 80,000 on 50 rows of marble steps.
At Sounion, the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, god of the sea, can be found. It's located approximately 69 Km south of Athens, at Cape Sounion. Though now in ruins, the temple is still impressive. The site is also a very popular destination due to its vantage point for impressive sunsets over the Aegean sea.
The National Garden was part of the palace when Greece was still a monarchy. Designed by Queen Amalia in 1838, it's situated behind the Parliament in Syntagma square and runs all the way from Vassilissis Sofia avenue and Amalias avenue to Zappeion. The park covers 15.5 hectares and is home to over 500 different types of plants and trees. There is a duck pond, a small zoo with ostriches and a café.
Popular with the locals, Plaka is situated between Syntagma square and the Acropolis hill. An old part of the city, it has escaped modernisation and has many neoclassical houses. The atmosphere is similar to that of Greek mountain or island villages, with its small winding roads and steps leading up to the Acropolis. Along the side roads, the noise and bustle, as well as the shops and other tourists, of the city are less common. There are plenty of restaurants and many tourist shops.
The Roman forum, Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaestus are three archaeological sites in the centre of the city, next to or in Plaka and under the Acropolis. Both the forum and the Agora are mainly ruins, but some structures, including many columns, still stand. Though ruined, both places retain the feel of being the important centres of city life they once were.
In the Roman forum stands the Tower of the Winds. This small tower is nearly completely intact and looks out of place next to the ruins around it. In ancient times, the tower was used as a clock and to hold weather wanes.
The Ancient Agora takes up a large area beneath the Acropolis. The most impressive building here is the Temple of Hephaestus, which stands on a small hill to one side. Although smaller than the Acropolis, the temple has remained relatively intact since its construction nearly 2,500 years ago. In Athens, few buildings are as well preserved as this and it gives the visitor a good idea of how impressive the city must once have been.
- For information about the Agora from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture: Click here
The Temple of Zeus lies just outside of the city centre, next to the National Gardens. It is within easy walking distance of the city centre and is sheltered from traffic. The temple was once an enormous building with 104 columns. Today only 16 remain standing, but at 17 metres high and 2 metres in diameter they are impressive when seen close up.
Next to the temple on the way back into the city centre is Hadrian's Arch. The slightly odd-looking gate is of Roman architecture on the bottom half and Greek on top. On the side facing the old city is written, in Greek: "This is Athens, the city of Theseus". On the other side, facing an extension of the city built by Hadrian, is written, in Latin: "This is the city of Hadrian, not of Theseus".
- For information about Hadrian's Arch from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture: Click here