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Are you planning on spending 3 days in Athens, Greece, but are unsure what to do? The ancient and sprawling city can feel a bit formidable for first-time visitors, but no need to worry! Our 3-Day Athens Itinerary showcases the best of the city – including top sights, cool districts and traditional cuisine.
We spent weeks in Athens visiting the must-see attractions…and seeking out hidden gems. The profound history in Athens is palpable – and can’t be missed – but our itinerary of things to do in Athens in 3 days features more than the ancient past.
3 Days in Athens FAQs
Before we get to our itinerary of what to do in Athens in 3 days, we want to cover a few of the most frequently asked questions. Covering these points now will help you plan your best Athens trip!
3 Days in Athens, Greece: Enough or Too Much?
The first question travelers often have is, How many days do you need in Athens, Greece? In a country that boasts diverse landscapes and distinct attractions, visitors are spoiled for choice of where to go and what to see, but usually limited on time.
So, is 3 days in Athens too much? In our opinion, you will want at least 3 days in Athens, Greece to see the highlights and get acquainted with the city. In addition to seeing the incredible number of sights, Athens is a city that should be experienced – and that takes a few days.
Now you might be wondering, Is 3 days in Athens enough? With a solid trip plan, we think that 3 days is enough in Athens (but travelers staying longer will have no problem filling their itinerary!). In 3 days, visitors can see the sights, taste the food and experience some of the Greek culture.
Therefore, we detail exactly what to do with 3 days in Athens, Greece in our day-by-day Athens Itinerary.
We think it is the best way to see Athens in three days. However, for those of you who are still deciding how many days to spend in Athens, we offer suggested shorter and longer itineraries for Athens later in the article.
Will I Spend the Entire 3 Days in Athens, Greece at Ancient Sights?
Probably not. While the ancient sights in Athens are must-see attractions, the city has so much more to offer. Our advice for how to spend 3 days in Athens features a range of activities and unique sights.
On the other hand, visitors who are enthralled by the ancient history of Athens can certainly dive deeper into it. We share tips about ancient sightseeing – and Athens ancient sight combo passes – later, in the Travel Tips section.
Do I Need a Car for this 3 Days in Athens Itinerary?
No, a rental car is completely unnecessary for your Athens trip. Street congestion, limited parking and loose road rules can make driving in Athens more of a hassle than it is worth.
Our 3 Day Itinerary Athens, Greece does include sights throughout the city, but it is best to walk or use public transit. The underground Athens Metro system is reliable, easy to use and clean!
However, you will need some good walking shoes – not only to get between sights, but to trek up the hills for the best Athens views.
Is it Expensive to Visit Athens in 3 Days?
Well, ‘expensive’ is a relative word. A trip to Athens, Greece can be expensive…but, with the right planning, it can also be very affordable.
Greece once had a reputation of being a cheap destination, but that is no longer the case. Prices for hotels, museums, food and drinks are on par with other top European cities.
That said, it is still possible to plan three days in Athens, Greece on a budget. Throughout our Athens, Greece 3 Day Itinerary, we share ideas for free things to do and money-saving tips.
Planning a Trip: Athens in 3 Days
Planning a trip to Athens is a big undertaking! In addition to figuring out what to see, do and eat in Athens, visitors are also tasked with determining how to get there, where to stay and what to pack.
We understand – so in addition to our 3 Day Athens Itinerary, we share our top advice for travel specifics, too. Travelers visiting from overseas should also read our article: How to Plan a Trip to Europe.
Additionally, visitors making plans to visit other Greece destinations can use our helpful guides.
- The Best 2 Week Greece Itinerary
- Things To Do in Hydra
- What To Do in Santorini
- Things To See in Chania, Crete
- Naxos Island Things To Do
- Exploring Corfu Old Town, Greece
As you begin making your travel plans for Athens, staying organized is key! We recommend using a travel planner – like our Travel Planning Printables – to stay on top of all the details!
Best Athens Itinerary 3 Days
Now that we have covered the basics, it’s time to jump into what to see in Athens, Greece in 3 Days! Our Athens itinerary contains everything you need to plan your trip – including a map of attractions. Save, Pin or Bookmark it so that you can easily access it for reference.
DAY 1 of your Athens 3 Day Itinerary
Day One of your 3 Day Itinerary Athens is all about the most iconic sight in Athens – the Ancient Acropolis. You will start the day with a classic Greek treat, then take in the views of Acropolis Hill from various vantage points. Next, visit the renowned Acropolis Museum to see original Acropolis artifacts up close. Finally, in the early evening, climb the stairs to see the Ancient Acropolis Archaeological Site. Then, end the day with a satisfying meal of traditional Greek cuisine.
Coffee and Breakfast – and an Acropolis View
Kick off your 3 days in Athens, Greece vacation the same way locals start their day, with a Freddo Cappuccino. The famous Greek iced coffee drink will give you a caffeinated charge and propel you through your first day in Athens.
The Underdog Café is a bright and hip brunch spot that serves delicious Freddos – and they make hearty breakfast dishes, like pancakes and eggs Benedict, too.
Looking for something lighter? Order your Freddo from Underdog to-go and get a Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts at Fresko Yogurt Bar, just down the street.
Then, start your morning walk toward Philopappos Hill along Apostolou Pavlou pedestrian lane, with an Acropolis view in the distance.
Philopappos Hill and Monument
Spend the rest of the morning hiking Philopappou Hill (also sometimes called Muses Hill). Sitting to the west of the Acropolis – and providing an exceptional elevated view of the Parthenon – Philopappos Hill is rich with history.
Gracing the top of the hill is the Philopappos Monument, a 2-story marble mausoleum, which dates to the 2nd century AD. Although partially destroyed, the monument still bears elements of grandeur.
Hikers can also find their way to the Prison of Socrates, a barred cave where Socrates is said to have awaited his execution.
Other things to do on Philopappos Hill are to find the ancient ruins that are scattered across the hill, leisurely stroll the intertwining trails under the shade of evergreens and look for tortoises that call the hill their home.
Lunch of Traditional Greek Food
While exploring Philopappos Hill, you likely worked up an appetite – and there are two fantastic spots nearby where you can get a taste of traditional fare.
For a quick option, go to O Gyros Pou Gyrevis. Known for the gyros (both the pork and chicken are delicious), but we also like their grilled souvlaki skewers.
Otherwise, sit down at Liondi, where they serve typical Greek dishes – and have vegetarian options, too.
Next up on our itinerary of What To See in Athens in 3 Days is the outstanding Acropolis Museum. The modern, 3-story building houses the most precious artifacts from Acropolis Hill. Visitors can see original statues up close, like the Caryatid female pillars, and part of the sculpted Parthenon frieze.
The museum was built over an excavation site – and visitors can see through the glass floor into the ruins below. Visitors also won’t want to miss the rooftop deck for views of the Acropolis.
Tickets are required to enter the Acropolis Museum – and are separate from the Acropolis Hill Ticket. The ticket line gets really long (especially in the summertime), so it is best to buy your Skip the Line Tickets in advance.
Visitors should plan on spending about 2 hours at the museum learning about the history of Ancient Greece before seeing the next sight on our 3-Day Itinerary for Athens: The Acropolis.
The Acropolis of Athens
A must-see during your 3 days in Athens, the Athenian Acropolis is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. During the 5th century BC, the flat-topped Acropolis Hill was deemed sacred – and a slew of temples were built to honor the Goddess Athena, the protector of the city.
The most impressive temples that still stand (although they will likely to be covered in scaffolding) are the Parthenon, the Erechteion and the Temple of Nike. The remains of the classical Greek architecture and chiseled sculptures are a shell of what once was, but impressive, nonetheless.
We think it is best to enter Acropolis Hill from the less-busy Southern Slope Entrance. See the sights on the hillside, like the Theatre of Dionysus and get an overhead view into the Odeon of Herodes Atticus Amphitheater. From there, start climbing the stairs to the hilltop.
As you make your way into the grand Propylaia entryway, look up to the Temple of Nike to your right. Once through the columned entry gate, let your gaze settle on the striking Parthenon and Erechtheion.
After taking in the sights, go to the far end of the Acropolis to the Hellenic flag and savor the views.
Tips for Visiting the Athens Acropolis
- Buy your ticket in advance online to avoid the long ticket line. That said, you may still need to stand in line to enter, especially at the busiest times – but the wait is typically shorter at the Southern Slope Entrance than at the Main Entrance. (We share tips about Acropolis tickets and the Combo Acropolis Pass later in Athens Travel Tips section.)
- To make sense of the structures and their significance, it is best to use an audio guide (like this free one from Rick Steves) or join an Acropolis guided tour.
- For our Athens Itinerary, we recommend visiting the Acropolis late in the day, when it is typically less crowded. You could also opt to arrive first thing in the morning – not only to beat the crowds, but also to beat the heat.
- Make sure you are prepared with sun protection. Regardless of what hour you visit, sunscreen is essential. Bring a water bottle, too – there is a place to refill at the top.
- There are bathrooms inside the Acropolis – and free bathrooms outside, too (find them tucked around the corner from the Main Entrance).
- Wear good shoes when you visit the Acropolis – as there are uneven steps (and no handrails) and rocky terrain. People with limited mobility may find it difficult to get around. There is an elevator that is reserved for disabled visitors only.
- Visitors typically spend about 1.5 hours at Acropolis Hill.
Areopagus Hill – also called Mars Hill – is an Athens landmark sight. The rock appears in Greek mythology as the site where the gods held trials and doled out justice. Later, in the 8th century BC, it served as the actual convening place for the Ancient Athens supreme court. Then, in the 1st century AD, it is believed that Apostle Paul gave a sermon from the rock in an effort to convert Athenians to Christianity.
Today, however, the rocky outcrop is used by tourists to take in the phenomenal panoramic views of Athens, Greece. In addition to the fine views of Acropolis Hill, visitors can also peer down into the ruins of the Ancient Agora of Athens.
The city’s two other hills – Philopappos Hill (which you climbed in the morning) and Lycabettus Hill (which you will climb on Day 3 of your Athens Itinerary) – are also visible from the viewpoint, as is the vast sprawl of the City of Athens.
Spilling out from under Acropolis Hill to the north and east is one of Athens’ best districts: Plaka.
Ranking as one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, the Plaka District is marked by picturesque lanes, neoclassical architecture and ancient sights that are tucked into unsuspecting corners. It is nicknamed the Neighborhood of the Gods, due to its location at the base of Acropolis Hill.
Restaurants, bars, accommodations and souvenir shops claim most of the real estate in the district.
We recommend spending the early evening wandering the streets or shopping for souvenirs. There are a few specific sights to see, but we get to those on Day 2 of our Athens 3-Day Itinerary.
Dinner and Drinks on Day 1 of your 3 Days in Athens
End your first day in Athens with a classic meal at a traditional Greek taverna, Restaurant Scholario. Patrons can order from the set menu, which not only offers a good value, but also the opportunity to try several different dishes.
The top dishes we recommend eating are moussaka (it is the national dish, after all!), meatballs, Greek salad, saganaki and tzatziki.
For after dinner drinks, go to Athens oldest distillery, Brettos Bar. Colorful bottles line the shelves of the small bar and liquor-filled barrels sit against the wall. The distillery specializes in homemade ouzo, brandy and flavored liqueurs – but they have wine, beer and cocktails on their drink menu, as well.
DAY 2 of your 3 Days Athens Itinerary
On the second day of your Athens in 3 Days Itinerary, set off on foot to explore more top sights. Watch the Changing of the Guard, light a candle in a Greek Orthodox church, glimpse at unearthed ruins, stroll through the National Gardens – and then dip into the popular Pangrati District for dinner and drinks.
Self Guided Athens Walking Tour
Athens is a great city to tour on foot – and you can enjoy the sights at your own pace on a self-guided walking tour. We are featuring the best places to see on a morning walk in Athens, Greece.
The grandiose neoclassical Greek Parliament is an unmissable sight. The building originally served as the Royal Palace. Built in 1843 by Otto, the first King of Greece, the royal family used the palace as a residence until the monarchy was abolished in 1924.
In 1934, the palace was renovated to house the Hellenic Parliament – and it is still used by Greece’s parliament to this day.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Evzones Guards
Sitting in front of the Old Royal Palace is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The cenotaph is dedicated to all Greek soldiers who have been killed in battle. Members of the Presidential Guard – called Evzones – guard the tomb.
The elite and proud Evzones soldiers wear a characteristic uniform embellished with details. From the intricately embroidered Fermeli top to the Foustanella kilt (complete with 400 pleats symbolizing Greece’s freedom from Ottoman occupation) to the Tsarouchia shoes with a distinctive pompom on the toe, the Evzones soldiers are clearly recognizable.
The ceremonious Changing of the Guard in Athens takes place every hour on the hour – and watching it is a must-do activity for your 3 Day Itinerary in Athens, Greece. During the regal handover, the soldiers perform a choreographed exchange that is carefully executed and closely scrutinized by their commanders.
There is an even more formal ceremony on Sundays at 11am – including multiple soldiers and a marching band.
Syntagma Square – or Constitution Square – marks the center of modern Athens. It’s the beating heart of the country’s politics and it sits on the doorstep of Parliament. Demonstrations and other events are often hosted in the public square. In fact, it was due to a military uprising on the square in 1843 that King Otto granted the first Constitution of Greece.
Today, Syntagma Square also serves as a busy transport hub. Athens Metro Lines 2 and 3 both stop at the underground Syntagma Station – and many buses, trolleys and trams make stops at the square, as well.
From Syntagma Square, Ermou Street heads west. The long, pedestrian street is Athens’ fashionable shopping street, which hosts international retailers, local department stores and boutique shops.
Street vendors sell snacks – like Koulouri, a Greek pretzel-like ring coated in sesame seeds – and sometimes street musicians and performers entertain the crowds as they stroll up and down the popular street.
Church of Kapnikarea
Sitting smack in the middle of Ermou Street is one of the oldest churches in Athens, the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea. Dating to the 11th century – and built on top of a former temple – the Greek Orthodox church features the Byzantine architectural styles and is beautiful, both inside and out.
Glittering mosaics adorn the entrance and frescos cover the walls of the dimly lit interior. Step inside if the church is open – but don’t take photos, as there is a strict policy against using cameras.
Holy Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
The grand and imposing Holy Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation – or just simply, the Metropolis – is a two-story church with double bell towers. It stands as the most important church in Athens; a lofty title indeed! Built in the mid-1800s, marble stones from former churches were used to construct the Athens Cathedral.
The interior is lavishly decorated with painted frescos, glittering icons and burning candles. The Athens historic landmark Cathedral is free to visit; the museum and crypt can also be visited for a small fee.
Church of St Eleutherius
Sitting is the shadows of the sizeable Cathedral is the quaint St. Eleutherios Church – or the Little Metropolis. The exact age of the Byzantine-style church is unknown, but it is unique in that it is built almost completely of spolia – parts and pieces of former structures marked with various symbols.
Visitors are allowed to take a look inside the tiny church – it’s one of the free things to do in Athens!
Oldest House in Athens
The next sight on our 3-Day Athens Itinerary is the Benizelou Mansion, which stands as the oldest konaki house in the city. The 17th century house, which was typical of noble families during the Ottoman era, belonged to the aristocratic Benizelou family and features a stone ground floor, wooden upper level and a garden.
Visitors can wander the dwelling and there are signs in English to help explain the use of the rooms. The museum is technically free, but the staff instructs guests to make a donation before entering (the amount can be whatever you wish).
A historic street in the Plaka District that now serves as a commercial tourist zone, Adrianou Street itself has changed little in its nearly 2,500-year existence. Although it is lined with shops selling trinkets (and is a good place to pick up inexpensive souvenirs), it still has an ancient atmospheric feel to it.
Arch of Hadrian
Hadrian’s Arch – or Hadrian’s Gate – is a striking archway that stands along on the side of the busy Amalias Avenue. Built during the 2nd century, the marble arch is capped with a second level of Corinthian columns reaching 60 feet high.
There are two inscriptions on the arch. On the side facing the Acropolis, This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus, while the engraving on the opposite side reads, This is the City of Hadrian, and not of Theseus. It is believed that the Arch marked a separation of the city into old and new…or possibly meant to connect it as a whole.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
A project that took more than 600 years to complete, the Temple of Olympian Zeus was enormous. Completed in the 2nd century AD, the 104-column temple ranked as the largest temple in all of Greece…and housed one of the largest statues, too.
As impressive as it was, the temple did not stand the test of time. After falling to ruins, the remaining stones and pieces were picked over and repurposed. However, 16 original columns still stand (with a bit of help).
Visitors can view the archaeological remains from outside the gate or buy a ticket to enter the site. (We discuss Ancient Athens ticket options later in the article.)
Standing in a quiet garden, the round Chaoragic Monument of Lysicrates was erected in the 4th century BC to celebrate the winners of a musical contest and to showcase their trophy.
Unique at the time, the Lysicrates Monument is believed to be the first of its style – with the Corinthian order on the exterior. Since then, the architecture of the monument has been replicated for garden adornments and atop buildings around the world – for example, as the cupola on the Tennessee State Capitol building in Nashville.
The Anafiotika District is one of the most charming and interesting places to visit in Athens, Greece. The neighborhood is situated at the foothill of the northern side of Acropolis Hill.
When workers from the Cycladic Islands came to Athens in the 1800s to build the Royal Palace, they constructed homes in a style similar to their island residences.
Only about 50 of the small, cubic, whitewashed homes stand today, many of which are draped in bougainvillea that is so prevalent on the islands. Visitors are welcome to walk through the jumble of narrow, unnamed streets (but be respectful of the people who live there).
In addition to the architecture and the foliage, Anafiotika features some intriguing street art murals. When you need a respite from the intense Greek sun, find the small, shaded Ragava Olive Grove to relax and cool down.
Holy Church of the Holy Unmercenaries of Kolokynthis
One of our favorite hidden gems in Athens, the Kolokynthis Church (sometimes also called the Church of Agios Anagyros), is easy to miss. The church is concealed behind walls in between Anafiotika and the busy Plaka District and boasts a lush courtyard.
Dating to the 17th century, the church was originally a nunnery. If the doors are open, go inside; otherwise, enjoy a moment of silence on the benches in the garden (and refill your water bottle).
The stair-stepped Mniskleous Street in Plaka is one of the most picturesque places in Athens. Walking the Plaka stairs – and even stopping for a beverage and snack – is a must during your 3 days in Athens trip.
The long staircase descends from the northern side of Acropolis Hill – and is lined with cafes and restaurants that spill out onto the steps. Patrons squeeze into tight-fitting tables or grab a cushion to sit directly on the Plaka steps.
Roman Forum and the Tower of the Winds
The Roman Forum of Athens – or the Roman Agora – served as the city’s marketplace. Built in the 1st century BC at the direction of Julius Caesar and Augustus, the colonnaded market was a central gathering place – complete with public toilets.
The Tower of the Winds that stands on the east end of the Forum is 40 feet tall and dates to the year 50 BC. With a weathervane, water clock and sundials, it is believed to be the first meteorological station in the world.
Visitors can look down into the Roman Forum at various angles from the surrounding streets.
Ancient Agora of Athens
The Ancient Athens Agora – which pre-dates the Roman Agora by more than 500 years – was the center of the city – both politically, culturally and socially. Although only a smattering of what the Ancient Agora was can still be seen (the rest needs to be imagined), it is a fascinating archaeological site and one of the most important in Athens.
With a ticket, visitors can walk through the Athens Ancient Agora. The most impressive sights are the Temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalus, which dates to the 2nd century BC and was recently reconstructed to house the Museum of the Ancient Agora.
Library of Hadrian
Hadrian’s Library is another interesting ancient Athens sight. Built in the year 132 AD, the library housed old papyrus scrolls and even had reading and lecture rooms. The magnificent columned building was the largest library in the city.
Visitors can go inside to see the ruins – and the remains of three Christian churches that were built on the site (in the 5th, 7th, and 12th centuries) – with a ticket.
Pro Tip: We discuss options for tickets to enter all Athens Ancient Sights later in the article.
Monastiraki Square and Flea Market
The crowded and sometimes chaotic Monastiraki Square has long been a meeting place for Athenians. A rather small square, Monastiraki is mostly ringed by concrete buildings and restaurants, yet it is home to two Athens attractions: a mosque and a church.
The Tzistarakis Mosque, built in 1759 and now housing the Museum of Modern Greek Culture, is the most prominent building on Monastiraki and is perched up next to Hadrian’s Library. The often-overlooked Holy Church of the Virgin Mary Pantanassa was originally part of a larger monastery, but now stands alone on the north end of the square.
A narrow street on the west side of the square leads to the Monastiraki Flea Market. Shops packed with an array of antiques and souvenir trinkets line the main and side streets. Work your way down to the west end of the street for the most authentic, random and bizarre items.
Lunch at Kostas Souvlaki
You are, no doubt, getting hungry – but skip the restaurants on Monastiraki Square (unless you simply can’t resist the heavenly scent of sizzling meat at O Thanasis) and make your way to Kostas Souvlaki (not to be confused with the similarly named Souvlaki Kostas). You may have to wait in line, but – trust us – it’s worth it!
At Kostas Souvlaki they serve up phenomenal pork and beef pitas. The meat is perfectly spiced, but what makes it unique is the rich tomato sauce. The delicious and filling pitas are one of the cheap eats in Athens, as they only cost about 3 euros each.
If you are craving a sweet treat after the salty lunch, seek out Kokkion Ice Cream Shop, where they excel at producing unique flavors using quality ingredients. (My favorite is the pistachio!)
National Garden and Presidential Palace
The National Garden is a lush respite in nature during your 3-Day Athens Travel Plan. The 38-acre park was created as the Royal Garden and has an array of flora and fauna. The free park is open from 6am to 7pm and features flower beds, fountains, ponds with turtles and intertwining paths.
The yellow Zappeion Hall on the south end of the gardens was built in 1878 – and served as the Olympic Village for the 1896 Summer Olympic Games in Athens.
To the east of the National Garden is the Presidential Palace (also called the Presidential Mansion), where the president of Greece resides. Evzones soldiers stand guard outside the mansion – and while the hourly Changing of the Guard at the palace is not as extravagant as the one at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, there are far fewer crowds.
Built entirely of marble (and also called Kallimarmaro, which means Beautiful Marble), the 2nd century Panathenaic Stadium is an incredible sight to see during your 3 days in Athens.
The impressive venue was renovated for the first modern Olympics in 1896 – and used again at the 2004 Olympics for the archery competitions. The Athens Classic Marathon also uses Kallimarmaro as the finish line for its annual event.
Visitors can go inside the stadium (ticket required) and use the provided audio guide to learn about the history. Guests are permitted to run on the track, stand on the podium and sit in the stands.
Alternatively, you can walk around the east side of the stadium and climb Ardittos Hill. The perspective of the stadium from above is quite astounding, and you can also catch yet another Acropolis view!
First Cemetery of Athens
The First Cemetery of Athens is not necessarily a must-see for your Athens 3 Days Itinerary, but, along with the Mets neighborhood just to the north, is well worth visiting if you have the time.
A burial place since 1837, many prominent Greeks are interred at this cemetery – and most of the graves are marked with elaborate headstones and poignant memorials. The grounds feature cypress and pine trees that make the space feel park-like and there are three churches located on site.
Pangrati District for Dinner and Drinks
Hip and cool, yet still unpretentious, Pangrati is a fantastic district to end your second day in Athens, Greece. Long attracting intellectuals and the creative crowd, Pangrati hosts a number of chic cafes and fun restaurants that clutter around buzzing squares and hide down quaint lanes.
Grab a seat and a drink at Chelsea Hotel and watch the local residents come and go or head to Varnava Café on the same named Square, which is lively day and night. Craft beer enthusiasts should stop by Tap 27 Athens for locally-produced Greek beer or get a taste of regional wines at Cava Elector Pangrati.
For a casual dinner, order juicy and tender souvlaki meat sticks at Elvis, a neighborhood institution decorated with loads of Elvis Presley memorabilia. Otherwise, for a sit-down meal, venture a little further east to Gnision Kebaptzidikon for a scrumptious feast of Greek-style tapas (called Meze) – or go all in with one of their signature egg-and-meat dishes served in a copper pot!
DAY 3 of your Athens 3 Days Itinerary
On the last day of your Three Days in Athens Itinerary, take in the views from the city’s highest point, feel the pulse at the local market, and dive deeper into the history of Greece at the Archaeological Museum. Then finish your Athens vacation wandering through the artistic and entertaining Psyri District in the evening.
Climb Lycabettus Hill
Marking the highest point in Athens at 900 feet above sea level, Lycabettus Hill offers the best view of Athens and Acropolis Hill from above. The two best ways to get to the summit is by hiking up via the stairs and switchbacks or hopping on the Lycabettus Cable Car for a quick 3-minute, underground ride ending at the hilltop restaurant.
Once you get to the summit, visitors can savor the views that extend beyond the Saronic Gulf to the Aegean Sea. The small Church of St. George, which dates to 1870, shares the platform at the peak of Lycabettus Hill and guests are free to enter.
Athens Central Market
The next stop on your Athens Travel Itinerary is the vibrant and bustling Varvakios Central Athens Market. Still a place where many locals do their daily shopping, the Central Market in Athens is loud, gritty and raw – and it allows tourists a small glimpse into real life Athens.
Inside the market, butchers use blocks in front of their shops to chop up meat and an array of fish are displayed on ice (some still wriggling). The floor is slippery…and the stench can be intense. A few timeless restaurants and pop-up grills are found inside the market and can be fun just for the people watching.
Outside the market hall is a bit more tame. Vendors sell spices from burlap sacks, olives from overflowing tubs and in-season produce piled high on tables. Venture a little further out and you will find lanes lined with antique shops.
Lunch at Karamanlidika
An atmospheric deli and restaurant, Karamanlidika is a family business that has been operating since the 1960s. Specializing in Greek delicatessen products, they offer charcuterie, as well as regional specialties and fish – all at fair prices.
For lunch on the last day of your 3 days in Athens, Greece, we recommend ordering the selection of meats and cheeses…and maybe a glass of local Greek wine, too!
Loukoumades at Krinos
Anyone spending 3 days in Athens, Greece should eat at least one loukoumade! Traditional Greek donuts, Loukoumades are bite-sized rings of fried dough, sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with honey – and can be eaten any time of day.
At Krinos pastry shop, they have been doling out handmade loukoumades since 1923. Simple and satisfying, the loukoumades at Krinos hit the spot!
National Archaeological Museum Athens
Boasting the most robust collection of Greek Antiquity artifacts in the world, the National Archaeological Museum can be a fascinating place to visit during your Athens 3-day trip. The collection consists of prehistoric objects, sculptures, vases, frescos and Egyptian art.
The museum is located in the Exarchia District north of the city center. The neoclassical building dates to the late 1800s, but it does have air conditioning, so it’s a great Athens activity on hot afternoons. A ticket is required to enter the museum and visitors can easily spend 4 hours looking at the displays.
The Exarcheia neighborhood is one of Athens’ most interesting places to visit. With a reputation of attracting anarchists, radicals, rebels, activists and counter culturists, Exarchia is edgy…and it’s not for everyone.
That said, there are many reasons why visitors might want to visit Exarchia. The neighborhood is highlighted by independently owned businesses, record stores and second-hand shops. The old school café scene is as strong as the ouzo and the street art murals are there to tell a story and make a point.
Visitors can stroll down Kallidromiou Street, haggle over prices at the Saturday farmers’ market, and walk through the National Technical University of Athens campus. Then sip a Greek coffee at Panellinion while watching locals play chess or simply continue wandering in search of Athens graffiti art.
Quirky and fun, the Athens Psyri Distict (also spelled Psyrri, Psiri and Psirri) is a hub of entertaining nightlife, boutique shops, art galleries and street art. Psyri is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city – and the district still bears traces to an older version of Athens.
At the center of the appealing enclave is Heroes Square (or, Iroon Square). Laden with outdoor tables from the restaurants that ring the square, it’s the best place for a pie (Bougatsadiko Psirri), a pint of craft beer (Beertime, don’t miss their happy hour!) or a delectable dessert (Nancy’s Sweet Home).
Visitors can also get a simple sugar fix at the traditional Ta Serbetia or gawk at the over-the-top Little Kook, an abundantly decorated, whimsical sweet shop that looks like something out a fairytale (or a nightmare, depending on how you feel about kitsch cafes).
Dinner and Drinks
Stick around Psyri for dinner and dine at Mavros Gatos. Casual and cozy, Marvos Gatos offers a menu of traditional (yet unique) meze appetizers for sharing. Top picks are the Kolokithokeftedes (fried zucchini balls), Strapatsada (scrambled eggs in tomato sauce) and Eggplant Caviar.
After dinner, bid farewell to the City of Athens from one of the rooftops overlooking the Acropolis. A for Athens, Attic Urban Rooftop, MS Roof Garden and 360 Cocktail Bar are all good choices – but make reservations in advance if you want a table with a view!
More Ideas for your 3 Day Athens, Greece Itinerary
We outlined our top tips for 3 perfect days in Athens, but we have a few additional suggestions for travelers looking for more ideas.
Joining one of the tours in Athens, Greece can be a fun way learn about the city – plus you get to meet fellow travelers!
Athens Food Tour
Food tours in Athens are fabulous! Not only do participants get to feast at the best eateries, but they get a personal introduction to the local cuisine and culture. On this highly rated Athens walking tour with food, visitors sample more than 10 different traditional Greek dishes at some of the best restaurants. Get the details!
Bike Tour in Athens
With a bike (or e-bike), visitors can cover a lot more ground in a short amount of time. On this very popular Athens Bike Tour, a guide leads the way to ancient ruins, hot spots and a few lesser-known streets, as well. The local guide shares history and insight – making it a great introduction to Athens. Find out more!
Athens Day Trips
Visitors who want to see more of the region can join an organized tour that explores beyond Athens. We are highlighting a few of the top-rated day trips in Athens that you might want to include in your 3 Days Athens, Greece Itinerary.
Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon Half Day Tour
Set off on a scenic journey along the coast to one of the most interesting ruins near Athens: the Temple of Poseidon. Dedicated to the God of the Sea, the temple dates to the 5th century BC – and a guide is on hand to provide information about the site. Reserve your space!
3 Island Tour Athens
Greece is known for its islands – and Athens’ visitors can see three in a single day. There are two popular routes: Agistri, Moni and Aegina OR Hydra, Poros and Aegina.
On the 3 Island Day Cruise Athens to Agistri, Moni and Aegina, visitors are treated to on-board snacks and a traditional lunch – plus, there is time for swimming. Find out more!
On the 3 Island Day Trip from Athens to Hydra, Poros and Aegina, travelers get to experience the incredible island of Hydra (one of our favorites) – as well as the port town of Poros and visit the ruins at Aegina. Book it here!
Pro Tip: Visitors can also plan their own day trip from Athens to Hydra using the fast ferry. Read our tips for what to see and do in Hydra to plan your best time!
An engaging archaeological site, Delphi was an important region in the 6th century BC. Thought to have been the center of the world, Delphi exuded power over politics and influence over religion. The knowledgeable guide shares stories, myths and information during the trip and at the site. Get the details!
More Athens Museums
In our outline of What To Do for 3 Days in Athens, Greece, we featured some of the city’s best museums. However, there are a few more museums that fellow travelers might want to include in their trip plan.
A magnificent collection of Greek artwork and artifacts, the Benaki Museum features displays that tell the story of Greek culture. There is a fee to enter the museum, but it is free on Thursday evenings.
National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
The National Museum of Contemporary Art – or the EMST – is housed in the former FIX brewery building in the heart of the city. The modern artwork is representative of current issues, such as politics and nationalism (and there is a pretty cool rooftop, too). A ticket is required.
Athens War Museum
It can sometimes be difficult to completely understand the history of Greece – but the War Museum in Athens helps to sort it out. The museum exhibits a chronological timeline of Greece, with the help of maps, weaponry and artifacts relating to war. There is a small fee to enter.
Public Tobacco Factory
An off-the-beaten-path museum dedicated to modern art, the Lenorman Street Tobacco Factory features a rotating collection of artworks – and it’s free!
Map of Athens Things To Do
Use this link to Google Maps for an interactive version of our Athens Map of attractions.
The sights are color-coded to our 3 Days in Athens Itinerary. Day 1=Green; Day 2=Blue; Day 3=Purple.
How Many Days for Athens, Greece?
We’ve shared our advice for what to do in Athens for 3 days – but what if you are still on the fence about how many days to spend in Athens, Greece? Or, perhaps you are planning a shorter or longer trip to Athens. Don’t fret. Check out our sample Athens Itineraries for 1 day to 1 week!
1 Day Athens Itinerary
Travelers limited to just 1 day in Athens will need a good travel plan. Although having just 24 hours in Athens does not allow a lot of time to see the sights, it is possible to squeeze in quite a few attractions.
Tourists who are most interested in ancient Athens and the Acropolis could create an easy 1 Day Itinerary Athens, Greece by simply sticking to our outline for Day 1 in our above 3-Day Athens Trip Plan.
However, travelers who want a more diverse plan for what to see in Athens in one day could combine the sights from Days 1 and 2. For example, an ideal One Day in Athens Itinerary starts with a walking tour in the morning (as we outline for the morning of Day 2). Then, in the afternoon, join a local expert on a guided tour of the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum.
Hike up Filopappou Hill in the early evening for Acropolis views and then enjoy dinner in Plaka at a traditional Greek restaurant.
36 Hours Athens Itinerary
With 36 hours in Athens, travelers have a bit more time to see the sights and attractions.
We recommend following the condensed trip plan for sightseeing Athens in One Day (directly above) and then spending the following morning at the Central Market and exploring Psyri District.
Athens Itinerary 2 Days
Travelers spending a weekend in Athens, Greece can plan to leisurely see the city – or pack as much into 2 days in Athens as possible.
For a relaxed sightseeing pace, the best 2-Day Itinerary for Athens is to simply follow Days 1 and 2 OR Days 1 and 3 of our outlined Athens 3-Day Itinerary.
However, travelers who want to squeeze a bit more sightseeing into their two days in Athens can condense our 3-day plan into a mere 48 hours. Follow our tips for 36 hours in Athens and, in the afternoon, go to the top of Lycabettus Hill, wander through the National Gardens, and visit the Panathenaic Stadium. Then end your evening with dinner in Pangrati.
Athens 4 Day Itinerary
Travelers who have 4 days in Athens have ample time to see the highlights, and even some regional exploration.
Athens 5 Day Itinerary
With 5 Days in Athens, Greece, we recommend that travelers follow our advice for the above 4-Day Athens Itinerary and on the final day, join a tour in the morning (like the Food Tour) and then visit a museum in the afternoon, like Benaki Museum.
Athens 6 Day Itinerary
We think spending 6 Days in Athens is great – because there is still so much to see and do! Start with our 5-day trip plan and then on the sixth day, set sail on a full day trip to the islands.
Athens One Week Itinerary
With 7 days in Athens travelers can really get acquainted with the city. Use our above tips for what to do in Athens in 6 days – then on the last day, see any sights that you skipped along the way or revisit a favorite neighborhood.
Athens and Santorini Itinerary
Santorini Island is one of the most popular Greek islands to visit – and it can easily be combined with a trip to Athens. Santorini is well-connected to mainland Greece in the summer, with options for both flights and ferries.
So, the next question is, How many days in Athens and Santorini? We think spending three full days in each destination is ideal.
Top Tip: Use our guide for top tips about What To See, Do and Eat in Santorini!
Travel Tips for your Athens, Greece Trip
Now that we have thoroughly covered what to see and do in Athens, we have some travel tips that will help when planning your trip.
3 Days in Athens: What To Do for Tickets and Passes
One of the biggest concerns when planning a trip to Athens, Greece is deciding which tickets to buy for the major sights. We our outlining the top options.
Acropolis Only, No Tour
Travelers who only want to visit the Acropolis, without a tour, can buy a single-entry ticket to the archaeological site. It is best to buy the ticket in advance online – as the line to buy tickets in person gets extremely long. That said, you may still need to wait in line to enter the Acropolis (even if you buy tickets that say Skip the Line – as you are skipping the ticket line not the entry line).
The entry line tends to be the shortest at the South Slope Gate (not the Main Gate). Morning and late afternoon tend to be the least crowded.
Tickets are available from the official website; you must choose an entrance time (hourly) and they are not refundable.
Alternatively, visitors can also purchase refundable tickets online via Get Your Guide. These tickets are refundable up to 24hrs before your entry time and include 2 audio tours.
Guided Acropolis Tour
Letting a guide lead the way through the ancient Acropolis complex helps to make sense of what you are seeing. We recommend joining a tour with a local guide that has ample experience – like this one!
Combo Ticket for Acropolis and Museum with Guided Tour
An excellent way to get an introduction to the ancient sights of Athens is to let a professional guide you through the top attractions – including both the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. This guided tour in particular gets rave reviews!
Multi-Day Pass to Multiple Ancient Sights
There are a multitude of ancient ruins in Athens – and most are secured archaeological sites that require tickets to enter. Tickets to individual sites are available at the gates, but visitors can purchase a single Athens sightseeing pass that covers multiple attractions.
The ancient sights included in the multi-day Athens pass are the Acropolis and Slopes, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Kerameikos archaeological site and Aristotle’s School Lykeion.
The sightseeing pass for Athens is valid for 5 consecutive days – and only costs slightly more than the entry ticket to the Acropolis alone.
That said, these sights are visible through the fences that surround them or from the Acropolis itself. Therefore, you will need to determine if you want to spend time during your 3 days in Athens to enter the attractions…or simply see them from the perimeter.
When To Go to Athens
Although many travelers think of Greece as a summer destination, there are pros and cons to visiting in each season.
Summer in Athens
Visiting Athens in summer typically works well into other travel plans (especially for travelers headed to the islands). However, summers in Athens are scorching hot and over crowded. Plus, costs for hotels are highest in the summer season.
Visiting Athens in Autumn
While it tends to stay hot in Athens right through the autumn season, there are far fewer visitors in the fall. Prices tend to relax as well.
Tour Athens in Winter
Winter can be a great time to go to Athens, Greece! The city is void of most tourists, so entering sights is no problem (plus, some sights even offer discounted admission during the winter months). The weather is fairly mild, although mornings and evenings can be particularly chilly (but it rarely snows).
Go To Athens in Spring
We think that spring is the best time to visit Athens, Greece! The days are long, the weather tends to be sunny (but not hot) and the locals are rested and ready for tourists to arrive.
How To Get To Athens
Athens can be reached by plane, boat, train, bus or car. That said, most travelers will arrive in Athens by plane.
Athens International Airport
The Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (ATH) is the largest airport in Greece. While many of the airlines that fly to Athens do so seasonally (especially flights from the US to Athens), it is well-connected to other major European gateways year-round. Flights to Athens, Greece can be expensive, so before booking your tickets on Skyscanner, be sure to read our Tips for Finding the Best Cheap Flights.
Athens Airport to Athens
Visitors can get to Athens city center from the Athens Airport by Taxi, Metro or Bus.
Taxi to Athens from Athens Airport
It costs around $40 to $60 to take a cab, depending on where your hotel is located. We didn’t have great luck using Uber (we arrived late the day before Orthodox Easter) and FreeNow was better for trips around Athens.
Visitors to Athens can also book their transport ahead of time to be certain that a car will be waiting on arrival to the airport. This Athens car service has fair prices and gets top reviews.
Metro and Bus from Athens Airport to City Center
The Athens Metro Blue Line #3 connects the airport to the city. It takes 40 minutes to get from the airport to Syntagma Square and trains depart every 30 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the station. There is a 3-Day Athens Tourist Ticket that is valid on the metro, buses and trams – and includes a roundtrip ticket on the metro to and from the airport.
The bus from Athens Airport to city center costs less than the Metro, but it takes about 20 minutes longer. That said, it can be useful if your hotel is on (or near) the bus route vs. a metro stop.
Car Rental in Athens, Greece
As we previously mentioned, a car is not necessary in Athens. However, travelers who are exploring beyond Athens will find many places to rent a car, including at the airport. Before booking a car rental, however, use our Tips for Finding the Best Car Rental Rates.
Where To Stay in Athens, Greece
If you are spending 3 nights in Athens, Greece, then you will need a place to stay! There are ample accommodation options in Athens – from luxury hotels to basic hostels.
On a short 3-day Athens vacation, we think the best place to stay is in a hotel in the city center. We are highlighting a few of the top picks of the best hotels in Athens, Greece.
Grande Bretagne Hotel Athens
The ultimate luxury hotel in Athens, Greece, Grande Bretagne is an absolutely gorgeous property. Featuring elegant furnishings, superb staff and a rooftop pool overlooking the Acropolis, the hotel sits right on Syntagma Square. Check out the rooms!
A for Athens Hotel
Situated above Monastiraki Square – and offering some rooms with mesmerizing views of the Acropolis – A for Athens consistently gets top ratings for location, cleanliness and comfort. Check rates and availability for your stay!
An affordable hotel in Athens that offers great value for money, Phaedra Hotel is located in the Plaka District. The rooms are on the small side (and some rooms have external private bathrooms), but the highlight of the hotel is the rooftop Acropolis view. Check the affordable rates!
Athens Hub Hostel
Situated in the Psyri District, the Athens Hub Hostel is modern and hip. They offer both mixed- and same-gender dorm beds at affordable prices and gets high marks for cleanliness. Book it here!
What To Pack for 3 Days in Athens, Greece
Our final travel tips for Athens are all about what to pack! We have a few Athens-specific tips, but you can find all of our advice in our Travel Packing Tips page. Need a checklist? Grab a FREE Packing Checklist here!
Athens Travel Shoes
A good pair of comfortable shoes is necessary for sightseeing Athens in three days! With uneven pavement, slick surfaces and many hills, it is imperative to pack shoes with good soles. I like to sightsee in lightweight sneakers and Kris prefers these trail shoes.
We highlight all the best features of travel shoes in our article, The Best Shoes for Traveling.
Greece Travel Camera
The ancient sights in Athens are stunning, which is why you may want to upgrade to a real camera for your trip to Greece.
On our travels, we use a Canon Rebel with an 18-135mm lens. Not only does it take quality photos, but it is easy to use and is sold at an affordable price. In our opinion, it is still one of the best budget travel cameras out there.
Zippered Day Pack
Pickpocketing can be a problem in Athens. To help keep thieves from snatching your property, it is best to keep your valuables tucked away in hidden pockets. We use small backpacks and carried them on our chests, rather than backs, in the most crowded parts of Athens.
Travelon also makes a great line of anti-theft bags that are designed specifically for travelers.
Read more of our advice about the Best Day Bags for Traveling to help you find the perfect day pack for your trip to Athens.
The sun in Athens is intense…and most of the ancient ruins have little or no shade. Plus, sunscreen in Athens is extremely expensive. Therefore, it is best to pack your own sunscreen in your backpack or suitcase.
Travel Documents for Greece
Of course, you will want to make sure you have all of the proper travel documents for your trip – including your passport, plane tickets, hotel information and your travel planner. Keep everything orderly in a Document Organizer.
Greece Trip Insurance
Travel insurance may cover all sorts of travel inconveniences – from lost luggage to getting injured or sick while abroad. If you don’t already have insurance for your trip, check the rates and coverage at World Nomads.
We Want To Know: How would you plan three perfect days in Athens? Give us your tips and recommendations in the comments!
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