A city that embodies ancient history, while still boasting a contemporary vibe, Athens is truly a unique destination. When in Greece, many travelers make Athens their first stop on the way to the dazzling Greek islands. But Athens is is a destination in its own right – well worth a longer visit. If you have some time to spare, consider spending at least 2 days in Athens to really immerse yourself in the city’s ancient past and modern cosmopolitan scene.
Start your morning with a shot of delicious Greek coffee and local pastries to fuel you for the day ahead. Then, head to the Acropolis, where you’ll find the majority of Athens’ most iconic historical landmarks. While you can explore this site on your own, booking a guided tour will only enrich your experience – with information on the historical relevance of each temple and ruin. Don’t miss the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Propylaea.
For lunch, head to the charming neighborhood of Plaka, at the foot of the Acropolis hill. Here, you’ll find plenty of delightful cafes and eateries serving up some of the best Greek cuisine. For a typical Greek lunch, start with a fresh Horiatiki (village) salad and finish with some delicious baklava. Afterwards, take a stroll through picturesque streets and pop into some of the quirky stores on Adrianou street for hand-crafted souvenirs to bring back home. With your batteries recharged, continue your historical tour of the city. Visit the magnificent Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. Then, head to the Acropolis museum for a quick coffee break in the museum cafe and a tour of some of Athens’ most fascinating ruins and artifacts.
In Athens, great food is easy to find! Near the Acropolis, head into Mani Mani, an elegant restaurant serving tasty dishes from the Mani region in the Peloponnese. If you feel like experiencing some of Athens’ nightlife, you’ll have plenty of options here. Stroll down the pedestrian street of Iraklidon and pop into the first bar or café that grabs your attention. Or head back to the Plaka neighborhood for a drink at Brettos and some music at Stamatopoulos.
After another shot of Greek coffee, head straight into the heart of the city – Syntagma Square. For an insider’s guide to Greek cuisine, join an Athens Food Tour. Or head down the street to check out the Benaki Museum, which displays an extensive overview of Greek history and culture from the Bronze Age to World War II.
For lunch, the Benaki Museum Café offers delicious Greek food with a stunning view of the National Gardens and the Acropolis. However, if you prefer a change of scene, head to Kalamaki Kolonaki. This excellent souvlaki joint serves some of the best kalamaki (skewer) alongside pita chips and Greek salad. After lunch, treat yourself to some serious retail therapy in Kolonaki’s high-end shops. The Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine and Christian Museum are right around the corner – both offer incredible insight into Greece’s cultural heritage. Or take a guided tour to admire the fascinating street art! Just before sundown, climb or take the funicular up to Mount Lycabettus to enjoy a sweeping view of the city at sunset.
For dinner, you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu at Filippou. Established in 1923, this Greek eatery is practically a historical landmark in itself, serving up some hearty dishes typical of Greek cuisine. Say farewell to the city with a cocktail at one of the many excellent bars in downtown Athens such as Baba au rum and Exarhia. The perfect way to finish your 2 days in Athens! And after exploring this incredible city from top to bottom, hop on the train to discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora!