One Day in Athens - Acropolis from above

What to see in Athens in one day?

Is one day in Athens enough?

Yes, it is! As with any major European capital, you can easily spend 2 or 3 days in Athens, but if you have just one day, don’t worry. You can see all the major attractions in Athens in one day. And if you prefer, you can book a guided tour of the Acropolis.

I have some recommendations for the best tours in Athens below, too.

Many visitors stop in Athens for one day as they are heading to the Greek islands (can’t blame them – they are epic) and of course, there are those who visit Athens in one day on a cruise ship.

Of course, if you have more time, don’t miss our Greece in two weeks for any budget guide. So let’s get started.

One Day in Athens Itinerary - Parthenon
Athens in One Day Itinerary – Parthenon is the main highlight of Acropolis

Places to visit in Athens in one day – The Perfect Itinerary

This itinerary focuses on the main attractions in Athens, with some time to enjoy the tasty Greek food and perhaps pick up some souvenirs. Finish your day with a delicious dinner, rooftop bar and maybe check out Athens at night. And if you want to hang out with locals, go to one of the outdoor cinemas.

I have added some ideas on timings so you can plan your day better. With one day, I recommend getting up early and if your hotel doesn’t include breakfast, ask for the closest bakery to grab delicious greek pies with coffee, maybe try Freddo cappuccino – a local iced Greek coffee.

1. Acropolis

We are staring with a bang. If there is one site you should not miss during your visit to Athens, then it is the Acropolis. 

Book your tickets online the day before so when the entrance opens at 8 am, you are the first one in. Trust me, it is amazing to see before the groups of tourists arrive.

HOT TIP for tickets for the Acropolis: You can book a single entry online here (20 Euro in summer, 10 Euro in winter). So make sure you book your ticket beforehand so you don’t have to wait in line at the entrance.

You might want to buy the Multi-site ticket for 30 Euro which includes: Temple of Zeus, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Keramikos Cemetery and Lyceum of Aristotle. I actually think the best way to spend the extra money is to book a guided tour of the Acropolis and then walk to the Temple of Zeus, Agora and Hadrians Library and decide if you wish to go in (these sites can be seen from the outside so you can decide if it’s worth it).

IMPORTANT: Use the Southern Entrance to enter the Acropolis complex rather than the main entrance. It’s less crowded and you will walk through Dionysus Sanctuary and visit the Dionysus Theatre on the way to the top.

Athens in One Day - Dionysus Theatre
Athens in One Day – Dionysus Theatre can be seen when you enter through the Southern Entrance to Acropolis

Please note: Entrance is free for Young European citizens up to 25 years old (with current identification to prove age and nationality) all year round and a few others (check online).

The true symbol of Greece, the Acropolis dates to the 5th century and essentially it is an ancient complex comprised of several temples, the most famous of them is the Parthenon, dedicated to the Goddess Athena.

There are 2 options to enjoy Acropolis more in-depth:

  • Buy an Ebook on Athens so you get some background information. If you visit the Acropolis independently, you will probably spend 1 hour to 1.5 hours up here.
  • Book a guided tour! Here are 3 recommendations:

If you love history then the Acropolis Museum near the Southern entrance can be worth a visit. Entrance is $10, which is not included in the multi-site combo ticket. There is a lot of information here and it houses more than 3000 artefacts, most importantly the Caryatid Statues.

Something to consider if you are in Athens on a very hot summer day, you might want to visit the Acropolis early and then learn more about it in the museum. 

Alternatively, this ticket gains you entrance to both the Acropolis and the Museum.

2. Temple of Olympian Zeus & Hadrian Arch 

After seeing the Acropolis, walk toward the Temple of Olympic Zeus and Hadrian Arch, along the pedestrian street of Dionysius Areopagitou.

Both sites are only 10 minutes walk and are must-see sights during your one day in Athens. The Temple of Olympian Zeus was the largest in Athens and it took 7 centuries to build.

Athens in One Day - Temple of Olympian Zeus
Athens in One Day – Temple of Olympian Zeus

You will probably spend 30 minutes admiring the Temple of Olympic Zeus and Hadrian Arch. If you don’t have a combo ticket, the entrance is 8 Euro.

Athens in One Day Itinerary - Hadrians Arch
Athens in One Day Itinerary – Hadrians Arch

From here it is not far to walk towards Panathenaic Stadium. The stadium was originally built in the 4th century BC and restored for the first modern Olympic games in 1896.

But you will most like be hungry for lunch, so it’s up to you if you wish to add this detour.

Otherwise, it’s time to explore Plaka and have lunch. There is a lot of walking today as part of your Athens in one day, so keep hydrated and keep the energy up with enough food. 

3. Plaka and lunch

Ok, I admit it. Plaka is filled with tourists, cheap souvenirs and sometimes it can be just all too much, especially during the summer heat. But since seeing all the main sights when visiting Athens in one day are close to Plaka, it means you will definitely pass through and it’s worth it. 

Plaka is the old historical neighbourhood of Athens, clustered around the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, and incorporating labyrinthine streets with plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops. Plaka is built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens. It is known as the “Neighbourhood of the Gods” due to its proximity to the Acropolis and its many archaeological sites. 

Athens in One Day Itinerary - Walking through Plaka
Athens in One Day Itinerary- Walking through Plaka

Where to Eat in Plaka?

Despite the tourists, Plaka does have great vibes. Of course, you can get something simpler for lunch, but if you feel like sitting down for a meal we recommend Psaras Taverna. Expect around 10-15 Euros for the main meal.

You might also eat at Taverna Saita for classic Greek food or Scholarchio for tapas-style Greek food. Since you have only one day in Athens, eat as much Greek food as you can.

Athens in One Day Itinerary - Psaras Taverna
One Day in Athens – Psaras Taverna is a good option for lunch in Plaka

4. Ancient Agora and Roman Agora & Library of Hadrian

Refuelled after lunch we continue to Agora. Explore ancient Agora first and learn more about the way Ancient Grees used to live. 

This is the heart of ancient Athens’ civic life and the birthplace of democracy and you can brush up on the most important Greek thinkers: Socrates, Pluto and Aristoteles.

The multi-entry ticket includes entry to all three sites.

From here take a short walk towards Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι)

Athens in one day - Monastiraki
Athens in one day – Monastiraki has a flea market on Sunday

5. Walk through the Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι) 

The Monastiraki neighbourhood is known for its shopping vibes and on Sunday it turns into a flea market.

There is also a traditional restaurant called Bairaktaris if you haven’t had lunch in Plaka, this is a good option. 

One day in Athens - Bairaktaris Tavern
One day in Athens – Bairaktaris Tavern is famous for its souvlaki and gyros

Otherwise, stop at Dope Cafe for some strong coffee and a little sweet pick up. 

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6. Athens Central Market

After all the sightseeing and history, it is time to explore the main central market where Athenians come to shop for their produce. The central Athens food market occupies a large block between Athinas, Sofokleous, Euripidou and Aiolou Streets.

There are a few special places to look out for:  Karayiannis is a great spot for meze—the Greek version of tapas (try marinated anchovies, smoked mackerel).  On Athinas Street is Mokka, a historic coffee specialist and roastery housed in this 19th-century building since 1922. Try some of their speciality coffees.

The fresh meat section is a bit overwhelming with the smell, so you might prefer to skip this part and at least have a look at the fish market – prawns, squid and all the types of fish you might find in Greek restaurants are sold here daily, as fresh as possible.

One Day in Athens - Central Market
One Day in Athens – Central Market is busy on any day. Have a look at the fresh fish market while here

A part of the market was being renovated in March 2022 to be hopefully open soon – it will most likely host the vegetable and fruit market. Some shops close at 3 pm, others are open until 6 pm. The market is closed on Sunday.

From here take a stroll to Syntagma Square.

7. Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square is the main square in Athens and another must-see place on your Athens in one day itinerary. The Greek parliament is located here, but most visitors come here to see the Changing of the Guards knowns as Evzones.

Every hour on the hour two Evzones Guards go off duty and two new guards go on duty. The changing of the Guards is very elaborate on Sunday at 11 am, so if you happen to be in Athens on Sunday it’s worth coming here.

 The Evzones guard both the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which remembers the thousands of Greek soldiers who were killed in the war and the Parliament building. They stand still for the hour, only to break out into an eccentric marching kicking their legs in slow motion high as possible.

Athens in one day - Changing of the guards
Athens in one day – Changing of the guards

That concludes your one day in Athens and you might feel like a quick shower and refresh at the hotel before heading out for the evening. 

8. Evening in Athens – Cinema under the stars 

Another great way to enjoy the evening in Athens is to go to one of the open-air cinemas. Relax in a chair and enjoy a movie with some snacks and drinks,s

  • Cine Thisionis – it’s considered to be Europe’s most beautiful open-air cinema. 6 to 8 Euros per ticket.
  • Cine Dexameni – On Wednesdays, Dexameni offers two tickets for the price of one.
  • Cine Paris – Warm cheese pies and view of the Acropolis.

9. Enjoy a Drink at a Rooftop Bar

Evenings in Athens are special. Especially in summer when the days are long, is the perfect time to head to one of the many rooftop bars and enjoy the sunset with a drink. 

Check out 360 Cocktail Bar, Skyfall Cocktail and Food Bar or Thea Terrace Bar offering magnificent views over the city centre and the Acropolis.

I also wrote detailed itineraries on Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich and Bratislava. So check it out.

Where to stay in Athens

Athens has a great range of accommodations that will suit every budget. I have stayed in Athens a few times over the years, everything from nice hotels, Airbnb to the budget ones in different areas.

Since this article focuses on Athens in one day, I assume you might be staying only two nights. In this case, staying near the Plaka area or Syntagma Square would be the best, you can walk to all the main sights. 

If you are after a hipster area with some boutiques and designer shops stay in Koukaki.

But as Athens has a very efficient and cheap metro system (and taxis at night should you need them), and if you are on a budget, you might choose one of the simple hotels near Metaxourgeio station. This was a working-class area that had seen many immigrants settle here, so it might have a different feel to Plaka or Syntagma. 🙂

Here are some recommendations:

Where to Stay in Syntagma Square:

Budget: Hotel Byron– Prime location in Plaka very near Syntagma Square. Breakfast is served on the rooftop garden with amazing views over the Acropolis.  The rooms are small, but this hotel has everything you need.

Mid-Range: Enattica Suites – Located in the heart of Athens. Fantastic room facilities and generous size. Close to some great cafes and restaurants an excellent mid-range hotel.

Luxury: Athens Mansion Luxury Suites – Perfect location in the centre of Athens City district, all rooms at this lovely property offer city views. The breakfast here is superb; don’t miss it! A top choice for a very comfortable stay to see Athens in one day.



Where to Stay in Plaka

Budget: Metropolis Hotel – This small and friendly hotel is located in the Plaka district of Athens. Enjoy the rooftop terrace with fantastic views over the Acropolis.

Mid-Range: Contemporary Apartments in Plaka – Spacious, clean, and quiet rooms, these apartments are popular. Situated in the heart of Plaka and close to the best restaurants, bars, and cafes – the location is unbeatable.

Luxury: Electra Palace Athens – A wonderful location in the heart of Plaka district – the views of the Acropolis from this hotel is magnificent. A superb buffet breakfast is included in the rate and an on-site restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine. Highly recommended.


And that’s it. One day in Athens might be all you need to see all the main highlights of this ancient city, taste some Greek food, and enjoy the sunset. 

Travel Tips for Europe

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Perhaps you’re travelling on a budget? These 10 Cheapest Countries to visit in Europe may be just the tool you need to start planning an epic trip. But, know these 8 Things To Know About Travelling to Eastern Europe before you go, and these are 7 Misconceptions about Eastern Europe that every traveller should know.

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