Classic city tours usually make a beeline for the Acropolis, which is the most-visited site of ancient Greece. This famous hill sits in the center of Athens, having kept watch over the capital for centuries. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts views that stretch for miles.
The highlight of these popular Athens tours is the Parthenon temple, which is dedicated to the goddess Athena. Built in the 5th century, this dramatic religious site is resplendent with its towering columns. Don’t miss the early Ionic Temple of Athena Nike either, which looks more like a fortress than a sanctuary.
One of the joys of Athens is its proximity to a plethora of idyllic Greek islands and seaside resorts, many of which are a short hop from the port of Piraeus. Boat trips open up a whole new world of archaeological sites, beaches, and coastal adventures, with half- and full-day options both available.
The Saronic Islands are the closest archipelago to Athens, so it makes sense to include these in your itinerary. Aegina is one of the most popular spots, thanks to its Byzantine churches, charming villages, and ancient monasteries. Forested Poros is another favorite, while on pedestrianized Hydra life has changed little over the centuries.
Give your feet a rest and cycle around Athens on an eco-friendly bike tour. As well as stopping at must-see sites, you’ll also discover hidden gems well off the beaten tourist trail. These fun Athens tours swing by places like the Panathenaic Stadium and the Roman Agora, as well as unusual spots like the Kerameikos Cemetery and picturesque Plaka.
If you think that all sounds like hard work, don’t worry. Electric bikes are available to give you a boost up the slopes! For something extra special, opt for a sunset tour and experience the city by night.
Some of the best Athens tours are by foot, so hit the streets with your local guide and enjoy an immersive city experience. Walking tours cover many of the major sights, with each usually focusing on a specific area or attraction to make the most of your time there.
Popular locations include the Acropolis and the Parthenon, with street art tours available for those who want to see the more modern side of Athens. Free walking tours are perfect for those who want to watch their budgets. The sights are the same, but there’s no fixed price - you just pay the guide an amount you’re comfortable with.
It’s easy to explore further afield while you’re based centrally in Athens, and a day trip to the mountain monasteries of Meteora is a popular choice. This is a land where geology and religion enjoy an easy alliance, offering both an aesthetic and spiritual experience to anyone who ventures up here.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises several rocky pinnacles, on top of which are precariously perched monasteries and churches. You can climb up to visit some of them and learn about the lives of the monks who made this unusual region their home. Travel is often by train, with bonus scenic views during the journey.
Standing proudly on the headland at Cape Sounion are the magnificent Temples of Poseidon and Athena. The views over the Mediterranean Sea from this ruined fortress are legendary, and the sunsets are out of this world if you get your timings right!
Enshrouded in myths, and sometimes a little atmospheric sea mist, this famous archaeological site makes a worthy day trip from Athens. For a splash of luxury, you can swap the road transfer for a speed boat cruise along the Riviera and see the temple from the water. Secluded coves and snorkeling are the icing on the cake.
These laid-back Athens tours are just the thing if you’re looking to see a lot in a short space of time. The routes take in many major landmarks, with multiple stops for you to choose from. Just jump off at the attractions that most interest you!
It’s a stress-free way to explore the city, without the hassle of having to worry about transport logistics. You can visit places like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Zeus, with ample time to properly explore. Some bus tours journey down to the beaches of the Athens Riviera if you want a break from the bustle.
Discover the flavor of Athens on a food walking tour with an expert local guide. You’ll delve deep into the cultural heart of the city, stopping at restaurants, bakeries, and markets to sample tasty treats at each. Learn about the culinary history of the country and find out what you should be ordering in restaurants if you want a truly authentic meal.
These Athens tours tell the story of the city through food, with everything from traditional Greek pastries and wine to mouth-watering cheese and salamis. Don’t miss the loukoumades (donuts) or the koulóuria (sesame bread rings) as you meander around the food stores.
If crumbling ruins and jaw-dropping views get you excited, then you’ll love visiting the ancient site of Delphi on a day trip from Athens. Sitting on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the ruins enjoy some of the most spectacular countryside panoramas in Greece.
Delphi is known as the center of the earth, according to both legend and science, so to be able to say that you’ve been is something to boast about! Pilgrims used to journey here from miles around to listen to the prophecies of the god Apollo. His temple is one of the main landmarks to visit, alongside the amphitheater and stadium.
Several Athens tours include the state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum on the itinerary, giving you the chance to see relics from ancient Greece. You can wander through the galleries and exhibitions at your own pace, admiring the 3,000 artifacts that have been unearthed from the Acropolis site and the surrounding slopes.
Notable exhibits include giant friezes and marble statues, as well as ornamental clay vessels that still retain much of their colorful decoration. The museum charts the history of Athens from the Bronze Age through to the present day, with miniature replicas of the Acropolis from major periods of history taking center stage.
Planning your visit to Athens
The Greek capital is an enticing blend of ancient and modern, where iconic historical sites jostle for space with trendy rooftop bars and air-conditioned museums. Greece was once one of the most powerful civilizations in the world, and its legacy still has the power to energize the city today.
To visit Athens is to journey back in time, with age-old ruins, quaint hillside streets, and a whole lot of temples to explore. Yet as night falls, the past gives way to the present, when the nightlife springs into action and the internationally renowned culinary scene comes into its own.
Good to know before arriving
Athens is a large city, and although you can explore much of the historic center on foot, taxis are a blessing when you want to give your feet a break. The metro functions well too and is ideal for longer journeys across the city. The city can be very hot during summer, so try and book your Athens tours for the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the day.
Where hotels are concerned, Plaka and Syntagma are great districts for first-time visitors who want to be near the iconic sights. For cheaper accommodation, head to the nearby Gazi neighborhood.
Places and experiences that cannot be missed
The community of Plaka is another highlight on several Athens tours. Basking in the shadow of the Acropolis, this hillside village is awash with cobblestone streets, quaint cafés, and whitewashed houses. It’s the place to go for those iconic vacation photos!
History buffs will enjoy exploring the Ancient Agora, which lies beneath the Acropolis in the city center. Once used as a market, it gives an intriguing insight into ancient Greek society. The Agora Museum is worth a visit too, with artifacts that are centuries old. If you haven’t yet had your fill of culture, swing by the Cycladic Art Museum to see some incredible Bronze Age relics from ancient Aegean civilizations.