Are you wondering…
“How many days in Athens do you REALLY need?”
It’s a valid question! You only have a limited number of days to spend on your trip and you want to live each day to the fullest.
The perfect amount of time to spend in Athens is 3-4 days for first-time visitors or returning travelers. Looking to see the Acropolis, visit Plaka or simply wander the cobblestone streets? You can definitely see all the major attractions, get the vibe of the city and eat all the delicious Greek food within 3-4 days!
Athens, Greece is an iconic destination for travelers all over the world. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any activities or sightseeing, especially if it’s your first time in Greece! A lot of the smart travelers (that’s you :P) will use this capital city as their base before traveling onto the Greek islands or inland to Meteora or Thessaloniki.
3-4 days might not suit everyone. While it’s a good rule of thumb, some may only need 2 days and others might need to spend 5 days in Athens. It all depends on what you’re interested in, how quick (or slow) you want your pace to be and how you want to spend your vacation in Greece.
That’s why we are sharing the best itineraries, whether you only have 1 day, 2 days or 3-4 days in Athens! Let us help you plan what to do, which sights to see and give you all the options to plan how many days in Athens is good enough for you!
Quick Answer: How Many Days To Spend In Athens?
How many days in Athens do you really need as a first-time visitor? 3-4 days in Athens is enough time to visit all the major attractions and get your sightseeing done.
If you’ve visited before…How many days should you spend in Athens this time around? Around 2-3 days will give you enough time to settle in, explore the city, get over your jet lag and move on to the Greek islands (like most people do).
Not sure how to spend those precious days in Athens? In this blog, we are going to share things to do based on the number of days you have in Athens.
We have to talk about the top 6x things to do in Athens, Greece! These are the most popular attractions and landmarks to see while visiting Athens.
6x Things To See In Athens, Greece
There are some things that you simply must do when visiting Athens…
Like if you didn’t go see the Acropolis…did you even REALLY visit Athens?
We’ve created a shortlist of the 6 must-do activities and landmarks to visit to ensure you have the best time in Athens without missing out on the iconic monuments:
- Plaka neighborhood
- Areopagus Hill at sunset (aka Mars Hill)
- Panathenaic Stadium
- Changing of the Guards at Parliament
- Monastiraki Square
1. Awe At The Acropolis/Parthenon
Obviously, you have to visit the Acropolis and see the Parthenon with your own eyes. I mean…it’s the biggest reason first-time visitors choose to travel to Athens!
This requires a couple of hours to visit. But we’ve got a big tip for you to make the most of your time! When we first visited the Acropolis, we just took photos and barely learned a thing about what we were looking at. But the second time we went?
We actually wanted to learn about these ancient ruins…and there’s a cool way to do that!
Enter: an audio guide app!
We highly recommend downloading the Rick Steves audio Europe app. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can click on ‘Tours & Interviews‘ and select ‘Greece -> Athens Acropolis‘.
The audio tour on the app takes 54 minutes and it tells you where to go while explaining the history and culture of the landmarks you are looking at. You can use this as a guide as to how long you would spend at the Acropolis. We suggest adding another 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to explore on your own, take a deeper look at the ruins and stop to take some pictures!
Fun fact: the Acropolis is actually the mountain peak that the iconic landmark (the Parthenon) sits on. Some people refer to that entire area as the Acropolis, even though they mean the actual ancient ruins – the Parthenon!
2. Wander The Streets of Plaka
Plaka is the oldest neighborhood in Athens, Greece. The cobblestone streets will transport you back in time and you will be mesmerized by this charming area.
What’s there to do in Plaka? Honestly, the best thing to do is wander the streets and get lost! There are so many little alleyways filled with cafes, restaurants and shops.
When we lived in Athens for a month as digital nomads, we found ourselves going back to Plaka because the vibe was amazing! There’s so many good restaurants in the area with spectacular views of the Acropolis and there are also some of the best coffee shops in Athens in this area.
3. Watch The Sunset In Mars Hill
Want to watch the sunset in Athens? The best place to do that is on Mars Hill (Areopagus Hill). It’s an iconic spot to chill out, grab a few beers and/or food and take the whole scenery in! You will be gazing at the Acropolis/Parthenon and there could be a big crowd so we recommend arriving just a little before sunset to get a good spot.
You will be climbing the rocky hill and you can sit anywhere in that area. We do have to warn you that it is quite slippery so just take your time when walking around Mars Hill.
4. Visit The Historic Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium is where the first modern Olympic Games were held back in 1896.
The most impressive thing about this multipurpose stadium is that it is made entirely out of marble – and it’s the only one in the world like it!
5. Walk Around Monastiraki Square
A great area to walk around is Monastiraki Square because there are a bunch of shops to buy souvenirs and plenty of restaurants to choose from too. There’s also a big flea market and a bunch of murals to look…the area is just buzzing!
Generally, Athens is a safe city but just be careful of your stuff when walking around the square – it can be a popular area for pickpockets!
6. Gaze At The Changing Of The Guards
Yes…the changing of the guards isn’t only in London! They’ve got their own Greek Changing of the Guards below the Hellenic Parliament building in Athens, close to the Presidential Mansion.
On Sundays at 11am, they hold the official ceremony. However, they ‘change the guards’ every hour and you can still catch a glimpse of what it’s like. I didn’t think anything of it at first but it’s very cool to see their uniforms and the way they walk around!
Is 1 Day In Athens Enough?
One day in Athens is not enough if it’s your first time visiting this city. But you can still make the most of it! However, if you have been plenty of times before then one day is enough to get settled, walk around the city and move on to your next destination.
But we can’t make sweeping statements like that because it depends on what you’re interested in! For example, if you only care about seeing the Acropolis and the Plaka neighborhood – you can definitely get these two things done in 1 day! But if you want to see more of the city and truly take the city in… that can’t be done in a single day.
One of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of your time is figuring out where to stay in Athens. For a 1-day itinerary, we suggest staying in Plaka. This is centrally located and makes it easy for you to walk everywhere!
Here’s the best things to do on a 1-day itinerary in Athens:
- Visit the Acropolis/Parthenon (duh)
- Wander the Acropolis Museum
- Walk around the ancient Plaka neighborhood
We suggest visiting the Acropolis in the morning. It opens at 8am and it’s best to arrive as early as you can. You will probably spend 1.5-2 hours exploring the Acropolis. The crowds get worse from around 10:30am and trust us – you don’t want to be stuck with the crowds! Arriving early also means you can take your time to look around and listen to the Rick Steves audio tour.
The plan for the afternoon is to wander around the historic neighborhood of Plaka. Enjoy walking around and experiencing the history, the cobblestone streets and the charming cafes. If you like museums and Greek history, the Acropolis Museum is worth checking out. It’s in the same area so if you have time, you can easily detour and have a look at it!
Here’s where to eat and drink on a 1-day Athens itinerary:
- Anafiotika Cafe/Restaurant – eat Greek food on the famous Plaka steps
- Yiasemi – iconic coffee spot in Plaka
- Savvas – affordable food, go to the rooftop for gorgeous views of the Acropolis
We love to eat at Anafiotika Restaurant because it’s perched on the iconic Plaka steps. You get a good view of the cafes below which makes it a great place to relax and eat delicious Greek food! Afterwards, you can sit on the steps and grab a coffee at Yiasemi.
Is 2 Days In Athens Enough?
If it’s your first time visiting Athens, two days may be enough but you will have to move at a quicker pace. This will also leave you wanting to come back and see more of the city – which is always a good thing in our books!
As it’s still a short stay in Athens, we suggest staying in a hotel in the city center. Some of the most popular areas to stay in Athens are Plaka or near Syntagma Square. Either way you’ll be within walking distance to the main monuments and the restaurant scene.
Here’s a quick overview of things to do on day 2 in Athens:
- Wander and shop through Monastiraki Square
- Visit the Athens Central Market
- See the Temple of Olympian Zeus
- Visit the Ancient Agora and/or Agora Museum
- Watch the sunset at Areopagus Hill
We are assuming you’ve kept the day 1 Athens itinerary mentioned above. From here, you can wander around Monastiraki Square and browse the Athens Central Market. You can buy souvenirs like jewelry, olives (yes, we’re in Greece remember :P) and cool little knickknacks to bring home.
In the afternoon, you can visit more ancient sites like the Temple of Olympian Zeus or the Agora. Apparently, the Agora Museum is also worth a visit – it just depends if you want to spend money and time on that!
One of the things we loved to do when we were living in Athens was watch the sunset on Areopagus Hill. This is a great thing to do if you want to keep gazing at the beautiful Acropolis/Parthenon. It’s something else at night because it’s lit up so well!
Here’s where to eat in Athens on day 2:
- Tylixto Greek Wrap – cheap, delicious gyros
- Lithos Tavern – popular traditional Greek restaurant
- Anglais Athens – affordable, rooftop bar with beautiful views of Acropolis
- The Athens Gate Hotel – fancy, romantic dinner with views of Acropolis
- Mokka Specialty Coffee – close to Central Athens Markets
You can also have a fancy dinner at a hotel rooftop. We dined at Athens Gate Hotel (book in advance) during our honeymoon and it was well worth it! We found ourselves always wanting to look at the Acropolis and ending your last day in Athens like this would be awesome.
Is 3 Days In Athens Enough?
If you spend 3 days in Athens, we think you will hit that perfect balance! You’ll feel like you’ve seen enough of the city and its sights that you can confidently say you’ve ‘done’ Athens. Staying extra days usually allows for day trips to nearby islands or cities. If you just want to see Athens, 3 days is a perfect amount of time!
The other benefit of staying in Athens for 3 days is that you can stay outside of the city center. Why would you do that?
Well, you will be able to get better deals and more affordable stays 10-15 minutes outside of the city center. You’ll probably get better value for your money! This also means you get to see more of local life, getting a feel for the true Athenian lifestyle.
Here’s a quick overview of the best things to see in Athens on day 3:
- Wander the cute neighborhood of Kolonaki
- Hike or drive to Mount Lycabettus
- Visit the Athens National Archaeological Museum
- Look around the hipster area, Psyri
- Changing of the Guards at the Parliament
- Visit Hadrian’s Library
- Go on a local food tour
- Walk around the Panathenaic Stadium (oldest Olympic stadium)
If you visit Athens for 3 days, you won’t have to rush to see all the sights, landmarks and monuments. You can take the days a little easier, having plenty of downtime to rest and recharge before seeing the next thing on the bucket list.
Here’s where to eat and drink on day 3 in Athens:
- The Traditional – affordable, local Greek restaurant
- Sfika – our favorite local restaurant in Kolonaki
- Takis Bakery – famous Greek bakery
- Tuk Tuk Thai Food – great Thai spot if you want some variety
- Baba Au Rum – excellent bar, #20/50 best bars in the world
- Dope Roasting Co – one of the best coffee shops in Athens
3 days in Athens gives you a great amount of time to explore the city a little deeper. It also allows you to see all the sights at a good pace, without feeling rushed!
Is 4 days In Athens Enough?
Spending 4 days in Athens is a great idea! Why?
We think 4 days is the perfect amount of time to explore the city itself but also get out and see what’s nearby (something a lot of people don’t end up doing).
You’ve spent 3 days exploring a great amount of the city…
…4 days in Athens means that on your last day, you can adventure out further to nearby cities that have cool archaeological sites and/or enjoy the stunning islands. There are plenty of fun day trips from Athens that are worth taking. This is perfect if you aren’t able to make it out to the further islands like Naxos or Santorini but still want to see some Greek islands!
Here are some of the best options for a full day trip from Athens:
- By land: Delphi, Corinth, Nafplion, Vouliagmeni, Glyfada
- By boat: Saronic Islands – Aegina, Poros, Hydra
Want to take a trip by land to historic sites? You’ve got plenty of options! You can see the ancient ruins in Corinth where you can see iconic landmarks like the Pegasus Statue and the Temple of Apollo. Delphi is another popular day trip from Athens for Greek history or culture lovers.
You can also take the ferry to some nearby islands which is always fun! It’s also a great way to get the Greek island feels without going too far out. Other popular Greek islands like Milos, Naxos, Santorini and Mykonos can take as long as 3 to 8 hours to get to!
If you want to head to the Saronic Islands for a day, it’s easier than you think! The ferry to Aegina (the closest island) takes as little as 40 minutes, while the ferry from Athens to Hydra can take up to 2 hours, depending on the type of ferry you take.
Where To Stay In Athens For a 1, 2, 3, or 4 Day Itinerary?
Finding the best place to stay in Athens can be hard. It can depend on a lot of things but one of the biggest factors is the amount of time you have in the city.
Here’s the thing:
The smart thing to do is to choose a hotel based on the amount of days you have in Athens. For example, if you only have 1-2 days in Athens…the best thing to do is to stay in the heart of the city. Here are some recommendations in the city center:
Are you spending more than 1-2 days in Athens? You can get a little further out of the city center which means you’ll get better value for your money. Here’s some recommendations:
- Budget: Athens Quinta (Kolonaki)
- Decent: Hub Terrace Suite (Koukaki)
- Luxury: Acropolis Select (Koukaki/Paka)
Athens is generally safe but there are some neighborhoods you should avoid when looking for a place to stay. We don’t recommend booking any stays in Exarchia and Omonia. The best areas are Plaka, Kolonaki, Koukai and Psiri.
Conclusion: How Many Days In Athens Is Best?
Personally, we try to spend 1-3 days in Athens whenever we are in Greece. It’s just a cool city with lots to do, great food and having the ancient ruins surrounding it is pretty unique!
The most important thing is that you enjoy your time (no matter how short or long) and don’t get too worried about the number of days you’re spending in Athens. If all you have is 1 to 2 days in Athens, you will still get to see all the famous landmarks and absorb the atmosphere of this buzzing capital city.
But what if it’s your 2nd or 3rd time visiting Athens? We recommend spending 3 to 4 days in Athens if you’ve come from a long-haul flight. We visited Athens during our honeymoon and we flew all the way from Bali, Indonesia. Giving ourselves 2-3 days to get over our jet lag, wander the streets and get acquainted was just the right amount of time to spend in Athens for our first visit!
FAQs – How Many Days In Athens?
Is 7 Days In Athens Too Long?
It depends on how you are traveling. If you are on vacation, yes 7 days might be too long to spend in Athens. There are some beautiful islands worth traveling to instead of spending extra days in Athens. If it’s your first time in Athens, you only need to spend 3-4 days in this city to tick off the major sights.
How Many Days Should I Spend In Greece?
You can spend as little as 5 days in Greece but that would be cutting it too short. If you want to explore this vast country, we recommend spending 7-14 days in Greece. This gives you enough time to visit Athens and explore at least 2-3 of the Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos, Paros or Milos. If you have even more time, add a few more days to explore inland areas like Meteora or Thessaloniki!
After traveling to 30+ countries, Greece continues to be one of our favorite travel destinations. You have the mountains, cities and islands to explore – almost every landscape possible, which makes it easy to spend longer in the country!
Which Ancient Ruins In Athens Should I See?
The must-see ancient ruins in Athens are:
The Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, the Agora, the Parthenon, the Areopagus Hill (aka Mars Hill) and Panathenaic Stadium.
If you want to learn about what you’re looking at, we highly recommend the Rick Steves app which has guided audio tours taking you through each monument’s history!
Is the Acropolis Museum Worth Visiting?
Yes…if you want to learn more about Greek history and culture. If you’re not interested in that (which is totally fine), you can skip the Acropolis Museum! Don’t have enough days in Athens? Skip the Acropolis Museum and visit the Acropolis and/or Parthenon instead!
TTA TIP: download the Rick Steves audio app. Put your headphones in and he will guide you through the whole area telling you the history!
How Do I Get From Athens Airport to the City Center?
You have 4 ways to get from Athens airport to the city center:
- By metro: takes 40 minutes and costs 9 euros.
- By bus: takes 1 hour and costs 5.50 euros.
- By rideshare: Use the FreeNow app and it costs around 20 euros.
- By private transfer: Welcome Pickups offers a direct route to your hotel for $52 USD.
We found it really easy to use the metro or bus! If you have the time (and smaller luggage), it’s also way cheaper to take public transport.