Find your perfect way to spend one day in Athens with this Athens itinerary.
Arrived in Athens with just half a day or even a few hours to spare before your ferry to the Greek Islands? One full day in Athens? Layover in Athens and wandering about what to do in the short space of time? This is the perfect one day in Athens itinerary for you.
In this one day in Athens itinerary, I outline the essential things to do and see in the Greek capital as well as the things you need to know to make your stay as efficient and smooth as possible.
Athens is a culturally rich, beautiful city that, to be honest warrants more than just the one day travellers normally give it. If you can I would highly recommend you stay for 2-3 days.
*This ‘one day in Athens itinerary’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you.
Best time to go: All year-round. Winter months are cooler and wetter, and summer months are dry and hot and also the busiest. Currency: Euro. ATMs and banks located around Monastiraki Square and throughout the centre, credit cards are accepted in most places.
ONE DAY IN ATHENS: GET IN
There are three main ways to travel between the airport and city centre or Piraeus port; taxi, metro or bus.
Taxi – the easiest and most convenient way to travel, taxis can be found just outside the airport terminal building. A taxi from the airport to Piraeus port takes about 40 minutes (no traffic) and costs €50.
Allow for longer during rush hour. Taxis and ride shared are cheaper and shorter to the city centre. Taxi drivers speak enough English to communicate the basics.
Metro – the Athens metro links the airport, city centre and the port. It takes about 30 minutes on Line 1 to get from the city centre to Piraeus and vice versa.
Trains are more irregular from the airport to the city centre and can take longer than one hour to get from the airport to Piraeus. When going to the airport from the city centre allow for longer.
It’s fairly easy to get to Doukissis Plakentias (the last stop on line 3) but from here you’ll most probably have to get off and wait for another train that completes the rest of the line to the airport. When I travelled it was a Sunday and I had to wait 25 minutes at this station for an airport train.
If you don’t have much time to spend on public transport I would recommend taking a taxi.
Bus – Lines x93, x95, x96, x97 connect the airport to the city centre. Line x96 goes from the airport to Piraeus. Buses depart about every 30 minutes and the journey takes 90 minutes depending on traffic. Click here for more information on timetables and routes.
Ferry – If you’re travelling into or from the Greek Islands, chances are you’ll arrive in Athens on a ferry. All ferries dock at Pireus port from which you can continue to the city center or the airport by public transport or taxi.
Use Ferryscanner here to get the best deals on ferries to and from Athens or the Greek Islands.
LEFT LUGGAGE IN ATHENS
I had exactly 12 hours in Athens after arriving in Piraeus before I needed to head to the airport and I needed somewhere to leave my luggage. I found that leaving it in the centre of town worked for me because it was the middle point between the port and the airport. There are quite a few places in the centre of the city where you can leave your luggage however I found the following to be the best. (Athens airport arrivals hall also has a left luggage facility if it’s more convenient for you to leave yours there)
Athens Left Luagge – Located at 3A Veikou Street, very close to Acropoli metro station this facility offers large lockers, a help desk and is open 24 hours a day.
Athens Lockers – this company have two different locations. One in Monastiraki Sq which offers lockers of all sizes and one in Syntagma Sq which is more of a left luggage facility. Apart from luggage storage, both sites offer laundry service and a boarding pass printing service. Only the Syntagma Square facility is open 24 hours a day. Click here for more information.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Athens is packed full of some of the most ancient ruins and artefacts our planet has to offer as well as some lovely neighbourhoods to explore. Luckily a lot of it can be done in just one day in Athens.
VISIT THE ACROPOLIS
The unmissable symbol of ancient Athens and one of the best things to see in the city. The Acropolis is a hill in the centre of Athens on which the marvels of the ancient world were built.
On this hill, you can find the Parthenon, one of the world’s finest Doric temples dedicated to the Goddess Athena, the temple of Athena Nike, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the masterpiece of ancient Greece. Erechtheion is another part of the hill on which you can find the Porch of the Caryatids, giant, beautifully carved figures acting as columns. Just below the Acropolis, you’ll also find the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Apart from the Parthenon, there are about 20 other ruins to explore including many other smaller temples, sanctuaries and ancient theatres.
The queue for tickets for the Acropolis can get very long, especially during the summer high season. Make sure you don’t spend most of your one day in Athens queuing for entry tickets! Click here to pre-book your Acropolis entry ticket and skip the lines.
THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
Located on the southeastern side of the hill, this large and modern museum houses many remains and artefacts that once were part of the ancient sites on the hill.
Seeing the sculptures and carvings right after seeing the temples gives a wonderful all-round experience of what the temples would have looked like in the ancient world.
The museum also houses pottery and objects from everyday Athenian life throughout all historic periods. It’s an excellently curated museum and is well worth a visit to learn more about the archaeological site and the ancient Greeks.
If you would like to visit another great museum also try the National Archaeological Museum.
EXPLORE PLAKA NEIGHBOURHOOD
No one day in Athens itinerary would be complete without a walk around Plaka. This historic neighbourhood has some of the cutest alleyways lined with crumbling neo-classical buildings and bougainvillaea.
It’s littered with ancient ruins and one of the best ways to see them is to just wander around this neighbourhood and run into them as you go.
Ready for something to eat? Plaka is full of great traditional greek tavernas and cafes where you can order some mezze, an ice-cold drink and have a much-needed rest. (Scroll down for all my favourite plant-based eats in Athens.)
Headed to the Greek Islands after Athens? Or still, haven’t decided where in Greece you’d like to go? Check out all my Greece guides.
This small hill just outside the Acropolis grounds on the western side used to be the ancient supreme court. While nothing remains today, this hill is a brilliant photography/ Instagram spot, offering amazing views of the city and the Acropolis temples.
This is one of the best places close to the Acropolis to view the Roman Agora, parts of the National Garden, the Temple of Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch and other historical sites.
MONASTIRAKI NEIGHBOURHOOD & FLEA MARKET
Monastiraki square is full of ancient church facades and crumbling ruins and is a great place to walk around and explore.
Right next to the square you’ll find the flea market which sells all types of trinkets and souvenirs and it’s a truly authentic experience walking around these small alleyways admiring the classical facades and absorbing the atmosphere.
In the mood for a cocktail with a view? Make a pit stop at 360 Cocktail Bar in Monastiraki for gorgeous views over the square and the Acropolis.
Another fantastic viewpoint over the whole city. This hill is the highest point in Athens and therefore offers sweeping views of the city. Climb up or take the cable car if you’re feeling tired and enjoy a magical sunset at the top.
WHERE TO EAT
Peas – An all-vegan, cafe/restaurant serving wraps, salads, burgers, dessert, smoothies and more. The food here is absolutely delicious, probably my favourite in Athens if not Greece and even if you’re not plant-based I would highly recommend you try it. They have many raw, sugar and gluten-free options and all their food is healthy, fresh and delicious. Located at 40, Falirou Str, Athens, right around the corner from the Athens museum. Win!
Mama Tierra– another amazing plant-based option located a little north of Monastiraki Square. They serve a variety of vegan food with a Greek and Middle Eastern influence. If you’ve wanted to try a vegan mousaka but haven’t got around to it yet this is the place to go. Their power smoothie is also to die for and is just what you need for an afternoon of exploring. Located at Akadimias 84.
Vegan Beat – the place for the best plant-based gyros you’ll find in Greece. Located Pandrossou 7-15, a stone’s throw away from Monastiraki Sq.
More than one day in Athens? Why not add the following to your itinerary?
PICNIC ON FILOPAPPOU HILL
This fantastic hill is gentle on the legs, shaded and is centrally located near the Acropolis. It’s a great place to photograph the Acropolis and for a sunset picnic.
Grab some fresh supplies from Varvakios Agora Market and you’re ready to go. Even if you’re not in Athens during sunset, this hill still makes a great spot for a picnic or a rest at any time of the day.
Don’t forget that if you don’t quite feel like planning your own one day in Athens itinerary you can opt for a guided tour.
Guided tours will take you around the ancient city of Athens and you’ll be able to visit all the main attractions with enough time to also have some time for yourself. It’s the best way to see Athens as a day trip without having to plan anything yourself. For the best day Athens itinerary tour click here or check the box below:
I hope that you enjoyed this one day in Athens itinerary. Any thoughts? Comments? Questions? Pop them in the comments box below and I’ll get back to you!
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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