An Athens itinerary is necessary for your stay in Athens. Most tourists are just passing through on their way to the islands. It would be a big mistake to not spend some time exploring the capital city of Greece. It gets a bad rap at times but it is well worth your time to visit these iconic and ancient locations in this city. Several of these locations are on the city saver ticket so it is worth getting this option which you can purchase at any of these sites.
This seems like a no brainer but it is a must on your 48 hours in Athens Itinerary. It is best to visit the Acropolis in the morning hours or later in the evening a few hours before it closes. On some afternoons it’s so hot, they close it down for safety. Buy your pass at the bottom entrance, across from the museum. Nearly everyone else enters from the top of the hill. If you enter at the bottom you will have a little steeper walk but it’s totally worth it for the views and crowd free stroll up the hill. The Parthenon is the most iconic building in the ancient city center. It is also the largest temple of the classical antiquity period from 447BC to 338BC. You will walk away amazed at having seen some of the most iconic monuments from ancient Athens plus the view is hard to beat.
The Agora is located just below the Acropolis, it’s easy to visit on the same day. The Agora is a testament to the Athens status as a cradle of Western Civilization. You will find temples, a concert hall as well as long colonnaded arcades. This was an important meeting and trading place during Biblical times. In Socrates and Plato’s day, this was the heart of public life. The Agora was a place where people assembled to chat about current events, politics, business and even the nature of the universe. The Royal Stoa is a highlight of this visit as it is the possible site of Socrates’ trial in 399BC.
Plaka is Athens oldest neighborhood dating back 3,500 years. You would never know that from walking around this sweet neighborhood as it has been revitalized and is the heart of the tourist zone in this area of Athens. The narrow streets are lined with neoclassical buildings with cascading bougainvillea and pastel trimmed houses. You will find two historic churches nestled in the corners of Plaka, Church of Kapnikarea and Metamorfosis Church. If you are lucky enough you will stumble upon the “secret” neighborhood within Plaka, Anafiotika. Anafiotika was built by the workers brought over from the island of Anafi. These workers came to refurbish King Othon’s Palace. It is hidden on the hill under the Acropolis.
Watch The Changing Of The Guard
If you are lucky enough to visit Athens on a Sunday, head over to Syntagma Square at 11am to watch the full changing of the guard with all the pomp and circumstance you can imagine. You will be treated to a performance from the Evzone’s, as well as the military band in front of the Parliament Building. But if you are there any other day, you can still enjoy an abbreviated changing of the guard every hour on the hour, in front of the Presidential Mansion. It is certainly worth checking out on your Athens itinerary.
If you are an Olympics fan, like us, I highly recommend a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium. It is the home of the modern day Olympics. This is where the first games were held and where the torch is lit and sets out from to begin each ceremony. The fee is only about $6usd and it comes with a free audio guide. You can take a walk into the museum inside the tunnel and see the memorabilia from many Olympic Games. You can take a lap like a champion and even take a pic standing on the medal podium. It’s such a great experience and not far from the Acropolis.
Our college age daughter spotted this cute outdoor movie theater when we were strolling the streets in Plaka. It was such a cool experience. Cine Paris is one of the oldest open-air cinemas in Athens. It is very popular location because of the view of the Parthenon. It’s hard to look away from the view as you watch your movie and enjoy your drinks and popcorn. The theater is open from May to September and shows contemporary movies. There is such a cool feel as soon as you enter will find old movie posters on the walls. Take a stroll in Plaka after the movie for a wonderful Greek experience.
Monastiraki Market is a well known “flea market” but don’t let that term turn you off to visiting. This famous crowded market if a great place to take in the local scene as well as searching for ancient gems. Our daughter found an Olympic button from 2004. You will also find furniture, jewelry and many other fun things. You can stop to take in the music from street musicians or stroll through the shops and even stop in a quaint cafe to grab a drink before heading to the Ancient Agora.
Athens Itinerary Tips
To fully enjoy your 48 hours in Athens itinerary, you will need to do a few things. First on the list is to be sure to wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking to be done in Athens, lots of hills too. Sunscreen is very important in Athens, there are very few areas to find shade, unless you are inside. You will also want to bring a refillable water bottle or plan to buy water to stay hydrated. It’s very hot in Athens and you will be exposed most of the time. As I mentioned earlier, most people are just stopping in Athens on their way to the islands but it is certainly a good idea to stay a couple days and see the sites.