Yes, dear reader, an Athens 2 day Itinerary really is possible since you actually can see most of Athens’ top attractions in just two days!
I know, totally crazy but totally true!
But 48 hours in Athens is plenty of time to explore this ancient capital since the historic center of Athens is quite small and very walkable.
Throw in a metro system that is easy to navigate, and you can experience a ton of amazing things even if you only have one or two days in Athens.
So In this Post:
You’ll learn about all the top things to do in Athens, and how to experience these magical places in a very limited amount of time (so you can spend more time on amazing Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini); places like the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the Temple of Zeus, and Hadrian’s Arch.
So if You’re Picking Up What I’m Throwing Down then read on because this Athens itinerary is for you!
***If you want to get away from Athens and explore other parts of Greece, then consider planning your own trip to Meteora, Greece. It is a unique place that is filled with exquisite scenery and stunning monasteries that are unlike anything else in the world. ***
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Athens Itinerary Day One (You Can Easily Make This Into a One Day Athens Itinerary)
***We’re Gonna be Starting Early so I eat at your hotel or buy something the night before so that you can quickly eat and go.***
Let’s start our day at the most famous site in all of Athens, the Acropolis.
It’s big, it’s beautiful and it’s insanely crowded (which is one of the reasons why you may want to visit Athens in the spring).
One of my top tips for visiting the Acropolis is to go as early as humanly possible, especially in the summer.
You can avoid not only the oppressive heat but the masses of self-involved tourists too (I got accosted by more than one selfie stick here)!
Plus, if you arrive early enough, you can catch some of the golden hour sunlight (I’m talking 8 am early) and take some amazing photos.
Try and enter the Acropolis via the East entrance (right across from the Acropolis Museum), since this access point is smaller and less crowded than the main entrance.
After Drooling over the Parthenon’s Beauty and Before You Leave:
Stop by the Theatre of Dionysus, as well as the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, and experience some truly awe-inspiring examples of ancient architectural beauty.
Lunch (nom nom nom):
Try OThansis for some authentic Greek food that won’t deplete your bank account.
Opened in 1964 and conveniently located at the foot of the Acropolis, this iconic Athens eatery is known throughout the city for its amazing kebabs, Souvlaki, roasted peppers, and salads; a true haven of authenticity in an overwhelmingly touristy area.
A reservation is also necessary, especially if you don’t want to end up on the sidewalk, waiting for a table.
***If O Thansis is too crowded, you can also try Orea Hellas; a traditional Greek coffee shop with great desserts, tapas, and an amazing view of the Acropolis***
After a Nice, Relaxing Lunch:
Let’s escape the oppressive, mid-day heat of Athens, shall we? Yeah, I hate the heat, so that’s why I suggest retreating to the airconditioned comfort of the Acropolis Museum.
When I visited the Acropolis Museum:
I was struck by the modernity of a museum that displays so many relics from the ancient past.
Just look through the plexiglass floor and you’ll see the ruins of a once vibrant Athenian community. It is this distinctive, architectural style that separates this museum from the Acropolis itself, even though this building publicly displays any surviving Acropolis relics that are still in Greek possession.
And while yes, this museum does display artifacts from the Archaic and Roman periods, (now we’re sounding fancy. Just think one word, OLD), the primary focus of this museum is on the Acropolis of the 5th century BC.
Before You Explore the Museum:
Head up to the 1st-floor or the Archaic Gallery, a virtual labyrinth of ancient statues that were created as ceremonial offerings to the God Athena.
You’ll conclude your visit with a trip to the top floor, known as the Parthenon Gallery (if you’re short on time just head straight here).
Here you’ll find a glass atrium that houses a 160m-long frieze that has been masterfully restored to its former glory. The beauty of this exhibit is that you get to see the very top of the Pantheon at eye level, a magical experience that wouldn’t be possible without this exhibit and museum.
***Looking to stay at some of the best hotels in Athens? Then check out the reasonably priced but totally luxurious Elia Ermou Athens Hotel 4-star hotel (rooms here are less than $150 per night). Otherwise, if you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, then check out City Circus Athens or Athens Studios.***
Once You’ve Had Your Fill of the Museum:
Wander through the charming neighborhood of Plaka, one of the many non-touristy things to do in Athens. Explore the quaint streets here and take in some of the traditional Greek architecture, expertly adorned with cascades of vibrantly colored flowers.
Before You Move On:
Don’t forget to grab some photos of the amazing street art here and to stroll along Adrianou where you’ll find some awesome souvenirs for friends and family back home (buy something nice for yourself too!).
Done with Day 1! Kidding!! Next Up:
We’ll mosey on over to Plateia Syntagmatos for the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I actually just happened across this ceremony as I was walking past the parliament building.
I saw a huge crowd gathered (I knew they were tourists from the backpacks, sneakers, and ultra zoom camera lenses at the ready) and being overly susceptible to mob mentality, I just HAD to see what all the fuss was about.
Not only were their outfits AMAZING (they sure know how to strut their stuff with those pom-pom shoes) but the soldiers did this elaborate dance-like sequence that is difficult to describe. Just know that there was a lot of leg lifting and foot swiping along the ground.
Walk over to the Temple of Zeus which is right down the street,
And while yes, the complex isn’t huge and the temple isn’t complete, it’s still well worth a visit.
Just looking at the massive columns on display (they put the ass in massive), you get a sense of the scale, scope, and size of the temples that were created in ancient Athens; the only way to develop true appreciation for the amount of work that went into creating these beautiful structures.
The Temple of Zeus is a fantastic place to grab an amazing photo of the Temple of Zeus with the Acropolis in the background (your Instagram followers will thank you).
Just Outside the Temple fo Zeus (quite literally a hop, skip, and jump away), you’ll find Hadrian’s Arch.
This arch was created by the Roman emperor Hadrian, who had an affinity for classic architecture and who used this arch as a way to delineate where the ancient city ended and the modern, Roman City began.
Starving Yet? No worries because Hadrian’s Arch won’t take long.
Walk back towards the Acropolis for dinner at Strofi; a fantastic, traditional Greek restaurant that has been serving grilled meats and fish since 1975.
Since I don’t eat meat or fish:
I stuck with the bread, spicy cream cheese, grilled halloumi cheese with fresh tomato in an olive oil lemon sauce, and fried Feta cheese in phyllo dough with honey and sesame. Talk about making my tastebuds sing.
This place is incredibly popular, so book ahead for a rooftop, Parthenon view that is the stuff that Hallmark dreams are made of.
***What, all that wasn’t enough for you? Curious about what to do in 2 days in Athens? Well, if you need something else to do that is very non-essential, try visiting the Pantheon Stadium. This facility hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and is a great way to learn about the history of the games. Is it essential? No. Is it one of the more touristy things to do in Athens? Yes. So you can stop by if you have the time but don’t feel like it is essential.
Day 2 of This Super Snazzy Athens Itinerary
Let’s Start this Day Off Right With:
Breakfast at iFeel Athens. This amazing brunch restaurant serves delicious and healthy breakfast items like egg white omelets, eggs benedict, eggs Florentine, and more!
A great place to stop since it is an easy walk to Monastiraki Flea Market from here.
Once you’ve had your fill of eggy deliciousness, stroll through the flea market and marvel at some of the unique antiques that are for sale in this historic place.
Just Be Mindful of Pick Pockets:
Because yes, they are everywhere and ready to steal your money.
But we’re going early so the market is much easier to navigate since it’s less crowded and easier to stroll through the narrow streets and see what the vendors have to offer.
Once You’re Finished Exploring the Many Shops with Overpriced Souvenirs Here:
(Kidding but there definitely are a ton of shops like this)
Let’s Make Our Way Over to the Amazing, Ancient Agora!
Now I’m Not Gonna Lie:
When I saw the word “Agora” I was like huh? Is that some sort of new age pick up line?
Nope. Apparently, the Agora was the commercial center of ancient Athens. Here administrative, commercial, political and social buildings were concentrated into a small but vibrant area.
This enchanting complex is a haven of greenery and ancient ruins amidst the trash, graffiti, decaying buildings, and stray dogs and cats that roam this urban jungle.
Take your time and wander through the expansive grounds because there is a lot to take in here.
Between the charming monuments, the Temple of Hephaistos, a museum full of ancient art, and the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles (Built in the 10th century and a must see, for anyone visiting Athens for the first time, with its Byzantine-style frescos and Islamic style decorations), this place really is a dream for anyone who loves history.
Once You’ve Done Enough Walking and Feel Like Your Feet are Gonna Fall Off:
Stroll on over to Kallipateira, for some gastronomic authenticity amidst a sea of tourist traps. Once here, you can relax and enjoy a lovely view of the nearby ruins.
Served here are a variety of traditional, Greek small plates that include octopus with vinegar, eggplant filled with cheese, squid served with feta and tomatoes, and delightful zucchini balls.
A great place to replenish after enduring the chaotic frenzy of this tourist mecca.
After your meal, hop on the subway at Monastēraki station and get off at Patēsiōn. The National Archeological Museum is only about a two-minute walk from here
This museum is slightly out of the way but absolutely worth the trip since this center of archaeology houses one of the world’s finest collections of classical Greek antiquities.
That statement may not mean much on paper, but as you enter this museum and feel the sheer enormity of this building, the true weight of this statement hits you.
And Trust Me:
That’s a lot of weight since this building houses over 11,000 items (I don’t think I’ve ever had 11,000 of anything. Except maybe calories on Thanksgiving) that stretch from the Neolithic era (think caveman) to classical periods of Greek history.
An exquisite reminder of just how ancient, and long lasting this civilization was and is.
Whatever You Do Though:
Don’t assume you’ll just whirl through this museum in an hour because no way is that gonna happen. I would spend at least the afternoon here since Greek treasures are just at the start of the collection.
After All That History and Touring:
A nice dinner at Mavro Provato is a must! Just book ahead because this modern Greek restaurant, in Pangrati, is quite popular.
Tables line a quaint footpath and delicious entrees are served, such as Saganaki with honey, Kritharoto with mushrooms, Almirikia, Choriatiki, and beef with eggplant puree in tomato sauce, just to name a few.
Just make sure you save room for some of their beautiful, homemade desserts (my favorite part).
***If you want to extend your stay and create a 3 day Athens Itinerary, then I highly recommend booking a day trip to the exquisite ruins at Delphi. Between the hilltop museum, the jaw-dropping ruins, the famous amphitheater, and the Temple of Apollo, The only thing you’ll regret is that the day ended much too soon.