Visit Athens

The Perfect One Day in Athens Itinerary – Your Guide to The City

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to explore Athens in just one day? We are here to tell you that it is possible! Many people fly into Athens and only spend a day or two before catching a flight or ferry to the Greek Islands, but Athens is a magical city that deserves more time. However, in today’s world, everyone is running short on time, so we have put together the perfect one day in Athens itinerary to help you make the most of your stay.

One Day in Athens Itinerary

Athens in one day itinerary

Morning – History

To plan your 1 day in Athens itinerary, you should purchase the Acropolis and 6 archaeological sites, including the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Ancient Agora, and Temple of Olympian Zeus. Aristotle’s School and the Keramikos Ancient Cemetery,

  • Entry to the Acropolis of Athens only on your preferred date and time slot
  • One-time entry to each site with the same ticket
  • Athens Old Town (Plaka) self-guided audio tour
  • Acropolis and Parthenon self-guided audio tours (if option selected)

You have five calendar days from activation to use this pass, so if you are spending more time in Athens, you can book timed entries to see each of these attractions first thing in the morning or later in the day.

Acropolis

Athens in one day Acropolis

Most likely, every Athens itinerary you’ve read will tell you to head straight to the Acropolis, and they are correct! The Acropolis is the star of Athens, and it should be the first place to visit. Going to the Acropolis first thing in the morning helps you beat the crowds and beat the heat!

Plan to get to the Acropolis at 7:30 a.m. We highly recommend booking a hotel with breakfast included, and most start breakfast at 6:30 or 7 a.m., so you should be fine. The Acropolis opens at 8:00 a.m., and you need to book your timed entry in advance.

Deb at the Parthenon in Athens

We booked the Acropolis and 6 main archaeological sites combo, which still works. It is the best way to see Athens in one day as it gives you 1 timed entry to each site with the same ticket. You will need to plan wisely to be on time for your entries, but trust me, you will want to see it all!

You will want to spend about 90 minutes admiring the Acropolis and its other temples, including the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The Odean Theater is still in operation today, and it is spectacular to see.

The Odeon Theater Athens Greece

At the bottom of the Odeon, there is a fountain to fill up your water bottle; make sure to do that as it will continue to heat up as the day goes on.

You’ll then start making your way downhill to see The Theatre of Dyonisis and other monuments as you make your way down the hill back towards the city center.

Ancient Agora

Ancient Agora in Athens

Book your timed entrance to the Ancient Agora for 10:00 or 10:30 am. This will give you time to take in the highlights of the Acropolis beforehand.

From the Acropolis, you will walk downhill for about 15 minutes to the Ancient Agora and temple of Hephaestus. You will pass the Acropolis Museum, but time is of the essence, and if you want to visit the Museum, save it for later in the day. It is open until 9:00 p.m.

The Ancient Agora is the best preserved ancient ruin in the city. We found it more impressive than the Parthenon, especially in the morning light. Make sure you walk around it to see it from all angles.

It was founded in the 6th century BC. The Ancient Agora of Athens was originally used as a meeting place or a place to congregate. Actually, the word Agora translates into “an assembly of the people.” The main highlight here is the Temple of Hephaestus, which is stunning. The intricate details and beautiful fluted columns make this temple one of the must-sees in Athens, especially if you love Greek architecture.

Stoa of Attalos

Stoa of Attalos at the Ancient Agora in Athens

Make sure to go inside the Stoa of Attalos. This is the museum with those rows of columns. They were restored in 1954, and it is a beautiful place. Plus, it is shaded, so you can cool off before moving on.

I think you only need 1 hour to 90 minutes here. There is a nice museum inside that has air conditioning that you can check out as well.

Roman Agora

Entrance to the Roman Agora in Athens

Book your timed entry for 11:30 or 12:00 pm. The Roman Agora is included in your pass.

After you have visited the Ancient Agora, you will come out to plenty of outdoor cafes lining the street. If you want to have lunch now, this is a great place to do so. However, we suggest moving on to see the Roman Agora. Yes, there are two Agora’s.

The Roman Agora is only a short walk from the Ancient Agora, and it is good to see this before the mid-day heat gets to become too much. You don’t need a lot of time here, but it is worth going into see.

We really loved the Roman Agora because you can walk among the ruins and get up close to the ancient pillars and arches. It takes about 30 minutes to explore.

Hadrian’s Library

Hadrians Library in downtown Athens

Hadrian’s Library is just next door, and your ticket includes entry to that. Built in AD 132, the pillars and wall are still standing. It has an impressive history, but today, not much is still standing, so you only need about 15 minutes to visit here. Plus, it is on your way to Monasteraki Square, which is your next stop for lunch!

Midday / Lunch: Greek Cuisine and Local Culture

1:00 pm is the time you will finally sit down for lunch. If you have a clear idea of your schedule, we suggest booking a table in advance because we aren’t having you stop at a street vendor or sidewalk cafe. You are going up to overlook Monastiraki Square with a bird’s eye view of the Acropolis.

Monastiraki Square is surrounded by rooftop bars and restaurants, and we suggest A Is for Athens. It overlooks the square and has the straight on view of the Acropolis. It is open for Brunch from 11:00 am.

There are other rooftop bars around the square, and if you only have one day in Athens, we suggest eating all your meals at one of the restaurants with a view. You can also eat at MS Roof Garden and Hyper Astrobar. These restaurants are an event unto themselves, looking at the Acropolis and over Monastiraki Square.

Afternoon

Athens in One day itinerary afternoon

Whew, it has been a busy morning, but you will be happy to have seen all of these ancient wonders. Now, you can relax and enjoy the energy of Athens in the afternoon.

Monastiraki Square

Monastiraki Square in Athens

2:00 pm ish…After lunch, join the hustle and bustle of Monastiraki Square, where street performers entertain, food stalls offer authentic Greek food, and plenty of shops are ready to help you purchase your perfect Athens souvenir. There is a flea market right off Monastiraki Square that is worth visiting.

Monastiraki is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens, and this is where you will start your afternoon walking tour.

Ermou Street

Walking along Ermou street in Athens

Ermou Street is a 1.5 km pedestrian-only street connecting two of Athens’s largest squares, Monastiraki Square and Syntagma Square. It is a fun place to people watch and do a little shopping. If you need water or snacks, it’s a great place to replenish your mid-day stroll.

There are plenty of shops and restaurants, and make sure to stop at the Church of Panagia and Old Byzantine Church, which is free to enter. No photographs inside though and they are very strict about this. I simply had my phone in my hand and a old woman guarding the church nearly swatted it out of my hands.

Syntagma Square

Looking down Syntagma Square in Athens

Syntagma Square is the main Square of Athens, where there is always something going on. Usually, when you walk up to this square, there is a protest, event, or large gathering happening. At the top of the stairs, the Greek Parliament Buildings stand front and center.

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the guard in athens

If you happen to be at the square at the top of the hour (hopefully you have walked here by 3 pm), you can see the changing of the guards, which is quite interesting. It happens every hour, with the most impressive one taking place on Sundays at 11:00 a.m.

Syntagma Square Subway

Inside the Syntagma Square Subway or Metro

Syntagma Square Metro is the main metro station in the city, and you can hop on the subway from here to your next destination. However, even if you don’t ride the subway, go inside to see the archaeological exhibition. When building the metro line, they found significant relics, including a mosaic floor from the 5th century, an ancient aqueduct, pottery, lamps, and even human bones. The museum is free to visit and is worth checking out.

Panathenaic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium Athens

From Syntagma, you can hop on the subway or call an Uber to take you to the Panathenaic Stadium. Located on the east side of the National Gardens, the Panthenaic Stadium was the site of the first modern Olympic games in 1896. The entire stadium is made out of marble, and it is spectacular to see. The site itself has even more historical significance as in the 6th century BC, it was home to the Panathenaic Games, which were a precursor to the Olympic Games.

You can pay to go inside and walk around or you can just admire it from the outside. The choice is yours.

Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch

Athens One Day Itinerary Temple of Olympian Zeus

As you walk back toward the city, you will come upon the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is free to enter with your pass. It has been under construction for a while, but its columns are definitely worth seeing. With only one day in Athens, though, we suggest simply looking at this from the outside and instead walking to Hadrian’s Arch.

Hadrian’s Arch was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 132 AD. It is still standing, and you can walk directly under it, leaving the quiet complex of the Temple of Olympian Zeus to a bustling, busy street.

Cocktails and Sunset

Athens Gate is a great stop for another rooftop view of the Acropolis from the opposite side of Monastiraki Square. It also overlooks the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Arch of Hadrian offering what we think is one of the best views in Athens. This is a great place to enjoy the sunset as you sip on cocktails and appetizers to keep you going until your late dinner, or you can have dinner here and relax for a couple of hours on the terrace.

Acropolis Museum

One day in Athens Itinerary Acropolis Museum

If you took our advice and skipped the Acropolis Museum this morning, you can now make your way to the amazing museum for a short visit. The Acropolis Museum is just a short walk from Athens Gate and is open until 8 pm.

Even if you don’t go inside to tour the museum properly, it is worth seeing the outside and going into its foyer to walk over the glass floors that reveal archeological discoveries that are on display under the foundation.

If you have an hour, you can get a taste of the museum, but to really explore it you’ll need 2 or 3 days in Athens and that is another Athens itinerary.

Dinner in Plaka

Athens One Day itinerary Dinner in Plaka

From the Acropolis Museum, you are a hop, skip, and a jump from the most picturesque neighborhood in Athens, Plaka. Find yourself a rooftop restaurant or, if you are rooftopped out (which is impossible), order some authentic Greek cuisine at one of the many establishments located here in Plaka. We have an entire post on the best Greek food to help you choose from the menu here.

There are plenty of dining options in Plaka as it is one of the main tourist areas in Athens and one of the oldest neighborhoods. Point A Acropolis Point has beautiful views of the Acropolis, giving you yet another angle from which to see this ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site. You are only in Athens for one day, and trust me, you will never tire of seeing this view.

Nightlife

Having fun enjoying the nightlife in Athens

If you want to keep the night going, head back to Monestaraki Square to enjoy the nightlife between there and Syntagma Square.

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