Although three days may fall short to truly discover this cultural hub and melting pot where ancient meets modern, this itinerary attractions can give you the idea.
This UNESCO site, with a descriptive name meaning “high city”, towers over the rest of the city and reflects its splendour and grandeur. It was the heart of classical Western architecture and culture, the birthplace of democracy, and one of the main influencers of modern civilizations.
The most well-konown and biggest temple at the site is the Parthenon, dates back to 5th century BC, named after the city’s patron goddess Athena. However, don’t forget to discover Temple of Athena Nike (or Athena of Victory), the oldest surviving structure on the hill, and the Erechteion with its beautifully sculpted Caryatids. You see these marble figures of women instead of traditional columns.
Theater of Dionysus was used for performances back then, and it’s considered the birthplace of theatre where great Greek tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides were performed. The theatre could accommodate 17,000 spectators. The better-preserved Odeion of Herodes Atticus built around 160-174 AD, and it’s still active. Try to catch a performance.
This is one of the museums that has always been constantly rated as one of the top in the world, with its huge glass walkways, its high ceilings and incredible panoramic views. You not only get to learn about Athens, the Parthenon (which it is devoted to) and all the surrounding temples, but you will also be glamourized by the museum’s own style.
Temple of Zeus & Arch of Hadrian
Also known as the Olympeion, these ruins belong to an alluring temple right in central Athens. It was built back then to honour Zeus, the king of the Olympian Gods. It took over 700 years to build. It was supported by 105 Corinthian columns but only 15 columns, each 17 meters tall, still standing.
The adjoining Hadrian’s Arch was built to honour the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and thank him for his benefactions for the city. The arch functioned as one of the seven gates that were used by Turks to defend the city. It was also used as a connection between the ancient and modern parts.
Then next day you have enjoyed the Acropolis, take a stroll in the Plaka neighborhood at the foot of the hill. It can be said that the place hosts Athens’ most vivid nightlife with bars and nightclubs, but Plaka provides picturesque scenes in daytime as well. You may visit the vast Roman Agora, explore the charming streets & Anafiotika District, and have lunch in a taverna in the bordering Psiri. Alternatively, Mediterranean street food is world renowned for being famously delicious, and Greek souvlaki is arguably one of the tastiest choices for a quick lunch.
Syntagma & Monastiraki
As you move from Agora to Syntagma, you will feel like you’re in a timelapse from ancient to modern. This square is the heart of the city; its beating centre and main transport hub. Don’t bypass the Panathenaic Stadium, built in 330-321 BC to host the Panathenaic Games and restored once more to its full marble glory for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Monastiraki is a lively square, a flea market, and a neighbourhood that is so colourful with colours, grafittis and murals. Head to the Monastiraki market after wandering around the square. You’ll find rare books, leather goods, cultural handicrafts, musical instruments…
After you reach Athens Central Market by a 9-min walk, you can let go of who you are and live like a true local for an hour or two as you enter the glass-topped complex called the Varvakeios Agora.
It’s now time for relaxation as you have a full-day tour of the islands of Hydra, Poros and Aegina. When you reach Hydra, you will realise how beautiful it is with its stone mansions, its beautiful alleys, and the surrounding crystal clear waters. Then comes Poros, the lush island full of green pine forests and scented lemon groves. Later, you will be heading to Aegina which is famous for its pistachio grove and beautiful beaches.
Alternatively, you may take a half-day trip to the Temple of Poseidon Sounion.