The birthplace of wisest Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato and one of the oldest cities on Earth can teach a man about history more than the history books can ever teach! With a lifespan of more than 3500 years, the Greek capital is endowed with a rich history and cultural significance. I hope to guide you to as much of the city via a comprehensive 2-days itinerary in Athens. Athens is not just a city but also an embodiment of heroism, bearing the name of Goddess Athena. Each and every corner of the city is oozing in history and charm.
Since the city is packed with picturesque places to discover, this 2-day Athens itinerary guide makes exploring the city in a short time with ease. Particularly if you are hoping to combine your visit into a Greek Itinerary that includes Santorini and Mykonos. Below are tips on what to do in Athens in 2 days.
Things To See In Athens In 2 days – Athens Two Day Itinerary
While the city is beautiful, it’s almost impossible to experience it all in 2 days. However, this guide makes the most out of your 48-hour stay in Athens. The first day of Athens explores the main tourist sites like the Acropolis. The second day is all about shopping and admiring the beautiful artifacts of the most famous museums. If you want to explore and churn out the best experiences for yourself in a minimum amount of time, here are the places to visit in Athens in 2 days. You can also take advantage of many tours in Athens offering full and half-day tours with a guide to walk you through the history of time in these beautiful sites in Athens.
Pro tip: If you are visiting Athens in the Summer be sure to pack a bottle of water, a hat, and sunglasses. There is hardly any shade and Athens summer can be unforgiving.
Day 1 In Athens – Things To Do
9:00 AM Propylaia
While touring in Acropolis, one of the first places to visit in Athens in 2 days is the first magnificent gate structure that you will come across. A man named Mnesikles was the architect of this project, which started in the year 437 BCE, but was unfortunately left unfinished. The reason behind its incompleteness is the Peloponnesian war that raged 5 years after its construction.
The structure was almost complete except for some final changes. Some theorists believe that the structure could not be completed due to saving resources for the war. To quote one traveler, “It is the only way to describe the grand entrance to one of the most brilliant locations on our planet.”
9:15 AM Parthenon
Parthenon is a temple at Acropolis built 2500 years ago in honor of the Greek Goddess Athena. You cannot afford to miss this site. It is among the top must-see in Athens in 2 days.
9:30 AM Temple of Athena Nike
This is another major temple dedicated to Goddess Athena. However, the uniqueness of this temple is, the idol of Athena is displayed as victorious in the war. The Greek word “Nike” actually translates into “victory.” It stands on the edge of a high cliff and is placed at the southwest corner of Acropolis. It is the smallest temple in Acropolis constructed by Kallikrates, the same man who constructed the majestic Parthenon.
The construction of the temple was finished by 420 BCE. On the southern wall, you can see the sculpture of Greeks fighting with the Persians, and on the other side, you can find Greeks fighting with other warriors. As you climb up the wall, you can see several poses of Athena, most notably being a pose where Nike is seen to adjust her sandal. The interior designs are relief and charming.
10:30 AM Theater of Dionysus
If you are wondering about the first theater in the world, this is it! The Theater of Dionysus is located at the foot of Acropolis, where you can sit on the steps and admire like the audience. Another one on of those cool places not to much on the things to do in Athens in 2 days.
11:00 AM Areopagus or Mars Hill
This is a sweet spot to view the whole length and breadth of the majestic Athens. At this spot, Apostle Paul had given a sermon
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of Heaven and Earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
This was some historical fact to cater to your curiosity!
11:15 AM Plaka
In the Plaka neighborhood, you will find a plethora of restaurants, bars, and cafes. You can have Greek salads with baklava and delicious Greek yogurt with honey. This is definitely must see in Athens in 2 days.
1:15 PM Temple of Zeus
Out of 104 columns, only 16 of them are present. 2 columns are present in the southwest corner and the other 13 in the southeast. Here, one column will be seen to have fallen, which has a history behind it. Due to a major earthquake in the 19th century, one of the columns toppled. The temple is around 2500 years old! It is also known by the other name, “Olympieion.” The architect responsible for its architecture is Roman emperor Hadrian. Although the kind of Syria started the work in 174 BCE, his death resulted in a halt. Hadrian, the great Philhellene, completed the magnificence. It is the largest temple in the city and one of the greatest temples ever built in ancient history.
2:30 PM Hadrian’s Arch
The Roman emperor Hadrian constructed the Arch in 131 AD. It was constructed as a wall separating new Athens from the old. It is located in the south of the National Gardens at the entrance of Temple of Olympian Zeus at Amallias Avenue. On the side of the arch, you will find these words
“This is Athens, the former city of Theseus.” The other side not facing Acropolis reads
“This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus.” It is a 59 ft gate made of marble.
Pro tip: When you come down from the Acropolis you will notice plenty of restaurants you can take your pick and grab a quick bite and hate out to the next stop on the Athens itinerary.
4:00 PM Athens National Gardens
If you want a welcome respite of calmness from the noisy crowds that you have will no doubt have encountered in Acropolis, walk past the Parliament building. You can take a stroll here at the beautiful green gardens, which exit to the Panathenaic stadium. It is located at a stone’s throw from Syntagma metro station. The garden has a glorious history behind it. It was named as “The garden of Amalia.”
Amalia was a queen who was the wife of King Otto. She is said to have spent at least 3 hours a day taking care of the garden! When you enter the garden from one of the seven entrances, Vasilissis Amalias Avenue entrance, a 25-meter high Washingtonia Palm trees will steal your attention. The royal highness herself planted the majestic trees! The garden has around 7000 trees, 40000 bushes, and other plants of 519 species. Catering to your enjoyment, the place also has a children’s library along with a cafe.
5:00 PM Syntagma Square
Syntagma square is the heart of Athens. It is Greek for Constitution Square. The first Royal modern Greek king, Otto, in the year 1843, christened the place. Here, you can witness the ceremonial changing of Guards, which is a necessary watch ritual. They perform at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On Sundays, you can see them wearing a traditional Greek war outfit from the 1821 era. On weekdays, you can observe their normal modern attire. The uniqueness of these soldiers lies in the fact that they remain stationary for 1 hour. After every 1 hour, they change their positions.
6:00 PM Panathenaic Stadium
It was here at this stadium where the first modern Olympics took place in the 19th century. It is also known as Kallimarmaro. It is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. Having been excavated in the year 1869, the surprising part is, the marble structure is still standing even after a big 2000 years! Though some modifications have been made, it is clear enough to see how it stood the test of time.
Things To Do In The Evening Of Day One
When you visit Athens in 2 days you no doubt want to see as much as possible and as this was a long day, at this point you will no doubt want to head out to your hotel to relax and refresh. Once rested I highly recommend checking out this cool list of things to do in Athens at night as your perfect guide and inspiration on how to spend the evening in Athens. Also, dont forget to check out these cool Greek beers while in Greece.
Day 2 In Athens – Places To Visit
9:00 AM Monastiraki Market
There are many things to do in Athens in 2 days! If you are asking yourself what to do in Athens in 2 days, you can start your Day 2 by exploring Monastiraki Market. Whichever side you turn, you will find a plethora of markets and shopping centers. Even if you are not buying anything from here, it is recommended to explore this unique place still and maybe even pick up a Greek souvenir or two.
In Monastiraki square, you will find Athens flee market where you find splendid souvenirs and outdated electronics. While making your way inside the flea market, you will come across Ancient Agora. This place may seem peaceful now, but historically, it was a busy commercial place with bustling people gossiping and shopping around. Historically speaking, the Ancient Agora was a place for political gatherings, and Roman Agora located on the eastern side was a marketplace.
You can easily access Roman Agora from the Ancient Agora towards the east side or walk 2 minutes from the Monastiraki metro station. The Roman Agora was constructed with the funds of Augustus and Julius Caesar in around the first century BC.
1:00 PM Adrian’s Library
Located in the northern corner of the Roman Agora, the library of Adrian houses not only books but also legal state archives. It is the largest library in all of Athens. It was constructed in 132 BCE by Roman emperor Hadrian as a plan for rebuilding the city. Admission to this site can be granted with a 30 EUR Acropolis combo ticket permitting entry to this one and five other sites. The library is built in an area of 10000 sq. km.
3:00 PM Temple of Hephaestus
Located just above the Ancient Agora, this temple has its awe. It is, in fact, the best-preserved ancient temple in the whole of Greece. This temple is dedicated mainly to Hephaestus, the God of Fire. Talented Iktinus, who also contributed to Parthenon, designed it in 450 BC. Its sculptures were made up of Parian marble while its structure was from Pentelic marble. Reconstruction and excavations at this historical site are still carried out to preserve the beautiful History.
4:00 PM Adrianou Street
Being one of the oldest commercial streets in Athens, Adrianou street is unlike any street in your country. Here, people from other countries in the world take a stroll and relax. The street has a wide range of shops and stalls. In case you feel hungry and tired, try grabbing a delicious coffee!
5:00 PM National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens is the largest in all of Greece and is considered one of the most important museums devoted to Greek history. It was founded in the year 1829 after a revolutionary struggle between Ottoman and the Greeks. You can find more than a whopping number of 11000 exhibits here, ranging from the prehistoric era to late antiquity.
It will cost you around 10 EUR to explore it. One of the most prominent artifacts to be displayed here is the Antikythera Mechanism. It is believed to be the world’s first computer and was lying under the sea for more than 2000 years! One notable artifact is the Mask of Agamemnon, which is a golden death mask. It is believed to cover the face of a dead person.
Day Two Evening Activities – Take inspiration from my list of things to do at night or maybe and easy dinner with a view of the Acropolis as you discuss the days’s city exploring.
Benefits of Having Athens City Card
With the possession of an Athens City card, you can be at an advantage over other tourists where you get to skip lines to entrance. There are alos plenty of tours and day trip tours in Athens to fully maximise your time in the city. You can find three categories of card:
- Athens City Pass Mini
With this, you are permitted to enjoy
- Free Acropolis museum entry
- 3 free walking tours
- 2 days of free sightseeing from buses
- Heavy discounts on the mini train throughout Piraeus
- Athens City Pass Classic
This is an upgrade to enjoy over the basic city pass. Here, you are permitted to enjoy
- Free Acropolis
- Free Acropolis museum
- 3 days of free public transport
- Free mini train
- Free walking tours
- 20% discounts
- Athens City Pass Complete
This is the max upgraded card to avail of maximum benefits. Here, you are permitted to enjoy
- Free Acropolis
- Free Acropolis museum
- Free 72 hours of public transport
- Free bus tours
- Free walking tours
- Free mini train
- 20% discounts and many more benefits
In all the city cards, you will get a free English guide who can prove a lot helpful. Along with the benefits, it is also important to note the costs of each card.
For Athens mini card,
- Cost for adults is 29.9 EUR
- Cost for children or teens (6-17 years old) is 14.9 EUR
For Athens classic,
- Cost for adults is 79.9 EUR
- Cost for children or teens (6-17 years old) is 34.9 EUR
The Athens complete pass will be a bit expensive with the cost of 112.9 EUR for adults and 45.9 EUR for children or teens (6-17 years old)
Getting Around In Athens
The best way to get around Athens is by walking! You can get a great vibe from the city by exploring on foot. The entire Acropolis, as an archaeological site, has great sight watching to offer. The area can be explored on foot without any requirement of transportation. For getting around the city, the metro is the quickest and the efficient way. It is easier to travel around Athens in metros than in Paris! Syntagma station at the heart of Athens will not only be convenient for you but also a wonder.
The station is a display of wonderful artifacts and antiquities! Unfortunately, the bus in Athens as transport is not convenient, as the bus tops may seem hidden and difficult to find without the help of locals. Although the transportation system has improved since the 2004 Olympics, there is still room for improvement. Instead of the bus, you can take a ride in trolleys and trams, both of which are very affordable. In 2018, even though Uber has been suspended in Greece, taxis are available 24/7.
Where to Stay in Athens?
In such a sprawling city and with only two days, it becomes vital to choose an excellent place to stay, which is as close as possible to tourist attractions in Athens. I have shared a comprehensive guide to the best areas to stay in Athens, but below are the hotels to help you get started with your search.
- Bedbox Hostel: It is located at the heart of Athens and is very affordable. Having positive reviews, this hostel has both private rooms and dorms to offer without hurting your purse. It is just a few minutes’ walk from Monastiraki Square.
- 18 Micon Str.: If a mid-range hotel with spacious rooms is your preference, then this hotel can serve you the best. It has cozy rooms and is located near Monastiraki square. It has incredible reviews and a gorgeous breakfast!
- Electra Metropolis: If you want to experience the best of Athens, this luxurious hotel can blow your mind. Located near Syntagma square, you can enjoy an epic view of Acropolis from here! It has gorgeous rooms, excellent breakfast, unbeatable coziness, and incredible reviews. If you have a fat purse, you need not think twice before choosing this hotel.
Best Time to Visit Athens
The months of July and August can see a temperature spike of more than 40 degrees Celsius. Instead of dropping a visit in the blazing hot summer, it is best to visit in April and June when the temperatures hover around 20 to 25 degrees. If you want to experience the best sightseeing, November can be your best bet, but you will need to be prepared for cold nights and heavy rains.
Have More Time In Athens?
If you have more time in Athens or if you are spending 3 days or even one week in Athens I highly recommend checking out the best beaches in Athens. For a little adventure, I recommend taking a ferry and island-hop to many of the beautiful Greek islands near Athens. I have plenty of tips on how to get from Athens to Santorini and Athens to Mykonos on the blog too.
There you have it – Two perfect days in Athens with a planned itinerary for how to maximise your time in Athens. Plus tips on where to go if you have more time in Greece. So are you planning your first trip to Greece or a return trip?
Heading To Greece? Also Read:
- What To Pack For Greece
- Cheap Hotels In Santorini With Infinity Pools
- The Best Areas To Stay In Mykonos
- The Best Beaches In Santorini
- A Perfect Itinerary To See Santorini In 3 Days
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