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6 Beautiful Places to See in One Day in Athens (with Map)

Beautiful things to do in Athens in one day

Athens, a city rich in history and culture, has no shortage of places to visit. While you can easily spend several days exploring Athens, it is possible to visit the city’s most significant historic sites and museums, and most vibrant neighborhoods in one day. Here are six beautiful places to see in one day in Athens, all within walking distance of one another.

Visiting Athens is simply gorgeous! From walking among some of the oldest historical artifacts to walking through beautiful, narrow streets in Old Town Athens, this city is what makes visiting Europe very appealing. In this article I am putting together my favorite walking tour of how you can spend one day in Athens and enjoy every minute of it. Whether you choose to follow all my directions or mix and match my favorite attractions in Athens, make sure you created your own one day in Athens tour, the one tour that fits who you are and what you like to do.

My Favorite Things to See in One Day in Athens

While Athens is a large city, the center of Athens is easily walkable. While I try to maximize my time in Athens, I try not to rush while I’m visiting. Every time I return from a trip to Europe, there are things that I missed, or didn’t have time to visit, but that’s ok for me. Our last trip through Greece was no different, and especially looking back at the time we spent in Athens, I can definitely point to places that we didn’t see. However, if you’re asking what to do one day in Athens, make sure you don’t miss my favorite things to do in Athens:

  • Visit the Acropolis and allow a good amount of time so you can walk among some of the most significant historical artifacts in Europe. Take time to look at the beautiful city views from the top and from Aeoropagus Hill.
  • Walk through Athens Old Town (Plaka) and go up and down the stairs through the narrow alleyways that go up from the street level to the Acropolis hill. Have dinner at one of the restaurants higher on the hills so you can enjoy the beautiful views.

Map of what to see in one day in Athens
Walking tour map of Athens

Is Athens a walkable city? Absolutely! Especially the Acropolis and Plaka areas of Athens are very walkable and easily accessible. With the map of Athens in your hands, put on some comfortable walking shoes and let’s spend one day in Athens together.

1. Dionysiou Aeropagitou

Behind the Theatre of Dionysus, the Dionysiou Aeropagitou street is a beautiful promenade
Behind the Theatre of Dionysus, the Dionysiou Aeropagitou street is a beautiful promenade
See my photos from Athens

Closed to motor vehicle traffic, Dionysiou Aeropagitou gives visitors a chance to see both history and architecture. Walking on Dionysiou Aeropagitou, a great way to spend one day in Athens, you’ll be mesmerized by both the historical monuments and modern and neoclassical buildings.

Starting at the Acropolis Museum, walk west on Dionysiou Aeropagitou street, past the old Acropolis ruins, past past the Altar of the Nymphs, and the Agia Sophia Church to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. From the Acropolis Museum, take the time to soak in the best views of the Acropolis and the hill it sits on by walking along the cobblestoned Grand Promenade from the South Slope of the Acropolis to the Acropolis’ western entrance.

2. Acropolis

The Acropolis with the Temple of Athena Nike is a major attraction for one day in Athens
Side view of the Temple of Athena Nike
See my photos from Athens

The Acropolis, sitting on a hilltop 490 feet above sea level, is one of Athens’ best known archaeological sites. Built between 447-438 BC, the Acropolis was the administrative and religious center of Athens and is well worth visiting if you have one day in Athens.

Four of the Acropolis’ structures remain standing, the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaia. The Temple of Athena Nike is covered in frizzes that incorporated the Greek Gods, especially Athena, Zeus, Nike, and Poseidon. South of the Acropolis, on Filopappou Hill, is the Prison of Socrates, where Socrates was imprisoned prior to his trial, conviction, and execution.

Plan Your Trip to the Acropolis

The main entrance to the Acropolis is on the west side of the Acropolis hill and it’s busy. However, there is another entrance on the South of the Acropolis hill which is a lot less busy and gives you different views as you go up the hill.
Visiting the Acropolis was definitely the highlight of our one day in Athens itinerary, and you should not miss it, especially if you visit Athens for the first time.

3. Areopagus Hill

Acropolis seen from Areopagus Hills
Acropolis seen from Areopagus Hills
See my photos from Athens

Northwest of the Acropolis sits Areopagus Hill, also called the Hill of Ares. Home of Athens’ high court from the seventh century BC to the fifth century AD, Areopagus Hill offers fantastic views of Athens, especially the Ancient Agora located underneath. If you’re spending one day in Athens, Areopagus Hill is a must see.

While many debates among Athens’ rulers were held at Areopagus Hill, it is better known for its court trials. Demosthenes, Phyrne, Orestes, and Ares had their trials here. Paul gave his Areopagus sermon here, as mentioned in Acts 17:16-34, which led to the conversion of Dionysius the Areopagite. Dionysiou Aeropagitou, also known as the Grand Promenade, is named for Dionysius the Areopagite.

Plan Your Trip to Aeropagus Hill

Also known as Mars Hill, this particular spot is very famous being mentioned in the Bible in the book of Acts of the Apostles. This exact spot, on the slopes of the Acropolis, is the place where Paul the Apostle addresses the Athenians, with the Acropolis in the background. On the side of this rocky hill, you will find the excerpt from the Bible where this place is mentioned. We loved the views of the Acropolis and of the city all around us.
It is very easy to include a short stop to Aeropagus Hill when you visit the Acropolis, either before you enter or when you exit the Acropolis complex. We really enjoyed this spot in our one day in Athens adventures.

4. Plaka: Old Town Athens

Small restaurant in Athens Old Town (Plaka)
Small restaurant in Athens Old Town (Plaka)
See my photos from Athens

Surrounding the northern and eastern slopes of the Acropolis, the Plaka is Athens’ oldest neighborhood, with a village feel. Featuring picturesque, walkable, narrow car-free streets, shops, cafes, restaurants, churches, neoclassical buildings, and lively summer festivals, the Plaka is a great place to explore if you have one day in Athens.

From the Acropolis Museum, walk north on Vyronos Street around the Acropolis Hill. As you walk around the hill, explore the side streets, many featuring stairs that you climb uphill. The side streets are home to restaurants offering sidewalk and rooftop dining with beautiful views of Athens.

Plan Your Trip to Old Town Athens

We visited the Plaka (old town) area of Athens in the afternoon and we simply walked around the area and up and down the narrow alleyways. Don’t miss this busy but gorgeous area during your one day in Athens tour. The Plaka area wraps around the Acropolis hill from East to North, so it’s best to give yourself a few good hours to simply wander around and have some lunch or dinner. We had dinner on a rooftop overlooking the city during sunset and into the evening.

5. Ancient Agora of Athens

Old Roman ruins inside the Agora overlooking the Acropolis
Old Roman ruins inside the Agora overlooking the Acropolis
See my photos from Athens

On the north side of the Acropolis Hill sits the Ancient Agora of Athens. Originally ancient Athens’ center of government, commerce, worship, and justice; and a gathering place for people of all walks of life, the Agora is home to several ruins surrounded by trees. If you’re spending one day in Athens, the Ancient Agora provides a lesson on how Athenians lived in ancient days.

Two buildings, the Stoa of Attalos, originally a marketplace; and the Temple of Hephaestus, a well-preserved Classical era Greek temple; sit alongside the Ancient Agora’s ruins. A brief walk northeast takes you to Monastiraki Square, a meeting place in the lively Monastiraki neighborhood, where you’ll find many cultures and architectural styles in one spot. Many restaurants surround Monastiraki Square and the surrounding streets.

6. Athens Museums

Sculptures on display at the Acropolis Museum
Sculptures on display at the Acropolis Museum
See my photos from Athens

Athens is a city of museums, with over 50 museums exhibiting historical artifacts, art works, jewelry, scientific discoveries, and other treasures. If you have one day in Athens, you’ll need to carefully budget your time to visit the museums that interest you the most.

My family and I spent a day and a half in Athens to specifically visit the Byzantine and Christian Museum and its extensive collection of manuscripts and early church art. The Byzantine and Christian Museum, National Archaeological Museum, and the Acropolis Museum are the museums to visit if you’re spending one day in Athens.

Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum, built over an archaeological site, faces the Acropolis. Opened in 2009, the museum houses every artifact found on the Acropolis and its surrounding slopes. With over 4,000 artifacts, including 300 marble statues, you can easily spend a day in Athens visiting the museum.

Visitors follow a circular path through the Acropolis Museum’s three levels of permanent and temporary exhibits. A third-floor gallery houses artifacts from the Parthenon. You can see spectacular views of the Acropolis from the second-floor café. A glass floor on the ground level enables visitors to watch active archaeological excavations. With the Acropolis Museum’s large number of exhibits, you can cut your visit down to under two hours if you see just the main exhibits.

National Archeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum, opened in 1889, is the world’s foremost museum dedicated to ancient Greek art. The exhibits span from 7000 BC to 500 AD and depict each of Greece’s civilizations as well as the evolution of Greek sculpture. The Museum, a 40-minute walk from the Acropolis Museum, is well worth visiting if you’re spending one day in Athens.

Byzantine and Christian Museum

Beautiful old handwritten manuscript at the Byzantine and Christian Museum
Beautiful old handwritten manuscript at the Byzantine and Christian Museum
See my photos from Athens

Located a 35-minute walk northeast from the Acropolis, the Byzantine and Christian Museum is considered one of the best museums displaying Byzantine art in the world. With over 30,000 exhibits, artworks, and manuscript, the Byzantine and Christian Museum is a must-see place to visit if you’re spending more than one day in Athens.

Located inside a monastery-style building, the Byzantine and Christian Museum divides its unsurpassed collection by time period, with separate exhibit areas covering both the Byzantine period and the period between the 15th and 20th centuries. The museum’s gardens provide an oasis with trees, plants, and fountains. You can tour the museum in two hours if you focus on the major exhibits.

Plan Your Trip to Athens

Find budget hotels in Athens. We stayed in an apartment like Athens Studio, right next to the Acropolis, which was very convenient for accessing all the attractions. You can also find other budget hotels in Athens, especially in the Plaka and Acropolis areas.

Find local Athens walking tours. Book a beautifully conducted local tour of the Acropolis and skip the ticket line. You can also indulge in a local food tour of Athens.

Where to park in Athens? Look for parking near Acropolis or a parking lot near Plaka. All parking in Athens looks a little “sketchy” for most people as you have to hand in your keys to a parking valet, as they double park your car. We parked in a car repair shop as our apartment didn’t come with parking and we couldn’t find anything on the street. I was uneasy about handing my car keys, but that’s the practice in Athens.

Is one day in Athens enough? If your focus is on the historical areas of Acropolis and Plaka, you can enjoy both in only one day. If however, you want to visit a few of the museums and explore different areas of Athens, you would need more time. We spend a full day exploring historical areas of Athens plus half of the next day visiting the Early Christian museum. So can you do Athens in one day? Well, as usual, it depends on what your expectations are.

Is Athens Worth Visiting?

Athens is such a lively city to visit with many tourist attractions! Both our teenage kids loved spending one day in Athens, it was their favorite day during our 10 days trip to Greece. We spent two nights in Athens and one full day exploring the Acropolis and Old Town area. During the one day we spend in Athens we visited only one museum: the Acropolis Museum which was pretty overwhelming especially because we were pretty tired in the afternoon.

We loved exploring the old town (Plaka) area during the night and had dinner on a rooftop overlooking Athens. During the second day we visited the Athens Christian Museum before heading out towards Corinth. So, yes you can visit most important attractions and enjoy beautiful Athens in one day.

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