Athens, Greece is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe with origins going back more than 4,000 years. It has known every type of government in the world, including the world’s first democracy. Beyond the incredible history on display and ever-looming over the city, it is also known for its picturesque neighborhoods, exciting culture, and delicious eats. Here are the top ten things to do in downtown Athens.
Explore Athens’ Most Scenic Neighborhood
Do get lost among the little whitewashed cube houses in Anafiotika before ascending to explore the Acropolis. The historic enclave of Anafiotika is one of the most picturesque in all of Athens.
Travel Back 2,500 Years
No visit to Athens is complete without roaming the ancient ruins of the Parthenon and the Acropolis. Acropolis means the highest point in the city and refers to the entire area which includes the Parthenon and five other historic structures. Go early to beat the crowd.
Learn About the Intriguing History of the Region
Athens is home to numerous world-class museums. The Acropolis Museum is an impressive Greek institution that opened in 2009 focusing on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis. The Benaki Museum is the oldest private museum in Greece and displays art ranging from the prehistoric to the modern. The National Archaeological Museum is considered one of the top museums in the world for its outstanding collection of ancient Greek artifacts.
Go Traditional Greek Sandals Shopping
After you explore the historical landmarks of the Ancient Agora and Roman Agora, you can buy a pair of fabulous traditional sandals from the sandal-making family of Pantelis and Olgianna Melissinos, with stores in the market district of Monastiraki.
Wander Through Athens’ Vibrant Districts
Each district in Athens has its own unique character. It is easy to spend hours wandering Plaka with its balconies bulging with geraniums, the bohemian Exarhia district, and the hipster Gazi district.
Catch an Outdoor Film in Cine Thisio
If you find yourselves in the city from May to September, you can spend your evening watching a film under the stars in the open-air Cine Thisio while enjoying a homemade sour cherry drink or a glass of wine. The place also offers delicious hot dogs.
Indulge in Delicious Local Treats
While the Mediterranean diet is lauded around the world for its health benefits, Greeks still know how to indulge. You can visit Bairaktaris Taverna to try the best souvlaki kebab in town while for a fresh traditional-style tiropita (cheese pastry), Ariston bakery is the place to be.
Enjoy Dinner with a View
For an unforgettable Greek meal, dining on the terrace at Strofi with views of the illuminated Acropolis is a must. Where else can you enjoy dinner while gazing at some of the most important ruins in the world?
Visit One of the Best Open-air Theaters in the World
Located below the slopes of the Acropolis, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an open-air theater that was built between A.D. 160 – 174 but still functions as a performance venue today. Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, and Vangelis are just a few of the world-class artists that have performed here. It is worth a visit even if no concerts or shows are playing.
Sample Homemade Drinks From a Century-Old Distillery
To end the day, drink a homemade brew from one of the many on offer at Brettos, a quaint little bar with a stunning array of colored bottles, old wine barrels, and a refreshingly old-fashioned feel. It is the best place for a nightcap as it stays open until 2 a.m. every single day.