Athens is a remarkable European city that is packed full of history at every turn. Unfortunately, many travelers simply use Athens as a connecting hub to get them to Greek Islands like Santorini or Mykonos. But Athens is worth a trip of its own, offering travelers a chance to eat incredible cuisine at low prices and learn about the rich history of Greece in its capital. On your first trip to Athens, whether you have a few days or a whole week, these are some top activities to enjoy.

10 Visit The Acropolis Of Athens

The Acropolis is one of the most famous sights in Athens and is likely the image that first comes to mind when travelers picture this historic city. The Acropolis of Athens is a citadel that overlooks the city from above, situated on a massive rockface. Within the Acropolis are several ancient buildings that travelers come from around the world to see, including ​The Parthenon, The Propylaiam, The Erechtheion, The Temple of Athena Nike, The Old Temple, The Pandrosion, The Arrephorion, and The Chalkotheke.

Also referred to as “the sacred rock”, the Acropolis of Athens is a must-visit attraction when staying in the city for more than a few hours. Admission costs around $5.00 per person and covers all sites within the area. When visiting Athens in the summer, it’s best to explore the Acropolis early in the morning before the midday heat sets in.

9 Go To The Acropolis Museum

After a morning of soaking in the historical structures atop the Acropolis, travelers can head to the Acropolis Museum for breakfast, a Greek coffee, and further opportunities to educate themselves. The Acropolis Museum is open seven days a week, although hours differ between the summer and winter months. Ticket prices also increase during summer (April-October), rising from 5.00 (around $5.30) per person to €10.00 (around $10.50) for general admission.

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8 Shop At Monastiraki Market

For travelers who are less enthused about historical structures (or simply want a break from sightseeing), shopping at Monastirkaki Market is one of the best experiences to have while in Athens. Monastiraki is a flea market that is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm daily and boasts tons of streetside shops and stalls for buying jewelry, clothing, and more. The bustling atmosphere, friendly locals, and beautiful neighborhood make shopping here a memorable time. Just be sure to keep an eye on valuables and personal bags because pickpocketing is a common occurrence on the market streets.

7 Watch A Movie At An Open Air Cinema

Going to the movies isn’t something everyone plans to do as part of their travels, but in Athens, it’s worth adding to the itinerary. Athens has several outdoor cinemas throughout the city where audiences can screen newly released films under the stars with all the comforts of a typical movie theater experience. Aegli is the city’s oldest open-air theater, open since 1903, and is a favorite among travelers and locals. It boasts a beautiful setting and some of the best snacks at a theater, such as souvlaki skewers.

6 Visit The Temple Of Olympian Zeus

Go beyond the historical structures of the Acropolis with a visit to the remarkable Temple of Olympian Zeus while in Athens. The temple took several centuries to build with construction starting in 174 BCE and ending under Hadrian’s rule in 131 CE. The size of this temple is breathtaking with immensely tall columns making it one of the biggest structures in ancient history.

5 Swim At Lake Vouliagmeni

Take a refreshing break from the summer heat in the city center and hop on a bus to Lake Vouliagmeni. By car, Lake Vouliagmeni is just 25 minutes outside the city, but it’s affordable and convenient for travelers to take a city bus 50 minutes to the lake for a day trip. Lake Vouliagmeni is a unique experience in Attica with spa-like amenities surrounding a brackish-water lake that is temperate (22ºC to 29ºC) year-round. The lake is part saltwater and part fresh water, home to Doctor Fish, which nibbles at the dead skin cells on the body while visitors swim.

4 Walk Through Plaka

Plaka is a picturesque neighborhood in Athens that is worth taking the time to stroll through for breakfast or lunch as part of a visit to the city. The hillside neighborhood is quaint, reminiscent of a village with cobblestone streets, shops, restaurants, and colorful flowers. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens and will transport visitors back in time with its well-preserved architecture.

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3 Climb Mount Lycabettus

Mount Lycabettus is a limestone hill that rises above the city of Athens, sitting at 277 meters above sea level. It’s the highest point in the entire city, so it’s a great place to get a clear view of Athens from above for photos or just to appreciate its vastness. Travelers can hike up the hill on foot or take a cable car to the top where there is a viewing platform and a restaurant. The duration of the hike to the top depends on an individual’s fitness level but can range from 30 to 90 minutes. The cable car is a faster option, departing every 30 minutes between 9:00 am and 2:30 pm daily. Tickets cost €10.00 per person, roundtrip.

2 See The Panathenaic Stadium

Athens is well known as the birthplace of the Olympics, so take some time to visit the Panathenaic Stadium while in the city. The stadium originally hosted 50,000 people in marble stands for the first modern Olympic games back in 1896. General admission to the stadium is €5.00 and enables the ticket holder to walk around the stadium or run through the bleachers.

1 Visit The National Archeological Museum

To fully appreciate Greece’s long and rich history, travelers should pay a visit to the National Archeological Museum on their first trip to Athens. It contains important artifacts found in Greek archeological sites, ranging from prehistoric to antique. It’s the largest archeological museum in Greece. Admission costs €6.00 from November 1st to March 31st and €12.00 from April 1st to October 31st.