From ancient monuments and medieval churches to world-class museums and high-end boutiques, it’s hard to get bored in Athens. One of the main reasons to visit is to roam the Acropolis and Ancient Agora, exploring their stunning ruins, including the Parthenon, Erechtheion and the Temple of Hephaestus. But you also want to save time for the exhibits housed at the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum, as well as Plaka’s historic streets. Depending on when you visit, you may even be able to take in a theatrical performance at the Herod Atticus Odeon.
- Acropolis Museum
As its name suggests, the Acropolis Museum – which resides in central Athens’ Makrigianni district – houses various archaeological findings from the Acropolis. Key exhibits include a relief of Athena Nike, several carved statues from Erechtheion and a gallery with various Parthenon artifacts.
Many previous travelers said the Acropolis Museum was one of the best museums they’d ever visited, citing the property’s displays as the perfect complement to the Acropolis’ ruins. Another plus: the museum’s design. Several visitors raved about the attraction’s construction, especially its glass floors that offer a peek at the ruins situated beneath the building.
Public parking is not available at the Acropolis, however, travelers can take the metro to Acropoli station or ride one of several buses to stops found just outside the property. Museum hours vary by day and season, but the property generally opens at 8 or 9 a.m. and closes between 4 and 10 p.m. Attraction passes cost 5 euros (less than $6) each and can be purchased online or at the museum’s ticket office. Tickets include access to all of the property’s exhibits, as well as its reading lounge (where complimentary Wi-Fi is provided), shops, eateries and restrooms. Free entry is offered annually on March 6 and 25, May 18 and October 18. Guided tours are not available at this museum, but archaeologists give daily talks about the property’s exhibits. To learn more about the Acropolis Museum’s collections, facilities and special events, visit the attraction’s website.
The beautiful, historical neighborhood of Plaka, located under the Acropolis, is largely residential. Still, its assortment of restaurants and cafes keep it swarming with tourists each summer. You can also shop, especially if you’re looking to bring home some gold jewelry.
Motor vehicles are not permitted on this neighborhood’s winding streets, so make sure you have a street map and a comfortable pair of shoes. Visitors say Plaka offers a charming atmosphere and plenty of great shops for both souvenirs and one-of-a-kind finds. If you’d rather sip a drink once the sun goes down, travelers suggest visiting one (or several) of the area’s vibrant clubs or bars.
Plaka sits within walking distance of the Acropoli, Sygrou – Fix, Monastiraki and Syntagma metro stations, and street parking is limited but available. Hours and fees vary by shop, restaurant, club and bar, but the neighborhood itself is free to visit 24 hours a day. Expect some shopping and dining establishments to be closed between June and August when locals head to nearby beach communities for the summer.
Located just north of the Parthenon within the Acropolis complex, the Erechtheion was constructed between 421 and 406 B.C. as a place for Athenians to worship Erechtheus, the mythical king of Athens, and various Greek gods. Though smaller than the Parthenon, this structure features a frieze made of Eleusinian gray stone, multiple sculptures (known as caryatids) and other unique details, making it one of the Acropolis’ most eye-catching buildings.
This sight’s attention to detail makes it one of Athens’ most popular ruins to visit. Sightseers love the caryatids found on the south side of the building, adding that these copies – five of the six original statues are on display in the Acropolis Museum, while the sixth resides in London’s British Museum – are so accurate that it’s hard to tell they’re replicas. Another plus: the stunning city vistas.
The Erechtheion is open daily (excluding major Greek holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To visit the site, travelers will need to purchase an Acropolis ticket, which costs 20 to 30 euros (or $22 to $32.50) per person. Standard tickets include one day of access to all of the Acropolis’ attractions (including the Erechtheion) and facilities like bathrooms, beverage concessions and a gift shop, while unified tickets cover one entry to the Acropolis, Ancient Agora and the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos within a five-day period. A small parking lot is available on-site, but driving in central Athens is not recommended, so consider using public transportation to reach the Erechtheion. Four metro stations – Acropoli, Sygrou – Fix, Monastiraki and Thissio – can be reached on foot from the attraction. Check out the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports’ ODYSSEUS website for more information.
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