Greece is primarily known for its stunning islands, so Athens used to be a little overlooked by travellers. After spending 4 days in Athens, we can absolutely say that this magical city has a lot to offer. Most people visit it for its history, but beyond Athens' well-known sites, there is so much culture awaiting to be discovered. The food scene in Athens, the trendy bars, the unusual shopping streets and the unique neighbourhoods will make for an unforgettable holiday.
Our 4 days in Athens itinerary has been tried and tested by ourselves. We partnered up with Expedia and Visit Greece to uncover a secret Athens. We discovered colourful locations full of life which we can't wait to share with you. So let us tell you the story of an often-overlooked city, which you must add to your wish list.
For more information, and to learn how to book your holiday please visit this microsite lovingly made by Expedia and Visit Greece to help you create itineraries for your upcoming trip.
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4 days in Athens
Once we checked the map of Athens and realised the vastness of the city, it was obvious that spending just a couple of days here won't be enough. So we agreed on spending a long weekend with 4 full days in Athens.
Although we wanted to check the main attractions, we also wanted to add a few interesting locations to the itinerary. For example, we heard that Athens has some really cool bars which made it to the top 50 bars in the entire world. While we are not party people, we thought one or two fancy cocktails in the evening will be brilliant.
And just, wow! It's not just the unusual bars that made our holiday better, but also the food. Everywhere you go, there are vast numbers of restaurants which serve the most incredible, honest food you can possibly imagine. Let's put it this way: you definitely won't starve in Athens.
Getting from the airport to Athens
There are several ways to get from the international airport to Athens city centre. The airport is called the Eleftherios Venizelos Athens International Airport (ATH).
You can take the Metro Line 3 (Aghia Marina – Douk. Plakentias - Athens International Airport), which connects the Athens airport with the city centre. The metro goes every 30 minutes, 7 days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The journey will take roughly 40 minutes.
Click here to see the metro route on Google Maps
Expresses buses connect the Athens centre with the Athens International Airport. This service is in operation 24/7. Buses leave from the arrivals level at the airport. For tickets, you must go to the info/ticket kiosk outside the Arrivals, or alternatively, buy them from the bus driver (at no extra cost). Just make sure to have cash (Euro) on you.
Click here to see the bus routes on Gooogle Maps
The local trains (Proastiakos) connects the airport with the Athens Central Railway Station (called Larissis Station).
Taxis are available at the designated Taxi waiting area located at Exit 3 of Arrivals Level. Taxies cost a flat rate €35 from 5:00 a.m. to midnight and €50 from midnight to 5:00 a.m.
Prebook a taxi
You can use a third-party service to prebook your taxi. We used a service called "Welcome pickups" and we received a flat rate quote as well. We did tip the driver a little extra at the end of the trip. The taxi driver waited for us at the airport with our name written on a piece of paper. The app sent us a notification a few hours before arrival to tell us who our driver will be and how to find them. The cost of the trip was €39.
Where to stay in Athens
Athens is a huge city and finding the right place to stay for the first time can be quite a job. But we did the research for you to make it a little easier. We stayed at the Grecotel Pallas Athena, a 4-star accommodation in the centre.
Not only the location was ideal, but the hotel itself featured something truly unique: each room was decorated by a graffiti artist, so no matter how many times you book a room at the hotel, you can ask for a different room to feel the new decor. It's such a great idea. We love it when businesses engage with their local communities and artists.
Grecotel Pallas Athena was great for us due to its proximity to the cocktail bars we wanted to visit in the evening and some authentic restaurants we had on the itinerary. It's also located less than 30 min walk from the Acropolis.
Day 1 in Athens
Arrival in Athens
Welcome to Athens! Whoohoo, let the holiday begin. Grab your bags, let's find your transfer and head to the hotel.
Transfer to your hotel
We advise that you pre-book a taxi simply because it will be much easier for you. You don't have to deal with timetables, cash and rush. You simply find your driver who will be waiting for you and go straight to your hotel. Carefree.
Arrival at the hotel
Graciously waltz into the hotel lobby. Check-in with your passport and go to your room. Time to unzip the bags, enjoy a relaxing moment in your new home for the next 4 days in Athens. We always refresh with a nice shower (to wash the travel stress away), change clothes and take a moment to drink a cup of tea. And once ready, we venture to explore the city and get those exciting first impressions. That feeling is the best.
Hungry? Let's find a restaurant
Travelling (especially on a plane) can be tiresome at times and at the end, you'll always be left peckish for food. We tend to prebook a nice restaurant for our first meal in a new location. We are also foodie travellers so we know the first experience will usually make or break a holiday. So we research the area around our hotel and find the best possible option to satisfy our hunger. If you decide to stay at the Grecotel Pallas Athena, make a reservation for Lithos Taverna. It's a great introduction to Athens' culinary scene.
Lunch/Dinner at Lithos Taverna
We arrived quite late in Athens so we went straight for dinner at Lithos Taverna. We prebooked a table and it's a good job we did as the place was full. We might have ordered a bit too much food, but it was so worth it. Go for their Santorini wines and try a little bit of every cheese-based starters. You won't regret it.
We didn't have much time after dinner so we went back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest. If you had a morning plane, make sure to spend some time around Psyrri. It's a lovely location with arts, crafts and cosy bars and restaurants. It will make you feel like you landed on a Greek island.
Day 2 in Athens
Rise and shine, because it's time to start exploring Athens properly. Make sure you have comfortable footwear because you are going to walk a lot. And eat a lot too, so don't worry, it will be an excellent introduction day to Athens.
8:30 Breakfast at the hotel
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at your hotel. At the Grecotel Pallas Athena, we enjoyed an array of Greek traditional treats, little pies, cold and warm items. It was fantastic. We still dream of that breakfast to be fair.
9:30 Leave for the Acropolis private tour
Leave the hotel and head over to the Acropolis. We booked a guide via Expedia for a private tour of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. You'll meet your guide at the Acropolis metro station at exactly 10 am. Adjust the time you leave your hotel accordingly. We were just 30 min walk away.
10:00 Acropolis private tour - 4 hours
Immerse yourself in the private tour and listen to the beautiful history of the Acropolis hill. Start with a short visit to the Theatre Of Dionysus and learn how it transformed throughout the years. Make your way towards the Odeon Of Herodes Atticus and admire it from above. This place is in full function today. It hosts many performances from well-known artists all around the world.
Admire The Pnyx and learn about the importance of it. What may look like just a hill it's actually a lot more: the Pnyx used to be used for gatherings from as early as 507 BC. Here, Athenians hosted popular assemblies. The Pnyx is where Socrates was judged and convicted to death.
Visit The Parthenon and hear all the important information your guide will tell you about the history of it. This beautiful and historic building went through a lot of hardship. You will learn about the myths and stories of how the Parthenon came to be.
Walk around the Acropolis hill and admire some of the other gorgeous, historic buildings like The Erechtheion or the Temple Of Athena Nike.
Once you finish, you'll be guided around the Acropolis museum to further your knowledge and see some of the restored artefacts recovered from around the Acropolis hill. After the museum, you will finish the guided tour at the Temple Of Olympian Zeus.
14:15 It's lunchtime at Sphika
After learning so much about Athens in such a short time, it's time to take a much-deserved break. Head over to Sphika to enjoy a healthy, mese type lunch.
Sphika is a fantastic little restaurant located about 10 minutes on foot from the Acropolis. Order a variety of dishes for the table and indulge in a tapas-like menu which allows you to share the food with your loved ones. You'll find a lot of cheese-based dishes which we strongly recommend.
You do not need a reservation to visit this restaurant.
Address: Str. Kontouli 15, Athina 117 42, Greece
Ready for a fun experience around Athens? Head to the neighbourhood of Anafiotika where you can find an unusual Greek island-vibe. This location features narrow lanes with traditional Greek houses, lots of plants and cute cats everywhere. No, you didn't quite find a portal which transported you to Crete, but you'll certainly feel like it.
Be mindful of this location as people live here, so please keep the noise to the minimum and be respectful when taking pictures and selfies.
As you walk up the hill, you'll find several vista points which showcase the rooftops of Athens in all their glory. It's our favourite location in Athens and one which must be explored.
17:30 Filopappou Hill - Ancient Wall of Pnyx, The Prison of Socrates
Do you still have a bit of energy? Then hike the Filopappou Hill for amazing sunset views. This requires some fitness level so if you are tired after walking around the city for so long, you might want to skip this and heading straight to dinner.
19:30 Dinner at Karamanlidika or Maiandros restaurant
We wanted to have dinner at the Karamanlidika restaurant but changed our mind in the last second. We don't eat meat, and we realised Karamanlidika's star attractions are meat-based dishes. So we booked a last-minute table at the Maiandros. Great choice.
The restaurant was very busy when we arrived. You have two options: be seated next to the busy street so you can people-watch or go in the interior garden. We wish we would have said the interior garden as the agitation of the street was a little too much for us. The food was traditional and very good so from that perspective, we recommend the restaurant with love.
Maiandros restaurant: Αθήνα - Athens 105 55, Greece
Karamanlidika restaurant: Sokratous 1, Athina 105 52, Greece
21:00 Cocktails at the Clumsies
Ready for cocktails? Of course, you are! (Don't forget to make a reservation.) Head over Clumsies one of the best 50 cocktail bars in the world.
The waiter will hand you a fun menu with invisible ink and a UW light torch so you will have some fun trying to read it. It's not just the experience that's great, but the cocktails are fantastic and very tasty. The prices are affordable and fair considering how well known the bar is.
Address: Praxitelous 30, Athina 105 61, Greece
Day 3 in Athens
You are super versed in Athens by now. No doubt you are loving your time in the city and are ready for yet another day full of awesome surprises.
9:00 Breakfast at the hotel
Time for the morning fuel and delicious coffee or tea. Take maybe an hour to enjoy breakfast and start the day well. Traditional pastry anyone?
10:00 It's Greek Market time!
Do you like lively markets? Then you must check the Central Municipal Athens Market. It's full of fresh produce but it's also quite busy. If you love photography then you'll get plenty of snaps here. Being so busy, it can be a hotspot for pickpocketers so make sure you keep your belongings safe.
We found it an excellent space for buying olives and spices here.
10:30 Visit the Antique's Market
I don't love antiques. I don't really get the appeal as I love things modern and fresh. But even I was impressed with the Athens antique's market. Imagine entering a real-life "point and click" game with hidden objects. It looks insane, busy and colourful. But it's also surprisingly interesting and charming.
For photographers, this is also a must. And hey if you love antiques, then you'll probably spend some time finding new souvenirs here. It's the right place for it.
11:30 Ancient Agora and Temple of Hephaestus
From the antique's market, make your way towards the Ancient Agora. This was our favourite historical part of Athens. We loved it even more than the Acropolis. The Ancient Agora was calm and peaceful with very little tourists around.
Visit the Temple of Hephaestus which is the most well-preserved temple in the city. From the temple, you can get incredible views of the Acropolis.
12:00 Walk around the Plaka neighbourhood
Plaka is a lovely location next to Acropolis Hill. It's got pretty much everything you'd want to see on a holiday: souvenir shops, arts and crafts, bistros, bars and terraces. If you want a bit of a hassle and bustle then this is the right place in Athens. Have a joyful walk and admire all the "made in Greece" items which you'll want to purchase for family and friends.
13:30 Lunch and drinks at Atlantikos
Love fish? Head over to Atlantikos, a cute little taverna that specialises in fresh fish. You can order fava with anchovies and a full grilled fish with chips if that's your fancy. The service was good with friendly prices.
Address: Greece, Avliton 7, Athina 105 54, Greece
15:00 Walk back to the hotel or head to Lycabettus Hill Viewing Area
After lunch, we went to the hotel to change as we were getting ready to attend "Taste of Athens". "Taste of Athens" is a food festival which takes place at the beginning of autumn. It features live music and an array of restaurants coming together to present their best food. This is a must for any foodie who loves to try different dishes.
If you visit Athens when there is no "Taste of Athens" festival, we recommend heading to the Lycabettus Hill Viewing Area for a gorgeous vista point above Athens.
18:30 Dinner at Taste of Athens or at Karamanlidika restaurant
Enjoy a variety of dishes at Taste of Athens, where you can indulge in everything from black burgers through oysters to special eel sushi. You'll have food stands with glorious food and pop up cocktail bars too.
If you visit Athens when there is no festival, we recommend making a reservation at the Karamanlidika restaurant. Karamanlidika is a meze restaurant that brings the traditional tastes of Byzantium & Cappadocia.
Address: 10-12, Dorileou Str, Athina 115 21, Greece
20:00 Cocktails at the Upupa Epops
This is a great place for brunch as well as drinks. It's an old house turned into a bar, ready to serve you amazing cocktails and great food. Prices here are reasonable and cocktails taste potent and delicious. We especially love the vibe as the interior is fun, with old school chairs and greenery as decor. Give it a try, you'll like it!
Address: Alkminis 7, Athina 118 54, Greece
Day 4 in Athens
9:00 Breakfast at the hotel
Ready for day 4 in Athens? By now you are probably in love with the city and are searching for houses to buy here. We know we really wanted to just move there and forget about the real world. Who knew Athens can be such an excellent city. And not to mention, it's the perfect getaway to all those gorgeous Greek islands, so it seems like a rather perfect location.
10:00 Visit The National Archaeology Museum
Start the day with a visit to the National Archaeology Museum. Allocate at least an hour to walk around and learn about some of the important artefacts in Greece. Overall it's one of the most comprehensive Archeological Museums and you'll learn heaps of information.
11:00 Walk Around The National Garden
From the museum, make your way towards the National Garden, it will take about 35-45 minutes on foot. Take a break from history and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Athen's National Garden. This is a public park of 15 hectares located in the centre of the capital.
Make sure to check the Syntagma Square to see the official parade of the changing of the guard which takes place every hour.
13:00 Lunch at Black Sheep
Make sure you reserve a table at the Black Sheep as it's the locals' favourite and it gets busy during lunchtime. This is a traditional Greek restaurant with a tapas-like menu so you can mix and match items and share them with the whole table.
To book a reservation call +30 21 0722 3466
Address: Arrianou 31, Athina 116 35, Greece
15:00 Panathenaic Stadium
Just a few minutes walk from the restaurant, you will find The Panathenaic Stadium which was built in the 6th century BC to host the Panathenaic Games. The Panathenaic Games were a religious and athletic festival celebrated every 4 years (much like our modern Olympic Games) in the honour of Athena.
It is now one of the top attractions in Athens. It is the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble.
15:40 Have an Espresso and a Gin Tonic at Dry Caffe & Spuntino
Enjoy a quick pick me up espresso and a fun gin and tonic. Nothing better than to break the day, sit down for a bit and admire the city.
16:00 - 18:00 - Walk around Athens
Take a leisurely stroll around Athens. Pass the beautiful National Library and the gorgeous Academy Of Athens. Both impressive buildings and main attractions in Athens. If you haven't purchased a souvenir yet, now it's the time. We recommend the Greek soap, extra virgin olive oil (our favourite) and if you want something special, get custom Greek sandals - they are quite comfy.
Academy of Athens: Address: Panepistimiou 28, Athina 106 79, Greece
National Library: Address: Panepistimiou 32, Athina 106 79, Greece
18:00 Dinner at Black Duck Multiplarte
Black Duck Multiplarte is a hip restaurant with a laid back atmosphere. It serves Mediterranean food in a 3-story restaurant with fun exhibits on the wall.
Address: Christou Lada 9, Athina 105 61, Greece
20:00 Cocktails at Rum au Baba
Rum au Baba is one of the best 50 cocktail bars in the world, you'll absolutely love your time here.
The menu is a beautiful, hardcover book with crazy awesome Avantgarde cocktails. Please try the "Love of Zero" cocktail. It smells like bergamot, it tastes delicate and will make your holiday unforgettable.
This is perhaps the most incredible place in Athens. We wish to go back to Athens just so we can sample even more of their cocktails. Absolute perfection.
We hope you enjoyed our 4 days in Athens itinerary and can not wait to visit. We absolutely loved the city and would go back in a heartbeat for the food, drinks and the vibe.
Did you already visit Athens? Do you have recommendations we haven't mentioned? Share them in the comments section below, we would love to hear them.