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Three Days in Athens

We (four of us) are first time visitors to Greece. Prior to a seven day island cruise, we will have three full days to visit Athens. Interested in any suggestions from those more seasoned Athens visitors for places to visit in those three days. Is two days enough and then plan a day trip outside the city?

Day 1 is with "Athens City Walk" and includes in 5.5 hours:
Greek Parliament
Monument of the Unknown Soldier, etc.
National Gardens
Zappeion Hall
Temple of Zeus
Hadrian's Arch
Acropolis Museum

Day 2 and 3 on our own - using RS Pocket Athens and other resources I would probably include:
Old Town and Souvlaki Row
Ancient Agora (if not included in Athens City Tour)
More National Gardens (?)
Acropolis Loop (ofcourse)
Mars Hill
Central Market (hotel is near here so will probably visit several times)

We like food, drink and night life. After Acropolis and Agora and upcoming islands, probably do not need additional ancient sites.
With above draft agenda (Athens City Tour is cast in stone) are there any suggestions of things to drop or any suggestions of sites to add.

As always, appreciate any experienced Athens input.

Posted by
1064 posts

I would highly recommend visiting Kerameikos Cemetery. It's one of Athens' best and probably least known ancient site.

I'm not sure if your tour includes the ticket(s) for some of the sites, but there is a all-in-one ticket that gets you entry onto the Acropolis, Agora, Hadrian's Library, Temple to Zeus and the cemetery.

It looks like you've got of what people go to Athens for scheduled.

You say your hotel is near the central markets so if you are close to Athinas St. it'ss filled with shops and markets that a lot of locals go to. In addition the side streets off of it are filled with locally-owned specialty shops like herbs/spice shops, hardware, textiles, garden products and lots more.

If you want a great website for Athens check out this website:

Posted by
9630 posts

You need to add the Archeological Museum in Athens. The islands are not filled with antiquities unless you go to the island of Delos by boat from Mykonos or to see Knossos on Crete.

Posted by
1253 posts

I second Suki's recommendation regarding the National Archeological Museum.

Posted by
3467 posts

A bit more on the Nat’l Archaeological Museum. It’s large and packed with amazing treasures. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a guide for a couple of hours to help you better understand what you are seeing.
The Benaki Museum is quite different, a private collection, I think. It has wonderful folk art, jewelry and costumes and fabrics, musical instruments, etc. The cafe serves a nice lunch.

Posted by
3141 posts

We are on the RICK STEVES travel forum --- I am hoping that questioners have looked at this website's wonderful introduction to Athens ... AND his FREE downloadable audio d-i-y walking tours ... the the Acropolis, to the Ancient Agora, an Walking Tour of Central Athens and Yes! one for the vast & confusing Nat. Archeological Museum. I think he calls it the 10 Must-Sees -- but of course give more.. but it does give you a focus for spending a couple of hours there, rather than getting lost for days there.

Here's how to find these wonderful audio tours -- Go to Upper LH corner of this page
• Click EXPLORE EUROPE -- u get a Menu of countries -- click GREECE
• On the Greek "Places" list, click ATHENS
• There's a list of how to: At A Glance - Plan - Photos - Watch - Read - LISTEN Click LISTEN
• The 4 podcasts can be listened to online and/or downloaded to your smartphone

Posted by
3141 posts

Tommy K, maybe you & I have been in Athens more often, and have had time to seek beyond the top 3-4 Landmark ancient sites. This person says "probably do not need additional ancient sites." Having a shelf-full of book on Greek History & archeology (as you probably do), Kerameikos interested me, but I did not get around to it until probably my 5th trip to Greece. It was a hot day, and I walked from the Thissio metro station to Kerameikos & it was over half a mile. Its monumental burial steles etc were of interest, the museum somewhat less so (I have a feeling the best bits had been swooped up by the Nat. Arch. Mus.). It was of interest to be awre of the remaining fragments of the "long wall" (the protective structure guarding Athenian passage to/from its ships at Piraeus). However, for a complete newcomer, I think it's farther away than easy-to-comprehend sites like Temple of Zeus... which also is more impressive for a tourist snapshot.

I likewise have favorites... like the "dema" of the Pnyx, where I can picture Pericles delivering his famous memorial speech ... but I would not expect a newcomer to get much out of it, beyond it being a wonderful standpoint for a distance photo of Acropolis.

Posted by
1064 posts

janet: just wanted to add it to the list. If the OP has time it's a site that should be taken into account.

Like most archeological sites when they say "ruins" that's what you get but the poignancy of reading the translations on the head stones reveals that even though they died hundreds if not thousands of years ago the pain of the loss of a loved one hasn't changed!

I also have a decent knowledge of ancient Greece so it was an important site for me to visit. Actually several times now.

It is a bit of a walk from the Metro Station which is another considering.

However I've walked it from my accommodations on Athinas St. In fact the best way to experience Athens is by walking.

As someone who has been to Athens numerous times I've had the opportunity to see most of the sites in the city including those out of the way ones.

It's also amazing the number of sites that never get mentioned like the one across from the Bank of Athens(?) that is fenced in, the findings in some of the Metro Stations like Monistiraki & Syntagma.

Apparently any time one digs anywhere in Athens you find something!

Anyway thanks for the input