2 days in Athens is not an awful lot. But it’s enough to cover all the main highlights of the Greek capital and get a feel for what the city is like.
With 48 hours to spend, you can explore the Ancient Acropolis and other Athens historical sights at a leisurely pace. You can spend a little time exploring the various neighbourhoods that make up Athens.
Each of these areas has its own distinct personality and charm. They are essentially like little villages in themselves.
You can also venture a little outside of the city limits and discover the glamorous Athenian Riviera. This upscale region is made up of several stunning beach towns. It was a popular vacation getaway for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bridgette Bardot, and Sofia Loren
Suggested Athens Tours & Experiences
If you only have 2 days in Athens, you may prefer to take some of the stress out of organising your schedule and take a walking tour. Doing so gives you the opportunity to explore with a local, discover places that most tourists would never find, and ask your local guide for their recommendations on their favourite places.
A handful of reputable Athens walking tours are detailed below for your consideration. Prefer to go it alone? 2 days in Athens itinerary follows.
- Original gourmet food tour of Athens
- Athens original street art tour
- Street food tour of Athens
- Instagram tour of Athens
- Athens by night walking tour
- Alternative Athens private walking tours
- Athens 4 hour cooking class with market visit
- Electric bike night tour of Athens
- Athens: Acropolis, Parthenon & Acropolis Museum Guided Tour
- Acropolis Guided walking tour with entrance ticket
- Temple of Poseidon and Sounion tour from Athens
2 Days in Athens: A Suggested Itinerary from a Local
Day One: Historic & Cultural Highlights of Athens
Wake up bright and early on day one of your 2 days in Athens. Enjoy breakfast in your hotel or head to one of the many charming coffee places in the city centre for coffee and a croissant.
Little Tree Books & Coffee (Kavalloti 2) is a quirky little spot in Koukaki that is loved by locals. It is, as the name suggests, a combined bookstore and coffee spot. Sink down into one of the oversized armchairs and order yourself a Freddo espresso – Greek espresso served over ice.
If you prefer a heartier breakfast/brunch, head to Kinono (Falirou 48). Their menu serves an array of Mediterranean and international breakfast options. Think eggs benedict, eggs florentine, etc.
Visit the Acropolis
Any mention of Athens is synonymous with the Acropolis and its magnificent Parthenon. This spectacular collonaded structure dates back to 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the peak of its power.
The Parthenon can be seen from all corners of the city. It is particularly impressive at night when you’re walking through the old districts and you can see it illuminated by hundreds of twinkling lights.
However, the Acropolis complex is actually far larger than initially meets the eye and contains several buildings and archaeological sites, as opposed to just the Parthenon. The Pandroseion, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena are three shrines close to the Parthenon.
Many Greeks believe that it was outside the Erechtheion where the God Poseidon and Goddess Athena had the battle to decide who would be the patron God of Athens! Nearby, don’t miss the Theatre of Dionysus (1200 BCE – 323) and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (161 AD).
Both theatres were built in different eras to showcase Greek tragedies and other performances. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is still used today, most notably during the Epidaurus festival that takes place every year between May and October.
Browse the Exhibits at the Acropolis Museum
Admission to the Ancient Acropolis site includes entrance to the “New” Acropolis Museum (Dionysiou Areopagitou 15). Here, a number of artefacts recovered from around Acropolis Hill are displayed in chronological order and help to put what you have seen at the Acropolis in a little more context.
Unfortunately, the Parthenon marbles that you see here are not the originals. They are replicas. The originals are on display at the British Museum in London though there are ongoing efforts to try and get them back to their home.
This stunning contemporary structure was designed by Bernard Tschumi Architects and first opened its doors in 2009 hence the “New” Acropolis Museum title. There is a wonderful cafe on the top floor from where you can enjoy incredible views of the city with a coffee.
Stroll the Cobbled Boulevards Towards Thissio
Dionysiou Areopagitou is the cobbled boulevard that runs past the Acropolis. The promenade is always filled with performers and street vendors selling everything from corn on the cob, souvlaki, and other Greek street food favourites.
There are also many independent artists that set up their stalls here drawing caricatures for tourists and selling all manner of handicrafts and artisanal products. It is not uncommon to see live musicians performing for the crowds in the summer months.
Despite the fact that this is a tourist area, Athenians like to come here for afternoon walks too! Continue along Dionysiou Areopagitou until it becomes Apostolou Pavlou. This path leads you through the leafy outskirts of Thissio and to our next destination: the Ancient Agora.
The Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephaestus
The Ancient Agora site is often overshadowed by the Acropolis. But it is one of the most important historic sites in the country.
During the Classical Age, locals would assemble here to listen to important announcements. Greek Philosophers such as Socrates would wander barefoot down the cobbled roads discussing ethics with Athenians.
The site is quite vast and you should expect to spend at least two hours here. You will notice a grand, collonaded structure on your left-hand side when you enter the complex.
This is the Stoa of Attalos. It was originally built in 159BC and was a gift to the people of Athens from King Attalos II of Pergamon.
Unfortunately, it was largely destroyed by the Herulians in 267 AD and what stands today is the result of a huge rebuilding effort in the 1950s. Still, explicit care was made to make the building look exactly as it would have done all those centuries ago.
Those involved in the rebuild even went as far as to resource the same materials from the exact same places. Today, the Stoa of Attalos houses the Agora Museum – a selection of artefacts recovered from the area displayed in chronological order.
This is one of the best museums in Athens today. Arguably the piece de resistance of the Agora site is the Temple of Hephaestus.
This incredibly well preserved Doric temple dates back to 450 BC, around the same time the Parthenon was built. It was built in honour of Hephaestus, Greek God of metal workers and fire, and Athena Ergane, Goddess of pottery.
Have Lunch at Miran Athens
The eateries that line Apostolou Pavlou and the streets of Thissio are mostly tourist traps and are best avoided. For something special, head to Miran (45, Evripidou Street).
This is one of the best places in the city to try Greek agro products. Miran is a deli cum charcuterie spot that sells an array of cold cut meats, cheeses, and produce from across the country.
The spot may seem intimidating at first – hundreds of varieties of cured meats and pastourma are displayed behind the counters and hanging from the ceiling. A visit to Miran is as much of a photo opportunity as it is a dining experience!
Ask the friendly servers to prepare you a charcuterie board. They will make you a little platter of meats, cheeses, olives, and oils from across the country.
Cured beef, suzuki, sausages, pastrami, etc. All served with excellent local wines.
Check Out the Athens Central Market
Evripidou Street is one of the most interesting shopping streets in Athens. Many of the stores here are owned by people who moved to Athens from various parts of Asia Minor and the Middle East.
The colourful diversity of cultures is evident in their storefronts. There are Lilliputian stores selling all manner of homoeopathy products, homemade cosmetics and bath products, and herbs and spices.
From Sokratous or Athinas streets, turn onto Sofokleous. The Athens Central Market (Varvakios Agora) is impossible to miss.
This is the oldest and largest Athenian traditional market. Fortunately, “laiki agoras” (farmers markets) like this one are still very popular in Greece.
At any time of day, you will notice a bustle of locals here, Greek yiayias haggling ferociously about the price of lamb chops for their Sunday dinners, etc. The large market is made up of several different sections: a meat market, fish market, vegetable market, etc.
If you want to buy fresh herbs and spices, this is the best place to do so. The spice stalls here would rival those at an Arabian souk!
Spend an Afternoon in Plaka
Plaka is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Athens and has been continually inhabited for more than 2,500 years. This was known as being the “Turkish district” during the Ottoman occupation.
Several old mosques and madrassas still stand here. Look out for the Fethiye mosque and Pelopida street madrassah.
The Roman Agora is one of the main points of interest in Plaka. Even though the site is small, it’s worth a walk through, particularly if you have an Athens attractions pass.
This Roman marketplace was constructed by Emperors Hadrian and Julius Caesar back in the 1st century BC. Nearby, keep an eye out for the bathhouse of the winds and Hadrian’s library.
Discover a Secret District on Acropolis Hill
Anafiotika is a charming district hidden away from view down the backstreets of Plaka. You would never find it unless you specifically knew it was here. Most tourists do not.
Anafiotika means “Little Anafi” and takes its name from the island of Anafi in the Cyclades. It is special because in the 19th century when King Otto was working on rebuilding a newly-liberated Greece, many Greeks from Anafi moved to Athens.
They came to assist in construction projects. When they built their new homes, they created them in Cycladic style – i.e. whitewashed walls and blue roofs.
Anafiotika is a little oasis in the heart of an urban jungle. Some of the views of downtown Athens from up here are among the best in the city.
Have Drinks on the Famous Plaka Stairs
As the day draws to a close, head to the famous Plaka stairs (Mnisikleous) for a nightcap. A dozen or so great cosy local bars sit on either side of the stairs.
This place is popular with locals and tourists alike. Many of the bars here also serve meze plates (small dishes that are the Greek answer to tapas) if you get hungry. Others often host live music performances on certain nights of the week.
Day Two: Athenian Districts & Viewpoints
Watch the Changing of the Guards at Syntagma Square
Head to Syntagma Square to watch the changing of the guards. The Evzones are an elite division of Greek soldiers that wear a very particular costume. They guard the Greek parliament building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Evzones are easily distinguishable by their outfits. They wear a Ypodetes, a wide-sleeved white shirt that is paired with a Foustanella.
The Foustanella is a light blue item that could be compared to the kilt. The blue and white blend of the Ypodetes and the foustanella represent the colours of the Greek flag.
All of this is paired with Periskelides (wool stockings) and Tsarouchia – red shoes with affixed pom poms. You can see the Evzones guarding the Parliament at any time.
But if you stop by at 11 am, you will see the changing of the guards’ ceremony which is very interesting to witness. From there, head back towards the Acropolis area.
Explore Filopappou Hill
Head back down Dionysiou Areopagitou towards Apostolou Pavlou and follow the signs for Filopappou Hill. This vast park complex is one of the most underrated highlights of Athens.
The park is made up of several hills – Pnyx, the hill of nymphs, and Filopappou Hill. A short steady walk leads you to the top of Filopappou hill where you have an incredible lookout to the Acropolis.
At the top, there is a 115BC monument dedicated to Greek-Roman Commander Julius Antiochus Philopappos who is rumoured to be buried on this hill. But a visit here is not just about ascending to the top of Filopappou.
You can spend a couple of hours discovering all of the sights here. The Pnyx is the birthplace of democracy and it was here where the Athenian democratic assembly (ekklesia) would meet to discuss matters affecting the city.
Meanwhile, the quaint church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris is one of the oldest in Athens and sits on your right-hand side if you enter Filopappou through the main gate. It was constructed in the 9th century using the remnants of other churches that were destroyed.
Check Out the Street Art in Vibrant Psiri
Psiri is one of the most vibrant and eclectic districts in downtown Athens. It is renowned for its diverse nightlife scene, its antique stores, and its street art.
Head to Iroon Square, the heart of the action in Psiri and a popular rendezvous point for Athenians. At Bougatsadiko Thessaloniki (Iroon 1), you can sample a range of excellent Greek pastries. If you stop by early enough, you can watch bougatsa being made as the pastry chefs swing large sheets of pastry above their heads!
Little Kook in Psiri is an Athens institution. This coffee shop/cafe is decorated with larger-than-life elaborate decorations and it changes its theme depending on the season.
Hang Out in Exarchia
From Psiri, walk towards Exarchia. It can be tricky to understand where one neighbourhood ends and another begins so type “Plateia Exarchion” (Exarchia Square) into your map if you want to get to Exarchia.
This district has a less than perfect reputation in Greece and is often linked with anarchist groups. But Exarchia is fine most of the time and has a punky, gritty atmosphere that you simply cannot find elsewhere.
Almost every surface and wall in Exarchia is seen as a canvas and has been adorned with colour and painted with graffiti. Many of the pieces are thought-provoking and politically motivated.
Others are simply aesthetic. Some of the pieces here have been created by famous European graffiti artists like Ino and Borondo.
Graffiti aside, there are other interesting highlights of visiting Exarchia. There are many quirky stores here selling used books, antiques, vinyl records, and obscure collectables. Come nightfall, there are some excellent rock bars.
Visit the Panathenaic Stadium
Pass through the National Gardens (Athens’ answer to Central Park) to reach the Panathenaic Stadium. It’s a bit of a walk back across the city from Exarchia so order a cab with TaxiBeat if you prefer.
The Panathenaic stadium (“Kallimarmaro”) is the only stadium in the world made entirely out of marble. Simultaneously, it is also one of the oldest.
The stadium dates back to 566 BC. It was the host of the first modern Olympic games in 1896. Admission costs €5 and includes entrance to the adjacent Olympic museum which contains Olympic torches and advertising material collected from around the world.
Go for Drinks in the Mets
Blink and you’ll miss it. The leafy Mets suburb of Athens is a tiny upscale residential district nestled between Syngrou Fix and Pagrati.
Most tourists have never even heard of it and most will never discover it during their 2 days in Athens. But this is one of the best places to come for a true look at life in Athens.
There are some excellent bars, live music venues and coffee shops here. Better yet, most of these places have never seen a single tourist.
Half Note Jazz Club is a great place to go on a Friday or Saturday night, though tickets sometimes have to be purchased in advance. The venue hosts acclaimed live jazz and blues musicians from across Greece and the world.
Kain (Anapafseos 22) is a local favourite haunt. It attracts a well-heeled crowd every night of the week who stop by for the excellent cocktails and mixology blends.
Where to Stay with 2 Days in Athens
If you only have 2 days in Athens, it is preferable to stay in a central district like Syntagma, Koukaki, Makyrgianni, or Thissio. This way, most of the city’s highlights are right on your doorstep.
So too are a plethora of excellent tavernas and Athenian restaurants. Not to mention, Syntagma and its surroundings offer the best transport connections from Athens city to the airport, and on to Piraeus, the Riviera, and other surrounding areas.
Athens has a diverse range of excellent hotels, guesthouses and hostels. There is truly something for every budget and travel style here. A few of the best accommodation options are detailed below for your consideration.
CocoMat Athens BC
CocoMat Athens BC ( Falirou 5) is a contemporary luxury hotel in the heart of Athens’ quirky Koukaki district. It prides itself on its environmentally friendly message and has a unique, stylish decor that makes it stand out from other “cookie-cutter” luxury hotels.
An excellent buffet breakfast with international options is included in the room rate. The piece de resistance of the property is its rooftop pool, bar and restaurant. Check the latest rates and availability at CocoMat BC here.
The Foundry is a boutique luxury property housed inside an old Font Foundry that dates back to the 1930s. It has been converted into several apartments, each styled differently and filled with plush modern furnishings.
Explicit care has been taken to preserve the original structure and honour the building’s initial purpose. Rooms boast twelve-foot high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and unparalleled views over Athens. Check the latest rates and availability at The Foundry Athens here.
Getting Around Athens
Athens may well be the Greek capital but it has quite a small city feel about it. It is not overwhelmingly large nor tricky to navigate through the city centre as it is in some European cities like London.
You can reach most attractions on foot, especially if you are staying in a central district. This entire 2 days in Athens itinerary can be done on foot.
Athens public transport is very good. Some additional information for getting around during your time in the city is provided below.
Airport to Athens Transport
It’s easy to get from Athens airport to the city centre. You can opt to do so by bus, metro, taxi or private transfer.
Assuming that you want to reach the city by public transport, one convenient way to do that is to take the bus. You can catch the X95 bus from just outside the arrivals area of the main terminal building.
Buses depart every fifteen minutes and a one-way ticket is €6 with concessions available. The journey into the centre takes less than 40 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Alternatively, you can also take the metro. An Athens and city metro ticket costs €10.
When you land at Eleftherios Venizelos, you need to exit the main terminal building and cross the road outside. You will note that there are signs for “trains” and a flight of stairs.
Climb the stairs and follow the moving walkway and the signs for “trains”. From here, you will find the train and metro station.
The metro to the city departs from the right-hand platform. Trains run every thirty minutes between 6.30 am and 23.30 pm.
Taxis in Athens
Yellow cabs are widely available in Athens and can be found at taxi ranks or hailed in the street, just like in any other major city. That being said, unfortunately, Athenian cabbies are notorious for overcharging tourists or taking them on a roundabout route around the city.
If you hail a cab in the street, always ensure that the driver has the meter on. Better yet, download an app called Taxi Beat prior to your trip to Athens.
The Athens metro is a good way to get around during your 2 days in Athens. Athens metro services run daily between 5:30 am and 12:30 am.
The trains connect you to all city suburbs in addition to areas farther afield such as Piraeus and Kifissia. There are three lines.
Line 1 runs between Kifisia and Piraeus, line 2 runs between Anthoupoli and Eliniko, and line 3 runs between the airport and Nikea. A one-way ticket is valid for 90 minutes and costs €1.40 for a single journey.
If you plan on using the metro a lot, however, it makes sense to buy a day or multiday metro pass. A day pass on the Athens metro costs €4.
This can be used on any form of Athens city transport (bus, metro, tram) over a 24 hour period. A 5-day metro ticket costs €9 and a 3-day ticket including a return trip to and from the airport is €22.