The Best Places to Visit in Athens

The Best Places to Visit in Athens

Athens was the heart of the classical Greek world. A number of sites from that era still exist in the city. This makes Athens an important stop for anyone with even a passing interest in history. The ruins of the famous ancient Greek civilization have been remarkably well-preserved, providing some amazing photo opportunities. Of course, Athens is also the heart of modern Greece, so tourists will find plenty of cultural attractions and sights from more-modern times. Some world-class museums and amazing Mediterranean gardens are part of the Athens landscape.

Athens is a wonderful place for sightseeing. The menu of attractions and sights is almost endless, but these places should be on every Athens visitor’s itinerary.

Acropolis

Acropolis

Photo: eGuideTravel / Flickr

The Acropolis is the most famous collection of ancient buildings in Athens. The ruins of the Parthenon still stand as a reminder of the innovations and architecture of Ancient Greece. Built nearly 2500 years ago, this is an impressive sight, even for people who have no interest in Greek history. Other structures in the Acropolis area include the Temple of Athena, an ancient structure that was designed in the now-famous Ionic style. The columns of these buildings are probably the most photo-worthy features of the Acropolis, though simply spending time soaking in the atmosphere can also prove quite memorable. Several more structures are also found in the Acropolis. These include the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a classical theater which still hosts drama performances and concerts today. Stopping here for a show is a great way to round out a day at the Acropolis.

Ancient Agora

Ancient Agora

Photo: archer10 (Dennis) / Flickr

The Agora has been the center of life in Athens for more than 2,000 years. It was the main public square in the early days of the city, and was also a place of commerce and public life. Some additional temples and structures are located here, and visitors can buy one ticket that can be used to gain admission to both the Acropolis and the Agora area. (As of this writing, the cost for this ticket is €12.) The Agora has a museum that displays the ancient artifacts that were found during recent excavations. However, the most interesting aspect of a trip to the Agora area is simply wandering through the ruins and seeing the remains of ancient shops and houses. These offer a small glimpse into life of common folks in ancient times. As with the Acropolis, the most noticeable trait of the structures and museum of Agora is the collection of towering columns.

National Gardens

National Gardens

Photo: *clarity* / Flickr

After spending your day sightseeing around the ancient attractions of Central Athens, a stop at the National Gardens could be in order. This pleasant green-space is located near the Greek Parliament Building. Public art instillations will undoubtedly catch visitor’s attention alongside picturesque landscapes of manicured lawns, plants, and flowers. With many benches and seating areas, it is easy to find a place to sit in the shade and take a few minutes (or hours) off from the hot summertime sunshine of Athens. This park also features fountains and some cafes where you can find refreshments to help with your relaxation ambitions.

Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art

Photo: cpence / Flickr

This impressive museum features an array of collections from the world of ancient Greece and Cyprus. The galleries boast some of the most well-preserved ancient artifacts in the world, with Bronze-Age statues and Cypriot pottery providing a glimpse into the lives of the people from this long-past era. Occasionally, the museum will host temporary exhibitions featuring both ancient and more-modern art.

National Archeological Museum of Athens

National Archeological Museum of Athens

Photo: Tilemahos E / Flickr

If you only go to one museum while in Greece, the National Archeological Museum of Athens has to be it. This is the most popular museum in the city, with a hugely impressive collection of artifacts and archeological finds from the earliest era of ancient Greece. Some pieces here date back more than 4,000 years. The displays include sculptures, frescos, and day-to-day objects used by people who lived in these ancient times. The only downside to this museum: it can get very crowded since it is on everyone’s itinerary and is even frequented by local curiosity seekers.

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About Josh Lew

Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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