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Athens on a Budget: 26 Free Things to Do in Athens

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Please bear in mind that due to Covid-19 the information that we present in our articles regarding the timetables of public transportation, hotels, restaurants, etc. may be subject to change. We highly advise you to double-check before proceeding with any bookings. Rest assured that we here at Athens By Locals are doing our best to keep up with these turbulent times and provide you with up-to-date travel information. Do not hesitate to reach out for any questions, we’ll be more than happy to help!

Are you traveling to Athens on a budget? Are you perhaps worried that you won’t be able to experience the city to the fullest without breaking the bank? There’s absolutely no need to be! There’s an abundance of unique and exciting free things to do in Athens that will surprise even the most demanding travelers.

So, worry not, you’re not going to miss a bit of the city’s vibe. The Greek capital offers endless choices for free activities that will keep you smiling.

A quick view of our picks for 26 free things to do in Athens.

  1. Watch the sunset on top of Philopappos Hill
  2. Take a stroll at the National Garden and Zappeion Hall
  3. Get lost in Plaka
  4. Visit a museum for free
  5. Go cycling at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre
  6. Go bargain hunting at the city’s flea markets
  7. Witness the glory of the Athenian Trilogy
  8. Visit the modern Olympic Games Complex
  9. Find out the history of Athens in Thissio and Areopagitou street
  10. Discover the old Athens in Anafiotika
  11. Walk through the First Cemetery of Athens
  12. Escape the crowds at the Diomedes Botanical Garden
  13. Go shopping at the Meet Market
  14. Catch a glimpse of Athens from above on top of Mt Lycabettus
  15. See the Changing Of The Guard ceremony
  16. Admire the magnificent Street Art
  17. Catch a picture of “The Runner”
  18. Explore historical Orthodox Churches
  19. Taste a local bite at Athens Central Market “Varvakios”
  20. Get a glimpse of Ancient Athens in the Metro
  21. Explore the hidden gems of Piraeus
  22. Hike around the Holy Monastery of Kaisariani
  23. Go skateboarding or catch an event at Latraac
  24. Catch an event at the Kypseli Municipal Market
  25. Explore Flisvos Marina on the Athenian Riviera
  26. Spend a day at the beach

Watch the sunset on top of Philopappos Hill

Catch a glimpse of the city from above surrounded by historical landmarks and the Parthenon in the background on top of the famous Philopappos hill.

At the summit of Philopappos Hill is the Monument of Philopappos

On your way to the hill, you’ll pass by remarkable monuments such as the Prison of Socrates and Pnyx, the ancient hill where the city’s first democratic assemblies were held.

Take a stroll at the National Garden and Zappeion Hall

The colorful National Garden lies right next to Syntagma square bringing a green oasis to the center of the city. Commissioned by Queen Amalia, the 16-hectare garden boasts a variety of trees, plants, and flowers creating the perfect atmosphere for escaping the city hustle and bustle.

Here also stands Zappeion, a 19th-century neoclassical building with a long history that today operates as an event hall.

The Zappeion is a palatial building next to the National Gardens of Athens.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Get lost in Plaka

Plaka is appropriately known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods” and is one of the most popular neighborhoods of Athens among both locals and tourists.

Plaka is without a doubt one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Walking through its maze-like pedestrian alleyways to discover old Byzantine churches, small squares, beautiful neoclassical buildings, and ancient monuments will make for the perfect day in Athens.

While there, don’t miss the chance to walk down Tripodon – the oldest street in Europe.

Visit a museum for free

While most museums in Athens have entrance free, on the first Sunday of each month, from November to March 31, all archaeological sites and museums in Athens are free.

The Caryatids in the Acropolis Museum

Moreover, some of them have specific dates throughout the year that offer free entrance. Make sure to check their websites prior to your visit, to avoid missing out on any offers.

Go cycling at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is one of the latest additions to the Athens urban cityscape and so far it has lived up to its name. The modern cultural space in the eastern suburbs has hosted several music concerts, installations and shows for free.

Moreover, its refined premises are ideal for walking, cycling, or hanging out in the great outdoors on a sunny day.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Go bargain hunting at the city’s flea markets

On Sundays, dive into the city’s flea markets even if you’re not planning to do some souvenir shopping and rummage through the dozens of stands filled with second-hand and vintage items.

Check out the Scavenger’s Union Bazaar which is located close to Elaionas metro station and the open-air flea market on Avissinias Square in Monastiraki, both are among the most popular free things to do in Athens

The flea market on Avissinias Square in Monastiraki.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Witness the glory of the Athenian Trilogy

Located in the heart of downtown Athens, only a few meters away from the Panepistimio metro station, the Athenian Trilogy is an impressive complex of 19th-century neoclassical buildings that encompasses the University of Athens, the Athens Academy, and the National Library.

The Athens Trilogy is the epitome of neoclassical architecture in Athens.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Visit the modern Olympic Games Complex

Most visitors know about the Panathenaic Stadium which is associated with the ancient Olympic Games, but only a few know that you can visit the modern complex built in Athens for the Olympic Games of 2004.

Located in the northern suburbs, the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (or OAKA as locals call it) features several impressive buildings, stadiums, and architectural structures designed by Santiago Calatrava. The easiest way to get there is via the Eirini metro station (green line).

Calatrava’s construction in Olympic Stadium in Athens

Find out the history of Athens in Thissio and Areopagitou street

Walk along the cobblestone Aeropagitou street and explore the narrow alleys of Thissio.

Lined with neoclassical houses, small galleries, cozy cafes, traditional tavernas and shops, this elegant neighborhood has a delicate style that bears witness to its history over the past few decades.

Walking on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, you will come to both modern and neoclassical luxurious houses. Courtesy: Wikimedia.org

Walk through the First Cemetery of Athens

Located in the -often-overlooked- upscale area of Mets, next to Pagrati and a few minutes away from the Temple of Zeus, the First Cemetery of Athens is one of the hidden gems of the city.

Founded in 1837, the cemetery serves as a burial place for prominent Athenians and is dotted with famous neoclassical and romantic sculptures, including the iconic “I Koimomeni” (The Sleeping Girl), designed and created by famous Greek sculptor Yannis Chalepas.

Discover the old Athens in Anafiotika

Anafiotika, the area that looks like an island in the center of the Greek capital will leave you awe-inspired. Carfree alleys, houses with small backyards and souvenir shops compose the scenery here taking you on a journey back in time.

Make sure to wear your comfortable flat shoes are you’ll be walking up hills and stairs to explore this district’s hidden corners.

Anafiotika is a hidden village under the Acropolis

Escape the crowds at the Diomedes Botanical Garden

A few kilometers out of Athens’ city center lies the Diomedes Botanical Garden. Home to 2,500 plants, the 1,860-square-meter garden is an ideal place to escape the touristy city center.

Enjoy some moments of tranquility surrounded by trees and flowers from Greece and other countries from other continents such as Oceania, Asia and Africa.

You can get here by metro (get off at Agia Marina station) and take the bus (bus lines 811, 836, 865, 868, and 876) to the Diomideios bus stop. Address: Iera Odos 403, Haidari, Athens, 124 61

A picnic spot at the Diomedes Botanical Garden. Courtesy: Diomedes Botanical Garden

Go shopping at the Meet Market

The Meet Market takes place once a month in different venues around Athens bringing stylish local artisans and handicraftsmen in one place.

From jewelry, clothes and accessories to interior design items, and beauty products each seller at the Meet Market is carefully selected. All products here are handmade and unique. Plus, there is always funky music, refreshing drinks and cocktails, and tasty snacks and bites.

Make sure to check out their website for upcoming events.

Catch a glimpse of Athens from above on top of Mt Lycabettus

Another excellent spot to admire Athens from above is the 227-meters high Lycabettus Hill. Standing north of the Kolonaki neighborhood, the historical hill has been a favorite viewpoint for locals and tourists.

The view from the top of Lycabettus hill

On top, you’ll find the theater of Lycabettus, which was constructed in 1965, the 18th-century Agios Georgios church, and the temple of Saints Isidore.

See the Changing Of The Guard ceremony

The Changing of the Guard at the Presidential Mansion and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, on Syntagma square, takes place daily every hour.

However, on Sundays, there is the official ceremony of the Changing of the Guard during which Evzones (commonly called Tsoliades) wear their official costumes and under the sound of the military band march toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

People gather in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the Changing of the Guard.
Courtesy: Athens By Locals

Admire the magnificent Street Art

Athens has a very active street art and graffiti scene. Especially during the past few years, more and more impressive murals, stencils and drawings keep popping up around the city, amazing locals and visitors alike.

Street art in Athens. Courtesy: Duncan Cumming / Flickr.com

If you are walking through the more alternative neighborhoods of Athens like Gazi, Exarcheia, or Psyrri, you’ll surely come across hidden works of art that will astonish you.

Catch a picture of “The Runner”

The “Runner” (or Dromeas as locals call it) is one of the most famous sculptures in Athens, a massive pile of uneven pieces of glass stacked on top of each other to create the illusion of a huge runner in action.

This impressive sculpture was designed and created by Kostas Varotsos in 1988 and was originally located in Omonia Square before being moved to its current location on Vasilissis Sofias avenue, right next to the Evangelismos metro station (blue line).

This glass sculpture is called The Runner. Courtesy: Tilemahos Efthimiadis / flickr.com

Explore historical Orthodox Churches

When talking about the most interesting free things to do in Athens, people rarely mention the old churches that are scattered throughout the city. However, they are an excellent choice for history and culture buffs who can appreciate their significance, architecture, paintings and murals.

If you are in downtown Athens, start by visiting Kapnikarea church on Ermou street, the Athens Metropolitan Church on Mitropoleos street, and St. Irene church on the popular Agia Irini Square.

The Little Metropolis is a Byzantine church located at Mitropoleos square, next to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

Taste a local bite at Athens Central Market “Varvakios”

Visit Athens Central Market to explore the authentic local culinary scene through a variety of products, fruits and vegetables as well as herbs and spices.

Varvakios is the city’s central food market and its stalls brim with life from early in the morning.

The Athens Central Market. Courtesy: Kostas Apostolakis

It’s a great place for foodies and those eager to take a proper taste of Greek cuisine. Plus, prices are low and its convenient location, halfway between Omonia square and Monastiraki, makes it easily accessible.

Get a glimpse of Ancient Athens in the Metro

Athens brims with archaeological sites and historical monuments. But perhaps one place where you wouldn’t expect to come across ancient artifacts is the metro. While the metro was being built, a wide array of archaeological finds were uncovered in the building sites.

Instead of adding those to the collections of the city’s museums, local authorities had the brilliant idea of displaying them inside the busiest metro stations such as Syntagma, Acropolis, Panepistimio, and Monastiraki, to name a few.

Most of the Metro stations are open museums with ancient finds placed in showcases. Courtesy: Morten f / Flickr.com

Explore the hidden gems of Piraeus

Combining awesome views of the sea, exquisite seafood, historical monuments, and vibrant nightlife, taking a short excursion to the port city of Piraeus is definitely one of the best free things you can do in Athens.

Don’t miss the chance to explore Mikrolimano (meaning small port), the circular pier of Marina Zeas, and the charming narrow streets of Kastella.

Mikrolimano is one of the natural ports in the area of Piraeus

Hike around the Holy Monastery of Kaisariani

The Holy Monastery of Kaisariani stands tall atop Mount Hymettus on the eastern part of the city and it’s probably among the top free things to do in Athens for those that want to escape the urban cityscape.

The forests that surround the picturesque monastery are marked with trails and paths that lead to old chapels, hidden picnic spots and astonishing viewpoints.

The Holy Monastery of Kaisariani. Courtesy: liakada-web / VisualHunt

Go skateboarding or catch an event at Latraac

One of the hippest community-style hotspots in Athens, Latraac lures the city’s alternative crowd. Whether you want to hone your skateboarding skills or just want to catch an event, the industrial venue in Metaxourgeio certainly is worth a visit.

  • Address: Leonidou 63-65, Metaxourgeio, Athens, 104 35

Catch an event at the Kypseli Municipal Market

Located on the historic Fokionos Negri street, Kypseli Municipal Market (Dimotiki Agora Kipselis) often hosts events, parties, shows and performances with no entrance fee.

From book and vinyl bazaars to brunch Sundays, festivals and cultural shows, the inaugurated market has become a meeting point in the heart of one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods.

For upcoming events, keep an eye out on their website and their official social media platforms.

  • Address: Fokionos Negri 42, Kypseli, Athens 113 61
The Kypseli Municipal Market. Courtesy: agorakypselis.gr

Explore Flisvos Marina on the Athenian Riviera

If the weather is good, you are most likely going to see Flisvos Marina full of people – especially if you are visiting Athens on a Sunday.

The Flisvos Marina is a beautiful place to spend some hours.
Courtesy: heatheronhertravels / VisualHunt

Locals love to take slow strolls along the pier to see the superyachts that usually dock there, socialize and have a cup of cold coffee or a glass of wine while relaxing by the sea.

Spend a day at the beach

If you’re visiting Athens in the summer, you’ll be more than glad to hear that the coastline around the city brims with sandy beaches that are waiting to be discovered.

Just pack your swimming suit and sunscreen and get ready to enjoy the sun and aquamarine waters without having to travel all the way to the islands – accessing most beaches in Athens is completely free.

Athens may not be among the cheapest destinations in Europe but the city’s cultural, art and music scene offer plenty of choices for budget travelers.

Whether you opt to dive into museum halls or meet the city’s hip crowd on a Saturday concert or at a Sunday bazaar, this list of the best free things to do in Athens has you covered.

A Quick Reminder:

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