How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Athens
Last Updated on: January 21, 2023
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Do you only have a weekend to spend in Athens? Are you worrying that two days will not be enough to enjoy all of the city’s wonders? Well, there’s no need to worry.
In this guide, you’ll find a perfect itinerary for spending a weekend in Athens that will take you through the most important monuments while also allowing for enough time to experience the most popular neighborhoods at a leisurely pace.
So let’s get right to it.
Assuming your flight is arriving on Friday evening, you’ll probably want to head right over to your hotel and settle in before making your first walk around the city.
Make sure to have read everything you need to know about getting from the airport to the city center beforehand to save some time.
After you check in, start off your Athenian expedition from Syntagma Square, the most central spot in Athens.
On Friday evenings, you’ll find the square full of people walking in every direction.
Follow the crowds down Ermou Street, the most popular shopping street in Athens, and start to unwind with a little window shopping while you get a first feel of the city.
At the end of the busy street, you’ll be at the famous Monastiraki Square, one of the most popular hubs for Athenians.
From there you have quite a few options.
You can have your first experience with souvlaki, the most known Athenian street food at Thanasis or Bairaktaris which are located just a few minutes from the square at a table on the pedestrian street.
On the other hand, if you’re still feeling lively and ready for a night out, walk towards Psyrri, a tiny area next to Monastiraki Square that’s known for its vibrant nightlife.
Here, you’ll find street food joints, numerous pubs, and bars that remain open until dawn.
This is officially your first day in Athens, so get ready for a day jam-packed with exploring the city, sightseeing, and a lot of walking.
Grab a pair of comfortable shoes and dress accordingly. If you haven’t already, check out our ultimate travel checklist for Athens while you’re still at home.
Your first stop should be none other than the Parthenon, the city’s most beloved monument that stands on the sacred rock of the Acropolis.
Keep in mind that the climb is quite steep and make sure to leave your hotel early, especially if you are visiting during the summertime and want to avoid the midday heat.
Skip the Line: Tickets for Acropolis of Athens
Or even better book a small group guided tour of the Acropolis
Visiting the Acropolis will take approximately 3 hours, depending on how much time you want to spend atop the hill.
On your way down, you can find Areopagitou, the busy cobblestone pedestrian street that runs along Acropolis Hill starting from Monastiraki and going all the way to Koukaki.
Grab a refreshment and walk towards Koukaki through the street stalls of artists and jewelry makers and stop midway for a short visit to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, an ancient theater with marvelous acoustics that still operates today, hosting all kinds of events.
Carry on your way and at the end of the street, you’ll have the chance to witness the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Arch of Hadrian in Koukaki. These should be your last stop for a morning route full of sightseeing.
Check out the Athens Combo, a skip-the-line ticket for all the attractions we mention above.
Your next stop should be Plaka, the charming neighborhood that is the undisputed crown jewel of Athens.
Plaka is known for its labyrinthine alleyways and narrow cobblestone streets that are home to beautiful neoclassical buildings, cozy cafes, alfresco restaurants, and small boutique shops.
Head up Lysikratous street until you reach the famous Monument of Lysicrates, that’s located on a tiny square that brims with life.
Here, you can stop and rest for a while and perhaps enjoy a refreshing ice cream cone at DaVinci Gelato.
Walk further down the road, and you’ll be exactly where Kidathinaion, Tripodon, and Andrianou streets meet.
All of them compete for the status of the most popular street in Plaka.
Adrianou street is the best place in Plaka for shopping and souvenir hunting.
While there, make sure to check out Forget me Not for all kinds of souvenirs and The Loom if you are looking for traditional Greek carpets.
On Kidathinaion, you’ll find both the Jewish Museum and the Folk Art Museum which are worth a brief visit, as well as the legendary bar called Brettos, home to the oldest distillery in Athens, and Cine Paris the beloved open-air cinema.
Kidathinaion is also where the Filomousou Etaireias Square is located (or just simply “Plaka’s Square”). Have a quick bite at Samano Radio Restaurant or enjoy a traditional Greek lunch at Taverna Vyzantino.
Finally, Tripodon will take you towards Anafiotika, a tiny village in the heart of the city that looks like a Greek island – one of the top attractions in Athens that you can’t afford to miss.
It’s finally time for your first proper night out in Athens. And it being a Saturday night, you’ll have the chance to experience the city at its best.
Now, there are quite a few options for your night and it all depends on what you are looking for.
First off, have a look at our guide with the most popular areas for nightlife in Athens to get a first idea of which neighborhood suits you best.
You can choose to stay in Plaka for a relaxing night at one of the area’s charming cafés like Yiasemi, Melina Mercouri, or Anafiotika.
Alternatively, from Plaka, it’s quite easy to head towards Psyrri or Syntagma, all of which are areas with vibrant nightlife.
In Syntagma, you can enjoy premium rum at Baba au rum, a glass of whiskey at Drunk Sinatra, or a fancy cocktail at The Bank Job.
All of those are located on or around Kolokotroni street, one of the most popular streets of the Athenian nightlife scene.
Finally, if you choose to walk through Psyrri, make sure to check out the famous pub called To Lokali which features a magnificent rooftop terrace, and BackdooR, just across the street which frequently hosts live concerts.
After a long night out, we’re certain that you’ll want to take some time to have breakfast and recharge your batteries.
Make sure to try some Greek coffee and famous Greek pastries like tiropita or some other delicious local products.
When you feel ready, it’s time to head back to Syntagma Square again.
You’ve probably heard about the Evzones and the changing of the guard in Athens before and you already know that it takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Syntagma Square every hour.
But what many visitors don’t know is that at 11 am on Sundays, an official parade takes place with the changing of the guard taking the form of a ceremonial ritual.
Snap a few photos and then walk on Vasilissis Amalias avenue until you reach the entrance to what looks like a vast park.
This is the National Garden in Athens, tucked away right beside the Greek Parliament House.
Here you can take a relaxing stroll against a splendid green backdrop, hang out by the lake and pay a quick visit to Zappeion Hall.
If you take the exit that lies just a bit south of Zappeion Hall, you’ll get back to the streets of Athens and right in front of the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were hosted.
Here you can marvel at the ancient stadium, climb up the marble seats to take in the view or, if you are up to it, run on the same tracks that Olympic athletes used to run.
The weekend is almost over and it’s time to head back downtown for a few last strolls and some souvenir shopping in Athens.
After all, we wouldn’t want you to return home empty-handed.
Just a few steps from Monastiraki Square, you’ll have the chance to walk down Ifaistou street and explore the famous flea market of Monastiraki where you’ll find all kinds of souvenirs and knick-knacks for your friends and family back home.
Also, make sure to check out Aiolou street and Evripidou street (both a minute away from Monastiraki Square) for handcrafted artifacts and fresh herbs and spices respectively.
Finally, if your flight departs on Monday morning and not Sunday night and you have some time for one last stroll in Athens, we recommend spending your evening at Koukaki, the charming area that lies next to the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis metro station.
If you’re walking there from the city center, you can also make a quick stop at Philopappos Hill to catch the magnificent sunset views from atop the cliffs.
In Koukaki, walk down Veikou street, and you’ll discover plenty of options for dinner or an evening drink.
”Opos Palia” will provide a magnificent setting for your dinner on a narrow street filled with rich aromas coming from its kitchen.
Alternatively, try the alfresco tavern O Lolos for a traditional Greek meal or get a taste of authentic Greek “mezedes” at To Potami just a few minutes further down.
You could also try Tuk Tuk, a small canteen serving affordable Thai food that has quickly become a favorite among locals.
Lastly, finish off the perfect weekend in Athens with a glass of wine at Materia Prima, one of the most sophisticated wine bars in Athens.
Where to Stay for a Weekend in Athens
Even though your stay will only be a couple of nights, the choice of a hotel is one of those things that can really make or break your weekend escapade in Athens.
First off, you should be looking for hotels in downtown Athens if you want to be able to get everywhere on foot and skip some time getting around the city with public transportation.
Plaka, Monastiraki, Thisseion, Koukaki, and Petralona are the areas that should be under your radar.
Luckily, all of the above feature an abundance of accommodation options for all tastes and budgets.
You can check them out and get the best rates on Booking.com
It all probably seems a little overwhelming, but we got you covered.
Following are a few suggestions for hotels in Athens that provide the best services at the lowest prices.
Our top pick for central hotels in Athens is Attalos Hotel which has the reputation of being the best value-for-money hotel in the city, located right next to Monastiraki and also featuring a mesmerizing rooftop bar.
Next up, Cecil Hotel, occupying a beautiful neoclassical building just a few meters away from Attalos, was chosen for its advantageous location, comfortable rooms, and first-rate services.
For a boutique hotel experience and ideal for a romantic weekend in Athens, check out Sweet Home Hotel which combines contemporary and traditional design, right between the Acropolis Hill and Monastiraki. Sweet Home Hotel is a lovely, cozy, well-located hotel in the heart of Athens.
Finally, if you want to go all out on your weekend in Athens and wouldn’t mind spending more for a truly remarkable hotel, have a look at AthensWas Hotel which boasts immaculate views of the Parthenon from its elegantly designed, luxurious rooms.
AthensWas Hotel offers spectacular views over the Acropolis. Check it on Booking.com
If you need additional information on where to stay in Athens, have a look at the article right below.
Are 2 Days in Athens Enough?
That’s one of the most frequently asked questions by our readers who are planning to spend a weekend in Athens.
To be completely candid, spending only two days in Athens is certainly not enough to have the time to enjoy the city at a relaxing pace and visit all the must-see places.
Having said that, two days are enough to get a taste of Athens and go through its top attractions like the Acropolis and the Panathenaic Stadium.
All in all, spending a weekend in Athens is a great idea if you are a first-time visitor and want to get acquainted with the city on a short getaway. Just follow this itinerary and we’re certain that you will be returning soon anyway!
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