Genius Itinerary to Spend 3 Great Days in Athens

Since I’ve been hosting travel experiences here in Crete, many guests that arrive on the island tell me they’re coming from Athens. Eager to know if they liked one of my favorite cities in Greece, I usually hear disappointing stories about how they couldn’t find something exciting to do. That’s why I’ve decided to transform my Athens Digital Guide in this genius itinerary for 3 days in Athens for everyone to use!

With this Itinerary, you will be ready to visit Athens, a place that keeps attracting thousands of visitors eager to see its magnificent Acropolis, monuments, temples, and museums.

Three days in Athens

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ATHENS ESSENTIALS
Last-minute plans?
Check these top picks

Where to stay in Athens
If you’re looking for accommodation in Greece, compare hotels on Booking.com and Hotels.com. If you prefer to stay in an Airbnb, here you can find great deals. Looking for a classy room with top views? Check the prices of AthensWas Design Hotel, one of the places I loved in Athens. Another great place I enjoyed is the Herodion Hotel (do check their rooftop bar!).

Top-rated tours in Athens
Acropolis Guided Tour with Entry Ticket (Top pick from US$ 71.23).
Greek Mythology for Kids: Private Tour (From US$ 145).
Athens: Street Culture & Food Tour (From US$ 59).
4-Hour Private Street Art Tour (From US$ 121).
The Ultimate Food Tasting Tour (From US$ 90).

Multiday trips from Athens:
Delphi and Meteora: 3-Day Tour from Athens (From US$ 417).
Athens, Acropolis Museum, Cape Sounion, Cruise & Delphi (From US$ 324).
5-Day Tour of Classical Greek Sites from Athens (From US$ 727).

Value for money:
Ticket Pass for Museums & Hop-On Hop-Off Bus (City card from US$ 65).
Athens Airport: Private Transfer to or from City Center (From US$ 49.79).

Touring Greece by car?
By far the best way to discover the country. I use both Discover Cars and Rentalcars.com to reach far off places where my old jalopy won’t take me.

Are you covered?
It’s always better to have travel insurance. Check quotes on World Nomads.

Three days in Athens

Psirri Athens
The colors of Psirri cannot miss from any itinerary of Athens..

 With this itinerary, 3 days will be enough to…

  • Visit more than the famous landmarks of Athens.
  • Check the intense nightlife, the bars, and some traditional neighborhoods.
  • Learn about the best restaurants, shops, and street art.
  • As a bonus, you’ll have an extra day itinerary in the nearby island of Hydra to cool off!

Remember, when the sun hits the Acropolis many other cities are left in shadows allowing Athens to shine bright.

Welcome to Athens or, as the locals say, Καλώς ήρθατε στην Αθήνα!

Athens: 3-day route plus one extra day

Walk the streets of Omonia, feel the Greek spirit down Ermou Street and reach Syntagma square. Find the Greek Parliament and see the soldiers in their traditional uniforms.

You will also want to visit Plaka and the surprising area of Anafiotika, a tiny secluded quarter built to resemble the architecture of the Cycladic Anafi. 

Another interesting face of Athens is the old gasworks precinct, Gazi, a cool nightspot with a lively bar life behind the ancient cemetery. For a more traditional taste of modernity, go to Psirri.

Anafiotika in Athens
Anafiotika.

It’s also interesting to enjoy a self-made tour of the Ancient city (or a guided tour for a deeper learning experience). Climb to the Acropolis to visit the Parthenon and enjoy a 360° view of the city. 

During the evenings, taste some Greek cuisine on the pedestrian Eolou Street, take a gastronomic tour or end the day sipping eclectic cocktails in any of Athens’ rooftop bars.

Whether you visit Athens to discover the gems of the past, or because you are eager to experience the modern vibe of the city, this small guide will take your hand and walk you down the streets of Athens!

Day 1: Modern Athens 

Monastiraki Square

Monastiraki Square.
Monastiraki Square.

Omonia, is a traditional old neighborhood and a convenient place to start if you are using the metro. There are many options for breakfast in the area. Stani has been serving Greek yogurt and loukoumades for decades. If you prefer a coffee with a croissant, Café Veneti is famous for the frappé.

Walk down Athina street towards Monastiraki, and visit the Old Market, Varvakios Agora, where there are stands with fish and vegetables from all over Greece, but also cheese, spices, and herbs. For those on a budget, there are excellent, no-frills restaurants serving fresh food at convenient prices. 

After a few hundred meters you will find Monastiraki, vibrant heart of the city. Hang around in the square, or visit the Old Flea Market for a bargain.

Syntagma Square

A pedestrian street behind the market, Aioulou street will take you right to Ermou Street, a favorite shopping area. At the end of Ermou St lies Syntagma square. To see the shift change of the guards (every hour), cross the square and reach the Greek Parliament. You will see the evzones (Presidential Guard) in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

Genius Itinerary for 3 days in Athens: Change of the Guard in Syntagma square
Change of the guard, Syntagma.

Head back to Monastiraki for lunch. There is no place like O Thanasis for a gyro and a beer. Choose a table in the shade and ask for a simple lunch. Take some time to enjoy the view of this city buzzing with tourists. In this area, you will also find the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments.

Plaka and Anafiotika

Walk past the Roman Forum and reach Stratonous St, which will guide you right to the heart of Plaka. This amazing little area in the shadow of the Acropolis is like a small village on its own. Hundreds of visitors walk all day on its millennial marble streets. There are lots of souvenir shops but also taverns, bars, and ouzeries for those needing a break to quench their thirst.

Anafiotika in the afternoon.

Stretching almost to Syntagma square, Plaka is one of the most ancient settlements in Europe. Ancient ruins, byzantine churches, and neoclassical buildings can be spotted all over the area. 

Square in Plaka, Athens.
Square in Plaka, Athens.

Walk up a bit more, a few meters from Plaka, and visit Anafiotika. This old neighborhood under the rock of the Acropolis is a tiny, peaceful piece of island life in the city. It was established back in the 19th century by the builders who came mostly from the island of Anafi to work on the reconstruction of Athens. The inhabitants built their houses following the style of Cycladic architecture, which reminded them of their homeland.

Psirri

From Anafiotika you can take the metro (Akropolis station) and go back to Monastiraki to experience the extraordinary street art of Psirri. Otherwise, you can reach the station of Kerameikos (also with the metro) and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the major cultural events in the modern spaces of Gazarte and Technopolis.

Psirri Athens
Psirri, Athens.

There are plenty of options for dinner in the city. Excellent restaurants can be found on Adrianou street. There’s a Hard Rock Café, just a few hundred meters away from Technopolis. For a more traditional dinner, try Maiandros.

Rooftop Bar in Athens. Point A.
Rooftop Bar in Athens. Point A (Hotel Herodion).

Another way to enjoy the night in Athens is to visit one of the several rooftop bars and restaurants that surround the area of the Acropolis. Point A Herodion, proposes a very creative selection of cocktails and dishes. The rooftop restaurant in AthensWas hotel is another stylish location for a drink with a view.

Day 2: Ancient Athens 

Today, expect to see what you’ve been longing to see all your life: Ancient Athens. Get yourself ready, bring your camera, a hat, and some water. During the summer, do not forget your sunscreen. Wear very comfortable shoes too.

Inside the Ancient Agora Athens
Ancient Athens.

Literally “high city”, The Acropolis is Greece’s greatest treasure. You can decide to do this tour on your own, or get in touch with one of the many companies that propose walking tours of Athens at very convenient prices.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens.
Columns of Olympian Zeus, Athens.

Start at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, on Vassilis Olgas St. The colossal ruins of the Olympian are double the size of the Parthenon. It was originally formed by 104 Corinthian columns of which only 15 remain. Next to the temple stands the Arch of Hadrian, erected in 132 AD as a gate between the ancient city and the Roman city of Athens. There are two inscriptions on the arch, facing opposite directions, that name Theseus and Hadrian as the founders of Athens.

The Acropolis

Walk up Dionysiou Areopagitou St and arrive at the entrance of the Acropolis. Once inside, visit the Theatre of Dionysus and, a few meters ahead, The Odeon of Herodes Atticus before heading to the top.

Now, get ready to ascend through the olive groves of the lower slopes to reach the marble crown of the Acropolis, before passing through the Propylaia gateway. You’ll see the Temple of Athena Nike, a small but stunning building with a colonnaded portico on the front and rear facades. In this temple, Athena was worshipped as a goddess of victory in wisdom and war.

Inside the Acropolis
Theater of Dionysus.

Ahead of you, the Erechtheion, erected in honor of both Athena and Poseidon, is the supposed burial place of the famous king Erechtheus. On the opposite side stands the magnificent Parthenon, the main temple on the Acropolis dedicated to goddess Athena, patron of Athens. It is the most important surviving building of Ancient Greece and the most perfect example of Doric architecture.

From the top of the Acropolis, on sunny days, it is possible to admire the whole city of Athens stretching up to Piraeus and the Aegean sea. Have your cameras ready!

Roman Agora

After a visit to the Acropolis, stop for refreshment while walking down the slippery streets that go down to meet the Ancient Agora. Take a break at Dioskouroi with a glass of cold juice or a coffee.

Genius Itinerary for 3 Days in Athens

Keep walking down Dioskouron street till you reach the Roman Agora, a large, open-air courtyard surrounded by colonnades on all four sides, with the impressive Tower of the Winds (an ancient marble clocktower) just to the east.

Ancient Agora

To get a better idea of the public markets in Classical times, walk a bit more and visit the Ancient Agora, the best-known example of an ancient Greek Agora. Once inside, do not miss the Stoa of Attalos, a completely reconstructed old portico that now houses the Museum of the Agora. Try to spot the statue of Emperor Hadrian and end with the magnificent Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved Classic temples in Greece.

Aerial view of the Ancient Agora. Athens

If you still want some more history, don’t overlook the Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos. Very close to the Ancient Agora numerous funerary sculptures are erected along the road that used to lead out of the city. For a late afternoon lunch, go to Souvlaki Bar or choose any of the little bars, restaurants, and tavernas in the area.

A great tour of Ancient Athens

One of my best days ever in Athens was when I got to see the old Acropolis with this unique Mythological Tour, it was truly wonderful.

>> You can read a review of that day here.

Things to do in the evening

Exarchia

Take pleasure in spending a different afternoon in the city, the possibilities you can choose are many and varied. One of them includes a visit to the controversial area of Exarchia (not far from Omonia).

Even when tourists may be warned to steer clear of this part of town, this neighborhood offers a glimpse into the city’s counter-culture side of the city as well. It’s not as dangerous as depicted so go ahead and check out the guitar shops, comic bookstores, and eccentric examples of graffiti.

Street Art, Athens.
Street Art, Athens.

The area is also home to several rock clubs, pubs, and jazz cafés. On the weekends try a different experience in Mpoemissa (on Solomou St) if you want to hear some traditional Rembetika music. Selas (on Methonis St) is a hidden bar in Exarchia: quiet, relaxing, and far from the fuss of the streets. The exterior area of the bar is in a small alley and it’s full of colorful chairs.

Kolonaki

Another possibility, in the opposite spirit of Exarchia, is the expensive neighborhood of Kolonaki. This exclusive shopping area of the city reaches a compromise between international labels and some impressive independent Greek designers.

It’s one of the oldest districts and it’s worth a visit if you’re in need of some shopping therapy. Skoufa St is considered the high-end shopping road of Kolonaki. For a more casual selection of T-shirts, Koukoutsi is the street you are looking for. Instead, walk down Xanthou St to find the creations of new independent designers. 

End your long day with a different nocturnal experience. Several companies offer amazing gastronomic tours and wine tasting trails. You can contact Athens Insiders and arrange to be escorted around the best restaurants and bars by a local insider.

Genius Itinerary for 3 Days in Athens
Try the authentic dishes of the Greek gastronomy in Athens.

As nobody can ever have enough of Plaka, try and visit this area of the city again. This time at night, for a casual dinner even rather late.

Day 3: Unexpected Athens

There are still tons of things left to do in Athens. Choose one of them… Or do them all!

Acropolis Museum

Start your day by heading to the Acropolis Museum. It has been described as one of the best in the world. Located just a few meters away from the Parthenon, it focuses on the findings in the archaeological site of the Acropolis. The entrance is on Dionysiou Areopagitou street next to the Akropoli metro station (Line 2. This is a station worth the visit because it has a permanent exhibition of reproductions of the Elgin Marbles of the Parthenon).

In the Museum, the collections are displayed on three levels, a fourth middle level houses the museum shop and a café. The Acropolis Museum has been built over an extensive archaeological site, its floor is often transparent inviting the visitor to see the excavations below.

Acropolis Museum, Athens.
Acropolis Museum, Athens.

Mount Lycabettus

Visit the summit of Mount Lycabettus: 745 ft high, Mt. Lycabettus stands high above Athens, offering visitors a clear view across the Attica and the Aegean. On top, there is a small white chapel, Agios Georgios. There is also a nice café but prices tend to match the altitude of the mountain!

You can reach the summit on foot, hiking up the path beginning at the end of Aristippou street or you can also use the funicular, which leaves from Ploutarchou and Aristippou streets.

A drink and a movie

End the day with a myriad of colorful images at Brettos. Right in the heart of Plaka, and open all day long, don’t miss this old-time bar with thousands of colored bottles decorating the walls right up to the ceilings.

Brettos bar Plaka Athens

The oldest distillery in Athens, and second oldest in Europe, opened its doors back in 1909. In Brettos sample the famous home-made ouzo. 

If you are in the mood for more, Thiseion Cinema, on the southern side of the Acropolis, this vintage open-air cinema showcases classic Hollywood films with subtitles rather than being dubbed. A perfect option for a different night in town. Remember to try the traditional drinks at the cafeteria.

Check more things to do in Athens

Frequently Asked Questions about Athens

HOW DO I REACH ATHENS

  1. There are different ways to reach the center of Athens. If you arrive at the Airport Eleftherios Venizelos:

    Taxi: Available at Exit 3 Arrivals, fees go up to 52 euros. Even double at night.
    Bus: Four routes connect the airport to Athens. Buses depart from the Arrivals Level, between Exits 4 and 5. 
    Metro: The Attiko metro (line 3, direction Agia Marina) connects the airport to the city (€ 10, 40-minute ride).
    Train: Suburban Rail to Athens Central Station (Larissa Station).

  2. If you arrive at the port of Piraeus:

    Taxi: Reaching the center is not very expensive, but traffic can be tough.
    Bus: Express bus (X80) runs between the port and Athens city center.
    Metro: Line 1, direction Kifissia.

Cat on the streets of Anafiotika in Athens, Greece
Anafiotika, Athens.

How do I commute in town?

The historic area of Athens is easily reachable walking around town. Yet, if the heat gets intense and you are feeling tired (in the end you will, for sure), plenty of buses connect different areas of interest in the city, but traffic is a serious issue in Athens, so use their subway system! 

The metro is the best way to move around town. It’s easy to use and there are signs both in Greek and Latin alphabet everywhere. If you plan to use it a lot, buy a day ticket in the morning and do not forget to validate it at the beginning of your first trip.

Neoclassic architecture, Athens
Neoclassic architecture, Athens.

 Where do I sleep in Athens on a budget?

There are endless opportunities to save a few bucks when choosing where to stay in Athens, if you’re not sure where to sleep and want a super thorough guide that compares hostels by category, price range, type of traveler, area and more, well, look no further, check these best hostels in Athens guide, I know you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!

What’s the weather like in Athens?

Athens has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. Get ready for some sweltering summers with average highs around 33°C and record highs reaching well into the 40s! The winters are mild compared to other cities in Europe, but sometimes rainy.

Extra Day 4: Hydra Island

It’s so easy to jump on a ferry-boat and leave the chaos of Athens behind! Among the many nearby islands, Hydra really stands out. Book yourself a return ticket and let the magic of the islands carry you away. Let me guide you on a day full of relaxation, marine atmosphere, and stunning landscapes.

The wonderful sea of Hydra.
The wonderful sea of Hydra.

About Hydra

Hydra is part of the Saronic Islands and it has been attracting travelers, celebrities, and artists for years. The port town is characterized by elegant buildings and its beauty and charm remain also because new constructions in town are forbidden.

The island is blissfully free of motor vehicles. In fact, the first thing you will notice upon arrival is a line of mules and donkeys waiting to carry somebody or somebody’s luggage.

Most visitors only come for the day as accommodation is quite limited and tends to be on the expensive side. For that reason, if you want to spend the night, it’s better to book in advance from Athens, especially in summer. 

Let the wild nature of Hydra surround you completely. Hike the trails and swim in the crystal clear waters. Indulge in some authentic food of the best Greek traditions.

For a quick visit, I suggest:
– If the next day you have an early flight from Athens International Airport, play it safe. Make it a one-day trip and go back to Athens on the same day with a late ferry (at about 8 pm).

– If your flight the next day is later in the afternoon and if you loved the atmosphere in Hydra, enjoy a magic sunset by the port, have a romantic dinner by the sea and sleep on the island. Next day, get up early, have a traditional Greek breakfast at the port and go back to Athens with the first-morning ferry.

What to do in Hydra

The port of Hydra.
The port of Hydra.

You will be amazed by the picturesque port welcoming your arrival. Get your photo camera ready for a nice sequence of beautiful shots. As you walk along the narrow streets, you can notice together with a soft perfume of wild herbs.

Three main streets go up to the village from the waterfront. The first street you see is Tombazi, place for the mules. The second street is Mialouli, next to the small Monastery of Panagia. The third one is Lignou, this one will take you up the hill to end up in the village of Kamini

Several paths in the hills lead to lonely churches and monasteries, walking to the Monastery of Profiti Illias takes about an hour but it rewards you with a splendid view of the city and the port below.

If, instead, you are visiting Hydra for a swim, don’t be disappointed by the lack of sandy beaches within a walking distance. Tranquility and crystal clear waters will pay off. As you move further from town, beaches increase in beauty.

Walk along the coast to the west, after small beach of Avlaki you will reach Kamini. If this beach suits you to spend the day, you will also find a few tavernas down the road for lunch.

Beaches of Hydra, Greece.
Bonus: The beaches of Hydra couldn’t miss from this Genius Itinerary for 3 Days in Athens.

If you still want to walk some more, keep going until you reach Vlychos, a small settlement with a pebble beach. There, it’s also possible to find accommodation for the night.

After spending a wonderful day exploring the island, swimming or simply relaxing by the beach, head back to the port for an early dinner before the ferry takes you back to Athens. You will also be able to shop in some of the tiny boutiques, jewelry stores and souvenir shops scattered in the port.

For dinner, you can enjoy a casual meal sitting in any of the bars facing the seafront. Most of them serve local dishes and meze (traditional small dishes similar to the Spanish tapas).

Frequently Asked Questions About a Day in Hydra

Mule, Hydra.
HOW DO I GET TO HYDRA?

Take a hydrofoil or catamaran from Piraeus Port in Athens. The schedules are released one to two months in advance.

HOW DO I GO AROUND IN HYDRA?

To move around, you can reach more distant beaches with water-buses or taxi-boats. Arrange the pick-up time with the owner so that you’re at the main port on time to board your ferry back to Athens.
If you want to see the inner part of the island, you will have to rely on donkeys, mules, and horses.
Yet, if you are there just for the day, and therefore aren’t carrying heavy luggage, explore the inner valleys and ancient monasteries or simply move along the coast to find the perfect secluded beach in the best of ways, walking.

WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE IN HYDRA?

The best weather to enjoy the long walks around Hydra is during spring and early autumn. But chances are that you visit Hydra during the hot Greek summer. June, July, and August can get extremely hot, especially around midday. 

WHAT ESSENTIALS SHOULD I BRING ON A TRIP TO HYDRA?

Remember to bring a hat and sunscreen, and always carry a bottle of water. Walking the paths of Hydra in the hottest hours of the day can be tough. The more you get away from the port, the fewer the chances to find a place where to get water.
A snack or two won’t make your bag heavier and could also come in handy after hours of swimming in the Aegean. In the late afternoon, the heat is easier to bear.

WHERE DO I GET THE BEST COFFEE?

Everyone visiting Hydra must visit The Pirate Bar. This is a great place for your morning coffee. Relax and enjoy a cold coffee while you watch the village wake up. As locals say, You haven’t been to Hydra if you haven’t stopped by the Pirate.
If you prefer to sit right by the sea, walk to the opposite side of the port (towards the cannons) and have breakfast at Skipper Café (and do not leave without trying one of their cakes).
For a budget breakfast, walk down Ikonomou street, just a few meters from the port. “Fournos” is a small local bakery that makes delicious fresh loukoumades to go.

WHERE DO I TRY THE BEST DISHES IN HYDRA?

There is no doubt that the best places in Hydra are the few rustic tavernas scattered along the path that gets you from one beach to the other. Choose a traditional one. You will find the best place to sit in the shadows, have a superb local meal and be received by a cozy atmosphere right before the little port of Kamini.
To Pefkaki, on the main path proposes a homemade octopus salad, fresh fish, and wine leaves stuffed with rice. For dessert, do not miss their yogurt with home-made sweet quince! If you are heading for more beach time after lunch, buy mineral water from them and keep going.

WHAT’S THE BEST ICE CREAM IN HYDRA?

If Hydra gets too hot, make a pause for an ice-cream at The Cool Mule, also at the port.

A walk along the seafront promenade is a great idea for an afternoon in Hydra.
A walk along the seafront promenade is a great idea for an afternoon in Hydra.

Read more travel guides to Athens

Are you ready to explore Greece? It can be the trip of your lifetime. Get in touch if you need extra help to plan your itinerary. If you happen to also tour West Crete, check this guide. You’ll find detailed info about where to go, what to see, where to eat, and more!

Want more? Join my Private Facebook Group to connect with like-minded travelers who love Crete as much as you do!

Coming to Greece any time soon? These resources will help you organize the trip!

Start by heading right to my Greece travel guide for in-depth details you need to know about Greece. You can also check my post to plan a trip to Greece with children!

Probably, you’re planning to experience the thrilling island-hopping experience. Head to this article and read about the best cruise ports in Greece.

To have updated information about the island of Crete, as well as about the rest of Greece, join my private group on Facebook about Crete and download a copy of my West Crete Travel Guide to have it always with you if you visit Crete!

Finally, make sure you’ve got everything you for a hassle-free trip!

I never move around the islands without my Osprey backpack, a sturdy, light, roomy, and super comfortable travel partner I just love. To visit villages, sites, and museums instead, I carry this little crossbody bag.

When driving around, I pack my Nikon D7200. In Summer I also carry good sunscreen lotion, the sun on the island can be pretty aggressive. Always bring with you a good travel guide! Lonely Planet’s Best of Greece & the Greek Islands.

Airfares to Greece can change from one airline to the other, make sure to compare prices with a powerful search engine. Planes are fast, but nothing like the romantic experience of traveling by sea in Greece, book your ferry tickets in advance at the lowest price, with no hidden fees or extra costs.

If I need to book accommodation, I personally use different search engines. Booking.com and Hotels.com are my go-to options.

Sometimes, the best way to get to know a place and make the most of your time is to join an organized tour. GetYourGuide has top-rated tours to save time and money. From cooking lessons to archaeological site tours, skip-the-line attractions, and even airport transfer!

Do you have everything you need? Then you just have to get ready to discover Greece!

These articles about Greece have been thought just for you!

If you’re curious about traveling the Greek islands, check the most amazing places to visit in Greece. Crete is my favorite island of all, and these 50 unmissable things to do in Crete is a great article from where to start planning a visit. Greece is also an ideal place for scuba diving, here you can discover where to do it on the islands.

Head to this article to check the best ports for cruises in Greece. This guide, instead, shows you the best things you can do in Athens if you visit for three days. If you have less time in the capital of Greece, find inspiration in this article describing all you can do if you have one day to spend in Athens.

Which of these things would you like to do in Athens?
Let me know in the comments below!

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3 Days in Athens
3 Days in Athens
Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

About the Author

Hola! I’m Gabi. Welcome to The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog! I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round. I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete. I’m a beach freak and on this island I’ve found heaven on earth!

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