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3 Days in Athens – A Complete Itinerary

Are you planning to spend 3 days in Athens?

Athens, the capital of Greece, is a vivacious Mediterranean city with a rich history, friendly people, and a delicious food culture.

In this article I want to share everything you need to know to plan a perfect trip.

I’ll start with some general tips about visiting Athens, I’ll share various options for places to stay and I’ll give you a detailed, 3-day itinerary.

3 Days in Athens

The Basics You Need to Know Before Visiting Athens

1. The best way to get to Athens is by flying into the city’s international airport, and taking the metro or a taxi from the airport into the city.

Alternatively, you can also access Athens by ferry, train, or car.

2. Athens has a temperate climate year-round.

The summer months are peak season for tourists, and it can get really hot in the city.

Therefore, the best time to visit Athens is late spring or early fall. This way, you’ll enjoy a milder climate as well as fewer crowds at museums and monuments.

an aerial view of Athens

3. One of the greatest things about Athens is that it’s a very walkable city.

If you love discovering a new city on foot, you’ll be able to do just that!

For easy navigation through the city, save this Athens Tourist Map to use offline.

4. There are so many fun things to do in Athens!

History buffs will appreciate touring the Acropolis monuments and the Acropolis Museum. There is a multitude of interesting archeological sites sprinkled throughout the city.

If you love trying local food, you’ll enjoy eating gyros and spanakopita.

But, I’ll go into detail about the best things to do in Athens later.

Where to Stay in Athens

a good hotel in Athens
Photo credit: A for Athens

Before we start with our 3-day itinerary, let’s talk about where to stay.

Stay near the city center in Athens, so that you’ll be able to easily walk to all the top tourist attractions.

Budget Hotel: Stay at Ciel in Athens if you are looking to stay in a central location with modern amenities.

Ciel offers guests a welcome beverage, and the opportunity to soak up incredible views at the property’s rooftop terrace and restaurant.

Mid-Range Hotel: If you’d like a bit of an upgrade, consider booking a room at A for Athens.

This hotel also has a great rooftop terrace and restaurant. It’s considered to have one of the most sought-after views of the Acropolis!

Luxury Hotel: Thinking of splurging, check out Coco-Mat Athens BC.

This 5-star hotel features a rooftop pool, bike rentals for guests, top-tear modern amenities, and high-end cosmetics.

For more places to stay in Athens check out this extensive review of Athens accommodations.

Athens in 3 Days – A Practical Itinerary

the Monastiraki Square in Athens

Ok, now that you know where to stay in Athens, let’s get started on creating your perfect 3-day itinerary.

Synopsis: Spend your first day in Athens exploring the Acropolis and enjoying regional cuisine. Have dinner with an incredible view.

Spend day 2 in Athens exploring more archeological sites, and experience Greek cuisine first-hand with an afternoon cooking class.

On day 3 in Athens, leave the city behind and take a day trip to Delphi.

Now let’s dive into these 3 days so that I can help you create a more detailed itinerary.

Day 1 in Athens

a plate with spanakopita

On your first morning in Athens, try a regional breakfast dish.

Spanakopita is a savory pastry made by layering phyllo dough with spinach and feta. You’ll find this delicious Greek staple at almost every bakery in the city.

Takis Bakery is a local favorite. Or check out Little Tree Books and Coffee for a more eclectic cafe experience in Athens.

Visit The Acropolis

the Acropolis

After you’ve had coffee and breakfast, head over to the Acropolis monuments.

The Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is, famously, the most complete ancient Greek monument complex in existence. Its buildings have survived more than 24 centuries worth of natural disasters and human conflicts.

There are several impressive monuments to explore on the Acropolis. Be sure to check out the Temple of Athena Nike, the Theatre of Dionysus, and the Parthenon.

This site has religious, architectural, political, and cultural significance. Throughout the complex, you’ll find various temples and altars. The beliefs and legends surrounding these buildings demonstrate the richness and complexity of the ancient Greek religion.

walking around the Acropolis
The Acropolis is a must on any Athens itinerary

But, you’ll find much more than religious buildings here. The Acropolis served as a center for culture and politics. The site is associated with important events and philosophies, like the idea of democracy for example.

If you would like to learn more about ancient Greek myths and history, consider visiting the Acropolis on a guided tour.

The Acropolis monuments have been a source of significant architectural inspiration internationally. Around the world, you’ll find many examples of Neo-Classical buildings that are reminiscent of the Acropolis.

For all these reasons, the Acropolis is a place you can’t miss during your time in Athens.

You’ll want to plan at least two hours for your visit, but you could easily spend four hours here if you have the time and energy.

Eat Some Gyros

Greek Gyros on a plate

Another traditional Greek delicacy you have to try is Gyros.

‘Gyros’ is a dish in which meat is wrapped in pita, and garnished with tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. Gyros meat is prepared on a vertical rotisserie.

You can often choose between pork, chicken, and lamb.

The best place to have a casual gyros meal is at Tylixto Greek Wrap.

Visit Plaka & Monastiraki Square

people walking around Monastiraki Square

Spend your afternoon strolling around Plaka.

This is the oldest part of Athens. There are tiny pedestrian streets paved with cobblestones and you’ll find many restaurants and boutiques.

But, save your shopping for the Monastiraki Flea Market.

Monastiraki Square is located near many archeological sites in the heart of Athens. The market at Monastiraki is less of a flea market and more of an open-air bazaar. It’s the perfect place to haggle for a great deal on a souvenir or gift.

You can find everything from clothing and jewelry to sculpture, and knick-knacks of all kinds.

End Your Day at A for Athens

In the evening, have dinner or drinks at the A for Athens rooftop bar.

If you can book a table in advance, then dinner is recommended. You’ll have a private space to enjoy panoramic views of the Acropolis.

Otherwise, you don’t need a reservation to stop by and have a drink at the bar. And that way you’ll still be able to catch a glimpse of this million-dollar view.

Day 2 in Athens

the Temple of Hephaestus
The Temple of Hephaestus in Athens

On day 2 of this 3-day Athens itinerary, dedicate some time to exploring archeological sites around town.

You can check out the Roman Agora of Athens, the Temple of Hephaestus, or the Stoa of Attalos.

If it happens to be a rainy day visiting the Museum of Ancient Agora is a great option.

The Roman Agora
Hadrian's Library
Hadrian’s Library

The Roman Agora of Athens (Roman Forum of Athens) is a few minutes’ walk from Monastiraki Square.

This site was an open-air market for the Romans around 1 BC. During the rule of emperor Hadrian, Hadrian’s Library was added near the site. Throughout history, this place was marked by periods of destruction and rebuilding.

You can find a remnant from the Ottoman Empire on the corner of the site, the Fethiye Mosque.

The Temple of Hephaestus

The Temple of Hephaestus is a worthwhile visit because it is the best-preserved temple in Greece.

It was built in the Dorian style and dedicated to Hephaestus, the god of fire.

The temple has evaded destruction for many years, as it was utilized by various cultures for different purposes. It was an Orthodox church for many years and a museum under King Otto.

It’s without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Athens.

The Stoa of Attalos

Only a short walk from the Temple of Hephaestus you’ll find the Stoa of Attalos.

This is another unique site in Athens because it is one of the very few monuments that has been restored.

The Stoa was built originally in 159 – 138 BC as a gift to the Athenian people by their king. It was a commercial building, the main shopping center of the Agora (public space).

The beautifully restored building is the site of the Museum of the Ancient Agora. At the museum, you can admire many archeological finds discovered during the excavations of the Agora site.

Take a Greek Cooking Class

a cooking class in Athens

After an exhausting day of walking and learning about history, a cooking class will offer a nice change of pace.

There are several excellent cooking classes to choose from in Athens. Many of them will offer a tour of the Central Market, as well as the opportunity to make classic Greek dishes.

This is the best way to learn more about Greek food and culture, and it allows you to connect with a local Athenian.

Book your cooking class at least a few days in advance!

Watch the Sunset at Areopagus Hill

the two of us enjoying the sunset at Areopagus Hill

sunset view from Areopagus Hill

One of the most unforgettable evenings in Athens is spent watching the sunset at Areopagus Hill.

This place is significant because it offers spectacular views of Athens, and it has a unique and rich history.

The name of the hill, Areopagus, refers to the Athenian government council. This is the site at which the ancient Greeks would hold court. In Greek mythology, Areopagus hill is where Ares was tried for his role in the murder of Posiden’s son.

You’ll have a bit of a climb to endure to get to the top of the hill. But, the views at the top will be worth it.

Have a Greek Dinner
Psaras Tavern at night
Photo credit: Psaras Tavern

If you’re not too full from your cooking class, head over to Psaras Tavern for dinner.

Psaras Tavern serves traditional Greek cuisine in a rustic, romantic setting. Picture an open-air terrace between two old stone mansions. At night, you’ll be able to see the glistening city lights.

Booking a table is recommended.

Day 3 in Athens

We’ve made it to the last day of our 3-day itinerary, and for day 3 I’m recommending leaving the city.

Take a day trip to Delphi.

The site is a 2.5-hour drive from Athens and is absolutely worth a visit! It’s one of the most important archeological sites in Greece.

You can rent a car, or book a spot on an organized tour.

Delphi

Delphi

In ancient times, the Greeks considered Delphi to be the center of the world. It was an important spiritual, political, and social place.

The oracle of Delphi was renowned for her prophecies, and many significant rulers and philosophers would come to Delphi for her guidance.

The priestess presided over the Temple of Apollo, and she was the most famous person in the ancient world.

Other remarkable remains at Delphi include the Athenian Treasury, the Serpent Column, the Amphiteatre, and the Stadium.

Be sure to visit the Archaeological Museum of Delphi located at the base of the site. It’s a great place to learn more about the late Helladic and early Mycenaean periods. You’ll be able to appreciate some of the exquisite pieces recovered from the excavations of the Delphi site.

an aerial view of the town of Delphi
The town of Delphi

The Delphi archeological site is situated near a small town with the same name.

The town is an absolutely delightful place to have lunch because there are several restaurants with phenomenal views of the dramatic mountainous landscape.

A recommended restaurant in Delphi is To Patriko Mas.

A Winery Tour at Samartzis Winery

If you’ve rented a car, you may consider a detour past Samartzis Winery, on your way back to Athens.

Contact Samartzis Winery in advance to arrange a winery tour.

This unique winery is located along the historic route to Delphi.

Walk around the vineyard, and you’ll stumble upon pieces of centuries-old amphoras. There are also ruins of an ancient temple on the property as well as a historic chapel.

The owner is a knowledgeable and charismatic man. He’s eager to share his story and his passion with visitors.

Dine at Karamanlidika
restaurant Karamanlidika
Photo credit: Karamanlidika

Upon your return to Athens, you’ll probably be hungry.

Have a sit-down dinner at Karamanlidika, a charming restaurant that specializes in charcuterie and all kinds of preserved meats.

3 Days in Athens – Conclusions

And that’s it! I hope this article has helped you create a good itinerary for your 3 days in Athens.

It’s such an incredible city.

And of course you could spend much more than 3 days here, but with this itinerary you’ll see the highlights and discover what makes this city such a special place to visit.

Enjoy your trip to Athens!

And if you want to see more of Greece, check out these hidden gems to visit in Greece.

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Author: Valentina
Valentina is originally from Serbia, but she grew up in Chicago. She loves hunting down local restaurants, unique experiences, and hidden gems. Her blog Valentina’s Destinations was born from her obsession with meticulously researching, organizing, and planning her travel itineraries. Valentina’s Destinations allows her to help other busy professionals maximize their travel experiences.

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