Though sprawling and congested, Athens has a compact, pleasant tourist zone capped by the famous Acropolis — the world's top ancient site. In this historic town, you'll walk in the footsteps of the great minds that created democracy, philosophy, theater, and more…even when you're dodging motorcycles on "pedestrianized" streets. Romantics can't help but get goose bumps as they kick around the same pebbles that once stuck in Socrates' sandals, with the floodlit Parthenon forever floating ethereally overhead.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Acropolis The most important ancient sight in the Western world, where Athenians built their architectural masterpiece, the Parthenon.
▲▲▲ Acropolis Museum Glassy modern temple for ancient art.
▲▲▲ Ancient Agora Social and commercial center of ancient Athens, with a well-preserved temple and an intimate museum.
▲▲▲ National Archaeological Museum World's best collection of ancient Greek art, displayed chronologically from 7000 BC to AD 500.
▲▲ "Acropolis Loop" Traffic-free pedestrian walkways ringing the Acropolis with vendors, cafés, and special events.
▲▲ Anafiotika Delightful, village-like neighborhood draped across the hillside north of the Acropolis.
▲▲ Temple of Olympian Zeus Remains of the largest temple in ancient Greece.
▲▲ Psyrri Vibrant nightlife neighborhood near the center, great for eating, exploring, and escaping other tourists.
▲▲ Benaki Museum of Greek History and Culture Exquisite collection of artifacts from the ancient, Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern eras.
▲▲ Museum of Cycladic Art World's largest compilation of Cycladic art, which looks surprisingly modern even though it's 4,000 years old.
▲▲ Byzantine and Christian Museum Fascinating look at the Byzantines, who borrowed from ancient Greece and Rome, then put their own stamp on a flourishing culture.
▲ Mars Hill Historic spot — with a classic view of the Acropolis — where the Apostle Paul preached to the Athenians.
▲ Thissio Good neighborgood for food and drink, often accompanied by fine views of the Acropolis.
▲ Gazi Former industrial zone, now the colorful and kinetic heart of Athens' gay community.
▲ Roman Forum and Tower of the Winds Ancient Roman marketplace with wondrously intact tower.
▲ Museum of Greek Popular Instruments Musical instruments from the 18th century to today.
▲ Syntagma Square Famous public space with a popular changing-of-the-guard ceremony.
▲ Ermou Street Pleasant traffic-free pedestrian street brimming with international chain stores and fun people-watching.
▲ Church of Kapnikarea Small 11th-century Byzantine church with symbols of Greek Orthodox faith.
▲ Church of Agios Eleftherios Tiny Byzantine church decorated with a millennia of Christian bric-a-brac.
▲ Panathenaic (a.k.a. "Olympic") Stadium Gleaming marble stadium restored to its second-century AD condition.
▲ Central Market A fun and aromatic sensory adventure, with a mind-boggling assortment of food and local color.
▲ Museum of the City of Athens Exhibits about Athenian history, housed in a former royal residence.
Cathedral (Mitropolis) Large, underwhelming head church of Greek Orthodox faith.