How to Spend the Perfect Short Layover in Athens

 
 A couple of hours is not sufficient to get the most of Athens, but you can at least have the time to see some of the main attractions, just like the Parthenon, shown in the picture. Source: Truevoyagers

A couple of hours is not sufficient to get the most of Athens, but you can at least have the time to see some of the main attractions, just like the Parthenon, shown in the picture. Source: Truevoyagers

If you have a layover or are going to be in Athens for a day before heading to a Greek island, then we’ve got you covered! Ideally you want at least a couple of days to really get a vibe of the city, but if you only have one day in this fascinating metropolis, here is what we suggest for the perfect layover in Athens.

7:00am - Rise and Shine!

 ‘ Spiti mas ’ in Psyrri offers some of the most delicious Greek pies! Source: Truevoyagers

Spiti mas’ in Psyrri offers some of the most delicious Greek pies! Source: Truevoyagers

Start your day with a bougatsa, a breakfast pastry that can be filled with cheese, custard, or minced meat. Also, enjoy some creamy Greek yogurt topped with seasonal fruit and nuts while sipping a strong traditional Greek coffee to really kick start your morning. Alternatively, try Spiti mas in Psyrri, which offers the most amazing Greek pies made of local fresh ingredients. Another spot that surely will not disappoint you is 7 Cactus in Koukaki near Acropoli metro station, which is known to serve delicious Greek breakfast with a contemporary touch. 

8:00am - Marvel at the Acropolis slopes

 The Parthenon, the symbol of Ancient and Modern Greece, as seen from Philopappou Hill. Source: Truevoyagers

The Parthenon, the symbol of Ancient and Modern Greece, as seen from Philopappou Hill. Source: Truevoyagers

This might seem brutally early to visit the major monument of Athens, but it is honestly the best time of day to visit. Athens is a major tourist destination with tons of sightseeing tour groups and buses, so the earlier the better in order to beat the crowds and afternoon heat during summer, late spring or early autumn.

Your visit on the Acropolis Hill should take around 1-2 hours, depending on your level of passion for archaeology, classical architecture and philosophy! The full-price ticket costs €20.00 (reduced €10.00) and is valid for the Acropolis Hill and its slopes.

10:00am - Visit the Acropolis museum

 Inside the Acropolis Museum, you can see the Caryatids, some of the most intact exhibits of the Erechtheum, one of the Acropolis buildings. Source: Truevoyagers

Inside the Acropolis Museum, you can see the Caryatids, some of the most intact exhibits of the Erechtheum, one of the Acropolis buildings. Source: Truevoyagers

Time to escape the heat and head indoors in this stunning museum, considered one of the top 10 museums in the world by National Geographic. Drop by the Acropolis Museum Café for a snack or a refreshing drink and take your time in the museum. It is exceptionally well designed, with high glass ceilings, nice views and glass floors that look down to ancient ruins. In the museum, you’ll find what has remained in Greece from the amazing Parthenon sculptures to artifacts such as pottery, figurines and statues that were found in and around the Acropolis. Check out our list with the 5 best museums to visit in Athens here.

12:00pm - Lunch time in beautiful Plaka

 In front of  Gerani  in Plaka, a coffee shop very popular among locals and tourists. Source: Truevoyagers

In front of Gerani in Plaka, a coffee shop very popular among locals and tourists. Source: Truevoyagers

Head to the nearby Plaka neighborhood under the Acropolis. It’s the oldest part of the town and has breathtaking views of the Acropolis. Plaka is by far Athens’ most picturesque neighborhood filled with interesting places to eat, drink and shop. You could grab a quick souvlaki and stroll down the cute streets of Plaka or it might be nice to sit down and relax while you have your lunch. Pick up some traditional Greek loukoumades, which are crisp and sugary balls of deep-fried dough, or grab some creamy gelato to satisfy your sweet tooth.

After or before lunch, do take time to explore the Plaka neighborhood and purchase some nice souvenirs, jewelry, and enjoy the afternoon. You can check out our article on Plaka for more detailed suggestions on what to do. Make a quick visit to Roman Agora in Plaka, constructed as a succession to the original Agora including many buildings of historical interest, like the Tower of the Winds, the Agoranomion, the Gate of Athena Archegetis and the Fethiye Djami (mosque).

Interested in experiencing something new?

 Try our ‘ Get a Taste of Athens ’ food tour and learn all the secrets of Greek cuisine with the help of a local foodie!

Try our ‘Get a Taste of Athens’ food tour and learn all the secrets of Greek cuisine with the help of a local foodie!

1:30pm - Shopping in Monastiraki and Koukaki

 The shadow puppet of Greek  Karagiozis  in many different variations can be found in Monastiraki. Source: Truevoyagers

The shadow puppet of Greek Karagiozis in many different variations can be found in Monastiraki. Source: Truevoyagers

After feeling refreshed and nourished from lunch, then venture out to Monastiraki to do some shopping and browse the shops. Late July or August is especially a great time to shop as everything is on sale in Athens. There is also the nearby neighborhood of Koukaki, a hip area with a laid-back and cool vibe. Stroll down the charming area along Georgaki Olympia Street, which features an eclectic mix of cafes and restaurants. Koukaki is also home to the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) and the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, a place that pays homage to the art of goldsmithing sure to be a delight for jewelry connoisseurs.

3:00pm - Rooftop bar for a drink or coffee

 Acropolis looks amazing even with cloudy weather from Couleur Locale's rooftop bar. Source: Truevoyagers

Acropolis looks amazing even with cloudy weather from Couleur Locale's rooftop bar. Source: Truevoyagers

Shopping can be very tiring so you’ll enjoy taking it easy with a drink or a freddo espresso at one of the many rooftop bars in central Athens. For a spectacular view of the Acropolis while sipping on a cold drink, visit ‘A for Athens’ boutique hotel’s top level rooftop bar located near Monastiraki Square. Along with their must-try cocktails, they feature a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu as well. For more suggestions, see our article on the top rooftop bars in Athens.

4:00pm - Head back to the hotel for some rest  

Head back down the hill and if you wish, go back to your hotel to get a some rest and refresh yourself for the evening.

5:30pm - Athens riviera and beaches

 The Athens Riviera is the large coastal area in the southern suburbs of Athens from Piraeus to the tip of Sounio.

The Athens Riviera is the large coastal area in the southern suburbs of Athens from Piraeus to the tip of Sounio.

Take a tram from Syntagma towards the Athens Riveira, which is the coastal area in the southern suburbs of Athens from Piraeus to Sounio. If you want to take a dip in the sea, there are many great beaches to cool off in the Athens Riviera. See our list of recommended beaches near Athens here.

A few of the main areas of the southern suburbs are Palaio Faliro, Glyfada, Voula, Vari and Vouliagmeni, suggestions for which can be found at our Athens Riviera article here.

Interested in experiencing something new?

 Ride a unique wooden bike around the main attractions of Athens under the guidance of a local expert in our ‘ Wooden Bike tour ’ and become the center of attention!

Ride a unique wooden bike around the main attractions of Athens under the guidance of a local expert in our ‘Wooden Bike tour’ and become the center of attention!

10:00pm - Night out in Gazi or Metaxourgeio

 Metaxourgeio or Kerameikos is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods of Athens at night and is ideal for food and drinks at the various bar/restaurants of the area. Source: Alexandros Akrivos, Lifo

Metaxourgeio or Kerameikos is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods of Athens at night and is ideal for food and drinks at the various bar/restaurants of the area. Source: Alexandros Akrivos, Lifo

After you’ve had enough of the seaside, head back to your hotel and get ready for your night out. If you have an early flight to catch the next morning, you can just stick to having a quick drink at one of the bars and call it an early night. If not, check out of the many nightclubs in Gazi to dance the night away! Close to the Athens center, Metaxourgeio is an old and unique neighborhood where ceramics craftsmen and potters used to have their workshops. The area comes alive at night and is known for its underground theaters and great bars such as ‘Beauty Killed the Beast’, a stylish and ascetically impressive bar serving tasty cocktails accompanied by cool music.  

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 How to Spend the Perfect Short Layover in Athens, Greece by Truevoyagers

How to Spend the Perfect Short Layover in Athens, Greece by Truevoyagers

What would you do if you only had one day to visit Athens? Let us know in the comments below!

Words: Prachi Oza