As the cradle of Western Civilization, Athens offers endless opportunities to uncover ancient history. The Parthenon and the hilltop Acropolis might be Athens’ starring attractions, but the Greek capital is also famed for its buzzing nightlife and Mediterranean cuisine. While visitors could spend a week exploring the city’s ruins and alley cafes, many make it a quick stopover—guided tours help cover top highlights by cutting down on time spent purchasing tickets, waiting in lines, and finding transportation. For those with more time, the city provides a starting point for trips into the Greek Islands, and for day trips and multi-day tours that go further into mainland Greece, where favorite destinations include the cliff-top monasteries of Meteora and the ruined city of Delphi.
Athens Weather (When to Visit)
Summer months bring crowds along with fabulous weather on Greek Island beaches, but Athens can be stifling in July and August with summer temperatures that often skyrocket into the 90s. On the positive side, a large number of festivals are hosted here during the summer months. Consider spring and fall for milder temperatures and fewer tourists.
Spring's pleasant temperatures (between the mid-40s and high 70s) and more affordable accommodations and flights make this season an excellent time to visit. Plus, you'll have more elbow room at the Acropolis and Ancient Agora, since most visitors time their visits during the summer. Just keep in mind that Athens is less than 10 miles away from Greece's coast, so you'll want a light jacket to protect yourself from spring's biting winds.
Best Athens Area Beaches
The beaches in Athens feature crystal clear waters and sand-fringed shorelines that are easily accessible to the public from the city center. Greater Athens features the longest coastline of any European capital, with Athens’ beaches consistently awarded Blue Flag status for their high standards in water quality and cleanliness.
Astir Beach Club
One of the most exclusive beach clubs in Greece, Astir Beach is set on 300 meters of coastline in the crystal blue waters of the exclusive Laimos peninsula. Astir Beach is open to the public but for a significant entry fee, the upside being the facilities are in pristine condition and the service level is high.
Akti Vouliagmenis Beach
Akti Vouliagmenis is an ideal location to spend outdoors if you have a family with kids or enjoy being active. Offering a full range of amenities; first aid station, a kid’s playground, elegant beach chairs and umbrellas plus free Wi-Fi.
Asteras Beach – Balux & the House Project
An upmarket complex offering good value for money. For those willing to pay an entry fee, Asteras Beach offers sun-beds and umbrellas, lockers, changing rooms, showers, trampolines, a kids playground, a self- service restaurant, three bars and water sports. The restaurants and bars can also be accessed without payment.
Yabanaki Beach – Varkiza Resort
The Varkiza Resort offers a selection of restaurants and facilities that make it a comfortable family day at the beach. With a beach side souvlaki eatery, pizzeria and sushi bar, it makes every effort to please. Beach tennis and a children’s water park are also available along with a quiet area used for wellness and massage. There’s plenty of water sports such as windsurfing and water skiing.
You can expect to find the very cool crowd of Athens here, who also enjoy dining and drinking at ‘Krabo’, the latest all-day beach bar and restaurant that is operated by the exclusive Margi Hotel. Expect a tight squeeze during peak summer season. Pre-book sun-beds or cabanas at least 48 hours in advance or if you’re organized enough, one week prior to avoid disappointment.
Best Athens Sites, Tours & Activities by Viator
A hilltop ruin that’s a city icon, the Acropolis is an essential stop for all Athens visitors. Lines to purchase tickets can reach up to two hours in peak season, but some guided tours—many of which combine the Acropolis with other city highlights—secure tickets in advance. Athens’ compact historic center means Acropolis walking tours typically also feature the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike, while driving tours can go farther afield to visit New Acropolis Museum and the Temple of Poseidon. Click here for all Acropolis Tours. Top Recommended Tours:
- Acropolis Walking Tour, Including Syntagma Square and Historical City Center Read more about this popular Acropolis Walking Tour.
- Skip the Line Acropolis of Athens and New Acropolis Museum Tour Learn more about the Skip the Line Acropolis Tour
- Athens Highlights: a Mythological Tour Learn more about the Athens Mythological Tour.
Temple of Poseidon
Set on Cape Sounion’s dramatic coastal cliffs, the Temple of Poseidon has enchanted visitors for millennia. Early morning trips to the ruins mean cooler temperatures and fewer visitors, but for iconic photos of the ruins at sunset, brave the crowds on an evening tour. While it’s possible to reach the Temple of Poseidon on a quick excursion from the city, consider a private tour to give clients time to swim at the nearby beach and visit the picturesque towns along the route. Click here for all Temple of Poseidon Tours. Top Recommended Tour:
- Essential Athens Highlights plus Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon Learn more about the Essential Athens Highlights Tour.
- Cape Sounion Private Sunset Tour From Athens With Seaside Dinner Learn more about the Cape Sounion Sunset Tour with Dinner.
- Private Cruise to Poseidon Temple at Sounio Cape with Snorkeling and Swimming Learn more about the Poseidon Temple Cruise.
Delphi, with its remarkably preserved ruins dotted along the southern slopes of Mt. Parnassus, is one of Greece’s most famous archaeological sites. Many visitors arrive on a day trip from Athens, but a multi-day trip means a more relaxing day of sightseeing, and the option to add a nearby destination such as the mountain village of Arachova or Meteora’s monasteries. The footpaths that access the open-air ruins can be steep and uneven, so it’s worth considering a private tour to allow groups with limited mobility to set their own pace. Click here for all Delphi Tours. Top Recommended Tours:
- Delphi Day Trip from Athens Including Lunch Read more about the Delphi Day Trip from Athens
- Private Delphi & Hosios Loukas Monastery Self Guided Tour from Athens with Lunch Learn more about this wonderful Private Tour.
- Delphi Highlights: Guided Small Group Day Tour from Athens Learn more about the Delphi Highlights Small Group Tour.
The Byzantine monasteries set high on Meteora’s soaring rock formations are among the most dramatic sights in Greece. Each of the monasteries have different opening days and hours, but guided tours take care of the complicated logistics, ensuring that clients can visit up to three monasteries in a single day. Click here for all Meteroa Tours. Top Recommended Tours:
- Meteora Day Trip by Train from Athens Learn more about the Meteora Day Trip by Train
- Athens Meteora Monasteries Day Trip by Rail Learn more about this great tour.
- 2-Day Delphi and Meteora Tour from Athens Learn more about the 2-Day Delphi & Meteora Tour
Best Athens Rooftop Bars & Dining
Tudor Hall Restuarant $31 – 60
Right in the heart of Athens you will find this fine dining oasis, located on the 7th floor of the King George II Palace Hotel. From the rooftop restaurant you get a fantastic view of the historical sites of Athens, like the Acropolis. Serving modern cusine with inspiration from the classic Greek kitchen, the restaurant has been selected amongst the best ones in Greece five years in a row. Telephone: 30 21 0333 0265 Web: Tudor Hall Restaurant
Galaxy Restaurant & Bar at Hilton Athens $31 – 60
From the open-air terrace you can enjoy stunning views of the ancient Acropolis and and Lycabettus Hill along with (what feels like) the complete Athens skyline. Upscale in style and decor but laid back in vibe, here you can enjoy Mediterranean cuisine from the dinner menu and a bar menu offering both sushi and bites, along with delicious signature cocktails and a wide selection of wines. Telephone: 30 21 0321 0006 Web: Galaxy Restaurant & Bar at Hilton Athens
AthenStyle Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
A bit of a hidden gem, offering spectacular 360-degree view of downtown Athens with the Acropolis as a powerful background. Not as fancy as alot of other rooftops in decor, but instead a very relaxing spot offering great food and drinks to very human prices. Open from early morning to late at night, the rooftop bar serves traditional Greek food along with classic cocktails, coffee drinks and ice cold beers. Telephone: 30 21 0322 5010 Web: AthenStyle Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
Sky Lounge Rooftop Dining Bar $11 – 30
Perched on the 9th floor, right in the heart of the city, this seasonal rooftop terrace offers a spectacular view to the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Equipped with a lovely rooftop pool, during daytime the terrace is pool bar and lounge for guests staying at the hotel. Swim in the 22m pool or relax in the jacuzzi, while sipping on a refreshing beverage from the rooftop bar. At night the stylish and contemporary Sky Lounge opens to all. Relaxing in vibe, here you can enjoy creative Greek cuisine, cocktails and a large selection of local wines. Telephone: 30 21 0332 0100 Web: Sky Lounge Rooftop Dining Bar
NEW Art Lounge $31 – 60
A very stylish rooftop bar and restaurant, located on top of NEW Hotel, about 200 meters from Syntagma Square. Very trendy and beautiful in setting, the rooftop also offers views to match: 360° panoramics that include lots of Athens historical landmarks. Seating comes both on the al-fresco terrace, as well as inside the comfy lounge, where you are surrounded by over 2000 art books. Here you can enjoy both fantastic Greek / Mediterranean inspired food and a large selection of drinks, from cocktails to local and international wines. Telephone: 30 21 0327 3170 Web: NEW Art Lounge