Athens in 2 days
There is so much to see and enjoy in Athens. Two days in Athens is certainly better than one, but three days is the minimum we recommend you stay. There are ancient historic sites, many museums, a vibrant nightlife, delicious food and such a friendly atmosphere that your trip here is sure to inspire you for years to come. If you are following this guide, you plan to visit the Acropolis on Day 1. Our Day 2 itinerary is a delightful potpourri of things to see and do in the center of Athens, perfect for the visitor in for the weekend or for a short stay. Day 2 focuses on museum hopping along the tree-lined promenade, Vasilissis Sofias Street, shopping in Kolonaki and having cup of coffee while watching a romantic sunset atop Lycabettus Hill, the highest peak in Athens with a panoramic view unlike any other.
Athens city center is a small district with a cluster of art-filled gems waiting to be discovered by visitors like you. Here is an easy guide to walk you through your Athenian treasure hunt that will make for a pleasant few days in one of the world's most ancient cities. The area surrounding Syntagma Square and Vasilissis Sofias can be somewhat referred to as a museum row with several of the city's finest within walking distance of each other.
We recommend that you begin Day 2 in Athens with a visit to The National Archaeological Museum, showcasing one of the largest collections of ancient Greek artifacts in the world. The museum is approximately 5 minutes from Omonia Square and just a short bus ride away from the group of museums that await you upon your return from your morning tour here. Bear in mind that it will require a few hours to examine the many works of prehistoric items, sculptures, and pottery.
The museum hopping continues on Vasilissis Sofias. At the Benaki Museum you can view Greek artifacts from the Paleolithic period through to the 19th century. You can also break for lunch at one of several cafes along Voukourestiou Street around Syntagma Square or nearby Kolonaki. Next up on your treasure hunt of Athens' gems is The Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, one of the largest and most popular private collections of ancient Cycladic art and sculptures. Across the street is the War Museum, filled with memorabilia and items portraying the often turbulent war history of Greece. You can also visit the National Art Gallery, a museum which is not to be missed housing a permanent collection of paintings of contemporary Greek artists and painters, in addition to major exhibitions from other parts of the world. The Ancient Olympic (Panathenaic) Stadium is just a few blocks away. Choose to walk to see the site of where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. Directly across the street is an entrance to the green and palatial National Gardens. A stroll inside will bring you to the Zappeion Mansion. Exit onto Syntagma (Constitution) Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament Building. Stay long enough to witness the strong, proud and ceremonial changing of the guard -- a highlight to any Athens visit. If you haven't done so already, take a few moments to peruse the Syntagma Metro Station. The flagship station of the new underground showcases mosaics and replicas of some of the thousands of archaeological finds discovered during its construction. Standing tall above the metro station (Panepistimiou and Vasileos Georgiou I) is The Hotel Grand Bretagne, one of Athens' oldest and most glamorous hotels with a rich history. It was here that the International Olympic Committee met in 1896. During World War II it became the headquarters of the Greek, German and English armed forces successively. The surrounding Syntagma Square area is studded with elegant buildings of 19th century neoclassical architecture that were renovated prior to the Olympics Games, such as The French Embassy and the Sarogleion Mansion, among several others. Another noteworthy building, designed by architect Ernest Ziller, is the nearby Numismatic Museum, exhibiting one of the rarest collections of ancient coins in the Balkans. Be sure to include these on your list of things to see.
We recommend you take the 10-minute walk to Kolonaki Square, one of Athens' most popular neighborhoods. Several streets from Vasilissis Sofias or Stadiou will take you there, where you can shop or people watch as you enjoy an iced coffee or frappé at one of the many outdoor cafés.
Afterwards, make the extra effort to climb Lycabettus Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of Athens unlike any other vantage point in the city. If a mini-trek up is not your thing, take the cable car to the top. The entrance is on the corner of Aristippou and Ploutarchou streets. If you decide to walk down the forest path (the view is truly amazing), you will encounter Dexameni Square in Kolonaki, where you can grab a bite to eat.