2 Days in Athens: The Perfect Itinerary for a Short Stay

Ingrid & Alex

On a cold November day, I set off for Athens with one of my best friends, hungry for exciting things in a history-packed destination. We had planned this escape for some time and had done some research on the best things to do during 2 days in Athens.

I must confess that we’ve had the help of an “insider.” Let me tell you, that’s the best help one could have.

One of my husband’s Greek colleagues was so kind to help us with a list of the best things to do and places not to miss in Athens, including one of the best places to include in our 2-day itinerary: the restaurants!

Rest assured, I will share all my secrets with you 🙂 Also, I suggest you check out my detailed Athens travel information post.

This post contains affiliate links to products and services that I may be compensated for, at no extra cost to you. Read more about this on our disclosure page here.

2 days in Athens: Our Itinerary

Where to Stay in Athens

First things first! You should book an excellent place for your stay.

Given your relatively short stay, I suggest you book a room in a more central area. This way, most attractions will be nearer, and you’ll spend less time commuting. So look for a hotel in Plaka or Kolonaki.

Booking.com

Day 1 of the Athens itinerary

Plaka and the streets just below Acropolis 

Here is where the magic happens!

Plan your breakfast in this area and choose from one of the many unique places on display; you won’t regret it.

During the day, come here for a stroll on the narrow marble-paved streets flanked by shops on both sides. Remember that you will have to sacrifice some consistent hours here because you will surely want to step inside all the beautiful colored stores.

Where to stay in Athens

Of course, this is where you will shop for souvenirs, but at the same time, you will get kidnapped by all the people alluring you in their restaurants and their wide diversity of delicious dishes.

Where to stay in Athens

Do as the Greeks do, and spend some time enjoying your morning coffee.

Plaka and the area around Monastiraki are where you will find plenty of restaurants and bars to enjoy during your Athens itinerary.

Moreover, don’t feel shy about wandering on Ermou Street – one of the most commercial streets in Athens.

Don’t ignore Kolokotroni Street, where plenty of coffee places are lined up, or Mitropoleos Street, where you will see the Cathedral of Athens between cafes and pastry shops.

Oh, and Karagiorgi Serbias Street is where you will find the best chocolate in Greece!

Acropolis Museum

After finishing your Greek coffee, start your 2 days in Athens with a visit to one of the most important tourist attractions of Greece’s capital: the Acropolis Museum.

The Acropolis Museum has a total area of 25,000 square meters, with an exhibition space of over 14,000 square meters. Here, you will learn everything about archeology, the history surrounding the Acropolis, and much more.

Opening hours start at 8 AM during summer (April to the end of October) and at 9 AM during the winter season (November to the end of April). A ticket used to cost 10 EUR during summer and half of that during winter.

Address: 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, Athens 11742

Acropolis of Athens

This is the one thing that comes to mind when considering Greece’s capital. It is undoubtedly the most famous attraction and something everyone will recognize when seeing a picture. Thus, it is something to visit on the first day of your 2 days in Athens.

2 days in Athens itinerary

Climbing the Acropolis hill is a must, not only because the ancient temples are unique and beautiful but also because you will have a complete view of Athens from the top. You will step back in time to the cradle of Western civilization in Ancient Greece. 

But don’t rush it. Take the time to explore the narrow streets leading up because you never know what you will find. If you’re like me, all the cats you’ll meet will make the trip even longer. Make sure to wear your most comfortable shoes because lots of slippery rocks will get in your way. 

Once up the hill, be prepared to fight the crowds.

As usual at tourist places and top attractions, this Athens attraction is also very crowded with people from all over the world, so be prepared to wait in line for that picture you’ve dreamed about.

Purchase your tickets online before visiting if you want to skip the lines, get directly in, and start climbing the hill all the way up.

Get your guided walking tour at the Acropolis!

However, if you are planning to see more landmarks dating from Ancient times, the best option would be to book a combined ticket that offers access to the Acropolis and 6 other archeological sites in Athens. Book your ticket here!

2 days in Athens itinerary

You can always choose the “easy option” and book a half-day tour that will take you around the Acropolis and introduce you to one of Athens’s most popular areas

Check it out here!

Jewelry Museum

It’s not so popular with tourists, especially since I understand it is a relatively new addition to the list of Athenian attractions. Still, I’m happy we found it on a rainy Saturday while looking for shelter.

The jewelry museum is relatively small but still fascinating (especially for ladies, wink) and an excellent addition to your 2-day Athens itinerary.

You will find many old pieces (over 4000) inspired by various historical periods and civilizations. You will also be able to see the jewelry manufacturing process demonstrated live.

The entrance fee is 4 EUR, but you will have free admission if you visit the museum on a Saturday. Please also note that taking photos is not permitted inside the museum.

Address: Kallisperi 12 & Karyatidon Str., Acropolis 11742, Athens, Greece

Parliament and the change of guards 

You can see the guards changing every day, but the best day to come here for it is Sunday, at noon, because now is when they do the full version.

Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to arrive on Sunday, but we saw the guards changing at another time.

It was still cool to watch, from their traditional clothes looking like a dress to their funny shoes and how they were supervised by a superior for everything to be perfect. Strolling here and spending a few minutes would surely pay off.

Another fun fact I learned about these guards is that no matter what, while on duty, they are not allowed to do anything: move, smile, laugh, or even blink if you can imagine.

Would you be able to do that for 2 hours straight? I sure wouldn’t!

End the first day of your 2 days in Athens at one of the fabulous rooftop bars in Syntagma Square

Greek people know how to enjoy themselves and spend time with friends and family.

That’s why Athens is a bustling town with restaurants and bars, all offering incredible views from above.

We stopped and had a drink at one of the bars in Syntagma Square and just looked at the city light up while sipping from our cocktail.

Day 2 of the Athens itinerary

Meat and Fruit Market

We went on a Saturday but don’t feel sad if you’re not in town on a Saturday, the market is open also during the week, but I thought a stroll in the lively market will be an experience worth having on a weekend just before brunch or a coffee in the city center.

Trust me, you won’t miss this attraction in Athens. If you want to see how people go on with their daily lives, you should not skip going to the market. Just know that you must go in the first part of the day and be hit right in the face with a blend of colors, odors, and energy.

The market is well organized. It has designated areas for meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and spices. Regardless of which location you choose to visit, you will be welcomed by the loud noises of Saturday shopping.

People going about their daily shopping, people doing the selling part in the best way ever (shouting from the top of their lungs, negotiating, singing, you name it), people bringing new and fresh products stepping on your feet – this is sure one place where manners don’t matter. Still, where you will indeed be won over by the buzz you’ll find here.

Athens Greece attractions

Tip: All the streets around the market are filled with little stores where you will find anything from painted glass for olive oil to rope ornaments to graffiti art. This is also the place to come searching for street art. 

Just be sure to do it during daylight and try avoiding Sofokleous Street. Nothing terrible will happen, but we ended up here around 8 p.m. and were the only girls in a sea of men.

Athens Greece attractions
Athens itinerary

The Monastiraki Flea Market

There’s not much to say about it; you must tour it, especially if you are looking for souvenirs or gifts to bring home. You can enter the market’s narrow streets through Monastiraki Square or from the other end of the flea market. 

things to do in Athens

Temple of Zeus and Panathenaic Stadium

If you know where to look, you will see the building of the Olympian Zeus during your visit to the Acropolis. But this archeological site is another thing you should not exclude from your Athens itinerary.

The temple was finished by Emperor Hadrian in 131 AD, and it has only 15 out of the 104 Corinthian columns it originally had.

The Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble, and it was first built in 330 BC for the Panathenaic Games.

Later on, the stadium was excavated and refurnished in 1869, and it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

Kolonaki – the posh area

I have to admit this was one of my favorite areas in Athens. It was not very far from the center, right behind Syntagma Square on the left side, and you would step into a whole different world—one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens. 

Here, you’ll find all the embassies, posh shops, and many restaurants and places to go out for a coffee.

In places on hills, you will have to climb many sets of stairs or take steep roads, but trust me. You won’t feel a thing because you will be busy observing your surroundings.

2 days in Athens itinerary

Sunset and a glass of wine on Lycabettus with panoramic views

If you took my advice and went to Kolonaki, you would probably run into the funicular that climbs up Lycabettus Hill just by walking around.

If you’re here, don’t overthink and hop on, especially if it’s close to sunset. The 7 EUR for a round trip will surely pay off. You should also know that the funicular runs every 30 minutes. On top, you’ll find a bar, a restaurant, and a small church hosting weddings (there was one when we went).

If you go for sunset, the view will be stunning, and you can treat yourself to a glass of wine with a view. Just be aware that you will most certainly find a crowd waiting for the same thing as you.

EAT!

You’re in Greece, don’t forget that! And, of course, Greek food is divine, and the portions are enormous, so you don’t have to worry about hunger.

Gyros, Tzaziki, Souvlaki, baked feta cheese, Greek yogurt with honey, baklava, and the list could go on and on. There is one thing I can guarantee: you will come back home heavier 😉

Athens what to see

Where to eat in Athens?

  • Thanasis Kebab. Traditional, simple, and delicious food. The staff is also fun and will gladly help you take a picture or two.
  • Bairaktaris Taverna. It is always crowded, packed with people in search of fresh and delicious souvlaki
  • Hans & Gretel. This place is magic! You won’t miss it because it’s so colorful and fun and smells amazing. Here, you will find all the sweets you can handle!
  • Maiandros. We found this by chance and were lucky to stumble upon it just before lunchtime when it got crowded.

Are you a vegan? No worries, there are plenty of vegan options in Athens, and here’s a list of the best vegan restaurants in Athens.

Do you have extra time in Athens?

Kifissia – escaping the city

Not that Athens is not a lovely city, and you will need a break from it, but this little place is totally different, and you will like it so much you will want to spend a day here. Kifissia is actually an extension of Athens in its northern part, and you can get here by taking the metro and getting off at the end of line 1.

What to do here, you ask? Well, nothing much. Relax, walk around the city, admire the beautiful houses, enjoy a luscious meal, and go out for a perfect cocktail in one of the many cool bars in the evening.

Anafiotika neighborhood 

Just below the Acropolis, the Anafiotika neighborhood is one of Athens’s best, well-kept secrets.

The streets are not packed with tourists, and the architecture of the houses will make you feel like you’re on an authentic Greek island, filled with cats and simple but typical Greek homes.

How do you go to Anafiotika? Follow Vyronos Street from the Plaka district, and you’ll be in the heart of traditional Greece. Your final destination should be the Agios Georgios church.

Go on a sailing cruise along the coast

Yes, you can do that from Athens as well. You don’t have to travel to one of the islands to go on a cruise along the coast. It is a half-day experience perfect for sunny days. 

Get your sailing cruise experience here!

Go to a beach

Even though Athens is not a beach destination, that does not mean you cannot escape to one of the beaches nearby for a few hours when in Athens.

If you want to feel the true Greek life, head to one of the below beaches, sit back and relax:

Glyfada Beach

It may not be what you imagined, but Glyfada is still the longest public beach near Athens.

If you don’t feel like staying at the beach, just come to the marina and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants close to the sea.

Get here by tram from the city center of Athens.

Vouliagmeni beach and lake

Just 20 km from Athens, a short taxi drive from the heart of Greece’s capital, Vouliagmeni is where you’ll find fancy private beaches and a beautiful lake.

When to visit Athens?

Well, almost any time since the climate is very mild and they rarely have snow.

But I guess October – November and during Spring would be my choices since the city is not that hot or crowded.

Other Greece travel information

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