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Exploring the Best of Athens on Foot: A One Day Walking Itinerary for Athens, Greece

Updated: Feb 11

Visiting Greece and especially exploring the ancient city of Athens, was a trip of a lifetime for us.


Athens is a rich and vibrant city with a wide variety of attractions, ruins, and restaurants to entice every visitor, but what if you only have one day to explore on foot, what should you visit? What are the best sites to see walking in Athens? This is a unique one day walking itinerary for Athens, Greece.



Sunken Ruins on a Side Street in Athens, Greece
Sunken Ruins on a Side Street in Athens, Greece

Is Athens a Walkable City?


In a word, yes! Athens is a very walkable city. Athens is a thriving metropolis, bustling with activity. Similar to Rome, Athens architecture is a mix of the modern and the ancient, living in unison, side by side. Some streets may be narrow and winding, but for the most part the terrain is flat and easy to navigate.


What you choose to visit and explore in Athens, will of course depend on your interests, your willingness to walk and your starting location. This one day Athens walking itinerary will provide you with a great overview of the city and the best of Athens, including historical, cultural and archeological sites.



free download of one day in athens greece walking itinerary


One Day in Athens: What are the Best Places to Stay in Athens?


If you're staying in Athens overnight, ideally you will be staying at a centrally located hotel, with easy access to public transport, taxis, shops and restaurants. We stayed at the Athens Gate Hotel, which was an ideal location for us and the starting point for this one day in Athens walking itinerary.


There are many centrally located great hotels in Athens to choose from. If you're unsure how to choose the best accommodation for you in Athens, Greece:


If you are not staying at the Athens Gate Hotel, simply orient yourself using the Acropoli subway station as your starting point. If you plan on making the most of your one day in Athens, starting the day early is almost always best, especially in the summer months when it can be very hot. After a good coffee and hearty breakfast, of course, so you can walk leisurely and take advantage of the cooler mornings and less crowded streets of Athens.


 

TIP: If you're visiting Athens, Greece during the summer months, be sure to dress appropriately in comfortable, breathable clothing (cottons and lines are preferred) with flat footwear with some grip. Remember to walk slow, rest and stay hydrated.


Update: Greece felt a record-breaking heat-wave in the summer of 2023 (specifically in July), with temperatures reaching 46.4 degrees Celsius (115.52 degrees Fahrenheit).

 


View of Temple of Olympian Zeus from Athens Gate Hotel, Athens, Greece
View of Temple of Olympian Zeus from Athens Gate Hotel, Athens, Greece


One Day in Athens: Where Should You Start?


A one day itinerary in Athens should begin with nearby, less crowded attractions. A mere 3 minute walk from the Athens Gate Hotel (or 6 minutes from Acropoli subway station) is the massive Temple of Olympian Zeus and the often overlooked Hadrian's Arch.


1.Hadrian's Arch (or the Arch or Hadrian)


Often referred to as Hadrian's Gate, the Arch is parallel with the road (and free to visit) but you must walk past it to reach the entrance of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It is proposed that it was built to commemorate the Roman Emperor Hadrian, but it is unclear who commissioned its construction. The Acropolis is visible in the distance and you can capture it through the Arch.


2. The Temple of Olympian Zeus


The Temple of Olympian Zeus, the name referring to Zeus, as the head of the Olympian Gods, was completed under the rein of the the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Words cannot truly convey the size of the pillars of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. From a distance, the marble looks ancient and fragile, but up close the massive pillars are thick and solid, piercing a full 57 feet into the sky. Impressive is an understatement. You should give yourself at least 30 minutes to walk around the site and see it from all different angles.




 

TIP: You can purchase a single ticket for 8 Euro, or you can purchase a combo ticket for 30 Euro. The combo ticket gives you free entry to many sites around Athens for 5 consecutive days. We opted to purchase the combo ticket at The Temple of Olympian Zeus, which gave us entry into the sight and most other sites we were visiting that day.


NB (December 2023): Greece announced that for the first time in 5 years, the ticket prices for the archeological sites will be revised and the combo ticket eliminated, beginning April 1, 2025. Archeological sites will be slotted into 5 different categories, with the ticket prices for each ranging from $5-20 Euros.

 

Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece
Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece


3. Statue of Lord Byron


After soaking up the grandeur that is the Temple of Olympian Zeus, cross the street to marvel at the statue of Lord Byron. Lord Byron was a supporter of the Greek War of Independence (which he also supported financially), and was outspoken against Lord Elgin, who famously took Greek artifacts back to England (many of which are still in the British Museum).


4. The Panathenaic Stadium


From the statue of Lord Byron, it is a 10 minute walk to the next main block, where sits the overwhelming Panathenaic Stadium. Entirely built of marble, this massive structure was played host to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. A must see in Athens. You must purchase a ticket to gain entry to the site for 10 Euro, this site is not part of the combo ticket package. Once inside, you can climb the steps, run laps and even stand on the podium. You should give yourself at least 30 minutes at the site, more if you plan on running laps!


 

TIP: There is usually a snack stand set up next to the Panathenaic stadium, where you can refuel on hot coffee, water, juices, cookies and other snacks. Take advantage, take a break and imagine the glory of Olympic fame.

 

UNIQUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE: Want to experience what it was like to be an Olympic Athlete in ancient Athens? Claim your moment of Olympic glory with a 2 hour workout and race inside the Panathenaic Stadium.


Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece
Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece


Once you're refueled on cookies and coffee, and are ready to continue, it is only a short 8 minute direct walk north to the Archeological site of Lykeion (or also known as the Lyceum of Aristotle), or you can take a more scenic route through the National Gardens and arrive in only 11 minutes.


5. The Archeological Site of Lykeion


The Archeological site of Lykeion (or Aristotle's Lyceum) exposes the excavations of an ancient palestra (gymnasium), revealing areas where athletes trained in wrestling and boxing. More than just a space for physical improvement, the Lyceum was a place for philosophical discussion and reflection. It may not appear impressive at first, but is utterly fascinating.


You must purchase a ticket to gain entry to the site for 4 Euro, or free if you purchased a combo ticket package. You should allow 30-45 minutes to walk around the entire site and visit each highlighted section and read the inscriptions.



 

Note: We only link to products and services that we have either used or would use, all opinions expressed are our own. Some may be affiliate links, with which we may receive a small commission for purchases made.

 


The Archeological site of Lykeion, Athens, Greece
The Archeological site of Lykeion, Athens, Greece


From the Archeological site of Lykeion (Aristotle's Lyceum), it is a mere 9 minute walk across the top of the National Gardens to the Hellenic Parliament.


6. The Hellenic Parliament


Standing guard out front of the impressive building, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, are stern military guards. On the hour, every hour, you can witness the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. The cleverly dressed guards, with their large spear guns and heavy pompom clogs, move with angry precision and are both impressive and terrifying, flailing their legs and stomping their feet. It is definitely a site to see. The ceremony lasts about 15 minutes and is free to watch.


 

TIP: Arrive early at the location of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, outside the Hellenic Parliament, to secure a good viewing location, as the crowds can get large once the ceremony begins.

 


Changing of the Guard, Hellenic Parliament, Athens, Greece
Changing of the Guard, Hellenic Parliament, Athens, Greece


After a long morning or walking and exploring Athens, you may be getting hungry. If you're ready for lunch, this is a good time to stop and take a break. If you want to see the best of Athens on this one day in Athens walking itinerary, you must remember to pace yourself and stay fed and hydrated. Walking west from the Hellenic Parliament, it is an 8 minute walk to the Cherchez La Femme, an adorable bistro serving authentic Greek dishes. We stopped here for a BIG lunch of delicious spanakopita, and chicken souvlaki. Opa!



One Day in Athens: Places of Worship to Visit


Once you're stuffed to the brim with Souvlaki and Spanakopita, stumble across the street to visit the two unique and beautiful churches. Even with only one day in Athens, it would be a sacrilegious not to visit a Greek church when religion is such a big part of the Greek culture.


7. The Holy Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens


The Holy Metropolitan Church to the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (commonly known as The Metropolis), is beautiful both inside and out, and often used for major ceremonies. The Metropolis is considered the official church of Athens and is the headquarters of the Archbishop of Greece.


8. Little Metropolis


Standing directly behind this magnificently decorated church is the much smaller Holy Church of the Virgin Mary Gorgoepikoos and Saint Eleutherius. This tiny but beautifully decorated Byzantine Church is often referred to as "Little Metropolis". Rather unique, this small place of worship is made of pieces taken from other pagan sites.


 

TIP: As with most churches, remember to be respectful if there are parishioners present or a ceremony taking place. Be quiet, walk slowly and dress conservatively. Most places of worship require shoulders and knees to be covered. Be prepared to pay a small fee or make a small donation during your visit.

 


Holy Metropolitan Church to the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, Athens, Greece
Holy Metropolitan Church to the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, Athens, Greece

9. Monastiraki Square


It is a short 6 minute walk from the churches to Monastiraki Square, a large open plaza bustling with people visiting the markets and shops. Located in the old part of Athens, it is one of the most popular shopping districts, especially for tourists.


10. Church of the Panagia Kapnikarea


On the way, you can pass by the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea, one of the oldest churches in Athens, built in the 11th century. It’s small structure does not diminish its large architectural beauty. The church itself is set lower than the main road and you will often find weary travellers resting on the ledge that surrounds it.


 

TIP: If you see one of the many mixed nut and candy vendors in Monastiraki Square, stop to pick up a few bags. The mixed nuts in particular are fresh, delicious and very inexpensive. Try the paprika covered nuts!

 

Monastiraki Square, Athens, Greece
Monastiraki Square, Athens, Greece

Next on the walking tour itinerary is Hadrian's Library, a mere 1-2 minute walk from Monastiraki Square.


10. Hadrian's Library


Built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the large complex of now ruins, was intended to be a place of great academic study. Among the ruins stands clock tower, gifted by Lord Elgin after the British Museum looted many sculptures from the Parthenon. You must purchase a ticket to gain entry to the site for 6 Euro, or free if you purchased a combo ticket. Allow at least 30-45 minutes to wander through the ruins.



Ruins of Hadrian's Library, Athens, Greece
Ruins of Hadrian's Library, Athens, Greece


Interactive Map of the One Day Walking Itinerary in Athens, Greece:





One Day in Athens: Visiting the Agoras


The ruins of Hadrian's Library may have wet your appetite for more ruins. A 5 minute walk from Hadrian's Library brings you to the Roman Agora, also knowns as the Roman Forum of Athens.


11. The Roman Agora


A large open space with ruins of multiple buildings, columns and shops, it is a site to not only see, but wander and explore. During the rein of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the area was paved with slabs. During the Byzantine area and during the Turkish occupation the Roman Agora was covered with houses, shops and churches. You must purchase a ticket to gain entry to the site for 8 Euro, or free if you purchased a combo ticket. Allow 30 minutes to wander through all of the ruins.




 

TIP: Athens has many cats who wander the streets and use the ruins as napping spots or even their home base. In our travels, we found that most of the archeological sites around Athens specifically put out food and water for their furry friends.

 


Ruins of the Roman Agora, Athens, Greece
Ruins of the Roman Agora, Athens, Greece

From the Roman Agora, walking 5 minutes to the west, you will reach the Ancient Agora of Athens.


12. The Ancient Agora of Athens


This massive site is brimming with temples and ruins sitting in the shadow of the Acropolis. In addition, there is also a museum housed inside the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos. Timing your visit to this location with early evening, will provide you will golden hues over the lush green and marble. You must purchase a ticket to gain entry to the site for 10 Euro, or free if you purchased a combo ticket. Allow at least 1 hour to fully appreciate all the sites and monuments in this area.


Fulling experiencing both of the ancient Agoras in Athens can take a lot of time, of which there is not enough when you have only one day in Athens to explore, so we recommend you spend more of your time in the Ancient Agora of Athens, where there is more to see, lush natural beauty and is overlooked by the Acropolis.


If you plan on visiting the Acropolis, climbing up to Acropolis Hill, read: Climbing the Acropolis: A Complete Travelogue and Guide for more information on what to do.



The Ancient Agora of Athens, Athens, Greece
The Ancient Agora of Athens, Athens, Greece

13. The Plaka District


After wandering through the vastness of the Agoras, depending on where you exit, it is a 5-10 minute walk to the infamous Plaka District of Athens, passing Hadrian's Library and the Roman Agora along the way. This old historic neighbourhood is famous for its picturesque streets filled with shops, restaurants and flowers.



LUXURY TRAVEL TIP: Visit the infamous Plaka District the way only locals can, with a VIP Private Tour escorted in the sidecar of a brand new (and safe) motorcycle. What a way to see this special area of the city!


We recommend visiting the Plaka district with a guide who will limit your time, or opt to visit near the end of the day. When you only have one day in Athens, it can be tempting to simply spend the hours sitting at an outdoor café in the Plaka district and watch everyone walk past. From the heart of the Plaka District, it is only a 10 minute jaunt back to the starting point.


14. The Zappeion and Gardens


Across from the Temple of Olympian Zeus is the Zappeion and Gardens. After a long day of walking and exploring, following the one day in Athens walking itinerary, sitting near the beautiful fountains is most relaxing way to end the day. When you're ready, it's only a 2 minute walk back to the Athens Gate Hotel or 5 minutes to the Acropoli subway station.




Zappeion Garden Fountain, Athens, Greece
Zappeion Garden Fountain, Athens, Greece


No matter which route you choose, Athens is a very walkable city, that is easy to navigate. With many attractions and historical sites to visit, it is impossible to see the everything it has to offer with only one day in Athens. Make the best of your time there, make it a trip of a lifetime, however short and see as much of this giant ancient city as you can.



Greek Food in Athens, Greece

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4 Comments


Josy Austin
Josy Austin
May 07, 2023

Loooove this! I made my own walking route to see some of these sights in Athens, but I didn't manage to fit in everything you saw, so this is a better route! Next time I'll follow in your footsteps. :D (I'll hope we get to meet such a handsome kitty!)

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D Marino
D Marino
May 08, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much! We saw SO MANY kitties in Athens, it was lovely to see them lounging on the ruins.

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There is so much to see in Athens. If you only have one day, this itinerary will help ensure you see a lot on your visit. Especially if you do stay in a spot that is centrally located. Great that you even got to take some down time at the Zappeion and Gardens. Linda (LD Holland)

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D Marino
D Marino
May 06, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much Linda, Athens is such a wonderful city.

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