Two days in Athens is a good amount of time to explore the history, eat incredible Greek food, and explore some of what this ancient city has to offer before you head off to one of the islands or onward to other parts of Europe.
A two-day Athens itinerary can give you a chance to explore the most popular spots, but also enough time to enjoy perhaps some of the lesser-visited spots that you would miss if you only gave the city one day.
Let’s get planning a trip to this magical Greek capital.
Getting to Athens
Getting to Athens for a two-day trip is relatively easy. The Athens International Airport (code: ATH) receives flights from around Europe including with budget airlines like RyanAir as well as from large international carriers like Emirates, United, and British Airways.
You can fly directly from London Heathrow, JFK in New York, Newark in New Jersey, and from other cities around Europe like Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.
So whether you are traveling from within Europe or doing a trans-continental from North America, you will be able to easily connect to the Athens airport.
I like using Rome2Rio to plot out my travels so that I can see the best flight prices from my nearby airport in Vilnius. It’s also a great tool to plan your onward travels around Greece to see the different ferries, buses, trains, or flights that you need to take.
It lists the average price for the journey, shows you the timetables for the buses or trains, and then links you to the websites you can use to pre-purchase tickets which is very handy when you aren’t familiar with the local bus or train websites in a given country.
To get into the city center from the airport you can either take a bus, the metro, or hop in a taxi.
To take the subway, follow the signs in the airport for the “train.” There is a hefty price tag to exit the airport by metro and tickets cost €10. It takes 30 minutes to get to the city center this way.
The cheaper option is to take the bus which costs €6 but takes about an hour to get to the city center. Look for bus X95. The bus stop is located at the arrivals level between doors 4 and 5.
You can pay on the bus or if you would prefer to pay with a credit card, you can pay at the ticket counter which is right near these two exits. The good thing about the bus is that it runs 24-hours a day, so even if you are arriving very late (or very early), you will be able to get to the city center without paying over the odds for a taxi.
Getting Around Athens
You will be able to see a lot more in two days in Athens if you use public transportation during your trip. The most convenient and affordable option other than foot-power is the metro.
A single ticket on the metro costs €1.20 and that is good for up to 90 minutes of travel. There are three lines in Athens, so it’s not hugely confusing and you won’t need to do a ton of transfers to get where you want to go. I use this app to plan my metro trips around the city and it works offline so you don’t need to waste international data.
There is also a bus and tram network that is relatively easy to navigate but isn’t quite as fast to get around town with as the metro. You can check the routes and see if you can get where you want to go on their website.
You can use the same public transportation pass for the metro or the bus network. There are two passes that might make sense for your two days in Athens depending on how much you plan to pack into your trip:
- A Day Pass costs €4.10 and is valid for 24 hours.
- A 5-Day Ticket costs €8.10 (so less than two one-day passes) and is valid for five days for unlimited travel on all modes of transport except the airport buses and metros.
Day One in Athens Itinerary
I personally came to Athens for one very big reason (besides the food of course), and that’s for the history. I studied Ancient Greek in high school and have always been fascinated by both the language and the history of this region of the world. I couldn’t wait to get exploring.
The Acropolis isn’t just one of the most famous things to see in Athens, it’s perhaps one of the most famous places to visit in the entire world. The Acropolis is a collection of monuments and structures that were built in the 5th century BC.
Art and philosophy were flourishing here and the thought leaders wanted a place to gather. Under the guidance of the sculptor Pheidias, a once rocky hill was transformed into the most important place in Ancient Greece.
It was during this time that some of the most famous buildings were erected including the Parthenon, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea (the enormous entrance to the Acropolis), and the small temple Athena Nike.
Depending on the time of year, the ticket price varies for entrance to the acropolis.
- November 1 to March 31: €10
- April 1 to October 31: €20
There is a combination ticket costs €30 and includes admission to the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Aristotle’s School, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Kerameikos. It is valid for five days and also allows you to skip the line. So it is of great value if you plan to visit even just two or more of these locations.
Just at the base of the hill is the Acropolis Museum where you can find all of the different artifacts that have been unearthed during the restoration of the Acropolis over the years.
You can visit in whatever order you prefer, but I enjoyed seeing everything outside up close first and also visiting first thing in the morning to make sure that it wasn’t too hot or too busy. Then once it started to get hot, coming into the air-conditioned halls of the Acropolis to learn more about what I had already seen.
Changing of the Guard
It wasn’t until I started researching what to do during my two days in Athens that I realized the city even had a changing of the guards. I have only ever seen something like this outside of Buckingham Palace, so I was fascinated to see just how different this ceremony was.
The guards, known as Evzones, are highly trained soldiers of the Hellenic Army who guard the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Every Sunday at 11 am, there is a large ceremony that takes place between the tomb of the unknown soldier and the Hellenic Parliament. The best viewing spot for this is in Syntagma Square. If one of your two days in Athens happens to fall on a Sunday, you won’t want to miss this spectacle.
Lunch Souvlaki Row
After exploring all morning you will no doubt be hungry. In the center of the city, you won’t be too far from the famous street aptly named Souvlaki Row.
As the name suggests, it is home to tons of souvlaki restaurants. Souvlaki is a popular street food in Greece that is really just grilled meat, usually on a skewer like a shish kebab. It can be pork, beef, chicken, or lamb.
Some souvlaki restaurants will serve the souvlaki still on the skewer with several different plates of sides and bread to go along with it. However, it’s far more popular to see it wrapped in pita bread much like a sandwich.
The most popular and top-rated spot is O Thanasis. They have a nice menu of not only souvlaki, but also salads, dips, and different types of meat.
In the second half of day one, you can choose to go in one of two directions from the city center. You can head west to Filopappou Hill or east to explore the Olympic stadium.
After such a full morning, I preferred to take it a little bit slower on the afternoon of my first day in Athens. The Panathenaic Stadium is the site of the first modern Olympics which took place in 1896.
You can now tour the stadium and learn about how these games got their start. If you’re a runner, you may find it a special thing to actually go for a run here. The track is open each morning for joggers from 7:30 am until 9 am.
Tickets cost €10 and include an audio guide and access to the entire stadium to explore in your own time.
Drinks and Dinner for Day One in Athens
Much like eating in Italy or Spain, restaurants in Athens don’t tend to open until around 7 or 8 pm. If you’re feeling peckish before then, head to a bar like The Clumsies, which is one of the top 50 bars in the world.
For dinner, you will no doubt want to enjoy some amazing Greek cuisine. The food is the second biggest reason why I wanted to visit Greece and Athens does not disappoint.
The other great thing about dining out in Athens is that you can get great food at casual venues and at great price points. Geros Tou Moria Restaurant is the perfect example of that. Order a bunch of small dishes to share or some of their larger meat dishes to sample popular Greek food.
They often have live music or dancing, especially on the weekends. The staff are incredibly friendly and they have English menus.
Day Two in Athens Itinerary
Day Two in Athens will be just as full as day one. There is so much to see in this city, you don’t want to miss out. You can relax afterward on a beach no doubt on one of the islands you are planning to head to next.
At 277 meters (908 feet) above sea level, Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens and a great place to start the day. You can hike up to the top or you can hop on the cable car.
At the top, you’ll find St. George’s Church, which is free to enter. But best of all are the views back over the city. If you haven’t had breakfast yet, grab a seat at an outdoor table at Πράσινη Τέντα, Λυκαβηττός.
They’re open from 8 am and have a nice selection of healthy and less healthy (but very delicious) options as well as great coffee.
You may prefer to come up to the hill at sunset rather than at the start of the day. After dark, you can see the Acropolis all lit up which is also a wonderful sight.
If you are planning to grab a few souvenirs during your two days in Athens, you will not want to miss walking down the busy and touristy Plaka.
Plaka is the oldest section of Athens and is the name of the neighborhood. Most of the streets here are pedestrian-only which means that the stores pour out onto the sidewalk selling everything from clothing and shoes to small shot glasses and magnets. There are jewelry stores, cute boutiques, and some nice cafes to enjoy a cup of coffee or a mid-morning snack.
There are two main pedestrian streets to explore in Plaka; Kydathineon and Adrianou.
Kydathineon starts at Nikis st near Syntagma Square. Adrianou starts at the Monastiraki Flea Market, which is well worth stopping into for more bargains and cool souvenirs. It will then lead you straight to the next stop of day two of your Athens itinerary.
Ancient Agora and Roman Agora
The Roman Agora or ancient Roman Forum is located right at the end of Adrianou street and is well worth exploring. These ruins date from 19-11 BC.
Just down the road from the Roman Agora is the Ancient Agora. The Ancient Agora of Athens was a Greek gathering place and is now home to a museum that is another way to learn more about the history of this incredible city. If you have a combination ticket, entry is free. Otherwise, it costs €10.
Lunch at Seychelles (Σεϋχέλλες)
Despite the name, this restaurant is not serving food from Seychelles the island country in East Africa, or anything like that at all. It is serving up locally sourced ingredients cooked to perfection.
They have some classic Greek options like stuffed grape leaves (dolmades) and Greek salad. They also serve up incredibly delicious grilled seafood like their mouth-wateringly good octopus.
If you haven’t had quite enough history lessons on your two days in Athens, the last museum that you should absolutely not miss is the Archeology Museum.
It is, in my opinion, the perfect way to round out your trip to Athens. It brings together all of the different history you have seen at the historical sites around the city in one place with plenty more information to read about each place.
It is the largest archaeology museum in the country and is not just home to historical artifacts and information, but a huge collection of Greek art.
You will find information, art, and artifacts not only from Ancient Athens but from all regions of Greece. So if you are exploring other parts of the country like Thessalonika, Rhodes, or Corinth, then you will find a lot of value in visiting this museum.
Dinner in Athens on Day Two
It’s your last meal in Athens! There are truly so many wonderful restaurants in Athens worth checking out.
Ouzeri Lesvos (Ουζερί Λέσβος) is a great spot where lots of locals gather at the outdoor tables for incredible food, good company, and excellent drinks, too.
It’s a traditional taverna with a menu that focuses on seafood and locally sourced fish.
As the name suggests, you’ll also need to have some ouzo! This is a truly wonderful way to finish off your Athens itinerary and you’ll be plotting your return to this city by the end of your meal (or after a few more ouzo!).