We only had a short layover in Athens on the way from Mykonos to Granada, Spain. And yes, I know that one afternoon is not enough time to explore the city where civilization originated, but that’s what we had and I was determined to get the most of it. After researching online, I made my own list and figured out where to start.
So, for anyone who has only a few hours or just one evening to see Athens, I suggest getting on the subway and exiting at the Monastiraki, Thisseio or Akropoli stations and start your journey from here.
We just had a layover in Athens but I’ve written what I think is the easiest way to see some of the most significant historical sights. I suggest that wherever you are staying, be it a hotel or just a ride from the airport, you exit at the Monastiraki or Thisseio subway station then you can start from the beginning of my list and see all the sights in a row, otherwise start from the last point and work your way up.
The first thing you are going to see exiting the Monastiraki subway station on your right will be the Roman ruins of a library complex constructed in 132 CE by the emperor Hadrian.
It is a great place to start your layover in Athens journey from. The library well preserved and it is an unbelievable feeling to be there and see all the corners of this cultural complex built over two thousand years ago.
The area around the ancient library has lots of cute stores (flea market) and restaurants so if you are hungry you can get a quick snack or buy some souvenirs right away.
The Hadrian’s library will take you a maximum of 30 minutes.
Price: € 4
Hours: 1 October-15 October 2019: 8 am-6:30 pm; 16 October-31 October 2019: 8 am-6 pm; 1 November-31 March 2020: 8:30 am-4 pm
Address: Areos 3, Τ.Κ. 105 55, Athina, Greece
The Temple of Hephaestus is an ancient Greek place of worship. It was built in 450 BC and remained as built ‘til nowadays. Unlike all the others it didn’t really need to be restored by the archaeologists. The Temple of Hephaestus is surrounded by a huge area of different ruins.
The temple of Hephaestus reminded me a bit of the Parthenon, but it is a bit smaller of course. Regrettably you cannot enter the temple and wander inside, but of course the reason is understandable.
The Temple of Hephaestus will take less than 10 minutes.
From there you can get to the Church of the Holy Apostles which is a part of the Agora of Athens ruins. This church was built in the 10th century. The church is also known as Holy Apostles of Solaki. It is a beautiful church well worth your attention. You can enter the church where you will see few old frescoes and Greek architecture. It is permitted to take pictures as well.
The Church of the Holy Apostles as well as the Temple of Hephaestus won’t take long to see.
Price: 10€, Reduced: 5€
Hours: As of November 5th, opening hours are as follows: 8 AM – 5 PM (last admission: 4:45 PM)
Address: Adrianou 24, Athina 105 55, Greece
It is a nice place to see as part of the 30-euro card. Since you can see almost everything outside the fence, I would not buy a separate ticket for the Roman Forum. It is quite big and offers you lots to see connected with the daily life of the people who lived there. An especially interesting part is the water supply and how advanced their toilets were.
So if you decide to buy a card that includes the Roman Forum of Athens entrance you definitely should go inside and explore more, otherwise you can see it from outside the fence and head to the Acropolis of Athens.
Price: 8 €;
Hours: Winter: 8:30 AM – 3 PM; Summer: Daily: 8 AM – 7:30 PM;
Address: Polignotou 3, Athina 105 55, Greece;
Even though we only had a layover in Athens, I knew this was one of the sights I just had to see. Before entering Acropolis of Athens on the lower platform of it head a bit right to the view point where usually there is a huge crowd. From there you can see the magnificent Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It is an ancient stone theatre. It surprised me that this amphitheatre is still active and during warm weather it holds different concerts and plays.
Unfortunately for me, the weather was really bad and I couldn’t enjoy the view of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in sunlight, but it definitely was worth it to see this place even in bad weather.
Price: free of charge;
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 AM to 8 PM;
As you may know the Acropolis of Athens is a complex that includes a few temples. They were built in the 5th century BC on the hilltop. The archaeologists are still doing an ongoing restoration.
It is an incredible piece of history and it is well preserved. Lot’s to see and learn. Be sure to stop by the information plugs and read about the different temples since at the entrance they don’t provide an audio guide. You should wear comfortable and not slippery shoes (the marble floor is very slippery, especially during the rain) and bring water with you (climbing up the slope can be exhausting). During the season it is the most touristy place in the whole city, so be prepared to see a huge crowd. It is also important to mention that the baby strollers are not allowed in the Acropolis, so if you are travelling with a baby make sure you can carry it all the way there and back.
To see the whole place we spent around around 2 hours.
The Acropolis of the Athens is a complex of temples and the most interesting parts of it are:
It is basically an entryway to the Acropolis. It was made of white marble between 430 – 432 BC. It is a magnificent place what was restored just recently, so I am so happy I got to see it. Be careful walking up the stairs it can be tricky, since the marble is old and very smooth.
Pay attention to the right; There you will see the Temple of Athena Nike. Built in the name of the goddess of victory. The Temple of Athena Nike is the smallest temple of the whole complex, but well worth it to see. It is interesting that the founder of the “Nike” company said that he got the idea for the brand name from here.
This temple is the main attraction for tourists. Most people who have a layover in Athens want to see one major thing, and it is the Parthenon. It is one of the most famous symbols of not just Athens, but Greece as a whole. You can actually see it from almost all parts of Athens. It was built in 447 BC with iconic columns. It is slowly getting restored and now you can see how it looked many years ago.
You can walk around the temple but beware that there are lots of rules you should follow. For example: you cannot touch the marble, sit on it, lean on it or otherwise touch it in any way. If you see a rock and think that it is not needed so you can climb it for better picture, then be prepare to get yelled at.
It is one of my favourite parts of the Acropolis. This temple is built to honour the goddess Athena and Poseidon. It is the most beautiful and special place in the Acropolis due to the porch of the Caryatids. Caryatids are the 6 female figures supporting the construction as a substitution to the columns.
The statues have been replaced with copies and the originals are kept safely in a museum. If you want to see the original caryatids you should visit the new Acropolis museum, where you will find 5 of them. The other one is kept at the British museum in London.
It is a truly magical ancient temple. You can go around it and see the whole construction. It was the most sacred part of the Acropolis of Athens and surely the most beautiful.
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 AM to 8 PM;
Address: Athens 105 58, Greece;
On the way from the Acropolis to the temple of Olympian Zeus you are going to see an ancient circular monument standing on a pedestal. It is located in a small square surrounded by lots of stores and restaurants. The monument is considered to be a symbol of ancient Greek culture as it was a place where the trophy for the winning performance at the theatre was placed. Usually it looked like a tripod and was made of bronze.
This Choragic Monument of Lysicrates is one of just few that survived. It got preserved due to the location of the monastery and the monks who kept this monument in one piece. It is a quick stop where you can take few pictures and head straight to Hadrian’s Arch by the temple of Zeus .
Price: free of charge;
Address: Epimenidou 3, Athina 105 58, Greece;
The arch is actually a gate that was made of marble and named after the Roman emperor. It is in a great location and worth your time. On the top of the arch-shaped gate there are few iconic columns. The arch itself is covered with different Roman and Greek symbols.
You don’t need to pay to see the arch, which is nice, and you can take some great pictures here. Unfortunately, it is located right by the road, so you will have to wait some time to take a perfect picture due to a traffic (it didn’t happen for me since we were in hurry).
Price: free of charge;
This is the last stop on my layover in Athens guide, and from here it is easy to get back to the airport, or to your hotel. This temple was built sometime in the 6th century B.C. and dedicated to the main god of Olympus, Zeus. Even now walking around the ruins of the place you can understand how huge it must have been and how magnificent. Don’t expect to see much, the place is completely destroyed except for a few restored columns. But even this little amount looks amazing.
From the territory of the temple you would have an incredible view on the Acropolis of Athens, and from the opposite side the hills covered up with fluffy clouds. What makes me wonder if this is the reason ancient people thought the gods lived on the top of Mount Olympus above the clouds.
For those who are on a tight budget or didn’t buy the card that includes the entry to this temple, you probably can get a good glance of this place outside the fence. But I really think you should get inside to see it closer, since Zeus was the most important Greek god. This temple was one of the most important temples for the ancient people of Greece.
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 AM to 5 PM
Address: Athens 105 57, Greece;
I hope you like my layover in Athens guide, and it helps you make the most of your time spent in this historic city. If you have any other suggestions please let me know in the comments down below.
Check out what else to see in Greece