How Many Days Should I Spend in Athens

How many days should I spend in Athens? This is a question many people ask and largely depends on how long you have available. Not all travelers have a choice on how many days to spend in Athens, cruise ship passengers usually having less than 24 hours to explore the city whilst other travelers might only be able to manage 2 or 3 days due to work commitments or onward travel plans if using Athens as a gateway to do some island hopping.

How Many Days Do I Need to See Athens?

What To See & Do In Athens

Of course, the Acropolis will be top of the list for almost all first-time visitors to Athens, beyond that I’ve listed the top must-see places so you can simply take a photo of this list on your phone and start at the top, working your way down to see how far you get, or spend some extra time planning and make use of our 1, 2, 3, and 4+ day itineraries for visitors to Athens which mixes up historic sites with scenic streets, and culture vulture activities so that you don’t get overwhelmed or bored by, for example, only spending the day in museums and not getting out on the streets!

How To Spend 1 Day in Athens

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t have the luxury of asking  ‘how many days to stay in Athens?’ just make the most of every hour you have available to you. Top of your list will obviously be a visit to the Acropolis whilst the Acropolis Museum will give you a better understanding of the history and the monuments you’ve just seen, however with 4 floors to explore, don’t go in ‘blind’ (you’ll find the best exhibitions on the 3rd floor followed by the 1st floor) but if you’re really not a museum person, give it a miss so you can concentrate on the sights, sounds, and smells of the city by visiting Plaka, Monastiraki, and Syntagma Square, alternatively, if you’re a history buff take a look through our 2 day itinerary and switch out the iconic neighbourhoods for more archaeological sites such as the temple of Zeus and the Ancient Agora.

Check my easy to follow one day in Athens itinerary to make the most of your time in Athens.

How To Spend 2 Days in Athens

Temple of Hephaestus in Ancient Agora
Temple of Hephaestus in Ancient Agora

2 days in Athens is long enough to see all the main sights but will leave you wanting to come back to see more which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! To optimize your time, it’s best to book accommodation within walking distance of the historic centre, this way you won’t be wasting any time travelling in/out of the city on the metro.

Along with all of the sites and neighbourhoods mentioned in day 1, day 2 gives you time to visit:

  • Ancient Agora and Agora Museum
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Arch of Hadrian
  • Watch the Changing Of The Guard
  • Visit the National Archaeological Museum
  • See the Street Art in Psyri
  • Walkthrough the National Garden
  • Visit the Panathenaic Stadium

View my detailed 2 days Athens Itinerary for all the info you need to have a fabulous weekend in the city.

How To Spend 3 Days in Athens

Plaka in Athens - How many days should I spend in Athens
Around Plaka in Athens

Use your third day in Athens to explore more of Greece by heading out of the capital on a day trip, these can be done on your own or as part of an organised trip with tour guide. The best day trips from Athens include:

  • Delphi – Discover the heart of the classical Greek world and the sacred site of the oracle.
  • Meteora See the stunning clifftop monasteries as well as the hermit caves of Badovas.
Meteora Greece
  • Mycenae / Epidaurus / Nafplion – Take in the scenery along the Saronic Gulf as you journey into the Peloponnese. Mycenae contains the hilltop ruins of a 2nd century fortified city. Epidaurus was the birthplace of Apollo’s son and a place of ancient healing, today it’s famous for its classical amphitheater. Nafplion, a picturesque Venetian seaside town, was the first capital of modern Greece after the war of independence.
  • Saronic Gulf Islands – Hydra, Poros, and Aegina are the 3 islands closest to Athens, ferries departing regularly from Piraeus with journey times from just under 1 hour.

Check out my detailed 3 days in Athens itinerary for more information.

How To Spend 4+ Days in Athens

Temple of Poseidon - best day trips from Athens
Temple of Poseidon in Sounio

If you’re in the city for 4 days or longer you’ll be able to explore all of the above at your leisure whilst also having the time to take in some half-day tours, visit the suburban beaches, enjoy some shopping time, and explore more of the city’s neighborhoods. 

  • Visit Athens Central Market & Feast On The Food!

(Optional – Join the Original Athens Food Tour)

Check out my detailed 5 day Athens itinerary for more information,

Conclusion: How Many Days to Spend in Athens?

Plaka in Athens - How many days in Athens
Plaka in Athens

As a Greek who was born in Athens and has spent most of her life here, I recommend 3 days. This isn’t based purely from a local point of view, I’ve had a lot of experience showing friends from abroad my home city and 3 days always seem the perfect amount of time for the first time visitor whether they’re visiting for a city break or are using the city to launch themselves off on a Greek island hopping adventure.

I hope this guide blog post has been useful in helping you decide how many days in Athens is right for you. Check out my other Athens Posts for tons more information and don’t hesitate to ask your Athens related questions in the comments.

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