If you’re planning to visit Athens for a short city escape or you just can’t wait to hop to the Greek islands, this 48 hours in Athens travel guide will ensure you make the most of your time in the Greek capital.

48 Hours in Athens Travel Guide

Day 1


I know you probably saw this coming and I may sound a bit cliché but my first tip is to start your 48 hours in Athens with a visit to Acropolis. This is probably one of the reasons you decided to visit Athens in the first place (the hordes of tourists on the top of the Sacred Hill gave away your secret), so why not head there first? As it’s one of the top things to do in Athens, the earlier in the morning you’ll visit the historical site, the less you’re going to wait in line. Besides, if you’re visiting Greece during summer you want to avoid standing on top of a rocky hill during the midday heat. Trust me!

Once you’ve finished your tour around the Acropolis and the Parthenon it’s time to explore the nearby areas. Your first stop should be  the scenic neighborhood of Plaka. You’ll be surprised to see that this area looks nothing like the rest of Athens and gives you the feeling that time here has stopped back in the 60s. You’ll find many cozy cafés nestled in the narrow alleys, so take the opportunity and enjoy your breakfast in the so-called “Neighborhood of the Gods.” Yiasemi café in Mnisikleous street is one of my favorites.

A walk around the nearby neighborhoods Monastiraki and Anafiotika is a must. There are dozens of shops with souvenirs, clothing, shoes, jewelry, vinyl records – you name it. Be prepared to spend some time rummaging through bizarre knick-knacks, leather sandals and second-hand furniture. Don’t forget though, that you’re in Athens’ most touristy area and some things here are overpriced.

Flea market in Psirri


For that same reason, you may prefer to head to another area to grab lunch. Petralona, another cool and much less touristy neighborhood, is located only two train stations away from Monastiraki station. Here you’ll find many local taverns and restaurants. Santorinios on Dorieon street has all the dishes to introduce you to the Greek cuisine and a lovely backyard that shelters visitors from the metropolitan’s noisy streets.


Continue your day in the Greek capital with a stroll around Gazi square. Located in the heart of the city center (and within walking distance from Petralona), Gazi square is famous for its bustling nightlife and home to the city’s most popular LGBTQ nightclubs. Even though the area has lost some of its erstwhile glory – when everyone in Athens would head there on a Saturday night – it still is on the top of partygoers’ lists. Make a stop at Technopolis, an industrial museum known for hosting exhibitions, music concerts and even flea markets and make sure to check out if there’s an event on the calendar.


Take the pedestrian street across Technopolis and head back to Monastiraki where you can choose one of the countless bars to finish off your day. There is literally something for every taste from hipster bars and cafés on Protogenous street to the classy rooftop of 360 cocktail bar and the local restaurants around Psirri square.

Ermou street

Day 2


Start your second day in the Athens with a bit of hiking. The destination? The historic Philopappou Hill. Located less than a kilometre away from the west of Acropolis, this rocky hill isn’t just a great spot to see Athens from above but also a place of great historical significance. As you walk through its cobblestoned alleys among olive and pine trees you’ll come across the Prison of Socrates, the Monument of Philopappos and the Pnyx. The latter is particularly well known because it’s the area where ancient Greeks held their assemblies and took important decisions about the city’s social and political issues. It’s considered to be the place where the idea of democracy was born. The Acropolis Museum is just a stone’s throw away from the southeastern part of the hill, so if your hiking tour has sparked your interest in ancient Greek culture, the museum’s exhibition will quench your thirst for knowledge.


Koukaki, the hippest neighborhood in Athens at the moment, lies at the foot of Philopappou Hill making it a great place for your next stopover. The district’s pedestrianized streets brim with cozy cafés with outdoor tables. Koukaki gained its glory in 2016 after it ranked 5th on Airbnb’s list with the 16 upcoming neighborhoods around the world. Ever since, loads of bars and restaurants have popped up, transforming the once quiet neighborhood to the city’s newest hot spot. Since you’re heading there at noon, don’t miss Riza Riza’s brunch on Drakou street or an early cocktail at Monsieur Barbu on Markou Mpotsari street.

The view from Pnyx


Now that you’ve discovered Athens’ main attractions, it’s time to get a taste of the city’s alternative neighborhood, Exarcheia. This district has made headlines in international press as the ‘Anarchist neighborhood’, so many tourists refrain from going here. Since the 70s, Exarcheia has a been a hangout for activists, left-wing writers and artists. For that reason, this district still preserves its underground bohemian atmosphere. Here you’ll find bookstores, record shops and second-hand clothing boutiques as well as local bars and cafés. It’s a pretty nice and quiet neighborhood to discover and it’s totally safe to walk around.


There are a lot of places around Exarcheia to spend the evening but if the area’s alternative vibe doesn’t suit your tastes, walk two blocks to Kolonaki, the city center’s poshest neighborhood. Yes, you heard that right, the city’s two most diametrically opposed districts are less than 5 minutes away from each other. The graffiti-painted walls are replaced by neoclassical buildings, the underground clubs with elegant bars and the shabby bookstores with high-end fashion boutiques. And with that, your 48 hours in Athens is up!

A street in Exarcheia

48 Hours in Athens: How to Spend Two Days in the Greek Capital photos courtesy of rey perezoso/Flickr, kirkandmimi/pixabay, taver/pixabay, Qtea/ Flickr, Andy Montgomery/ Flickr