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Parthenon temple on a bright day in Athens, Greece

Itineraries for Your Trip to Athens

Athens locals share their perfect days.
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1 Day in Athens for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

The Acropolis rises from the heart of Athens, and remnants of ancient history appear around every corner of the city. With an early start and a bit of planning, you can catch the highlights of one of the world’s oldest cities in a single day. Here’s how to make the most of your limited time in Athens.


Some of the greatest treasures of ancient Greece are found in Athens, and there are a few ways to see them all. Join a half-day sightseeing tour to make sure you hit the highlights—you can visit the Greek Parliament and Panathenaic Stadium (home of the first modern Olympic Games) and climb to the top of the UNESCO-listed Acropolis to take in the marble columned Parthenon. Next, make your way to the Acropolis Museum to admire the Parthenon friezes and learn about the archaeology of the site.


After lunch, wander the colorful streets of the Plaka neighborhood, home to numerous ancient sights, Byzantine churches, 19th-century homes, and sidewalk cafes. Take an afternoon stroll through the ruins of ancient Agora (the commercial center of ancient Greece), or book hop-on hop-off bus tickets to catch sight of some of Athens’ top spots at your leisure.


You haven’t seen Athens until you’ve seen it at night. As the sun goes down, head out on an evening tour to see monuments such as the Parthenon, Temple of Zeus, and the Greek Parliament illuminated against the night sky. Duck into a traditional taverna for a dinner of Greek favorites and an evening of traditional bouzouki guitar folk music. Alternatively, go all out on your one night in Athens with a 5-course dinner in a revolving restaurant 165 feet (50 meters) above the city.

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