I’ll be landing in Athens around 9 AM and have another flight at 8:30 PM next day. What can I do during that time in terms of exploring, sightseeing, etc while on a layover in Athens? I don’t want to do too much so I have to rush, but also don’t want to be bored and sit around at the airport.

You can generally “do” Athens in two days. Granted, there are lots of ruins and archaeological sites, which can tend to blur together in memory, but they collectively give you a great perspective on history.

LAYOVER IN ATHENS

We visited last October, which was a perfect time to visit. It wasn’t peak tourist season, the weather was terrific, and the crowds were sparse (as far as crowds go). The food was great and the prices are very inexpensive relative to the rest of western Europe.

Cheap Flights to Athens

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Sofia

24.02.2018

26.02.2018

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Thessaloniki

12.03.2018

17.03.2018

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Santorini

15.05.2018

19.05.2018

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Heraklion

11.05.2018

12.05.2018

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Istanbul

03.10.2018

10.10.2018

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Larnaca

12.03.2018

16.03.2018

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Kiev

13.10.2018

19.10.2018

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Tel Aviv-Yafo

26.05.2018

01.06.2018

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Chisinau

04.04.2018

18.04.2018

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Kerkyra

07.03.2018

09.03.2018

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London

02.05.2018

09.05.2018

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Bucharest

22.03.2018

25.03.2018

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Warsaw

14.06.2018

28.06.2018

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Brussels

16.04.2018

26.04.2018

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Chania

29.09.2018

30.09.2018

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Naples

13.05.2018

29.05.2018

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Rome

15.09.2018

22.09.2018

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23.03.2018

25.03.2018

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Tallinn

15.09.2018

21.09.2018

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Belgrade

16.03.2018

19.03.2018

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16.10.2018

25.10.2018

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Budapest

14.03.2018

19.03.2018

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Vienna

28.09.2018

03.10.2018

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Geneva

14.05.2018

24.05.2018

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17.05.2018

24.05.2018

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Beirut

25.02.2018

27.02.2018

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Paris

15.10.2018

22.10.2018

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28.02.2018

01.03.2018

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Zagreb

15.07.2018

25.07.2018

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Helsinki

21.05.2018

28.05.2018

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Munich

12.03.2018

15.03.2018

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Tirana

31.03.2018

14.04.2018

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Frankfurt

25.04.2018

30.04.2018

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Zurich

08.10.2018

15.10.2018

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Strasbourg

20.03.2018

28.03.2018

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Verona

24.06.2018

08.07.2018

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Vilnius

13.09.2018

02.10.2018

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17.03.2018

24.03.2018

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06.10.2018

13.10.2018

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20.04.2018

30.04.2018

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25.03.2018

31.03.2018

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25.04.2018

30.04.2018

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09.10.2018

15.10.2018

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Stuttgart

25.04.2018

30.04.2018

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Cologne

10.03.2018

18.03.2018

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10.04.2018

02.05.2018

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Amsterdam

21.06.2018

22.06.2018

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Paphos

15.03.2018

18.03.2018

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Kavala

03.03.2018

04.03.2018

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Kuwait City

29.04.2018

04.05.2018

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Hamburg

16.04.2018

21.04.2018

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Pisa

26.04.2018

01.05.2018

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Marseille

31.03.2018

07.04.2018

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Odessa

05.07.2018

18.07.2018

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Kherson

21.04.2018

28.04.2018

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Podgorica

10.09.2018

15.09.2018

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Venice

15.07.2018

25.07.2018

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Eindhoven

09.09.2018

23.09.2018

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Dnepropetrovsk

31.05.2018

07.06.2018

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Bilbao

16.03.2018

18.03.2018

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Kharkiv

10.11.2018

13.11.2018

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Lviv

07.06.2018

14.06.2018

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Riga

01.07.2018

11.07.2018

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Madrid

02.07.2018

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Lyon

29.09.2018

06.10.2018

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Toulouse

21.04.2018

28.04.2018

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Copenhagen

15.03.2018

18.03.2018

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Gdansk

10.05.2018

20.05.2018

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Astypalaia Island

05.03.2018

10.03.2018

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Zaporozhye

01.06.2018

10.06.2018

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Oslo

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Bologna

17.03.2018

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Prague

27.03.2018

31.03.2018

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01.03.2018

09.03.2018

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Yerevan

11.06.2018

15.06.2018

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Cagliari

09.06.2018

14.06.2018

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Trieste

03.03.2018

09.03.2018

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Wroclaw

01.09.2018

08.09.2018

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Cairo

03.04.2018

17.04.2018

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Catania

23.09.2018

23.09.2018

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Aalborg

31.05.2018

21.06.2018

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Billund

25.04.2018

30.04.2018

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Antwerp

24.03.2018

30.03.2018

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Newcastle

17.06.2018

21.06.2018

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28.06.2018

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23.07.2018

06.08.2018

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15.07.2018

25.07.2018

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01.06.2018

10.06.2018

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Kazan

10.07.2018

23.07.2018

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Voronezh

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15.10.2018

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30.06.2018

07.07.2018

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01.09.2018

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Olbia

17.04.2018

18.04.2018

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Alexandria

04.04.2018

13.04.2018

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05.03.2018

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Turin

28.03.2018

31.03.2018

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05.05.2018

18.05.2018

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19.03.2018

22.03.2018

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Nizhniy Novgorod

22.05.2018

31.05.2018

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Bordeaux

16.08.2018

26.08.2018

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Outside of the Acropolis area in the center of Athens, I liked the National Archaeological Museum since they have the frescoes and artifacts recovered from the the city of Akrotiri (destroyed by volcano circa 1645–1600 BC) on the island of Santorini that we had previously visited.

We took a walking food tour of Athens which I’d highly recommend. Our guide took us off the beaten path to neighborhoods not generally frequented by tourists, and we had some terrific food.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square is quite a sight to see — some may dismiss it as “goofy,” but I found it stirring to see the centuries of tradition being maintained in such an elaborate ritual by the Presidential Guard. On Sundays at 11 am, there is a much more elaborate ceremony with a parade.

It’s easy to get into Athens from the airport via the train or bus.

First, there is a bag storage place at the airport, so you can store any bags you don’t want to carry into the city with you. (Any checked luggage with your airline won’t usually need to be collected since the layover in Athens is under 24 hours.)

The train station right at the airport will take you to Athens, so you can quickly get into the city and back to the airport. The Suburban line goes to the Athens Central Railway Station (Larissis Station), and Metro line 3 also stops at the airport. Either way, you need a separate airport ticket (€ 18 round-trip), and then you can get a 24-hour metro ticket to get around in Athens. The Metro is fast clean, reliable, and convenient.

The Acropolis (where the Parthenon is) and the new Acropolis Museum are on many bucket lists. I’d go straight to the Acropolis and then afterwards go the the Acropolis Museum. Rick Steves has a nice free audioguide to the Acropolis, which I recommend. The earlier in the day you get to the Acropolis the better — it can get busy later in the day.

The streets around the Acropolis are a bit touristy, but you can walk and hang out at cafes and check out the shops in the neighborhood, the Plaka District. If you want to check out more museums and archaeological sites, there are plenty to choose from in walking distance: the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Kerameikos Cemetery, and the Panathenaic Stadium were some of my favorites.

Monastiraki is also a nice neighborhood if you want someplace else to check out for food and shopping. There is a big Metro station there, as well.

Finally, there is an Athens City Pass (by Turbopass) that includes transportation to/from the airport, on the Metro, and admission to certain attractions, and it might make sense to buy it — you can then skip ticket lines at attractions and don’t have to worry about having the “right” ticket on the trains, etc.