What should you do if you only have one day in Athens ? It shouldn’t come as a surprise, one day is not a lot of time and there is plenty to see & do in and around Athens. In fact, I would allow at least 3 days to see the city. But if you happen to be in Athens for just a day, follow this itinerary to get a good feel of the city and make sure you saw what you just couldn’t miss !
This itinerary is fully walkable as all the places mentioned are located in the old town.
Start the day in Plaka (some say the Plaka). This is the old historical Athens & the neighbourhood is built right on top of the ancient Athens. Wander around the beautiful streets full of shops & restaurants. You could have breakfast here. The main street that crosses Plaka is Adrianou street.
When you reach the end of Adrianou, you should take a turn on Thespidos. This is the way to the Acropolis. You will be going up and reach a tiny neighbourhood called Anafiotika on your way. Take your time to discover this place, it is small, but it’s absolutely beautiful & very reminiscent of the cycladic islands.
As you come out of Anafiotika, keep going up & follow the signs to reach the entrance of the Acropolis.
The Acropolis is THE number one sight in Athens, and with good reason. The ancient religious complex on top of the hill is just impressive. Other than the Parthenon, Erechtheion & temple of Athena Nike, be sure to enjoy the 360° views of Athens, from the sea to the mountains, aswell as the North and South slopes of the Acropolis, included in your ticket price.
When you come down from the Acropolis, get yourself a koulouri (typical pretzel bread) from a street vendor and head to the Acropolis museum where you can gather some information on the construction of the Acropolis, the way it used to look, what people used to do there and meet the real caryatids (the Erechtheion statues are but replicas) aswell as hundreds of other pieces that were found on & around the Acropolis. Even if you’re running out of time, visiting the museum for just one hour would make a difference and add a lot of depth to your visit.
Head to Monastiraki to enjoy the flea market and indulge in a little shopping or just surround yourself with the agitation, colours & smells before the day ends.
For dinner, you could have a typical souvlaki or Gyro plate at All that Jatz or another nearby restaurant. Finish the day at one of Athens rooftop bars for a drink with a view. I would suggest A for Athens on Monastiraki square, or Couleur Locale in a little street nearby.