Visiting the Acropolis – An Insider’s Guide 2020/2021

Visiting the Acropolis is likely to be high on your list of priorities when visiting Athens. In fact, it is the image of the Parthenon watching over the Greek capital  in all of its sunbleached glory that most people think of at the sheer mention of the city. 

About This Acropolis Guide 

Visiting the Acropolis, Athens
Visiting the Acropolis, Athens

So how do you make the most out of a visit to the ancient Acropolis? Is it worth a visit?

What important sights should you keep your eyes peeled for? This guide answers all of your Acropolis FAQs to help you prepare for your adventure. 

I am a British Expat that has lived in Athens for the last three years. I have visited the Acropolis several times throughout my time in the city when I’ve played Tour Guide to all of my visiting friends and family.

This guide is fairly extensive. Feel free to use the Table of Contents to jump to the relevant sections.

A Little History of the Acropolis 

An Acropolis, in Ancient Greek, meant a fortified hill within a city. If you go back thousands of years, you may be surprised to note that the Acropolis in Athens was not the only Acropolis to exist.

Almost every Greek city bolstered an Acropolis. These sites were used primarily for defensive purposes. 

From the 5th century, Athens stood out as one of the most powerful states in Ancient Greece. The Acropolis in Athens differs from the Acropolis built in other cities. This is because it was constructed primarily for spiritual purposes.

The main purpose of the Athens Acropolis was for the worship and honour of the Goddess Athena, rather than for any military or defensive reason.

Best Acropolis Guided Tours 

An Acropolis tour is not necessary for visiting the Acropolis Hill. Information plaques are scattered around the site, helping to provide context of what you are looking at. It is also possible to request an audio tour at the door. 

If you feel that you do want the services of a Guide in order to receive a more in-depth knowledge of one of Ancient Greece’s most important constructions, some of the best Acropolis tours are detailed below. 

Notable Sights at the Acropolis 

Visiting the Acropolis
Visiting the Acropolis

It is advisable to read a little background history of the Acropolis before you visit. Knowing why the various buildings were built and what they were used for, helps you to appreciate this magnificent UNESCO protected site even more. 

The Propylaea

The Propylaea is the main entrance to the Acropolis. Although there are several routes that lead you into the site, it is worth entering via the Propylaea.

This way you can experience all of the grandeur that visitors to the Parthenon would have felt centuries ago. As you walk along the cobbled entryway of the Propylaea, you find yourself surrounded by imposing regal columnated walkways, and elegant marble buildings that have withstood the test of time.  

The Temple of Athena Nike 

After you enter the site via the Propylaea, you are met with another grand site: The Temple of Athena Nike. The temple dates back to 420BC, making it the very first temple constructed on Acropolis Hill. 

In Ancient Greek, Nike means “victory”. It is believed that the Ancient Greeks would come and pray at this temple to wish for victories in battles.

The site has been repaired and reconstructed several times. However that does not detract from its charm. 

The Pandroseion

The Pandroseion, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena are three individual sanctuaries that are joined together. They almost look as though they are all the same building. However, each sanctuary served a very different purpose.

The Pandroseion was built in dedication to Pandrosus, daughter of Cecrops. Cecrops was the first King of Athens. He was believed to be half-man, half-snake

The Erechtheion

The Erechtheion is a building whose history is steeped in Greek mythology and magic. It is said that it was here where the Greek Gods Poseidon and Athena had the battle to decide who would become the God of Athens. The two Gods would give gifts to the people so that they could decide who they preferred to worship. 

Poseidon struck a rock with his trident and from it spouted salt water, representing the sea. Athena gave the Ancient Greeks the gift of an olive tree, representing prosperity.

There is a damaged section of stone outside the Erechtheion which is said to be where Poseidon struck his trident. The olive tree on the Western edge (since replanted) is said to be where Athena gave her gift.

The structure of the Erechtheion in itself once housed a wooden statue of the Goddess Athena. Look out for the Caryatids. These are six intricately carved female figures that support the roof of the building. 

The Old Temple of Athena 

In Greek mythology, Athena was one of the most important Goddesses. She was the daughter of Zeus.

Athena was known as the Goddess of courage, wisdom, inspiration, law, justice, strategic warfare, and mathematics. She was also the Protector of the city of Athens, and the reason that the Greek capital is named as such. (Athena is the Greek word for Athens). 

The Old Temple of Athena stands on the right-hand side of the adjoined structures of the Pandroseion, the Erechtheion and the Old Temple of Athena. 

The Parthenon 

The sun-bleached ruins of the Parthenon are the piece de resistance of the Acropolis Hill. No doubt they are the main reason that most people come to visit the site.

This grand marble temple was built in dedication to the Goddess Athena. It sits perched atop a craggy outcrop that is visible from all corners of the city. By nightfall, the sight is especially beautiful as the Parthenon is illuminated with hundreds of twinkling lights. 

The building is pretty much constantly surrounded by scaffolding. In the three years I’ve lived in Greece, it’s always had construction work going on! It is likely that this will remain here for a while to come, but the Parthenon is still very impressive. 

There are several theories regarding the specific use of the Parthenon. Many believe that the building was used as a treasury. 

Theatre of Dionysus 

The Theatre of Dionysus is an ancient theatre that was constructed on the southern slopes of the Acropolis hill in the 4th century. The theatre is named after Dionysus, God of Drama, and had the capacity to hold 17,000 spectators. Greek tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides took place here.

Viewpoints Across Athens 

Visiting the Acropolis
Visiting the Acropolis

As you explore the Acropolis Hill, be sure to take the time to appreciate the views of the city all around you – especially from the highest points around the Parthenon and the Erechtheion. 

From way up here, you have a magnificent view of the ramshackle streets of Athens beneath you. There will be two hilltops parallel to you on either side of the Acropolis – one is Mount Lycabettus, the other is Filopappou hill. 

Look out for the ruins of the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, and the Panathenaic Stadium below. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to Piraeus port and the sea. 

Odeon of Herodes Atticus 

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is one of the more “modern” buildings on the Acropolis Hill. This grand theatre was constructed in 161AD during the Roman Era. 

The Odeon was built by Herodes Atticus in dedication to his late wife. Today, the theatre still functions and often hosts theatrical performances and operas. 

The “New” Acropolis Museum 

Your ticket to the Acropolis site includes admission to the “New” Acropolis Museum. This is well worth a visit after meandering around the ancient ruins. T

he museum is hailed as being one of the best museums in Athens. It provides a chronological history of the site and enables you to put the things that you have seen in more context. 

The “New” Acropolis museum is housed inside a beautiful contemporary glass structure designed by renowned Architects Bernard Tschumi and Michael Photiadis. Sadly, it is only replicas of the Parthenon marbles that are stored here as the originals are in London. 

The Forgotten Monument of Thrasyllus

The Forgotten Monument of Thrasyllus is not a site that you can visit. Unfortunately, the path to the monument is too damaged and inaccessible. However, the monument is something that is worth looking out for as you glance up towards the Acropolis. 

As you walk along Dionysiou Areopagitou street, look up to the Acropolis. You will see a mysterious little window in the southern wall with white columns.

There is currently no way to reach this. This is the Monument of Thrasyllus.

It is believed that the monument was built in 320BC. A religious shrine sits inside, with frescoes and monuments of the Virgin Mary. However, the Acropolis Guards stand watch to ensure that nobody tries to enter…

Acropolis Ticket and Admissions Advice 

There are two main ticket options to choose from. You can opt to purchase an “Acropolis only” ticket which includes admission to the Acropolis hill and the New Acropolis Museum.

Alternatively, you can purchase an Athens archaeological pass. This includes entrance to the Acropolis in addition to the other notable historical sights in Athens. 

The Athens Archeological Pass

The wider archaeological pass also includes entrance to the nearby Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora, Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library, and Aristotle’s School. If your Athens itinerary permits, it is definitely worthwhile to visit all of these attractions.

At the very least, don’t miss the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora. The Athens Archeological Pass can be purchased at tourist information offices around Athens. You can also buy it online in advance of visiting the Acropolis.

It is worth purchasing the tickets in advance in order to save time queueing at the Acropolis entrance. It gets very busy, especially during the summer months.

Ticket prices for visiting the Acropolis vary depending upon the season. 

  • Summer Admission: April 1 to October 31: €30

  • Winter Admission: November 1 to March 31: €30

Athens multi-site passes are valid for five days from the date of the first admission. 

The Acropolis-Only Admission Ticket 

Acropolis-only ticket prices vary depending upon the season. If you don’t wish to purchase a combination pass, it is worth buying the Acropolis-only ticket online in advance to avoid queues. Please note that once you have purchased a ticket to the Acropolis, you cannot change the date of your visit. 

  • Summer Admission: April 1 to October 31: €20

  • Winter Admission: November 1 to March 31: €10

Acropolis FAQs and Advice for Visitors

Some of your most frequently-asked questions about visiting the Acropolis are answered below. 

Admission Times 

The Acropolis admission times vary from the summer to the winter seasons. The summer schedule runs from the 1st April until the 31st March each year. During this time, the Acropolis is open from 8am until 8pm. 

The winter tourism season runs from November 1st to the 31st March. In this period, the site is open from 8am until 5pm daily. 

The Acropolis hill is closed on the below dates:

  • January 1st 

  • March 25th 

  • May 1st 

  • Easter Sunday
     
  • December 25

  • December 26

Entrance to the Acropolis is Free on Certain Days 

Various Athens attractions offer free admission on certain days of the year. This includes the Acropolis, and most archaeological sites and museums

Between the months of November and March, admission to most sites is free on the first Sunday of the month. You can also enjoy free admission on the following dates:

  • 6th March

  • 18th April

  • 18th May

  • The last weekend of September

  • 28th October

Who is Eligible for Free or Discounted Admission? 

Certain groups of people are eligible for free or discounted admission to the Acropolis. This includes non-EU children under the age of 5, EU nationals under 25, students, people with disabilities, Greek unemployed citizens, and several others. For the full list of who is eligible for discounted or free Acropolis admission, check the official site here

When is the Best Time to Visit the Acropolis to Avoid the Crowds?

Athens is an excellent year-round travel destination. The summer season that runs between June and September sees the Greek capital become virtually overrun with tourists. The number of tourists in the city drops substantially after October and Winter in Athens can be very pleasant. 

It is recommended to visit the Acropolis early in the morning when the site first opens (at around 8 am). Alternatively, stop by later in the evening before the sun starts to set. This is particularly true if you are travelling here in summer. 

What to Wear and Bring to Visit the Acropolis 

Wear comfortable shoes for exploring the Acropolis. The stones and pathways here are very uneven and sometimes slippery.

It should go without saying, but don’t wear high heels! There are even signs scattered around reminding you that high heels are prohibited.

Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It is not uncommon for summer temperatures in southern Greece to soar well above 40 degrees. Take a bottle of water as there is nowhere to buy one once you are on the site. 

Handy Apps and Audio Guides for Visiting the Acropolis 

You may wish to consider downloading an informative Acropolis App or an audio tour for your visit. Several audio tours are available online, and there are several useful apps available on the Google Play and Android App stores. This includes an Acropolis Interactive Educational 3D App and Acropolis Walking Tour apps. 

The Rick Steves audio tour is a particularly good audio tour. It covers the Acropolis in addition to the nearby areas of Thissio, and Plaka.

How Much Time Should I Allocate for Visiting?

The Acropolis Hill is a much larger site than most people realise. It is advisable to dedicate at least 2-3 hours to exploring the area. 

Can I take My Drone? 

It is illegal to use drones over archaeological sites in Greece. This includes the Acropolis. There is a €500 fine waiting for anyone that breaks this rule. 

Is the Acropolis Wheelchair Accessible? 

Officially yes, the Acropolis is wheelchair accessible. Disabled visitors and one escort are eligible for free admission to the site. 

There is an elevator on-site that takes handicapped guests up to the Parthenon. Unfortunately in Greece, sometimes things are not always as they should be and there have been occasions where the elevator was not functional.

Contact +30 210 3214172 in advance of your trip, if travelling with a handicapped companion. This way you can check whether the elevator is currently functioning. 

Amenities On-Site 

There are both water fountains and public bathrooms on-site at the Acropolis. Just be sure to pack your own water bottle, tissues, and hand sanitizer. 

How to Get to the Acropolis 

The Acropolis is very centrally located. It is just a short walk from Syntagma square, Monastiraki, and the quirky neighbourhood of Koukaki. The main metro station that services the site is the aptly named “Acropoli” station which sits on the red line of the Athens metro. 

You can also take a metro to either Thissio or Monastiraki station and then walk from there. Download an offline Maps app such as Maps Me to help yourself navigate your way around the Greek capital. 

How to Enter the Acropolis 

The main entrance to the Acropolis is the Propylaea. Follow the signs for the Acropolis from Acropoli metro station.

It will be very clear where the main entrance is. There is a small ticket office situated here. 

The Propylaea entrance is usually the most crowded, as many tourists are not aware of a second side entrance which sits opposite the New Acropolis museum. If you have already purchased your tickets in advance or online, you may wish to enter through the side-entrance so as to skip the crowds. 

What to Do in the Area After Visiting the Acropolis 

Charming Anafiotika Plaka sits on the slopes of Acropolis hill
Charming Anafiotika Plaka sits on the slopes of Acropolis hill

The Acropolis is situated right in the heart of Athens city centre. This makes it a perfect jumping-off point for a wider exploration of ancient Athens. A few suggestions of how to continue your magical day in Athens are provided below. 

Stroll Along the Boulevard of Dionysiou Areopagitou 

Upon exiting back through the Propylaea and browsing the exhibits of the New Acropolis museum, wander down the pedestrianised boulevard of Dionysiou Areopagitou. Here, you will find dozens of pop-up stalls selling handicrafts and charming souvenirs that are oh so quintessentially Greek. In addition, you will see street performers here performing everything from magic tricks to traditional bouzouki music. 

Explore Thissio and Filopappou Hill 

Dionysiou Areopagitou twists and turns through Thissio into areas of beautiful greenery that provide countless wonderful photo opportunities for taking pictures of the Acropolis. The hill that sits opposite the Acropolis is Filopappou Hill. 

The shrine at the top of Filopappou offers alternative views over the Acropolis and the city of Athens. There are also several interesting sites that you can stop by on your ascent. Don’t miss Socrates’ prison and the small, charming churches on the slopes of Filopappou. 

Visit the Secret Village of Anafiotika Plaka 

Anafiotika Plaka is a “secret” neighbourhood that escapes the eyes of most tourists. This neighbourhood has been decorated in Cycladic style and looks more reminiscent of a village from Santorini, than a suburb of the chaotic Greek capital. 

Anafiotika was constructed by Greeks that moved to the mainland from the island of Anafi. It is a must-see while in the capital city.

Spend Your Afternoon in Plaka 

Plaka is Athens’ oldest neighbourhood. This area has a history that dates back more than 2,500 years.

Despite being one of the most touristic areas of Athens, there is something special and almost magical about Plaka. Some of the city’s most notable historical sites are here – including the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, and several ancient mosques. 

If you start to feel hungry, there are several great Athens restaurants here that are beloved by locals. To Kafeneio (Epicharmou 1) is famous for its small meze plates and specialises in cuisine from Northern Greece.

Meanwhile, Scholarchio (Tripodon 14) is tucked away from view down a narrow alleyway. Locals come here for the specialty trout and flaming sausages. 

Where to Stay in Athens with an Acropolis View 

Ensure a magical stay in Athens by booking a hotel with an Acropolis view
Ensure a magical stay in Athens by booking a hotel with an Acropolis view

I have lived in Athens for three years and I never get bored of seeing the Acropolis. Sometimes I think that I take for granted how incredible it is to simply look up and see it watching over the city. 

There are several incredible rooftop bars in Athens that boast breathtaking Acropolis views. They are well worth adding to your radar if you plan on experiencing Athens by night.

You may also wish to stay at a hotel that offers views across to the Parthenon from your balcony. A few suggestions of hotels with Acropolis views are detailed below. 

You can also browse this detailed guide on where to stay in Athens. This offers the best hotel and accommodation options in Athens by neighbourhood. 

AthensWas Hotel

Where: Dionysiou Areopagitou 5

AthensWas is a beautiful boutique hotel on Dionysiou Areopagitou. The rooms of this luxurious five-star property have been designed in a sleek, contemporary style.

From your private balcony, and from the hotel’s elegant rooftop Sense restaurant, you have magnificent views of the Acropolis. It is close that it feels as though you can reach out and touch it. 

Rooms at AthensWas start from around €160 per night. Click here to browse the latest room rates and availability. 

Acropolis View Hotel 

Where: 10 Webster Street 

Location location location. The Acropolis View Hotel offers a clean and charming stay in the heart of historic Athens.

From here, you are just a short walk away from Athens’ main attractions – including the Acropolis, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Old Plaka. Breakfast on the scenic terrace offers you a chance to admire the Parthenon and the Acropolis as you sip your morning coffee.

Rooms at the Acropolis View Hotel start from €70 per night. Click here to browse the latest room rates and availability

Final Thoughts

Do you have any further questions about visiting the Acropolis, or planning a trip to Greece in general? I have been living in Athens for the past three years and have gotten to know the city pretty well during that time. I have visited the Acropolis four times at this point, after being forced against my will (I jest) to play Tour Guide to visiting friends and family members. 

I am happy to assist with any questions and queries that you may have. Feel free to drop me a comment below.

Safe travels! Geia sou! Melissa xo 

Disclaimer: This Acropolis guide may contain affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase through some of the links contained here, I will make a small amount of commission charged at no extra cost to you. Thanks for understanding.   


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

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