Even though Athens is quite an affordable city when compared to other cities in Europe, it doesn’t hurt to watch your purse strings while on vacation. Whether you’re backpacking on a budget or simply looking for some low-cost vacation plans, here are some of the best free things to do in Athens!
1. Climb Mount Lycabettus
Catch some of the best views of the Greek capital when you make the hike up Mount Lycabettus, a large hill the overlooks the city. At 277 meters above sea level, it’s the highest point of the city. Starting at the base, it normally takes about a half hour or less to get to the top, depending on your pace. In addition to stunning panoramic views, you’ll also find a 19th-century chapel, theater, and restaurant at the top. Tip: go around sunset to see Athens in the most incredible moment of the day!
2. Browse the markets
One of the best free things to do in Athens is to browse the city’s markets. The crown jewel of market in Athens is the Monastiraki market, which begins in the central plaza of the same name. You can easily spend a morning here browsing through the curiosities of the flea market, sampling the local food, and checking out all the vintage treasures. Saturday is the best day to go to get the widest variety of shopping options.
3. Watch the changing of the guard
Something truly unique that won’t cost you a penny is the changing of the guard ceremony in front of the Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma Square. The official ceremony takes place every Sunday morning at 11AM where you can witness the full traditional changing. On any other day, you can see the guards change every hour on the hour but with lesser fanfare.
4. Check out the street art
One of the most unique free things to do in Athens is roam the streets and take in the impressive quantity and quality of street art. Neighborhoods like Anafiotika and Psyri, in the heart of Athens, are as picturesque and pretty as can be, but once you start wandering the streets you’ll be stunned at the beautiful street art that adorns buildings and walls.
5. Stroll the National Gardens
The National Gardens provide a lush, green oasis to the city where one can escape the noise and crowds and stroll freely. A walk through the gardens is a great idea in the summer if you want to take a break from the sun and heat and hide out under the fronds of palm trees and other greenery. And if you’re looking to save some money on dining options, why not pack a picnic and enjoy it in the gardens? You’ll feel as if the city is a world away as you enjoy the peace and tranquility of the city’s most beautiful gardens.
6. Visit the free museums
Since Athens is so rich in history and culture, the city makes it quite easy and accessible for tourists to discover it for very little money or for free. The following museums offer free admission every day:
- Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments: learn about traditional Greek music and instruments. Address: Diogenous 1
- Museum of the History of Greek Costume: collection of Greek costumes and traditional dress throughout the ages. Address: Dimokritou 7
- Athens University History Museum: check out neoclassical architecture and art as you explore the history of Athens. Address: Tholou 5
These popular museums have free admission on certain days or at certain times:
- Benaki Museum: art from all over the world. Free admission every Thursday and May 18th at the main collection. Address: Koumpari 1
- National Museum of Contemporary Art: the name says it all. Free every Thursday from 5-10PM. Address: Λεωφ. Καλλιρρόης και Αμβρ. Φραντζή (πρώην εργοστάσιο
7. Check out the Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium was built in 330 BC for the Panathenaic Games, an early athletic festival. It became abandoned around the 4th century, until its renovation in the 19th century when the stadium was used for the Olympics in 1896. This is the only stadium in the world that’s made entirely of marble, and makes for a great pic for your Instagram feed!
8. Go on a free walking tour
Want to really see the city like a local? One of the best free things to do in Athens to get to know the Greek capital is to go on a free walking tour. Your local guide will show you the city through their eyes as the explain some of the history and culture behind the most popular sites and monuments. While the tour is free, it’s always a good idea to tip your guide if you had a positive experience!
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