By Briana Seftel
Athens has so much more to offer than just the Acropolis. From breathtaking hilltop views to a lively flea market, here the best free things to do in Greece's historic capital city!
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1. Filopappou Hill
An extension of Acropolis Hill, Filopappou (or Philopappou) Hill offers stunning views of the Acropolis, the mountains surrounding Athens, and the Port of Piraeus. Also called the Hill of the Muses, legend has it that the nine muses were buried there.
2. Free movies at University Cinema Club
Catch a free flick at The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens film club, Irida! Films are shown almost everyday and open to the public, as well as seminars and workshops. Check the website for the updated schedule.
3. National Garden
An oasis in the heart of Athens, the National Garden was commissioned by the first Queen of Greece, Queen Amalia, in 1838. It is home to 519 species and varieties of native trees, bushes, and plants, as well as a small zoo, duck pond, botanical Museum, children's library, playground and coffee shop.
4. Hadrian’s Arch
Built in 131 AD by Roman emperor Hadrian, this arch originally separated the old and new Athens. On one side of the arch (facing the Acropolis) it states: This is Athens, the ancient ity of Theseus." On the other side facing the Olympieion it states: "This is the city of Hadrian and not of Theseus."
5. Syntagma Square
Also known as Constitution Square, Syntagma Square is the central square of Athens and is dominated by the Old Royal Palace, housing the Greek Parliament since 1934. For a real treat, don't miss The Changing of the Guards in front of the Parliament, occuring every hour.
6. Metro Station Artifacts
You don't have to pay entrance to the Acropolis Museum to see some of Athens' archaeological wonders. Just head to the Syntagma, Panepistimio, Acropolis, and Monastiraki metro stations to see uncovered artificats at no cost!
7. Temple of Olympian Zeus
While entrance to the Temple of Zeus requires a fee, you can actually see the entire temple from outside the gates! Also known as the Olympieion, the temple was built over several centuries and was completed under Hadrian in 131 AD. While only a few columns remain, you can imagine how majestic this temple once was during ancient times.
8. Municipal Gallery of Athens
Housing a rich and varied collection of nearly 3,000 works from 19th and 20th century Greek artists, the Municipal Gallery is a must-see for art and culture lovers visiting Athens.
A stroll through the charming Plaka neighborhood is an absolute must while in Athens. Athens' oldest neighborhood is one charming cobblestone street after another, with bougainvillea draping every outdoor restuarant and traditional home. It might be touristy, but it's well worth a visit.
10. Aristotle’s Lyceum
Opened in 2014, this historic site seamlessly blends ancient ruins with modern, everyday life. Founded by Aristotle in in 335 BC, the lyceum was one of the three oldest gymnasiums in Athens. Visitors can stroll through the ancient site while enjoying the surrounding park.
11. Monastiraki Flea Market
Immerse yourself in authentic Greek culture at Monastiraki Flea Market. While you can find a variety of shops open every day of the week, Sunday is really the best time to visit this lively market. Start ar Abyssinia’s square and wander the stalls to your heart's content!
12. Street Art
Stemming from the 2008 economic crisis, Athens has seen a surge in street art and grafitti. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, for those wanting a taste of Athens' prolific street art, head to the downtown neighborhoods of Exarchia, Psyrri, Anafiotika and Gazi to see colorful larger-than-life murals.
You can visit sites like the Acropolis Museum for free on March 6th (In Memory of Melina Mercouri), March 25th, May 18th (International Museums Day) and October 28th. You can also visit the Acropolis for free on the first Sunday of every month.