The Sacred Rock of the Acropolis is one of the greatest travel destinations in the Balkan Peninsula. It’s home to the remnants of the sacred temple to Athena, the patron goddess of the city. Once you climb the Acropolis, there’s a wealth of ancient temples, theaters and other attractions nearby, let alone the stunning view of the city. A well-planned trip to Athens and the Acropolis can easily be the highlight of a trip to Southern Europe.
There are several ways to reach the Acropolis once you’re in Athens. Taxis are the easiest and most straightforward method to get directly to your destination. The best transit option is the use of the metro, which you can use to reach either the Acropolis station or the Monastiraki station. Your choice of station depends on whether you want to enter the Acropolis via the main entrance or the side entrance.
It seems like a subtle difference, but your choice of approach offers a fairly distinct experience. The main entrance accommodates most tourists and is busier and more direct. It’s also an easier hike up the hill. Heading to the side entrance allows you to avoid the biggest crowds and enjoy a more peaceful, if slightly longer hike. On top of that, you’ll get to pass through the birthplace of Athenian theater, the Dionysus Theater, when you take the side entrance.
You can visit the Acropolis year-round from 8 am to “sunset,” which of course varies. The busiest time of day to visit the Acropolis is throughout the afternoon until late in the day. To avoid crowds, you can enter close to opening hours. During the longer days of summer, you can also start your trip two or three hours before sunset and have a comfortable, relatively peaceful tour of the Sacred Rock.
Long queues often form in front of the main ticket vendors at the Acropolis. Since you won’t want to stand around waiting before entering the Acropolis, it’s a good idea to buy your tickets early. That way, you can return later, skip the queue and get straight to exploration. Additionally, Greece launched an e-ticket service in 2018. You can buy an online ticket that offers admission to the Acropolis, as well as other major destinations in Athens and other parts of Greece.
For half of the year and several holidays, you can visit the Acropolis free of charge. These include March 6th, April 18th, May 18th, October 28th, and September’s final weekend. Additionally, from November to March, entry is free every first Sunday. If you’d like to make multiple visits or if you take low-budget travel very seriously, the potential of free entry to such a famous destination is worth keeping in mind.
Besides days with free entry, timing is mostly a matter of weather and crowds. During the summer, the days are long and hot and you have plenty of time to head to the Acropolis. However, the climb up the Acropolis will be more challenging during the hotter parts of the year. Spring or fall may be ideal, but winter is also perfectly good. It’s the low season for tourism to Athens and it’ll have the smallest crowds. It’s rare for Athens to get particularly cold, although the city occasionally experiences snow. Generally, winter in Athens is cool and damp without being cold.
The Acropolis Museum is deeply complementary to the Sacred Rock, and any trip that includes these destinations is greater than the sum of its parts. You should consider going to the museum first to absorb the historical background on the Acropolis and appreciate it more when you do visit. Overall, it’s ideal to stop by the museum on one day, buy your ticket for the Acropolis, and take your tour of the site the next day.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the biggest destinations, but Athens is a city of great archeological and historical significance. You shouldn’t rush yourself hitting one major attraction to the next, and you should make sure you have some extra time to sink into the city. Explore the city center, enjoy a Greek riviera on the Piraeus, and treat yourself to some authentic Greek cuisine.
Whether you’re visiting on a hot summer day or a cool winter morning, you’re still in for a hike up the Acropolis. It’s never too difficult, as the stairs and pathways are well maintained and there are many places to stop and take a breather. However, it’d still be a good idea to economize on weight and only pack lightly with water and other necessities. Taking snacks is a good idea, but you may also want to eat a light meal before you go.
After a long day of exploring the Acropolis and other ancient sights in Athens, you should take a relaxing stroll through the city and admire its mix of architectural styles. You can cap it all off with a trip to Ge, one of Athens best hole in the wall restaurants for authentic local cuisine. You can try their mouth-watering Spetzofai, a hearty meal of sausage, onions, peppers, and potatoes. At the same time, you can enjoy an authentic Greek salad while listening to local musicians play Greek folk music on bouzouki guitars.