Perched on a limestone hill overlooking the sprawling city of Athens, the Acropolis is an ancient site that needs little introduction.
These iconic landmarks of Athens like the mighty Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheion, and Propylaea have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1987. It’s the number one place to learn about Greek history and culture, containing the single largest collection of Classical Greek art and architecture in the world.
Of course, with all of these accolades, it’s no wonder that the Acropolis is the most visited archaeological site in Greece. The site can see over 16,000 visitors per day in an area of just over 3 hectares, so it can get a little crowded at times.
Here's what you need to know to make the most of your time here, plus tips on how to avoid the queues and the heat.
There are few places in the world that are steeped in so much history and culture as Athens’ Acropolis. Yes, it’s busy in the summer and the crowds can take away some of the ancient sites' ambience, but it is still one of those places you just have to see for yourself.
The name “Acropolis” means “high city” (akron meaning “highest” and polis meaning “city”), and it was built to honour Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, and crafts. She was also the patron of Athens, which takes its name from her.
It’s important to know that the Acropolis has two visitor entrances, choosing wisely could save you a lot of time in queuing and the climb up is about the same either way.
The ticket office at Dionysiou Areopagitou (near the Acropolis Museum) is the quieter of the two. It’s located on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens, and is also the entrance that small group tours and skip-the-line tours use.
Rovertou Galli is the main entrance to the Acropolis, it can see very long lines in the summer. It’s nearer to the parking and often gets busy with large tour groups.
It’s best to head straight to the Parthenon before the crowds and tour groups arrive. It will mean a brisk uphill walk past Dionysus’ Theater, ignoring the beautiful view over the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and heading straight to the Propylaea.
You can always come back for photos and more exploring later, but this way you will sail past many of the other visitors.
Most visitors will find two to three hours enough time to see everything at the site, make sure to allow a couple of extra hours to visit the Acropolis Museum (located near the south slope of the Acropolis).
Bear in mind that the Acropolis is located on an exposed hill, the steps are slippery (especially when wet) and there is little shade in hot weather. Carefully planning when to visit the Acropolis can make the experience a lot more enjoyable.
The ‘gateway to the Acropolis’, this grand entrance was built after the Persian Wars by Pericles. It features both Doric and Ionic architectural styles and is made almost entirely of Pentelic marble. Its design has inspired many other famous structures around the world such as the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
The most grand and notable site of the Acropolis is undoubtedly the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos in the Golden Age of Pericles. Surrounded by a vast colonnade of Doric columns, the Parthenon was the largest and most lavishly decorated temple in mainland Greece when it was completed in 438 BC.
It once housed an 11.5 metre high statue of Athena made of gold and ivory, that has unfortunately since been lost to time. Even though it is under renovation today, the scale and grandeur of the Parthenon is awe-inspiring and a true testament to the power of the ancient Greek civilization.
Since its construction in the 5th century BC, the Parthenon has also served as a Christian church and as an Islamic mosque surviving nearly 2,500 years of wars, natural disasters, and looting.
This small temple stands on a 6-metre high stone platform and is dedicated to Athena Nike - the goddess of victory in Greek mythology. Famous as the first Ionic structure at the site, the Temple of Athena Nike was built between 427 and 421 BC.
These three separate buildings look like they are one, situated at the sacred spot where an olive tree still grows. It’s said to have sprouted when Athena hit the ground with a rock during a battle with Poseidon.
The most striking building is the Erechtheion, a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. You will notice six female figures or “korai” holding up the marble porch, known as the “Porch of the Caryatids”. These are replicas, but you can see five of the originals in the Acropolis museum - the sixth is housed in the British Museum after controversially being looted by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century.
Dionysus was the Greek god of theatre, religious ecstasy, wine, and fertility. The 25,000 seat theatre dedicated to the god was built around the same time as the temples and hosted the “City Dionysia” festival that included dramatic tragedies and comedies.
This ‘modern’ Roman theatre was built in 161 AD and is still used for performances today. It offers fantastic views over the city from the southern slopes near the Propylaea and can seat around 5,000 visitors in an open-air theatre.
From May to October every year the Athens & Epidaurus Festival sees the city come alive with music, theatre and dance performances. If visiting at this time of year make sure to check in advance what events are being held - it’s an unforgettable experience that adds a whole new perspective to the Acropolis.
A single ticket for the Acropolis costs €20 in the summer (April 1 to October 31) and €10 in the winter (November 1 to March 31).
There is a 50% discount for seniors and non-EU students and free entry for EU students, children under 18, and for people with disabilities.
Since September 2023 you will need to pre-book a timeslot when booking your Acropolis tickets online. Make sure to be at the entrance 30 minutes before your chosen time slot.
Note that any reduced or free entry tickets (ie. for children) will still need to be picked up from the main ticket office with an emailed voucher and proof of entitlement.
The best ways to save money and avoid the queues are to get a combo ticket, a skip-the-line entry, or go on a small guided tour.
A multi-site or combo ticket costs €30 and is valid for five days, allowing you to skip the line at all included attractions.
The combo ticket gives you one visit each to the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Kerameikos, and Aristotle’s School.
Entry to the Acropolis Museum is not covered by the Athens multi-site ticket, but you can buy skip the line tickets from the official website (€10). Reduced-admission or free-admission tickets are only available at the Museum's ticket desk (an ID may be required as proof of entitlement).
A skip-the-line Acropolis ticket will also offer a timeslot, so you don’t need to queue for an entry time. These have the advantage of being refundable until the day before the booking. Other skip-the-line Acropolis tours mean that you can enter with a group, and you will have a guided tour included.
A licensed local guide makes a visit to the Acropolis all the more enjoyable. They know the best photo stops, the most interesting facts, and how to avoid the long queues.
Try to book a small group tour with the entrance tickets included to avoid having to deal with the official Acropolis website - it can be confusing and there are no options for refunds/cancellation.
This 2 hour guided walking tour of the Acropolis in Athens starts from € 35 per person. Choose between a morning or an afternoon guided tour of the Athens Acropolis, and learn all about the fascinating history of the classical world with an archaeologist guide.
The Acropolis is located right in the centre of Athens so it’s easy to walk to. The 15-minute walk from Syntagma Square will take you via Vasilissis Amalias Avenue.
On this walk you will see the National Gardens, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Turn on Dionysiou Areopagitou to head to the south slopes and towards the quieter entrance to the Acropolis.
The closest subway station to the Acropolis is ‘Acropoli’. You can access it by using the red metro line called #M2. From Acropoli Station it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Acropolis.
Other convenient metro stations depending on where you are travelling from are ‘Monastiraki’ a 12-minute walk away, and ‘Thissio’ a 14 minute walk from the Acropolis.
The bus stop ‘Akropolē’ is an 8-minute walk to the Acropolis, this can be reached by the 230 bus. There’s also bus number 035 to ‘Monastiraki’ or bus 106 to ‘Makryianni’.
All public transport tickets cost €1.20 for 90 minutes, you can also purchase 24-hour and 5-day tickets priced at €4.10 and €8.20 - just make sure to always validate them.
If you’re coming straight from the airport just head into the city centre. You can take the direct bus numbered X95 to Syntagma Station and walk to the Acropolis from there.
There are some accessible options for visiting the Acropolis. About 350 metres from the main entrance you can find an elevator, people who struggle with steps or use wheelchairs are welcome to use it to access the hill but will need to arrange it ahead of time.
Golf carts are also available for getting around the site more easily, but some parts remain inaccessible due to steps/uneven ground.
As the most visited attraction in Greece, the Acropolis is very busy all summer. High season runs from June to September.
During these months, it’s best to arrive before it opens and be one of the first inside - this is also a good way to avoid the stifling city heat of Athens in summertime. The Acropolis is at its busiest between 11 AM to 1 PM, so a later afternoon visit is another option if the weather isn’t too hot.
In winter, all ancient sites in Athens are half-price, including the Acropolis, plus the queues are much shorter. There is also free entry on certain days throughout the year, but these can get extremely busy with tourists and local school groups etc. so are best avoided if possible.
The Athens Acropolis is open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM, with the last entry being at 7:30 PM during the summer months (April to October).
During the winter months (November to March), the sites close by 5 PM, with the last entry at 4:30 PM.
The Athens Acropolis is closed completely on certain days of the year: 1 January, 25 March, 1 May, Easter Sunday, 25 and 26 December.
There are countless places to stay in Athens. Good areas for tourists to stay in include Plaka with its cobblestoned streets and charming buildings near the Acropolis, central Syntagma, luxury Kolonaki, and the foodie district of Thissio.
Make sure not to miss the other historical sites that surround the Acropolis, like the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. There are also many museums to deepen your knowledge of ancient Greek culture.
If you have more time, there’s also Kerameikos and the Lyceum of Aristotle. Another must-see in Athens is the grand marble horseshoe-shaped Panathenaic Stadium, famous as the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Athens is the starting point for many Greek adventures, whether you are going Greek Island hopping on one of the nearby islands of Aegina, Poros, Hydra, or Spetses, or travelling further afield to Cycladic gems like Mykonos, Paros, or Santorini.
If you are travelling around Greece in winter, or simply want to avoid the crowds in summer, a road trip around the Greek mainland is another great option. Travel to the gravity-defying rock monasteries of Meteora, alternative cities like Thessaloniki, or the ancient sanctuary of Delphi.
For more inspiration and travel tips read our complete Greek travel guide.