Are you heading to Athens? It’s an incredible city, and sitting right on top is the Acropolis! No matter what you must visit this ancient gem. We’ve got all the info you need to visit it right here.
Disclaimer: Some of our articles may contain affiliate links; when you click on these links you’ll have the option to purchase or register for a service at no extra cost to you, but doing so helps us run this blog. That’s awesome!
If you love history, like we Vails do, then you undoubtedly will have Athens, well, Greece, on your bucket list. We’ve been many times to this amazing country exploring islands like Rhodes, Lindos, and Chios.
We’ve done a few road trips one north to Thessaloniki, and one south through the Peloponnese Peninsula. Even though we’ve done so much in Greece, it keeps calling us back just like the sirens in the Iliad.
After spending the night in the trendy Mets neighborhood, we grabbed a quick hotel breakfast and headed out to spend the entire day taking in the Parthenon and its marvelous museum. We weren’t alone, but we did find some solace and the history and grandeur that we were looking for.
I don’t really need to go into the history of Western Civilization. Suffice it to say, that as you walk through the Parthenon and among the ruins on and around the Acropolis the past surrounds you, enveloping you as a palpable, living entity. The rocks have, literally, told their stories, and generations of archaeologists and historians have done their best to make that past come alive for the visitor. They’ve done a good job.
In this article:
- Why the Acropolis and Parthenon are Important
- Best Way to Visit the Acropolis
- How to Get to the Acropolis
- Best Time to Visit the Acropolis
- How Much Time will it Take to Climb to the Acropolis?
- Cost and Opening Hours of the Acropolis
As is often the case for most of us, we don’t always have the luxury of time when visiting these great monuments, and, aside from a day or two of wiggle room, we’re pretty much stuck with the conditions on the day we have. Ours was a hot, bright Aegean sunny day with at least one, but probably more like four, massive cruise ships at port.
We knew about at least one by the thousands of tourists sporting their cruise ship brand strapped colorfully around their wrists. With no other real choice, we fell in with the steady procession climbing the fabled trail up to the Parthenon. The ancient and worn stone steps would stand the test of time for at least a few more thousand footsteps that day, ours among them.
As we all funneled out through the last portal and onto the Acropolis hilltop, we found ourselves almost alone on one quiet corner that had been some long-ago senator’s favorite spot to sit under an olive tree on just such a day as this. The crowds parted and we were able to feel like the swarming masses had withdrawn and there was peace.
We even managed a quick photo or two before an onlooker spied our revelry and decided there was room for one more small group in that quiet spot. It’s hard to stay indignant for long as the realization hits that we, too, are equally a part of that swelling mass of tourism. We are quick to beckon our fellow travelers over to what we have found to be one of the least crowded, if not serene areas.
Why the Acropolis and Parthenon are Important
Upon your first look at the imposing Acropolis in Athens, it’s apparent why the ancient Greeks chose this site to build. It looms high over the land around it, taking strategic advantage of its location. Evidence shows that people have been there since the 4th century BC, however, most of the recognizable and important buildings came about 500 years later. Pericles, harkening in the Golden Age of the Greeks, oversaw the building of the Parthenon.
The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena was a tribute to conquering the Persian invaders. Today, it remains the most recognizable and important edifice of Classical Greece.
Best Way to Visit the Acropolis
Remembering the myths and history of this important site can be difficult, so it’s great to take a small group tour and listen to the guide who knows them. The small group allows you to ask questions and really take in the information as you meander the grounds. We feel that taking a tour, and listening to the ancient stories is the best way to enjoy the Parthenon and the Acropolis as a whole.
How to Get to the Acropolis
The best way to get to the Acropolis is to take the metro to Acropoli station. It’s a short walk from the station to the Acropolis south entrance, and there are signs pointing the way.
Another good option is to use one of the buses of the three Hop On Hop Off companies. We like the red Hop On, Hop Off buses from “City Sightseeing Athens”; it’s an “official city sightseeing tour.” You can buy tickets online from our partners at Get Your Guide using this link.
Best Time to Visit the Acropolis
The best time to visit the Acropolis is first thing in the morning, especially during the warmer months as it can get pretty hot as you walk around the hill. The busiest time of day is between 11:00 – 2:00, so later will work as well, but it will still be hot.
Therefore, the best time of year to go would be in the cooler months. If you are traveling in Greece during the fall and winter, just plan to go to the Acropolis on any day that doesn’t have rain in the forecast.
This is pretty easy to do, because there are only about 4 or 6 days of rain each month between November and February, and it’s still comfortable weather for walking around as the temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. Just bring a fleece or jacket with a hood.
How Much Time will it Take to Climb to the Acropolis?
Climbing the hill to the Acropolis can be a bit difficult. It’s not only steep, but it can also be very crowded with tourists. Navigating to the top is easy, but depending on the heat or other weather conditions, like rain, it can take some time. It also depends on which of the two entrances you choose:
The Main (West) Entrance
The Main entrance is on the westside of the Acropolis. It’s the shortest climb, but it’s also the most crowded because it’s where the tour buses unload and where the parking lot is located. The average person can walk the 512 feet to the Acropolis from the bottom in about 20 minutes, but if you have any trouble walking it could take longer.
The South Entrance
The South entrance is on the southeast corner of the Acropolis and is very near both the Acropoli Metro Station and the Acropolis Museum. It’s easy to get to and a lot less crowded, but it begins at the bottom of the Acropolis hill, so it’s a significantly longer walk. It’s about 641 meters (2103 feet) from the south entrance to the top. A casual walk, with stops to see the views and sights, would take about 45-minutes.
This route took us 90-minutes, but we stopped a lot along the way to take photos, read the interpretive signs, check out the sights like the Theater of Dionysos and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and to admire the beautiful calico cats that seem to be everywhere in Greece.
Photo Tip: Once you are at the top of the Acropolis, you can spend as much or as little time as you want. It’s a good idea to find a few good camera spots, then wait around until fewer people walk in front of you. Patience is key.
Cost and Opening Hours of the Acropolis
Acropolis operating Hours in the summer are 8:00 – 6:30 PM, and in winter 8:00 – 5:00.
Cost of tickets to the Acropolis are 20 Euros, bought at the ticket window. However, we strongly recommend you buy a combination ticket which is good for one entry for six different big sights, and you have 5 days to use it. This is a really good deal, and it allows you to skip the long lines at the ticket booths.
The Acropolis Museum
The 2400-year-old Parthenon and other temples on the Acropolis have been plundered, vandalized, and battered by weather. To recover, restore, protect, and display what’s left, Greece built the gorgeous new Acropolis Museum. It’s a must-see site in Athens.
When construction began on the museum site, the workers discovered ruins of an ancient Athenian neighborhood. The discovery led to a building redesign that included excavating the ruins and placing the building above them on concrete pillars. The Underground ruins are now part of the museum. It’s exceptional.
The Acropolis in Athens is arguably one of the most important sites in the world for everyone to visit. However, there is much more to do in Greece than just Athens. Check out Thessonaliki, our Greek road trip, Delphi, and more.
Where is your favorite spot in Athens?
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.