The Acropolis in Greece is the centre piece of an ancient civilisation and holds a place as the birthplace of democracy. It’s also one of the country’s most popular tourist sites, receiving thousands of visitors every day. Here are five tips for visiting the Acropolis in Athens.
1. What to wear to the Acropolis
The area surrounding the Parthenon is made of smooth marble, which is beautiful to look at but treacherous to walk on. Wear comfortable shoes with a good tread and leave the high heels and loafers at home. I did see tourists bravely take on the site in these and not surprisingly, there were some slips and slides. Be aware of the uneven terrain at all times, especially when you are trying to take photos, or you could end up on the ground.
2. When to visit the Acropolis
Come early or late as the midday heat can be brutal, especially in summer. Bring sunscreen, plenty of water and your patience. This is a popular spot and other tourists sometimes push and shove in their excitement to see the site (or because they have limited time and are in a hurry). Be courteous and allow enough time to fully experience the Acropolis, you will enjoy your visit much more.
3. Acropolis tickets tips
Tickets to the Acropolis are sold at the two different gates, with queues that get longer as the morning goes on. Tickets allow entrance to the Acropolis and other sites within walking distance. If you want to avoid the queue, you can purchase an Acropolis ticket in advance or a skip-the-line ticket which also includes an audio tour. You’ll be able to see the Ancient Agora, South Slope of the Acropolis (Theatre of Dionysos), North Slope of the Acropolis, Roman Agora, Kerameikos, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and Hadrian’s Library.
Coming back and visiting these sites on a different day with the same ticket which is recommended if you have time. It is a lot to cover in just a few hours, especially as there is very little shade available and nowhere inside the site to buy water. At the time of writing, the ticket was valid for five days. If you are going to be in town for a while, or need to get into central Athens from the airport, it can be easier to purchase an Athens Pass instead of buying transport and entry tickets separately.
4. Acropolis photography tips
If you’re after the classic Parthenon shot you could be in for a challenge. This site is like many other ancient ruins and constantly under repair or renovation with scaffolding and workmen in high vis everywhere (not the most picturesque of images). Instead of lamenting over their bright yellow and orange vests, think outside the square. Go for unique angles or closes ups and long shots. Best of all, get there early or late so there are less people around. This will give you more flexibility when it comes to getting that perfect shot.
5. Acropolis Museum tips
Located just down the hill from the Acropolis and housing over 300 exhibits over four floors, the Acropolis Museum is a place to linger and enjoy. If you want to avoid the queues you can purchase a skip the line Acropolis Museum ticket. It’s also air conditioned which is sheer bliss after you have been walking around in the heat at the Acropolis site. Entry to this museum is not included in your Acropolis ticket but it is well worth the price of admission.
The museum is still an active dig with archaeologists looking for antiquities under and around the museum site. Keep a lookout for the archaeologists inside the museum who are there to answer questions and provide an insight into the history and stories of the site. Finish with a visit to the restaurant for a late lunch and cold beer, wine or soft drink and take in the view from the roof. Simply stunning!
Disclosure: The writer and her family paid for their visit to the Acropolis (along with thousands of others, as you can see from the pics).
Many people visit the Acropolis as part of a Mediterranean cruise. If you’re arriving by ship, check out our tips for cruising the Mediterranean.