A Perfect Sunday in Athens: 10 Things to Do
One of the top things that makes for a perfect Sunday in Athens — for me — is strolling in the sunshine in Monastiraki. But wait, there’s more! Here’s a list of 10 things to do to fill up your Sunday in the Greek capital.
Top Things to Do on Sunday in Athens
One thing that I had to get used to when I moved to Greece was the fact major retail and grocery shops are closed on Sunday. In the U.S., I used to shop a lot on Sundays. I’d get my errands done, go buy food for the week and do pretty much anything I needed to do because businesses were open. Life has changed…
In the city center, where I live, its lovely to see families out together and friends meeting to just enjoy a coffee, a meal or take a stroll – especially when the Sunday weather is perfect.
If you find yourself in the heart of the Greek capital on a Sunday, here are my top 10 suggestions:
1. Go to a Rooftop Café in Monastiraki
Located in the shadow of the Acropolis, Monastiraki is a part of what is known as Old Athens. The neighborhoods surrounding the ancient monument are just as ancient and full of charm.
In Monastiraki in particular, I highly recommend several rooftop café bars. They are worth visiting for the view of the Acropolis. A few good choices include City Zen, Athens 360 or A for Athens.
For more, check out my post Athens Cafes with a View.
2. Bargain at the Monastiraki Flea Market
I’m always fascinated by the amount and types of things you can find at this famous city flea market. The market is open from Sunday morning to early afternoon.
3. Go Walking and Shopping in Plaka
Plaka is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the world. While you could consider it a touristy section of town — it is totally picturesque and a great place to walk and shop.
My favorite section is Anafiotika which is right by the cafe bar scene on Mnisikleous pedestrian way, another great spot to check out on Sunday in Athens.
While the retail shops are closed on Ermou Street and other retail districts on Sundays, Plaka’s family owned shops are open. So, if you are walking around Plaka during your Sunday in Athens, you can shop for some quality Greek goods.
Some suggestions? Take home some Greek food products like little bottles of Greek extra virgin olive oil, Greek sweets or Greek sundries. The leather is very quality and handmade including belts, shoes and bags. Also, lots of handmade jewelry to shop for!
4. Go to a Museum
There are excellent museums that are open on Sunday in Athens. Two of my favorites? The excellent Archaeological Museum of Athens near Exarheia (pre-book tickets online) district and the impressive Acropolis Museum which is right across from the Acropolis.
For tips on free – yes free – museum admission and free museum days in Greece check out my post
5. Greece’s Presidential Guard Ceremony
On Sundays at 10:30 a.m. in Syntagma Square, the presidential guard marches from their barracks to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A good photo opportunity to snap photos of the traditionally dressed evzones.
If you miss the big ceremony on Sunday morning, the changing of the guard takes place on the hour in front of the Greek parliament building. Every day.
6. Check out the Best Views of Athens
On a sunny Sunday in Athens, you can walk to the best views of the metropolis. I compiled a full list of the best spots in my blog post Walk to the Best Views of Athens.
7. Go to a Greek Orthodox Church Service
In a Greek Orthodox country, it might be interesting for you to check out a Greek Orthodox service on a Sunday in Athens. Many Athenians go to church between 7:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Even if you don’t want to go to a mass, the churches of Athens are pieces of history in themselves. Many were built on ancient Greek temples like Agios Eleftherios below. The religious icons inside are also historic and impressive.
Some picturesque and historic churches to consider are listed in my post Greek Easter in Athens.
8. Visit an Archaeological Site for Free
Sunday in Athens may be an opportunity for you to visit an archaeological site of Athens without a cost. Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st, admission is free! Check out the Ministry of Culture website for more information.
9. Eat or Drink in St. Irene Square
Although the shops are closed, the restaurants and cafes are always open. If you are looking to head to a non-touristic place but in the heart of Athens – head to one of my favorites areas of the center called Plateia Agia Irinis or Saint Irene Square. It is located on Aiolou street (steps from Monastiraki Square and Ermou street). When you see the big butter colored church, you’re in the right place.
Take your pick of the city’s trendiest cafes and sit among lots of Athenians that love this authentic historic neighborhood that is right in the heart of Athens — yet tucked away.
10. Nightlife on a Sunday in Athens
What to Do and Where to Go
Sunday nights are happening in Greece! Especially in the Athens center.
In its latest gentrification, the aforementioned St. Irene Square has great restaurants including Mama Roux that are perfect for eating al fresco in a great square. Also, choose cafe bars like Thorubi, Spolatti, Dizzy Mo and Noel. Clubs like Faust continue to bring in a good mix of Athenians.
Or, if you want a chill night out complete with a bit of Greek wine culture check out my earlier post about the Top 10 Wine Bars in Athens.
Like St. Irene Square, Plateia Karitsi or Karitsi Square features a collection of lively café bars around a beautiful historic church.
Also in the center of Athens, crowds spill out into the pedestrian way called Thiseos Street thanks to the popularity of the colorful bars called Drunk Sinatra and Einstein. The Clumsies and the Seven Jokers are also close and they are known for drinks created with care by talented bartenders.
Plaka, including Mnisikleous pedestrian way, is a buzzing place for a scenic drink on scenic steps! Don’t forget the aforementioned Monastiraki rooftop cafes that are great places to have a drink and a view of the lit Acropolis by night.
You can enjoy a Sunday night out to discover traditional Greek dances. The Dora Stratou Greek Theater hosts a traditional Greek music and dance show.
Summer Choice: Outdoor Summer Cinema
Another option on a Sunday in Athens – at night – is the outdoor summer cinema. It’s a very Athenian thing to experience. The capital has about 90 outdoor movie venues where patrons can watch classic, Greek, foreign movies or the latest Hollywood releases under the stars. Don’t worry, Greeks don’t dub their movies.
For a full list of the best places to catch a flick under the Mediterranean stars, check out my earlier post: Athens Open Air Cinemas: Where to Go.
City Break Tips:
August’s Empty Streets
Also note that in August, Athens will seem “emptied out.” Sometimes, businesses that are usually open -even on Sundays- will be closed. August is a big summer holiday month. Many Greeks on holiday and will close down shop for a week. Usually it is around the week of August 15th. However, many of the things to do on a Sunday listed above still apply! Just call restaurants or venues ahead of time if there is any doubt.
Plan Your Trip to Athens
How to Get to Athens
To get to the Athens, many international travelers arrive by air in Athens. You can find the best flight deals here on Vayama.
What to Do in Athens
Athens is my adopted hometown and much of this blog is about that very topic. Check out more posts from nightlife to gastronomy on this blog here. It’s a wonderful city break you should plan at least two to three days for — even up to a week — depending on how much time you have and what you’d love to do.
While this post highlights the free stuff you can do, I highly recommend the Athens City Pass, a discount city card that gains you access to many of the capital’s most loved sights. I reviewed it earlier and featured it on this blog.
If you want to hop to the islands or spend time at one of the many Greek island destinations – you should! Also, check out my Greek islands category for the best places to stay, eat and best things to do. I only recommend places and experiences that I have tried and tested myself.
Where to Eat in Athens
Check out my post, 17 Awesome Greek Food Experiences which also lists where to find these delicious experiences in Athens.
Where to Stay in Athens
A full rundown of places I recommend coming soon. Bes sure to sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter here for more tips and insights from my travels around beautiful Greece and amazing Europe.
Have you ever spent a Sunday in Athens? What would you like to add to the top 10 things to do in the Greek capital?