No visit to Athens is complete without visiting The Acropolis, the ancient citadel perched defiantly above the city that has fascinating people for thousands of years. There are new processes and protocols in 2024 and some of it is quite confusing, so if you’re overwhelmed by the information to plan your visit to the Acropolis this guide will make it easy for you. We’ve covered everything from the meaning and history of The Acropolis, how to avoid the crowds and even what to wear!

Further reading: Top Things to do in Athens 

PLANNING A TRIP TO GREECE?

Whether you’ve been before or it’s your first time it can be hard to process all the information out there. Be sure to check out our complete Planning Guide as well as our FREE 13-page downloadable itinerary.

If you are feeling really overwhelmed you might like a Trip Consultation perhaps!?

And come join our private Facebook Group where you can ask questions and get advice from real travellers!

Note: This article may contain affiliate links. 

What is the Acropolis?

The Greek words for “highest point” and “city” are Akron and Polis so the Acropolis is, or was, a city high above modern-day Athens. It sits on a huge flat rock 150m above sea level, in the middle of the city and is the primary monument of Athens, and one of the most recognisable in the world.

The ancient citadel comprised many structures including several temples such as the famous Parthenon, two sanctuaries, several theaters, and innumerable statues, altars and meeting places.

At various times it has been damaged, rebuilt, added to and occupied by foreign invaders including the Romans who built the Herodes Odean Theater and the Ottomans who constructed a mosque. At one point it was even the headquarters of the Ottoman army and its harem.

Today it is regarded as one of the most fascinating and beautiful structures on the planet and is a must-do for all visitors to Athens.

Further reading : Greek Mythology places to visit  

Note: New protocols and ticketing for the Acropolis started on April1, 2024.

Like visiting many famous attractions, it is now important to understand the new rules and plan ahead, especially for summer.

What changed?

  1. Visitors numbers are now capped at 20,000 per day ( don’t worry, most of the year there are a lot less visitors than that)
  2. Time slots have been introduced
  3. Prices increased although some new discounts were also introduced
  4. Private after-hours tours were introduced

When is the best time to visit the Acropolis?

The Acropolis is incredible to visit at any time of year, although spring and autumn  have the best weather conditions. 

Summer is great due to lack of rain but it can get very hot, not just due to the ambient temperature but also because of the reflection off all the pale surfaces, something you will find across Athens and many of the islands too.

In May 2023 over 14,000 people visited The Acropolis which is a 70% more than the same time in 2022. There were also days in July where visitor numbers exceeded 23,000, so some new protocols are now in place and it is a good idea to plan your visit wisely, especially for summer.

I recommend people visit the Acropolis either very early – around 15 minutes before opening time, so 7:45 am, or just before closing time around 6-7pm ( or 3-4 in winter). This way you will avoid both the sun and the crowds which are especially big when the cruise ship tours start arriving late in the morning. (tip: the late afternoon is also excellent for photos especially at dusk) 

parthenon athens

How to get to the Acropolis

The Acropolis is the major landmark of Athens and it is impossible to miss commanding center stage in the middle of the city and shining down on the suburbs surrounding it.

If you are staying in the center of Athens it is likely you will be able to walk to The Acropolis or it will be a short taxi ride. There are public buses too and the Hop On Hop Off Bus stops near the south gate.

The Acropolis has its own metro stop, Acropoli, which is very handy for the main Acropolis entrance to the west. However, both Thissio and Monastiraki stations are also close to the side Acropolis entrance as well, in the southeast. The main entrance, unsurprisingly, is the busiest and is also where big tour groups enter. We use the other one! 

athens temple

How to get tickets to the Acropolis

Queues at the ticket offices, especially in Summer, can be significant, so it pays to be organised. With the new times slots it is possible you will still a ticket for your preffered time at the gate if it is winter, but for the rest of the year we strongly recommend you pre-book.

It is possible to buy the tickets directly from the official ticketing website – which is not Government owned contrary to popular belief but a private company, or through a trusted platform like Get Your Guide or Viator.

Multi-pass Tickets for the Acropolis and five other sites is highly recommended if you  intend to see at least 4 ( they are all close together and can easily be done in a single day). If you see 3 or less it is the same price to buy individual tickets at each site.

South Slope Gate (in July)

Acropolis Entrance Fees

  • Regular-price ticket:  20€
  • Reduced-price ticket:
    • 10€ non-EU aged 6-25
    • 10€ EU seniors over 65
    • Free – EU up to 25
    • Free – non-EU up to 5

Acropolis multi-ticket ( includes other sites)*

    Regular-price ticket:  30€ (over 25 years old, otherwise Free). Tickets can be used once per site over a 5 day period.

The other sites are :

  • Acropolis & Slopes
    • Ancient Agora
    • Hadrian’s Library
    • Kerameikos
    • Aristotle’s School [Lyceum],
    • Olympieion,
    • Roman Agora

    If you have booked a discounted ticket you will need to show valid ID – a student card or passport for example, to the gate attendant at each site.

Acropolis Opening Hours

The Acropolis is open nearly every day of the year, with only a few exceptions. They are:

January 1st
March 25
May 1 (Labor Day)
Easter Sunday ( this is the Eastern Orthodoxy dates and are NOT the same as the typical Christian dates)
Christmas Day (Dec 25)
Boxing Day (Dec 26)

Opening hours vary depending on the time of year. At the time of publication they are;

November 1 to March 31 –  8 am to 5 pm (last entrance at 4.30pm)
April 1 to October 31 –  8 am to 8 pm

Note that the last entry to the Acropolis is half an hour before closing time.

Free days for visiting the Acropolis

There are several days per year where it is free for everyone to visit the Acropolis. It can be crowded on these days, however, that’s a big discount! The free days for the Acropolis are:

6 March
18 April
18 May
Last weekend of September
28 October
Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st

The Elevator at The Acropolis

A lot of people wonder if The Acropolis is wheelchair friendly or indeed if anyone with a disability, limited mobility or even just the elderly can visit the Acropolis. 

Thankfully in 2020 a generous donation from The Onassis Foundation meant significant work was done on the elevator at the Acropolis that now means it is fully operational with new, flat pathways around the Acropolis that are suitable for wheelchairs. It can also be used by a parent attending with two or more infants on their own.

The elevator arrives on the Acropolis plateau, to the area north of the Erechtheion. Visitors can follow  the route towards the Propylaea or the route between the Parthenon and the Erechtheion.  At the end of that route there is also a restroom.

It is a good idea to ring ahead and ensure the lift is operating on the day you plan to arrive. Contact +30 210 3214172.

Note: Entry to the Acropolis for people with disabilities is free.

Points of interest 

Dionysus Sanctuary and the Dionysus Theater which is considered the most significant theater in Europe as it is where the very first theatrical performance was ever held.

The Parthenon is considered by many engineers and architects as the most perfect structure every built. If viewed from the sky the Parthenon forms a perfect equilateral triangle with the Temple of Aphaea, on the island of Aegina, and the Temple of Poseidon, at  Cape Sounion.

The Temple of Athena Nike was built around 420BC and is dedicated to the goddess Athena Nike, for whom Athens is named. It has a prominent position in the south west corner of the property.

The Erectheion a temple on the north side that was dedicated to Athena and Poseidon. It is particularly famous for its Porch of Caryatids ( or Porch of Maidens) , six columns made from statues of female figures. Some of the originals of these can be found in the Acropolis Museum.

The Propylea is the main gate to the Acropolis and was commissioned by Pericles after the Persian Wars. It consists of a colonnade and a number of structures leading up to the entry, but was sadly never completed.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticustheater that was built between 160AD – 174AD and is still in use today. During the summer, there are a number of performances and events available – see the event schedule. We have enjoyed a wonderful night under the stars, seeing the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra and Piano Virtuoso Yuja Wang. What an incredible and very special experience it was!

temple of herodes
acropolis theatre

The Acropolis Museum  

We highly recommend you combine your visit to The Acropolis with a visit to the new Acropolis Museum, this is where the artifacts from the site are housed after all.

Located at the base of the Acropolis near the main gate the new Acropolis Museum has a total area of 25,000 square meters, with exhibition space of over 14,000 square meters and is considered one of the great museums of the world.

Not only is it home to all the fascinating artifacts and statues found in and around the Acropolis but it is also itself built over an excavation site of an ancient settlement which you can view and explore. 

Acropolis Museum hours align with The Acropolis itself. It is a stunning modern facility with some excellent shops and cafes all delightfully air conditioned, so this is a good place to visit in the heat of the day.

Some people like to visit after they see The Acropolis, others before. That really is a personal choice. 

Winter season hours (1 November – 31 March)
Monday – Thursday    9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.    (last admission: 4:30 p.m.)
Friday                     9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.  (last admission: 9:30 p.m.)
Saturday – Sunday     9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.    (last admission: 7:30 p.m.)

Summer season hours (1 April – 31 October)
Monday                8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.    (last admission: 3:30 p.m.)
Tuesday – Sunday   8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.    (last admission: 7:30 p.m.)
Friday                  8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.  (last admission: 9:30 p.m.)

Ticket prices are:

Winter season (1 November – 31 March)
General admission: 5 Euros
Reduced admission*: 3 Euros

Summer season (1 April – 31 October)
General admission: 10 Euros
Reduced admission*: 5 Euros

* For information on eligibility for reduced admission ticket or free admission, please click here.

Acropolis Tours 

Neither the online tickets nor the skip-the-line tickets include a guide. There are Acropolis audio guides available at the entrance for a surcharge.

You can also download an app to your phone that offers Acropolis details, interactive maps, and information to the buildings and structures. Click here to download an Acropolis app to your Android.  Click here to download an Acropolis app to your iPhone

Another option is to take a guided tour, either privately or as part of a group. This can be fantastic value as you get deep insights into the history of the Acropolis and, as they are often conducted by locals, a lot of local knowledge as well. 

The Best Acropolis Guided Tours

There are a number of options here. You can choose to join a 90 minute small group guided tour with a skip the line ticket, a combined Acropolis and Acropolis Museum Tour or perhaps a 6 hour private tour for you group that takes in other sites such as the Temple of Zeus and Parliament as well. 

If you are visiting for the day from the Athens cruise terminal then there is a 5 hour from Pireaus tour that included transfers and a general tour of Athens from your cruise ship to the Acropolis and more.

Further reading: One Day in  Athens 

Private Tours of the Acropolis

Finally, there are many people who are happy to pay a premium for a private tour. This gives them deep insight to this amazing attraction and if travelling in a group it may not be expensive. This way you also get to visit the Acropolis at your own pace, and ask as many questions of your qualified guide as you like. 

We recommend our favourite food tour partner in Athens, Athens Food on Foot, who also now offer private tours. Anna knows the guides personally and has selected the ones she knows are the most knowledgeable and reliable. These do book out early though so don’t leave this until the last minute!

What to take and wear

As we’ve mentioned, visiting the Acropolis can be a hot and sweaty business, and there are a number of steps and uneven surfaces to contend with. You want to be as comfortable as possible.

Good shoes. I tend to wear sneakers most days when exploring Greece. They are comfy, on trend, and look good with anything. Most people also wear trousers, shorts, or jeans, depending on the time of year. You’ll also need the following:

Sunscreen

A good camera, preferable with a wide-angle lens

A waterbottle. Collapsible ones are great for travelling and there are several water fountains inside the Acropolis for refills too.

ID if you are eligible for discounted tickets.

A good crossbody bag for hands free photography and to stow your water bottle too!

If it is winter or autumn, it is also a good idea to pack a rain jacket or small umbrella.

A few more tips for visiting the Acropolis

1. Don’t bring your drone. Drones are allowed in many parts of Greece but not over or near Archeological Sites, places of worship or Government buildings. This includes the Acropolis.

2. Do not touch or walk on the marble. Much of it is roped off anyway but please observe the rules.

3. Do not wear heels. Not only are these terrible for comfort and safety but they are against the rules as they can damage the fragile marble and infastructure.

 

Where to stay near the Acropolis

There are many wonderful hotels to stay in Athens including some that have incredible views of the Acropolis.

If you want to be literally at the Acropolis doorstep then you cant get much closer than AthensWas which is one of the most stylish hotels in Greece. The Herodion Hotel is also a short stroll and has astonishing views whilst Electra Palace also has a fantastic rooftop pool. 

Further reading: Where to stay in Athens

Like this post. Why not Pin it?

athens temple
odeon of herodes

You may also like