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. If you’re overwhelmed by the information to plan your visit 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!
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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
When is the best time to visit the Acropolis?
The Acropolis is incredible to visit at any time of year, although spring and autumn will clearly have the best weather conditions. In saying that it is an outdoor attraction and as it rarely rains in Summer that does have an advantage.
Summer can get very hot, however, 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. Athens has never been more popular and everyone wants to see that ancient Citadel towering over the city but you really have to plan your visit wisely. Imagine how it is going to be during 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 5-6 pm ( or 3-4 in winter). This way you will avoid both the sun and the crowds which get particularly big when the cruise ship tours start arriving late in the morning.
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!
It is possible to do a day trip from the airport if you catch the Metro in on the Blue line ( the only one from the airport). From Pireaus Port.
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. Well, there is an elevator but it has had some issues over the year.
Thankfully in 2020 a generous donation from The Onassis Foundation meant significant work was done on the elevator and surrounds that now means it is fully operational with new, flat pathways around the Acropolis that are suitable for wheelchairs. You can read more about it HERE.
For any updates or enquiries about the elevator, contact +30 210 3214172.
Entry to the Acropolis for people with disabilities is free.
How to get tickets to the Acropolis
Queues at the ticket office, especially in Summer, can be significant, so it pays to be organised.
Multi-pass Tickets for the Acropolis and five other sites is highly recommended if you do intend to see at least 4 ( they are all close together and can easily be done in a single day). See more below.
Acropolis Entrance Fees
- Regular-price ticket: 20€
- Reduced-price ticket: 10€ ( Nov 1 – March 31)
Acropolis multi-ticket ( includes other sites)*
- Regular-price ticket: 30€
*The other sites are : the Acropolis, Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Arch, Temple to Olympic Zeus and Kerimikos Cemetery/Potter Sites.
Tickets are good for 5 days and can be used once per site.
Some visitors may be entitled to a 50% price reduction on tickets. This includes EU citizens over 65 years old and tertiary students from non-EU countries. You’ll need a valid ID to get the discounted entry to the Acropolis.
Some visitors are entitled to free entry to the
Acropolis including children under the age of 18 and students of EU universities, with a valid ID or passport. Check the official website for more information.
Acropolis Opening Hours
The Acropolis is open nearly every day of the year, with only a few exceptions.They are:
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
April 1 to October 31: 8 am to 7 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:
Last weekend of September
Every first Sunday from November 1st to March 31st
Points of interest at the Acropolis
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!
The Acropolis Museum
We highly recommend you combine your visit to The Acropolis with a visit to the new Acropolis Museum.
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.
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.
Or, perhaps you would like to be picked up in a luxury van and have a fully curated private tour for you and your group?
What to TAKE AND wear to the Acropolis
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:
A good camera, preferable with a wideangle 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 rainjacket or small umbrella too.
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
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