You might be wondering why you have never come across any articles online listing the best outdoor places in Athens. It is indeed quite baffling. Spending time outdoors when visiting a new destination is probably one of the most common things travelers do.
And yet, while most European cities’ spectacular green-grass parks usually occupy the top of tourists’ lists with the must-visit attractions, Athens’ outdoor places are often overlooked.
That doesn’t mean though, that the Greek capital doesn’t have numerous green oases ideal for a break from the city’s noise. All you need is an insider’s guide to help you discover them.
So, here is our list of the best outdoor places in Athens!
Philopappos Hill is the most popular hill in Athens due to its historic significance, and it is first on our list of the best outdoor places in Athens.
When the weather in Athens city is good, most tourists head here in order to visit the Sacred Rock and to enjoy the view of the Acropolis and Mt Lycabettus.
However, for locals is a beloved hangout and if you go there at sunset you’ll see groups of friends relaxing on top of the hill, couples sitting at the benches, or families taking a lazy walk around the narrow cobblestone paths.
In fact, Philopappos Hill is extremely popular among tourists that travel with the whole family. No surprise there. Indoor sightseeing can take a toll on younger travelers. If you’re also planning to travel to Athens with kids, then you most definitely need to check this guide out.
The Athens National Garden
In the heart of the Athens city center, just a stone’s throw away from Syntagma square lies the Athens National Garden. This is the second place on our list with the best outdoor places in Athens.
Created by Queen Amalia the spectacular garden was once called “The Garden of Amalia” and it is said that Her Majesty planted many of the trees and plants that until nowadays adorn the garden.
The 59-acre garden is home to 7,000 trees, 40,000 bushes, and other plants featuring a total of 519 different species and varieties.
The mosaic floors of ancient Roman villas close to the entrance on Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, a sundial at the main entrance, a conservatory, a Spanish fountain, and a library are some of the things you’ll find in the marvelous garden.
A bit further out of the city center, but still within easy reach, lies Akadimia Platonos. A very scenic outdoor place in Athens city.
A flourished archeological park and an interactive museum stand nowadays in the same place Plato founded The Academy in 387 BC.
The park isn’t just of great historical significance but also an excellent place for a picnic away from the tourist crowds and the city’s hustle and bustle.
Akadimia Platonos is hardly the only place in Athens that combines history and culture with sunny walks in the great outdoors. Want to know where to find the rest? Just have a look at this guide and find out!
Ermou street spans from Syntagma square all the way down to Gazi, the hip area known for its bustling nightlife.
This street is widely known as Athens’ main shopping street as numerous clothing boutiques and shops stand on both sides especially in the part stretching from Syntagma until Monastiraki. Head further down though, and you’ll discover one of the quietest and scenic outdoor places in Athens city.
The part of the Ermou street spanning from Thiseio station to Pireos street is a pedestrianized pathway with the archaeological site of the Kerameikos on one side and small grass-covered hills on the other.
So, whatever season you are in Athens, choose one of the benches and observe the city’s noise from afar.
If you find yourself on Ermou Street while out shopping, remember that it might be a popular street but shopping in Athens does not end here. Far from it. Just have a look at this guide. Trust us. You’ll be glad you did.
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The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is the latest addition to Athens’ outdoor spaces.
The impressive urban complex is situated in Kallithea, which is an area next to the Koukaki neighborhood, and it is around a 15-minute drive from Syntagma square and approximately 30 minutes by bus. If you like to learn more about how to get around Athens, don’t miss to read our detailed article here.
Featuring a modern-architecture building surrounded by water fountains, green parks, and promenades ideal for biking or walking, SNFCC is attracting locals and tourists of all ages and styles.
Located in the Athenian Riviera, the Flisvos Marina one of the best outdoor places in Athens city lives up to the area’s reputation boasting high-end restaurants, cocktail bars, and stylish boutiques.
Providing high-class facilities and services, the luxurious Flisvos Marina attracts both yacht owners from all over the world and locals from all around Attica who come for a stroll or a dinner by the sea.
It’s no secret that Flisvos Marina is a favorite spot for locals when it comes to planning a romantic date. Are you traveling with your significant other? How about a tour of the most romantic spots in Athens to get you in the mood?
Strefi hill is one of Athens’ secret attractions which makes it an ideal place to see Athens city from above away from the tourist crowds.
Situated in Exarchia, the tree-covered hill isn’t just a popular hangout for the area’s residents but locals from different parts around the city head here for a walk.
On Strefi hill, you’ll find a public basketball court, a playground, and a local tavern where you can taste traditional mouthwatering dishes.
Here you will also find open-air parties and small music festivals taking place during the summer months.
Now, you might have heard that Exarchia is not one of the recommended areas for tourists but we have put together a small guide that might just convince you otherwise. Read more about the Exarchia neighborhood here.
The Diomidous Botanical Garden
Another well kept-secret location is the Diomidous Botanical Garden in Haidari, an area in the city’s western suburbs.
Even though it’s one of the largest botanical gardens in southeastern Europe housing both native and exotic plant species, the Diomidous Botanical Garden is one of the lesser-known attractions in the Greek capital, but for sure deserves to be on our list of the best outdoor places in Athens.
The 460-acre garden features 2,500 species of plants including some varieties found in Greek mythology, scenic paths, and water-lily ponds.
The entrance is free and visitors can book a guided tour in advance.
The Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) Gardens
In the heart of Athens’ city center, close to Evangelismos station lies The Athens Concert Hall (Megaron), a major cultural center which since 1991 has been hosting educational activities and art events.
Right next to the classy building spans an alluring garden filled with flourished trees and colorful gardens ideal for some moments of relaxation.
The Athens Concert Hall Gardens is open to the public from 10 in the morning until sunset while in the summer months live concerts, festivals, and other cultural events take place under Athens’ night sky.
Being the highest point in the center of Athens, Lycabettus hill is a favorite spot for locals and tourists and one of the best outdoor places in Athens city!
From the 908-feet mount, visitors can take a unique glimpse of the city and see the remarkable historic sites of Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Panathenaic Stadium from above.
On the top of the Lycabettus Hill, this scenic outdoor place in Athens city, you’ll find the Greek church of Agios Georgios (St. George) as well as a café/restaurant.
The historic theater of Lycabettus which recently was under refurbishment is located on the hill built at the site of an old quarry and it has hosted legendary concerts and theatrical plays.
Find a budget-friendly hotel near Lycabettus Hill through our official partner booking.com.
The Panathenaic Stadium
The Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro in Greek (which literally translates to “fine marble”) is located in the upscale neighborhood of Pagkrati right at the end of Herodes Atticus street.
This incredible stadium is without doubt one of the most impressive outdoor places in Athens. Originally constructed to host the Panathenaic Games, the stadium was renovated by Metaxas and Ziller in 1986 to host the first modern Olympic Games that were held in Athens.
Today, you can visit the imposing stadium to get a glimpse of the city’s history and even run on the ancient tracks before heading over to one of the charming cafes of Pagkrati that lie behind.
And the best part? The Panathenaic Stadium is just a few minutes away from the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
This one isn’t exactly a single place but it would be a shame to leave it out of this list, as the Athenian Riviera is one of the most popular outdoor spots in Athens.
In just a short drive or metro ride away from the city center, you’ll find a long coastline full of beaches, alfresco restaurants, and inviting cafes that will make you think you were suddenly transported to one of the famous Greek islands.
While enjoying the Athenian Riviera and the perfect weather of Athens, make sure to visit the upscale neighborhoods of Glyfada and Voula for a cocktail on the waterfront.
If you still have more time to spare, travel further down along the Athenian Riviera to discover Vouliagmeni Lake, an astonishing limestone cave with thermal springs.
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Mount Parnitha National Park
The national park of Mount Parnitha on the northern outskirts of Athens is one of the outdoor places in Athens that is often overlooked by tourists. However, all the locals that know better would guarantee that Mount Parnitha National Park is one of the most enjoyable outdoor places in Athens.
Here you can walk through the wildlife and experience a scenery that will make you believe you left the city far behind. Mount Parnitha is ideal for all kinds of activities including climbing, trekking, mountain biking, and canyoning.
On Attica’s highest mountain you’ll also find dense forests with rich flora, two shelters for a short break as well as the “Park of Souls” an outdoor sculpture exhibition.
Tips, Questions and Answers on the Best Outdoor Places in Athens
Given that the topic of the best outdoor places in Athens is hardly widely covered, in this section we will try to give you as much insight as possible on how to enjoy some time outdoors while visiting Athens. In addition, we’ll try to answer some of the questions that regularly arrive in our inbox regarding the subject and help you plan the most memorable vacation.
There are numerous places throughout the city center of Athens that can combine sightseeing with long outdoor walks. If you’re close to the southern suburbs, make sure to visit Flisvos Marina and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. If you’re downtown, walk through the neighborhoods of Anafiotika and Plaka for a relaxing afternoon.
The list of the best outdoor places in Athens is quite long. If we had to pick the three most famous candidates for the top of the list, those would be the Athenian Riviera, Philopappos Hill, and the National Garden of Athens.
Most of the popular outdoor places in the city center of Athens like Philoppapos Hill and the National Garden are fairly crowded, especially during the summer months. If you want to skip the crowds you should consider lesser-known alternatives like Akadimia Platonos, the Diomidous Botanical Garden, or the national park of Mount Parnitha.
With the exception of a few neighborhoods in the city center, Athens is not flat at all. If you walk around the city, you’ll notice that most streets go up or down due to numerous hills that are spread throughout the city, with the most famous among them being Lycabettus Hill and Philoppapos Hill.
There are many beaches located in close proximity to the city center of Athens. Apart from those that lie on the impressive coastline that is known as the Athenian Riviera, in areas like Alimos and Vouliagmeni, there are also beaches on the eastern coast of Attica in the areas of Rafina, Vravrona, and Porto Rafti, as well as on the tip of the Attica peninsula around Sounio.
You can easily reach the beach from Athens in just under 30 minutes by traveling from the city center towards the Athenian Riviera. You can get there by car or ride the tram departing from Syntagma Square.
Athens as a whole is quite massive. Trying to walk the city from end to end would be quite unwise. Yet, the city center of Athens where most of the points of interest for tourists are located is easily walkable.
Athens is nestled in the Attica basin, surrounded by four tall mountains; Mount Parnitha to the north, Mount Penteli to the northeast, Mount Hymettus to the east, and finally Mount Egaleo to the west.
The bottom line is this: We understand the urge to fit as many must-see attractions as possible into your itinerary for your trip, yet, we strongly recommend that you keep at least one day of your schedule free to relax and enjoy the charming outdoor places in Athens.
Even though the Athenian neighborhoods with their scenic alleys and graffiti painted walls the intriguing museums and the busy shopping streets will most likely hold your interest, don’t miss out on the chance of delving into the city’s green spaces.
The Greek capital will never cease to surprise you.
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