There are a lot of things one can do in Athens without spending a penny. The city is full of venues open to the public that bring us closer to its history and culture, as well as beautiful open spaces such as stadiums, paths to explore, hills and gardens that offer a breath of fresh air and are ideal for strolls and picnics with friends.
Art and culture lovers can choose one of the many museums or archaeological sites with free entrance. However, apart from being a centre of culture, the Greek capital is a great place for sports activities, moreover. From yoga and tai chi to jogging and hiking, there are plenty of options. Choose what suits you best.
After all, a simple stroll through the historic city centre –which, by the way, is particularly instagramable-, will take you back in time, bringing back memories of another life.
Dionysiou Areopagitou, Anafiotika and the Pnyx
Walk along the pedestrianized Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, just below the Acropolis. All along the way you will admire monuments and archaeological sites that will take you back in time to the Athens of the past. In Anafiotika you will get a whiff of the first Athenian neighbourhood that still retains its original character; few residents, picturesque courtyards and unique views. Catch the sunset from the historic hill of Pnyx and enjoy the exceptional view of the Parthenon.
Athens free walking tour
Walk through the city’s alleys and learn about the history behind every corner. As the organizers claim, the Athens Free Tour is not just another history lesson, but an emotional experience. Along the way you’ll discover hidden treasures, fun facts and urban legends. Groups average 15 people, so you won’t get lost in a large group. Info: https://www.athens-free-tour.com/
Tours and events at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Book one of the free guided tours at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Observe the architecture of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop complex, which houses the National Library of Greece and the National Opera House. Tour the indoor and outdoor areas. A special tour follows a route through the Stavros Niarchos Park, the large open space with a Mediterranean character. Book a place in one of the Pilates, yoga and tai chi classes. The premises often host concerts, exhibitions and film screenings, which are open to the public.
Gardens, gardens, gardens, gardens
If you love nature, don’t miss the Diomedes Botanical Garden in Haidari; a real paradise with exceptional natural wealth, ideal for walking and picnics in the green, or to simply enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the canteen. Athens, by the way, features many gardens and picnic areas, such as the National Garden in the city centre or the hills of Lycabettus and Philopappos.
Free entrance to museums and archaeological sites
Museums and archaeological sites have free admission on the first Sunday of every month, from 1 November to 31 March. In addition, days on which you can visit the museums for free are: 6 March (Melina Mercouri Memorial), 5 June (World Environment Day), 18 April (International Monuments Day), 18 May (International Museum Day), the last weekend of September each year (European Heritage Days) and official State holidays.
Where skaters, musicians and artists in general meet
You’ll have a cup of coffee, won’t you? Go to Latraac and watch the Athenian skaters practice at the café’s skate bowl, just two metres from your table –truly impressive. Whether you’re having a drink or enjoying brunch, this skate cafe has something really special. On weekends the venue brings together artists and musicians, which makes the place even more vibrant and interesting.
Traditional musical instruments and a special area for children
Many museums keep their doors open to the public, offering visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and culture of Greece. The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments, which will impress you with its exhibits, has free entrance. The Hellenic Children’s Museum is also open to the public. Take your children (up to 12 years old) for a visit filled with fun and excitement. The Hellenic Children’s Museum also welcomes people with disabilities, regardless of age, free of charge.
Serafio Athletic and Community complex
If you see other people exercising and you are jealous, then visit Serafio Athletic complex in Kerameikos. In this sports centre you will find basketball courts, tennis courts, 5×5 football pitches and an indoor gym with free entrance.
Walking or jogging around the Panathenaic Stadium
A walk or a run around the Kallimarmaro, a place with a wonderful view, will refresh you. The first modern Olympic Games were held in this stadium in 1896, while in ancient times the Panathenaea were held here in honour of the goddess Athena – hence its name: “Panathenaic Stadium”. Pay a visit and get a whiff of history and ancient Greek culture.
Hiking in Hymettus and Parnitha
Hymettus is full of kilometre-long hiking trails, which run all over the mountain. You can walk, run, mountain bike or hike through the woods and in the open air. In total, the trails cover more than 150 km and are maintained by the residents of the surrounding areas and hikers from all over Attica who choose Hymettus for their outdoor activities. The richest hiking network in Attica, however, can be found in Parnitha. Fires have robbed some parts of the mountain of their former beauty, but the trails remain alive with hikers using the paths regularly. In its southern part you will find the most famous of them, but many people also explore its less known part, namely Northern Parnitha.