The Acropolis in Athens is THE must-see sight in Athens. And rightfully so. As a result, the hill with the Parthenon gets extremely busy with massive crowds and hoards of people. It will be impossible to avoid these groups at the Acropolis, but I do have 7 really easy tips to visit Acropolis without the crowds.
As with all major tourist attractions, big groups of people and school children, as well as selfie-stick-bearing travelers are part of the deal. But with sights as popular and crowded as the Acropolis and the Parthenon temple, as well as the Acropolis museum, there are some ways to move around the masses. I don’t say you’ll have the place to yourself, but with my tips, you can have a good experience even at the busy Acropolis.
I was invited by Take Walks Tours to join their Acropolis and Acropolis museum tour. As always, all experiences and opinions are my own.
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Parthenon and Acropolis in Athens, Greece
Roughly 7 million visitors a year climb the Acropolis hill in Greece’s capital Athens. And when you visit the city, you’ll likely be one of them. These numbers have only increased since the building of the new modern Acropolis museum, a few steps from the Acropolis itself.
The hill of the Acropolis, with the Parthenon temple on top and the museum nearby draws visitors from all walks of life, across the corners of the globe, and from all ages. It is not often you get to visit such an elaborate historic ancient sight. With the massive erect temples, the Parthenon and the Erechteion, Greek and Roman theatres, and sweeping views across the whole of Athens, the Acropolis has a lot to offer.
No wonder it is so popular. And busy. Over-run one might even say. If you know anything about me by now, it is that I absolutely hate crowds and tourist traps. Luckily, the Acropolis is definitely not a tourist trap, but it is covered in herds of people most days.
How to visit the Acropolis without the crowds
Visiting any big tourist attraction, like the Acropolis, in the middle of a major capital city, it is impossible to think you’ll have the place to yourself. But there are ways to create some room for yourself and your travel partners.
Yes, there will still be other people around. And yes, it probably still be quite busy. But you can time your visit with my tips and explore the Acropolis without the crowds. Here we go.
1. Visit the Acropolis early morning or late in the evening
The golden rule for any busy sight is to visit the Acropolis as early as possible. I was walking the streets of Athens at 7 am. I was on my way to the Acropolis for the first entry of the day.
Did you know the Acropolis opens each day at 8 am? In the summer months (April till October) the Acropolis is open until 8 pm. With the last admission at 7.30 pm.
In winter, the opening hours are 8.00 am til 5 pm (last admission at 4.30 pm).
I value my sleep as much as the next person, but getting up super early and arriving at the Acropolis entrance at 8 am was really a good move.
I was definitely not the only visitor with that idea. But there were absolutely fewer people entering than at 11 am or 2 pm.
The same technique can be applied to the final opening hours of the Acropolis. Most groups have gone back to their hotels, school groups are back at home. However, the Acropolis is a great sunset-spotting spot, so it might still be busy.
2. Explore Athens during the off-season
The summer months are the peak tourist season, anywhere in Greece. And it is probably when you’re visiting. But if you have any flexibility in your schedule, and you really want a quiet Acropolis experience, consider traveling to Athens in the shoulder or even off-season.
The Acropolis is open during the winter months (although only til 5 pm). And the winter months see a lot fewer visitors to the sight compared to high summer. Also early spring or late autumn might be a good time to visit.
With cooler temperatures, no risk of a heat wave, and the closure of the Acropolis, the overall experience of visiting the Acropolis might be a lot nicer anyways.
3. Choose the right day to visit Acropolis for fewer crowds
Any national public holiday, bank holiday weekend, or weekends, in general, are off-limits. Many people take the opportunity to travel to Athens during these weekends. And the Acropolis will be even busier than other days of the week and year.
For example, On the 18th of May, the International Day of Museums, the entrance to sights and museums is free, but this also means the place will be even busier than usual.
Of course, swarming flocks of schoolchildren are mandatory on weekdays at the Acropolis. But they are generally so self-absorbed and focused on their peers, they vanish quickly from your view.
In general, the weekdays are best to visit the Acropolis. If you have a good rain jacket and sturdy boots, you might even consider withering bad weather and climbing the Acropolis with rain or dreary cloud cover.
4. Book timed entry tickets in advance
Who wants to stand in line with hundreds of other people to get tickets these days? I really don’t and I think you really don’t have to do that anymore.
Just get your Acropolis + 6 Archelogic sights ticket, or skip the line ticket for the Acropolis in advance, online. Then you can walk straight to the entrance. No need to wait at the ticket booth for someone to collect all their coins and inquire about all the kinds of discounts and have a million other questions that hold up the line.
Of course, you can also book a guided tour of the Acropolis for ease of travel. You don’t have to worry about tickets, time slots, or where to go. Just show up and be amazed by the knowledgeable guide and the history being the Acropolis.
5. Pick the least busy Acropolis entrance
Did you know the Acropolis has 2 entrances to the hill?
The best-known entrance with a ticket booth includes a parking lot, taxi stand, and hop-on hop-off bus stop. It is on the west side of the hill. From here, you’ll walk up the Acropolis hill. Then past the Temple of Athena Nike, and through the Propylaia to the main sight of the Parthenon.
There is nothing wrong with this entrance, (it is the main entrance for a reason), but it can get very busy. With tour groups assembling, school groups joining and other big groups starting here, it can get crowded!
There is another entrance (and exit) at the south side of the Acropolis. It is near the Theatre of Dionysus and across the pedestrian street from the Acropolis Museum. As touring buses cannot stop right in front of this entrance, it is usually used for smaller group tours and independent travelers.
Pick the least crowded Acropolis entrance and you might avoid some big masses of people entering the Acropolis.
6. Explore alternative routes of the Acropolis too
Most people enter the Acropolis from the main entrance at the west. From there, they pass the Odeon, through the Propylaia, and onwards to the Parthenon and the Viewpoint.
But did you know there are small sights, temples, and little dead-end side streets at Acropolis Hill? You can wander off, sit around and just take your time, away from the crowds.
Especially on the southern slope of the Acropolis, there are numerous smaller sights. These might be skipped by the rushed bigger tours. For example, the Sanctuary of Asklepios, the Theatre of Dionysus, the Stoa, and the Roman cistern are worth visiting but see fewer visitors.
And you have a stellar view of the Parthenon temple high up the Acropolis from this side too.
7. Join a small guided tour of the Acropolis
I understand it can feel daunting to take into account all these tips. It is very likely, you’ll just go with the flow. You’ll probably not know where to go where it is less busy or how to find the other entrance.
That is why I highly recommend joining an early morning Acropolis tour.
Not only did they do all the research and hard work for you. But they will also guide you through the masses, away from the crowds, to lovely shaded areas. To then delve into the history of the Acropolis and Greek Mythology.
You get to wake up super early and navigate the labyrinth of walking paths around Acropolis Hill to get to the best spots early. You’ll be showered in extensive knowledge about what you’re seeing, why it is important, and how it was preserved.
Before noon, you have walked through hundreds of years of Greek history and seen the main sights without any fuss or annoyance. You get to explore the Acropolis museums and the best views of Athens without any worries.
With a guided tour in a small group like the tour I did, you only have to focus on the guide and your small travel group. You can easily navigate between bigger groups of people and don’t have to worry about anything. You will be presented with all the good stuff, at your own pace.
Win-win if you ask me!
Book your early morning Acropolis group tour via this link. Because the groups are small, I advise you to secure your spot in advance online.
Manage your expectations for your visit to the Acropolis without the crowds
It doesn’t really matter if you’ll visit the Acropolis with a tour, or as an independent traveler. There will be some crowds, but with my 7 really easy tips, you can avoid the biggest crowds at the Acropolis.
It is important to manage your expectations for visiting the Acropolis.
Yes, there will be loads of other people around as it is a major tourist attraction (if not the biggest) in Greece. It is impossible to have the place to yourself.
But with my tips of getting there early, at the right time of year, on the right day of the week, and having your skip-the-line ticket already purchased and loaded on your phone, at the least busy entrance, you’ll have little waiting time to enter the Acropolis.
Once at the Acropolis, you can navigate through the crowds by exploring the lesser-known paths and sights or join a tour to easily navigate the Acropolis and not have to worry about anything.
Now you’re ready to enjoy the Acropolis in Athens and the Acropolis Museum. Have fun!
Practical tips to visit the Acropolis
Now that you have a strategy to visit the Acropolis with fewer crowds, you can sit back and prepare for the rest of your trip to Athens. Here are some practical tips for visiting the Acropolis.
Where to stay near the Acropolis
For an early morning start, you can best select a hotel close to the Acropolis. How about the Acropolis View Hotel? They offer great views of the Acropolis as they are super close to the entrance and the Acropolis Museum.
Or the Herodion Hotel? Almost next door to the Acropolis Museum, they offer single, double, and triple budget rooms and superior rooms with Acropolis views.
How to get to the Acropolis
The best metro stop for the Acropolis is the metro stop Acropoli on the M2 line. From there, it is an easy flat 800-meter stroll (10 minutes) to the main entrance. On M1 you can get off at the Theseio metro stop. From there, it’s a 1km flat walk partly through a park to the main entrance.
Opening hours of the Acropolis
Opening hours to the Acropolis vary depending on the season. The opening hours of the Acropolis sight are not the same as the Acropolis Museum. If you want to visit close to closing time, double-check the official opening hours.
Entrance tickets for the Acropolis
Book tickets in advance and head straight for the entrance.
- Combo-ticket for the Acropolis and 6 Archeologic sights of Athens
- Acropolis and Acropolis Museum entry ticket with an audio guide
- Early access Acropolis and Museum tour
What to bring when visiting the Acropolis
Wear comfortable footwear as you’ll be walking uphill to reach the Acropolis. There is an elevator and special assistance is available, but both must be requested in advance.
There is some shade at the Acropolis, but overall, the rock is pretty exposed to the elements. So bring or wear enough protection against the sun or other weather elements
If you book an audio guide or join a guided tour, it is always good to bring your own headphones or earpieces.
There are toilets at the Acropolis but you cannot buy any drinks, snacks or water at the Acropolis. Bring your own water bottle (or coffee for the early mornings).
I hope my tips and experiences are helpful to you. And that they make the practical side of things easier for you. If you found this blog valuable, feel free to share it or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.