athens views

See the view from above — with cocktails — at GB Garden Restaurant at the Hotel Grand Bretagne. (Photo: Marriott International)


Discover Athens from Above as You Hike the Hills or Sip Rooftop Cocktails

Athens, the oldest capital city in Europe, is equal parts ancient wonder and modern marvel — and as such, it practically begs to be admired. And because it’s a hilly metropolis to boot, there is no shortage of spots from which to behold epic views of the timeless tangle.

Logically, the best vantage point from which to do so would seem to be the elevated Acropolis itself, except that you won’t necessarily appreciate how the sacred rock fits into the fabric of the city while you’re standing on top of it.

For some necessary perspective, step back — and up — to these storied summits, some of which represent full-on rustic splendor, while others are decidedly contemporary vantage points.

Filopappou Hill

athens views
The view from Filopappou Hill. (Photo: Getty Images)

Also known as Hill of the Muses, Filopappou is one of the most famous of the Athenian hilltops, steeped as it is in history — and it’s quite beautiful, too.

Follow the marble path from Dionysiou Areopagitou, skip the detour to Socrates’ prison and continue to the summit, where you’ll find the monument to Filopappos (a Greek prince during ancient Roman times) and sweeping views across southern Athens and Piraeus, extending to the Saronic Gulf beyond.

Mount Lycabettus

After the Acropolis, Mount Lycabettus is the most iconic peak within the Athens city limits. Lycavittos, as the Greeks call it, measures in at nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, whereas the Acropolis rises 500 feet.

You can walk to the top (remember to stay hydrated on scorching summer days) or take the modern funicular whose lower terminus is located where Ploutarchou Street, a pedestrian byway with many stairs, meets Aristippou Street in the Kolonaki neighborhood.

The ticket price of seven euros covers the trip up and down. There’s a 19th-century chapel at the top, as well as the upscale restaurant Orizontes and an informal café.

Areopagus Hill

athens views
Athens after dark. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you’re short on time, then Areopagus Hill is the viewing perch for you. This rocky outcropping just northwest of the Acropolis was the site of a criminal court in ancient Athens, and the judges were known as Areopagites.

Today’s Areopagites, however, are the legions of Instagrammers who scale the small peak at all hours (don’t worry, there’s a staircase) for some of the city’s most riveting lateral views of the Acropolis.

Bar 8 and GB Roof Garden Restaurant

Next door to Tudor Hall and also facing Syntagma Square is the legendary Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, home to two rooftop bars with spectacular views.

At the GB Roof Garden Restaurant, you can choose from more than 50 cocktails and make a toast to democracy with the Parthenon standing by in silent approval. Meanwhile, at the delightful, open-air Bar 8, you can sip some of the best cocktails in Athens while gazing at Mount Lycabettus, the highest natural skyscraper in town.

Tudor Hall

athens views
Kick back with dinner, drinks and an unforgettable view at Tudor Hall. (Photo: Marriott International)

To up the glamour quotient in gourmet style, you can’t do better for an iconic Acropolis view than the plush, neoclassical confines of Tudor Hall on the seventh floor of the King George, a Luxury Collection Hotel, where you can enjoy modern Greek dishes created by Chef Alexandros Koskinas. In warmer weather, the balcony seating is the best place to be.

360 Cocktail Bar

If you think the Plaka district below the northern slope of the Acropolis is touristy, you’re right, but the adjacent neighborhood of Monastiraki has a youthful buzz all its own.

And at 360 Cocktail Bar, across from the Monastiraki metro station entrance, what packs them in is not just a great food and drinks menu, but also the close views of the Acropolis.

There are spots to imbibe and nibble throughout the multilevel space, but for the full 360-degree experience, head straight for the roof and let the gawking begin: The Parthenon is so close it will seem like it’s right on your plate.

Public Store Rooftop, Syntagma Square

In the category of “who knew?” there is the rooftop restaurant/café at the Athens flagship store of Public, a modern emporium that sells mainly books and electronics.

Many people overlook the fact that from the fifth and top floor of the main location at Syntagma Square, you can order a good Greek coffee or affordable meal with a rare, unobstructed view of the Hellenic Parliament building and, if your timing is lucky, of the changing of the guard right below it.