Visiting the Acropolis? Here’s what you need to know

Photo of the Parthenon on the Acropolis slopes in Athens, Greece by Frolic & Courage.

So you are thinking about visiting the Acropolis but have a few questions like, are the Acropolis and the Parthenon the same thing? What is the best time to visit? How can I get reduced price or free admission to the Acropolis, and how difficult is the walk, exactly?

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Acropolis during my 5-day trip to Athens so in this blog, I’m sharing what you NEED to know before visiting the Acropolis. Keep reading because I’ll answer these questions and more!

All About the Acropolis

What is the Acropolis? What is the acropolis famous for?

The Acropolis is a UNESCO world heritage site located on limestone hill. The Acropolis is famous for being a symbol of ancient Greek civilization, showcasing remarkable architecture and serving as a testament to democracy, philosophy, and the birth of western culture.

Where is the Acropolis located exactly? Is the Acropolis in Greece or Rome?

The Acropolis is located in Athens, Greece. To get there from the city conter of Athens, you can walk from the Monistiraki or Plaka neighborhoods in 10-17 minutes. If walking is not possible, you can also take the metro, bus, trolley, or tram to the Acropolis station or take a car.

Are the Acropolis and the Parthenon the same thing?

Well, not quite. Here’s the difference between the ACROPOLIS and PARTHENON.

The Acropolis is the physical HILL with which multiple ancient structures reside on it, like the parthenon, coliseum, etc.

Photo of the limestone hill of the Acropolis slopes.
The beautiful limestone hill of the Acropolis.

Whereas the Parthenon is a specific ancient structure located ON the Acropolis hill. The Parthenon is an ancient religious temple the Athenians built for the Greek goddess Athena. Over time, this temple transformed from a Christian church to a Catholic one under Frankish rule and later into a mosque during the Turkish occupation. Despite facing fires, earthquakes, and invasions, the Acropolis monuments have endured.

I like to think of the difference between the Acropolis and Parthenon like your favorite shopping mall. The Acropolis is like the entire mall property – the physical land – and the parthenon is like a specific store in the mall, like Banana Republic for example. So when people who are going to shop at Banana Republic say “I’m going to the mall!” they will automatically visit the mall. Vice versa, if you say, “I”m going to visit Banana Republic” you are automatically going to the mall, since BR resides in the mall property. Make sense? I hope it does!

Speaking of the mall, when you visit the Acropolis, you gain entry to view a number of sites just like you have the opportunity to visit multiple stores at the mall:

  • Parthenon
  • Erechtheon
  • Temple of Athena Nike
  • Odeon of Herodes Atticus
  • Propylaea
  • Sanctuary of Asclepius
  • Theater of Dionysus
  • Conservatory of Pericles

What is the best time to visit the Acropolis?

Generally speaking, what you need to know before visiting the Acropolis is the Acropolis is open every day from 8am-5pm. Closing time is extended to until 8pm in the summer and early fall months.

In my opinion, the best time to visit the Acropolis is before 9:30am. The site is CROWDED by 10am so the earlier you go the better! Beat the heat, beat the crowds and book a time slot between 8-9am. In the alternative, if you arrive a few hours before closing you can also beat the crowds.

Once you’re arrive, you can spend as much time as you want visiting the site, but as a rule of thumb allow two hours for your visit. If you wait, crowds will slow in key picture sections.

The Acropolis isn’t open everyday, in fact the site is CLOSED on these Greek Holidays:

  • January 1
  • March 25
  • May 1
  • Easter Sunday (Greek Orthodox easter – falls on different dates between April and May)
  • December 25-26

In addition to the holidays above, the Acropolis may also be closed for restoration works and for unforeseen events, like bad weather, strikes, or civil unrest.

Buying Acropolis Tickets & Guided Tours

Photo of the view of Athens, Greece from the top of the Acropolis hill.
Stunning city view of Athens, Greece from the top of the Acropolis.

How much do Acropolis tickets cost and where do you buy them?

Let’s start with where to purchase Acropolis tickets. First, start with reading the information on the Official Acropolis website to learn all about pricing, operating hours by month, public transportation stops, and accessibility directions. Next, you can purchase tickets from the official vendor – the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport. Here’s the official link:

Before we talk about prices, what you need to know before visiting the Acropolis is that as of 2020, all tickets to the Acropolis are timed entry tickets that allow you to skip the ticket purchasing line. This is great news because you can now purchase Acropolis tickets in advance online or in person onsite.

If purchased online, you will receive a PDF ticket with a QR code to scan when you arrive. As a bonus, the tickets include a map that you can use to navigate the ruins. All tickets are single entry and exit tickets, meaning once you visit then exit the site, there is no reentry.

No matter where you purchase tickets, there are only two ticket types to book for adults (ages 25+).

  1. General Admission – Available for one single use to visit the Acropolis Only at €20 per adult.
  2. General Admission – Combined Tickets. These tickets allow you to visit the Acropolis + Sites for five consecutive days starting the first day you use your pass. The combined tickets cost €30 per adult.
    • Here are the sites you can visit with this pass: Acropolis & Slopes, Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Aristotle’s School [Lyceum], Olympieion, and Roman Agora.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Ticket prices will increase by 50% in April 2025 to €30 per adult acropolis only, so enjoy your visit at a reduced rate before then!

What about children? How much do Acropolis tickets cost for kids?

Great news! Kids under 5 years old are free to enter at no cost, just show their passport at the ticket office window for the discount.

Does the Acropolis offer any discounts or free admission days?

Yes! What you need to know before visiting the Acropolis is there are ways to get free or reduced price admission for adult tickets. Keep in mind these tickets are available for the general admission – single use tickets to visit the Acropolis only and do not apply to the combined ticket.

Instead of running discount codes or sales, the Acropolis offers reduced price admission days during the low season from November 1st to March 30th. The cost of admission on these days is reduced by half to only €10 per adult!

In addition to reduced price admission, there are also FREE admission days on:

  • March 6
  • April 18
  • May 18
  • The last weekend of September
  • October 28
  • First Sundays of the month from November 1 – March 31.

The only downside to picking up a free or reduced price Acropolis ticket is there is no online reservation, you must pickup your tickets onsite. Thankfully, it is the low season so crowds may not be as plentiful as they are in the spring summer months.

In addition to the dates above, if you are an EU citizen from a child up to age 25 years old, you can score FREE admission, but as mentioned before, you must purchase tickets in person at the ticket offices located at the entrances (ie- wait in line) and show ID/passport.

Should I join a Guided Tour of the Acropolis?

The answer to this really depends on your preferences, but know there are no official guided tours available to book (see below for when this will change!)

I love guided tours because you get so much more information and history than just going by yourself. Some guided tours are led by a licensed archaeologist, so they can share techniques and tips that are unique to the site. There are unofficial walking guided tours of the Acropolis bookable only by third party sites. These guided tours start around €35 – check out a few of the guided tours I recommend below.

Since guided tours are only available via a third party, beware of scam tours. To avoid scams, make sure the company has a flexible cancellation policy, a reasonable price, and a lot of excellent reviews.

Earlier I mentioned there are no official guided tours offered by the ministry of culture and sport as of the writing of this blog. However, starting April 1, 2024, you can book a private, exclusive guided tour with a certified guide for up to 5 people at €5,000 per group. Visits are 2 hours before the site opens from 7-9am or after hours from 8-10pm. Check the official website in April for more info.

What did I do on my visit? I chose a self-guided ticket (general admission – Acropolis only) without a tour. To save money, I downloaded Rick Steve’s audio Acropolis Tour podcast. This free podcast is hosted by Rick and an archeological expert and includes historical commentary and interesting facts about each of the sites on the Acropolis. Not only did I plug in my earphones and learned a lot of great information, it also includes a map of the sites as you walk through.

How do I purchase tickets to the Acropolis?

Buying a ticket to the Acropolis is easy! What you need to know before visiting the Acropolis is that tickets are available 60 days in advance, and I recommend purchasing your tickets online. Here’s how to purchase tickets to Acropolis through the website:

  1. Go to official e-ticket website of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports at
  2. Select “Attica & Central Greece” Region (Why “Attica & Central Greece”? Read How to Get Around Athens for more info)
  3. Click “Acropolis & Slopes
  4. ⁃ Choose ticket type (acropolis only vs. combined), date, and time

As I mentioned before, guided tours only available through 3rd parties – so you can not purchase guided tour tickets on the website.

Once you arrive, tickets can be printed or shown on your phone. You are allowed to arrive 30 minutes before your selected ticket time. Running late? There is a 15 minute grace period before AND after your ticket time to enter. For example, if you select a 9:00 am ticket, you can arrive at 8:30am and enter the site anytime between 8:45 – 9:15am.

Plus, since you will purchase your ticket in advance, just skip the ticket purchase line and scan your tickets on the kiosk.

Should I also visit the Acropolis Museum? Is it worth it?

Photo of the outside of the Acropolis museum.
The beautiful, sleek design of the Acropolis museum.

When planning my trip to Athens, I wondered if I should also visit the Acropolis museum. The Acropolis museum used to be located on the Acropolis, but now you can find the relocated museum next door. In the end I decided to visit the museum, and I am happy to report that yes, there’s a lot to see at the Acropolis Museum!

What you need to know before visiting the Acropolis is that when you’re on the Acropolis all you see are bare structures; but when you visit the museum you get to see all the artifacts that were discovered on the Acropolis. Everything from ancient sculptures, models, pottery, different types of art, money, a video exhibit… it truly is a treasure trove!

The museum is sleek and modern and I found the museum enriched my experience, so I recommend visiting the Acropolis first to experience the majesty of the experience, then the museum to see all the treasures.

The Acropolis museum is open generally the same time as the Acropolis. Check the Acropolis Museum website for closures.

Ticket Prices to the Acropolis Museum are as follows: €15/adult, €10 6-25yrs, free under 5yrs with passport/ID.

  • Prices are reduced November 1-March 31 to €10/adult, €5 for kids ages 6-25yrs.
  • Free admission dates are March 6, March 25, May 18, Oct. 28.
  • Reduced and free admission require in-person verification at the Museum ticket desk.

Hiking Up the Acropolis – Do’s, Don’ts, and Accessibility

How hard is the walk into the Acropolis? Is the Acropolis a difficult walk?

I wouldn’t say the walk is difficult, but there is a STEEP incline to consider. The height of the stairs on the way up isn’t bad, but the incline…wow!

I say this because the terrain changes. First you walk on paved roads, then gravel, steps (short steps on a steep incline), slippery marble, then large rocks with deep crevices and loose rocks sand gravel. It can feel treacherous at times and others it’s a walk in the park.

Photo of the rocky terrain of the Acropolis.
Rocks and gravel, anyone? Sturdy shoes will help you on your hike up the Acropolis.

What is the dress code for the Acropolis? What should I wear? Should I bring anything?

There is simple dress code and there are things you can wear and bring to make your visit more comfortable. Let’s talk about the do’s and don’ts of what to wear and bring.

DO Wear:

  • Comfortable clothing suitable for a hike. Expect to sweat and stretch those legs!
  • Sturdy shoes with a good grip. I wore exercise sneakers and was fine, others wore hiking boots. As long as your ankles are taken care of and your shoe grip is strong, you’ll be fine.
  • Sunscreen, as there is no shade on the Acropolis
  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes from the dirt and dust

DO NOT Wear:

  • Flats, heels, open-toed shoes, sandals, or fashion sneakers.
  • Loose-fitting clothing or jewelry that may be affected by high winds. Y’all, it is REALLY WINDY!! The wind causes dust storms where the dirt slaps your skin and gets in your eyes.
  • Costumes, clothing that exposes body parts, or clothing with profanity – these are against the dress code.

What to BRING:

  • Tickets – digital or printed
  • Water
  • A hair tie to secure your hair in windy conditions.
  • A small pack of wipes to dust off due to wind and dust and hand sanitizer.
  • As little as possible in the smallest bag necessary

What NOT to bring:

  • Microphones for cameras (they will ask you to remove it)
  • Strollers (must be left at the entrance).
  • Large bags.
  • Food
  • Cigarrettes

It’s essential to keep in mind that visiting the Acropolis involves a legitimate hike, so being prepared with appropriate clothing and minimal belongings will ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Is the Acropolis Accessible?

Partially… the ministry is taking steps to increase accessibility

For those who require a more accessible way to visit the site, you don’t have to walk the stairs! There is an elevator on the north side of the hill and new wheelchair friendly paths. There’s also a free shuttle (more like an extended golf cart) from Dionysiou Areopagitou Street.

Photo of the accessible shuttles outside the Acropolis.
The shuttles make frequent trips to the top of the Acropolis.

Thankfully, there’s also a map showing accessible entrances. Check it out to view your options. I also recommend calling in advance if you plan to use the elevator. Users of the elevator should contact in advance for details and terms (+30 210 3214172).

What else do I need to know to plan well for a trip to the Acropolis?

There are multiple entrances to the Acropolis – if one is busy, check out the others!

  • Main Entrance – located on the west side of the hill – this is where a Taxi will take you. Great for going directly to the monuments, wheelchair, entrance.
  • South Entrance – close to Acropolis metro station and Acropolis Museum. Typically has smaller lines and more of a hike, but I recommend this entrance!
  • North Entrance – Google might route you through Plaka neighborhood up a steep staircase to the North entrance. Don’t go that route! You’ll hike up a steep staircase just to find a permanently closed entrance. We know from experience – don’t do it!

What you need to know before visiting the Acropolis is that, as an ancient site, the Acropolis is constantly ongoing restoration efforts. During your visit, you may see construction equipment and certain areas may be closed. At all times, look, but don’t touch anything on the site! There are constant reminders to “not touch the marble”, so please adhere to this rule.

In addition to not touching the site, if you visit during the summer know it is HOT. So hot, the Acropolis may, in fact, close during the height of the heat because there is no shade at the top and the sun is relentless. Other than the heat, restrooms available by the entrances and at the top by the old museum site.

Visual learner? Check out my Acropolis tips video on YouTube.

Finally, know the hike is completely worth it for AMAZING VIEWS of the city! The Acropolis literally means “highest point” and you will not be disappointed by the grandeur of this timeless antiquity.

Tell me, have you visited the Acropolis? If so, share your experience (and your tips) below. If not, let us know if you are considering to visit the Acropolis in the future!

Antoinette | Frolic & Courage

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