As any Athenian will tell you, one of the best things to do on Sunday in Athens is to go for a coffee. While this is a great way of spending your time in Athens, there are tons of other things to do. Read on for a few ideas!
See the Ceremonial Changing of the Guards on Sundays
You may be familiar with the Evzones, the Greek Presidential Guards dressed in traditional costumes. They are guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is in front of the Parliament, right on Syntagma Square.
The Changing of the Guards happens every hour, on the hour, on a daily basis. Many people, locals and visitors, come to watch this short ceremony.
In addition to the hourly changing though, there is a spectacular parade at 11.00 every Sunday. The Evzones are dressed in ceremonial costumes, and there is also a band playing. If you happen to be in Athens on a Sunday, you should definitely go and have a look.
As this event is very popular, I strongly suggest that you get there early to get a good viewing spot. Wherever you decide to stand, try to be in the first row if possible. Also, bear in mind that the military guards will be cordoning people off at certain times.
If you feel like splurging, you can always watch it from the rooftop of the Grande Bretagne hotel.
After the end of the parade, you can follow the Evzones back to their barracks. These are located towards the back side of the National Gardens.
For more information on the Changing of the Guards, have a look at this detailed article. It will hopefully help you appreciate this unique aspect of Greek culture.
Visit the National Gardens and the Panathenaic Stadium
After you’ve seen the Changing of the Guards, you could wander through the National Gardens. On Sundays, you are likely to see many Athenians strolling around or jogging. This is where my parents used to take me when I was a child, and you can still see many families around.
Though the Gardens are not massive, there is a huge variety of trees and plants. There are also a few ducks, turtles and other animals, as well as a small zoo. Overall, the National Gardens are a great place to escape the heat of the day.
Pass by Zappeion Hall and exit the Gardens on the south side. You will then be very close to the Panathenaic Stadium.
This massive stadium, dating from the 4th century BC, was completely restored in the 19th century. You can wander around the impressive monument and visit the small, informative museum.
Visit the Acropolis on a Sunday
Any day is a good day to visit the Acropolis, so it’s not necessarily a Sunday activity. However, entrance to the Acropolis is free on the first Sunday of November, December, January, February and March. If budget is an issue, it’s a great time to visit. Just be prepared for some queuing, especially if the weather is good.
The Acropolis hours on Sundays are the same with all other days. Closing time is 20.00 in summer and 17.00 in winter. Exact closing times during shoulder months tend to vary, so it’s best to check the official website.
Apart from the Acropolis, there are a few more ancient sites you can visit in Athens. You can find more information in my article about the combined ticket for the ancient sites in Athens.
Visit the Athens museums on a Sunday
When in Athens, you can visit a museum or two. There are several historical museums in Athens, so you can choose the ones you are more interested in.
Most people would start with the Acropolis Museum, which is very close to the Acropolis. The National Archaeological Museum is another popular choice. Like the Acropolis, it has free entrance on the first Sunday of the off-season months.
The lesser known National Historical Museum, which presents Greece’s most recent history, is free to visit on all Sundays.
Apart from that, there are a few more free museums and galleries in Athens that you could visit on a Sunday – or any other day.
Also, check out guide to the best museums in Plaka Athens.
Shopping in Athens on Sunday – Athens Shops open Sunday 2020
A question I often get from visitors is “are shops open in Athens on Sunday?” The quick answer is that some of them are, but most of them aren’t.
High street stores are generally closed on Sundays, with a few exceptions throughout the year. These are certain Sundays around Easter, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the first Sunday of each sales season. Suggested opening hours for those dates are from 11.00 to 18.00.
Here is a list for Sundays in 2020 when shops in Athens will be open:
- 19 January
- 12 April
- 3 May
- 19 July
- 1 November
- 13, 20 and 27 December
As for whether Athens supermarkets are open on Sundays, again, the answer is no. Some, but not all, of the bigger supermarket chains open on the Sundays listed above.
However, if you need some groceries, don’t worry. You will generally find that smaller markets and corner shops are open on Sundays. In addition, there will always be a kiosk which is walking distance from where you are staying.
In recent years, there have been ongoing talks about all shops being open on all Sundays. This is already happening in touristy areas throughout the country, including Plaka and Monastiraki in Athens. More on this below.
Ermou street shops opening hours on Sundays
Many people are specifically interested in Ermou street Athens stores. Ermou street is the pedestrianized street running from Syntagma to Monastiraki. It is named after Hermes, the ancient Greek god of commerce, and is lined with clothes, shoe and cosmetics stores. It is one of the most important shopping streets in central Athens.
Most of the Ermou street stores are closed on Sundays, apart from the dates mentioned above. That said, I have occasionally seen some of them being open on a few other Sundays as well.
If you want to go shopping on Ermou, your best bet is weekdays, when opening hours are quite long. Bigger businesses are open from 9.00 to 21.00 on weekdays, and they close somewhere around 18.00 – 20.00 on Saturdays. Smaller stores typically close around 15.00 – 16.00 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Still, if you are interested in Athens Sunday shopping, there is a lot of choice. In central Athens, Monastiraki and Plaka are your best bet.
Monastiraki flea market opening hours – What to do in Monastiraki
If you are in Athens on a Sunday and you like street markets, you are in for a treat. The Monastiraki flea market is full-on! This Athens street market is the best place in central Athens to get your fix on antiques and random bric-a-brac.
The market expands on lower Ermou and Ifestou streets, as well as on most side streets and alleys around them. You can also find some antiques stores in the nearby Psiri area, on the other side of Ermou street. Apart from stores, you will also see random stalls and street vendors.
Along with the antiques and vintage items, there is a range of shops in Monastiraki. You can find used books, vinyls, CDs, DVDs, leather goods, clothes and shoes. Military accessories, knives and bicycles are also on sale.
As you would expect, you can also get all sorts of souvenirs and other items.
The Monastiraki flea market hours aren’t exactly set in stone. Some street vendors might set up their stalls as early as 5 am. Many of them will still be around until the late afternoon or early evening. It’s best to go early and take your time, especially if you are after specific items.
You can spend ten minutes or several hours around the Monastiraki Athens flea market. Sunday is the best day to visit if you are after antiques, but most other stores are open every day.
As for other things to do in Monastiraki on Sundays, do as the Athenians do! Go for a coffee at one of the rooftop bars. A for Athens and 360 both offer great views of the Acropolis!
Plaka market Athens
Between Monastiraki, Syntagma and Acropolis metro, you will find the popular Plaka area. It’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Athens, and one of the most colourful.
Plaka is one of the best places to go souvenir shopping, though prices may be slightly higher than around Monastiraki. You can find clothes, leather goods, olive oil products, and all sorts of classy or tacky souvenirs.
Opening hours of shops in Plaka Athens are quite long, with many stores remaining open well after dark.
Those not interested in shopping can still enjoy the lovely streets, beautiful neoclassical buildings and cosy tavernas. Plus, Plaka is home to several small museums that you can visit.
Here are some more things to do in Plaka Athens.
Other Athens markets Sunday
Apart from Monastiraki and Plaka, there are some more Sunday markets in Athens, some distance from the centre. These markets are a lot more authentic, so if you want a less touristy experience, go for it.
In terms of actual purchases though, don’t hold your expectations high. The majority of the items can probably be classified as junk. Still, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so you never know. Prices are low, generally matching the quality.
Arguably the most interesting Sunday market Athens is close to Eleonas metro, on the blue line. This massive, open-air market is marked as “Παζάρι Σωματείου Ρακοσυλλεκτών” on Google Maps. Go early, as many of the stall holders start leaving around midday.
Piraeus port, Greece’s largest port, is home to one of the most colourful markets in Athens. The market is right outside Piraeus metro station, on the green line – you can’t miss it. You can find anything and everything, from rugs and coins to clothes, baskets and kitchenware.
Finally, if you are prepared for absolute surrealism, take a taxi and go to Shisto market. This flea market is a few kilometres out of Piraeus, marked as “Pazari Sxistou” on Google Maps. As in many similar markets, you may find that the products on sale are not exactly legitimate.
Whether any of the items in these markets will be worth buying, is another matter. Still, if you want to experience the atmosphere of an old market in Athens, any of those is a great choice.
Opening hours for these less touristy markets in Athens are similar to Monastiraki hours. The vendors start setting up very early in the morning and start closing in the afternoon. Our best tips – go early, be prepared to bargain and leave your valuables at home.
What to do in Athens on Easter Sunday
If you happen to be in Athens on Easter Sunday, most of the above won’t apply. Easter Sunday is the holiest day here in Greece, so sites and tourist attractions will be closed. Don’t worry though, you can still find somewhere to eat.
If you are in Athens on Easter Sunday, you can wander around the city and enjoy the quietness. You can stroll on Areopagitou street and take in the monuments from a distance.
However, if you want to experience a traditional Greek Easter, you could take a day trip to Arachova. This small village up on Parnassos mountain celebrates Easter in the traditional Greek way. There will be a lot of food, such as lamb on the spit and Easter eggs. It’s a good chance to jump into Greek culture!
Arachova is only a short drive from Delphi, so you could easily visit the ancient site on Easter Monday.
What to do in Athens Greece on Sunday
Have you been to Athens on a Sunday? What did you end up doing? Did you think it was much different to a weekday? Let me know in the comments!