What to expect when you visit the Acropolis of Athens

I visited the Acropolis in mid-April 2023. That’s when I shot the video above.

April is considered “shoulder season” for Greece so I was thinking that the crowds wouldn’t be too big and it’d be easy enough to purchase a ticket on the day. I was right – sort of, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that now. 

The entry rules have since changed, and the new entry limits and time-slots make it a bad idea to not pre-purchase your tickets.

Before the changes I confess I hadn’t expected a 40-minute queue to get to the on-site ticket office. But I wasn’t travelling with a deadline so I was quite happy to “wing” such things.  But now, without a pre-purchased ticket and a known time slot, you could find yourself waiting for hours, or in the worst case – possibly denied entry at all.

The other important thing to be aware of about the Acropolis, is that once you enter, there’s no shade at all – and nowhere to purchase water.  I was there in mid-Spring, in April, wearing sunscreen, sun-safe clothing, a cap on my head and with bottled water. That was totally fine for that time of year, but I can’t imagine what the Acropolis would be like if you visited it without a hat and water in July – when temperatures can be over 40 C.

One other thing to be aware of is that within the Acropolis site itself, you’ll find very little information. That’s not a problem if you’ve come with a guide, but if you are on your own and want to appreciate what you are looking at, take the time to do some research and reading before your visit.  

There’s a ton of well researched information about the Acropolis available online. It’s UNESCO world heritage listed and there are heaps of Athens tourist sites with good info.

The very best visual resource I’ve found is this one from Manuel Bravo. (It’s over 20 minutes, but amazing).

The Acropolis of Athens Explained with Reconstructions

(Manuel’s YouTube channel is an absolute must for anyone interested in architecture, especially ancient architecture. His reconstructions are simply excellent, his explanations wonderful and I am astonished at the quality of his work. I only discovered it while I was researching this story. Highly recommended)! 

I didn’t get to visit the Acropolis Museum, which is not on the Acropolis itself but quite close by. I’m told it has replicas of the Parthenon marbles that are currently in the British museum, plus the originals of the ones that Lord Elgin didn’t manage to steal in the early 1800’s. These sculptures make up the freize that once surrounded the top of the building.

It’s very hard to see any legitimate argument for the British Museum to continue its possession of the Parthenon marbles. Of course the marbles are a historical and global treasure, but if they belong anywhere, they belong in Athens – the city where they were created – nearly 2,500 year ago.

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