This extension is an option that can be followed after the walking tour of the major ancient sites of Athens if you are done with it early otherwise you might find some of the following sites closed.
This tour extension, marked with GREEN color on our map, is best left for its own day, unless you exit the Acropolis museum by 1:00 PM.
This tour extension is designed to take you through the Temple of Zeus at the Olympeion, the Panathenaic Stadium, Zapeio, Syntagma, and the must-see National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
As an option, you can skip the walking of this extension and instead ride the Metro from the Acropolis Station to Victoria to visit the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Before you go,
check museum hours to make
sure it's open.
From the Acropolis Museum, leaving it on your right hand side, walk down Dionysiou Areopagitou street three blocks and leave the peaceful pedestrian streets behind you. As you cross the very busy Leoforos Syngrou you will first visit the Olympeion. The most notable buildings are Hadrian's Arch facing you next to the busy street, and the imposing columns of the Temple of Zeus. The Olympeion can be seen in about twenty minutes or half-hour, and you can walk there in about 10 minutes from the Acropolis Museum.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is the largest in Greece. It's construction began in the 6th century BCE by Peisistratos in the Athenian Archaic era, but it was never completed until 600 years later when Emperor Hadrian dedicated it in 132 CE (Roman Era). It is worth noting that the Morosini during the Tourkish-Venecian war in 1685 (Ottoman Era) unleashed the barrage of mortars that destroyed the Parthenon from this very spot. Something to ponder as you gaze at the Acropolis from the Olympeion.
Next head east on Leoforos Vasilissis Olgas toward the Panathenaic Stadium (about 5 min walk). The stadium is known as Kallimarmaro, meaning "beautiful marble-made", and what you see today is a third reconstruction on the site where Lykourgos built the original one 330-329 BCE. It was rebuilt by the Roman era in the 2nd century CE, and then again in 1895 to host the first modern Olympics a year later. This latest intervention is a faithful reconstruction of the Roman era stadium.
The next part of the walk would take about half hour through the National Gardens, Zapeio (an exhibition/conference center built in 1874), Syntagma square, and the National Museum. The walk from Panathinaic Stadium to Syntagma would take 15 minutes. You may opt for a drink at the elegant (and pricey) café next to Zappeio, or to be lost in the winding footpaths of the gardens, but our goal is to get to the Syntagma Metro station.
Once you reach Syntagma square, spend sometime sightseeing and picture-snapping and have a drink or lunch in one of the many cafés and restaurants there. Then head for the Metro station at the bottom of the imposing staircase on the east end of the square and take the Line 2 train towards Aghios Antonios.
Ride the metro two stations and change trains at Omonia station. There take Line 1 towards Kiffisia and get off after one station at Victoria. Then walk about ten minutes to the museum via Heyden and Patision streets.
The National Archaeological Museum (also known as Athens Museum, or National Museum) is a highlight for anyone who wants an introduction to the splendor of ancient Greek Art and anyone who is a scholar of Classical antiquity. Buy your ticket at the entrance and you will need to check large backpacks at the entrance (camera bags and purses can remain with you if they are small). The restrooms, the restaurant, and gift shop can be accessed from the entrance lobby.
In the museum, first walk straight ahead to see artifacts from the stone-age, the Mycenaean, and the Cycladic periods of Greek Art (see the history of Greece for a period overview). Then walk back to the lobby and start your tour of the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman Eras from the doors immediately to the side of the ticket counter. Don't miss the second floor exhibition of the Santorini frescoes and the extensive ceramics collection.
The museum visit can be anywhere from half-hour (rushing through the exhibitions) to two full hours of thorough exploration.
You might also want to combine this tour with the sightseeing tour of Monastiraki.