Length 6.7 km (4.2 miles), terrain: 2 hills (110 meter gain)
To avoid the heat, crowds and traffic, try to run early in the mornings. You'll have Athens to yourself!
Athens Routes List:
Athens Kifisia Greenspace Run
Athens Kifisia Scenic Loop
Athens Ancient Sights Run
For more running routes, see the Route List
Here's a route that will take you through a lot of the nicest parts of central Athens, mixing the old-town, the Acropolis, pedestrian streets, parks and shopping areas together with some stunning views. It avoids any busy traffic and gives you a good feeling for this fascinating town. Don't worry about reading the Greek street signs: they all have the names in Roman characters below them.
We'll start at one of the main meeting-points in town, Monastiraki Square, north of the Acropolis. Monastiraki has a Metro station, where two lines cross, and the square is full of young people every evening.
|Monastiraki, looking up to the Acropolis, past Hadrian's library|
The square faces a little church and an ex-mosque (now used for tourist shops). Turn south, with the station to your right. Now head down Areos, with the impressive ruins of Hadrian's Library on your left, running past the line of jewelry stands.
Turn left at the first chance, on Andrianou, and continue following the perimeter of the Roman Agora, running east.
Andrianou ends in a block by running into another street at some patio restaurants, but just turn left and continue along the edge of the agora, as it then turns right.
You will now run by an idyllic green square, the Platia Agoras (Agora Square), full of restaurant tables. A great place to return in the evening!
|Mnisikleous steps and happy guests|
The steps end at a lane called Tholou, with the Acropolis looming above. Turn right, and then turn left at the first chance, where you'll see a sign pointing towards the Acropolis.
Now follow this lane (called Theorias), with the scrubby Acropolis hillside going up on the left, and a view opening up onto the Ancient Agora to the right.
After about 400 meters on Theorias, you'll see some rock cliffs rising on the right side, with stairs going up. Don't miss this chance to run up there and take in the breathtaking view. This is Areopagus Hill, located just bellow the entrance of the Acropolis. Ancient legends said this was the spot where the gods held war council, and was later used for murder trials.
|View from Areopagus Hill to Lycabettus on left, and Acropolis|
Having taken-in this inspiring view, now run back down the steps and follow the path southwards past the ticketing office at the Acropolis entrance and down the hillside to the pedestrian street below, the Ieatro Dionysoy (Dionysus Theater Street).
Now turn left and run down this pleasant street, first going past the big amphitheater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The theater is still used, and there are performances almost every night. Later, you'll pass the smaller Dionysus Theater, where the classic Greek playwrights all performed their plays.
NOTE: As still another alternative, you could keep running straight for another two blocks until you come to the very busy Pireus Road. The gigantic temple of Zeus is straight ahead, across the street, as well as the grounds for the first modern Olympics, to give you a bit of running inspiration. You can enter the grounds towards the left. From the temple you can turn north to run past the Zappeion convention center, going around its right side, and into the National Garden from there.
On Vyronos, you'll run past an ancient, cylindrical monument (celebrating the first dramatic prize awarded at the Dionysus Theater) and the street name changes to Tripodon Street, a pedestrian shopping street.
|Monument on Tripodon|
The street name changes, but keep running east until you come to Nikis Street, where you turn left and run two blocks to Xenofontos, where you turn right and run the two blocks to the entrance of the next interesting spot: the National Garden (NOTE: it closes at sunset and opens again at sunrise).
|Entrance to National Garden|
So just turn right and run to the south end of the park, where you turn left and continue circling counter-clockwise through the park. There is a small zoo, playgrounds, and an assortment of ancient stones lying about.
|Pond in the garden|
At the busy intersection ahead, at Vasilissis Sofias, continue running straight. You'll pass the Benaki Art Museum on the left and run into chic Kolonaki ahead. This is the nicest neighborhood in the center of town, with a lot of wealthy people and a sprinkling of embassies.
Cross Kolonaki Square diagonally to the right and then continue northwards on Tsakalof, where you see the canopied café on the corner. This is a shaded pedestrian street, with interesting shops and restaurants. You will also be running uphill here, but then it will be all downhill back to the start.
After just two blocks turn right on Pindarou and run up the steps to Fokilidou, where you turn right and turn into the park on your left. Dexameni Park is a merry meeting place, full of kids playing ball, mothers chatting and people meeting for a drink in the tavernas on the far side of the park. This is the heartbeat of the neighborhood.
Now comes the downhill part of the run: exit the park and go straight down Iraklitou to Tsakalof again, turn left and run southwards through the square and back out to Vasilissis Sofias again. Cross the street and turn left to follow the north side of the National Garden and then the side of the Parliament.
|In front of the Parliament|
|Ermou at night|
Cross the cathedral square and turn right on Pondrosou to run the last few blocks along this pedestrian street and its little shops, back to Monastiraki Square.