National Garden Athens: A Green Oasis in The City

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It’s come to my attention that many tourists are unaware of Athens’ National Garden, which I think is something of a travesty!

Because in a city as hectic as this one it’s good to know about green spaces. And the National Garden is quite interesting and relaxing on lots of levels.

The space borders Syntagma Square, and it used to be the private garden of the Royal Palace. It was created in the 19th century by Queen Amalia of Greece and then given to the state in 1923.

It’s less manicured garden and more leafy oasis, and some parts seem to be eternally getting repaired. But it’s a pleasant place to spend time in nature during any season. It’s open daily, free of charge from dawn til dusk.

In the summer months, it’s a particularly welcome, shady spot in the heart of Athens away from the hoards.

The best way to discover the garden is to follow your nose and choose the path you feel like taking. There are some signs within the garden. I wouldn’t rely too much on them, but the official map is quite helpful.

National Garden Athens map

​Ancient Ruins and Roman Mosaic

Scattered around the former Royal gardens, you’ll find remnants of ancient columns as well as a Roman floor mosaic. None have been very well preserved, but I think they’re quite nice to see anyway.

The marble ruins are marked on the map. As is the mosaic which is near the Vasilissis Sophias Avenue entrance.

When Hadrian expanded the city, this area was something of an exclusive neighbourhood and fountains, baths, villas and gymnasia were built.

Excavations works between 1840-50 uncovered a building complex from 4-5th century A.D. and the mosaic floor was discovered. Queen Amalia had a roof built over it, called it the Garden Salon and held formal banquets there.

Part of the mosaic floor

Water Features and Ponds

There are several small ponds in the garden, as well as the Central Lake. The main lake has a lovely wooden bridge and lots of ducks and geese to see. There’s quite a bit of space around it to sit and relax, I saw others eating their sandwiches there (even in February!).

Duck pond

There’s a Koi Carp pond just by the mosaic and a further pond with terrapins and turtles.

As well as the small lakes, the plants are well watered, so there’s lots of water running through a network of irrigation ditches. If you need to relax, find one of the wooden benches next to this flowing water because it’s really calming to listen to.

Other water features you might come across are fountains and waterfalls.


Within the garden, there’s almost every type of vegetation you can think of. Many species of plants are native to the Mediterranean climate, but there are also a good number of foreign plants.

Some of the most notable are:

  • Washingtonia palm trees at the sundial entrance
  • Cypress trees
  • Casuarina Australian Pines
  • Ginko Biloba trees
  • Yukka plants
  • Chinese fan palms
  • Flase Pepper and
  • English Yew

There’s also a botanical museum housed in a really lovely building. It’s been getting refurbished forever but might be open again one day.

Family-Friendly Activities

If you have kids, you could definitely while-away half a day here.

Children’s Play Area

There’s a really good children’s playpark in the garden. It’s a large, fenced-off area that looks like the ideal place to run about and burn off some energy. Within the space there is seating and some picnic tables.

Children’s Library

This is open from 8am – 1pm every day except Sunday. (It just looks like a little house, if you’re searching for it.) The books are mostly in Greek, and the Saturday morning fairytale readings (from October to June) are also in Greek.

But your child may still enjoy being there and as well as the reading rooms there’s one for film and other activities.


There’s a very small zoo area within the park. I saw goats, ducks and geese, chicken, doves and parrots. Supposedly, there are a few rabbits as well, but I didn’t see them.

As a rule, I don’t approve of zoos, but at least the various enclosures looked clean enough. I wish the birds weren’t trapped, though.

Explore Zappeion Hall and Garden

Zappeion Hall is a beautiful neoclassical building next door to the National Garden and is set in a garden of its own. But the two blend into one, so definitely count it as an extension of the National Garden when you go.

The Zappeion on a rather stormy August day!

The megaron exhibition hall was built for the first modern Olympic Games, but it’s used now to host conferences. If there aren’t any private events when you go, you can visit inside, free of charge.

Outside, there are lovely wide walkways, and there’s also a separate kids’ play area.

Facilities at the National Park

Seasonal Cafe

There’s a small cafe open through the summer. It’s quite a pretty spot and offers a welcome chance for refreshments.


There’s a cash point beside the cafe.

Public Toilets

There are male and female public toilets that were both free and clean when I visited. However, make sure you have some tissues in your bag. I didn’t see an accessible toilet.

What’s Nearby?

As you’re in the city centre, all the main attractions are in close proximity. The very closest ones are:

The Greek parliament building (closed to the public) and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They’re guarded by the Evzones, soldiers of the Presidential Guard.

Presidential Palace – although the Evzones are most well-known for guarding the tomb, you’ll can also see them on the other side of the park. The soldiers parade along Irodou Attikou Street (amongst others) outside the palace.

Evzones in their summer uniform

South of the garden are The Panathenaic Stadium and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. You’re also close to Hadrian’s Arch and then the Acropolis and Plaka area.

How to Get to the National Garden in Athens

The nearest station is Syntagma Metro Station (M2 Red Line and M3 Blue Line), which is right by the main entrance on Amalias Avenue. That’s the gate with the sundial and the palm trees.

Take the Amalias/National Garden exit from the station (turn right and come back on yourself as you come up the escalator from the platforms). Then, walk a small way along the road in the same direction, past the hop-on, hop-off bus stop.

The park has several entrances, so if you’re walking from some of the sights above, check the map for a closer one. All except two are accessible: Vasilissis Sophias Avenue (the bottom one) and the one by the bust of Jean Moréas (marked as number 4 on the map.)

Several buses will take you to the area. My recommendation is to check Google Maps for directions from wherever you’re leaving.

These are the apps I recommend for your trip to Greece.


Is Athens’ National Garden Worth Visiting?

​I personally believe it is since I love nature. You can incorporate it into your itinerary by choosing this route to walk between some of the classic “must-sees”.

What are the National Garden Athens Opening Hours?

The garden opens at sunrise and closes at sunset every day; occasionally, on the very hottest of summer days, it’s closed off due to the risk of fires.

How Do I get National Garden Athens Tickets?

Tickets are not necessary as entry to the garden is free.

Suzie Young

Suzie writes informative posts for solo, nervous or first-time travellers to Greece, Turkey and other countries on her 50-before-50 bucket list. She became a Greek resident in 2020 and intends to visit every inhabited island (13 down!).

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