The Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece is where the first Modern Olympic Games was held in 1896. It’s open to the public and in this post I share how to visit this original Olympic stadium in Athens.
Brief History of the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens
The Ancient Olympic Games first began in 776 BC in Olympia. Two centuries later, the Panathenaic Games was established as a religious and athletic festival in honour of the Greek goddess, Athena.
Spectators would sit on the natural hills of the ravine before the Panathenaic Stadium was built in 330 BC. It was rebuilt in 144 AD and could seat 50,000 spectators. When Christianity reached Athens it was abandoned. The stadium was excavated and refurbished in 1869 before being used for the first Modern Olympics in 1896. It is the only stadium in the world to be made entirely of white marble, the same marble as the Parthenon.
The Panathenaic Stadium was used for the Opening and Closing ceremonies and four events during the first Modern Olympic Games. Even today, it remains the venue where the Olympic torch is handed over to the host city.
In recent years, it has continued to host athletics events and music concerts.
Can you Visit the Panathenaic Stadium?
The Panathenaic Stadium is open to visitors all year round. Entry is €5 per adult, €2.50 for students/over 65s and free for children under six years old.
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office outside the stadium and includes an audio tour. The audio tour is available in 11 languages (Greek, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Portugese and Korean).
The Panathenaic Stadium is open from March to October: 08:00 – 19:00 and November to February: 08:00 – 17:00.
Can you run in the Panathenaic Stadium?
You can run in the Panathenaic Stadium on the track, which has been resurfaced with modern material. There is a dedicated time for runners from 7.30am – 9am daily but there is nothing stopping you from running around the track during your visit at any time of day. I could not resist going for a jog on the track during our visit.
Panathenaic Stadium Tour
The audio tour is well worth doing. It guides you through the stadium and highlights features to look out for. It shares information about the architecture and history of the venue as well as some interesting facts. Without this audio tour we would not have appreciated everything and we would have missed a lot.
The audio tour can be taken at your own pace, so if you wish, you can sit in the stands and take it all in. The different sections of the audio tour are prompted by numbered signs throughout the stadium so it guides you around without missing anything.
Alternatively, you can switch off the audio tour and explore on your own.
Things to do at the Panathenaic Stadium
You should allocate approximately 90 minutes for your visit to the Panathenaic Stadium. This will give you plenty of time to do everything.
Run on the track
Pretend to be an Olympic athlete and run on the stadium’s track. This is a popular activity, especially with families and fans of the Olympic Games.
Stand on the podium
Grab a photo on the top spot of the winners’ podium with the stadium in your background.
Sit in the Royal Box
At the far end of the stadium is the Royal Box, which offers an excellent view of the entire stadium and the Acropolis.
Walk through the athletes entrance
The arched opening, takes you to the tunnel that the athletes would have used during the Olympic Games. This tunnel leads to a small museum.
Visit the Panathenaic Stadium museum
In this small museum there is a exhibition of Olympic Games posters and torches from each Olympic Games. I found it really interesting to see the different designs throughout the years.
How to get to the Panathenaic Stadium
It’s easy to walk to the stadium from the Acropolis, so if you’re planning to spend a day in Athens you could definitely see both without rushing. We decided to visit in the afternoon, once we’d been to the Parthenon in the morning. It took us approximately 20 minutes to walk from one to the other.
The stadium is located in downtown Athens and is a 1000m walk from several Metro stations (Syntagma, Acropolis and Evangelismos).
It’s a popular stop on tours of Athens but most don’t allow enough time to go inside the stadium and explore. It’s on several public bus routes (Red 550, Green 90, 209 and Yellow 2, 4, 10, 11).
Final Thoughts on Visiting the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens
I would highly recommend visiting this Olympic stadium. The entrance fee is excellent value for money and includes an audio tour. This historic site is overlooked by many tourists who only take in the view from outside but to get a real feel for what the first Olympic Games was like and appreciate the architecture, you should venture inside.
If you need to check visitor’s information, the Panathenaic Stadium website is very useful and email enquiries are answered promptly.
For more ideas of things to do on a Mediterranean cruise, check out my Mediterranean destinations section.