Greece to Limit Daily Visitors to the Acropolis & Require Timed Entry

In an attempt to control crowding, Greece will limit daily visitors to the Acropolis in Athens starting in September.

From September 4th, daily visitors to the popular monument will be capped at 20,000 people. According to Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, this is part of a pilot program developed to better manage crowds by using timed entry zones between 8am and 8pm.

It’s expected that the pilot program will go into effect on a permanent basis on April 1, 2024. The caps on visitors and timed entry system will be implemented in all Greek archaeological sites that utilize electronic tickets.

“There is a very high demand and it is completely normal and understandable. The Acropolis… is a world symbol. Therefore, anyone who comes to Athens wants to visit it,” Mendoni said during an interview, adding, “Obviously, tourism is desirable for the country, for all of us. But we have to see how over-tourism will not damage the monument.”

As part of the new plan, the number of visitors will be capped on an hourly basis. For example, 3,000 visitors will be allowed to enter the site from 8am to 9am. This means that some hourly slots will be more crowded than others.

Visitors will not be limited in how much time they spend at the site when they arrive. However, Mendoni commented that most travelers in organized groups tend to visit for about 45 minutes, while individual visitors typically explore for up to an hour and a half.

Greece’s plan to implement a timed entry system comes in response to numbers that have reached as high as 22,000 to 23,000 visitors on some days. Overall, about 50 percent of visitors prefer to enter the Acropolis in the mornings between 8am and 12pm, which is especially true for larger groups of 10 or more people.

Travelers hoping to avoid the crowds (and the sweltering heat) entirely should strongly consider visiting Greece during the winter season, when tourism numbers are significantly reduced and the weather is much more amenable and manageable.

It will be interesting to see if other popular European cities follow suit by limiting how people can access the most popular sites and areas of interest, especially during peak seasons.

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