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Acropolis Tickets: Athens Landmark Joins List of Attractions You Must Prebook | Frommer's nito / Shutterstock

Acropolis Tickets: Athens Landmark Joins List of Attractions You Must Prebook

The Acropolis of Athens is dominated by the Parthenon, one of the world's most identifiable buildings—what's left of it, anyway (thanks a lot, Venetian army of 1687).

For that reason the number of tourists at the site can be extreme. Greek officials report that in recent months the mountaintop in the middle of Athens can be clogged with as many as 23,000 people a day.

This summer, that crush of visitors has truly been crushing, especially amid a brutal heat wave. In July, opening hours had to be curtailed after some visitors fainted in the extreme temperatures.

This recent sarcastic Instagram story by a visitor shows just how unpleasant a climb up the Acropolis can be these days:

Concerned with the fortitude of tourists as well as the integrity of the ruins, the Greek authorities who oversee the Acropolis and its structures have decided to begin limiting the number of people who may visit each day.

The new system will roll out in September.

At first, as the new idea is tested, the limits will be modest. The cap on daily visitors will be set at 20,000 to start with. That's just 3,000 shy of this summer's peak visitation. But all the same, the cap could make the difference between being able to see the Acropolis and having to stay off the mountain. 

The Acropolis is popular with cruise ship excursions and tour groups. Those industrial-grade tours will chew up about half of the slots; these visits tend to take place before noon.

If individual tourists want their chance to climb up to the famous Greek ruin, it's now imperative to secure tickets in advance.

Entry will be apportioned in hourly time slots during the site's opening hours, although once visitors make it onto the site, they'll be allowed to linger for as long as they like.

Although showing up at opening time is a good way to get ahead of the cruise ship hordes, our Greece expert likes visiting late in the day for sunset. Happily, the worst of the crowds are always gone by then.

Get your tickets for the Acropolis hill at Hellenic Heritage, the official vendor. Timed tickets are also being implemented at some lesser historic sites, but none of them are as off-the-charts popular as the Acropolis. 

Note that the Acropolis Museum, where some of the carvings from the Parthenon complex have been rescued and are displayed, is not on the Acropolis and requires its own ticket.