The ideal European capital for a family weekend break or a short getaway with kids
The “sky of Attica”, celebrated in the writings of Greek and international globetrotters, poets and artists, enlightens all the beautiful parts of the Greek soul. It is this sky, so high and blue, that renders Athens one of the brightest cities to visit all year round with kids, or without!
Athens is lively, dynamic and rich in sites, history and mythology. Apart from its Classical past, Athens is a city continuously inhabited since 4,000 B.C. and is steeped with traces of almost all cultures and civilizations that flourished in these lands, some of which have formed part of modern Greek identity. Its rich history, its positioning at the cultural crossroads between the East and the West, and its energetic past and present are the main reasons for which Athens is a must-visit city. Curious kids will have their imaginations ignited by the magic of ancient civilizations and be able to visualize where Greek mythology was born while exploring the layers of history in a living city.
Classical Athens with kids
If you have only a couple of days in Athens, you cannot start your family walking tour but from the Acropolis Hill and the Parthenon. Continue to the Acropolis Museum and become an ancient Athenian for a day on the places where the Popular Assembly used to gather! Walk in the Steps of Socrates through Dionysiou Areopagitou to the Ancient Agora. Meet the heart of Ancient Athens, the most renowned trade Centre of the ancient world and see where Democracy and Philosophy were born. Stroll around Kerameikos, where the famous Attic Vases were produced, and the most important burial ground of the city. Or, try something less popular! Combine the visit to the Ancient Agora with a walk to the Plato Academy and the Lyceum of Aristotle in a kid-friendly Greek Philosophers’ Tour!
Your steps will lead you to Plaka, the oldest and the most charming neighborhood of the city. In winter, you will smell the roast chestnuts; in spring and summer, the odor of jasmine from the tiny yards will capture your senses! Can you imagine how the Parthenon and Plaka used to look like in the times that followed? In the Byzantine or the Ottoman era? Walk in the pedestrian part of the city and try to trace the remnants of the city’s various pasts, with the guidance of a specialized tour guide and pedagogue. Athens indeed is the best place to play a treasure hunt with kids!
Family Friendly Museums
The most important Museum -not only in Athens, but- in all over Greece is the National Archaeological Museum. Being forbidden to touch at all times creates frustration to younger kids; however, a kid friendly licensed tour guide may solve the problem with his ideas, storytelling and experience.
The Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture and the Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music are located just opposite the Greek Parliament and this proximity gives you the opportunity to explore the Greek art from ancient times to today. Very close, on Stadiou Street, stands the old Parliament, today’s National Historical Museum, which hosts until May 2020 an extraordinary exhibition for the 1821 Greek Struggle for Independence compiled of Playmobil custom figures and dioramas created by Greek collectors.
In Kolonaki, very close to Syntagma Square, stands the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology that designs in cooperation with MAMAKITA, private kid friendly interactive tours and educational programs for families with kids from 5 old.
In Thissio, you will find one more Athenian gem! The Herakleidon Museum focusing on Science, Technology, Arts and Mathematics, located in a picturesque pedestrian street that used to host the old tramway line and that leads to the heart of the industrial neighborhood of Athens, Gazi.
Talking about kids’ friendly museums, families with toddlers and younger kids should not miss the chance to visit the Hellenic Children Museum housed in the building of the Athens Conservatory and to make a family walk at the two children’s museums in Plaka, the Museum of Greek Children’s Art and the School life & Education Museum. Families with older kids and teenagers are highly recommended to visit the Museum of Emotions on Filopappou Hill, as well as the Museum of Illusions in Monastiraki.
Modern Athens with kids
After the establishment of the modern Greek state and the transfer of the Greek capital from Nafplio to Athens -that used to look like a rural and abandoned place till then- the city expanded far beyond Plaka and the foothills of the Acropolis. The modern city started to develop around the newly -back then- built Palace of the first King of Greece, Otto and his Queen, Amalia, which now is the seat of the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square (Constitution Square). In Syntagma, you can hop on the touristic buses and, or, the happy train to make a small tour of the city if your kids are tired!
It is to Queen Amalia, however that we, local families, owe the most beautiful Athenian garden! The National Gardens, a vision of the first Queen of Greece who loved trees and flowers, hosts all our childhood memories. A family walk at the National Garden amidst trees and the sounds of birds – mainly peacocks, as you will soon realize- is refreshing and educational all year round!
Around Syntagma, you will find a myriad of shopping solutions with spacious sidewalks ideal for strollers, such as Ermou Street, Stadiou & Panepistimiou Avenues. Or, you can visit City Link, where you can shop, rest and have lunch with kids inside the illuminated gallery. Can you imagine that this mall used to serve as the Royal Stables back in the beginning of the 19th century?
Necessary stopover at the Kallimarmaro Stadium, where the Modern Olympics were revived in 1896. Become an Olympic athlete for a day and explore the history of the Olympics, learn more about the place from where the Olympic flame sets up its journey and discover the most beautiful jogging trail in Europe!!
Last -but certainly not least- is one of the most popular attractions for kids in Athens. That is “Technopolis” and the industrial side of the city that you should not miss, especially if you are an architecture freak! Explore the old gas factory “Gazi”, which is now converted to a major cultural venue. In the “Technopolis”, you will have the opportunity to visit the Industrial Gas Museum and enjoy a snack at the Gaz à l’eau café while kids play at the playground or test their limits at the Skywalk. If you move to the south towards Piraeus Port, you will follow -in practice- Athens’ gradual industrialization. Explore the buildings in Gazi and the Pireos Avenue, stroll around the concept stores, discover the urban craft industry and the city’s history of industrialization.
Food & Gastronomy
“If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see that an olive tree, a grapevine, and a boat remain. That is, with as much, you reconstruct her,” wrote Odysseus Elytis, the Nobel Prize-winning Greek poet, and this is not just poetry. It is indeed the olive tree, the symbol of Goddess Athena; a grapevine, the symbol of God Dionysus; and a boat the symbol of God Poseidon that comprise Greece’s produce and wealth.
Participate in a kid friendly storytelling and tasting tour or a food tour to taste the extra virgin olive oil, to listen to the myth of the Struggle between Athena and Poseidon and to learn why Athens is not called Poseidonia today! Taste Greek delicacies such as koulouri, bougatsa, lukumades, cheese and cold cuts at the Central Market and stroll around to find the best street food in town if your kids aren’t prone to sitting properly at the table or if you just don’t want to spend much time eating at a restaurant.
If you are more into a “slow food” mood, the best lunch is the one cooked by your own hands. Take part in a cooking class and enjoy your meal tasting Greek wine varieties, while your kids are immersed in a “grape-tasting” designed by the MAMAKITA team of family travel advisors.
Where to stay
In the family friendliest and happiest hotel in town, located in the Centre and with the most unique family graffiti rooms in Athens, the Grecotel Pallas Athena, of course!
What to buy for kids
We would certainly recommend the Playmobil Greek Gods figures! All 12 are amazing.
In Greece you will also find Colour Greece, the coloring travel guides, and in Erechthiou 30 & Cavallotti, you will find the Nadeen Art shop with hand painted accessories ideal for little princesses. Argalios.gr, the Greek word for Loom, creates bags with a traditional loom that teenage girls -and their moms! – will love. For a great variety of bespoke souvenirs ideal for kids, check Flaneur souvenir shop and Anamnesia at the Athens El. Venizelos International Airport.